Stove-top Pizza

Homemade Pizza without an Oven

When I lived in Pennsylvania I LOVED making homemade pizza! Not only is it less greasy than what is served at the local pizza parlor, but it cost much less too and can be made exactly to your wishes. For example, I prefer cheddar cheese on my pizza, not mozzarella, and fresh basil is a favorite topping. A basil and cheddar cheese pizza will be uncommon at most pizzerias but you can make this at home yourself in the same amount of time it would take you to get a pizza delivered to your door. 

When I moved to India my home did not have an oven, only a stove top. This is not uncommon in India, as most Indian food is made on the stove top only. Maybe because of the heat or maybe because of the cost of energy, I am not sure, but ovens are much less commonly used than in the States. When I left Pennsylvania to move to India I was willing to give up a lot of things, but pizza wasn’t one of those things! So I began to experiment with making pizza on the stove top and it didn’t take long before I figured out the most delicious and easy way to have homemade pizza without an oven. 

When I made homemade pizza in the States I used a pizza stone and would bake it in the oven. Homemade pizza in the oven requires you to cook the pizza at a very high temperature for about 10 - 12 minutes and 500 degrees fahrenheit is the recommended temperature for cooking pizza. For best results the pizza stone needs to be preheated with the oven but handling a heavy pizza stone at 500 degrees was tricky business to say the least, not to mention the amount of heat created by having the oven on long enough to pre-heat to such a high temperature. This was wonderful in cold winters when the very high oven heat could warm up your home, but in summer it was much less desirable. A few times I used the pizza stone outside on the gas grill with varying results. My grill didn’t have a thermometer so it was a bit of a guessing game. If you like the brick-oven-slightly-burnt variety of pizza, then the grill is a good choice. But if you don’t have a grill, and you don’t want to overheat your home in summer, or if your oven is broken, or if your home doesn’t have an oven - whatever the reason - stove-top pizza is faster and just as delicious as oven baked pizza!

Don't Skimp on the Crust! Homemade Pizza Dough is Easier than you Think 

Do NOT use a store bought pizza base. Besides the fact that they NEVER taste as good as homemade, the store bought pre-made pizza crust will burn. Admittedly, I tried it a few times and it always burnt. The store bought crust lacks the moisture of homemade dough and therefore it will cook more rapidly than the cheese and toppings. The crust will be burnt and the cheese won't be melted. So definitely make your own dough. You will LOVE it! 

The other benefit of making your own crust is that you can control the size of your pizza and tailor it to fit easily in the pan that you are using. You can make it a thick crust on a thin and crispy crust as you wish.

If you love homemade pizza then you probably already have a favorite recipe for pizza dough that you use. But if you are new to making homemade pizza and are looking for a great pizza crust recipe, along with instructions on how to knead and roll the dough, you can enroll in my free online course that takes you step by step through the whole process of making stove-top pizza.


Ingredients for Pizza Dough

1 1/2 Cups Room Temperature Water

3 teaspoons instant dry yeast

3/4 teaspoons salt

3 Tablespoons Oil

3 1/2 - 4 Cups of white flour

(If you prefer to use whole wheat flour, add a bit of honey to bring out the sweetness of the wheat)

Time: On the day that you make the dough and roll it all into pizza bases it will take a little over an hour. After that, you will be able to make a delicious pizza at home in 10 minutes by following my instructions below. 

After you have combined your ingredients into a nice workable dough, be sure to knead for 5 minutes. After kneading the dough, place it in a bowl and cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel to prevent the dough from drying out. Let the dough rise for 15 - 30 minutes depending on the temperature of your room. The dough will rise faster in a warm room than in a cold room. While the dough is rising, prepare your toppings. Cut the vegetables, grate the cheese, pick and wash the basil - whatever type of pizza you are planning, get all the ingredients ready while the dough is rising. See my online course for a list of pizza topping suggestions as well as two pesto recipes in the bonus section! 

Pro Tip - If you do not have time to roll out and cook all of the dough, then after kneading your dough, take what you need and place the rest of it in a container to freeze for later. There is no need to let the dough rise before freezing. Be sure to use a container larger than the dough to give enough room for expansion. When the dough thaws it will expand. If you didn't leave enough room the lid could blow off and the dough that pops out of the container will become dry and hard. You won't be able to use the dry hardened bits so it will be wasted. Therefore, when placing dough in a container to freeze for later, the container should be twice the size of the dough. When you are ready to use the dough, place it on your kitchen counter 1 to 3 hours in advance. Again, this depends on the temperature of your home. When I lived in Pennsylvania, in the coldest months it might even take over 4 hours to thaw. Here in India, in the hot summer, it thaws in an hour. It can't really "over thaw". If the dough rises excessively during thawing you will still have a great pizza, but it might have a thinner crust than you intended, that's all. But if it is under thawed, then you won't be able to smoothly roll out the parts that are still frozen. 

Rolling the dough

First decide, do you want a thick or thin crust? The recipe that you use will determine how many pizzas you are able to make. With the recipe I use, and have included above, I can divide the dough into 6 or 9 smaller balls, depending on if I want thick or thin crust. You must also consider the pan that you will be using. I use a 9 inch pan, so I roll the dough out in about an 8 inch circle. That will assure I have room in the pan to maneuver the pizza without it getting caught on the edges of the pan. It will take some trial and error for you to figure out the thickness that you prefer in relation to the size base you will use, which will determine how you divide your big lump of dough into smaller balls.

After your dough is divided, take one of the balls and dust it in flour and then press it into a flat circle with your hands. Place it on a lightly floured surface. In India we use a Chakla for rolling out flatbread. I use this for the pizza crust too. It works great. Roll the dough out in a nice circle and then set it aside. I place them on the counter top close to where I am rolling, and then I continue rolling the rest of the dough. This gives the dough another opportunity to rise before cooking it. When you get down to only 3 or 4 balls left to roll, begin to preheat your pan. 

To make delicious cafe-style pizza without using an oven, you need to lightly cook the pizza base first before assembling the whole pizza. Pre-heat your pan on a medium-high flame. Place your rolled out dough carefully on the pan. In a few moments you will begin to see bubbles forming on the top. This is when you should flip it over. You should see light brown spots on the side that was cooked first. Do this on the second side too. You only really need to flip the dough once, but if you aren't sure if the dough is fully cooked you can flip a second and third time if you want. The dough needs to be fully cooked but just lightly. There are complete photos of all stages on my free online course. Continue baking all of the pizza bases in this way. You can stack them up in a pile once they are all cooked. Turn off the stove while you are assembling the pizza. We want the pan to cool down a bit because we will cook the pizza at a lower temperature than we cooked the dough. 

Pro Tip - Yes, pizza is fantastic, but these pizza bases also make wonderful cafe-style grilled flatbread sandwiches. My favorite sandwich includes sauteed peppers, onions and cabbage (occasionally carrot too). I spread a spicy sauce and/or a flavored mayonnaise on the bread, then put the hot sauteed veggies on half of the circle, sprinkle on some shredded cheese and then fold the dough circle in half to form the sandwich. I toast it on a pan just to warm it up. The sauteed vegetable are already hot (unless I am using leftovers) so the cheese will melt easily. 

Now you have a nice stack of pizza bases. It is time to assemble the pizza. Spread the sauce or pesto over the base but not too thick or else the pizza will be soggy and difficult to manage. Add vegetables, spices and cheese. I usually make 4 pizzas for our meal but cook 2 pizzas at a time. I assemble two and while the first two are cooking I will assemble the next two. You will find your own system based on how many burners you have and suitable pans and also how many pizzas you are willing to "juggle" at once. 

Once your pizza is assembled and ready to cook, you can turn your stove back on. This time set it on the lowest setting. This is important and the ultimate secret to delicious stove top pizza; The low temperature allows the pizza to get hot enough to melt the cheese but not so hot that the crust burns. This is why we pre-cook the base because raw dough wouldn't bake at such a low temperature. Carefully place the assembled pizza on the pan. I use a large wooden spatula on one side and my hand holding the other side. The cooking time is only about 5 minutes, but stay close. After a few minutes check the bottom of the pizza to make sure it isn't burning. Different pans conduct heat differently and different stoves have different ideas of what "low" setting is. It will take a little practice for you to find the perfect stove top setting and baking time that works best. Once you learn the best settings for your pan and stove, then you won't need to keep checking. 

If you notice that the crust is getting too dark and the cheese isn't melting, don't worry. Keep the temperature very low and just cover your pan with a lid or with another pan. This will create a sort of "oven" and get the cheese to melt faster. Also, use this lid method when you are reheating the leftover pizza (if you ever have any!) that has been refrigerated. 

When the pizza is cooked the crust will be crispy so you will be able to remove it easily from the pan with just the one large wooden spatula, or just slide it out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Slice and serve! 

And that is how you make delicious cafe style pizza on your stove top! 

The day that I make the dough and all the bases and also make pizza it will take about 60 to 90 minutes from start to finish. But if you cut and prepare extra toppings and store them in your refrigerator, then the next time you make pizza it will only take you TEN Minutes to create an amazing pizza at home - just 5 minutes to assemble and 5 minutes to cook! 

If you would like to see step by step photos of this process, and enjoy a list of suggested pizza topping combinations, and read more pro tips, you can enroll in my free online course called "Easy Urban Homesteading"  Stove top pizza is the first addition to this course, but if you opt in to emails I will notify you when new topics are added. Upcoming tutorials will be; Growing basil from seed, Making your own yogurt, Propagating House Plants, Holiday Cards and MORE!