It's the lowest-lift homemade pizza of all time.

By Bridget Hallinan
Updated January 27, 2020
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Greg DuPree

When I’m in a pinch for a quick dinner after work, homemade pizza is the last thing on my mind. Preparing it entirely from scratch is out of the question, since I’m too tired to make dough and chop vegetables. And I've tried using all pre-prepared ingredients, to less-than-satisfying results.

However, I recently came across a recipe on our website that changed my mind—a sheet pan pizza, ready in just 45 minutes. While it still calls for fresh dough, you buy it pre-prepared, which saves at least an hour or two. Plus, preparing the pizza and baking it all on one sheet also minimizes mess and tools. With a few fresh ingredients like thinly sliced fennel and basil to round it out, the end result produces high-quality taste from low-lift effort.

The recipe itself is incredibly simple, with only two steps and a relatively short grocery list. You need extra-virgin olive oil; two one-pound fresh-prepared pizza dough balls (either multigrain or plain); jarred pizza sauce (such as Rao’s); pre-shredded mozzarella cheese; salami, soppressata, or spicy Italian sausage; a small spring onion or fennel bulb; grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese; crushed fennel seeds; flaky sea salt; and finally, fresh baby greens or herb leaves. When I made it, I used a fennel bulb in place of the spring onion, and grabbed salami, capicola, and hot soppressata for my toppings. (What can I say? I’m a sucker for deli meat.)

Bridget Hallinan

The first and most crucial thing you need to do is make sure your pizza dough balls reach room temperature—seriously. If they’re even slightly cool to the touch, leave them out on the counter longer. Otherwise, you’ll find that they snap right back to their original size when you try to stretch them out on the baking sheet, which is very frustrating. (This happened to me. I'm not proud to admit that I screamed.)

Once they’re ready, prep an 18- x 13-inch rimmed baking sheet —or two baking sheets, if you only have smaller ones like I did—and grease them with the olive oil. Then, add the pizza dough and gently stretch it out with your hands until it reaches (close to) the edges. If you’re using one sheet, put one dough ball on either side and stretch them so they each cover one half and you can merge them together; if you’re using two separate sheets, put one ball on each and stretch them as much as you can without creating a crust that’s too thin or broken.

The only other major prep work needed is to thinly slice the fennel or spring onion, which takes all of two minutes. After that’s done and the dough is stretched, you’re all set to build. Start with the tomato sauce, spreading an even layer on top of the dough; then, follow up with a shower of shredded mozzarella. Next, pile on the meat and sliced fennel/spring onion, before adding the finishing touch—Parmesan and the fennel seeds.

Now, for cook time. Our recipe suggests 25 minutes in a blisteringly hot 500°F oven, which produces a healthily blackened, ultra-crispy crust. However, if you like it to lean more golden and slightly chewy, I cooked my pizzas for 18 minutes to delicious results. The crust had a nice crunch, but was still doughy and fluffy inside; the meat and cheese on top had reached a melty, savory union. With a final sprinkle of sea salt and fresh torn basil, I had a pretty impressive dinner that, all-things considered, had really only taken me about 20 minutes to make, barring baking time.

Bridget Hallinan

I can’t compare it to takeout—they’re two entirely different entities to me, and there are specific types of pizza I'd prefer to order versus make (hello, chicken bacon ranch), and vice versa. But the next time I have a craving, I’ll definitely think twice about picking up the phone, and maybe grab my sheet pan instead.

Get the recipe here.