Pizza Dough Too Sticky: Why and How to Fix It

Making a pizza isn’t the simplest task, especially when starting. There’s plenty that can go wrong, and one of the most common issues is sticky pizza dough. If you’ve ended up with sticky dough, there’s likely too much water, or you didn’t knead it long enough.

Hey, there, pizza fanatics! I’m Michelle, and pizza is one of my favorite things in the world. I make pizzas regularly, whether a breakfast pizza with eggs, cheese, bacon, sausage, and more, or a classic Margherita pizza. Basically, if it’s in pizza form, I’ll eat it.

If you’re trying to whip together a pizza for the family tonight, only to find that you’ve been struck with overly sticky dough, don’t panic. There are simple solutions to (almost) every problem. (If you used cold water to activate your yeast, you’re out of luck, sorry!)

Let’s fix that pesky sticky pizza dough ASAP.

Why is My Pizza Dough Sticky, and How Do I Fix It?

When you’re making a pizza, you want a little bit of sticking. Sticking is almost always a sign of overhydration. This isn’t necessarily bad, as it will create a lighter and airier crust. However, if it’s impossible to work with, you need to reduce the stickiness. Here’s how.

1. Too Much Hydration – Add More Flour

Hydration is vital for pizza dough, but too much isn’t good. The “golden percentage” is about 60% hydration, which equals 60 grams of water per 100 grams of flour. (For lighter and crispier crusts, the hydration should be around 65%).

If you have an excessive amount of hydration, you’ll be well over the golden percentage and be stuck with sticky dough. What’s the solution? 

The best thing to do is to knead more flour into the dough. Don’t just plop a cup of flour and call it a day, though. Flour should be added slowly in small increments. Think a tablespoon or two at a time.

If you add too much flour at once, you may accidentally end up with pizza dough that’s thick and dry. Trust me – this doesn’t make for a delicious pizza in the end.

2. Didn’t Knead Long Enough – Keep Kneading

I’m not afraid to admit it – one of the most annoying things about making pizza is that it has to be kneaded. And if you don’t have a mixer with a hook attachment, your hands are going to end up tired.

But kneading is an absolute “need” for your pizza dough. Kneading is necessary for gluten development, otherwise known as the strength and structure of your pizza dough. Without it, you’ll end up with a flat nightmare that doesn’t look or taste great.

Unfortunately, most people (especially pizza-making newbies) don’t knead long enough. After all, it’s rather tiresome, and most don’t want to continue after a few minutes. But if you’re kneading by hand, you “knead” to continue for at least 10 to 15 minutes (8 to 10 with a mixer).

So, keep going if you think your sticky dough is due to a lack of proper kneading.

3. You Used Cold Water to Activate Yeast – Start Over

If you used cold water to try and activate your yeast, I hate to break it to you – you need to start over. Active yeast needs to be activated using warm water (it shouldn’t be too hot). Otherwise, the glutathione will simply seep out, leaving you with pizza dough that’s rendered useless.

4. Your Pizza Dough is Too Cold – Let it Come to Room Temperature

If you’ve been letting your pizza dough sit in the fridge, don’t think you can take it out and start working with it right away. Cold pizza dough will be almost impossible to shape, and it may be overly sticky, too.

The best solution is to simply let your pizza dough sit on the countertop until it’s come to room temperature. Then, you shouldn’t have an issue with tough or sticky pizza dough. If you do, consider adding a bit of flour or kneading a little longer.

How to Work With Sticky Pizza Dough (5 Tips)

As I mentioned earlier, sticky pizza dough isn’t always a bad thing. Stickier dough with a higher hydration percentage will result in a lighter, airier, and crispier crust. For most people, it’s the “perfect crust”.

However, sticky pizza dough is not easy to work with. I wouldn’t recommend it for newcomers unless you’re really up for the challenge.

Here are a few quick tips to help you work with sticky pizza dough:

Tip #1: Invest in a dough scraper. Sticky dough sticks to, well, everything. A dough scraper will make your life infinitely easier.

Tip #2: Cover your hands with water. One of the most significant issues with working with sticky dough is that it sticks to your hands. Avoid this situation and have an easier time shaping your pizza dough by covering your hands with water.

Tip #3: Add a little oil. If your dough is sticky after kneading, don’t hesitate to cover the ball with oil before letting the pizza dough rise. This will allow it to peel away from the bowl easily and make it easier to shape.

Tip #4: Dust and/or oil your workplace. The last thing you want is your dough sticking to your workplace. Dusting with some flour or spreading some oil over the workstation will help to avoid this nuisance.

Tip #5: Stretch and fold pizza dough. This technique will be infinitely easier than other common pizza-shaping techniques.

FAQs

Now you know why pizza dough is sticky and how you can fix it or learn to deal with it. Still have some questions? Then keep reading these commonly asked questions below.

Is it OK for pizza dough to be sticky?

A little bit of stickiness is fine. In fact, this can result in a crust that is light, airy, and slightly crispy. If you’re looking for this type of result – rather than a somewhat thick and fluffy pizza crust – then you’ll need sticky pizza dough.

Why is my pizza dough too wet?

Your pizza dough might seem wet right after you’ve added all of the ingredients and mixed. This is simply because the flour hasn’t had time to absorb all the moisture yet. Cover and leave the pizza dough alone for about 20 minutes, and it should no longer feel wet or slick.

Why is my pizza dough not stretchy?

If you’re having issues with stickiness, it’s likely an issue of kneading. You either over or under kneaded your dough. You may also be trying to work with dry or too cold dough, which won’t allow proper stretching and shaping.

How do I get more air in my pizza dough?

Your pizza dough should have air bubbles before you start to shape it. That’s why it is recommended never to use a rolling pin to flatten your dough, as this will push out all of those necessary air bubbles.

Final Words

If your pizza dough is sticky, it’s likely an issue of too much hydration. Fix this by adding flour in small increments as you knead it. Also, consider whether you simply haven’t kneaded your dough enough. If so, keep working. For those that used cold water, start again with warm water.

Have you ever ended up with pizza dough that was too sticky? How did you fix it? Comment below!

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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