Instant, No-Knead Pizza Dough (This is Not a Trick)

March 19, 2017

Our obsession with not kneading dough hasn’t waned since Kristen first wrote about Jim Lahey’s classic no-knead dough, newly tweaked for pizza, 5 years ago.

We’ve since shared No-Knead Sandwich Bread, No-Knead Country Loaf, No-Knead Focaccia, even No-Knead Challah.

What all of those recipes have in common (aside from the not kneading bit) is time. You might not have much work to do in bringing these doughs together, but you will have to wait to use them, because as Lahey once said, “without fermentation the dough won’t be that interesting.”

Photo by Julia Gartland

Luckily, Patricia Wells didn’t get that memo (or chose to ignore it), because the multi-purpose dough recipe she shares in her new book, My Master Recipes, is not only no-knead, it is also instant. Instant!

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She flouts no-knead bread convention with a dough that uses instant yeast, comes together in a food processor, and still manages to have an interesting flavor thanks to a scrap you’ve probably never given a second thought. Wells reveals:

I hate kitchen waste and so have gotten into the habit of saving the liquid that comes with fresh mozzarella. When preparing the dough, I use it in place of water, either all or in part.

That mozzarella-packing water gives the dough a pleasant tangy flavor, and while it won’t have the same puffed, chewy texture as Lahey’s No-Knead Pizza Dough, it also doesn’t come with an 18-hour wait time—it’s ready to use for a rustic pizza immediately. (But if you do have time to let the dough have a short rise, you can then also use it for focaccia or the pinwheel bread recipes found in her book.)

Know of a great recipe hiding in the Food52 archives that uses an overlooked kitchen scrap? Tell me about it! Send me an email ([email protected]) or tell all in the comments: I want to know how you're turning what would otherwise be trash into a dish to treasure! Thank you to Ali Slagle for this one!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Cara Cianci
    Cara Cianci
  • Besodeiah Clay
    Besodeiah Clay
  • Valerie
  • Kelly
  • Paul Neugass
    Paul Neugass
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


Cara C. March 6, 2018
I use my [reluctantly purchased] instant pot to make weekly batches of vegetable broth made from a bowl of all of frozen veggie/lemon/herb/mushroom scraps. Just cram the scraps in the instant pot, cover with water, hit soup/broth, set for an hour, leave overnight. Strain in the morning, freeze for future use! No salt, as that can be added later when cooking with it.
Besodeiah C. May 7, 2017
You made a cracker.
Valerie May 7, 2017
I hate to throw away the last of the tortilla chips, but nobody wants to eat the little ones. Now I use tortilla chip crumbs to thicken my "Cowboy beans" (a pinto bean dish), chili, or some soups that corn flavor would go well with.
Lindsay-Jean H. May 8, 2017
Robyn P. November 15, 2018
Or on top of casserole
Kelly April 28, 2017
No one has mentioned what "kind" of pizza crust this is; thin, thick, Chicago-style, NYC, Neapolitan? I love them all but often crave just one kind or the other.
Paul N. March 25, 2017
I feel sorry for all the inexperienced folks who cannot look at a pizza to tell when it's done and just 'look' like a finished pizza! Is this their first time cooking?
Kelly April 28, 2017
It may well be their first time cooking. That's the point of very well-written recipes. No need to judge newbies or others who really prefer specificity. It's all about fun, learning, and enjoying new foods. Don't be a jerk.
Robyn P. November 12, 2018
How many times do you look at your turkey when it's in the oven how many times you look at your chicken when it's in the oven how many times you look at cookies when it's in the oven are you an idiot because hey you can't tell when you're done because that's all you're looking for you're looking to see if they're brown or if they're finished so don't try and shame somebody because hey might be the first time making a pizza and if you don't like what people say you know what don't downgrade them or put them down just shut the f... up
Robyn P. November 12, 2018
Oh wait, I forgot I didn't make it to mention earlier about your stupid question and remarks but now thinking about it you probably have Mama cook for you anyway so everybody else reads his comment just consider the source
daisybrain March 24, 2017
Cultured buttermilk?
linda March 24, 2017
Could you also use the brine from feta cheese?
Lindsay-Jean H. March 24, 2017
Sure, but you might consider dialing back the salt then.
Adrian S. March 21, 2017
You can also add a bit of vinegar (2-3 tsp) or a not hoppy beer (1/4 c) or whey (1/2 c) from drained yogurt instead of the mozzarella liquid
Patricia H. March 20, 2017
Whey from yogurt also works as do other liquids (garbanzo bean liquid, potato and pasta water, greens liquids..). Just pay attention to salt content if there is also significant salt in the liquid. I have used beet juice. Dough looked pink but cooked bronze-brown and no discernible beet taste.
Angelica March 23, 2017
Aquafaba is what instantly came mind to make this plantbased. The flavor isn't tart though. So, maybe adding a small amount of lemon or vinegar would add the tangy note (?).
Rob W. March 19, 2017
No knead is so stupid it makes my head hurt. To save 10m of labor (I could have my stand mixer do), I'll wait 18h. I knead bread and ferment for a minimum of 8. Oh, and I don't use packet yeast.
Smaug March 21, 2017
Well, this recipe skips the 18 hours and anyway, that's not really the tradeoff. Yeast in packets is ridiculously overpriced but may be the best alternative for occasional bakers.
Angelica March 23, 2017
I'm the occasional baker who doesn't own a mixer...Yet. I do have a food processor with a dough blade, perhaps I can use that? Also, I don't mind kneading by hand for a few minutes but don't look forward to doing a whole lot of it. So, this recipe sounds intriguing to me. Do you mind sharing what you do to avoid using yeast? Is fermenting the dough what takes its place?
krikri March 23, 2017
I hate kneading. It makes my hands hurt and I never know if I've finished. I love no-knead bread. Sorry about your head!
Rob W. March 24, 2017
Thanks krikri, it'll be ok.

As to know when you are done, lookup the windowpane test. It sounds like your hands are worse off then my head.
Smaug March 24, 2017
Angelica; Not avoiding yeast; yeast in bulk is much, much cheaper than packets. Though if you don't let it rise, it doesn't accomplish much.You can use the food processor or knead by hand- either is quicker than using a stand mixer. No knead dough is a bit of a misnomer- any way you mix the dough will constitute kneading to some extent. However, extensive kneading such as the poster suggested is really neither necessary nor desirable for this type of dough; more appropriate for fine textured sandwich breads and the like. Mostly low-knead doughs count on high hydration to raise gluten; this one (if you use all the flour) will be, to my way of thinking, somewhat drier than I would prefer for a pizza crust.
Paula H. April 29, 2017
I use my kitchenaide mixer for pizza dough, no kneading after that. I like a thin crust, put it in a warm bowl and let it rise for one hour max. I like being able to prep pizza in an hour, a great last minute meal, and I always have flour, sauce, veggies, and cheese on hand. 18 hours just isn't necessary if you like thin crust.
Rob W. April 29, 2017
I have a starter. Only has to be fed once a week. There are a million other things to do with it too: make crackers, scallion pancakes, add some to grains, e.g. oatmeal and let them soak.
Pauly March 19, 2017
I use the leftover cheese rinds from Parmaggiano Reggiano (sp?) or Romano or Asiago (put in freezer until use) and put them in my homemade Italian soups, take rind out right before serving. Adds a wonderful additional layer of flavor!
Mimi March 19, 2017
I wonder if you could use the whey leftover after churning cream into butter?
Lindsay-Jean H. March 19, 2017
I bet you could! (I also love to use whey in this bread:
Mary March 23, 2017
Dan Lepard has written a lot about using whey in bread recipes. He says that saving whey was common in a Great Britain in more frugal times. Try doing a web search for some of his recipes.
donnahobrien March 19, 2017
Pickle juice! place regular veggies in it and they taste great after sitting around for a while. Thanks!