Pizza is my favorite food. I’ve spent hours researching, experimenting, and finding the best ways to make it at home. I even wrote a pizza cookbook! In my experience, besides perfecting the dough recipe, the hardest part of baking pizza at home is figuring out how to make my conventional home oven work for me.
I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you this, but your home oven will never get as hot as the pizza ovens at your favorite pizza joint, which can go above 900°F. High heat is important when baking pizza because it helps the dough rise, puff, and bake quickly without the toppings overcooking. It’s what gives you that prized golden crust.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t get great results in your oven.
I’ve asked around and many pizza pros, including Andris Lagsdin of Baking Steel, a highly popular pizza steel brand, recommend setting the oven to at least 475°F and up to 550°F, if your oven setting allows it. Though I love a generous range, in my experience, the best oven temperature for baking pizza at home is 500°F. At this temperature, you can get a beautifully puffy, golden pizza that’s too hot to eat immediately.
In addition to setting your oven to 500°F, here are two steps you can take to master making pizza at home:
1. Get an Oven Thermometer: The temperature you set your oven to isn’t necessarily the temperature inside the oven. That’s because the reading is often taken from a specific area, which tells you the temperature only in that particular spot, and who knows where that is!
That’s where an oven thermometer comes in handy. You can set it (or hang it) right in the middle of your oven to get an accurate reading. Some advanced oven thermometers even grab a range of numbers because your oven cycles the heat on and off to maintain the temperature you set it to, taking an average to get a more accurate reading. Adjust the temperature setting up or down depending on what the oven thermometer reads.
2. Get a Pizza Stone or Steel: A pizza stone or steel is a relatively inexpensive way to get great pizza in your home oven. Both absorb and hold onto heat, which then transfers to your pizza while baking, resulting in a nicely baked crust.
Place the stone or steel on the rack set to the upper third of your oven. The key is to give your stone or steel enough time to get to 500°F—you will have to preheat your oven for at least 45 minutes.
Can’t decide between a pizza stone or steel? Our nerdy over at Serious Eats did a deep dive into the two. It should help you decide which is best for you!
Get Sara’s New Cookbook!
The editors at Simply Recipes cannot wait to get our hands on Sara’s upcoming cookbook, Pizza! Pizza! Pizza! (A word so delicious, she named it thrice.) It promises to ease our pizza-making angst with smart, very doable tips, and approachable recipes. The cookbook comes out on April 30, 2024, and you can pre-order it HERE.