Rolling vs. Stretching Pizza Dough: Everything You Need to Know


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Rolling vs. stretching pizza dough – which one is better for homemade pizza?

In your opinion, which kind of pizza truly stands out?

Here are some guidelines to follow while rolling or stretching a pizza and what you need to consider. Let’s find out!

Should you roll or stretch pizza dough?

Whether you should roll or stretch your homemade pizza dough is entirely your discretion.

It’s like if we’re in front of a yield sign, you need to decide where to go, you either stretch or roll your dough. 

To know which route you will take, ask yourself what is that YOU want.  How do you like it?

If you want a thin crust pizza or pan-grilled, you might want to roll it out. 

Alternatively, if you are more into light, airy, and pliable crust pizzas- stretching may be the way to go.

If you decide to stretch the dough by hand, then it would be best not to use a rolling pin for pizza, as the dough will lose all the accumulated gas and all the characteristics of a stretched dough, and you will end up with a thin, dense crust.  We will discuss this more in detail later on.

How can you tell if the dough is rolled or stretched?

We all love pizzas! Thin, dense, deep-dish, with their many variants and flavor elements, pizzas continue to dominate our everyday lives.

But how exactly can you tell if a pizza is rolled or stretched?

It’s pretty simple! Just observe the pizza and feel the taste it brings forth.

If it comes with a dense and almost biscuity texture, most certainly, your pizza was probably rolled with a rolling pin.

Thanks to the roller, the carbon dioxide was pressed out. As a result, your pizza is left with a uniform yet dense feel to it.

Alternatively, if the dough appears to be airier, it was probably hand-stretched with plenty of holes. The cook used their hands to create large air pockets in the dough.

This process, over time, allowed the gas to expand as they baked the pizza duly.

The result? You are left with a springy pizza with a wide range of colors and mouthfeel.

Pro Tip

Homemade Pizza dough can be sticky, so coat your countertop or pizza peel with a thin layer of flour or a mixture of flour with cornmeal beforehand to avoid the dough from sticking on your countertop.

Rolling vs Stretching Pizza Dough

What’s the difference, what’s better?

The fundamental difference between rolling and stretching dough is in the uniformity, crust hole structure, and size. Usually, when you stretch the dough, you are left with larger holes in the crust. Rolling a pizza, on the other hand, offers you a mostly uniform but dense crust with smaller holes. 

When you combine the ingredients to make a soft dough, and over time, you’ll find the yeast fermenting. This fermentation process creates carbon-di-oxide which allows the dough to rise.

How to roll out pizza dough

First, remove your homemade or store-bought dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly dusted countertop, covering it with a kitchen towel for about half an hour.

A room temperature dough that is much more pliable.

Next, dust lightly with flour and roll the dough from the center to the edges until the circle is about a half-inch thick, turning it from time to time to ensure an even roll.

Transfer the dough to a baking sheet that has been oiled or coated with cornmeal, and top with your favorite ingredients. Your homemade pie will look and taste better than any store-bought pie.

Rolling pizza dough

How to Roll Pizza Dough

As the pizza is rolled, the gas is pushed forward, and the co2 air pockets are disintegrated into smaller segments. This process adds to the uniformity of the dough while also making it slightly dense.

Rolling Pin for Pizza Dough

When it comes to rolling pizza dough, a good rolling pin will determine how good your crust will end up. The fundamental criteria to decide which kind of rolling to use for pizza dough is the material the rolling pin is made of. Rolling pins are made with wood, stainless steel, plastic, and silicone.

Which is the best for pizza dough? The wood rolling pin will be the best because it is not affected by temperature as a stainless steel or marble pin would. A stainless steel pin will get either cold or hot depending on the temperature of the kitchen. will do the job. You may use wood, aluminum, or plastic rolling pin. The plastic rolling pin may not be as heavy as to need it to be to properly deflate your pizza dough.

Other characteristics are weight, and shape, you want a heavy rolling pin that is long enough to handle the size of your pizza. A french rolling pin is not recommended for pizza dough because it is not symmetrical in shape. The center of the pin will be in contact with the dough but the corners of the pin will not. You will want even distribution of weight through the rolling process.

Always make sure to dust your rolling pin with flour before you start rolling.

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How to Stretch Pizza Dough

Form a Disk

When you stretch a pizza, you usually begin by patting the dough ball in a disk using your fingers.

Fourth Step for Shaping Pizza Dough

Stretch to the Edges

The pushing motion is from the middle part to the external area. This movement in the dough pushes the gas pockets near the crust. And the moment the pizza base is flat enough, you can use your fingers to stretch it even more.

Contrary to rolling, stretching techniques help pizzas retain their air bubbles at absolutely random spots. When you cook the dough, the bubbles start rising, and you are left with a larger and more defined outer crust.

Stretched pizzas, however, are not very uniform, and this same feature adds to its artisan appeal.

So, which one is better? Rolling or stretching a pizza dough?

We’d say both!

While purists stick to the stretching style calling it more original and authentic, there is absolutely nothing wrong in rolling a pizza either.

If you follow the proper guidelines, both rolled and stretched pizzas would taste delicious!

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It’s Elon-gated

Crust results when stretching the dough

When you stretch a dough, the tiny air bubbles (co2 bubbles) are forced to move towards the crust. This leads to crispy holes at random areas across your crust.

Your thin crust pizza is airy, and light. It also has the perfect crisp and plenty of large crispy holes.

The best part: the crust is more extensive than usual.

Crust results when rolling the dough

When you roll the dough, the crust appears to be more uniform.

Unlike stretched pizzas, they are relatively dense.

Rolled pizzas also come with holes, but they are not as big as the stretched ones. The thin crust is somewhat smaller.

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Best Stretching Method By Pizza Style

Stretching or rolling a pizza is nothing short of an art. And in the following sections, we will discuss this in more detail.

Neapolitan Pizza

Neapolitan

The iconic Neapolitan pizza is hand-stretched. This stretch alone adds to its iconic round shape. The best way to achieve the perfect Neapolitan stretch is by moving most of the air from the center of the dough to the edges. This method creates an excellent crust.

New York Plain Slice Pizza

NY Style

You might want to roll out your NY-style pizza for a perfect thin crust pizza. Roll evenly across the dough. In case you want a thinner crust, roll even thinner around the edges.

sicilian pizza image

Sicilian

Sicilian is yet another iconic pizza style that leverages stretch motion for its excellent texture. As with the Neapolitan pizza, Sicilian pizzas are patted and stretched more evenly for a uniform crust.

Chicago style deep dish pizza

Chicago Deep Dish

The Chicago Deep Dish Pizza is rolled out to create its pie-like crust. Once the dough is mixed and rested, it is first punched down for removing excess air bubbles and then rolled out into a large rectangle. After this, you spread butter on the dough, add the sauce, and bake it.

What is the trick to stretching the pizza dough?

The trick to getting your dough stretched is by allowing it to rest before eventually taking it up.

In addition to this, you should also try stretching your pizza to room temperature for the best elasticity and the right kind of texture.

What is the best way to stretch pizza dough?

The best stretching technique would probably be kneading the dough using your hand motions to pull it closer to yourself through gravity.

This kneading movement adds to the elasticity improving the taste and texture of the pizza.

For optimal elasticity, make sure the dough is kneaded for at least four to eight minutes at a stretch.

How to stretch pizza dough

stretching pizza dough image
You begin by laying your dough on the countertop and finger-pressing it in an attempt to flatten the base.

As you continue flattening the pizza, use the dough like a disc and rotate it until you cover the entire work surface.
For the third step, you need to keep pinching the pizza along the edges as you continue rotating it.
Finally, use both your hands to dust the pizza with flour as your keep stretching it. At this final stage, make sure the dough is in the middle of both of your palms.

How to roll pizza dough

rolling pizza dough
First, you need to warm your dough up by bringing it under average temperature.
Next, add olive oil to your countertop and lightly pat the dough to flatten it out.
Press the dough and when it is flat enough, roll it with your rolling pin.
Roll in a circular motion for the perfectly round shape.

How to Hand Stretch Pizza Dough

Warm up the cold dough for at least 30 minutes at room temperature before stretching.  This will soften the dough and make it simpler to work with.


To stretch authentic pizza dough, after 24 hours, your dough balls should have risen and are ready to use, so dust the bench with bread flour and set one ball on top.


Gently press down with the tips of your fingers, starting an inch from the bottom and working your way up to one inch from the top.

Then come to a halt, flip it over, and repeat. Repeat the process an additional time.

4 Easy Steps for Stretching Pizza Dough

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Should you stretch pizza dough in the air?

While stretching the dough right in midair is impressive, it is certainly not the best technique to stretch pizzas.

Instead of the air-rolling motion, make sure the dough is stretched with your knuckles.

Use the standard hand pull motion and back it up with gravity for the best results.

How long should pizza dough rest before being stretched?

It would be best if you allowed at least 30 to 45 minutes to rest the dough.

This method also allows the gluten to relax and also forms the right kind of elasticity.

Tips to Properly Stretch Pizza Dough

Here are some tips for better and more consistent stretching action on your pizza dough:

Even before anything else, make sure the dough is at room temperature.
Add olive oil to your tabletop/countertop to prevent sticky bits.
Please make sure the dough is pressed before you even proceed to stretch it.
Use both your hands to stretch your pizza dough. Exercise gravity.

Stretching Pizza Dough Troubleshooting

Here are some stretching troubleshooting guidelines for beginners.

Why does my pizza dough not stretch?

While getting your dough elastic is good, getting it excessively flexible is not always a good idea.

Elasticity creates gluten as the flour touches the water.

Over time, this gets thicker when we start kneading. If you’re looking for a perfectly stretchy dough, the best idea would be to knead it slightly less. A couple of minutes of kneading should be enough.

Next, rest your dough before rolling it back. This rest helps balance the elasticity, leaving your pizza dough just the right kind of stretchy.

How to stretch pizza dough without tearing?

You can prevent your pizza dough from tearing by following some simple guidelines.

First, take a longer time to knead the dough since this enhances gluten elasticity.
Next, make sure the dough rests for a while. This method will allow the developed gluten to stretch a little, ensuring just the right kind of elasticity.
Third, try stretching your dough in event bits. This method will ensure uniformity throughout the crust.
Finally, if your dough still tears, use high protein flour to enhance the gluten levels.

Rolling Pizza Dough Troubleshooting

Here are some practical rolling troubleshooting guidelines for beginners.

How to roll out pizza dough without it shrinking?

One of the easiest ways to prevent shrinking is by proofing your dough with enough flour.

This method allows the gluten to relax and makes way for denser pizzas.

You can also avoid shrinking by bringing the dough to complete room temperature.

This is because the gluten gets tighter when refrigerated.

Other simple guidelines would be to use low protein flour and measure your ingredients well. Once you collectively follow these guidelines, your pizza dough will no longer shrink.

How to roll pizza dough without a rolling pin?

One of the easiest ways to do roll pizza dough without a rolling pin is by using a wine bottle or any other glass bottle.

Alternatively, you can also lay the pizza dough in a sheet pan for your perfect crust.

What can you use instead of a rolling pin for pizza dough?

If you don’t have a rolling pin handy, use a wine bottle or any other bottle for the task. It works just as well!

Last Stretch

Making pizza is easier than you think, and once you follow these simple guidelines, you’re a step closer to a perfectly prepared pizza dough.

So, what’s keeping you from being the next best baker?

Fret no further and follow our guidelines to make the perfect dough right away!

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