Serves a Crowd

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

June 27, 2021
4.5 Stars
Photo by James Ransom
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

  • Prep time 20 hours
  • Cook time 5 minutes
  • Makes four 12-inch pizza crusts
  • 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
  1. Making the Dough
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  1. Assembling and Baking the Margherita Pie
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Micha Dillge
    Micha Dillge
  • Ulu
  • Josh Garosha
    Josh Garosha
  • Fran McGinty
    Fran McGinty
  • Josh
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

96 Reviews

4waystoyummy May 8, 2021
I love pizza and this recipe seems like I could do it! One thing gets in my way...we have a large 6 burner gas oven with no broiler! I've wanted to add a salamander for years but can't justify the cost. Any ideas? Thank you!
Freddurf May 8, 2021
You can totally do this without using a broiler. Heat your oven to the highest temp it will go to. It will take about 8-10 minutes to cook it completely depending on the temp. If you’re using a pizza steel or stone, wait about 10 minutes between each pizza to give it time to reheat again. This is how I do mine and they come out perfect.
4waystoyummy May 8, 2021
You are so awesome to reply and help me. I do have a pizza stone and I will take your suggestions when I try it! Thank you!
Micha D. February 1, 2021
has anybody tried combining a poolish with this no knead method?
Freddurf November 27, 2020
After you form it into a ball in Step 3, can you use it right away or does it have to rest again? I know it says it can be stored in the fridge for a few days, but I was confused if I could use it immediately after shaping. Thank you.
Ulu May 6, 2020
6May20 2158 Made this Jim Lahey pizza dough last week and put down another batch tonight for dinner tomorrow. The Jim Lahey recipe is double the size: 7.5 cups flour; 3 cups water; 1/2 teaspoon yeast; 4 teaspoons salt. These quantities easily make delicious 12 inch (diameter) pizzas. Wishing Food52 and all your cooks out there lots of wellbeing and safety from COVID-19. God bless from New Zealand.
Ulu May 6, 2020
6May20 2152 Made this last week and making more tomorrow night for dinner. This is a great recipe but the quantities are half what Jim Lahey used: 7.5 cups flour; 3 cups water; 1/2 teaspoon yeast; 4 teaspoons salt. These quantities easily make four delicious 12 inch pizzas. Wishing you all well .. from New Zealand.
LisaJ April 4, 2020
Absolutely delicious! Made 24 hours ahead of time, left on my counter top. At the time to bake, I formed the pizza on parchment paper which made it very easy to slide it off the pizza peel. Followed the Margherita pizza recipe to a tee except for addition of red pepper flakes. Fabulous! Also made one white pizza with mozzarella, fresh homemade ricotta, Parmesan with some red flakes, a bit of flaky salt, and a small drizzle of very good olive oil. Outstanding! Will definitely make this over and over again.
Therese January 7, 2020
Fantastic. Super easy and delicious. I let the dough rest for 2 days and had no problem stretching it. I cheated and used Rao’s pizza sauce, shredded mozzarella and chopped basil. Still really good.
Josh G. August 13, 2019
Perfect recipe of pizza imo, always pairs well with a glass of drinky poo.
Cait K. February 2, 2020
I was wondering who would make a trailer park boys reference! Why eat cheeseburgers when you could have this pizza.
Lisa March 29, 2020
Haha!! Drinky poo? Love it!
Fran M. June 25, 2019
I rested my dough for 3 days. The kids said it tasted like I put beer in it. So if the kids are eating I only rest the dough 2 days.
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.

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
- 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)
- 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
- 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.

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.

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.

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!