Improving Pizza Sauce

A large tomato, often used in tomato sauce.

You can make pizza without cheese. You can make it without toppings. But to many, pizza is not pizza without some kind of sauce on top, which is why learning to improve your tomato sauce can seriously elevate your pizza. Here, you’ll discover quick and easy ways to elevate the flavor profiles of your tomato pizza sauces, whether you’re starting from scratch or want to punch up store-bought options.

The role of sauce in pizza making extends beyond its general culinary purposes of adding moisture and flavor. The nature of the sauce—including its liquid content, placement on the dough or around the toppings, and when it’s added to the pizza—can significantly influence the final outcome of both the pizza and its toppings.

For instance, sauce plays a protective role for the center of thin-crust and medium-crust pizzas, preventing their expansion and bubbling during baking. It also acts as a heat sink, its temperature limited to 100°C / 212°F until all water evaporates. This property shields delicate toppings from the oven’s high heat, making it a practical choice to cover ingredients like clams before baking.

The sauce’s liquid content is a key factor linked to pizza type, affecting baking time and temperature. Neapolitan pizza, baked at extreme heat, features a wet sauce that rapidly evaporates, forming a smooth, pulpy topping by the end of baking. On the other end, New York pizza requires a less watery sauce to avoid sogginess, given its lower temp and longer baking process. Temperature is also vital during saucing; applying cold sauce to dough can lower its temperature and affect baking time, potentially leading to issues like a gel layer. Room-temperature tempering for two hours is advised, while in specific cases like Detroit-style and deep-dish pizzas, heated sauce application post-baking is preferred. In essence, the intricate interplay between sauce consistency, temperature, and pizza type highlights how sauces on pizzas go beyond conventional culinary roles, acting as essential elements in achieving diverse textures and flavors across various pizza styles.


Although there are many kinds of pizza sauce, the most common kind is tomato, which is what we’ll be focusing on in this post. 

Pizzaioli commonly equate sauce with tomatoes, linking the strength of the sauce to the quality of the tomato. Chefs approach sauce differently, believing in enhancing flavors and equilibrium by introducing diverse elements to their sauces—a culinary dichotomy evident in Neapolitan pizza makers versus pasta chefs who create intricate sauces. The former uses canned, crushed tomatoes, while the latter create elaborate concoctions from many ingredients. One school of thought advocates adjusting sauces with salt, sugar, or acids in order to maintain consistency, while the other says to only use top-tier tomatoes. But it’s not always possible to use fresh ingredients all year round, which is why we think it’s important to know what ingredients to use to improve your tomato sauces.  

Tomato sauce usually has some general characteristics: acid, sweetness, and umami (savoriness). These characteristics can be bumped up or, depending on the application, used to correct a flaw or enhance flavors to get a particular result. You can view it as adjusting to improve a sauce that isn’t perfect or as a chance to make your own creation.

Even though tomatoes have a good amount of naturally occurring umami in them, they can be lacking in flavor, especially if they are out of season or were harvested when they were not quite ripe. We typically recommend that you season your sauce with salt and/or dried oregano, but you can also attain some complex flavor profiles with other flavorings. Add the following (either on their own or in combination; if using a combination, don’t use as much as we recommend for a single addition). For example, if there are two additions, divide the amount for each by two; if there are three additions, divide by three, and so on.


Most tomato sauces are somewhat acidic, but sometimes they can be flat. Use these ingredients to liven up your tomato sauce (adding salt helps too). Try 1% to 2% of

  • vinegar (white, champagne, red wine, white wine, and/or balsamic),
  • lime juice, or
  • lemon juice.


  • 0.4%–0.6% MSG: There is an assumption surrounding MSG that it’s unsafe, but we can assure you this is false. In fact, MSG is a principal ingredient in tomatoes.
  • 1.5%–2.5% anchovy oil: The more you add, the more anchovy-like the sauce will get. Whether that is a good or bad thing is up to you.
  • 1%–2% mushroom powder: We recommend shiitake or porcini. You won’t taste the mushrooms, but they will contribute a savory note.
  • 0.5%–1% soy sauce: Use sparingly.
  • 2%–3% Worcestershire sauce: Use sparingly.
  • 2%–3% fish sauce: Use sparingly.


  • 7–8 tomato leaves per kilo: Tomato leaves in small amounts can provide a very intense tomato taste. Some people believe that they are poisonous, but we can assure you they are not. Stir into the sauce and allow to sit for at least 3–4 hours to flavor.
  • 8%–10% tomato paste: Even the smallest amount of tomato paste is typically too much for most preparations. Use what you need, and freeze the rest flat in a zip-top bag so that you can break off pieces of it as you need it.
  • 3%–4% freeze-dried tomatoes: If you cannot find these, use sun-dried tomatoes, which have a slightly different taste and texture, but will add the desired tomato flavor.


Try any of these ingredients at 1%–4%. This percentage is wide because it is up to you how much to use, whether you want to sweeten the sauce or tame its acidity. Add 1 gram or 1/4 teaspoon at a time and taste:

  • sugar,
  • agave syrup, or
  • honey, or hot honey.


  • A1 steak sauce as needed. While you don’t necessarily want the pizza sauce to taste like steak sauce, A1 and other steak sauces have flavoring ingredients that work really well with pizza sauce, such as vinegar, tomato puree, garlic, onions, and celery seed.
  • 5–6 fresh basil leaves per kilo
  • Spicy ingredients (crushed red pepper flakes, commercial hot sauces, fresh chilis, dried chilis, chipotle peppers, cayenne, yuzu kosho, gochujang, sriracha)

Our team would love to see your improved sauces and the pizzas you’ve created, so please tag us in your social media posts if you end up experimenting with these techniques.

Are you interested in learning more Modernist Cuisine tips and tricks? Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media for more techniques, recipes, and announcements.

How to Make Pizza on an Outdoor Grill this Summer

Location shot of a cutaway of a Weber barbeque cooking a pepperoni pizza

It’s summertime—the weather is warm and you want to cook outside, whether it’s at the park or in your own backyard. Did you know that making pizza on a charcoal or gas grill is possible? We love grilling, which is why we decided to perfect this technique for Modernist Pizza. As it turns out, a grill is a fun (and an impressive) alternative for making homemade pizza.

In this post, we detail everything you need to know when it comes to making pizza in the great outdoors: the tools you’ll need, the pizza styles that work best on a grill, and step-by-step instructions so that you can master the technique. If you have a portable outdoor pizza oven, we’ve got you covered. We include our favorite tips and tricks for seamlessly using these ovens as well.

Grilling Pizza

There are some limits when it comes to grilling pizza, and not all recipes are up to the task. We tested a number of doughs while working on Modernist Pizza to see which cook best on a grill. Thin-crust, Neapolitan, New York, and artisan recipes grill well, but we recommend using a gas grill for these options. You can find our Thin-Crust recipe here.

Our favorite grilling recipe is the Brazilian Thin-Crust pizza dough, which you can find on page 114 of the book. This pizza can be grilled on both a charcoal and gas stove, can be rolled out very thin, is easy to handle, and gets nicely crisp after grilling. If you do make this pizza, we recommend replacing the flour in the recipe with high-gluten flour. We also recommend following the master recipe just until it’s time to divide it. At that point, divide the dough into 150 g pieces and shape them into balls before proofing for the recommended time.

Here are a few tips for getting started:

  • Beforehand, keep your sauce, cheese, and other toppings at room temperature so that they get hot/melt faster.
  • Don’t overcrowd the pizza with toppings.
  • Don’t grill pizza side by side with meat or anything that might cause flare-ups.
  • If you’re traveling beyond your backyard, keep your portioned dough in a cooler in a lightly oiled plastic container. Even though we don’t recommend oiling all the pizza dough when you are working in a kitchen, we do in this case because it makes it much easier to transport and use. Take the dough, sauce, cheese, and toppings out of the cooler 2 hours before you want to eat (if it’s hot out, the dough might need less time to proof).
  • Bring a cutting board 30–33 cm / 12–13 in with you, for both assembling the pizza and cutting it after it is baked. (You can assemble the pizza on the peel, but you must be quick so it doesn’t stick.)

Grilling Pizza on a Charcoal Grill

Our recommendation: Try the Brazilian Thin-Crust Pizza.

The final photo of the charcoal grilled pizza.

The Tools You’ll Need:

  • A charcoal grill and coals
  • Rolling pin
  • Olive oil spray
  • Pre-portioned dough in a cooler in a lightly oiled plastic container
  • Sauce, cheese, and toppings
  • Peel
  • Cutting board

How to Grill Pizza on a Charcoal Grill:

1. Prepare a charcoal grill. Once the coals are ready, move them so they’re on only half the grill. You’re aiming for temperatures above 480°C / 900°F on the charcoal side and about 205°C / 400°F on the non-charcoal side.

A charcoal grill with coals moved to one side.

2. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin to an oval/rectangular shape. It should be 30–35 cm long by 10–15 cm wide by 6 mm thick.

3. Dock the dough (3:12), and spray the surface with olive oil.

The image shows docking the dough.

4. Place the dough on the non-charcoal side of the grill. Close the lid and cook for 45 sec–1 min.

5. Remove the dough from the grill.

6. Flip the dough over so that the back side is facing up and apply the sauce, cheese, and toppings.

Flipping over the cooked the dough before applying the sauce, cheese, and toppings.

7. Place the topped pizza back on the grill, off-center toward the charcoal side.

The pizza is being placed back onto the charcoal grill.

8. Keeping the lid up, cook for 1 min, then rotate the pizza 180° and cook for 1 min more. If the toppings still need additional time, move the pizza to the cooler side and close the grill lid for no more than 30 sec at a time.

The pizza is now fully cooked and has now been removed from the grill. Someone is placing additional toppings on top of the pizza.

9. Remove the pizza from the grill using a peel.

Grilling Pizza on a Gas Grill

Our recommendation: Try our Brazilian thin-crust, thin-crust, Neapolitan, New York, and artisan dough recipes. We use thin-crust pizza in these instructions.

Grilled thin-crust pizza with thin-crust tomato sauce, pizza cheese, Italian sausage, gorgonzola, and toasted pine nuts.

The Tools You’ll Need:

  • A gas grill and gas-grill supplies
  • Olive oil spray
  • Preportioned dough in a cooler in a lightly oiled plastic container
  • Sauce, cheese, and toppings
  • Peel
  • Cutting board

How to Grill Pizza on a Gas Grill:

1. Prepare a gas grill by turning all heat settings to high.

2. Once the grill has reached 370–425°C / 700–800°F, turn off one side of the grill and keep the other side on high heat.

Spraying the surface of docked dough with olive oil.

3. Shape the dough according to its master recipe. Dock the dough, and spray the surface with olive oil.

4. Place the dough oiled side down on the high-heat side of the grill and cook for 1 min. While the pizza is cooking, spray the top surface with olive oil.

The dough is placed on the grill and sprayed with olive oil.

5. Flip the dough over and cook for 1 min.

6. Remove the dough from the grill and apply the sauce, cheese, and toppings.

The cooked dough is being removed from the grill.

7. Place the topped pizza on the nonheated side of the grill. Close the lid. Cook for 6 min, checking the pizza every 2 min.

The crust has now been topped with cheese, sauce, and sausage and placed back on the grill.

8. If the pizza still feels a little flabby after 6 min, move to the high-heat side for an additional 30–90 sec, keeping the grill lid up to crisp the pizza.

9. Remove the pizza from the grill using a peel.

Baking Pizza on a Portable Ovens

A pizza is cooking inside of a portable pizza oven.

If you want to step up your car-camping game or simply love making pizza al fresco, there is a class of portable ovens that will allow you to do just that. While some of these pizza ovens offer the option of heating with wood chips, we prefer to use propane because it gets hotter and maintains a more consistent temperature.

Our tips for grilling pizza apply to outdoor pizza ovens as well: keep your portioned dough in a cooler in an oiled container if you’re traveling beyond your backyard, temp all of the components 2 hours before baking, and have a cutting board on hand for assembling your pizza.

When you are done baking pizzas, be sure that the oven is completely cool before putting it away. The propane tank should be shut off and disconnected. If you used wood chips, they need to be completely extinguished and disposed of responsibly.

The Tools You’ll Need:

  • A portable oven
  • Pre-portioned dough in a cooler in a lightly oiled plastic container
  • Sauce, cheese, and toppings
  • Peel
  • Cutting board
  • Optional pizza screen

How to Use a Portable Oven:

1. Quickly assemble the pizza on the peel so that it doesn’t stick. Reshape the pizza, if necessary, before loading it into the oven. (You can also use a pizza screen to make loading the pizza into the oven easier. Be sure to coat the screen with a spray oil before using. Keep the pizza on the screen the entire time that it bakes, and rotate it. You can also use parchment paper instead of the screen, but not if you are using wood chips to heat the oven, because it will burn.)

A pizza is assembled on the peel.

2. Load the pizza into the oven.

Putting raw pizza inside of the portable oven.

3. Once the rim starts to blister and brown, rotate the pizza.

Pulling a fully cooked pizza out of the portable oven.

4. Spin the pizza as needed to ensure that it bakes evenly.

Our team would love to see your outdoor adventures, so please tag us in your social media posts if you end up taking your cooking outside this summer.

Are you interested in learning more Modernist Cuisine tips and tricks? Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media for more techniques, recipes, and announcements.

The Logistics of Making Pizza for a Party

The best way to eat pizza is with others, which is one of the reasons pizza parties are universally beloved. Making pizza for a crowd, however, can present some logistical challenges, especially if you are only able to make one pizza at a time. These tips and tricks (the results of our team’s extensive experiments), along with a bit of planning, will help you to keep the pizzas coming and ultimately keep the crowd happy.

Choosing the Right Pizza Style

Serving at a party comes with some risks, depending on the type of pizza that you choose to serve. It can be a very fun occasion, but the key is to plan it correctly and choose the right pizzas. Your guests want to see you (presumably!), so it’s not ideal to be stuck in the kitchen the whole time. If you have an outdoor wood-fired or propane-fueled oven, you can bake pizzas while your guests hang out around you or even help. Indoors, the spaces are tighter, the ovens are generally smaller, and you can bake only so many pizzas at a time.

If you go with a Neapolitan or artisan pizza, you’ll be able to serve only one guest at a time, you’ll need a special oven to do the job right, and it’ll require someone with a high level of expertise to make the pizza. And this assumes that you are making the pizzas a la minute in front of the guests because these styles of pizzas won’t hold for longer than a few minutes. You could opt to make larger New York pizzas that will feed multiple people and reheat well (this is, after all, the business model for countless slice shops across the United States). But we don’t think that it’s the absolute best solution.

Our recommended solution is to choose to make pizzas that reheat very well and can be made well in advance: Detroit-Style Pizza, New York Square Pizza, or Al Taglio Pizza. You can make the pizza crusts ahead of time, cool them down, wrap them in plastic wrap, and freeze them for up to 6 months. In the case of catering, you can bake them offsite, freeze them (if you’d like), and transport them to the event. You don’t even need to defrost them. You can reheat whole pans or slices. You can slice ahead of time too.

Consider having a toppings station as well. Your guests can either tell the event staff what they want on their pizzas or, if you are entertaining at home, they can build their own pizzas using the naked prebaked pizzas. This will let you spend less time alone in the kitchen and more time with your guests.

Prebaking Pizza

The term “parbaking” is used a lot in the baking industry. It’s a process that involves baking bread until it’s about 90% done, allowing it to cool, then finishing the baking later. The initial baking period is enough to deactivate the yeasts and enzymes and set the structure of the crust and crumb (so the loaf can maintain its shape as it cools), but not enough to fully brown the crust.

But what about parbaking pizza? Does it deliver the same glorious results that you get when you bake your pizza normally? In some cases, it does work well. For example, if you are selling frozen pizza or if you are a caterer and you have an off-site event, you can parbake your pizzas two-thirds to three-quarters of the way, freeze them, and then finish baking them later. We also found that parbaking works well for thin-crust pizzas and medium-crust pizzas (especially if you’re freezing them).

We decided to test another technique that lets you do part of the work in advance: prebaking. In prebaking, the pizza is cooked all the way through and can be reheated later. If you’re in the pizza business—or if you’re throwing a pizza party at home—the ability to prebake can help organize the workflow because you do most of the baking ahead of time.

Prebaking is part of the standard process when you’re making a New York square pizza. This pizza is baked and cooled, then sauced and topped later if you are using it as the foundation of a pizza. Prebaking is how we make the pizza gourmet style. Al taglio pizzas are also prebaked, sometimes with sauce and sometimes just the dough alone. Then they’re cooled, and additional toppings can be added later and the pizza can be heated again in the oven. The same can be done for Detroit-style pizzas.

We wondered if prebaking could streamline the process for other kinds of pizza, too. The answer is yes—for some styles of pizza. You may, however, prebake thin-crust and medium-crust pizzas for the purpose of freezing. In those cases, the pizzas are prebaked with sauce and cooled. We recommend adding cheese just before baking. (Adding the cheese before baking on a prebaked pizza will influence the cheese’s complex melt rheology and textural attributes.) When you’re ready to eat, you don’t even need to defrost; you can bake it straight from its frozen form.

For a few pizza styles, we found another big benefit of prebaking: it helps eliminate the gel layer, a pale, gooey layer of underbaked dough. We found that by prebaking the dough alone, the gel layer can be eliminated. Sauce, cheese, and toppings are added later, then the pizza is reheated.

Reheating Pizza

All styles of pizza go through a short, intense, high-temperature bake (some higher than others). As such, the pizza changes dramatically both during and after baking. When it comes to reheating pizza, the main objective in general is to reheat the base, sauce, cheese, and toppings without letting anything burn or dry out like a crouton. Some staling may have occurred, as often happens when baked dough is refrigerated, but fortunately, reheating the pizza to the correct temperature (between 79.5°C and 85°C /175°F and 185°F) will make the staling less noticeable.

One of the most common ways to reheat pizza is in the microwave, but we don’t recommend it because your pizza will reheat unevenly and become gummy and unpalatable. For the thicker-crust pizzas that we recommend for a crowd, reheat them in an oven but be careful because the exposed crust may dry out and become too crunchy. To avoid this, don’t reheat the pizzas longer than recommended, reheat slices side by side so the exposed crust is protected, and cradle the pizza in aluminum foil to protect the exposed crust while keeping the surface exposed to the hot air. The cradle should cover up only the exposed crust areas and not the surface or the rim crust that is not exposed. Doing so prevents the crust from drying out; the only caveat is that reheating will take a few minutes longer (about 1–3 minutes).

Make sure to preheat your oven fully. A baking steel and stone can be used interchangeably for reheating. A baking steel will take slightly longer to preheat, which gives the stone a small advantage for reheating. In order to heat a baking steel or stone in a home oven, it is best to use the broiler to heat it up fast. Once the broiler has heated the baking steel or stone, switch the oven to regular heat (205–260°C / 400–500°F) to reheat the pizza. While a baking steel is better for baking pizzas than a baking stone, for reheating purposes they work very much the same.

How to Make Pizza for a Crowd

  1. Once the pizzas have been baked and cooled, cut them into portions using a serrated knife.

2. Place the sliced pizzas back in their baking pans, cover, and set aside until you’re ready to reheat.

3. About 1 h before you’re ready to serve the pizzas, place one or ideally two baking stones or baking steels stacked in the oven. Preheat the oven to 230°C / 450°F.

4. To reheat the pizzas, uncover them and simply slide the pans onto the hot baking steels or baking stones. They’ll take 5–7 min to reheat and recrisp the bottom.

5. For Detroit-style pizza, apply the hot tomato sauce over each hot slice, plus any other post-bake toppings. For al taglio pizza, apply any heat-sensitive toppings, like arugula, blue cheese, or tapenade, after baking.

6. Transfer to a serving platter.

The Essential Modernist Pizza Gear Guide

Whether you’re gearing up to make pizza or have someone special in your life that is, we’re here to help. We’ve put together this handy guide to essential pizza-making tools and equipment to help you stock up. This list features some of our favorite basic items that you’ll find in any well-stocked pizzeria as well as gear that you’ll want to build out your home setup. Many of these tools are inexpensive, but there are also a few splurges on the list, which we think are wise investments.

Digital Scale

We recommend this emphatically: use a scale not measuring spoons. Measuring ingredients by weight, rather than volume, will make a huge difference in your results. For general use, the scale should measure single-gram increments. Additionally, it’s useful to have a precision scale for weighing small quantities, such as the 0.06 g of yeast called for in one of our preferments. You’ll find plenty of low-cost choices on the market that meet these requirements.

Start your search with:

Baker’s Kitchen Scale (8,000 g capacity) by My Weigh

Digital Gram Pocket Scale by Weigh Gram



A digital probe version is best. Home pizza makers will also want an oven thermometer. You can also get a combination timer / probe thermometer and take care of two helpful tools in one.

Start your search with:

Thermapen One by Thermoworks



In addition to telling you when to remove your pizza from the oven, digital timers will help you keep track of dough as it ferments and proofs, especially when you’re managing several doughs and kitchen tasks at a time. Timers should be easy to use, with loud alarms that can be heard across a noisy kitchen or from another room. Have several basic timers on hand for juggling tasks.

Start your search with:

Extra Big and Loud Timer by ThermoWorks


Plastic Tubs

Storage is an important consideration, and clear plastic tubs are the storage bins of choice. Up for almost any stowage task, these bins come in a range of sizes; they make it easy to keep an eye on the contents inside; and they stack much like nesting dolls when they aren’t being used. Long rectangular storage boxes can be used to hold fermenting dough, while preferments, ingredients, and old dough are often stored in square versions. Tall tubs make great vessels when weighing large quantities of water—some can even transform into water bath containers when cooking sous vide. Make sure the bins have airtight lids. We use the Cambro brand, which is so prevalent in professional kitchens that “Cambro” has become almost a generic term for tubs.

Start your search with:

Camwear Polycarbonate Food Storage Box (17.98 L / 4.75 gal) by Cambro

Camwear Polycarbonate Food Storage Box (33.12 L / 8.75 gal) by Cambro

Camwear Polycarbonate Square Plastic Food Container (in assorted sizes) by Cambro


Electric Mixer

We use an electric mixer for all of the pizza doughs in Modernist Pizza. You can certainly mix by hand, but this requires more time and physical effort. We highly recommend electric mixers since most of the doughs require mixing to full gluten development. . A stand mixer can be a big investment, so look for models that have a strong motor, which is important for making drier doughs, and a broad range of speed settings, from very slow to very fast.

Start your search with:

The Bakery Chef by Breville


Bench Knife

Use a sharp metal version for cleanly cutting dough, lifting sticky dough, and scraping dough residue off the worktable. Plastic ones are acceptable but are generally thicker, which can sometimes be a drawback. There’s a narrow bench knife we like specifically for pizza because it’s also perfect for when we need to lift a ball of dough after fermenting. This bench knife does a much better job than the wider ones. This tool is so practical that some pizzerias use it to cut garlic.

Start your search with:

Metal Dough Scraper by San Francisco Baking Institute

Round Plastic Bowl Scraper by San Francisco Baking Institute

Square Plastic Bowl Scraper by San Francisco Baking Institute


Pizza Peels

Metal peels are more suitable than wooden ones for flatbreads and pizzas because they’re thinner and can easily slide under the crusts. Perforated metal peels have the advantage that any excess flour used for dusting the dough will fall through. (Baking excess flour onto a pizza dough is undesirable because it can burn.)

Start your search with:

Perforated Pizza Peel by Homefavor

Aluminum Pizza Peel by American Metalcraft


Pizza Screens

Although not as commonly used as peels in pizzerias, pizza screens consist of a fine wire mesh surrounded by a metal ring. They come in a number of different diameters, from 20 cm / 8 in to 60 cm / 24 in. Depending on your perspective, using a screen is either a godsend or it’s cheating. Screens are useful if you don’t have experience making pizza, because you can consistently shape a round pizza that is the exact size that you need. We find screens useful for certain styles of pizza and types of ovens, including impinger and home ovens.

We always spray the screens with oil just before placing the dough on top, then apply the sauce, cheese, and toppings as needed. The screen makes it easy to move the pizza from worktable to oven. For home pizza makers, it also helps to assemble the pizza on the screen and then place it on a baking steel or stone so that you don’t have to worry about the pizza sticking to a peel when you are loading it into the oven.

Start your search with:

Aluminum Pizza Screen by GI Metal


Sheet Pans and Specialized Pizza Pans

For some styles, making something that looks and tastes like the real deal can hinge on the pan. While you could technically bake all the pizzas in this book on an aluminum sheet pan, specialized pans produce markedly better results. Some have reinforced frames that keep them from warping in the oven or cured surfaces to prevent the pizza from sticking. Others are made of thicker, denser metal that produces a crispier base.

Start your search with:

Assorted Pizza Pans by Lloyd Pans

Detroit-Style Pans by Detroit-Style Pizza Company

Al Taglio Pizza Pan by Artisan Pizza Solutions


Sauce Spoon / Spoodle

This is used to spoon sauce onto pizza dough and to spread it evenly. Many pizzerias know how many “spoonfuls” is the right amount for each pizza. We like a spoon with a flat base for spreading.

Start your search with:

Tomato Dosing Spoon by GI Metal


Food Mill

Making your own basic pizza sauces can be incredibly easy. While you can make them by hand-crushing tomatoes, we also like using a food mill. Tomatoes are passed through the mill to make sauce (try using one with a 8–10 mm / 0.31–0.39 in holes). We recommend one that is not so big that you end up with large tomato chunks in the sauce or so small that the seeds are left behind. Some models have interchangeable grates with different-sized holes that allow for different-textured sauces.

Start your search with:

Food Mill by OXO


Pizza Scissors

Some pizzerias use scissors instead of wheel cutters or mezzalunas. Scissors give pizza a clean cut and don’t squash the rim crust that you just worked so hard on. You can buy scissors specially made for cutting pizza, but any pair of heavy-duty, long, sharp scissors will do. Make sure they’re the kind that can be sharpened. Don’t use the hefty kitchen shears that are meant for cutting through chicken joints. For al taglio pizza, there are special scissors in which the bottom blade rests on a plastic base that keeps the scissors flat on the counter while cutting.

Start your search with:

Pizza Scissors by Artisan Pizza Solutions


Baking Steel or Baking Stone

A steel or stone will help properly bake pizza in a home oven, combi oven, or convection oven. Baking steels work even better than stones for baking pizza. Thick baking steels hold their preheated temperature better than thin ones, but they also take longer to preheat and to recover from a drop in temperature. Our bottom-line conclusion: a dark (not shiny) steel plate 12 mm / ½ in thick produces the best crust, although it is staggeringly heavy. A steel plate 10 mm / 0.4 in thick also works very well, is a lot more manageable, and preheats faster. For more even heat radiation, you can stack two together, but this is optional.

Start your search with:

Modernist Cuisine Special Edition Baking Steel by Baking Steel


Dough Docking Tool

Docking evenly distributes a pattern of small holes across a dough’s surface and keeps it from puffing up significantly. We use a rolling docker, which is more of a speciality tool, but a fork or the tip of a skewer or knife is a handy alternative.

Start your search with:

Dough Docking Tool by Winco


Oven Brush

Use this to sweep debris, such as semolina, out of the oven. Sometimes a pizza bottom will rip, leaving a cheesy, saucy mess on your oven floor. When this happens, you’ll need a metal bristle brush.

Start your search with:

Rotating Head Oven Brush by GI Metal


Countertop Pizza Oven

There is a category of ovens that has less to do with specific temperature ranges—specialty ovens. These include countertop ovens that can be used to make pizzas at relatively high temperatures without having to invest in a gas-fired pizza oven or a pizza deck oven. If you are a pizza enthusiast and are looking for value in a home pizza oven, the Breville Crispy Crust Pizza Maker will produce great pizzas for the price. If you are really serious about making pizza at home, we definitely recommend the Smart Oven Pizzaiolo.

Start your search with:

Crispy Crust Pizza Maker by Breville

Smart Oven Pizzaiolo by Breville


Portable Outdoor Pizza Oven

These ovens, which include the Gozney Roccbox and Ooni Koda and Karu pizza ovens, are the definition of portable. The Roccbox and certain Ooni ovens like the Karu 16 allow you to burn wood chips or use a propane tank for fuel. We prefer using propane because it produces a more consistent heat and gets hotter quicker than using wood chips.

The disadvantage of using gas rather than wood is that you have to cart around a propane tank if you are using the oven away from your home. Even so, it is one way to get a very good Neapolitan-style pizza at home. The fact that it can only be used outdoors may or may not bother you. These ovens are great for any sort of small-scale outdoor pizza baking, whether on the balcony of your apartment or camping in the wilderness. While you can bake only one pizza at a time, each one takes a mere 60–90 seconds to bake.

Start your search with:

Karu 16 by Ooni

Roccbox by Gozney

Modernist Pizza is on Sale Now

Pizza is one of the most beloved foods in the world—the whole month of October is even dedicated to it in the United States. This National Pizza Month, we couldn’t be more excited to release Modernist Pizza, which is now officially on sale. Some retailers are experiencing fulfillment delays, however orders placed through Modernist Cuisine Shop are shipping now.

Our story of pizza is told across three volumes plus a kitchen manual, comprising 1,708 pages. It is the culmination of exhaustive research, travel, and experiments to collect and advance the world’s knowledge of pizza. In Modernist Pizza, you’ll find 1,016 recipes for both traditional and innovative pizzas across the globe. The recipes, along with the techniques, were developed with both professional and home ovens and equipment in mind.

While conducting research for the book, our pizza travels took us all over the world. Given pizza’s global history, we wanted to communicate our story of pizza to as many people as possible. That’s why we’re thrilled to share that Modernist Pizza will be published in French, German, Italian, and Spanish in May 2022. We’ll announce a preorder date later this year.

We also have a lot of other exciting updates to share with you that coincide with the launch of Modernist Pizza. You can expect more to come from us in the following months, but for now we’re excited to share a new collaboration, photography series, and updates about Modernist Pizza Podcast.

A Pizza + Beer Collaboration with Stoup Brewing

Like us, we know a lot of people obsess over a fantastic pizza and beer pairing. Some foods and drink just go together. There’s pasta and wine, and there’s pizza and beer. We are incredibly excited to have partnered with local Seattle brewery Stoup Brewing to celebrate the launch of Modernist Pizza with a special beer release—the 00 Pilsner. Inspired by the 00 flour prized by pizzaioli, this beer is a dry-hopped Italian pilsner developed to pair well with pizza. The can design is a collaboration between our Modernist Cuisine team as well as the Stoup Brewing team and showcases a levitating photo of Neapolitan pizza from Modernist Pizza.

You can find the beer on tap at Stoup Brewing’s locations in Ballard and Kenmore. The limited-edition four-pack of 00 Pilsner 16-ounce cans sells for $13.99 and can be found at craft beer retailers around Seattle.

Modernist Pizza Podcast is Coming Soon

Shortly after our last book, Modernist Bread, was published in 2017, we launched Modernist BreadCrumbs podcast. We wanted another way for our readers and bread bakers to learn as much as they could about bread making and the science, history, and stories behind it. We’re thrilled to share that once again, we’ll be releasing a podcast to go along with our newest book, Modernist Pizza. We’re excited to be teaming up with Michael Harlan Turkell who produced Modernist BreadCrumbs and who will host Modernist Pizza Podcast. Each episode of Modernist Pizza Podcast will feature in-depth interviews with Nathan, head chef Francisco Migoya, and some of the many people who are working to shape pizza’s future. The first of eight episodes will debut at the end of October with new episodes airing each week.

Modernist Pizza Podcast has some amazing sponsors including Ooni, Miyokos Creamery, King Arthur Baking, Banza, Baking Steel, and Gustiamo. It will be available for listening online and on platforms including Stitcher, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts. We’re also excited to partner with artist Jenny Acosta for the show’s artwork.

A New Pizza Photography Series

To coincide with the launch of the book, a collection of 10 pizza-centric photos from Modernist Pizza is now available for purchase at Modernist Cuisine Gallery by Nathan Myhrvold. Each photograph showcases a different aspect related to pizza, whether it’s the location of a top pizza destination featured in our world travel guide, a specific ingredient, or pizza shown in an imaginative setting. The photographs are available from our galleries in Las Vegas, New Orleans, La Jolla, and Seattle, which ship worldwide.

We have more upcoming pizza content and virtual events in the works. If you haven’t already, join our mailing list or follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for more updates. And as always, we encourage you to share photos of your book and all of your pizza-making journeys by tagging your posts with #ModernistPizza.

Discover How You Can Contribute to Modernist Pizza

We’ve been hard at work for the last year learning everything we can about the art, science, and history of pizza. Now we want to hear from you. Today we launched an online research contributions portal that we hope will encourage you to join in on our research process. Whether you love diving deep into research as much as you love Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, have decades of pizzaiolo wisdom, or are a bibliophile with a love of old cookbooks, we hope to connect with you. By visiting this new page on our website, you will be able to see some of the current research topics we’re investigating and discover how you can contribute to Modernist Pizza. Your knowledge, research skills, obscure collections—even your old photos—could help us tell the story of pizza and even land you a copy of our upcoming book.

Nathan and the team are excited about connecting with new people who, like us, are passionate and curious about food. “At Modernist Cuisine, we’re known for doing in-depth work. We’ve been working on Modernist Pizza for a year. Now we want to tap the power of the internet to meet people who collectively know something that we don’t about pizza,” Nathan remarked when asked about the new knowledge-sharing portal. “Library research by members of our team has already turned up important information about pizza, but there are many people who speak languages that we don’t or who have incredible first-hand knowledge to share. I think connecting with these people is a cool way to write the history of pizza.”

Before submitting information through our portal, please carefully review the guidelines for each topic. Participants whose submissions are selected may receive copies of the 2019 Modernist Pizza wall calendar, The Photography of Modernist Cuisine, or Modernist Pizza, or even be listed as a contributor in Modernist Pizza to acknowledge your help. Submissions that meet the criteria will be evaluated by our team for quality, uniqueness, historical significance, and editorial interest. It’s possible that some selected submissions for research topics will be posted periodically so that you can see some of the most interesting submissions we’ve received so far. We also welcome questions about each topic in the comments sections.

Click here to visit our research contributions portal. We look forward to hearing from you!

Modernist Pizza is Underway

An interesting thing happens when you finish a book: people immediately want to know what’s next. If you step inside The Cooking Lab, it takes only one whiff to figure out what that is. It’s hard to disguise the familiar yet intoxicating aroma that radiates from the oven as tomatoes, melted cheese, and dough bake.

After taking on the world of bread, we’re thrilled to announce the topic of our next book: pizza. Modernist Pizza will explore the science, history, equipment, technology, and people that have made pizza so beloved.

Authors Nathan Myhrvold and Francisco Migoya, with the Modernist Cuisine team, are busy conducting extensive research, testing long-held pizza-making beliefs, and working to understand the differences between different styles of pizza (as well as the best ways to make each one). This quest for knowledge has already taken them to cities across the United States, Italy, and beyond. The culmination of their work will be a multivolume cookbook that includes both traditional and innovative recipes for pizzas found around the globe as well as techniques that will help you make pizza the way you like it.

Why Pizza

We’ve known for some time that we wanted to tackle the subject of pizza in more detail because it’s something we love. It’s an idea that began with the Neapolitan Pizza Dough recipes in Modernist Cuisine at Home and was cemented when we started exploring the topic of pizza for Modernist Bread. Although that book spanned over 2,600 pages, we couldn’t include all the pizza-related information and recipes we wanted to without adding at least one more volume. Chicago deep-dish pizza, for example, didn’t make the cut, but not because we aren’t fans. It became clear that we needed to dedicate an entire book to the subject.

Pizza has so many of the things that we love in a subject. Making pizza takes a tremendous amount of skill, but it’s also full of creative possibility and, quite simply, a lot of fun. The story of pizza is one of science, history, invention, and tradition plus its share of mystique. Despite its ubiquity, there’s still a tremendous amount to learn and many questions that are waiting to be answered.

Historically, what we consider to be pizza originated in Italy. Most people say that the pizza we eat today is the descendant of 18th-century Naples street food that was mostly eaten by the poor. These pizzas had simple toppings: a little oil, some herbs, salt, onions. (The additions of tomatoes and cheese are believed to date to the late 19th century.) From Naples, pizza made its way to the United States, and subtly morphed into what most of us recognize as pizza today (in general terms at least) before being exported back to Italy in its new form.

Today, of course, you can get this Americanized style of Italian pizza in just about any country you visit. Over the course of its journey, what is essentially a flatbread loaded with toppings, became one of the most popular foods on the planet as different cultures developed new takes on pizza. At the same time there has been an incredible resurgence of traditional Neapolitan pizza. After 100 years, pizza from Naples—thin with sparse toppings and a bubbly crust— is spreading around the world once again along with lots of other local styles from around Italy.

From Neapolitan to Roman, New York to Detroit, each style of pizza has its own standards. And just about everyone has an opinion about what makes a pizza good, which makes the topic even more intriguing. Pizza really has become personal. What’s your favorite topping? Favorite style? Favorite pizza parlor? Thick or thin crust? Which flour is best? What type of water? What kind of oven? Is the best pizza in Italy? New York? Or somewhere else? Few foods in this world cause more heated discussion—just ask someone for their stance on Hawaiian-style pizza. To us, these fuzzy lines are part of what makes pizza so interesting. Personal preferences aside, our approach is to try to answer these questions objectively.

A New View of Pizza

There is still a lot for us to research and a lot of decisions to make, but we will stay true to the approaches we have used for all the Modernist Cuisine books. You can expect the same level of rigor and detail in our writing, illustrations, and photography as we attempt to tell the story of pizza in a way that hasn’t been seen before. Modernist Pizza is in its early stages, and although we’ve begun to dig in, we still have a lot of work ahead of us. Although we can’t guarantee when it will arrive at your door just yet (or the size of the delivery box), we can promise that this book will deliver the complete story of pizza along with insights that will stoke your pizza obsession even more.

For now, we’re excited to reveal a few of the photographs that Nathan has taken so far. Making its debut at Modernist Cuisine Gallery, this special series of four images celebrates the fine art of pizza. Each piece of artwork captures ordinary pizza ingredients, techniques, and tools in a brand-new light.

Taken using innovative photography techniques and custom-built equipment, the images reveal a new view of pizza—and we mean that literally. In one suspenseful shot, a pizza cutter becomes a colossus bearing down on a pepperoni pie. It took 500 focus-stacked images to create this single image.

Our hope is that these images will surprise and delight everyone who loves pizza. For fans of Bread Pitt, the series also features a new portrait inspired by the work of Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo. To get the photograph, Nathan worked with coauthor Francisco Migoya to sketch and construct a Neapolitan Man sculpture. Sitting on top of a torso made from a bag of Caputo 00 flour, the detailed face comes alive through a selection of carefully arranged pizza toppings—cloves of elephant garlic, Parmigiano Reggiano, prosciutto, chorizo, pepperoncini peppers, dried Calabrian chilies, black olives, garlic, cherry tomatoes, and fior di latte mozzarella—and is finished with a plume of herbs: basil, thyme, oregano, and rosemary.

This limited-edition series is part of the newest collection of artwork at the gallery, which is available now. For information on ordering art, contact the Modernist Cuisine Gallery team, and follow the gallery’s new Instagram account to see more images from the collection.

We would love to hear from you as we continue to research pizza from around the world. Contact to tell us about your favorite pizzerias and their pizza. Connect with us on social media to get all the latest Modernist Pizza updates.