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How to Stretch Pizza Dough

How to Stretch Pizza Dough

Whether you made your pizza dough from scratch or bought it from your local pizzeria or supermarket, there are tried and true ways of handling it, from shaping it, to topping it, to sliding it off the peel, which help guarantee great results.

For detailed information on how to transform your Traeger into a pizza oven look here. For tips on how to shape and top pizza dough, keep reading.


No matter if your dough is homemade or store-bought, let cold dough warm up before shaping it to make stretching and shaping it easier. If it is cold or has not had sufficient rest time, the gluten in it will be too tight causing it to shrink back after stretching.


When it comes to shaping your dough into a nice round, it may be tempting to pull out your rolling pin. But your dough will be much lighter and more tender if you stretch it by hand. Why? When dough proofs, the yeast in the sugar produces pockets of carbon dioxide. If you roll the dough out, you will pop those little air bubbles, making the dough dense and chewy.


There are different ways to stretch pizza dough, but most start with flattening the dough ball. Place the ball on a lightly floured surface and press down on it gently to form a disc that’s a little thicker at the edge to form the crust.

To stretch the dough on the back of your hands, move the dough onto the knuckles of both hands, starting with your hands close together. Gradually stretch the dough by moving your hands apart and rotating the dough on your knuckles leaving a thicker edge. It’s ok if your first pizzas are not perfectly round; they will still be delicious.

To let gravity help shape the dough, pick up the disc on one edge with both hands letting it hang down in front of you. Gently pass the dough edge from hand to hand as you rotate it around like you are turning a steering wheel.

To stretch the dough on your work surface, place both hands on the disc and rotate the disc as you pull your hands away from each other.

Feel free to use more than one method as you work to shape your dough. As to whether you should toss it over your head, we leave that up to you.


Though there’s really no wrong way to top a pizza—the myriad options are what makes pizza so great—there are some tricks of the trade to keep in mind.

Sauce almost always goes on first. While there is no set order for toppings, the sauce, which needs the least heat tends to go on first. Pro tip: Use the back of a spoon to spread it and leave a border around the edge for the crust.

Use fresh mozzarella wisely. Fresh mozzarella is delicious and a must-have for a Margherita pizza, but because of its high water content, it can make pizza soggy. To keep your crust crisp, drain and even dry your fresh mozz with a paper towel, and don’t use too much. Or use a lower moisture mozz. If you are mixing a variety of cheese, have the driest one closest to the crust.

Meats should almost always be cooked first. Because a pizza does not take long to bake, it’s important that any meat toppings be cooked before they go on the pizza. In some cases, as with quick cooking shrimp or even chopped bacon, it does not always have to be completely cooked through, so it doesn’t overcook when baked on the pizza.

Top with restraint. We suggest using a light hand when topping a pizza—no more than 1/4 cup of sauce and about 1 cup cheese (for a 10-inch pizza) to ensure your crust cooks through and is nice and crisp. Think less is more when adding other toppings, too.


There are other ways to get your pizza dough into your grill, for instance off the back of a baking sheet, but a pizza peel is well worth the investment if you make pizza regularly. Its shape and handle allow for the easiest transfer. Here’s how to use a peel.

Flour your peel well. Sprinkle the peel generously with all-purpose flour, semolina flour, or a mix. To tell if you have enough, move the peel to see if the pizza easily slides. If not, lift the edges of the pizza and add more flour.

Don’t leave the pizza on it for long. You can make the pizza directly on the peel or transfer it from your work surface to the peel. Either way, don’t leave your pizza on the peel for too long—especially if your kitchen or the weather is warm—or it may stick.

Wield it with confidence. When ready to cook, position the front edge of the peel on the back of the stone (or grill if cooking directly on the grate), and with one quick and assured motion, pull the peel away. It’s best if this is a swift action, so try not to hesitate.


Your Traeger grill will give your pizza the delicious wood-fired flavor you find in the best trattorias. You can bake your pizza directly on the grill grates or on a pizza stone. In both cases, the stone or the grates should be heated beyond the normal preheat to get them as hot as possible. To learn more about how to grill pizza, including which pellets are best and when to top it if cooking directly on the grates, look here.

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