How to Shape Pizza Dough

Want to know how to shape pizza dough into a perfectly round pie with a light and airy crust? Don’t use a rolling pin because hand-shaped pizza dough has the best texture.

a pizza on a wooden cutting board

I know it’s very tempting to just take out the rolling pin and get those pizzas into the oven as quickly as possible.

But do take the time to look through these steps for shaping pizza dough by hand. It really is quite easy and you’ll be rewarded with the lightest and chewiest pizza crust you’ve ever made.

I’ve got two pizza dough recipes for you, my Easy Homemade Pizza Dough using commercial yeast and my Sourdough Pizza Crust for those who keep a starter. See an overview of how to make Sourdough Pizza Crust in this web story.

Now that you’ve got the perfect round of pizza dough, learn how to make charcoal grilled pizza. You will be amazed by the deliciously smokey crust.

For a real treat, try making this light and luscious dessert pizza topped with fresh berries and a yogurt drizzle.

If you find these hints helpful, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review!

two hands pulling on pizza dough to stretch
4.78 from 9 reviews

How to Shape Pizza Dough

Want to shape pizza dough into a perfectly round pie with a light and airy crust? Don't use a rolling pin because hand-shaped pizza dough has the best texture.
Prep Time10 minutes
Active Time30 minutes
Dough Making Time3 hours
Total Time3 hours 40 minutes
Author: Eileen Gray



  • Split the dough in half. Pull the sides of each piece of dough around the sides and back towards the middle to form a ball of dough.
  • On a lightly floured surface, push the dough back and forth between the palms of your hands. You want the dough to stick to the surface just a little. The friction will help form the ball. Use a slight swirling motion to form a tight skin on the dough. A tight skin will strengthen the gluten. A strong gluten network will keep the dough from tearing as you shape it and move it to the oven or grill.
  • Set the dough balls aside to rest for 20 minutes.
  • To form the crust, use your hands to gently pull and pat the dough into a 12"-14" round. Don’t use a rolling pin or you’ll knock out all the air bubbles. Work methodically and carefully to avoid making thin spots or tears in the dough. If the dough starts to pull back, put that piece aside and work on the other one. Take turns working the two crusts until you have two perfect rounds.
    for images showing how to use your hands for form pizza dough
  • To move the dough gently lift with the back of your hands so you don’t poke a finger through the dough. Allowing it to drape off your hands, lower the round onto the prepared peel or pan.
  • Place the dough onto a wooden pizza peel or the back of a sheet pan heavily dusted with cornmeal. You’re now ready to top and bake (or grill) your pizza. The cornmeal will act as ball-bearings so you can slide the pizza into the oven or onto the grill.
    an unbaked pizza crust on a wooden peel dusted with cornmeal

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Recipe Rating


  1. Your sourdough crust is amazing! I have never had luck with cornmeal and now make my pizza on a sheet of parchment. Slides off onto my hot stone perfectly!

    1. The trick with cornmeal is that you can’t move the crust once it’s set on the cornmeal dusted peel. If you shift it and the dough ends up on a naked spot it can begin to stick. That being said, parchment works great too.

  2. Wow by watching this step by step I feel comfortable to try it again instead of always having to give up and throw it away tu