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 affects your homemade pizza dough and how it can 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.


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 may be beneficial. Oil will improve the dough’s ability to stretch and 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 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 and might use additives 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.


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 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. Another reason 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 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 absorb the water fully.

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 the ingredients are incorporated, the pizza dough must stand for at least two to five minutes before adding your oil. Then the oil is added to the mixture to further the dough’s stretchiness, flexibility, and strength.

There will be some oil absorption into the dough, but the flour will be fully hydrated.

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

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

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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, and sesame oil, and if our watching out for your cholesterol, you can use canola oil.

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

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

To add a more intrinsic flavor, you can also make your own infused oils, including garlic, thyme, rosemary, and cardamom.

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 best use each kind of olive oil.

Olive Oil Guide

Olive Oil Guide Infographic

Pizza Pun

Which country has the most oil?


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 any pizza dough recipe’s hydration percentage.

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 water used will determine the amount of oil mixed into the dough.

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

What oil affects is how 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 it is always easier to add than to subtract.

When you have a recipe that calls for higher flour hydration, but the oil is still at 2%, some people like to add a light oil coating 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 complex, dry layer even if it’s covered or inside a container. Most people use a spray like PAM or other cooking spray oils.

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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 does is add 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.

Some pizza recipes with higher hydration 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 Savory Pizza Styles

Now comes the fun fact part that gives the pizza an unmistakable taste. What is the best oil for pizza dough in 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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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.

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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 you have a brand of your preference. These can include canola, corn, peanut, safflower, soybean, or sunflower.

You may use vegetable oil to cover your pizza pan lightly. 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 miss the classic flavor of Italian pizza if you switch out the oil. That doesn’t mean 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 a more pastry-like taste than pizza dough. This method is excellent for California Pizza Kitchen or Chicago Deep Dish recipes, where the dough is flakier when baked.

Adding butter to the recipe will likely 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 the result is terrific when you use it in place of oil. 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 rancid or taste weird. If it’s been sitting on the shelf too long, it can make your pizza taste a bit off.


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 your pizza dough’s outcome. Simply measure the amount of oil that would typically 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, you would have to start again.

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

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

soft pizza crust

The biggest downer is that your pizza will have 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.

Using more oil can burn or fry your pizza at high temperatures, mainly if you use a pizza stone or pizza steel.

This will be 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 when the situation gets a little problematic. However, you can quickly fix this problem by adding making some adjustments.


Your recipe calls for 500g of bread flour, 325g of water at 65%, and 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 have more dough, which only means more pizza!

If there is too much oil, the pizza will be moist and chewy after it’s cooked. If you’re okay 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 tiny bit of oil on pizza dough balls and 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.

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

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 oil that can include food shortening or butter?

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


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