Oil in Pizza Dough: Here’s Everything You Need to Know

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We often see oil added to pizza dough, but there is a big question; why is oil essential in a pizza dough recipe?

This guide will dive a bit deeper into why oil will affect your homemade pizza dough and how it can also enhance your pizza’s other attributes.

Hopefully, you will be able to take advantage of these tips on oil on pizza dough in the end.

So, let’s dive in.

PURPOSE OF OIL ON PIZZA DOUGH

What is the Purpose of Oil in Pizza Dough?

The purpose of adding oil to pizza dough is to help improve the dough’s texture and add flavor to the finished crust. Specifically, the oil will:

  • Make the dough softer and will enhance its stretching ability when you roll it out. If you don’t add oil, the dough can pull apart and form holes in the dough.
  • It also makes the dough more flexible and holds up to being rolled out and stretched to its limits.
  • Increase the dough’s volume during fermentation.
  • Creates a barrier on the dough to protect it from humidity and the moisture created by the toppings during baking.
  • Add flavor to the dough, making it delicious!

Does Pizza Dough Need Oil?

Oil in pizza dough is not mandatory, but it certainly may be beneficial. Oil will improve the dough’s ability to stretch and will also preserve hydration. This method is apparent when you bake the dough, and the oil allows the dough to remain soft even after cooking.

Even though oil does add a hint of flavor, it isn’t the only factor that makes pizza dough have a specific taste. You can add some substitutes and additives to the dough to substitute oil to improve the dough’s flavor. For more on this, you can check our article on dough additives.

You add oil to the dough to prevent it from soaking the pizza sauce and the moisture and juices released by the toppings when being cooked. Otherwise, pizza dough will take longer to cook due to over-hydration issues.

Pro Tip


When buying olive oil, avoid anything in a clear glass bottle. Light is the great enemy of olive oil and the oil inside will likely have lost most of its flavor and aroma. Look for extra-virgin olive oil in dark glass bottles.

Which Pizza Styles Require Oil in the Dough?

Let’s start with the one that does not require oil because almost all other pizza styles require oil or some form of fat.

All pizza styles derive from the Italian Classical Neapolitan Pizza, which does not need oil. The recipe consists of only flour, water, natural yeast, and salt.

Almost all other pizza style variations created by Italian descendants and others require oil or fat.

All Italian recipes use olive oil for the added flavor. However, other oil types are swapped or substituted to adjust the taste of olive oil. This might otherwise ruin a particular style of pizza.

Of course, some recipes don’t use oil at all and might use additives meant for diet-based reasons.

This method is evident in Vegan recipes that will substitute conventional oils with oil-free additives. These recipes add more water to the mix to compensate for not adding oil to the dough.

The result is more or less a crust that is crispier since there is no oil to give the crust added softness.


EFFECT OF OIL IN PIZZA DOUGH

How Does Oil Affect the Texture of the Pizza Dough?

Oil will help act as a lubricant on the dough’s surface, making pizza dough pliable and easier to handle.  Adding oil to pizza dough makes it less sticky to the touch.

This is not always the case when you’re rolling out a pizza with a rolling pin, in addition to a floured surface you need to add some flour to the dough’s surface.

This method keeps the tackiness level down and allows you to give the dough better stretching properties. One other reason that oil affects the dough is to prevent moisture from getting out of your dough.

What is the Order of Ingredients when Adding Oil to Pizza Dough?

The order of ingredients is critical when you are adding oil to the pizza dough mixture. What most people forget is that oil and water don’t readily mix.

As a result, oil should be one of the last ingredients before the salt when you are mixing pizza dough.

Order of Ingredients for Pizza Dough

When mixing pizza dough, you should first mix the bread flour or any high-protein content flour, either instant yeast or active dry yeast, and water to allow the wheat flour to fully absorb the water.

This mixing should be done with a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment or by hand. You may also use a food processor to mix the dough, but try not to use a bread machine, as it will overwork the dough. This will form a big dough ball.

After all of the ingredients are incorporated, pizza dough needs to stand for at least two to five minutes before adding your oil. Then the oil is added to the mixture to further enable the stretchiness, flexibility, and strength of the dough.

There will be some absorption of the oil into the dough at this point, but the flour will be fully hydrated.

Lastly, you add sea salt or kosher salt to enhance the flavor of the dough further.

The biggest lesson here is that water and oil by themselves don’t mix, right? Nor do yeast and salt because salt will kill the yeast. But all together they make one of the best things in the world, Pizza!

We sometimes wonder if we as people all come together, would this be a better world? What do you think?

What Type of Oil for Pizza Dough?

Depending on the type of oil that you put onto the dough, it will enhance the flavor and give pizza dough a chewiness level that some recipes call for.

Different oils

Which Oil for Pizza Dough?

There are many different types of oil that you can use for pizza dough recipes. Each type of oil will directly impact the flavor and recipe of that pizza you’re making.

Most recipes call for olive oil, others may call for extra virgin olive oil.  However, if you are looking for something less prevalent, vegetable oil would be your choice of oil. 

You can also use other oils for added flavor enhancement. For example, you can use avocado oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil and if our watching out your cholesterol you can use canola oil.

Oil is an overall barrier to hold in flavors that form within the dough itself. It also helps to prevent other flavors from getting into the dough as well.

Your homemade dough should have a particular flavor aside from the topping you put on it.

You can also make your own infused oils, these oils can include garlic, thyme, rosemary, and cardamom to add a bit more intrinsic flavor.

Some pizza chefs might add sesame oil or peanut oil for personal touches to a signature recipe. 

So check your pantry and see have you have any. Our Olive Oil Guide will help you how to best use each kind of olive oil.

Olive Oil Guide

Olive Oil Guide Infographic

Pizza Pun


Which country has the most oil?

Greece

Does Oil Count Towards Hydration Percentage in Pizza Dough?

No, oil is a fat and does not count as a liquid for hydration percentage purposes. Only liquids such as water or milk will count to calculate the hydration percentage of any given pizza dough recipe.

Closeup of flour water yeast and oil

There is a balance when adding oil to your pizza dough recipe.

When the hydration process starts, the maximum amount of water is absorbed into the flour. After this, the amount of water used will determine the amount of oil that is mixed into the dough.

It doesn’t affect the hydration one single bit since the water has already been absorbed. What happens is that the oil now adds higher levels of plasticity to your dough.

What oil does affect is the way that gluten starts to form when you start working the dough. When you use high levels of oil, it will inhibit the formation of gluten.

This is why most pizza recipes call for 2% oil in an average 60-65% hydration recipe.

We can all agree that there is a limit to how much oil can go into a pizza dough recipe. Some recipes call for an average of 2-3% based on the hydration of your flour.

When it comes to weighing out your ingredients for pizza dough, the oil percentage is then calculated at 2 to 3% but does not exceed more than 5% of your total flour.  Always start at a low percentage and test your dough, remember that is always easier to add than to subtract.

When you have a recipe that calls for higher hydration of the flour, but the oil is still at 2%, some people like to add a light coating of oil outside the dough and cover it with plastic wrap.

This process does two things; the first is to allow the dough to proof and won’t stick to your bowl as it rises. The second is to prevent a crust from forming if you are cold proofing in the fridge.

This method is when there’s no oil on pizza dough and can create a hard, dry layer even if it’s covered or inside a container. Most people are using a spray like PAM or some other cooking spray oils.

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OIL AND DOUGH FERMENTATION

Does Oil Prevent Dough from Rising?

The fermentation process isn’t affected one single bit by the oil.  Since the hydration process will allow the water to be absorbed into the flour, sugar, and yeast components, these immediately begin the fermentation process. Even after these are mixed and oil is added.  Temperature and time are all that is needed to ferment the dough. The oil cannot soak into the flour or the gluten that forms through fermentation. All that oil is doing is adding a layer of flexibility to your dough.

Aside from helping your dough have a barrier throughout the proofing process, this won’t get in the way of your dough rising. With some pizza recipes with higher hydration, this will make pizza dough stickier and harder to handle. You can choose to use enough dusting flour on your working surfaces, yet sticky dough is easier to touch if it’s been coated with a light cooking oil spray beforehand.

BEST OIL FOR PIZZA DOUGH

Best Oil for Savory Pizza Styles

Now comes the fun fact part that gives the pizza an unmistakable taste. What is the best oil for pizza dough when it comes to traditional taste? You guess right, olive oil is the best oil for pizza dough, so you can go ahead and give yourself that gold star for the day! The robust flavor of olive oil is what makes any pizza crust iconic and bold. Yet, some pizza dough recipes can taste terrible with olive oil if you didn1t intend for that flavor to come through.

You wouldn’t add olive oil if you want to make a modern dough recipe if you’re not so crazy about the flavor. Many alternatives are also excellent. Canola and vegetable oil don’t leave any oil flavor that you’ll notice after it’s cooked.

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Our Top Pick
Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil brings a well-balanced, yet rich taste to your dishes. Made from cold pressing the finest olives, this aromatic olive oil has a deep greenish-gold color.

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Best Oil for Dessert Pizzas

Everyday dessert pizzas are more popular, but olive oil, lard, or any strong-flavored oil will not be the best if you are looking for something sweet.

In this case, you will need a bland oil like vegetable oil or canola. Mixing in butter or the combination of butter and oil will also work very well for this style of pizza.

Here’s What the PROs at Homemade Pizza Pro Use and Recommend

Crisco Pure Vegetable Oil

A cholesterol-free vegetable oil, with 0 grams trans fat per serving, Light taste, never greasy.


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SUBSTITUTES FOR OLIVE OIL IN PIZZA DOUGH

Can You Use Vegetable Oil in Pizza Dough?

Vegetable oil is a perfect substitute that makes excellent all-purpose oil for cooking nearly anything. Most of us have vegetable oil in our kitchens unless you’re Italian, which would be considered a crime. Since you can buy many different vegetable types of oil from the store, we recommend that you have a brand of your preference. These can include canola, corn, peanut, safflower, soybean, or sunflower.

You may use vegetable oil to lightly cover your pizza pan. If you don’t have vegetable oil you may use parchment paper.

Nearly any of these are great vegetable oils that stand in perfectly for olive oil. Though- you’ll be missing the classic flavor of Italian pizza if you do switch out the oil. That doesn’t mean that you can’t put slice olives on your pizza when you put your pizza toppings.

Oil vs. Butter in Pizza Dough

The difference between oil and butter in pizza dough is that one thing that makes pizza dough tastier is adding butter instead of oil when you mix the dough.

It’s changing the flavor to have more of a pastry-like taste instead of pizza dough. This method is excellent for California Pizza Kitchen or Chicago Deep Dish recipes, where the dough is decidedly flakier when it’s baked.

Adding butter to the recipe is more than likely faster to mix into the dough since butter can absorb more quickly than oil.

You can additionally add butter in layers while you’re working the dough. This method creates layers and layers of dough that will cook just like pastry or biscuits.

Oil vs. Shortening in Pizza Dough

If you’re living in America, you probably have that container of Crisco in your pantry. It’s a food shortening that’s great when you want to make cookies without butter.

The difference between oil and shortening in pizza dough is that when you use it in place of oil, the result is wonderful. The resulting crust is going to brown better when you bake it too. The flexibility and overall texture are smoother and tastier than oil. There are also versions of Crisco that have butter flavoring added.

In short, you can use nearly any food shortening, but stick to name brands. This is so your shortening doesn’t go bad or taste weird. If it’s been sitting on the shelf too long, it can make your pizza taste a bit off.

OIL IN PIZZA DOUGH – TROUBLESHOOTING

Forgot Oil in your Pizza Dough?

This can happen more often if you’re not making pizza dough very often. It’s also a mistake that won’t affect the outcome of your pizza dough at all. Simply measure out the amount of oil that would normally go into the dough.

Adding oil to mixed dough

It is always best if you measure. If you don’t have a scale, 1 tablespoon of oil for every 500 grams of flour in your mix.

This will give you a 2-3% ratio for oil content in your dough. In the alternative, you can eyeball it. After this, you can knead the oil into your dough.

After that, you can prepare your pizza just as you usually would. The missing oil in pizza dough isn’t a vital player in the fermentation process.

However, if you missed putting in yeast, this means you would have to start all over again.

What Happens if You Put Too Much Oil in Pizza Dough?

The result of adding too much oil into pizza dough will start to be apparent when the cooking process happens.

soft pizza crust

The biggest downer is that your pizza will end up having softer dough than you expected.

This isn’t such a bad thing, especially if you like soft dough pizza, but if you intended to make a crispy crust, you’d never achieve that by using too much oil. If you do use more oil, this can lead to burning or frying your pizza at high temperatures, particularly if you are using a pizza stone or pizza steel.

This will be pretty obvious if you use a pizza oven or outdoor pizza grill when higher temperatures are used. You probably won’t encounter this in your kitchen oven since most home ovens only reach 550 Fahrenheit.

How to Fix Too Much Oil in Pizza Dough?

When you notice that you used too much oil in your pizza dough, is when the situation gets a little problematic. However, you can quickly fix this problem by adding making some adjustments.

Example:

Your recipe calls for 500g of bread flour, 325g of water at 65%, 15g of oil at 3%. (500 x .03 = 15)and 10g of sea salt at 2% of salt.

But you added 20g of oil instead of 15g.

You need to adjust the recipe to bring the flour(Which is always 100%) and the water to the desired level.

Take the 20g you used and divide by .03 this will give you the total flour you need to have the oil at 3%. (20 / .03 = 666.66 or 667 grams of flour).

So take the original 500g and calculate the difference. 667 – 500 = 167 grams. As a result, add 167g of flour to your mixture. You will need to adjust the water and the rest of the ingredients using the same method.

Calculate Water – 667 x .65 = 434 – 325(original water) = 109g of more water.

This method will get you very close to where you should be. As a result, you will end up with more dough, which only means more pizza!

If there is still too much oil, the pizza will be moist and chewy after it’s cooked. If you’re fine with that, you can enjoy your pizza with no worries. If not, sadly, you can start over or use the dough for something else other than pizza.

How do You Soften Pizza Dough?

If you have pizza dough that is ready to use and has already been proofed, it will need to be stretched. But before you attempt this, it’s best to put a small bit of oil on pizza dough balls and start to flatten them down to loosen up the gluten.

This is what you’ll also do if you’ve been cold-proofing your dough as well. Only in this case, you have to let your dough warm up to room temperature before you flatten it into a disc shape.

To get a nice soft dough, you now use gravity to spread the dough into your pizza pie shape. This will give you the best results for a crust that is fluffy and soft.

The Last Slice

We hope this gives you a better outlook on making homemade pizza dough and how oil plays a large part in dough making. Aren’t you curious to try some alternatives to using oil that can include food shortening or butter?

With all of these answered questions, we hope you’ll feel the urge to get out to your kitchen right away and make some fantastic pizza tonight.

Enjoy!

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