Why Your Pizza Crust Is So Hard

2021 Update: I’ve written a much more in depth article on this topic. Check it out here instead of this one.

If you’ve tried making pizza at home before, you’ve probably encountered this problem before. You’re expecting a light, puffy, slightly crispy crust, but instead your pizza crust ends up hard, dry and pale. So frustating! Read on to learn how to fix hard pizza crust.

This is a common problem – and thankfully it comes with an easy solution.


Why Is My Pizza Crust So Hard & Pale?

Add honey and oil to your dough recipe to aid browning and cook it less. Then, adjust the level of hydration in your dough to avoid drying out in the oven. I aim for 70-80% for my homemade pizza doughs.

You see, your home oven isn’t the same as the ovens they use in pizzerias – and that’s why it’s harder for us to make good dough at home.

Home ovens only reach temperatures of around 500°F max, while pizzeria ovens can go up to 1000°F or even higher.

And generally speaking, the hotter the oven, the better the pizza crust.

There are two main advantages to baking pizza in a super-hot oven. First, pizzeria ovens are hot enough to brown the crust of the pizza—this is often called “leopard spotting”, those slightly charred edges around the crust that taste so good.

Second, the extreme high heat allows the pizza to cook quickly enough before the inner part of the crust dries out completely.

This all leaves you with a pizzeria pizza that’s crispy and charred along the edges, but soft and chewy when you bite into it—basically the perfect pizza.

So where does this leave home pizza-makers, especially when our ovens barely go over 500°F? Thankfully, all hope is not lost. We just need to make a couple of alterations to our recipe … 

Jump straight to the fix

a margherita pizza sliding out of a pizza oven
That oven will many anything crispy…

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how to fix dry pizza dough
If you’re not ready to make a pizza tonight, save this to your Pizza Board on Pinterest!

How To Fix Hard Pizza Dough

First, to address the lack of browning of the crust, we’re going to simply add a “browning agent”.

There are plenty of browning agents availability to use. I like to add a teaspoon of honey and a glug of extra virgin olive oil when I make my dough (see my complete dough recipe with even more tips here).

This little bit of honey and oil is not enough to change the taste of the dough, but more than enough to make your outer crust crispy and golden. Honey is also incredibly healthy, by the way!

a spoonful of fresh honey
Try adding a little honey to your pizza dough.

Second, we’re going to address the issue of the dryness from leaving the pizza in the oven so long at a low temperature.

For this, I’m simply going to increase the hydration level of my dough. This allows the crust to withstand the extra cooking time without completely drying out. 

For example, your typical pizza recipe calls for around 55% hydration, and that’s perfectly fine for a pizza oven. But for my homemade pizzas, I use between 70-80% hydration and the difference really shows (recipe here).

 At the end of the day, learning to make pizza is a journey as you build a new (and totally tasty) skill. Experiment lots – because when your experiments aren’t perfect, they’re usually still tasty enough! 

So go ahead and experiment by adding a bit of honey and extra water to your pizza dough recipes. Or if you like, you can check out my pan pizza and neapolitan pizza recipes.

Buon Appetito! (That’s Italian for Bon Appetit!)

Pizza dough secret ingredient
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Hi, I'm Domenic, the founder of this website. I've been making pizza at home for over 15 years and in that time I've perfected what it takes to bake a delicious pizza in a home oven. My goal is to share that information and experience with you.

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