How to Throw Pizza Dough: New Video

(photo by Mark Luinenburg) It has been suggested to me that the real reason I like to throw pizza dough into the air when I teach a class is not because throwing the dough improves the pizza, but because I am an incorrigible show-off.  I will neither confirm nor deny this beastly rumor.  But having now thrown a lot of dough, I truly can say how beautifully it thins the dough and relaxes the gluten.  There’s more on this in Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day, but here are some photos a video that show how it’s done.  The toss does scatter a bit of fine flour into the far reaches of your kitchen, but even so, I usually do it when I make pizza at home.  If I’m outside making grill pizza, I always throw the dough — there’s no ceiling, and you don’t have to clean up (the latter is a dream come true for me).

The keys to getting a good toss (video link’s at the end of this post):

1.  Form a nice cohesive ball using the gluten-cloaking method we talk about in the books, and sealing up the ragged loose ends on the underside of the ball.  I do that in the video but there’s one other trick that doesn’t appear in the video:  if you have time, let the ball sit for 20 to 40 minutes, covered with plastic wrap or an overturned bowl.  It will be much easier to stretch when it’s warmed a bit.

2.  Balance the disk on the backs of your hands– the knuckles.  Use them to stretch the dough a little more before you throw:

Throw your hands upward and spin them around each other, extending your dominant hand’s forefinger and middle finger a little at liftoff (very challenging to capture this on film or video):

OK, here’s the video (yes, you’ll see me breaking Italian law by using a rolling pin): The video’s at

Buon appetito!  There’s a much more video about pizza and all things bread on our YouTube channel (

38 thoughts to “How to Throw Pizza Dough: New Video”

  1. Thanks so much for this video. It was my biggest question about making pizza. I’ll try to be brae enough to try it next time!

    1. Hi Ginger,

      Our dough is probably too wet to work well in a machine and it won’t give you the time savings of mixing up a large batch. But, we have never tried it in a bread machine, so I can’t say for sure. If you try it, please report back and let us know.

      Thanks, Zoë

      1. I got RID of my bread machine when I found your book! I can make 4 loaves in the same time and work, as my bread machine used to take to make 1 loaf : )

      2. Same here, Ginger. Stick with Zoe and Jeff, they’ll help you make better baked goods than you ever could with a bread machine.

        I still have my bread machine, but use it rarely. Most of my baking is AB5/HB5. It’s opened up a whole new world of better bread for me. I haven’t bought bread in several years.

        Take the leap!

  2. Yeah!
    thanks for posting the video, I was waiting to see that! Very helpful pointers. Been having lots of fun tossing dough.

  3. This came as such a perfect time! Planning a pizza party this week end using your challah dough!
    Do you think I can form the pizzas the day before, stick the pans in the fridge and take them out the next day, allow to rest and bake when my guests arrive?

    1. Magpie: the dough rounds may dry out– might work if you cover very well– but it might stick to everything given that too-long rest.
      We have instructions for freezing rolled-out dough in the book (…

  4. I’m so going to try this recipe . Ilove to make homemade bread.But i was wondering if yiu can make rolls with it and can you make it in a loaf pan?

      1. All I did was take a sharp knife and cut a circle in the top pushing the blade most of the way in. Then pull out the bread until it was a good bowl. I did nothing special on the inside beyond that. We like our chili thick, so we didn’t have anything leak out. I am sure watery chili might cause problems.

    1. Anna: So glad you’re enjoying, thanks for the link to AJCN, I also don’t buy into the camp that bread causes weight gain. I just don’t think there are any magical foods (that cause weight gain or loss). Whole grain probably better than white, for filling you up and adding other nutrients to the mix, as we said in the 2nd bk (on amazon at )

      Mike: Thanks– we are going to test this as well, will appear in a subsequent book…

  5. Baking bread in the Big Green Egg?
    Have you ever baked your bread in the Big Green Egg ceramic oven/smoker? If so, what adjustments to the process were required?

    Thank you

    1. Jamie: Neither of us has one, but readers tell us it’s wonderful. Some have used a stone, I believe, and temperature control is key, gotta use a thermometer for loaves certainly. Pizza also works out there. Which of our books do you have, some of them have grill discussion…

  6. We heat our home by woodfire and sometimes my dough rises quickly due – I think – to the warmth. Can I refrigerate or bake with it when it rises in an hour or should I let it continue to sit?

    1. Kathy: By all means bake it when it starts to get “wobbly.” Can retard all this by refrigeration if need be…

  7. Wow, great video!
    By the way, after having read each and every recipe in your book, yesterday I finally made your Chicago pizza pie – it is absolutely wonderful, I think better than what I had had in Chicago. And definitely faster (there was a 3-hour wait list there) ;-). I used your cornmeal dough and the quick “raw” tomato sauce, and for the filling I used meatballs and mushrooms. And the best part is that now I still have 2 more pre-rolled pizzas in the freezer and 2 more portions of the topping. (I really loved the section with tips for using frozen dough.)
    Thanks for yet another great book! What will be the next one?

    1. CR: There will be a 4th book, but believe it or not, we’re not sure what it will be. Thanks for the kind words…

  8. I have 44 kindergartners, and we are going to make pizza for our Valentine’s Day party. One thought is to roll out the dough and have our kiddos use a large heart cookie cutter. Thoughts on how many batches of dough should I have on hand for about 60 5″ pizzas?

    1. Hi Joy,

      You will need about a double batch of dough, but you may want to have 3 batches just in case. I would do a test run. When you roll the dough out and then cut it with the cookie cutters it may shrink quite a bit. You may want to use a dough that has some whole wheat so that it doesn’t shrink quite as much. Try it and see how it goes!

      Have fun! Zoë

  9. Living in Fiji, we get desperate for good bread and Pizza! I have been making the bread for several years now, but hadn’t gotten the pizza making bit down using it. I brought the new pizza book back with me after my last visit to MN, and it’s fantastic. Everyone loved the pizza crust, but even better, I needed a good gluten free crust, and the one I tried last night was perfect. Much better than an expensive fancy gluten free pizza I had ordered in Mpls! Thank you soo much!

    1. Hi Jayne,

      Thank you so much for trying the pizza dough and for letting us know that you are enjoying the g-f recipe.

      Enjoy! Zoë

  10. great video,
    thanks for the pointers. i’ll try it next time. however, in all fairness, you were playing french opera instead of italian. sure it was donizetti, but it was indeed a french opera. LOL. try “la donna e mobile” from rigoletto. more “neopolitan”.
    thanks again.

    1. Ah David, a man after my own heart! Indeed it gets to the very heart of the question of what we mean by “Italian” opera, does it not? But I have to admit, you have a point. Thanks for watching. Jeff

  11. Hi Jeff and Zoe,

    Congratulations on all your success!

    I’d like to make a grape cluster bread from AB5 dough. I remember seeing a picture of it years ago, and I did find the website. I asked the website blogger how to do it, but didn’t get an answer.

    My question is–should I make a small round loaf and build on that, or should I make the grape cluster totally out of small balls? Because I really like the 3-D effect.

    This is going to be a table centerpiece with wine, cheese, and fruit around it. I want to make it special. Any help you can give me/directions would be appreciated.

    THANKS, you guys are awesome! My baking skills have really improved with your help.


      1. Well, I’ll give it a try and let you know. I was talking to a good cake decorator and she gave me some ideas (and she might be making a grape cluster from red velvet cake in the future….)

        Thanks for your reply.


  12. Hi – we love your healthy bread book, and we’re now baking all of our own bread. We are about to buy the Pizza book, and I’m planning to try the Mother Earth recipe for a pizza party.
    The question is about timing. We have 8 people coming, and I’m wondering how the pizza turns out if it’s made bigger than 12″ – big enough to fit on our baking stone & take up most of the space. Will this work or do I just need to make more 12″ pizzas? Thanks!

    1. Hi Kay,

      It works just great to make large pizzas. The trick is handling that much dough. You may want to try a 12″ pizza first, just to get the hang of it. There are also pizzas that we bake on a cookie sheet that allow you to make a really large pizza. Both are tasty and add variety to your party.

      Thanks! Zoë

  13. I worked in a gourmet pizza kitchen all through high school and I’ve recently been itching to throw some dough again. I just discovered this site and think it’s awesome, and I can’t wait to go home and whip up a batch of dough and get tossing!

    For people who want to practice pizza-tossing without making a mess or wasting good dough, a great training tool is a barely-damp dishtowel. It flies almost just like real dough!

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