Individual homemade pizza is made with an easy 20 minute dough and makes a fun party or family movie night "pizza bar" where everyone can top their pizzas just like they want! This dough also makes a regular sized pizza - choices, choices.
We have had homemade pizza every other Saturday for more years than I can count - all the years our kids were growing up and then some (we don't have it every week because half our family loves burgers, so we alternate our Saturday night meals - which is also a great way to make menu planning easier!).
The reason it's possible for a normal time-crunched family to have homemade pizza is this easy pizza dough (and I do mean easy: no kneading and only 15-20 minute rest). I originally found this recipe in an old Betty Crocker cookbook we received for our wedding and it's been our go-to ever since.
Honestly, we found that it takes less time to make, start to finish, than ordering and picking up a pizza. And of course there is the savings: the cost is $5-$10 depending on your toppings (a regular pepperoni comes in at just $3-$4!) compared to $15-$20+ at a pizza chain.
One of the best things about the Betty Crocker recipe was that there were directions for making the dough into individual pizzas as well as a regular size. This was such a great option during the kid's "picky eating" years - we would load up our pizza with vegetables, our daughter would choose cheese and our son would add every type of meat that was available, lol. Needless to say, they LOVED pizza night even more after that.
Hosting A "Pizza Bar"
Making individual homemade pizza quickly became one of our favorite meals to serve to guests, especially families with children and people we were having over for the first time and may not know all their food likes. It's always a hit, but it's also great because it can all be made in advance so you can enjoy the meal just like everyone else.
You simply prebake the crusts, line up toppings, and let everyone go through the line choosing what they want. This really takes the stress out of hosting new friends and makes it fun. I've got tips for hosting your pizza bar below, including making everything ahead - I think you'll really love this idea!
Individual Homemade Pizza Recipe
You'll make the dough first and then assemble your ingredients while the dough is resting and prebaking. I plan about 45 minutes to make the dough and prep the ingredients for the pizza bar, depending on the number of toppings there will be.
Make the Dough
For the dough you'll need:
- Flour - we prefer 1/2 whole wheat and half unbleached wheat flour. I've made it with 100% spelt with good success, as well as 100% whole wheat. It's a bit more fluffy with half white flour, though.
- Dry Yeast - both instant and active yeast work.
- Sugar or Honey
- Olive Oil
Mix the ingredients well, let the dough rest, and then divide into 6-7 pieces, rolling each into a rough ball.
Note on the rest time: I've let the dough rest for less time (read: none) and even longer, and it's always turned out fine. The pizza just has fluffier edges and is easier to roll if it rests for 15-20 minutes. It will have risen a bit at the end, but won't have doubled in size.
Shape the Dough
Prep two of your largest baking sheets by placing a little bit of cornmeal in four spots on one and three on the other (for 7 pizzas like pictured - use only 3 on each if making 6 larger pizzas). They fit better when staggered on the pan like pictured above.
Take a dough ball and shape it into a larger flat circle before placing it on top of one of the cornmeal spots. Then use your fingers to press each flattened ball into a circle roughly 6-inches in diameter.
Since the crusts will puff in the oven, I like to make an edge and make sure the center is fairly thin and even for cooking. And it's ok if the individual pizza edges touch - they won't be perfectly round but that's the joy of homemade, isn't it?
Note: You can also make one large pizza like I did here. Add a little cornmeal on a pizza pan, stone, or rectangular baking sheet, add all the dough to the center and press out to fill the pan, building up the edges if you'd like.
PreBake The Crusts
Prebake the crusts for about 10 minutes. They may puff up in spots, but you can just push them down when you take them out of the oven. It doesn't matter for the end result.
TIP: Make sure the tops are brown, but that the bottoms are only lightly brown, so they won't burn when you cook them later with the toppings. Why Prebake? You'll need to prebake to make it easy for everyone to hold and transfer their pizzas, but prebaking even the regular sized pizza helps make sure that the center is always fully cooked. Not soggy centers allowed.
Top & Final Bake
Add sauce and toppings, return to oven and cook another 7-12 minutes, until the cheese is melted and browned.
Pizza Topping Ideas
This is a great way to use things from your freezer and pantry, like:
- pizza sauce and/or pesto
- shredded cheese: mozzarella, parmesan, feta, etc.
- Italian sausage, pepperoni, cooked chicken, prosciutto, etc.
- sliced olives
- chopped onions
- canned artichokes
- roasted red peppers and/or chopped sweet peppers
- pickled jalapeños (or fermented pickled jalapeños)
- chopped fresh spinach or massaged kale leaves
- sliced tomatoes (for topping after baked)
Tips for Hosting a Homemade Pizza Bar
1) To Make Ahead: After the prebake, place the crusts on a rack to cool and let them sit out on the rack if it's only an hour before you'll be using them. Put them in an airtight container and leave at room temperature if making the day before. They can also be refrigerated for a few days and can be frozen for a couple of months.
Slice, chop, shred, and prep all the topping ingredients the morning of or day before, too. Place them right in the containers you'll put them out in so all you have to do is set everything up.
2) To Set Up for Guests: Line up the toppings in the order they will be used, sauce(s) and cheeses first and then the meats and vegetables. When serving to guests I like to have a couple of choices of sauces (red sauce and pesto), 2-3 cheeses, and at least 2 types of meat. Then add any kind of vegetables you have that you think will go well on pizza. If it's just family, the pizza bar will usually be more limited.
Give each person the plate they will use to eat it after baking, set a crust on it, and send them through the line. Have them set their plate at their spot at the table.
I plan for those who I think will eat two pizzas, and just ask them to make one first so we can get the first round baking before cooking their second.
3) How to Tell Them Apart: This is my biggest tip for homemade individual pizzas: always tell people top their pizza in unique ways so they will recognize it when it comes out of the oven (see the three pizzas in the photo above for examples). It's amazing how melting cheese makes everything look the same! Some ideas are:
- one olive in the middle
- using roasted peppers to make their initial
- one pepperoni in the middle
- two artichoke hearts in the middle
- and so on...
4) Baking & Serving: After the pizzas are topped, set on the baking pans, and put back in the oven, you'll need to rotate the pans if you have more than one in the oven at a time. The pizzas with less toppings may be done sooner, so you should keep checking after the 7 minute mark.
Since the pizza is hot when you're serving, I've found it easiest to have a cutting board and knife available to cut the pizzas in half (or quarters) before using a spatula to serve them to the owner. They're a little easier to eat that way.
Also, it's nice to have a platter of cut vegetables and dip available to munch on while everyone is waiting for the pizzas to cook. Not essential, but nice.
I hope your family - and your guests - enjoys this individual homemade pizza bar idea as much as we have!
Individual Homemade Pizzas
Homemade Pizza: Individual Mini or Regular Size
- 1 package dry yeast or 1 scant tablespoon, active or instant
- 1 cup warm tap water
- 1 teaspoon sugar or honey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 ½ cups flour
- Pizza sauce cheese, and desired toppings
Make the Crusts:
- Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in remaining ingredients.
- Beat with a mixer until the dough pulls away from the edges (or by hand vigorously for 20-30 strokes). Let rest 15-20 minutes.
- Separate into 7 equal balls, flatten and shape into small pizzas on a cookie sheet sprinkled with a little cornmeal. Three to four should fit on a sheet.
- Prebake the small pizzas for about 10 minutes in a 425 degree oven. Remove to a rack to cool. (Make Ahead Tip: you can make early in the day and keep the crusts in an airtight container until dinner or you can freeze the crusts for a couple months before thawing and using.)
Top & Finish Baking:
- Put all toppings in bowls, give a crust on a plate to everyone and then gave each person top the pizza as they wish. Important Tip: make sure to tell each person to use toppings to identify their pizza after cooking.
- Place the pizzas back on the cookie sheet and cook for another 7-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and browning. Serve immediately.
- On a pan (pizza, baking stone, or cookie sheet), sprinkle some cornmeal and spread to the edges of the pan.
- Prebake in 425 degree oven (optional, but ensures fully cooked crust).
- Remove from oven, top with sauce, cheese and toppings and return to oven for 10-15 minutes, until done. Cook it on the lowest rack setting so that the bottom crust is closest to the element.
Other Easy Family Dinners to Try:
Easy Baked Maple Mustard Chicken (our son asks for this on his birthday!)
Classic Chef's Salads (another choose-your-topping meal popular with kids)
Quick Chicken Caesar Wraps (perfect for picnics and sport events)
This recipe has been updated - it was originally published in July 2009.
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