How To Use A Pizza Pan With Holes In It: They Just Work Better

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 oven’s heat and don’t cook the crust very well. While not nearly as efficient as a pizza steel, a pizza pan with holes in it solves this problem.

Psst! Just wanted to let you know that Ooni is running a 20-30% off sale on pizza ovens until May 29th. If you’ve been holding off on one because of cost, now’s the time! Perfect for summer!

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.

Tip: If you’re willing to spend a bit more, a pizza steel is superior to a perforated pizza pan in every way. Learn how I use a $99 Ooni pizza steel to make pizzeria quality pizza at home here.

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.

neapolitan pizza dough shaped open How To Use A Pizza Pan With Holes In It: They Just Work Better
Be gentle and use your hands until your dough looks something like this. Notice the airy edges of the crust.

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.

pizza stone vs pan with holes 13 How To Use A Pizza Pan With Holes In It: They Just Work Better
Spread the dough gently across the pan leaving edges untouched for a Neapolitan style. For reference, this pan is 14 inches wide and the dough weighs 250 grams.

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.

pizza stone vs pan with holes 4 How To Use A Pizza Pan With Holes In It: They Just Work Better
This pre-baked crust has just been sauced. Since it’s a Neapolitan style, I’m going to add cheese after baking this for another minute or so.

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.

pizza stone vs pan with holes 10 How To Use A Pizza Pan With Holes In It: They Just Work Better
You can see how the holes have made little circles in the crust. These should be slightly golden brown when the pizza is finished.
pizza stone vs pan with holes 12 How To Use A Pizza Pan With Holes In It: They Just Work Better
This pizza came out surprisingly well for a pan pizza.

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

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  1. hey question – what would happen if you put the pizza pan on the stone to bake? would it damage the pan or the stone?

    1. Good question!

      There shouldn’t be any problem putting the pizza pan directly on the hot pizza stone. In fact, that’s something I frequently do when making Detroit style pizza. It will probably help the pizza cook faster on the underside, which is a good thing.

      However, with that being said, for this type of pizza, if you’ve gone through the trouble of preheating the stone, it might be better to bake the pizza directly on the stone without the pan instead. Or at least transfer the pizza to the stone halfway through the baking process once the dough has solidified.

      In general, the purpose of using the pizza pan with holes in it is to avoid the hassle of preheating a stone.

      But in either case, putting the pan directly on the stone shouldn’t pose any problems or risks at all. If anything it will be an improvement over the pan itself.

  2. Hello,
    Should the perforated pan be oiled to prevent the crust from sticking? Also, thanks for the article! Does it make a difference if I’m using homemade gluten free pizza crust?

    1. Hi Bridgette, thanks for the question!

      If you’re using semolina flour to stretch the dough before transferring it to the perforated pan, you shouldn’t need anything else to prevent sticking. That said, there’s no harm in adding oil, and it might even help to brown the bottom of the crust as it cooks. Just keep in mind that once the bottom of the dough touches the oil, it might be a little harder to stretch, so make sure it’s completely relaxed and stretched out before adding it to the pan.

      Hope that helps.


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