I’m not exaggerating when I say I LIVE for hosting pizza parties in our backyard. Once warm weather season hits, all I want to do is fire up the pizza oven and invite friends over to make some pies. A pizza party is the ultimate interactive experience, and you can’t help but have a blast when everyone pitches in and cooks together.
That said, hosting a pizza night comes with a few challenges. There’s the dough, for one (homemade versus store-bought?), all those toppings to prep, and of course—some know-how involved in turning out perfect pizzas on the fly. For our team gathering, we teamed up with chef Erind of Il Brutto (our Austin go-to for Italian cuisine) who helped us home in our pizza-making skills. The next time you’re in town, a stop by Il Brutto for a pie is a must-add to your bucket list. So, whether you’re a seasoned home cook, a pizza enthusiast, or just looking to have a good time—this guide will walk you through exactly how to host a pizza party.
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Essential Tools for a Pizza Party
The right tools are crucial for a successful pizza-making experience. Make sure you’re well-equipped with these essentials:
Pizza Stone or Baking Steel
If you’re making pizza in the oven, it’s worth investing in a high-quality pizza stone or baking steel to achieve a crispy and evenly cooked crust. Preheat the stone or steel in the oven for at least 30 minutes before baking your pizzas to ensure optimal results.
This stone can go straight on the oven racks or even on the grill, and it gets super hot. Bonus points for being able to go in the dishwasher at the end of the night.
A pizza peel is a large, flat paddle used to transfer pizzas to and from the oven. It allows for easy handling and prevents mishaps during the baking process. Opt for a wooden or metal peel. These are two heavy-duty pizza peels that I’ve had forever and absolutely love:
You’ll want to have a sharp pizza cutter or a pair of kitchen scissors to neatly slice your pizzas into perfect portions. This allows you to cut through all those toppings and quickly turn a freshly-cooked pie into slices that everyone can devour.
This mezzaluna cutter makes quick work of an entire pie. Holding the wooden handle, rock the steel blade back and forth on the fresh-from-the-oven pizza until the crust is cut cleanly through.
Every kitchen needs a classic pizza wheel. This one is super sharp to cut through the thickest crusts and deepest toppings.
Yes, you can absolutely make great pizza in the oven or on the grill. However, if you want to level up, nothing will improve your pizza making skills quite like a pizza oven. We have two ovens—a multi-fuel oven for outdoors and an electric oven for indoors.
The Ooni has been a total game-changer in our pizza nights. The Ooni gets up to 950 in just 15 minutes, and it’s the closest thing to a professional pizza oven you’re going to get at home.
Ooni’s newest oven, the Volt makes cooking great pizza incredibly easy. It sits right on our kitchen countertop, and makes a pizza chef-level stone-baked pizza in just 90 seconds.
Pizza Dough—What You Should Know
First things first: do you go the store-bought route or make your pizza homemade? Either is a solid option and here are my tips for a great result using either type of pizza dough:
How to Make Homemade Pizza Dough
I break down my exact homemade pizza dough recipe here, and I stand by the claim that it’s the best. The entire thing is made in a stand mixer, and it’s only about 15 minutes of hands-on time. I promise, even if yeasted doughs intimidates you, you can totally make this dough.
What’s the Best Store-Bought Pizza Dough
My first choice will always be a local pizzeria that makes fresh dough every day. Many pizzerias will sell you a ball of dough for cheap if you just walk in and ask.
If you’re hitting up the grocery store, you’re in luck because our editors tested nine of the best store-bought pizza crusts and ranked them from best to worst. One thing was clear: the fresh dough and refrigerated dough options greatly outranked the dry mixes on both texture and flavor.
Make the Dough at Least a Day Before
This was a tip I learned from a chef friend, and it really does make a big difference. If you can, make the dough at least the day before (and up to four days before). Keep it in an airtight container in the fridge, then remove it from the fridge and let the dough rest on the counter for a couple of hours before it’s time to bake.
Determine How Much Pizza Dough to Have On Hand
My dough recipe yields four 10-inch pies, which is pretty standard when it comes to homemade recipes. This should be enough to feed two people. I typically plan on about one pie per couple, or four pies for a group of eight people.
How to Set Up a Pizza Topping Station
Since a pizza party is meant to be an interactive experience, you’ll want to setup a pizza topping station where guests can get creative and build their own perfect pizza. To keep things from getting too chaotic, you’ll want to prep all your toppings before guests arrive. Chop, measure, cook, mix—get each topping to the point where it’s ready to add to the pizza.
I like to store all my prepped ingredients in glass bowls like these, covered in the fridge. That way, you can see exactly what topping is in each one. A few tips for the perfect pizza topping setup:
Choose a Variety of Toppings
Offer a diverse selection of toppings to cater to different tastes and dietary preferences. Consider including options like fresh veggies (mushrooms, bell peppers, onions), cured meats (pepperoni, sausage), a selection of cheeses (mozzarella, cheddar, feta), and more unique choices like pineapple or arugula. The more variety, the more creative and personalized your guests can get with their pizzas.
Add Sauces and Spreads
Provide a few sauces and spreads to enhance the flavor profiles of the pizzas. Include classics like marinara sauce and pesto, but don’t shy away from experimenting with BBQ sauce, garlic butter, or spicy options. Offer small spoons or brushes to allow guests to spread their sauces evenly.
Include Seasonings and Finishing Touches
These are what make a simple pizza really special! Provide an assortment of herbs, spices, and condiments for that extra burst of flavor. Offer options like dried oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, grated Parmesan cheese, balsamic glaze, or chili oil. These little additions go a long way in elevating each pizza.
Write Down Combo Ideas Where People Can See Them
Pizza-making moves fast, and people will appreciate being reminded which of the pizzas the bacon is supposed to go on when they’re topping their pizza on the fly.
My Favorite Topping/Combo Ideas:
It’s a good idea to have a couple of classics (Margherita, pepperoni) combined with a couple that are more adventurous. Here are a few crowd-pleasers we have on repeat:
- Margherita. Classic tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves
- Sausage & Burrata. With basil & shaved truffles to take it over the top
- White Pie. Sautéed mushrooms with melty fontina cheese
- Fig, Bacon, & Gorgonzola. The salty-sweet mashup is addictive
- Caramelized Onion & Prosciutto. Add mozzarella and a handful of arugula after cooking
- Salami & Green Olive. With slow-roasted tomato sauce and chili flakes for heat
How to Host a Stress-Free Pizza Party
There are a lot of moving parts to a pizza party—these tips for success will remind you that pizza night is supposed to be fun!
Making the pizza dough and sauce in advance and pre-prepping toppings will save you time and ensure a smooth party setup.
Don’t be shy about asking your guests for help! I’ve found that people love to pitch in and be part of bringing a gathering to life. You can ask them to bring specific toppings, beverages, or a dessert to share. It not only lightens your workload but also makes everyone feel collaborative.
Create a Welcoming Vibe
Cozy lighting, chill music, and comfortable seating makes for an environment where everyone wants to kick off their shoes and stay awhile. Encourage guests to mingle and participate in the pizza-making process. Remember, there’s no rush! Take your time, enjoy the process, and don’t forget to snap photos for the memories.
Keep It Simple
My most important tip for hosting a pizza party is to keep the overall menu simple so things don’t get overwhelming. You’ve got a lot of toppings to prep, so don’t go crazy with sides or menu items outside of the pizza itself. Stick to a few tried-and-true pizza dough and sauce recipes that you’re comfortable with. It’s more important to stay calm and enjoy the party than it is to offer every option under the sun.
Remember: Perfection’s Not the Goal
I’ll be honest, hosting a pizza party may not be the most relaxing party you’ve ever had. There might be a moment or two when you ask yourself why you had this crazy idea in the first place! That’s when you take a breath, remind yourself that perfection’s not the goal. Having fun is, and there’s no way not have fun at pizza night. So, find a date on the calendar, invite your friends over, embrace your inner pizza chef, lean into all these stress-free tips, and get ready to savor an unforgettable pizza party.
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