Best Water for Pizza Dough: Temperature, Quality, and Hydration

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Best Water for Pizza Dough

What is the best water for pizza dough?

In this article, we are going to dive deep into the mysterious ways of the best water for pizza dough.  In conjunction with flour, yeast, and salt, it can make the most spectacular pizza dough.

You will learn why water is so crucial in the homemade pizza-making process and how controlling three fundamental components of water affects your results. 

Along the way, we are going to give you the tools you need to develop your framework, establish your parameters, and be able to troubleshoot any dough, which will make you the best homemade pizza maker! 

So, let’s get started.

Tips on the Best Water for Pizza Dough – Overview

Pizza Dough Water Temperature – The best water temperature for pizza dough is 95F to 105F to ferment the yeast.

Fermentation – The best temperature to ferment pizza dough is 80F.

Pizza Dough Hydration – The best water hydration for pizza dough is 65%.

Pizza Dough Water Quality- Any water that is good enough to drink will be good enough for pizza dough.

Now let’s find out why.

What is the Role of Water in Pizza Dough?

To find which is the best water for pizza dough, we have some questions that we need to ask. What are we looking for when we make pizza?

Besides fulfilling the basic need for survival. And second, why do we choose water over any other form of liquid to make pizza dough? 

We are looking for flavor, to satisfy our taste buds and be happy. 

So, why do we add water if water doesn’t have any flavor?  

Precisely, the flavor in a pizza crust comes from flour, salt, and yeast

The flour depending on the grain, will have different flavors, the fermentation process of the yeast is what sets the tone, and the salt brings that tone to another level.  

All these elements are dry by nature, so we needed to figure out how to combine them without changing harmony. What ingredient is better other than water?

It certainly doesn’t bring any flavor to the equation, but it acts as a binding agent, like the orchestra conductor that brings all his artists together for the perfect symphony.   

The orchestra conductor doesn’t play any instruments, but without them, there wouldn’t be a concert.

Pro Tip


If you know you are dealing with hard water, then try to add less salt to your dough, on the contrary, if you have soft water add more salt to your dough.

Does Water Make a Difference in Pizza Dough?

After flour, water is the second most significant component of pizza dough. 

  • Water gets absorbed by the flour, swells up the flour’s starches, and makes the dough sticky.
  • Water triggers the formation of gluten, which creates a firm structure in pizza dough.
  • Water activates the yeast, so it can begin to grow.
  • Hard water that has a high mineral content can make your dough tough, while soft water has the opposite effect, causing your dough to be too relaxed.

Accordingly, the best water for pizza dough you use will undoubtedly make a difference in the final result of your crust.

What are the three fundamental components of water that you need to control to make pizza dough?

There are three factors that you need to take very seriously when making pizza at home:

Volume

Temperature

Water Quality

Pizza Dough Water Volume

The volume will measure the amount of water we are going to introduce to our dough. Depending on how much water you add, there will be a direct effect on the result of your crust.

This water content is known as hydration.

To find which is the best water for pizza dough, you must determine what the correct amount for your taste is.

We give you some parameters, but maybe you don’t like the results. You can quickly go up or down on these numbers to reach your own.

Pizza Dough Water Temperature

Temperature plays a significant role in the pizza-making process because depending on the temperature of the water, it is how the yeast is going to react.


If the water is too cold, it will take forever to ferment.

On the other hand, if the water is too hot, it could kill the yeast and not ferment at all.


When activating the yeast for pizza dough, the water should be around 95F to 105F.

Pizza Dough Water Quality

Water quality will determine how the yeast is going to grow and develop flavor. You probably already know, that not all water is the same.

We will explain why in a bit.

Pizza Pun


What do you call a sleeping pizza?

PiZZZZZZa.

What’s in Your Water?

There are three factors professional pizza makers take into consideration concerning the best water for pizza dough these are:

  • Hardness
  • Purity
  • Acidity

Hardness

The hardness is measured to be determining the mineral content in the water. The minerals contained in your water can have a direct effect on yeast fermentation and the texture of your dough.

Hard water is rich in minerals, usually calcium and magnesium.

For the yeast to live and grow, it needs these minerals, so in hard water, yeast can grow faster.  

Acidity

Pure water is considered neutral and has a PH of about 7. That means it’s neither acidic nor alkaline. 

PH Scale

Most tap water ranges from 6.5 to 8 on the pH scale and works fine for pizza dough.

Purity

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines “pure water” as water free from all types of bacteria and viruses.

But there is more to purity than just that. Water is a compound made up of hydrogen and oxygen, so pure water would be water that contains nothing but hydrogen and oxygen.

However, pure water of this sort typically doesn’t exist except in controlled environments. For homemade pizza, we are not going to worry about it. 

So, if you want to know what’s in your water, just buy a water purity test kit to check the purity of your water.

These tests typically measure chlorine, nitrates, nitrites, minerals such as iron, copper, and lead, and the hardness of your water.

Check the EPA’s guidelines on testing your water here.

Here is the Water Purity Test the PRO’s at Homemade Pizza Pro Use and Recommend

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Best Water for Pizza Dough – FAQs

What Kind of Water Should You Use for Pizza Dough?

Most tap water will be fine for making pizza dough. Just follow a simple rule; if your water is good enough to drink will be good enough for pizza.

Take a sample of your water if it has a high chlorine content or is too hard, buy purified drinking water.

Can You Use Bottled Water for Pizza Dough?

Any bottled water should be good enough, except mineral water.

Mineral water doesn’t have the minerals necessary for the yeast to grow, ferment, and develop flavor.

We did the homework, and Aquafina is one that has the least minerals in it, so we try to avoid it for making pizza.

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What is Pizza Dough Hydration?

Pizza dough hydration is the amount of water in the dough relative to the flour by weight. 

If you mix 100 grams of flour and 65 grams of water, the dough hydration is 65%, (65 ÷ 100). 

Here’s a video on what is pizza dough hydration presented by Ooni.

How Do You Calculate Hydration for Pizza Dough?

To calculate hydration, you take the total weight of water and divide it by the total weight of flour; the result will be a decimal number that you will multiply by 100 to get the percentage.

Remember, Flour is always 100%, so that will be our base or denominator.

Hydration Percentage Graph

To make things easy and you don’t have to deal with fractions. 

We’ve created a Baker’s Percentage Calculator where all you have to do is enter the weight of your ingredients and you will find out the percentage in a second.  

What is the Best Hydration for Pizza Dough?

The best hydration for pizza dough is 65% for most baking conditions. Hydration will vary according to the baking temperature.

For example, true Italian pizzaiolos use pretty low hydration, ranging from 55% to 59%.

However, that is because they are using wood-fired ovens that can reach temperatures up to 950°F.

Such heat evaporates the water very quickly, and the dough firms up fast, creating a beautiful, crisp yet foldable crust.

On the other hand, if you were to have hydration of 75% or more and you will bake the pizza in your home oven at 500°F, it will take from 20 to 30 minutes to cook.

Since the water content is so high, it will take a lot longer to evaporate. The longer baking time will cause your crust to be soggy and chewy.

The water inside the dough is what creates the hole structure in your pizza crust.

In high-hydration doughs, all that steam building up inside the hot dough expands the bubbles, creating an airier structure in the finished crust.  

On the other hand, soft water can make for slow-rising dough with a weaker gluten structure.  

Why 65% Hydration is Best for Pizza Dough?

  1. The results that 65% hydration brings to the crust are phenomenal.
  2.  65% Hydration is the average hydration of all yeast bread, so if you are a bread baker; you are probably familiar with this percentage.

We are adapting professional pizza baking rules from the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana for home use.

They typically suggest less hydration, they range from 50 to 59%, but that is because they use ovens that reach up to 950°F.

We found that for homemade pizza in the average kitchen oven that can only reach up to 500°F, 65% provides extraordinary results.

What is High Hydration Pizza Dough?

High hydration in pizza dough is considered any hydration over 65%.

Keep in mind 65% is the average percentage for any yeast dough, so anything above that will be regarded as high.  

For all those bread bakers out there, your percentages are different; we get it. 

What you consider high hydration might be different. But here we are making homemade pizza, not bread.   

High hydration doughs will take longer to cook in the average kitchen oven. It also will have a direct effect on the result of your crust.

Do You Use Hot or Cold Water for Pizza Dough?

To make pizza dough it’s better to use warm water at 95 degrees F, so the yeast can activate faster.

Adding too much water to pizza dough image
Best Water for Pizza Dough

What Happens if You Add Too Much Water to Pizza Dough?

When you add too much water to your dough:

  1. It will take longer to bake as all that water needs to evaporate. The average kitchen oven only reaches temperatures up to 500°F, so prepare yourself to wait for your pizza to be done in 20 to 30 minutes. If you are using a wood-fired oven or gas oven, you can get temperatures up to 950°F. In those instances, the cooking time will be reduced significantly.
  2. The texture of your crust will probably be soggy and chewy rather than crisp and firm. At the end of the day, it is a matter of taste and what you like. Experiment and try different hydration percentages to see which you prefer.

Humidity Effect on Pizza Dough

Humidity is an additional source of hydration for your pizza dough.

Is measured by a formula called “Hydroscopic”, which tells you how much humidity a substance can absorb from its surrounding, in this case, flour.

But this is too scientific.  

In simpler terms:

You add water to flour to make the dough, but flour also absorbs water from the air. A humid environment will make your dough wetter. So, you must be careful, if you have a humid kitchen.

How Room Temperature Affects Your Pizza Dough

There is no exact temperature that defines what room temperature is.  

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language identifies room temperature as around 68°–72°F.

Depending on what your kitchen temperature is, it will determine how long the first fermentation will take if you are fermenting at room temperature.

Cold Water


In a kitchen that is too cold, the yeast will take longer to ferment.

Hot Water


In a hot kitchen, the yeast will ferment faster.

The average temperature at the first fermentation should occur should be around 80°F. 

Unless you live in Florida, your kitchen will probably be less than 80°F.

Most kitchen ovens these days have a “Proofing” setting that is around 80°F for most ovens.

It is very useful to have a humidity meter in your kitchen as well as a thermometer

We recommend the ThermoPro TP50 because it gives you readings for both kitchen temperature and humidity.  

ThermoPro TP50 Digital Hygrometer
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Effect of Steam on Pizza Dough

It is fair that we discuss the effects of steam on your pizza dough. 

Because, what happens when you set the pizza in the oven? Immediately, the water starts evaporating and starts creating steam.

The amount of water in your dough also affects how much the crust will rise. 

More Water = More Puff

When the water heats up in the oven, it creates steam, especially when the pizza first goes in the oven.

Steam helps transfer heat to the dough faster, giving it an initial blast of heat that will puff the dough quickly. Professional bakers call this oven spring.

More water in the dough gives a better oven spring.

You can inject some steam into the kitchen oven by adding a couple of ice cubes to the bottom of the oven or spraying water on the walls of the oven right after you set the pizza in the oven.

How Do You Rehydrate Pizza Dough?

When the pizza dough is left uncovered or exposed to air for an extended period of time, it dries and develops a crust.

This crust or shell encasing the dough ball break when you pull it apart. At this point, the dough is not good to make pizza as it will not expand to make the crust properly.  

To rehydrate the dough ball, you can get a small container with water, and with your hand, you tap or sprinkle water on the dough ball.

You can also use a bottle sprayer for this, which is what we think is the best solution. Spray some water over the dough, cover it, and let sit at room temperature for about 1 hour. 

The dough will absorb the water, hydrate, and be good for pizza again.

How Does Water Temperature Affect your Pizza Dough?

The water temperature will affect the fermentation process of the yeast.

Activating Yeast


When activating the yeast, the water should be from 95°F to 105°F, if the water is hotter it will kill the yeast, and the dough will not ferment. 

To learn more about yeast and water temperature, you can go to our article – What Homemade Pizza Bakers need to know about Yeast.

Additional Resources on the Best Water for Pizza Dough

Hydration Percentage by Pizza Style

7 Hydration Percentages by Pizza Style that Actually Make the Best Pizza

the PROs

Making a pizza is all about getting your pizza dough to have just the right amount of hydration. If you’re looking to get the best results this guide can help you find the specific pizza dough hydration according to your desired pizza style.  Let’s check it out!

Pizza Dough Hydration: Everything You Need to Know

the PROs

If you’re looking to get the best results, this scientifically proven formula to calculate, manage and control pizza dough hydration will get you on track to become the best pizza baker! So, let’s get started.

how to control key variables in pizza image

How to Control Temperature, Time, and Hydration for Pizza Dough

the PROs

Learn how temperature, time and hydration affect pizza dough and how you can control them.

The Last Slice

So now that you know the importance of water in pizza making, what is the best water for pizza dough, and how to manage temperature, volume, and water quality.

You should be able to troubleshoot your pizza dough and determine if anything went wrong or if you developed a formula that gives you the results you like.  

By tasting your pizza, you can reveal how water affected the overall pizza structure and flavor; and if it met your expectations.

Test the best water for pizza dough by looking in detail at the hydration percentage that worked best for you.

Best water pizza for dough
Best Water for Pizza Dough – Checking the Results

So, what do you need to look for? Let’s point it out:

Flavor

Does the crust have any flavor without cheese, sauce, or any of the toppings?  

If the yeast fermented properly, the crust should have a subtle aroma and sublime bready, yeasty flavor.

Crust

Did the crust rise enough to have an identifiable rim?

If the rim is flat, the hydration was too low.

Does the crust have any bubbles?

Examine the inside of the crust and look for air pockets. High hydration will give you more pockets, while low hydration will not provide any pockets at all.

How is the overall structure?

More water will give you a soggy and chewy crust, while less water will provide a drier and stiffer crust.

Appearance

What is the color of the crust?

If the pizza dough had the correct hydration, the crust should look puffy and with a cream color and little dark spots.

If you haven’t done so, give it a try, experiment with different hydration percentages, and see how water affects your pizza dough under your circumstances and your expectations.

At the end of the day, it’s your pizza, you did it, so it should be the best for you!

So, what do you think?

Is your water the best water for pizza dough?

Does water really make a difference?

Does it reveal how good your pizza is? Let us know, we would love to learn more.

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