Sourdough Pizza Recipe

Homemade sourdough pizza

In this article I’ve included my easy sourdough pizza recipe. It produces pizza with an incredible flavour and texture that simply cannot be matched. Homemade sourdough pizza has to be one of the best taste and texture sensations around.

Sourdough pizza
Sourdough pizza is unique and delicious – it’s probably easier than you think too!

I think many people are put off because they think that making sourdough pizza at home is really difficult. In truth, it isn’t. It just takes a bit of understanding and a little practice.

Fortunately, in this article I explain everything you need to know in the simplist way possible. And my recipe at the bottom of the page combines everything together in easy step-by-step instructions. I’ve also designed the recipe so that the timings can fit around your daily routine.

Now, let’s get into everything you knead to know (pun intended!) about making sourdough pizza.

Why sourdough pizza dough?

The first question many people ask is why make sourdough pizza dough? Doesn’t it seem like a lot of effort when you can just buy yeast?

Whilst sourdough does require a bit more work, I think that makes it more rewarding. One thing’s for sure, no other type of dough can match the flavour of sourdough pizza dough.

As the name sugeests, the flavour tends to be a bit more sour, but it also tends to be more complex. Sourdough also creates an amazing texture in the pizza, with light and airy crusts.

Sourdough pizza slice
Sourdough pizza dough can produce crusts like these (if you want them)!

Making sourdough pizza dough is something that I think everyone has to try at some point. You may be surprised at how much you enjoy the process, as well as eating the pizza! Be sure to check out my article on what is sourdough pizza here for more information.

Before going any further, I think we need to quickly cover sourdough starter.

Sourdough pizza recipe with starter

The starter is basically like the magic ingredient. It is simply a jar of dough (flour and water) that contains wild yeast which has been harvested through feeding. It is this wild yeast inside the starter that proves the pizza dough, producing the wonderful texture and flavour.

Sourdough starter for pizza
The sourdough starter is the magic ingredient! (Keeping a lid on it is also a good idea!)

So for this sourdough pizza recipe, as with any sourdough recipe, you will need a starter. Be sure to check out my sourdough pizza starter recipe here. I also cover everything you need to know about sourdough starter in general.

Fortunately, a sourdough starter is really easy to make. It just takes 1-2 weeks of “feeding” (topping it up with flour and water) until it’s ready to be used for pizza making. Once you’ve made your starter you can keep it in the fridge and take it out whenever you want to make sourdough pizza.

Sourdough pizza recipe with starter
After just a couple of weeks of feeding, you’ll have a starter which will last forever (if you look after it)!

Once you’ve made your starter, you can keep it in the fridge. And as long as you feed your starter every once in a while, it will last indefinitely. The oldest starters in the world are over 100 years old!

Sourdough pizza without starter?

I’ve found a lot of people asking whether there is a sourdough pizza recipe without starter but the truth is that it’s not possible. Starter is the key ingredient to sourdough and without it, dough simply isn’t sourdough.

The closest you can get to sourdough pizza without using a starter has to be poolish pizza. Poolish was developed as a way to replicate sourdough with regular commercial yeast. It can’t match the flavour of sourdough but it produces an excellent texture and it is a bit easier to work with.

Sourdough pizza without starter
Poolish is the closest you can get to replicating sourdough starter – but it’s still not the same

For this reason, you may want to start off by trying my poolish pizza recipe here before moving onto my sourdough pizza recipe at the bottom of this page.

Sourdough pizza recipe with yeast?

Some sourdough pizza recipes include added yeast as well as starter. The main reason for this is to speed up the fermentation. But in a true sourdough recipe there is no yeast added, it is the wild yeast in the sourdough that proves the pizza.

In my view, there is little point in adding yeast to speed up the prove since long proves help to produce more flavour. And after all, surely we are making sourdough in order to get the deep and complex flavour?

Sourdough pizza recipe with yeast
Sourdough pizza doesn’t require any yeast to be added (the yeast is in starter)

But there’s no right or wrong to make pizza so feel free to experiment with this if you like. If you’re pushed for time, adding a pinch of yeast could be very handy to speed the process up a little.

Having said that, in this sourdough pizza recipe I haven’t included any added yeast. I’ve tried to keep the recipe as simple and traditional as possible with just 4 ingredients:

  • Sourdough starter
  • Flour
  • Water
  • Salt

You may notice that this is essentially the same list of ingredients as regular dough. The only difference is that we’re using the wild yeast in our starter rather than adding yeast (isolated yeast cells).

Something else that I always recommend doing is making a levain (pronounced “le van”) from your starter.

Is levain and sourdough the same thing?

A levain is basically just a sourdough starter that has been recently fed and is ready to use in a recipe. Feeding the starter before using it ensures that it is “active”, encouraging a strong fermentation and promoting better flavour. It also ensures that we have enough starter for our recipe.

Levain (pronounced “le van”) is the French word for “rise” and basically just means “proof”. In English, the closest word is “levean”, as in “leavened bread” (meaning bread that has been proved with yeast).

Levain for sourdough pizza
A levain is simply a sourdough starter which has been fed and is ready to use in a recipe

Personally, I think that making a levain first is the best approach to sourdough. It means that you can keep a very small amount of starter in the fridge. Then, when you want to make sourdough pizza, you can feed your small starter, building it up to a good amount for your recipe.

Also, when a starter has been kept in the fridge, the yeast becomes dormant. Making a levain “wakes up” the yeast by providing it with a good feed before use. This should help to ensure strong fermentaton. One thing to note is that if your starter has been in the fridge, it’s best practice to allow it to come to room temperature first.

Once you have made your levain, you should allow it to proof before adding it to your recipe. This is known as using the starter at it’s “peak”, which occurs when it has risen as high as it can (about double in size or more). This typically takes around 10-12 hours at room temperature.

Sourdough levain for pizza
This levain has reached it’s peak and is ready to use. The rubber band shows the initial level, it’s grown more than double as it’s fermented!

Using your levain when it is at it’s peak should also help to ensure the best fermentation possible. For more information on this, check out my sourdough starter article (with recipe) here.

Sourdough pizza dough with levain

One of the benefits to making sourdough pizza dough with levain is that it allows for versatility. You can build your starter up to have as much as you need for your recipe.

For example, let’s say you have 50g of starter but you need 250g for the recipe. You can take your 50g starter and feed it 100g flour and 100g water to give you 250g of starter (levain) – this is called “building your levain”.

Sourdough pizza dough with levain
Using a levain allows you to build a small amount of starter up to the amount you need for your recipe. It also makes your starter really “active”

Note: Always remember to save some sourdough for next time! I like to make more levain than I need and save 50g of it. In the above example, with the 250g levain, I’d have 200g to use in the recipe and 50g to save (in the fridge).

Notice that in this example, I fed the starter with twice it’s weight in flour and twice it’s weight in water. This is known as a 1:2:2 feeding ratio – I cover this in more detail in my sourdough starter recipe. Don’t worry too much about understanding this, you can still carry out the recipe at the bottom of this page.

One of the advantages to this feeding ratio (as opposed to 1:1:1) is that the starter can be quickly built up for the recipe (it becomes 5 times it’s initial size after just 1 feeding).

If you want to take this a step further, or if your recipe calls for more starter, you can even feed it again. For example, you can then feed your 250g levain with 500g flour and 500g water to give you a 1250g levain. This has the added benefit of creating an even more active sourdough.

How much starter do I need for pizza?

The amount of starter you need for pizza depends on how many pizzas you are making and how long you are proofing for. If you are making a lot pizzas then you’ll need more starter. But for longer proofs you don’t need as much starter as you would for shorter proofs.

Sourdough pizza dough
For a lot of dough balls, you’ll need more starter. But for a recipe of say 4 pizzas, we don’t need a lot

In general, I recommend a roughly 24 hour room temperature proof. With this length of proof, you should achieve excellent taste and texture without sacrificing the strength of the dough. We also don’t need to use much starter for a 24 hour prove.

The longer dough proves for, the more strength it loses. This is dependant on the particular flour you are using, and how much strength it tends to provide. But in general, 24 hours shouldn’t cause any issues, whereas 48-72 hours may do.

Kneading pizza dough by hand
Your kneading technique can effect the strength of the dough but the flour and fermentation time are large factors

24 hours also makes timings straightforward. Let’s say that you want pizza at 7pm on Saturday night. You just need to mix the dough at 7pm on Friday night – easy!

What is the ratio of sourdough starter to flour?

The best way to measure the amount of sourdough needed is by comparing it to the amount of flour in our recipe. This is known as baker’s percentage, and can be used for all ingredients, not just sourdough. Check out my article on baker’s percentage here if you haven’t already.

Ratio of sourdough starter to flour
With baker’s percentage all the ingredients are compared to the weight of flour – since this is the most important ingredient

In general, I’ve found that around 15% sourdough is about right for a room temperature proof of around 24 hours. Basically, this means that 15% of the flour in our recipe comes from the soudough. If we follow this rule, our dough should prove in around 24 hours at room temperature.

But don’t worry too much about this. You don’t need to know exactly how these ratios and percentages work, you can still follow along with the recipe.

Sourdough pizza recipe for pizza oven

The recipe I have included below is the perfect sourdough pizza recipe for a pizza oven. There is no oil or sugar in the dough as these can lead to burning in the extreme temperature of a pizza oven.

Sourdough pizza recipe for pizza oven
Using this sourdough pizza recipe for my pizza oven – an Ooni Karu 16

Having said that, there’s no reason why you can’t make this recipe in a regular oven. You will just need to cook the pizza for around 5-7 minutes instead of the 60-90 seconds in a pizza oven. In general, you’ll want to get your oven as hot as possible (around 260C/500F).

Sourdough pizza in oven
You can still carry out this recipe in a normal oven

When cooking your pizza in a regular oven, you can turn a baking tray upside down if you don’t have a pizza stone. This little hack works quite well as it stops the lip of the tray getting in the way.

Sourdough pizza recipe for Ooni

This sourdough pizza recipe works great in an Ooni pizza oven. It should make a pizza that is around 10-12 inches in size, which should fit in every Ooni pizza oven, and any similar portable pizza oven. If you’re using a regular home oven, just ensure that your baking tray or stone is large enough.

I have an Ooni myself and I have had excellent results with this sourdough pizza recipe. Just be sure to get the temperature of the oven to the optimal range and ensure there are plenty of open flames before launching.

Sourdough pizza recipe for Ooni
Open flames inside my Ooni Karu 16 pizza oven

For Neapolitan pizza, I have found that around 420C/800F – 450C/850F (stone temperature) works best in most Ooni ovens. Much lower than this and the pizza takes too long to cook (more than 90 seconds), becoming overly crispy. Much higher than this range and you risk burning the pizza and possibly getting some undercooked parts too (raw dough).

Sourdough pizza recipe

Now you’ve learnt everything you need to know, it’s time to get into the sourdough pizza recipe. I’d like to make a couple of brief points before diving in.

Firstly, I can highly recommend trying my poolish pizza recipe here if you’ve never made sourdough pizza before. The poolish method is similar to sourdough but a bit easier. I think in general it’s probably a good idea to start with that before moving onto sourdough.

Wonderfully light pizza poolish dough
It might be a good idea to learn how to make poolish pizza before moving onto this sourdough recipe

Secondly, I can also highly recommend checking out my pizza school series (with videos) if you haven’t aready. There’s 6 parts covering each step of the pizza making process in great detail, and with in-depth videos. The techniques shown can be used in any pizza making, including in this sourdough pizza recipe.

Mixing sourdough pizza dough

With that being said, let’s get into the sourdough pizza recipe.

The Recipe – Sourdough Pizza

This recipe will produce an authentic Neapolitan style sourdough pizza. I’ve made it easy to follow along with and to fit around your daily routine.

Sourdough pizza recipe

Be sure to check out my recipe for sourdough starter here before continuing with this recipe for sourdough pizza. It’s super easy to make!

You will need a healthy batch of sourdough starter first.

Ingredients

Makes 4 x 10 inch pizzas.

For the dough

Note: Caputo 00 pizza flour is an excellent option, especially for Neapolitan style pizza. It is one of the more widely available “professional” pizza flours. I have provided a link to it on Amazon below (a large chef’s bag). Aside from this flour, most 00 flours should work fine.

For the toppings

  • Tomatoes – 300g tin of quality tomatoes
  • Salt – sprinkling of table salt or sea salt
  • Pepper – freshly ground black pepper
  • Mozzarella – 2 x 125g bags of fresh Mozzarella balls (or a bag of grated)
  • Parmesan – about 30g (optional)
  • Olive Oil – a few glugs
  • Basil – handfull of fresh leaves

Utensils Required

Not all the following utensils are required but these are what I use and they tend to make the process easier. I’ve provided Amazon links for you to check the prices of these items if you don’t have them already. They are usually available for reasonable prices.

  • Large mixing bowl
    Any large bowl could be used for mixing the dough but I like using the metal ones since they’re lightweight and easy to clean.

  • Digital weighing scales
    These are pretty much required for weighing the ingredients. Affordable, easy to use, and very precise (accurate to 1g).

  • Accurate digital weighing scales
    These kitchen scales are accurate to 0.01g and are perfect for feeding your starter, though you can do it with regular digital scales.

  • Pizza proofing box
    You can use individual bowls or a chopping board and plastic wrap. Pizza proofing boxes are an excellent investment though, especially if you intend on holding pizza parties at some point!

  • 12″ pizza peel
    A 12 inch peel is ideal for Neapolitan pizza and makes loading and removing your pizza from the oven easy. If you don’t have one, you could improvise with a chopping board.

Method

Sourdough starter for recipeFor the sourdough starter (“levain”)

Follow this method to obtain 250g of sourdough starter which is perfect for use in the recipe. This is called “building a levain”. Check out my recipe on building a sourdough starter here before building this levain.

  1. Take 50g of your “mother” starter (your main batch)
  2. Allow your starter to reach room temperature if it was stored in the fridge (at least a couple of hours)
  3. Feed your starter – top it up with 100g water and 100g flour. This will give you a 250g levain
  4. Cover the levain and allow it to prove for around 8-12 hours at room temperature – until it doubles in size (or more) and is very bubbly
  5.  You now have 250g of perfectly ripe sourdough starter to add directly to your dough. We only need 200g for this recipe so you can save the remaining 50g in a small jar for next time (this becomes your new “mother” starter)

For the sourdough pizza dough

Once you have your levain built (250g sourdough starter) and it’s ripe (after 8-12 hours), you’re ready to mix the ingredients.

  1. Start by adding 200g of your levain (sourdough starter) to a large mixing bowl
  2. Add the water first and mix together
  3. Add the flour and salt and mix it all together
  4. Keep mixing by hand (or the end of a wooden spoon) until it becomes a shaggy mass

    Mixing sourdough pizza dough

    The dough should look something like this after mixing

  5. Cover the dough tightly and leave it to rest for at least 15 minutes but up to an hour (this is called the “autolyse” and will help the dough to become soft and fully incorporated)
  6. Knead the sourdough by hand (or using the lowest setting with a dough hook) for around 5-10 minutes

    Kneading pizza dough by hand

    The dough can be kneaded in just 5 minutes by hand

  7. Cover the dough tightly and leave it to rest again for around 15 minutes
  8. Carry out the windowpane test (optional) to check if your dough is properly kneaded. Otherwise, skip to the next step
  9. Shape your sourdough pizza dough into one large ball, it should be soft and smooth at this stage
    Large sourdough dough ball
  10. Cover tightly and leave to prove at room temperature for around 18-24 hours
  11. Divide sourdough it equally into 4 parts – once your dough has roughly doubled in size

    Sourdough pizza dough weighed out

    You can weigh the dough out for more accuracy – we’ll shape them after a short rest

  12. Cover the dough balls tightly and leave to rest for around 15 minutes
  13. Shape them into 4 tight and smooth sourdough pizza dough balls and cover tightly
    Balling pizza dough
  14. Allow the dough balls to prove again for 4-6 hours
  15. Your dough balls are now ready to be shaped into incredible sourdough pizza!

For the toppings

Follow the steps below for a simple, authentic Margherita. For a vegan recipe, you can skip the cheese and add sliced garlic and frsh oregano for a traditional Marinara.

Neapolitan sourdough pizza

Personally, I think a classic Margherita is the best way to enjoy the sourdough pizza dough, at least initially. The toppings allow you to fully taste the sourdough without overpowering it.

  1. Blend a tin of good quality tinned tomatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper
  2. Remove moisture from fresh mozzarella (if using) with kitchen roll (quickest and easiest way)

  3. Add an even coating of tomato (but not too thick) to your pizza base (2-3 dessert spoons)
  4. Add some basil leaves now or after cooking (if you are using)
  5. Add an even coating of mozzarella (not too much)
  6. Add some grated parmesan now or after cooking (if you are using)

    Topping stretched pizza

    Parmesan and basil can be added before or after cooking (or not at all)

  7. Add a light drizzle of olive oil (or add it after – or both!)
  8. Launch your pizza into the oven
  9. Enjoy your incredible homemade sourdough pizza!
    Sourdough pizza slice

Recipe Notes

Overall recipe notes

  • I use an Ooni Karu 16 pizza oven but you can also make this recipe in a regular home oven.

    Sourdough pizza cooking in Ooni

    Pizza I made using this sourdough pizza recipe – cooked in my Ooni Karu 16

  • This recipe is for a 24 hour prove. In my view, 24 hours is ideal for sourdough pizza dough as it provides excellent flavour without comprimising the strength and structure of the dough.
  • You can speed up the recipe by increasing the amount of starter in your recipe. For example, you could follow along with my poolish recipe but replace the poolish for starter if you like. This would give you a 24 hour total proof (12 hour starter and 12 hour main dough).

Notes on the starter

Some people prefer to keep a large quantity of “mother” starter so they could take 200g directly from that (without feeding). However, there are 3 main drawbacks to this:

Sourdough Pizza Starter

  • Firstly, unless you have fed the mother starter in the last 8-12 hours, your starter won’t be ripe. This means you won’t achieve optimal fermentation in your pizza dough.
  • Secondly, keeping a large amount of “mother” starter means you have to feed it in large amounts to keep it alive. This results in more waste, being less efficient and less economic.
  • Thirdly, if your “mother” starter is kept in the fridge (which is generally the most practical solution), it typically benefits from being “awoken” with a feeding at room temperature anyway. This is because the yeast will be in somewhat of a dormant state due to the cold temperatures.
  • In conclusion, I recommend keeping a very small amount of “mother” starter (up to 50g) and building a levain each time. Typically, this is more efficient, more economic, and results in a perfectly ripe starter which will produce an excellent prove in your sourdough pizza dough.
  • As an added benefit to this, you can keep some of your levain before mixing into your pizza dough. Since this has already been fed, there’s no need to feed your “mother” starter, you can simply replace it with this.
  • If you want to keep a large amount of starter then I would still recommend taking some sourdough from it and building a levain each time you make sourdough pizza.

Sourdough pizza dough recipe

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Final thoughts on this sourdough pizza recipe…

Hopefully now you have all the tools you need to make incredible sourdough pizza! It’s really not difficult, it just takes a bit of time to get your head around it.

Sourdough really is a thing of beauty, and most people have never tried sourdough pizza. I like sharing it with friends and seeing their reactions for the first time!

Sourdough pizza on table

Here’s one I made for some friends on a pizza night!

As always, if you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments below. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can

Good luck!

Tom Rothwell from My Pizza Corner eating homemade pizza

About Me

I’m Tom Rothwell and I’m super passionate about all kinds of homemade pizza! In the last few years I've been on a quest to find the perfect pizza. Now I'm sharing what I've found out with the world!

Ooni Karu
Tom Rothwell's Ooni pizza oven

My Pizza Oven

I often get asked what type of oven I use for my pizzas. Well, I use a pizza oven made by a company called Ooni.

The range of pizza ovens that Ooni offers is just brilliant. They cover all bases, and all price points. There's affordable and portable models such as the Fyra 12 Pizza Oven and then there's state-of-the-art models such as the Karu 16 Pizza Oven pictured below.

In all honesty, I would say that the oven makes a huge difference. If you're looking to make authentic Italian pizza, a pizza oven is a must.

Pizza cooked in Ooni pizza oven

By clicking the link below and purchasing from Ooni, you would be supporting this website. I've been using their ovens for a long time now and I wouldn't recommend them if I didn't believe in their products.

Time to make some amazing pizza!

K16 - US
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Tom Rothwell from My Pizza Corner eating homemade pizza

About Me

I’m Tom Rothwell and I’m super passionate about all kinds of homemade pizza! In the last few years I've been on a quest to find the perfect pizza. Now I'm sharing what I've found out with the world!

Ooni Karu