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Semolina Pizza Dough – Crispy & Chewy, best ever!!!

I have been on a perfect pizza dough quest for the past 3 years. The search has ended. And that means I have to share the recipe with you, now I can’t keep such a big secret 😀  I have made pizzas before and you can even find a simpler recipe here. But I was not quite satisfied with the results; it was quite nice, but not like our favorite pizza from Papa Johns. This crust is very similar to the Papa John’s crust, crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. We LOVE it and this is going to be my pizza dough recipe for the rest of my life! Well, unless I decide to try and eat whole grain pizza crust, which is highly unlikely 😛 I love pizzas and we eat pizza at least once every week and it is always from Papa Johns. But now that I have this recipe, I will definitely be making more pizzas at home rather than a take out.

Now there are a few things you need to make that perfect crust at home:

  • If you are serious about making a good pizza, you need bread flour. No, all purpose flour won’t do. Bread flour has a higher protein content that helps the “gluten” development in the dough, which is responsible for the chewiness. And bread flour is not all that expensive, you just have to look for it in your grocery stores. Or the bulk food sections in organic food stores carry the high protein flour, which is nothing but bread flour.
  • You HAVE to KNEAD the dough. I mean really, really knead. If you have a stand mixer, you are lucky. A food processor does fine too, but still needs some manual kneading. If you are doing it by hand, get ready for an intense workout. Sound’s difficult? Let me give you a little tip here. Whichever method you use, leave the dough slightly on the wet side. Water helps in gluten development. This is the basic principle behind the Artisan Bread in Five minutes a day by Jeff Hertzberg & Zoe Francois.
  • Preheat the oven, with the stone (if using) at least for 30 minutes. The oven has to be HOT when you put in the pizza.
  • A slow risen pizza dough is much more flavorful than a quick risen one. It is advisable to make the pizza dough the night before and let it rise overnight in the fridge. Always bring the dough to room temperature before baking. Leaving it out for about 2 hours  before baking is advisable.
  • Most people say you need a pizza stone to make perfect pizzas. I am sure that is true, but I have had very good results with my trusty pizza pan (from a dollar store, for $3). The important thing is to bake in the lowest rack of the oven. Place the rack in the lowest part of the oven, closest to the heat source.
  • If you use bread flour and it still doesn’t taste like the pizzeria’s, you need to use a secret ingredient – Semolina flour. This is also available in the bulk section of organic food stores and is very inexpensive. It gives a really nice flavor to the pizza dough and a little goes a long way.
  • Once again, sufficiently knead your dough. To check if the dough is ready, pull out a small lime sized ball of the dough. Start stretching it by hand, as you would stretch a pizza. Stretch it as thin as possible without tearing. Now look at a source of light through the thin layer. If the layer is translucent and you can almost see through it, your dough is ready. Baker’s call this as a windowpane test. HERE is a link with a pictorial explanation. Kneading the dough sufficiently makes a lot of difference to the texture of the bread. These are little details you pay attention to and make fabulous bread at home.

Recipe adapted from HERE.

Makes 2 medium pizzas

Warm water – 1 3/4 cup
Active Dry Yeast – 2 tsp
Sugar/Honey – 1 Tbsp
Bread Flour – 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups
Semolina flour – 1 cup
Salt – 1 tsp
Extra virgin olive oil – 1 Tbsp plus 1 Tbsp
Semolina/cornmeal – as required
Toppings of your choice
Marinara sauce
Hot sauce (sriracha)
Garlic powder (optional)
Dried Italian herbs (especially oregano, optional)
Cheese (I love to use pepper jack and cheddar)


  • Combine the yeast, sugar and warm water in a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) and let it be for about 5 minutes. When you see the mixture foam up, you know the yeast is ready.
  • Mix in 1 Tbsp of olive oil into the above mixture and whist to mix. Then add in the salt, flour, 2 cups of bread flour and 1 cup of semolina and knead. Add the remaining flour as required, to make a firm, but slightly sticky dough. You can do this step in your food processor.

Tip: In most bread recipe you will notice that the flour measurement is always mentioned as a range, never an exact measurement. This is because the flour will absorb water depending on the protein content. The humidity and temperature of the air in your kitchen will also affect how much water goes into the four. So we keep the volume of water constant and adjust the flour as required.

  • If you are using a stand mixer, increase the speed to medium and continue kneading. If the dough seems too dry at any point, add in a tsp of water. If the dough looks too wet, add in a Tbsp of flour. Knead for 8-10 minutes. If you are kneading by hand, knead for 12-15 minutes.
  • To check if the dough is ready, pull out a small lime seized ball of the dough. Start stretching it by hand, as you would stretch a pizza. Stretch it as thin as possible without tearing. Now look at a source of light through the thin layer. If the layer is translucent and you can almost see through it, your dough is ready. Baker’s call this as a windowpane test. HERE is a link with a pictorial explanation. Kneading the dough sufficiently makes a lot of difference to the texture of the bread. These are little details you pay attention to and make fabulous bread at home.
  • Once the dough is ready, make a smooth, round ball of the dough and coat it with the remaining olive oil. Place this in a large bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. I like to use the bowl of my stand mixer, its deep and perfect. Let the dough rest for about an hour or until doubled in volume.
  • Then you may proceed to make pizzas or freeze the dough for using later. Punch down the dough to remove the excess air and cut the dough into two equal portions. Roll each portion into a smooth ball, by pulling  and tucking it at the bottom.

Tip: What I like to so is, punch down the dough and form a single dough ball. Oil it and put it back in the bowl. The cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Remove the dough at least 2 hours before you plan to make pizzas.

  • If you want to freeze the dough, take a 1 gallon ziploc bag and spray it with non stick spray. Spray the dough ball also and drop it inside the ziploc. Take out all the air and seal the bag. The dough can be frozen for up to 3 months or refrigerated for up to 5 days. Use separate bags for each dough ball. Thaw for a couple of days in the fridge or 4-6 hours on the counter before using. You HAVE to bring the dough to room temperature before using.
  • If you want to proceed and make the pizza, lightly dust your board with flour. Place the dough ball, and roll it out into a 12 inch circle.  Transfer the circle to your pizza peel or baking sheet. Brush the top of your pizza generously with evoo. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for half an hour.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 F. Place the pizza stone (if using) on the lowest rack of the oven and then preheat. Otherwise just place your rack in the lowest groove and preheat.

Note: Many people say that you should bake the pizza at the highest temperature (500-550 F). But I found that the crust became super crispy and lost its chewiness. 450 F works best for me. But if you like, you may heat the oven to 500-550 F and reduce the baking time. In that case the baking time is just 7-8 minutes.

  • Also this is a good time to get your toppings ready. I used some green pepper, red pepper, olives, asparagus spears (yum) and jalapeno pepper. It is a good idea to remove the extra moisture from the jalapeno using a kitchen towel.
  • After about 25-30 minutes, top the dough with your favorite marinara sauce. I like to mix in a Tbsp of hot sauce (sriracha) into my marinara for a spicy kick! Top with the toppings, garlic powder, cheese and herbs.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the crust is golden and cheese is bubbly. If you pick up your baking sheet and shake it, the pizza should come off easily. That means it is perfectly baked. If you are not able to shake the pan and release the pizza, bake for a couple of minutes more.

See that light, airy crust?? Its absolutely incredible! You have to make it to believe it!


You might also like:

Pizza – Homemade, better than takeout!

Bread Pizza – Quick & Delicious!

Naan With an Easy Sourdough Starter (Without Yeast)

Focaccia Bread with Sundried Tomatoes

35 Responses to Semolina Pizza Dough – Crispy & Chewy, best ever!!!

  • pavithra says:

    Looks Yuuuuuuuuuuuum :) Yes you are right Ambika bread flour gives nice chewy texture cos of high protein content. I have been using BF till now, but never added semolina flour will try using it next time I make Pizza. Will let you know for sure :) By the way I am way toooooooo tempted seeing this Pizza. I really love my Pizza stone, using it really makes a huge difference :)

  • This looks so good! I really need to stop buying pizza dough.

  • Nandita says:

    This is indeed a lovely post Ambika. I am definitely going try this pizza soon. :)

  • radha says:

    This looks so good. Everything seems right!

  • Joanne says:

    Semolina really makes for the best dough! This looks great.

  • aarthi says:

    Wow..this look like a awesome pizza

  • This looks amazing! I think pizzas are usually pretty ugly but this one is just beautiful. And it looks perfectly chewy, just how I like my pizza.

  • The soul of a pizza is the crust…this looks so great!

  • Liz says:

    Oh, this looks fabulous! My kids love Papa John’s pizza so I’ve pinned this so I can try it!! Beautifully done~

  • Rikki says:

    It does look light and airy and so so delicious. Definitely going to try this! [:

  • Vaishnavi says:

    Lovely pizza especially the toppings. Interesting tip using semolina flour. Thanks

  • What a fantastic post, and gorgeous pizza!

  • That looks absolutely delish — thanks for sharing the tips on perfect crust :)

  • amy @ uTryIt says:

    Wow, your pizza looks amazing. Believe it or not, I’ve never made pizza before! Now, I know it’s gotta change after reading your post and drooling over your gorgeous pictures! :) Thank you so much for sharing the perfect pizza crust recipe. I’ll be making it soon and will let you know how they turn out.

  • Oh, my, gosh…. your pizza looks absolutely delicious! I have been craving for pizzas, but I actually have never tried making pizza dough from scratch…. I know, I can be the only one food blogger without having made it from scratch. =P Your beautiful pizza inspired me…. I need to try it soon. I love the 2nd picture so much. I was totally sold!

  • LinsFood says:

    Great quest! I’ve heard about using semolina in pizza bases but have never tried it personally. Will have to try your recipe out! Your pics are fabulous!

  • susan mathew says:

    i am not a great fan of pizza but will certianly try this … photos are excellent dear keep up the good job

  • vivien li says:

    I used your pizza dough recipe to make cinnastix and the dough was beyond amazing!!! I didn’t have semolina so I used 4 cups of all- purpose flour and it turned out great! perfect amount of chewyness and the bottom turned out crispy golden brown. I am always going to use this recipe for pizza dough, thank you :)

  • Janet J. says:

    Yes! I’ve been doing the same research on pizza dough and you just jump-started my venture into chewier pizza crust like the pizzeria. Can’t wait to try this. Thank you! BTW, have you tried using this for grilled pizza yet??? Probably where I’m headed!

  • Meg says:

    Hi, I was wondering if this recipe can be done in bread machine. Thanks.

  • Bruce says:

    I pre-measured all the ingredients and followed the recipe. When I got all done kneading the dough I looked over and saw the glass dish with salt. I double checked the recipe and it does not call for adding the salt. I checked the website that you adapted the recipe from and it states “dump in the dry ingredients”.
    I thought that you might want to update the recipe, as I found your page rather easily while searching the web.
    Nice website – keep up the good work.

  • Ryan Humke says:

    we love making pizza at home – currently my family’s in China for a 2 year stint and pizza on a Friday or Saturday night brings us back to the states faster than a nostalgic peek at old photos! i’ve tried MANY pizza dough recipes and they’re all ok – THIS one is truly fabulous and a keeper for sure. Thank you Ambika – i owe you!

  • Ann says:

    Ambika, This is really a terrific dough! Much appreciated!:-)

  • Kevin says:


    Just curious about the 30 min dough rise after you rolled out the dough – very important???? I am making 12-15 for a family gathering and that would add a lot of extra cooking time. I have made pizza dough in the past, but not with your little trick of the semolina flour – can’t wait to try it! Also, a few times in the past I have pre-baked 10-12 crusts for 7-8 mins., then added my sauce and toppings before going back in the oven until the cheese is brown & bubbly. I found it helped to poke the dough with a fork a number of times so it doesn’t make huge bubbles in the crust.

    • Ambika says:

      Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for visiting my page. You will love this recipe, I promise!! Its one the MOST popular recipes on my blog! And now to answer your question, I always let my rolled pizza rise for at least a little while. I usually roll my pizza and then prep my toppings while it rises. Then finish it and it goes into the oven. I have noticed that this rising time makes the crust lighter than when it is not allowed to rise at all. If you could manage at least 15 minutes of rising time, it will be worth it. And since you are making so many, why don’t you roll out a few while the others are in the oven, so that they can rise in the meantime. I am sure pre-baking will work!! And yes poking with the fork is a must, or we end up with pita pockets!! Just keep one thing in mind, this crust is crispier than the regular pizza dough, so you may want to decrease the pre-bake time a little bit? I don’t know for sure how much, that really depends on your oven. All the best, I hope you like this recipe. But a small suggestion, if you can, make a test batch before the larger one just to be sure :)

      Have a wonderful day!!

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  • Allie H says:

    I just spent a few weeks experimenting with Pizza dough and this is very much identical to all tiny steps I found to make the perfect dough! Especially, letting the dough rise for 1-2 hours then refrigerating overnight creates the perfect sweet beery aroma (most recipes either do the quick rise or slow rise in the fridge, but not both).

    To add to the discussion:

    – I read somewhere that adding the Olive Oil a bit late (after flour has absorbed the water for a few minutes) leads to much more consistent final result. When you put water and oil (which don’t combine) at the same time, some part of flour will absorb water and some will absorb oil, and depending on what portion absorbs which liquid your final result may vary in crunch vs. chewiness. So, I incorporate the oil and salt (which delays the yeast action) a couple of minutes after flour has absorbed the water/yeast mixture, and I always get the same perfect crust.

    – Before adding the toppings, I brush the dough with olive oil mixed with a tiny bit of garlic powder and then sprinkle smoked sea salt. Oil prevents moisture from sauce/toppings to penetrate the dough and make it soggy (especially if the oven is not hot enough). The bit of garlic and smoked sea salt elevate the aroma.

  • brian cornelius says:

    I have tried over a period of 10 years off and on to make a suitable pizza base
    But they have all been a failure,i gave up and bought pizzas from the shops.
    Recently i decided to try again and i came upon your recipe…i followed your recipe
    Exactly and made 1 thin crust pizza base and 1 thicker pizza base ,topped with
    Favourite toppings and cooked in my oven.well i am absolutely amazed both pizzas were
    Delicious crisp crust and chewey base..perfect!! Thank you so much i will never buy another pizza are the greatest. P.s good to eat cold also.

  • Ravi says:

    Hi Ambika,
    Just a small lil one here…….bread flour would be the regular wheat atta we use in the Indian kitchens daily for chapattis etc and all purpose flour would be ” maida” right? Just starting out on the pleasures of cooking…….:)

    • Jeet says:

      Let me answer this. All Purpose Flour is Maida. Regular wheat Atta used for Chapaati is close to Bread Flour. But most of the times vendor add too much Maida to Wheat flour to make Chapaati looking white and smooth. For Pizza you will be better off just to buy Bread Flour from a grocery store.

  • Eliz says:

    LOVE your recipe. Only tried once so far but used a whole wheat all purpose, untreated. Worked out fantastic, light, airy and made 3 12″ crusts.
    Will try with bread flour next as soon as I can find it. The flour in our stores is terrible to say the least. Have a hard time locating decent flour that is organic, un-treated in any way that is fresh.

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