Jim Lahey's No-Knead Pizza Dough + Margherita Pie

March 20, 2012

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes:

Jim Lahey has refined his revolutionary no-knead bread technique for pizza and, astonishingly, it's even easier. Though Lahey loves smart, unusual toppings like charred thai eggplant with bonito flakes, shiitake with walnut onion puree, and cheese piled with spinach leaves, here we went with his version of the classic Margherita Pie. Lahey would want you to feel free to tinker, and to feel free to freeze the dough. Adapted very slightly from My Pizza: The Easy No-Knead Way to Make Spectacular Pizza at Home (Clarkson Potter, March 2012).

Genius Recipes

Makes: four 12-inch pizza crusts
Prep time: 20 hrs
Cook time: 5 min


Making the Dough

  • 500 grams (17 1/2 ounces or about 3 3/4 unsifted cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping the dough
  • 1 gram (1/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast
  • 16 grams (2 teaspoons) fine sea salt
  • 350 grams (11/2 cups) water

Assembling and Baking the Margherita Pie

  • 4 balls pizza dough from above
  • 1 28-ounce can best quality peeled Italian tomatoes (or fresh, peeled Roma tomatoes, if they're in season)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 pounds fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into large chunks
  • 20 fresh basil leaves, or to taste
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
In This Recipe


Making the Dough

  1. In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water and, with a wooden spoon and/or your hands, mix thoroughly. We find it easiest to start with the spoon, then switch to your hands (see slideshow).
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow it to rise at room temperature (about 72°) for 18 hours or until it has more than doubled. It will take longer in a chilly room and less time in a very warm one.
  3. Flour a work surface and scrape out the dough. Divide it into 4 equal parts and shape them. For each portion, start with the right side of the dough and pull it toward the center, then do the same with the left, then the top, then the bottom. (The order doesn't actually matter; what you want is four folds.) Shape each portion into a round and turn seam side down. Mold the dough into a neat circular mound. The mounds should not be sticky; if they are, dust with more flour.
  4. If you don't intend to use the dough right away, wrap the balls individually in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Return to room temperature by leaving them out on the counter, covered in a damp cloth, for 2 to 3 hours before needed.

Assembling and Baking the Margherita Pie

  1. Put the pizza stone on a rack in a gas oven about 8 inches from the broiler. Preheat the oven on bake at 500° F for 30 minutes.
  2. Shaping the disk (Method 1): Take one ball of dough and generously flour it, your hands, and the work surface. Gently press down and stretch the ball of dough out to 10-12 inches. Don't worry if it's not round. Don't handle it more than necessary; you want some of the gas bubbles to remain in the dough. It should look slightly blistered. Flour the peel (or an unrimmed baking sheet) and lay the disk onto the center. It is now ready to be topped.
  3. Shaping the disk (Method 2): Take one ball of dough and generously flour it, your hands, and the work surface. Gently press down and stretch the ball of dough out to 6-8 inches. Supporting the disk with your knuckles toward the outer edge and lifting it above the work surface, keep stretching the dough by rotating it with your knuckles, gently pulling it wider until the disk reaches 10-12 inches. Set the disk on a well-floured peel (or unrimmed baking sheet). It is now ready to be topped.
  4. Drain tomatoes and pass through a food mill or just squish them with your hands—it's messy but fun. Stir in the olive oil and salt. The sauce will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  5. Switch the oven to broil for 10 minutes. With the dough on the peel, spoon the tomato sauce over the surface and spread it evenly, leaving about an inch of the rim untouched. Distribute 10 to 12 hunks of mozzarella (about 7 ounces) on top.
  6. With quick, jerking motions, slide the pie onto the stone. Broil for 3 1/2 to 4 minutes under gas (somewhat longer with an electric oven), until the top is bubbling and the crust is nicely charred but not burnt.
  7. Using the peel, transfer the pizza to a tray or serving platter. Sprinkle the Parmigiano and salt evenly over the pizza. Distribute the basil on top. Slice and serve immediately.

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Reviews (83) Questions (11)

83 Reviews

Josh August 15, 2018
Amazing, I agreed with the 3 day rest suggestion. Also, be sure to let it adequately warm up or the dough will spar with you upon shaping.
Prathima March 6, 2018
This pizza dough is amazing, but I think it's actually at its best AFTER a 3 day rest in the fridge. After the initial 18-hour rise, I divide the dough in half and store in oiled quart-size deli containers in the fridge. You end up with a beautifully pliable dough that creates those huge chewey bubbles in the crust.
Jan R. May 2, 2018
I was skeptical about aging the dough as you suggested here, so I tried it three ways: in an oiled container stored 2 days after forming the dough balls, in an oiled container frozen then thawed and aged for 2 days after thawing, and finally wrapped in plastic wrap, frozen then thawed and aged for one day after thawing. <br /><br />I'm sold on aging my pizza dough! The result was silken dough that was much easier to stretch, with no tearing. The flavor was slightly improved, the texture on the bottom of the crust was slightly thicker, and we still got great rise and chewy crust. Thanks for sharing your experience with the rest of us! Next time I may go for three days!
Bridgetswanson June 20, 2017
Has anyone tried this recipe with another kind of flour, such as whole wheat, coconut, spelt or oat flour? Thanks!
Izzy S. April 27, 2017
I have to ask some nit-picky questions: is the dough supposed to punched down before shaping? Can it be left to rise in the fridge? How does it not over-prove?
msmely October 8, 2018
- the act of shaping the dough will degas it enough to work with, in fact trying to handle it as minimally as possible will help you keep some of your bubbles<br />- it doesn't overproof because you only use 1 gram of yeast for the whole recipe, starting with a smaller quantity of yeast means it takes longer to proof (there is also no sweetener in the dough to get the yeast off to a quick start)<br />- if you leave it to rise in the fridge you will slow the rise down so much that it may be days before you see it rise to double, if you want to rise it in the fridge then start with more yeast <br />- longer rises in general produce more flavorful breads as the yeasts exhaust the easily available sugars and must produce enzymes to cleave starches into more easily digestible sugars. In this method the long rise is achieved by using a low quantity of initial yeast starter. Other ways to make the rise take longer would be to use a typical bread recipe but let it rise in the fridge. (See above for the 3 day fridge rest and how it improves the flavor and texture of the dough).
macfadden March 14, 2017
Most excellent pizza. I did take the liberty of straining the tomatoes before and after squishing them, because the excess liquid can make the dough soggy, but otherwise was very faithful to the recipe. While the tomato layer was delicious with the amount of salt indicated, I think the salt could safely be reduced a bit. It made us all quite thirsty.
cindy March 14, 2017
I tried this, but have to say the pizza was much more soft, less crispy and all in all not that good. I've made pizza many times, but for some reason I didn't think this held up to its' acclaim.
Jan R. December 8, 2016
Jim Lahey's no-knead pizza dough is the fourth pizza dough recipe I've tried, and far and away makes the best pizza. ever. A minor quibble is the yield - 3 pizzas is more likely. Despite my best efforts at evenly dividing the dough, I had two balls just over 8.5 ounces, one ball a bit more than 7 ounces and one ball just over 5 ounces.--too small for a pizza but perfect for garlic knots. <br /><br />The largest ball of 8.65 ounces yielded a pizza that I was able to stretch exceptionally thin, but not quite 10 inches. So, next time I assume I'll make 3 dough balls of between 9 and 10 ounces each.<br /><br />The other issue I have is the sauce for the Margherita Pizza. Following the instructions I drained a 28-0unce can of peeled plum tomatoes and after I squished them to smithereens with my hands, I ended up with less than 1 cup of pulp? That's not nearly enough for the specified four pizzas, is it? And I hate the waste from draining the tomatoes. There has to be a better way. Oh wait, there probably is: fresh ripe tomatoes.<br /><br />Anyway, thanks for posting about this on Food52. Another winner that I first learned about here!
VVV03 January 2, 2016
This turned out great though I am not sure how it can make 4 10" pizzas. Mine were 2 slightly larger than 10" pizzas. I'm probably weak on the whole stretching it part, but the middle ripped if I tried to make it from the size of dough suggested. No big deal, though. Awesome dough!
Bob December 6, 2015
The pizza number one.
John December 6, 2015
OMG this is it, the greatest pizza.
Chef D. November 14, 2015
I cant wait, goinmg to a pizza restaurant now!
Carol S. November 9, 2015
Made this yesterday, with half bread flour and half white whole wheat. Added 1 T of olive oil with chile<br />Threw it in a covered container and it sat in the frig for 24 hours. Took it out and left it on the counter all afternoon. Came out perfect! Onto the pizza stone with parchment until it set up, then whisked the paper away to finish on the stone. Great recipe!
Ludmila S. September 6, 2015
Jim Lahey?! Like Trailer Park Boy's Lahey?? That's freaking sweet.
Joanne January 24, 2018
It’s the liquor
Micki B. August 6, 2015
I have made this recipe (both dough and sauce) many many times and it is delicious and absurdly easy every time. Usually I cook two dough rounds worth of pizza, and freeze the other two. Works great!
John June 11, 2015
Hi. Robert is right, and being slow and kind. Yeast is a living requirement. I've now read your pages and"recipes". You are a click copier and paster, and not a "cook/chef". This is basic, foundational pizza dough. Mindlessly easy. You saved money using dead yeast. If you can't afford yeast, please let me know? I will send you money/yeast to raise your pizza/bread/roll practice. Honest. Please don't be a wanna B. Be a real mama B. This is baby beginner stuff. Please let me know? Many folks can stay stuck, not knowing. True chef work loves and teaches any and all.
Mama B. February 23, 2015
I made the dough using King Arthur unbleached bread flour. I left the dough on the counter for about 24 hours because it didn’t seem to be rising as much as it should. My husband and I both tried shaping the dough using both techniques suggested. We couldn’t get either to work on the dough, it just kept snapping back into the small, barely stretched shape it started with. What are we doing wrong? Is 1/4 of the dough too little to get a 10-12" pizza?
Robert R. February 23, 2015
All I can say is I put it in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and put in the oven overnight, not on, not heated with a light bulb, and it turns out every time. Perhaps your yeast isn't fresh? Also, I start it about 9:00 p.m. so it's about 18 hours as he suggests. I've never had a problem. Also, the dough is going to stretch into a round without springing back if you use 00 flour, which is now available in better grocery stores. Using regular flour it's not going to be nearly as easy to shape. Also, you want to liberally rub the pizza peel (or back of a flat baking sheet) generously with semolina. It will "launch" well onto the Baking Steel or pizza stone or whatever. This has all become really easy and reliable in the past two years and I even have my niece making pizzas regularly now. That's all they want at family gatherings too they're so good. I'm bored with the sameness by now, but what can you do?
Smaug August 6, 2015
Actually, King Arthur AP flour is very close to Italian 00, it should make no significant difference in the dough. You clearly had dead yeast; I make a very similar dough and it rises nicely in the refrigerator within 18 hours. Dough slow-risen in the refrigerator is generally easiest to handle.
Amita P. January 18, 2015
Great recipe! I used water warmed up to 107 degrees. I use 1/2 oz of rapid rise yeast. I formed 4 dough balls and warmed up oven to 170 degrees. I placed kitchen cloth covered dough on the back burner of stove to soak up escaped heat from the oven. I allowed the dough to rise for one hour. I lightly coated the dough ball with flour and blended it in. I lightly dusted the wooden cutting board and rolled out the dough after shaping the crust a little. I brushed the dough with olive oil and baked the crust at 425 degrees for 7 minutes. Then, I added the toppings and baked for 10-11 minutes. Delicious pizza - the crust was crisp and chewy!
Crickett H. December 1, 2014
Cast iron skillet. You can do the toppings edge to edge and no worries about it falling off the pizza peel and shaping is a breeze. Put the dough in and let it settle.
Gloria V. September 3, 2014
Will try it soon
Linda T. September 3, 2014
I made this pizza dough recently and I love it. EASY. It froze well too!