Traditionally, homemade pizza was made using a “pizza pan”, which is basically a round metal pan the shape of a pizza. But these pans actually block the ovens heat and don’t cook the crust well. A Pizza pan with holes in it solves this problem.
A pizza pan with holes in it, also known as a perforated pizza pan, is better because it let’s the bottom crust come in direct contact with the oven’s heat. To use a perforated pizza pan, simply prepare the pizza on the pan as you would any other and place it on the bottom rack of your oven.
In the following short article I’ll explain the benefits of a pizza pan with holes in it and show you how to use one. I’ll also compare and contrast this method to other well-known pizza making tools like pizza stones and steels.
Looking for a perforated pizza pan? I’ve used this one – it’s inexpensive and works just fine.
Benefits of a pizza pan with holes in it
Most pizza pans actually hinder the cooking of a pizza crust simply because they block the hot air of the oven from crisping the bottom of the pizza. The crust won’t even begin to cook until several minutes into the baking process when the pan has had a chance to heat up.
A pizza pan with holes solves this undercooking problem by letting hot air circulate under the pizza crust almost immediately when placed in the oven. For even better results, place the pan on the bottom rack as close to the heating element as possible.
Pizza Pan With Holes Vs Pizza Stone
A pizza stone is generally accepted as the best way to mimic professional pizzeria style pizza in a home oven. This is because the stone gets super-hot and begins to cook the underside of the pizza crust immediately upon contact with the dough.
I love using my pizza stone for Neapolitan and NYC style pizza and you can read my guide on how to use a pizza stone here.
But pizza stones are not super easy to use for beginners. For one, they require the use of a pizza peel which takes some practice learning how to slide the dough easily without sticking. Pizza stones also require preheating for an hour or two before use, which pretty much eliminates satisfying a last minute pizza craving.
This is where a perforated pizza pan can come in handy. They don’t require the use of a peel, only require preheating the oven for 10-15 minutes, and they actually manage to cook the underside of the pizza unlike most pans.
Pizza pans with holes in them are actually a little bit of a pizza making hack when you don’t have a stone available. It’s never going to work quite as well as a stone, but it comes surprisingly close with a lot less effort and preparation.
How to use a pizza pan with holes
To use a pizza pan with holes in it, or a perforated pizza pan, you’ll first need a proofed ball of dough to work with.
If you need a pizza dough recipe, you can use my recipe here. My recipe has instructions for how to ball and proof the dough as well so be sure you’ve got that covered first if you want the best results using your perforated pizza pan.
1 – Preheat Your Oven
Preheat your oven at the maximum temperature for at least 20 minutes before baking. You want to get your whole oven as hot as possible, not just the censor inside it.
2 – Shape The Dough By Hand
For this example, I’m going to make a Neapolitan style pizza.
Using your hands, gently press the dough ball starting from the middle and working your way to the outer edges. The goal here to to move the air from the middle and into the edges of the crust where it will become nice and fluffy.
You’ll want to perform this step on a countertop or other clean surface. Be sure to use plenty of semolina flour under the dough to prevent sticking while you shape it.
3 – Transfer The Dough To The Pan
Gently lift the dough using the back of your hand to prevent tearing and place it onto the pan.
Carefully pull the edges of the dough out until it’s about 10-12 inches in diameter, depending on the initial size of your dough ball.
Remember that, unlike a cooking a pizza on a stone or a normal pan, the dough won’t shrink at all as it cooks. This is because the dough sinks into the holes a bit and prevents it from sliding inwards on itself, so whatever the diameter of the dough on the pan is the same diameter it will bake into as a pizza.
4 – Pre-Bake The Crust On The Bottom Rack
This might seem like a weird unnecessary step, but I really recommend pre-baking the crust without sauce or toppings for about 3-4 minutes – especially when using a pan in a home oven.
A pan simply doesn’t get hot enough quickly enough compared to a pizza stone. This often prevents oven-spring in the middle of the dough and makes the crust too thin and lifeless.
Pre-baking the crust is the best way to get a thin crust that’s still airy and light. You’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes.
5 – Top The Pizza
When the crust has puffed up around the edges and started to bubble in the middle, take it out. The edges of the crust should still be quite pale with maybe a little bit of spotting starting to form on the bottom.
Don’t leave it in too long or it will blow up completely like a fresh tortilla. If this happens, just let it deflate before adding sauce.
Since I’m making a Neapolitan style pizza with fresh mozzarella, I’m going to continue baking the crust with just sauce.
Tip: If you’re making an American style pizza with low-moisture mozzarella, you can go ahead and add it right along with the sauce and skip step 4.
6 – Add Fresh Mozzarella & Bake
After about 1-2 minutes have passed, your sauce and crust should be nicely pre-baked. Take it out and add fresh mozzarella and whatever other toppings you want.
Place the pizza pan back on the bottom rack as close to the heating element as possible. This will ensure your pizza has the best chance at getting a nice and crispy underside.
The remainder of the baking time will vary depending on your oven and what type of toppings you’re using, but you can periodically check the bottom crust to get a feel for how things are going.
7 – Monitor Pizza Until It’s Finished
When the pizza is finished, the exposed circles on the underside will be lightly golden while the cheese and other toppings are cooked to your liking.
Immediately add some grated parmesan and fresh basil after taking it out of the oven.
Tip: Don’t let the edges of the crust get too brown before taking it out. This usually means it’s overdone and the crust will be hard and crunchy instead of soft and crispy.
So there you have it – an easy and quick alternative to the standard pizza stone method that produces a surprisingly decent pizza.
That being said, I won’t be getting rid of my pizza stone anytime soon.
The biggest drawback with using the pan compared to a stone is the lack of heat coming from the bottom. The holes help with this but it only goes so far.
I find that when baking on a pan, the top of the pizza tends to get a bit overdone while the bottom remains fairly pale. It also takes some practice to get the pre-baking stages timed correctly.
But all that being said, a pizza pan with holes in it still produces a great pizza.