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Thin Crust Skillet Pizza

Posted by Denise on January 31, 2013

skillet thin crust pizza on board
Crispy thin crust and gooey cheese combine perfectly with my favorite toppings to make my mouth sing!

As I’ve stated in previous posts, I’m completely nuts for pizza. I’m always on the lookout for new ways to cook a really good pizza at home without having to resort to what I think of as “cardboard pizza”. You know the type, the frozen circle of dough spritzed with a little bit of sauce and a thin covering of cheese, either from the fast-food pizza deliverers or the frozen section of the supermarket. These seemed the only solution to a weeknight pizza “fix” until I discovered how easy it is to make really good pizza dough. I mean, it only takes 4 to 7 ingredients depending on how you flavor the dough. It takes about 10 minutes to make the dough when you have done it a few times, then it needs to rise for about 90 minutes. Within 2 hours of starting, you can be eating piping hot and fresh pizza. Oh, you don’t have 90 minutes to wait for it to rise? Make the dough the night before, wrap it up and store it in the refrigerator overnight, then let it warm up on the counter while the oven is heating and you’re ready to go!

When I recently came across recipes for thin crusted skillet pizzas in two different publications, I had to try it. It turned out so well, with a crispy but chewy crust, hot gooey cheese and tasty toppings. It was wonderful! And such a far cry from the one and only time I tried to cook a pizza in a skillet previously.

I once tried to cook a pizza in a skillet right after I brought Mom home from a hospital stay. She had gone in for a simple surgery with an overnight stay and due to a medical mistake ended up staying for weeks. Most of that time she wasn’t allowed to eat anything, getting all of her nutrition through IV fluids. When she was finally discharged she was hungry for so many things, with pizza at the top of the list. Hmmm, maybe I get it from her? Anyway, I bought her favorite pizza from one of those fresh-made, bake-it-at-home pizza places and brought it back to her place and popped it into the warm oven. We were starving. When I went to check on the pizza a few minutes later I was stunned to find the oven completely cooled and of course the pizza hadn’t even started baking. The oven had quit working. Thinking fast, I pulled out an electric skillet and heated it up. The pizza was way too big to fit in the pan, so I carved it up into small enough pieces to fit, put the lid on it and hoped for the best. I can say with complete honesty that it didn’t work too well, but at least Mom got some pizza! I’m happy to report that this pizza is waaaaaay better and is really delicious.

Be a little careful with what toppings you choose to put on your pizza. Use ingredients that don’t produce very much juice or your crust will get soggy. Pre-cook sausage or other meats and drain them well on paper towels before placing them on the pizza. I used Italian sausage with onion and mushrooms. I used canned mushrooms so I could drain them. Squeeze them a little to get the extra liquid out. Other toppings like Basil leaves or Canadian bacon or ham would work well too.

I also used a low moisture mozzarella cheese, choosing freshly grated over the packaged pre-shredded mozzarella. The pre-grated cheese is coated with starch to keep the strands from sticking together. The starch masks the flavor and makes it a little more difficult to melt. I also used a homemade pizza sauce we canned the past fall. We’ll put the recipe up soon. Meanwhile store-bought sauce works if you don’t have homemade.

The crust recipe I used comes from the recent Cook’s Illustrated magazine. I made a few tweaks to end up with the pizza I wanted, reflected in the recipe below. The recipe calls for bread flour, but all-purpose flour will work in a pinch. High protein 00 flour works best, but it can be hard to find unless you order it online.



  Printer friendly recipe without photos 


Thin Crust Skillet Pizza


 Thin crust skillet pizza ingredients

 Thin Crust Skillet Pizza ingredients



Makes two 11” diameter pizzas



For the pizza dough:


cups (11 ounces) bread flour, plus some extra if needed

1 1/8

teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast


teaspoon salt


tablespoons high quality olive oil


cup water, heated to 110 degrees F

For topping the pizza:


cup olive oil


cup pizza sauce

6 to 8

ounces low moisture mozzarella cheese, shredded


Toppings, prepared to be low moisture such as Italian sausage, onions, basil leaves, etc., if desired





1.     At least 90 minutes before you plan to cook the pizza or up to 24 hours beforehand, prepare the pizza dough. In a food processor, pulse the flour, yeast and salt together about 5 times to mix completely. With the processor running, add the oil and mix well. Then add the water slowly and process until the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It will still be sticky. Run the processor for 1½ to 2 minutes. If the dough is still so sticky after 1 minute that the dough sticks to the blades and the sides, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time to get the right consistency.


2.    Lightly flour the counter; remove the dough from the food processor container and place on the floured area. Form the dough into a smooth ball and place into a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with greased plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.


  skillet pizza dough in bowl    skillet pizza dough in bowl after rising



3.     If you are not using the dough right away, divide the dough into two balls and wrap in plastic. Store, well wrapped, in the freezer for up to a month or store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Allow to thaw on the counter for 2 to 3 hours if its frozen or overnight in the refrigerator. If using it right away, proceed to next step immediately.


4.    Preheat the oven to 500o F. Working with one dough ball at a time, lightly flour the counter and roll the dough out into a 11” round. Grease an ovenproof skillet and carefully transfer the dough into the skillet. Spread the pizza sauce on the dough leaving a ½ “ bare border around the edges. Add any toppings you want and sprinkle the cheese over the top, leaving the border bare still.


   skillet pizza rolling out dough skillet pizza oiling pan

   skillet pizza dough in pan skillet pizza adding sauce

   skillet pizza adding toppings

   skillet pizza adding cheese



5.     Heat the skillet over high heat and cook the pizza until the dough puffs up slightly around the edges and the bottom of the crust is spotted brown when you lift the edges with a spatula to check it, around 3 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the crust edges are brown and the cheese is getting golden in places. Using potholders, take the pizza out of the oven and transfer the pizza to a cutting board. Allow to rest for a minute or so, then cut and serve hot. If making a second pizza, wipe the pan out and allow the pan to cool slightly, re-oil it and repeat the process for the second one.


skillet pizza checking the crust 

 skillet pizza done in pan



skillet pizza on board2




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