100 Techniques

Technique #91: Turn Your Oven into a Commercial Pizza Oven

A parlor-quality thin-crust pizza with a crisp and chewy crust can be baked in a home oven using a few simple tricks.

Published Aug. 2, 2023.

This is Technique #91 from our 100 Techniques Every Home Cook Can Master.

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The ideal pizza-parlor pizza is thin and crisp, with a crust that’s spottily charred on the exterior and tender yet chewy within, with simple toppings of tomato sauce and bubbly, browned cheese.

It has probably lured most of us into burning the roofs of our mouths. Yet we go back for more.

In fact, we’re so obsessed that we developed a technique for replicating that pizza parlor experience at home.

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How to Replicate a Commercial Pizza Oven

The main obstacle to achieving these results at home is the fact that home ovens don’t get hot enough to produce a deeply browned crust before the interior crumb dries out and toughens.

The best solution has always been the hottest setting on the oven dial and a baking stone, which soaks up the radiating heat like a sponge. Most recipes call for the stone to be placed as low in the oven as possible, where it gets maximum exposure to the main heating element.

But that technique doesn’t really make sense, and there’s an industry clue to prove it: commercial pizza ovens.

These wide chambers with low ceilings quickly reflect heat from the oven floor back onto the top of the pie as it cooks, cooking the toppings and browning the cheese and crust exterior quickly, before the crust interior has a chance to dry out.

Obviously you can’t alter the shape of your oven—but you can move the stone closer to the top to narrow the gap between the stone and the ceiling. We discovered that the best position for the stone is as close to the top of the oven as possible—4 inches or so from the ceiling.

A pizza on a pizza stone right under the broiler.
By keeping the stone and pizza as close to the top of the oven as possible we can better replicate a commercial pizza oven at home.

Cold Fermentation: The Secret to Our Dough

In addition to how we cook the pizza, the dough also plays a role in making great pizza at home. We use a long, slow, cold fermentation for our dough, which has multiple benefits.

It minimizes the size of the carbon dioxide bubbles that form, leading to a chewy rather than a puffy dough. The dough is more flavorful, since at lower temperatures yeast produces less carbon dioxide and more of the initial side products of fermentation: flavorful sugars, alcohol, and acids.

And cold fermentation slows gluten development so the dough stays looser and easier to stretch and shape.

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Step by Step: How to Make Pizza-Parlor Pizza At Home

If you follow these helpful steps you'll create superior dough and produce perfectly cooked restaurant-worthy pizza.

Step 1: Slowly Add Water to Food Processor

Pulse dry ingredients in food processor. With processor running, slowly add ice water; process until just combined. Let dough rest.

Step 2: Add Oil and Salt

Add oil and salt and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of bowl.

Step 3: Knead and Form Into Ball

Transfer dough to oiled counter and briefly knead by hand until smooth. Shape into tight ball and place in oiled bowl; cover tightly with plastic and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

Step 4: Heat Pizza Stone and Shape Dough

One hour before baking, place oven rack with baking stone 4 inches from broiler and heat oven to 500 degrees. Divide dough in half; pat each half into 4-inch round and shape into smooth, tight ball. Let dough rest.

Step 5: Heat Broiler and Make Disk

Heat broiler for 10 minutes. Gently flatten dough ball into 8-inch disk on floured countertop. Gently stretch disk into 12-inch round. Transfer to floured peel and stretch into 13-inch round.

Step 6: Slide Dough on Pizza Stone

Slide topped pizza onto hot baking stone and return oven to 500 degrees. Rotate pizza halfway through baking.

Watch us demonstrate how placing your stone higher up in the oven produces perfectly crisp thin crust pizza.

Recipes That Use This Technique

When you want to make wonderfully crisp pizza at home, try one of the following recipes.


Thin-Crust Pizza

With ovens that reach only 500 degrees and dough that springs back when stretched, it's a challenge to produce parlor-quality pies at home. This recipe changes that.
Get the Recipe

One-Hour Pizza

The ultimate challenge for a pizza master with 30 years of experience? Making a good one in just 60 minutes.
Get the Recipe

Vegan Mushroom Pizza with Cashew Ricotta

This pizza is a knockout—tangy, cooling dollops of homemade cashew ricotta top layers of umami-rich mushrooms for a beautiful lesson in texture and flavor contrasts.
Get the Recipe

Thin-Crust Pizza with Pumpkin, Cashew Ricotta, and Apple-Fennel Slaw

The flavors and aromas of autumn in New England inspire this pizza.
Get the Recipe

Luau Pizza

We give ham and pineapple pizza a Hawaiian twist with this easy, 30-minute pie. 
Get the Recipe

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