Why 00 Flour Is Best For Pizza: What It Is & How It Makes A Difference


If you’ve been in the pizza making game for even a little while, you’ve likely heard about 00, or Tipo 00, flour. But what exactly is 00 flour and why is it preferred over regular all-purpose flour.

Tipo 00 flour is the best flour for pizza for one reason: the fineness of the grains. Tipo 00 flour is a finely ground Italian milled flour that is perfect for pizza because the fine grains create a delicate and fluffy crust. Tipo 00 flour comes in many variations of protein and gluten as well, which makes it easy to find the right type of 00 flour for your favorite kind of pizza.

There is a whole world of Tipo 00 flours out there and the differences between them aren’t nearly as simple as many food blogs would have you believe.

In fact, many reputable food blogs claim that 00 flour is “low protein” which really just represents a fundamental misunderstanding of this type of flour. This misunderstanding stems from the fact that American flours are measured by protein content while European flours are categorized by how finely ground the grains are. Tipo 00 flour, in fact, comes in many varieties of protein content.

To help clear up these misunderstandings, let’s go over what Tipo 00 flour is, why it’s the best flour for pizza and how to choose the best kind of Tipo 00 flour for whatever kind of pizza you love.

Tipo 00 flour is very finely milled.

Tipo 00 Flour Is A Finely Milled Italian Flour

As I mentioned briefly earlier, “00” refers only to the fineness of the grain of the flour. This is because “00” is a European categorization for flour and European flours are categorized by how finely ground the grains are. Tipo 00 flour is the most finely ground flour available.

American flours, on the other hand, are typically categorized by protein content. This means that the main difference between all-purpose, bread and pastry flours are higher and lower levels of protein. Protein levels generally affect how much gluten will form in the dough and therefore how chewy or tough the resulting crust bread will be.

This discrepancy between American and European flour categorizations has caused a lot of confusion in the food blogging community about what exactly sets 00 flour apart from other kinds of flours.

Contrary to many popular food blogs, 00 flour has nothing to do with protein content or how much gluten will form in the dough. In fact, 00 flour comes in a wide range of protein content as well as water absorbability. Water absorbability refers to the amount of water a flour can absorb before it gets oversaturated.

Tipo 00 Flour Helps Make Pizza Light & Fluffy

Because 00 flour is the most refined of all flours, when used to make pizza dough it affects the crust in several ways.

Finer flours with smaller grains, like 00, tend to absorb less water than flours with larger grains like all-purpose and bread flours. This means that a pizza dough made with 00 flour will be more hydrated than a pizza dough using another type of flour following the same recipe.

For example, if you follow a recipe calling for 65% water using an all-purpose flour with a 65% water absorption rate, you will wind up with a pizza dough that has a 65% hydration level. However, if you follow that same recipe using a 00 flour with a 60% water absorption level, you will end up with a pizza dough with a 70% hydration level.

This happens because the 00 flour, typically, absorbs less water than other flours. So if you’re looking for a super-hydrated dough, that’s great, but if you aren’t, you can safely lower the amount of water you’re using for a stronger and drier dough when using 00 flour.

Another very important way that 00 flour affects pizza is terms of the texture and digestibility of the crust.

Because 00 flour has finer grains, when used in a pizza dough the crust will be lighter and will puff up more easily. It also means the grains will be easier for your stomach to digest.

Personally, I just prefer the pizza crust I get from using 00 flour compared to all-purpose or bread flour. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t made some very tasty pizza crusts using all-purpose flour – it just was a bit heavier and had more of a bread-like texture and taste to it.

Tipo 00 flour can help you achieve a light and puffy pizza crust like this one.

Tipo 00 Flour & The “W” Index

The “W” index is something you will see listed on Tipo 00 flour packages but not usually on other kinds of commercial flour.

The “W” and the number value that comes after it are simply an indicator of the flour’s strength, specifically the elasticity of the flour’s gluten. If the W is not listed on the package, you can often deduce what it is based on the protein content. For example, W280 flour typically has a protein content of 11%.

Generally speaking, a higher W index value has stronger gluten networks that produces a stronger dough that can trap gasses more easily during fermentation. I use this index simply as a way to quickly identify which 00 flour will produce the strongest dough. Typically the 00 flour I buy has a rating between W250 and W300.

Here’s a general guide to understanding how the W index roughly translates to protein content.

Flour Type“W” ValueProtein Content (by Weight)Dough Types
Weak flour90 – 1609% – 10%Biscuits, cakes.
Medium strength flour160 – 25010% – 12.5%Pizza, focaccia, baguettes, pugliese bread.
Strong flourabove 300above 13%Sourdough bread.
A rough guide to “W” index values and protein content. Data courtesy of WikipediaOpens in a new tab..
This Tipo 00 flour has a “W” index rating of W280.

Antimo Caputo Flours

If you’ve started your search for 00 flours, you’ve probably already come across Antimo Caputo, one of the biggest producers of Tipo 00 flour in the world.

This Italian flour milling company started operations in 1924 in Naples. Caputo prides itself on procuring the best soft wheats from around the world and blending them together to create fine soft flours with a huge variety of other characteristics like

Caputo flour also happens to be one of the most common and prolific sellers of 00 flour on Amazon, which is the main reason I bring them up. Selling on Amazon means this flour and its many varieties are available to anyone who has their service, at least in the US.

But if you’ve ever searched Amazon and perused Caputo’s offerings, you’ll notice they sell lots of different flours marketed as 00. Let’s go over what the different kinds are, what the terminology means and how to pick the best flour for your next pizza.

Italian translations

Despite doing so much business outside of Italy, the Caputo company still uses quite a bit of Italian on their packaging and website. I’ve even noticed some discrepancies on the English and Italian versions of their website, notably that they provide a lot more technical information about their flours in Italian.

So let’s first go over what the most common Italian terms mean when it comes to 00 flour.

  • Farina: This means flour in Italian
  • Antimo Caputo: This is the name of the company that produces the flour.
  • Molino Caputo: Molino means “mill”, and here it refers to the name of the mill Caputo uses, or “Caputo Mill”.
  • Antico Molino: Antico means “old” in Italian, so here it refers to the “old mill” that Caputo uses to mill their flour.
  • Di Grano Tenero: This means “of soft grains”, referring to the flour.
  • Tipo 00: This simply means “type 00”.
  • Il Mulino di Napoli: “The Mill of Naples”. This is more of a slogan than anything else.
  • Panificazione: This means literally “bread-making”, but refers specifically to the W index value.
  • Elasticita: Elasticity of the gluten
  • Proteine: Protein

Different Kinds Of Caputo 00 Flours

There are so many different kinds of Caputo 00 flour that it’s difficult to know where to begin. But let’s just start with the ones that are most common on Amazon, since most people have access to their products in some form or another.

All of these flours have their uses, but for most people I recommend using Caputo’s 00 Chef’s Flour. This flour has a relatively high protein content and a strong W index rating, meaning it will produce a pizza crust that is soft but can still stand up to long fermentation periods. This is an especially good dough for highly hydrated, no-knead doughs that are following by a few days of cold-fermenting in the fridge.

Caputo 00 Chef’s flour is also widely available on Amazon which is a huge bonus for people living far away from major cities where 00 flour isn’t easily found.

Caputo 00 Pizzeria FlourOpens in a new tab.

  • Flour Type: 00
  • Protein: 12.5%
  • Shelf Life: 12 months
  • “W” Index: W260/W270
  • H20 Absorbability: 55-57%

The Caputo 00 “Pizzeria” line of flour is among the most popular flours for pizzerias, and for good reason.

This flour has a high protein content and a strong W index rating. This means the flour will form a dough that is strong and elastic while also holding up to long fermentation periods.

Caputo 00 Pizzeria is perfect for high temperature ovens, especially ones that reach up to 900F, which is ideal for Neapolitan style pizza. The elasticity and strength of the gluten is is what makes this one great for leaving in the fridge to cold ferment for several days.

Caputo 00 “Pizzeria” flour

Caputo 00 Classica FlourOpens in a new tab.

  • Flour Type: 00 Extra
  • Protein: 11.5%
  • Shelf Life: 12 months
  • “W” Index: W220/W240
  • H20 Absorbability: 55-57%

Caputo 00 “Classica” flour is on the weaker side of the flour spectrum due to its low protein content and W index rating. Because of this, it’s recommended by Caputo for doughs that require a shorter rising and fermentation time.

This means that “classica” flour is perfect, in my opinion, for making a pizza crust you plan on using the same day. The dough will definitely be on the weaker side and may tear if you’re not gentle with it, but it will mimic a lot of the qualities we look for in pizza doughs that have had a long rising time and/or have been cold-fermented for multiple days.

I still prefer to do the actual long-fermentation to get those hard to reproduce sourdough-like flavors. But if I was looking to create a super delicate dough in a hurry, I’d reach for this kind of flour.

Caputo “Classica” flour

Caputo 00 Pizza A MetroOpens in a new tab.

  • Flour Type: 00
  • Protein: 13.25%
  • Shelf Life: 12 months
  • “W” Index: W310/W330
  • H20 Absorbability: 55-60%

Caputo’s 00 “Pizza a Metro” line of flour literally translates to “pizza by the meter”. This flour is very strong, with a high protein content and a strong W index rating, and will produce a dough with a lot of strength and elasticity.

This flour was specifically designed for a kind of long rectangle pizza served in Italy, particular Rome, that is priced by the meter. It’s also a good flour to use for focaccia bread, which is prepared very similarly to thicker pan shaped pizza.

Generally speaking, the longer a pizza dough ferments, the weaker the dough becomes. But because of this flour’s strength and durability, it’s perfect for long fermentation periods. This means you can cold ferment your dough using this flour for several days in the fridge without losing much in terms of strength.

Caputo 00 pizza a metro isn’t always available easily in the US, but when you see some for sale I would pick it up and save it for super fermented pizza dough.

Caputo “Pizza A Metro” flour

Caputo 00 Chef’s Flour

  • Flour Type: 00
  • Protein: 13%
  • Shelf Life: 12 months
  • “W” Index: W300/W320
  • H20 Absorbability: 55-57%

Caputo’s 00 “Chef’s Flour” line is interesting because it falls right between the “Pizzeria” and “Pizza a Metro” lines of flour we discussed previously.

This “chef’s” flour has a relatively high protein content as well as a moderately high W index rating. This means any pizza dough you make using this flour will be fairly strong and hold up to somewhat long fermentation periods without losing too much elasticity.

In my opinion, this is a great flour to consider if you’re going to be fermenting your dough for more than a day or so. The “pizza a metro” flour works for this as well, but seems to be harder to come by in the United States, while this flour is readily available on Amazon.

So if you’re in the market for a flour that you can use in a no-knead recipe and then let cold ferment in the fridge for several days, this is a great choice.

The lower water absorption rate will also ensure your dough is nice and soft without have to overhydrate it with lots of water in your recipe.

Caputo “Chef’s Flour” flour

Non-Caputo Flour: King Arthur “Italian Style” Flour

  • Flour Type: 00
  • Protein: 8%
  • Shelf Life: 12 months
  • “W” Index: W200 (estimate)
  • H20 Absorbability: 50-55% (estimate)

This isn’t a Caputo brand flour, obviously, but I’ve included here because it’s available on Amazon and many people have asked me about it.

King Arthur’s “Italian Style” flour markets itself as being super soft and delicate, even more so than typical Italian 00 flours. And at only 8.5% protein content, I’m sure any dough you make with this flour will be just as soft and “mellow” as they advertise.

Personally, 8.5% protein is just a bit too weak for me, especially since I prefer to use no-knead pizza doughs which tend to be on the weaker side anyways.

I might consider using this dough in conjunction with a pre-fermented dough starter like poolish or biga, since the flour won’t have much of a chance to break down further, but I wouldn’t ferment this flour by itself much at all. It’s simply too weak to withhold to the fermentation process and will be almost impossible to work with, let alone stretch into a pizza dough.

Instead, I’d use King Arthur’s Italian Style flour more for pastries and crackers, etc.

King Arthur’s “Italian Style” flour

Can I use plain flour instead of 00 flour for pizza

If you don’t have access to Tipo 00 flour at your local market, or don’t like purchasing from Amazon for whatever reason, you still have options. Regular all-purpose flour is perfectly fine for making pizza dough. In fact, I recommend it over stronger bread flours.

All-purpose flour grains are bigger than in 00 flour so it can absorb a lot more moisture in many cases. For this reason, you may want to add a bit of extra water (2-3%) compared to a 00 pizza recipe to make sure the crust is nice and soft. This is especially true if you’re baking it a lower temperature home oven which requires a longer baking time.

I’ve made plenty of pizza using all-purpose flour when 00 wasn’t available. It’s a good middle ground flour that I recommend cold-fermenting for a couple of days before using to soften it up a bit.

Final Thoughts

Tipo 00 flour is great, it’s what I prefer to use when making pizza, but it isn’t the be-all end-all. And as you’ve seen, there is plenty of variation between different types of 00 since 00 is a category of flour and not a specific type of flour anyways.

If you’re looking for the best 00 flour for all around usage, I recommend getting one that is strong like the Caputo’s “Pizza a Metro” line or the “Chef’s Flour” line. These flours will give you a pizza dough that is strong but also perfectly suited for long fermentations that will bake into a light and airy crust.

A a rule of thumb, aim for a 00 flour that has between 11-12% protein. This will ensure your pizza dough is strong but not too chewy or bread-like compared with using a strong bread flour.

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Domenic

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.

2 thoughts on “Why 00 Flour Is Best For Pizza: What It Is & How It Makes A Difference

  1. Hi Domenic,
    Thanks for a wonderful share which I learned so many things.
    I am a beginner and hope to make good pizza some day!
    I was inspired after having a pizza from a local restaurant. The chef stayed in Italy for few months to learn the craft. I am really amazed and delighted to understand what a pizza should be and I am learning to know how to make it right.

    Best wishes & thank you!

    1. Hi, Rachel. So glad you enjoyed the post.

      Pizza really is an art form. There’s a reason why it’s among the most popular foods in Italy and around the world.

      If you ever have any questions about making pizza, feel free to get in touch.

      Cheers!
      Domenic

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