Flour, water, yeast, and salt, that’s it, that is everything that goes into a classic pizza dough. Four basic ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry are the building blocks of great homemade pizza dough.
But that doesn’t mean you can get creative and make it better; there is always room for improvement. We tried some different ways to amp up our homemade pizza dough, and we are going to share the tried and true best ways to add flavor to your homemade pizza dough.
Why Make Homemade Pizza Dough
We hear this all the time, why make homemade pizza dough when you can buy it? Well, because it tastes better, and making your own pizza dough connects you to your food.
Pizza-making skills are excellent to master in addition to your overall cooking skills. Plus, making your own homemade pizza dough is cheaper and healthier since you control all of the ingredients going into it.
How to Make Homemade Pizza Dough
Homemade pizza dough is highly customizable. You can make basic homemade pizza dough with 00 or bread flour, whole wheat dough, sourdough, gluten-free dough, and yeast-free dough.
All of these doughs make amazing pizza. But if you want to make a good thing even better, let’s take a look at our ten favorite ways to add flavor to your homemade pizza dough.
10 Ways To Add Flavor to Your Homemade Pizza Dough
All of these additions add flavor and texture to homemade pizza dough. We encourage you all to try at least one of these on your next pizza night.
Cheese: Asiago or Parmesan
It’s as simple as cheese. Add some cheese directly into your pizza dough for a cheesy bite. And we aren’t talking about a stuffed crust necessarily, just a spoonful or two of some grated Parmesano Reggiano or Asiago.
Both of these Italian cheeses are hard cheeses that will add a nice nutty buttery flavor to your pizza crust. Basically, you could use any firm cheese like Pecorino or Manchego. But do not make the mistake of adding too much; a little does goes a long way with your pizza dough.
Also, avoid trying this with softer melty cheeses like provolone, Gouda, or mozzarella because they will make the dough too oily and wet. Our absolute favorite would always be parmesan with a bit of garlic.
You can also try nutritional yeast as an alternative to cheese.
Of course, beer pairs well with pizza. An ice-cold pint of lager with a slice of pepperoni makes an excellent Friday night pizza night. But did you know you can add beer directly to the dough too?
Add beer instead of water to your flour for a supple dough. You can choose light beers like pilsners and lagers or even go with darker beers for a more intense flavor.
As our midwestern Grandma used to say, “Everything is better with butter.” And it’s true with pizza dough too. Adding butter to pizza dough gives it a softer crumb or crust. The key here is to add it after the dough has been kneaded, so the gluten has a chance to form.
Whenever adding fat to a dough, make sure it is after the gluten has formed otherwise, the fat will inhibit the gluten, which is key to the stretchy consistency of pizza dough.
Ok, this is a no-brainer; sprinkle herbs and spices on your pizza dough for extra flavor. Italian herbs like oregano, basil, and thyme are good choices. We almost always add a bit of oregano. Or Italian seasoning blends are excellent options, too.
Dry herbs are going to be the easiest to work with; save the fresh herbs for another dish or to sprinkle them on after the pizza comes out of the oven.
Red Pepper Flakes
This one is for pizza lovers who adore the heat. If hot sauce on pizza isn’t enough for you, add crushed red pepper flakes directly to the dough and bake the heat right into the crust. This is an easy way to really add spicy flavor to homemade pizza without your kids even noticing.
Honey or Molasses
Replacing the sprinkle of sugar that activates the yeast in pizza dough with honey can result in a sweeter pizza with a golden crust. Honey’s darker, richer cousin, molasses, is also a good choice.
Both honey and molasses create caramelization and aid the fermentation process because it takes longer for the yeast to break them down than sugar.
Leftover mashed potatoes added to a pizza dough result in a fluffy dough that has a unique texture and taste. Instant mashed potato flakes also have the same result.
Replace the water in the dough with sour cream for a softer, fluffier dough with a bit of tanginess. Mexican sour cream called “crema” is also a good addition. Crema has a softer tangier bite than regular sour cream. Buttermilk is another option for tangy dough. The Latina wife loves this stuff!
A teaspoon or two of apple cider vinegar can add a nice zest to your pizza dough. We like this especially well when making vegetarian pizzas. Roasted vegetables like zucchini and eggplant have a nice nuanced flavor with a little apple cider vinegar in the dough.
Again, be careful not to add too much; less is better here because too much vinegar can inhibit the dough from rising.
Everything Bagel Seasoning
Everything Bagel Seasoning is a mix of toasted sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried garlic, dried onion, and salt. Just sprinkle some right in the dough for extra flavor and texture to your basic homemade pizza dough. We know you all saw the movie Everything Everywhere All At Once. Now try putting that flavor on your pizza – just be kind to yourself and add flavor to your homemade pizza dough!
If you don’t have time or energy to make homemade pizza dough, you can use some of these flavor enhancers to upgrade frozen pizza crust. Brush the crust with butter or olive oil and sprinkle herbs, Everything Bagel seasoning, red pepper flakes, or cheese to make your frozen pizza better.
What are your favorite ways to add flavor to your homemade pizza dough?