Direct Thin Crust Pizza Recipe - Modernist Cuisine

Direct Thin Crust Pizza Recipe

Recipe • July 14, 2023

We encountered thin-crust pizzas of various stripes throughout our travels, from the U.S. Midwest to São Paulo, Brazil. Admittedly, we really love a good thin-crust pizza. When done right, they’re incredibly satisfying and a nice, light departure from their counterparts with thicker crusts. These pizzas go by different names but share some fundamental traits: thin-crust pizzas are shaped with a rolling pin or dough sheeter, are typically sauced and topped right up to the edge so that there’s minimal rim, have little interior crumb to speak of, and bake up with a firm base that doesn’t droop when folded.

When we went about creating our own thin-crust doughs, we aimed to create one that could easily be rolled out thin but that’s sturdy enough to handle the toppings and still yield a great crunch. The pizza has a little bit of rim that gets the crunchiest (we like having a handle to hold our pizza). Thin-crust pizza is also an excellent choice for outdoor grilling on a charcoal or gas grill. We also wanted a dough that can be used the same day you make it, if you choose to.

This direct thin-crust pizza dough is a variation of our master recipe. We developed this time-saving technique with busy schedules in mind—you can make this dough, from start to finish, in under 2 1/2 hours without compromising on quality. It yields a crust that is sturdy, crunchy, and has great flavor.

Because you are rolling this dough so thin, be sure to use fine-ground cornmeal in the dough – anything coarser and you run the risk of it ripping the dough as you roll. The other downside of very coarse cornmeal is that if it doesn’t absorb enough moisture from the dough, it can be too crunchy to chew easily. If all you have is coarse-ground cornmeal, run it through a food processor or spice grinder first.

Follow our recipe below to make your own thin-crust pizza. You’ll get three 50 cm / 20 in pizzas or four 40 cm / 16 in pizzas, so feel free to experiment with a variety of topping combinations.

A slice of thin crust pizza with many toppings.


Tips and Substitutions

  • We typically use a dough hook to mix all our thin-crust pizza doughs. If the ingredient quantities aren’t large enough for the dough hook, use a paddle attachment initially to mix the ingredients uniformly. Once you have a homogenous mass (the dough is sticky and wet, and there are no visible clumps or unincorporated water), switch to a hook attachment.
  • Final mix time at higher speeds may vary from machine to machine. Whatever the model and yield, the goal is to achieve a good mix and full gluten development. Consider our suggested times as guidelines only. Use the windowpane test to help determine the dough’s stage of gluten development.
  • If making this pizza in a home oven, the 40 cm/ 16 in size is the maximum that will fit. We recommend either making this size or a 33 cm/ 13 in pizza (200 g dough). This will be closer to a tavern-style pizza. For a 33 cm / 13 in thin-crust pizza, you will use 200 g dough, 70 g sauce, 110 g cheese, and 115 g meats or other toppings.
  • You can add up to 10% liquid or solid fat to this dough. Add along with the salt.
  • After proofing at room temperature, you can roll the dough out and make the pizza. If you have more time, we recommend cold-proofing the dough for 1 day to make the crust even crispier. If you cold-proof the dough, remove it from refrigeration 1 1/2–2 h before shaping so that it warms up and is easier to stretch out.
  • This pizza is excellent for outdoor grilling.