If you’ve ever eaten a pizza that you’ve slaved for hours making at home and wondered why it lacked that authentic pizza taste and texture, you might be surprised to learn that it could have nothing to do with your ingredients…just your oven temperature!
So what is the best oven temperature for pizza? The best oven temperature for homemade pizza is the highest temperature your oven will go…for most people that means 500 to 550 degrees.
Most people love the taste and texture of a pizza baked in a real pizza oven but not everyone has the luxury of owning one. It is, however, possible to create virtually the same environment with a regular oven and we’ll show you how!
We’ll cover how to get the highest temperature in your oven, rack positioning, length of baking time, preheating the oven and more. We also have an excellent article on getting the best temperature for your actual pizza oven.
The (Not-So) Forbidden Secret
When I started making homemade pizza years ago, I thought I’d hit the jackpot. Making a dough with yeast and letting it rise seemed like learning a forbidden trade secret reserved only for elite bakers.
After the novelty wore off and I had the opportunity to try authentic pizza from a wood-fired oven, I decided it was time to up my homemade pizza game.
Along with getting the temperature right, I learned a number of tips that have ensured pizza perfection:
Tip #1 – The Preheat
Preheat your oven – I know it takes time, but putting a pizza into an oven that is cold or preheating will result in a tough, chewy texture.
A chain reaction takes place when baking with flour – the leaveners (yeast or baking powder/soda) give off gas, the water quickly evaporates, the dough gives a final surge of expansion, the gluten structure sets up, and the exterior begins to brown. If these things don’t happen in the right order and at the right temperature you will have a sad pizza.
Set your temperature and wait for it to finish preheating before putting your pizza in to bake.
If you’re using a pizza stone, it is critical that you place the stone in your oven before preheating begins. If you wait and put it in when your oven is hot, you will risk cracking the stone due to the quick change in temperature.
Tip #2 – Turn Up the Heat
If you’ve never done it before, head over to your oven now and check out the maximum temperature it will reach.
Most ovens can heat up to 500 to 550 degrees. That number, my friends, is your new pizza zenith.
From now on, only bake your pizza at that temperature and I promise you it will change everything.
Important note: baking your pizza with your broiler will not produce the best results so be sure to use the “bake” setting, not “broil”. Broiling your pizza will cook the top but the crust will be raw or underbaked.
“Can frozen pizza be baked at this temperature?” Yes, but we recommend just thawing it out first.
“Won’t it burn at that temperature?” Well, yes, eventually it will if you leave it in there too long. Check out the section below called “How Long to Bake Your Pizza”!
If you really want to “up your game” in pizza-making without breaking the bank, you NEED to check out this article on using a Pizza Dome!
Tip #3 – Where to Position Your Oven Racks When Baking at a High Temperature
Rack position depends on how you’ll be baking your pizza:
- Baking Stone – It’s best to set your oven to bake (not broil) which means the heat will be coming up through the bottom element. If you’re using a thick baking stone, the bottom element will heat the stone and transfer heat quickly to your crust which creates that perfect combination of crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Either the top or bottom rack would work in this case. But every oven is different. I have a Wolf range and when I use my pizza stone and turn the oven knob to “stone” both the top and bottom elements turn on. I have learned that the best position when using my stone is the bottom rack – the top element kicks out a serious amount of heat and I have no trouble with soggy toppings.
- Metal Pan – A metal pan will conduct heat very quickly so be sure to put the pan on the middle or upper rack. Placing your pizza on the bottom rack in a metal pan will likely result in a burned crust.
- Directly on the Rack – Some choose to bake their pizza directly on the rack. If this is you, position the rack in the middle of your oven or closer to the top. This method works really well with frozen pizza, most thawed pizzas, and par-baked crusts…not so well with fresh dough (it will likely fall through the rack). How do you know if it will fall through the rack? Try the “pickup” test – if the crust holds together fairly well when you pick it up, it will be fine to place directly on the rack. If the crust is really soft and nearly falling through your fingers as you pick it up, do not place it directly on the rack. For fresh dough, see the next section down for some good hints on baking directly on the rack.
Tip #4 – How, and at What Temperature, to Bake Fresh Soft Pizza Directly on the Rack
I mentioned this above but let’s dive a little deeper into this one. Fresh, soft pizza dough will fall through an oven rack if placed on it directly. A thawed frozen pizza can be placed directly on the rack, and in fact, this by far will produce the best results.
For fresh dough, here’s my recommendation – par-bake your pizza crust (with no toppings) for 7 to 10 minutes on a baking stone or sheet at 350 degrees. After that, slide the crust out of the oven, turn up the heat to your highest setting (500 degrees or higher), top it up with your favorite toppings, and then bake it on the upper rack for another 3 to 5 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and melted.
Tip #5 – How Long to Bake Your Pizza at 500 degrees or higher
How long should you bake your pizza at such a high temperature? Not long! Turning up the heat in your oven will obviously decrease the amount of time needed to bake your pizza.
A good general rule is 5 to 7 minutes; however, it’s best to keep a watchful eye on your pie and follow your nose.
Once the crust begins to brown and the amazing smell of pizza is in the air, your pizza is close to being done.
In our Wolf oven, I usually bake our pizzas for around 4 ½ to 5 minutes but our oven gets up to 550 degrees. After four minutes, I watch it carefully and once it reaches that perfect pizza crust color, it’s done.
Tip #6 – Best Oven Temperature for Baking Pizza in a Convection Oven
Baking a pizza in a convection oven works very much the same as a conventional oven. There are just a few things to keep in mind:
- Be sure to turn your oven to convection mode and set the temperature as high as your oven will allow – 500 to 550 degrees for most ovens.
- The best results I have had when baking a pizza on the convection setting in my oven were when I used our baking stone. The crust was crisp and the cheese was perfectly melted.
- Some people have found that using the convection mode doesn’t cook the middle of the pizza well…the outer edges are baked but the inside is still cold. I have not found this to be the case when using a baking stone. The stone transfers heat quickly and evenly over the entire crust which results in a pizza cooked all the way through.
- Be sure to allow the oven and stone ample time to preheat…baking on convection mode in a cold oven will be disastrous. After preheating, give an additional half hour for the oven and stone to be completely hot all the way through.
Bonus tip: In a convection oven, fans are constantly blowing hot air around which can dry out foods more quickly. I found brushing my pizza crust with olive oil helped keep the inside soft and prevented a crust that was too dry and overly crisp.
Tip #7 – How to Make Frozen Pizza Crispy – Temperature and Other Tips
Baking up a frozen pizza for a quick meal has been a lifesaver for many people. But often, the result is ho-hum. I have four pro tips for you here that will turn boring or mediocre into heavenly:
- The first one is temperature…as we’ve already discussed, turning up the heat to 500 degrees or higher will go a long way in making a beautiful crisp crust pizza.
- Next, thaw your frozen pizza before putting it in the oven.
- Olive oil is my next tip…brush the crust with a little oil before baking and you’ll find the outside crisp and the inside perfectly pillow soft.
- Lastly, if you don’t have a baking stone, try putting the pizza directly on the oven rack. All these tips will ensure a much tastier and crispier pizza eating experience.
Tip #8 – How to Cook Pizza in a Microwave Oven
Yes, it can be done and no judgment– sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do…but fair warning, you will not get a crispy crust. A microwaved pizza will be more soft and bread-like and quite often, soggy in the middle.
The best bet for microwaving frozen pizza is to start by looking at the directions on the box. If the directions indicate that the pizza can be microwaved, be sure to follow the steps they’ve indicated to ensure the best possible results. Don’t choose a pizza that can only be baked in a conventional oven if you want to microwave it.
Some microwaves come with a pizza setting. Take a look at the microwave manual…often the pizza setting is there for re-heating a slice of pizza, not cooking an entire pie from frozen.
A pizza stone should not be used in the microwave. It won’t hurt your pizza but it won’t help it either. For a stone to be effective, it needs to be preheated, which can only happen in an oven.
Tip #9 – Best Temperature to Bake Pizza in a Toaster Oven
If you’d rather not turn on your oven to make pizza, consider using a toaster oven. We used to own a Black and Decker toaster oven years ago which was specifically designed to accommodate a full 12″ pizza.
Here’s what we found:
There are two basic parts to pizza – the crust and the toppings.
Because a toaster oven is smaller than a regular oven, the toppings on a pizza will often be done before the crust has had a chance to bake all the way through.
To avoid overcooked toppings or an undercooked crust, it’s best to start with the temperature a bit lower in a toaster oven. Preheat the oven to around 350 degrees and bake your frozen pizza for about 8 to 10 minutes. Once the crust is baked, turn up the heat to melt the cheese for another 3 to 5 minutes.
Every oven is different so you might need to experiment a bit to find the right time and temperature. Just keep the heat lower to start.
If You Have a Pizza Oven
If you are one of the “privileged” and own your own pizza oven (or are considering one), please do yourself a favor and get as much info as you can on how to operate it successfully. We can help! Here’s an article we wrote about wood fired (and other) pizza oven temperatures and how to get them, measure them, etc. It’s a super helpful read!
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful. Let me know if you have any comments to add…I’d love to hear them!