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13 Tips From Celebrity Chefs To Make The Ultimate Pizza

Pizza and celebrity chefs
Pizza and celebrity chefs - Static Media / Shutterstock / Getty

Creating a pizza from scratch is an experience that promises both satisfaction and flavor-filled delights. Homemade pizza offers the perfect canvas for creativity, allowing you to customize every aspect of the pie to suit your preferences. From selecting the freshest ingredients to mastering the art of dough-making, each step is an opportunity to infuse your creation with love and personal flair.

At the heart of every great pizza lies the dough, the foundation upon which all other ingredients rest. Crafting the perfect dough requires a delicate balance of flour, water, yeast, and salt -- not to mention the patience and precision in kneading and proofing. Then comes the sauce, which is not to be neglected. Selecting the right type of tomatoes is key here. Lastly, it's time to go wild with the toppings. The possibilities are endless whether you prefer the simplicity of a classic Margherita or crave adventurous toppings like prosciutto, arugula, and balsamic glaze. And, let's not forget the importance of cheese -- gooey mozzarella, creamy ricotta, or tangy goat cheese, the choice is yours. Indeed, with so many choices on hand, deciding how to make a pizza at home can be overwhelming. So, let's look at how some of our favorite celebrity chefs deal with this challenge.

Read more: 13 Unexpected Ingredients To Elevate Lasagna

1. Make It Venetian By Folding It Over - Giada De Laurentiis

Giada De Laurentiis
Giada De Laurentiis - Eric Charbonneau/Getty Images

Pizza is known to have originated in Naples, in southern Italy, which is quite some distance from Essington, Pennsylvania, where the Venetian pizza, or Stromboli, was invented by an Italian immigrant named Nazzareno Romano, in the 1940s. It's not uncommon for an idea, invention, or food to mutate as it traverses lands and cultures. In particular, the Venetian pizza has been folded over into the shape of a burrito before being baked in the oven for a little longer than a regular pizza, making it quite different indeed.

Technicalities aside, the dough and cheese place this dish firmly in the realm of pizza, and if you haven't tried the Venetian pizza yet, Giada De Laurentiis has some tips for how to make it. Above all, she recommends using store-bought dough, making this recipe a breeze. And, while you certainly can use sauce here, and whatever toppings you like, Giada sticks with shredded mozzarella, prosciutto, and baby spinach leaves. After you've decided on your fillings, applied them to your spread-out pizza dough, and rolled it all up, brush some olive oil on the outside, and bake it until the cheese is fully melted.

2. Use A Slow Fermentation Process For The Dough - Jacques Torres

Jacques Torres
Jacques Torres - Charley Gallay/Getty Images

It's hardly worth going through the whole process of making pizza at home if you neglect the most important part -- the dough preparation. This is why you should always go slow and steady with this step, as rushing things will get you in trouble. Jacques Torres seems to agree since he recommends you take your time with the fermentation process after the yeast is added to the dough. He suggests that home chefs allow their dough to sit for no less than 48 hours and up to 72 hours before rolling it out.

While this means no more impromptu pizza nights, at least not with homemade pizza, you'll be glad to have discovered this trick, as it yields a softer dough and a more balanced flavor. Because the gluten in the dough has more time to bind, the mixture becomes more elastic, which leads to a crunchier crust when cooked. Make sure you don't exceed those 72 hours of resting time, as the fermentation process will continue unchecked, causing the dough to turn sour.

3. Add Sweet Corn To The Pizza Base - Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay
Gordon Ramsay - Song Haiyuan/mb Media/Getty Images

You may have heard of adding cornmeal to the bottom of the pizza crust to add texture. But, Gordon Ramsay uses corn differently in his pizza creations. He takes fresh sweet corn (or the canned variety), mixes it with water, banana shallots, butter, garlic, chili powder, and salt, and purees everything together after cooking for about 10 minutes to soften it.

Now you may be wondering how to use your tasty new concoction. Gordon Ramsay puts it on top of his pizza, rather than on the bottom, in place of the tomato sauce. After that, the world's your oyster. Add mozzarella, or any other easily meltable cheese, and go to town on your toppings. Ramsay uses mozzarella, chicken breast, chorizo, coriander, and onion, but you don't have to stick to his suggestions once you know how to make this secret sauce.

4. Use Several Types Of Cheeses - Rachael Ray

Rachael Ray
Rachael Ray - Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

Mozzarella is famously the prime choice of cheese to add to pizza. Indeed, it's part of the original pizza margherita ingredient list, which included dough, tomato sauce, and mozzarella -- all ingredients readily available in 1800s Naples. Even today, mozzarella reigns supreme, and for good reason: Its texture and mild flavor ensure it melts quickly in the oven and doesn't overwhelm the rest of the ingredients.

But, we're all about mixing things up more often than not, which is why Rachael Ray's preference for mixing up the cheeses on pizza seems particularly enticing. In particular, she likes to use mozzarella, provolone, and pecorino, which go especially well with her other favorite toppings: red onions, sweet peppers, and cherry peppers. If you're not that into provolone and pecorino, let Ray's cheese tip serve as an inspiration. Next time you make pizza add your favorite cheeses to the mix, or ditch the mozzarella in favor of something else -- make sure it can easily melt, either by picking a soft cheese or by grating it first.

5. Top It With Potatoes - Giada De Laurentiis

Potato pizza
Potato pizza - Clarkandcompany/Getty Images

Potato pizza may sound like a pizza made with a potato base, but that couldn't be further from the truth. It's a regular pizza, with a regular base, topped with thinly sliced potatoes instead of tomato sauce and mozzarella, though cheese is not off-limits. But, these aren't just any sliced potatoes. After cutting them she mixes them with shallots, olive oil, salt, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and olives, which infuse those potentially bland potatoes with flavor to spare.

Once the mixture has been spread across the dough, and you've added an optional sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, it's time to bake the potato pizza. You'll have a lovely aromatic flatbread pizza, perfect as party food or a weeknight meal. It's also an ideal pizza if you're scrambling for a recipe to accommodate tomato allergies. And, if for some strange reason, you end up with leftovers the next morning, you can always serve up this pizza with a fried egg on top and call it breakfast. It makes an excellent base.

6. Refrigerate The Dough As It Rises - Ree Drummond

Ree Drummond
Ree Drummond - Monica Schipper/Getty Images

The secret to the perfect pizza lies mostly in the dough, which is why many chefs dedicate ample time to this step in the process. And, Ree Drummond recommends putting your prepared pizza dough in a container, covering it with a lid or plastic wrap, and letting it sit in the fridge for a few days while it takes its sweet time to rise.

The success of Ree Drummond's recipe is in the rising, rather than the specific ingredients she uses to make the dough. You may have noticed that most homemade pizza dough recipes call for you to let the dough rest for about an hour or hour and a half -- or until it has grown to twice its size. But, since your dough will come out even better if you let it rest for longer, you may want to keep it in the fridge so, in the meantime, it doesn't go bad. This way you can hang onto your dough for a couple of days, but you'll also get the benefit of cold fermentation, which is an ideal method for making pizza dough.

7. Top It With Brussels Sprouts - Ina Garten

Ina Garten
Ina Garten - Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Brussels sprouts might be the last ingredient you think of when deciding what you want on your pizza. Even as far as vegetables go, it's far from the most popular. But, if you do it the way Ina Garten suggests, you may be in for a treat. Her pizza, which in addition to Brussels sprouts is covered with béchamel, pancetta, Parmesan, pecorino cheese, and freshly grated black pepper, is a recreation of a pie she admired made by New York restaurant Martina Pizzeria, which is now closed.

This means that the only way to sample this delicacy is to make it at home by following Ina Garten's guidance, which won't lead you astray. But between the parmesan, pecorino, and pancetta, be careful not to overdo the salty elements -- too much of a good thing can ruin the dish. Instead, opt for moderation so each ingredient balances out the others.

8. Cook It In A Pan - Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver - Rocket Weijers/Getty Images

Traditionally, pizza is made in a wood-burning brick oven. But since the olden times, technological advances have made it possible to prepare our beloved pie in different heating contraptions, including various gas or electric ovens. But, what if we said there was yet another technique for cooking your pizza? Indeed, according to Jamie Oliver, you can make pizza in a pan and it will come out just as well.

But, you should be prepared for a slightly different preparation process. First, you'll need to shape your pizza dough to fit in your nonstick pan, then grill the pie on each side before you even think of adding any toppings. Make sure it's nice and crispy, or it'll become soggy as soon as you pour on your tomatoes, which is the next step in the process. Jamie Oliver uses canned tomatoes followed by sauteed onions, peppers, and grated cheese. The key now is to cover your pan with the lid so the top of the pizza gets cooked and the cheese melts. Bear in mind that the result will not come out like the pizza you're used to, but as long as you use ingredients you like, the flavor will be delicious, and the texture can't be beaten.

9. Make The Sauce With Datterini Tomatoes - Giada De Laurentiis

Datterini tomatoes
Datterini tomatoes - Nagy Julia/Shutterstock

Lots of literature is dedicated to dough preparation when making homemade pizza ie. how to make it softer, crispier, tastier, and crunchier. But, once you've got that down, it's time to turn your attention to the second layer: the tomato sauce. That's where Giada De Laurentiis' advice comes in. She uses canned datterini tomatoes, which tend to be sweeter and less acidic than regular tomatoes and have a more delicate taste. The fun part here is that datterini can be red or yellow, so if you're tired of the same old red pizza sauce, you can try to get your hands on yellow datterini tomatoes.

The only potential problem with canned datterini tomatoes, especially the yellow variety, is that they're not easy to find. Whole Foods and other specialty foods stores should carry them, but if you're out of luck, you can substitute them with Corbarino tomatoes, which are also fairly sweet and low in acidity. If all else fails, authentic San Marzano tomatoes will always do the trick.

10. Put It On A Tortilla Base - Jacques Pepin

Jacques Pepin
Jacques Pepin - Gregg Deguire/Getty Images

A pizza is not a pizza when there's a tortilla base, but let's not get too technical here. If there's a floury product on the bottom, tomato sauce in the middle, and cheese on top, it's a pizza. You don't even need the tomato and the cheese, as long as you have one or the other.

In Jacques Pepin's case, the tortilla pizza includes sliced tomatoes, sweet onion, seasoning, and the liberal use of grated cheese. Mozzarella, Gruyère, Monterey Jack, and Cheddar, are all acceptable choices, which Parmesan can further enhance as a finishing touch. Bake this in the oven checking frequently so you don't burn that tortilla to a crisp -- it will take less time for this to cook than regular pizza dough, as it's already cooked. Drizzle the result with extra virgin olive oil to elevate this experiment further.

11. Play Around With Smoked Salmon - Wolfgang Puck

Wolfgang Puck
Wolfgang Puck - Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

Wolfgang Puck's smoked salmon pizza is famous, not only because this is an unusual ingredient (salmon and caviar) to use as a pizza topping, but it's also surprisingly delicious. However, in its original form, it can only be found at his Los Angeles restaurant, Spago. Luckily, our recipe developer, Jason Goldstein, has another version that can be made at home. He even made it more accessible to home chefs who may not be confident in their techniques or have access to caviar.

Instead of caviar, this recipe has added flavor with scallions and lemon zest -- both ideal complements for smoked salmon. Furthermore, if you can't get hold of crème fraîche, Jason suggests using sour cream, a tangier ingredient that has a lower fat content than crème fraîche. But, the most important parts of the recipe remain the same: You'll still need to cook the pizza dough on its own before topping it with the sour cream and smoked salmon. These ingredients are too delicate to go in the oven, and once cooked they will turn dry and chewy.

12. Get Creative With Parmesan And Onions - Chris Bianco

Chris Bianco
Chris Bianco - Jeff Schear/Getty Images

Sometimes the combination of simple ingredients on a pizza works so well the recipe becomes iconic. That seems to be the case with Chris Bianco's rosa pizza, made with Parmesan, onions, rosemary, and pistachios. You haven't read that incorrectly: There is no marinara sauce or mozzarella. Yet this dish works because Bianco seems to have spent 50 years perfecting it.

He told Tasting Table in 2022 that this pizza was inspired by a similar pizza he had in Italy some 50 years before. Although the original iteration was on focaccia --  a typical Italian flatbread -- this didn't stop Bianco from turning it into a pizza. The key to the flavors was all in the toppings -- the interplay between the umami-forward Grana Padano and the earthy sesame seeds, all brought together by good quality olive oil. This interplay inspired Bianco's rosa pizza but comes with its own set of variations. For instance, Bianco replaced the sesame seeds with pistachios, which are fresher and more readily available in his home state of Arizona. Finally, he added red onion for color and pizzazz and rosemary for added flare.

13. Give It A Breakfast Twist With Sunny-Side-Up Eggs - Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart - Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Everybody loves pizza for breakfast. Those cold slices left over from the party the night before have something satisfying about them, even if it feels a little wrong. And, while that may be part of the appeal, Martha Stewart has a hack for turning this guilty pleasure into something much more elevated. Her version includes making a pizza from scratch and topping it with pesto and cheese before baking. Then you'll need to crack an egg on the pizza and bake it for another five minutes.

But really, you can elevate any leftover pizza with this method, especially if it's breakfast time. Heat your pizza in your oven for a few minutes, crack an egg over it, and bake it until the whites have solidified but the yolk is still runny. This is a great way to use leftover pizza while preserving your dignity.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.