What’s that saying? “Pizza is like sex – even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.” Well, just like sex, pizza is even better when you do it yourself. That’s right; we’re talking about homemade pizza that doesn’t look or taste like it came out of a freezer, or a box, or even worse, a box out of the freezer and into the microwave (unless that’s your thing). Pizza seems like a simple thing to throw together considering the minimal ingredients, but all too often the novice cook ends up in a flour-filled disaster of soft, chewy dough and non-gooey cheese, which is a recipe for epic disappointment.

Fear not, friends, because we give you the basic tips that will position you for pizza-making eminence, while suggesting some flavor combinations that are slightly more inventive than pepperoni or barbecue chicken*. Try this recipe out on a lazy, gluttonous Sunday, or when you have enough time to experiment with a variety of toppings. Also, make sure you factor in time to make your own dough, or to trek to a local pizza shop to buy some of theirs, which is ideal if you’re short on time. The recipe below makes four to five 10-inch pizzas, so there will be plenty to go around—but sharing is only optional.

*There is nothing wrong with these flavors.

Ultimate Homemade Pizza

30 oz pizza dough
24 oz tomato sauce
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Thick sliced mozzarella cheese
Sautéed mushrooms
Roasted eggplant
1 yellow onion
1 red onion
1 red bell pepper
1 shallot
Sliced prosciutto
Eggs/quail eggs
Dried Italian salami
Sundried tomatoes
Fresh basil/rosemary/thyme
1 bulb garlic
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Flour

Get started by acquiring some pizza dough, or by following this recipe to make your own. If store bought, let the dough settle and rise on the counter under a damp paper towel for 30 minutes to an hour. If you make your own, make sure the dough rests until it doubles in size. The longer the dough rests, the tastier your pizza will be.

While the dough settles, prepare the pizza toppings that should be precooked before being added to the pizza. Slice the top off a whole bulb of garlic and season with salt, pepper, a drizzle of EVOO, and 1 tbsp butter. Wrap the garlic bulb in aluminum foil and bake in the oven at 425° for 25 minutes. While the garlic is roasting, sauté the yellow onion in EVOO and butter on medium heat until caramelized. In separate pans, quickly sauté the sliced bell pepper and mushrooms in EVOO with salt and pepper until they are halfway cooked. Once the garlic is done roasting, turn the oven up to as hot as it will go (typically 500° F for home kitchens).

Once you have most of your ingredients prepared, cut the pizza dough into equal portions and liberally flour a flat surface to roll out the dough. Stretch and roll the dough out on the floured surface until the dough reaches its maximum elasticity (thinner is better since the dough will rise in the oven). Lightly coat the top of the dough with EVOO and cook on a floured baking sheet for 10 minutes without any sauce or toppings – this will prevent your pizza from getting soggy. Remove the half-cooked dough from the oven and add your toppings, starting with a generous layer of sauce and cheese. Return the complete pizza to the oven without the baking sheet (directly on the rack), and cook until the outside of the dough is crispy, and your toppings are bubbling (typically 5-7 minutes).

Suggested toppings

Shredded mozzarella, shallots, fresh basil, prosciutto, quail eggs, fresh rosemary:
pizza

 

Shredded mozzarella, caramelized onions, sautéed bell pepper, fresh basil, shallots, fresh rosemary:

pizza

 

Sliced mozzarella, whole roasted garlic, fresh basil, cracked black pepper:

pizza

 

Shredded mozzarella, sliced red onion, dried Italian salami, sautéed mushrooms:
pizza

 

Shredded mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, whole roasted garlic, shallots, fresh basil, roasted eggplant, fresh thyme.
pizza

 

Gently crack the eggs into a small bowl, and then slide onto the pizza after the other toppings have cooked for about five minutes. Closely watch the pizza to make sure the eggs don’t overcook. Eat up and bask in your brilliance.