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Frying pan pizza

Updated: Tue, 6 October, 2020

Pizza should be a joyous event rather than a greasy carb fix when you can't be bothered to cook. If you've never tried to start with flour and water, now is the time to meet the best pizza this side of Naples!

frying pan pizza

'Let's order pizza in'

NO - don't let us order pizza in, not after you've tried to make it at home. Once you've tried, you'll feel bad about every time you called Domino's.

Pizza should be an event rather than a late evening stopgap when you can't even be bothered to heat up a tin of beans. Pizza should be celebrated. And above all – pizza should be eaten hot!

Let me explain.

thin crust pizza made on hob and under grill

What is the most important thing about pizza?

Well, duh – toppings, right? WRONG. The most important thing is the pizza crust. It should be tasty, crisp, slightly charred underneath and topped according to the principle ‘less is more’.

What the rest of the world has completely forgotten is the fact that pizza is poor man’s food.

It’s bread. It’s scraping a bit of flour to make plain dough, roll it out to stretch – both in the literal and in the figurative sense – further; and top with what little you have.

Tomatoes, always plentiful and ripe in the Italian south, some cheese made at home because you keep a cow (or a buffalo?), herbs and a scrap of ham if it’s fortuitously available.

the best pizza this side of Naples

Pizza evolution

Once taken out of Naples, pizza became a pie (?), a treat (but in a wrong way), a carbfest, cheesefest and abomination with stuffed crust and pineapple on top.

I’m not necessarily saying evolution of ethnic dishes is wrong – some so-called Chinese stir fries born in America are actually gorgeous, as are some not-so-Indian curries. But to go from peasant food to one of the main contributors to child obesity is a bit wrong.

pizza made at home in a frying pan

How to make pizza dough?

To get the dough right is incredibly easy. The recipe won’t make much difference: I’ve tried Peter Reinhart’s, Heston Blumenthal’s and others. At the end of the day it’s flour (00 helps, but not obligatory), water, salt and yeast to make it up to firm but pliable dough.

It should knead easily, it is usually forgiving if you add a little too much water or oil, and you can certainly do it by hand if you don’t own a mixer.

Dough can be prepared a couple of hours or so before cooking but it makes everything even easier if you make the dough the night before. Use less yeast and more salt than you’d think was needed, shape a ball and leave it overnight at room temperature.

The next morning you might think it’s a disaster because the dough had gone bonkers in the night and is threatening to escape the bowl – calm down. It will last easily up to 24 hours.

Contrarywise – if it did nothing much at all in the night, leave it in peace until it’s time to cook; it will expand nicely unless your yeast, flour or water was off. *wink*

The long and slow fermentation almost turns it into a sourdough pizza dough considering how little yeast goes into it.

I have, incidentally, made and compared sourdough and yeasted pizza side by side and I can report there was no discernible difference in taste or texture.

Simple topping is the key

My favourite, as below, is (in that order): tomato sauce, basil, cheese, ham, olives and fresh tomatoes. I like to add a little bit of Parmesan and smoked salt if I have some on top of the sauce, for a subtle but distinct umami kick.

The ingredients are less important than the crust, but it doesn’t mean they should be rubbish.

thin crust, simple topping and red hot grill for perfect pizza

Homemade tomato sauce

Tomato sauce – without the shade of the question of the doubt – is best made at home. Open a jar and knock yourself out but since you have gone to the trouble of making the dough, how can cooking down a tin of chopped tomatoes be a chore?

Look up my tomato sauce recipe – or just simmer some passata with salt and pepper for half an hour to reduce it. That’s all it takes.

What cheese to put on a pizza?

Cheese can be mozzarella but not necessarily. Italians also use taleggio or its cousin cremona, both creamier and runnier in a nice way than mozzarella.

And the latter really should not be the expensive, buffalo kind. Mozzarella di bufala is gorgeous and I’m not too stingy to use it but it’s really wet in the middle and it makes the pizza soggy.

So unless you insist on the buffalo stuff and want to drain and squeeze it really well, use good quality cow’s milk cheese meant for cooking with.

Best toppings on pizza – less is more

And the rest of the toppings is, in my view, just a decoration and flavouring.

A pack of sliced ham or prosciutto will cover six pizzas. A handful of olives will decorate them amply. A couple of crisp rashers of pancetta? Why not.

Several air-thin salami or pepperoni slices, maybe artichokes, maybe a spoonful of beef ragu. And if you are not a meat eater, experiment with various cheeses and it won’t be unorthodox: see quattro staggioni.

the best homemade pizza from scratch

How to bake pizza at home?

Finally – no go if you don’t have a wood fired oven? Now here’s the trick: I first learnt about it from Pizza Pilgrims, brothers James and Thom Elliot.

I read about it a good few years ago and it was a revelation. Indeed, nothing will reproduce a wood oven - bar a smoking hot pan and a roasting hot grill. No wood oven involved, it’s an absolutely ace method.

I use a large cast iron skillet but in the past an ordinary large frying pan served me well too. Don’t fret if your pan is not grill-proof: after the hob stage of charring the underside, you can slide the pizza – very carefully – onto a baking tray and slip it underneath the grill.

The only downside of the home pizza experience I can think of is that there are less likely to be any leftovers for the next morning’s breakfast. But should there be any – they will be amazing.

Frying pan pizza

Servings: makes 3 large pizzasTime: 1 hour plus proving dough overnight


  • 400G Italian ‘00’ grade flour, or strong white bread flour
  • 3g fresh or ¼ tsp fast action yeast
  • 10g salt
  • 240g/ml water, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp olive oil plus a little more for kneading
  • a little semolina
  • For the topping:
  • tomato sauce made from 1lb fresh tomatoes or one tin, recipe here
  • 3-4 tbsp grated Parmesan
  • smoked salt (optional)
  • a small bunch of basil leaves
  • 150g good quality cooking mozzarella
  • 3-5 slices of prosciutto, or cooked ham if preferred
  • a few cherry tomatoes
  • a few olives (optional)
  • olive oil


1. Start the dough the night before you want to make the pizza. Mix the flour with the yeast and salt, add  the water and oil and knead for about 10-15 minutes, until it’s smooth and elastic, doesn’t stick to your hands or bounces off the mixer bowl walls. Place it in a large bowl covered with cling film and keep in ambient temperature for 18-24 hours.

2. Prepare the sauce and bring all the topping ingredients to room temperature. Halve the cherry tomatoes, squeeze out the seeds, sprinkle the cut surface with salt and place them cut side down on a paper towel, to drain the moisture. Slice the mozzarella or tear it roughly. Thinly slice the olives, if using. Tear prosciutto slices into smaller pieces.

3. Divide the dough in three pieces (about 200g each), shape into balls and leave on a floured surface for 20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, preheat a cast iron skillet or a frying pan large enough for a pizza to fit in (30cm diameter) on the hob, until smoking. Preheat the grill to the highest setting with the rack in the highest position.

5. Stretch the dough balls out or roll them out with a rolling pin to discs about 25cm in diameter. Sprinkling some semolina under the dough disc might help transport it into the pan, if you use a peel.

6. You can build the pizza before it goes into the pan but in that case place it on a piece of parchment, transport it to the smoking hot pan and then carefully slip the parchment from underneath the dough once it starts to set, prodding it up with a fish slice.

7. Otherwise transfer the plain dough disc into the hot pan using a peel, just your hands or half-wrapping it around a rolling pin. Lay it flat in the pan, spread the tomato sauce over it, sprinkle with Parmesan and smoked salt, if using, add a few basil leaves, a third of the mozzarella pieces and the prosciutto chunks. Drizzle with olive oil and place a few cherry tomato halves and olive slices on it.

how to build frying pan pizza

8. When the base starts to get charred (use the fish slice again to look underneath), take the pan off the hob and place it under the grill. This won’t take any time at all – as soon as the cheese starts to bubble, it’s ready.

Pizza under grill

9. Slide it off the pan onto a wooden board – this is a tricky bit as the large pan will be heavy and hot – cut with a pizza wheel and serve. Bring the pan back on the hob to get smoking hot again for the next pizza. 

Originally published: Mon, 10 November, 2014

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Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Pizzafan - it will work. You might have possibly put in too much yeast (recipe says only a pinch or a crumb of fresh), hence the blow-out rise. It will deflate when you divide it, then let it rest shaped in balls and you should be in business.
5 years ago
You say to leave the dough at 'ambient temperature for 18-24hrs', is this in or out of the fridge? I have just used your recipe and I left it out of the fridge overnight and it has quadrupled in size, have I let it rise too much, curious if this will still work?
5 years ago

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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