Everybody loves pizza, but plenty of people like you try to make their own in an attempt to save money, have some fun, or just make something that tastes better.
Some people can make pizzas that look amazing and get eaten in a heartbeat, whilst some make pizzas that don’t look so great but are still edible.
Others might make pizza that looks good until it’s cut into and it’s just dough in the middle. This is the worst! It looks great, but you won’t be able to eat it since it’s still raw or doughy in parts.
An undercooked/doughy pizza is something to avoid, so I’ve compiled a list of the 9 most common reasons why your dough is still undercooked/doughy after baking.
It’s important to know what’s causing your issues so you can work to avoid the problems and work towards making perfect pizza at home.
Although pizza might seem quite simple, it’s actually quite complicated in the sense that it’s easy to mess up if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing.
With all that said, let’s get into the reasons your pizza isn’t cooking and how you can prevent it next time.
Why Your Pizza Dough Isn’t Cooking And How To Fix It
Everybody wants their pizza to come out of the oven looking and tasting great, but unfortunately, it doesn’t always turn out that way.
You can make a great pizza at home, but if you’re a beginner or don’t know exactly what you’re doing, the likelihood that you’ll mess it up is high.
To help prevent you from getting another uncooked pizza, here are some mistakes to look out for and avoid.
You’re Baking It At The Wrong Temperature
Remember that different styles of pizza are going to need to bake at different temperatures.
The main variable between different pizzas is how thick they are, and I should make it clear that a thicker pizza is going to take longer to bake through, so it needs to bake at a lower temperature.
You need to be able to adjust the temperature of your oven to make it suit the style of pizza you’re going for.
Some styles of pizza will need very high heat whilst others will need to be baked at a more comfortable temperature to ensure everything is baked through properly.
For example, something like a Neapolitan pizza isn’t very thick, so it’s baked at a very high temperature and can be done in as little as 60 to 90 seconds.
On the other hand, we have pizzas like the Sicilian or the Detroit style. Both of these are considerably thicker than your traditional pizza, so they take much longer to bake. This longer baking time, therefore, needs to be at a lower temperature so the exterior doesn’t burn before the interior is done.
Fix: Increase Or Decrease The Temperature
Think about what style of pizza you’re making and what oven you’re using. If you’re using a very hot wood-fired oven, maybe you should skip the thicker pizzas and go for something that’s closer to a traditional thin-crust Italian pizza.
If you’re like most people and using a standard home oven, you’ll have good control over what temperature it gets to, so you can adjust it to the perfect temperature for the type of pizza you’re making.
If your thin pizza isn’t baking all the way through, maybe it’s just a case of upping the temperature of your oven so it bakes faster. Likewise, if your thick pizza is looking fully baked before the interior is baked through, just lower the temperature and bake it for longer.
You’re Not Baking It For Long Enough
Sometimes it’s not the temperature of the oven that’s completely off, it’s just that you’re pulling it out too soon and leaving yourself disappointed.
It might be that you’re scared that it’s going to overcook, get too dark, or go hard, but sometimes you just need to trust the process and let it bake.
It doesn’t matter if your pizza base is thick or thin, it’s still important that you learn how long it needs to bake for before it’s cooked completely and ready to serve.
Fix: Increase The Baking Time
As simple as this might sound, some people are reluctant to do it because they’re scared that it’s going to burn.
If your pizza is going to burn before it’s baked through, the temperature is too high. Anyway, I don’t know about you, but I’d much prefer a pizza with some burnt spots than a pizza that’s inedible because it’s undercooked.
You might need less than 5 minutes to bake your pizza through completely, so don’t pull it out too early.
The Base Of Your ‘Thin Pizza’ Is Too Thick
So you might be trying to make a thin pizza, but actually making it a bit thicker than it needs to be.
If it’s too thick and you’re baking it like a thin pizza, the interior is going to be raw by the time the exterior is nicely baked.
The pizza might look great until you cut into it and see a layer of uncooked dough running throughout the entirety of the pizza’s interior.
If you don’t have a good idea of how thin the dough is meant to be, you’re likely going to guess the thickness and make it too thick. Some pizza dough is stretched out thinner than you might expect.
Fix: Stretch The Dough Out Thinner
If you’re baking your pizzas at the highest temperature your oven can go, it’s best that you stretch it out even thinner.
Since it’s thinner, it’ll bake faster and you won’t be left with a raw interior.
Now, stretching pizza dough out even thinner might seem like an impossible task for some people, which is fair since it can be quite tricky if you’re not sure how to properly stretch it out.
If you’re too rough with your dough before trying to stretch it out, you’ll be tightening the gluten and making it more difficult to stretch out. Since the gluten is tighter, it springs back much easier when you try and stretch it.
Instead of battling with the dough to get it thinner, just let it rest for 5-10 minutes so the gluten can become nice and elastic again. Once it’s rested, you’ll notice that the dough is much softer and easier to shape.
Another thing to consider is that the gluten in the dough is also going to be tight if it’s cold, so make sure the dough gets to room temperature before you try and stretch it out or you’ll struggle.
You’re Not Using A Baking Stone/Steel
The biggest game-changer to making better pizza is to simply get a good baking stone or steel.
One of these will help to bake your pizza faster and more effectively whilst giving you a crisp base and nice leopard spotting. It’s definitely an essential thing to keep in your oven if you’re serious about making better pizza.
These stones and steels are great at maintaining high heat, which can then be transferred to the base of the pizza and allow it to bake considerably faster.
This will make you forget about a soggy bottom and you’ll get much more impressive pizzas.
Fix: Invest In A Baking Stone/Steel
If you’re going to be making a lot of pizzas at home, there’s no doubt about it that you need some form of stone or steel to get better results.
Pizza with an undercooked base is generally caused by a lack of heat coming from beneath it. This might be because of what you’re baking it on or just how your oven works. Either way, a baking stone or steel will eliminate this problem.
Whether you use a baking stone or steel is up to you. A baking steel is great for normal oven temperatures, but it can easily burn the base of your pizza when the temperature gets higher. A baking stone is roughly just as effective and is superior to a baking steel when used at a very high temperature.
If you don’t want to spend too much money on a baking stone, don’t fret because I’ve written an article on what you can use as a baking stone alternative here.
Your Toppings Are Too Wet
The enemy to any good pizza is too much moisture, so if you’re using wet toppings, your pizza base isn’t going to bake properly and it’s going to be sloppy.
Many beginners make the mistake of loading their pizza up with as much as possible and thinking that’s it’s going to bake just fine.
High moisture vegetables and fresh mozzarella are especially bad for making your pizza soggy if you use too much.
The issue with this is that a pizza can only handle a small amount of moisture before the dough becomes soggy.
Thicker pizzas will be able to handle more toppings of course, but it’s still not wise to fully load it with toppings unless you know that they’re not too wet for it.
Fix: Use Fewer Toppings
If you want your pizza to bake properly, try keeping it simple with a limited amount of sauce and cheese. By using less, you’re lowering the risk of the dough becoming soggy so it should bake through properly.
Once you’re happy with the results you’re getting from your basic pizzas, you can then move on to more advanced toppings, but it’s still a good idea to think about what you’re using and if it’s going to be suitable for your style of pizza.
Fix: Use Lower Hydration Toppings/Dry Them Out
If you’re still wanting to load the pizza up without the soggy base, you’ll just have to take a different approach to the pizza. Since wet ingredients are the enemy, you need to do your best to avoid them where possible.
A wet sauce will be the first ingredient to ruin your pizza, so you should aim to make the tomato sauce as thick as possible as well as making sure that you’re using less of it. Many people add too much sauce, so it’s best to add less than you think.
You can thicken pizza sauce in a few ways. It can be done over low heat in a pan, it can be strained through a sieve, or you can blend some tinned whole tomatoes together without the excess water in the tin.
You can also try using low-moisture mozzarella instead of fresh mozzarella. As the name suggests, it contains less water, so it’s not going to make the pizza soggy.
Now it’s time to think about the toppings. You need to avoid high-moisture vegetables and fruits on most pizza, but that’s not to say you can’t use them at all. With some vegetables, you can slowly cook out their moisture in a pan before letting them cool and putting them on your pizza.
You’ve Gone Too Heavy On The Toppings
Too many toppings not only takes away from the great flavors of the actual pizza, but they’re also more likely to slow or prevent your pizza from cooking through properly.
Many people who love the traditional Neapolitan pizza argue that pizza is best when it’s simple with little to no toppings at all. I have to say that I agree with this too.
Adding too many toppings can also increase the baking time of the pizza since there’s a larger area for the heat to get to. Before the center will be cooked, the heat will have to penetrate through the heavy toppings, which may lead to the exterior being overcooked before the interior is cooked properly.
Fix: Just Use Simple Toppings
Of course, the best solution to this problem is to simply use less toppings.
Plenty of people don’t consider it a good pizza unless it has a lot of toppings, but you might be surprised at how good a pizza can taste with just tomato sauce and mozzarella.
If you’re using high-quality ingredients and using them properly, you’ll be able to make a simple pizza that tastes better than any takeout pizza.
You’re Using Cold Dough
Many people put their dough in the fridge to slow the rise and develop more flavor. It really improves your dough, but the low temperature can do two things that may ruin your pizza.
Firstly, since it’s cold, the gluten is tighter and therefore more difficult to stretch. This prevents you from getting the dough as thin as you might want it to be, so it will take longer to bake in the oven.
Secondly, the lower temperature of the dough overall will increase the baking time since it will take more time to get the pizza to the desired baking temperature.
Either way, it’s not a great idea to bake dough when it’s cold.
Fix: Let The Dough Get To Room Temperature First
The easiest thing you can do is allow your dough some time to get to room temperature before shaping and baking it.
This can take anywhere from 30-90 minutes depending on how warm your home is, but you’ll get much better results after the wait.
By allowing the dough to warm up, it will be much more relaxed, easier to stretch, and it will be baked faster.
You Added The Toppings Too Soon Before Baking
When adding toppings to a pizza, the best thing you can do is add them as late as possible before baking.
The later you add them, the better the crust.
If you add your toppings too soon before you bake the pizza, you can run into two main problems:
- The Dough Will Get Soggy
Once the pizza sauce has settled on the dough for a while, it will start to moisten it and cause it to become soggy.
When it comes to baking the pizza, the base is likely to stay soggy even after a longer bake.
- The Dough Will Stick To The Pizza Peel
When your topped dough has been sitting on the peel for too long, it is more likely to have stuck, so it won’t budge when you come to slide it into the oven.
This is very disappointing and you want to avoid it, trust me.
Fix: Add The Toppings Right Before Baking
For the best results, you need to add the toppings right before you slide the pizza into the oven.
By adding them as late as possible, you’re limiting the amount of time they’re sat atop of the raw dough and therefore helping to prevent it from becoming soggy.
Fix: Parbake The Base Before Adding The Toppings
Instead of putting the pizza in the oven fully topped, some people like to either partially top the pizza and add some toppings during the cooking process or they’ll just parbake the base before topping it and putting it back in.
By parbaking the base, you’re making sure that the surface is cooked and therefore won’t go soggy when you add the toppings.
To parbake it, all you have to do is stick it in the oven until you can see or feel that the surface has dried slightly.
You Didn’t Preheat The Oven For Long Enough
A huge mistake that people make is not preheating their oven for enough time. To make good thin-to-medium crust pizza, you want to use very high heat so it cooks through quickly.
Many people preheat their oven for 15-20 minutes and think it’s enough to cook their pizza.
The problem with this is that the temperature likely isn’t the same at every area of the oven and it won’t have gotten as hot as it could be, so it’s not going to bake the pizza as well as it could.
You need to get the whole oven to a high temperature, especially if you’re using a baking stone or steel.
If you don’t preheat it properly, it’s going to take longer to bake and it’s more likely to bake unevenly.
Fix: Preheat The Oven For 60 Minutes
To ensure that everything is heated properly, you should be preheating your oven for 60 minutes. I know it’s a long time, so make use of it by preparing your toppings and any possible sides with the pizzas.
This longer preheating period not only helps the entire oven get to temperature, but it also allows your baking steel/stone to hold plenty of heat so it’s ready for when it comes to putting your pizzas in.