How to Stretch Pizza Dough

Pizza dough is an imperative step when it comes to baking pizza. Why? Well, just look at your ball of dough. Does it really look ready, able, and willing to be topped with cheese and pepperoni and slide into the oven? I think not!

Hey, there! My name is Michelle and I love making pizza. I have to admit that stretching the pizza is my least favorite part, though. Stretching takes a decent amount of time and finesse, and if your dough isn’t ready for stretching, you’ll fail.

The good news is, I have found the perfect way to stretch pizza dough. My “how-to” guide is quick and easy – even newbie pizza makers will have no problem stretching their pizza dough using my method.

Who’s ready to stretch some pizza dough?

How to Stretch Pizza Dough (6 Steps)

Stretching pizza dough might look and even sound challenging. And to be honest, it’s not the easiest part of making homemade pizza. But with a little bit of patience and hard work, you can stretch pizza dough and create delicious, perfectly-crusted dough in no time.

Step 1: Start By Bringing Your Dough to Room Temp

Your pizza dough will not stretch if it is too cold. That’s because the gluten network (responsible for rising and creating your dough) tightens up when it’s exposed to cold air, such as the refrigerator. 

That said, take your dough out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you plan to stretch it. If your dough is frozen, your dough may need closer to an hour to thaw the pizza dough. You can also set it in the fridge overnight to thaw, then take out 30 minutes before stretching.

If your dough wasn’t placed in the fridge or freezer, then you can start working on it after it’s risen. Typically, this takes a few hours for most pizza doughs.

Step 2: Oil Your Workspace

Next, you will want to oil your workspace and hands. Oil will prevent sticking. It will also add a little more of a robust flavor to your pizza dough, which we can all agree is a definite plus.

You can use flour instead if you wish. Just keep in mind that too much flour on your workspace can equate to too much flour in your dough. An over-floured dough can come out dense and tough. Use flour sparingly.

Step 3: Push the Dough Down

I don’t like to start with a big ball of pizza dough. I want my pizza dough to at least have the desirable circular shape of pizza before I start really working with it. So, I use the palm of my hand to push the dough down.

Then, using my three middle fingers, I will gently move the dough around in a circular motion until it resembles a small disc. A bit of snapback is okay at this point, but if it’s completely rigid, let it rest for ten more minutes.

Step 4: Use the “DJ” Method

When you’re satisfied with the look and feel of your dough, you can begin what’s known as the “DJ” method. It’s called the DJ method because you will be spinning your dough around like you’re working in a DJ booth.

To do the DJ method, simply place your palms down in the middle of your dough. Then, while spinning your pizza dough, push your hands outwards. Here is a great video showing the pushdown and DJ method.

Step 5: Stretch it Out with Gravity

This is probably my favorite part of making pizza dough! To really give your pizza dough a good stretch, you will pick the pizza dough up using only one side. Let the rest of the pizza dough gently dangle down in front of you (thanks, gravity!).

When you’re satisfied with how long it’s stretched, pinch the edges (to form the crust) and rotate it. Continue pinching the ends of the pizza dough as you spin it around. Go slow and let gravity do its job. If you’re a visual person, this video will help.

Step 6: Polish it Up

At this point, your pizza dough should be as thin or thick as you’d like it to be. If you notice any small cracks in the dough, gently fold it over to seal it. You can also perfect your crust to your liking.

A Few Tips for Stretching Pizza Dough

See? Stretching pizza dough isn’t too difficult. Here are a few extra tips to help you be successful, though.

  • No rolling pins allowed. Rolling pins will push out the essential gasses necessary for a lightweight, airy, and beautiful crust, leaving you with a dense, tough, and undesirable nightmare. Never use rolling pins to stretch pizza dough!
  • Don’t use any scented moisturizer or soaps. You’ll be using your hands a lot to stretch your dough. Any heavy scents will transfer to your pizza dough, changing the flavor profile. Opt for mild soaps and moisturizers before diving in.
  • Don’t toss it in the air. I know, I know. It looks fun. And eventually, you might be able to pull it off. But that’s not without a whole lot of practice. Leave the pizza tossing to the professionals or it may end up on the floor.
  • Let it proof properly. Working with pizza dough that is over or under proofed is going to be a downright nightmare, if not impossible altogether. Make sure your dough has proofed the right amount of time

FAQs

With the right technique and tips, stretching dough can easily be accomplished – even by beginners. If you want to learn more about how to stretch pizza dough, check out these frequently asked questions below.

What does stretching pizza dough do?

Stretching pizza dough essentially creates the blank slate for cheese, pepperoni, veggies, and any other toppings you desire to be added and cooked. Stretching also ensures that you have a delightful crust that is airy and lightweight with just the right amount of doughiness and crunch.

Why stretch the dough instead of rolling it out?

When your dough is proofing, gasses are forming that ensure a desirable crust. If you use a rolling pin, the gasses will be forcefully removed from the dough. At this point, you’re looking at dough that’s tough and dense.

Should you stretch and fold pizza dough?

The stretch and fold method is used for kneading pizza dough, not stretching it (although the name may be confusing). Stretching and folding are great for kneading. All you need to do is grab one edge of the dough and fold it onto the other edge, spin, and repeat.

Should pizza dough be room temp before stretching?

Yes! Cold pizza dough will not stretch and will snap back almost entirely. Make sure your dough is room temp before attempting to stretch it.

Final Words

Stretching dough might seem challenging, but with practice and the right techniques, it’s not too hard. Start with room temp dough and a greased workspace. Push the dough down, then use the DJ method and gravity to stretch it out to your desired shape. Top, bake, and enjoy!

Do you ever make homemade pizza? How do you stretch your pizza dough? Share so we can try your method!

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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