With more and more options of pizza crusts popping up at restaurants, it's only natural that one would question what flour do you use for pizza dough. While the type of flour chosen depends on the style of pizza you'd ultimately like to end up with, each flour does have unique traits that can help you create the pizza of your dreams.
Whether you're an at-home pizza enthusiast or a restaurant owner wanting to stay on top of the latest and greatest pizza trends, this pizza flour guide will help you decide which pizza dough ingredients to test out on your next baking adventure.
What Are the Main Types of Wheat Flour?
Before we dive into the wide range of flours used in pizza making, we must first discuss the most common types of wheat flour used in traditional Italian pizza, and how each type is characterized. Each type of wheat flour is defined by the rate of refinement of the grain, starting from 00 as the most refined, and ending with whole wheat.
00 flour is the most refined form of wheat flour, in which all other parts of the flour (including bran and germ) are removed to reveal only starch and gluten. Though this is the least nutritionally beneficial form of flour, it is also the easiest to work with, making it the most commonly used flour in traditional Neapolitan pizza. It is also the most comparable to all-purpose flour.
This form of flour is slightly less refined than 00 flour, though still lacking most nutritional benefits.
Type 1 and 2 Flour
Type 1 and 2 offer significantly greater nutritional benefits due higher wheat bran and germ content.
Whole Wheat Flour
The least refined version of wheat flour is whole wheat, meaning all nutrients are kept intact. Despite the stronger nutritional profile, whole wheat flour is used less commonly in baking due to the fragility of the dough.
Now that we've walked through the main types of wheat flour as defined in professional pizza making, let's explore the role of gluten in pizza dough.
When deciding the pizza dough ingredients that will create the perfect pizza for you, it's incredibly important to understand the differences of each flour. There are various flours you can use for pizza dough including All-Purpose Unbleached White Flour, Cake and Pastry Flour, Artisan Bread Flour, Spelt Flour, Cassava Flour and Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour. Each flour creates a different texture, which is dependent on the amount of gluten in the blend. Cake and pastry flour have a low gluten content, while other flours like our Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour are completely free of any gluten. Some flours, like bread flour and all-purpose flour, have a high gluten content. The texture of your pizza dough is usually associated with the amount of gluten found in the flour as gluten creates a stable texture, making it one of the crucial ingredients of pizza dough.
Gluten, a protein commonly found in wheat, creates elasticity when wet and is what gives dough its stretchy and chewy consistency. Gluten, with the help of fermented yeast, is also what helps create the gas needed for the dough to rise. When the dough is kneaded, carbon dioxide is released, allowing the dough to rise. All in all, gluten is what creates that chewy texture in many bread products. This is why most all-purpose flours contain high amounts of gluten, so they can make delicious chewy bread while cake and pastry flours contain less gluten to create a more light and airy baked good.
Now, let's dive into the two most commonly used flours for making pizza dough, all-purpose flour and bread flour.
While all-purpose flour can be used for just about anything, it's a great flour to use when trying to achieve a thin pizza crust. This is because all-purpose flour does not contain as much gluten as other types of flours. Due to its lower gluten content, when it is used along with other pizza dough ingredients, the dough won't rise as high as dough containing a lot of gluten. Other things to remember when using all-purpose flour as an ingredient of pizza dough is that at times it may be harder to stretch out compared to other flours because it tends to tear more easily.
What type of pizza to use it for:
All-purpose flour is one of the best flours for pizza. It is commonly used to create thin New York style crusts, Neopolitan-style pizzas, and deep-dish pizza crusts.
Our all-purpose flour recommendation: Al-Purpose Unbleached White Flour
Freshly milled from certified organic, hard red wheat, this premium organic all-purpose baking flour is perfect for baking delicious pizza crusts. Its high-quality wheat flour is unbleached and unenriched and has no potassium bromate added.
The second most common type of flour used when making pizza dough, and most people's go-to for homemade pizza dough is bread flour. Bread flour has a higher amount of gluten and protein than all-purpose flour. The high gluten content in this flour creates a very structured dough allowing for stretching and rising. This structure creates a thick, soft and extremely fluffy dough with crispy edges. Bread flour is also a lot easier to handle than most flours, as the gluten stretches without tearing. It is important to note that because of the high gluten content, pizza dough made with bread flour can often be incredibly "springy" and try to bounce back to shape after being stretched out. A good tip is to stretch your dough an inch or so more than the recipe calls for. This way, when you place the stretched dough on your baking sheet, it will spring back to the perfect size.
What type of pizza to use it for:
Bread flour is often used when you want a chewier result. It works great for thin-crust pizzas as well to create a crispy crust on the outside, that is chewy on the inside.
Our bread flour recommendation: Artisan Bread Flour
A high-quality protein flour, milled from America's highest quality wheat, our Artisan Bread Flour is a favorite among artisan bakers when making pizza dough!
Flours to Use for Gluten Free Pizza Crusts
Almond Flour is our go-to when creating a gluten-free pizza dough. Since it is a reasonably easy flour to cook with, it's great for first time gluten free bakers. Almond flour is also a low-carb option making it a reliable choice when baking keto recipes. The high-fat content and low-density of the flour may call for a different ratio than traditional wheat flour recipes; because of this, we recommend sticking to a tried and true Almond Flour Pizza Crust Recipe, before attempting to make one from scratch.
There are various pizza dough ingredient substitutes you can use to make up for the lack of gluten in the flour, like adding a bit of whey protein to the recipe. This will help ensure that your pizza dough retains its structure and does not break or crack when being stretched. Combining the almond flour with a lighter flour like buckwheat flour will also help add flavor and structure of the dough.
Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix
Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix is a great choice when choosing a flour to make gluten free pizza. It's wheat-free, dairy-free, whole grain and can even be made without eggs when used in vegan crust recipes.
Made with brown rice flour, it's the pizza dough ingredient for those who are sensitive to gluten. This specially designed mix can be swapped in any traditional pizza recipe to create a light, delicious pizza crust. To prepare this dough, you need three additional ingredients of pizza dough: eggs (or and egg replacement), warm water and olive oil. The mix already contains a yeast packet, which will help with the rise and crispiness of the crust.
When preparing a gluten free pizza crust, using a designated gluten free mix like this one will take a lot of guesswork out of the process. Being that this mix is specifically designed for this purpose, you will not have to measure, substitute, or add anything that isn't already in the mix. Just treat it like a typical pizza dough mix and begin baking!
Paleo Baking Flour
What flour do your use for pizza dough that’s paleo? Knowing what paleo products you can and can't include in a paleo recipe can get confusing, especially if you're not paleo yourself. Often, when working with paleo ingredients, common problems like dense or sticky dough occur. No one wants to be troubleshooting their pizza crust recipe the entire time their baking it. If you're following a paleo diet or cooking for one who is, then try out our Paleo Baking Flour! Our Paleo Baking Flour makes paleo baking simple and takes the guesswork out of the process. An unparalleled blend of almond flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour and arrowroot starch, it makes it easy to recreate the loved flavors of traditional pizza dough ingredients in a paleo version.
If you go to your local grocery store, you are bound to see a variety of alternatives to wheat-based flours, one of which is spelt flour. Spelt flour is currently making a rise as a wheat alternative and for a good reason! Embracing the nutty flavor and airy texture of spelt flour in your baked goods will create a delicious taste that other flours can't, making it one of the best flours for pizza! For a delightful whole grain pizza crust, follow this Spelt Flour Pizza Crust Recipe. Ideal for both deep dish and traditional pizza recipes, we recommend topping it with other flavorful pizza topping combos like spicy Italian sausage, Calabrian chilies and fresh mozzarella cheese.
While spelt flour is known as a traditional wheat alternative, it is a form of wheat and does contain gluten, and it's crucial that it is not used as a gluten free option when choosing the best flour for pizza.
Ready to start creating your very own homemade pizza pies? For more pizza-making tips and inspiration, visit our blog at Bob’s Red Mill today!