Scratch Pizza

When I say scratch, I mean scratch. I made the dough, sauce and ricotta cheese for this pizza. But each component is actually incredibly easy to make.

Conveniently, you can make each component in advance of the actual pizza baking day—great for birthday parties or sleepovers. I like to make extra dough (I often double the recipe) and refrigerate some of it. Later in the week or on the weekend, I have pizza dough ready to roll out and bake. 

Step One: Make the Ricotta

I started by making the ricotta the night before I baked the pizzas. Once you taste homemade ricotta, you won’t be able to eat the store-bought stuff. I usually make it with cultured buttermilk, as in this post, but I have so many lemons right now, I decided to use a couple for this batch.

ricotta ingredients


This yields about a scant 1 1/2 cups of ricotta, enough for two, 12-inch pizzas.

  • 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt (if desired)


1. Heat milk slowly in a pot until reaches between 190 to 200 degrees—the temperature it hits just before it boils. Turn off the heat.

2. Add lemon juice and, if desired, salt. I find that ricotta for pizza needs salt. Wait 10 to 15 minutes for the curds to sink to the bottom of the pot.

3. Over a bowl, place a sieve lined with a thin towel. Pour the curdles and whey through the sieve.

4. Let the ricotta strain for about 15 minutes, depending on how wet you want it. Transfer it to a glass container and store in the fridge for up to a week or so.

You will have a shockingly large volume of whey left over. You can cook and bake with it. Whey freezes well also. I either pour it straight into jars or into an ice-cube tray and transfer the cubes to glass jars once they are frozen. (I freeze all sorts of food in glass.)

Step Two: Make the Dough

Sadly, I have yet to make a sourdough pizza crust that I like. The last one I made was pretty close though. I really wanted to like it… I’m almost there. For the pizza in this post, I used commercial yeast, which I can buy in bulk.

Since I have all this whey left over from my ricotta, I decided to use it instead of water for the dough. Nothing wasted here!

proofing yeast in whey
Pizza sauce (left), leftover whey (center) and yeast proofing in warm whey (right)


Yields dough for two 12-inch pizzas

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm whey or water (105° to 115°F)
  • 1 ½ cups white flour
  • 1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour (I used spelt for this post)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus extra to grease the proofing bowl


1. Add the sugar and yeast to the whey or water and stir to combine. Let sit 5 minutes until bubbly.

2. Combine flour and salt. I use a wire whisk to combine dry ingredients.

3. Add olive oil to the yeast mixture.

4. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and stir to combine.

5. Knead the ball a few times in the bowl to incorporate the flour into the dough. Add more flour if the dough is extremely sticky.

6. Dump the dough out into a floured surface and knead for about four or five minutes.


7. Place dough into a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let rest. You can make your pizzas after about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, when the dough has doubled in size.

Step Three: Make the Sauce

I make this while the dough rises and it requires only a few minutes to make. I used a jar of my frozen roasted tomatoes for this because tomatoes aren’t in season here yet. I don’t see the point in eating tomatoes out of season. They have zero flavor. I also don’t have fresh oregano or basil right now and so used dry. Fresh would taste amazing.



Yields about 2 cups

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 4 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt


1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan or large frying pan and cook the garlic for one minute.

2. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for about 10 minutes, mashing the tomatoes with the back of your utensil as you stir.

3. Once the consistency is thickened, remove from heat. If your contains a lot of tomato peel (as mine did when I made this batch), purée it with an immersion blender (or a standard blender) if you prefer.

4. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for about a week. You can also freeze this sauce.

pizza sauce

Step Four: Bake the Pizza

I have to warn you that my little oven—a step up from an Easy-Bake Oven—runs cool. If I ever write a cookbook, I’ll have to test all of my recipes using a real oven.


1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Punch down the dough and divide it into two halves. If you want to bake only one pizza, put one ball in the refrigerator in a container and use it later in the week.

The dough, doubled in size and ready to punch down (my kids used to love this step)

3. Roll out the dough into desired thickness.

4. Pre-bake the dough for about five minutes. I use a pizza peel to slip my pizza dough onto my hot baking stone. You can also bake on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle some corn meal on the cookie sheet if you go that route. With the pizza peel, sprinkle it with flour or cornmeal to make flicking the dough off the peel easier.

A quick flick of the wrist (and a generous dusting of flour or cornmeal at the edge of the pizza peel) sends the dough onto the hot pizza stone

5. Remove from oven, spread on about 1/2 cup pizza sauce (or more), and sprinkle with cheese and toppings.

6. Bake for another 5 to 7 minutes.

Hot out of the oven; I bought these olives in bulk in a glass jar 😉

17 Replies to “Scratch Pizza”

  1. Wow, your post certainly inspired me to make some cheese – I never realized it was so straigthforward.
    Thank you for your many wonderful and informative posts. I love, and completely agree with, your definition of “from scratch”.

    1. Ricotta is very easy. Someone once left a comment on my blog that ricotta is the gateway cheese to camembert and cheddar 😉 I’m glad you like the definition. I am working on a post about language and I might add “cooking” to it. Opening a package and microwaving the contents does not constitute cooking!

      1. Agreed 100%!
        Another frequent offender is recipes that claim “3 ingredients” and 1 of the ingredients is a box of cake mix (with like 30 ingredients, most of them toxic) or something like that. *shakes head*

      2. Hahaha. Actually that’s not funny but you made me laugh 🙂

  2. Your posts have been consistently helpful in achieving zero-waste with cooking. The sour cream has been my favourite so far, but I have not attempted cheese yet, so maybe that will be my new favourite.

    What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to zero-waste cooking?

    1. Thank you Nadine 🙂 Isn’t the sour cream great? And so easy! The first time I made it, I thought to myself, “Really, that’s all you do? How did I not know this???!!!”

      I didn’t have to think long about my biggest pet peeve. It’s cheese. Back before I started all of this, I lived in a city with a huge farmer’s market and I could buy hunks of cheese from the vendor, as big or small as I wanted. I’m sure today if I took a container, they would fill it. I can’t find anything like that here. I used to be able to buy cheese from the deli in a container. The large hunk they cut it from was wrapped in plastic, but at least that cut down the plastic-to-food ratio. I can do that at another store, but the cheese is filled with crud. My Whole Foods used to carry small wheels of sheep’s cheese and I would buy that and grate a lot and freeze it but they stopped carrying it. They said to talk to the cheese buyer and maybe they will carry it again. I want to make my own but need to track down vegetable rennet without a ton of packaging. I don’t like ordering stuff online; the packages are full of plastic bubblewrap or who knows what. I heard from someone in Germany that the only thing she can get plastic-free is cheese! So every region is different. I could go on and on about my cheese problems. I’ll stop ranting now… 😉 Thanks for asking.

      1. This seems to be a common trend, though! I live in a small town, so our ZW options are limited as it is. Cheese is one thing I LOVE, but have cut back on, simply based on the packaging issue. I attempted to purchase cheese from a supermarket, and the guy got really cheesed off (pun intended…) because of my odd request. Apparently there is a local cheese shop that opened in a nearby town, so I may have to try my chances there. Thanks for answering my question 🙂

      2. You’re welcome. Thanks for reading and commenting. It’s strange that things people have done for centuries (like buy really good cheese without plastic packaging) has become so difficult. I hope the new cheese shop works out. Good luck on your cheese quest!

  3. I need to try homemade ricotta. We have pizza night weekly and I have a few dough recipes I like (none are sourdough though). I tend to approach pizza night as ‘clean out the fridge’ night – I can and will put everything and anything on a pizza. Bbq sauce is an excellent substitution for red sauce, fyi. And I’ve learned to make my own using the batch of ketchup I canned a few years ago that we didn’t really like – talk about no waste!
    I do admittedly do a good bit of canning in the summer specifically for pizza night – the pizza sauce recipe from Preserving by the Pint is so, so good I put up a few batches throughout the course of the summer so that we have a good shelf full for the winter. As it only makes a pint, it’s also good to just make and use, which I’ve certainly been known to do.
    But primarily, pizza night is always about pulling out random bits of cheese and leftovers and seeing what works. Turns out peach salsa with just cheese is a major hit.

    1. Good point Becky about using up bits of this and that! I love to do that too. I’m not surprised the peach salsa and cheese was a hit. That sounds fantastic. Great idea to use BBQ sauce also. My daughter would love that. I think you’ve mentioned Preserving by the Pint before. I’ve looked at it but haven’t bought it (would like to…). The ricotta is super easy and so much better than store-bought.

      1. I’ve also done pickled eggplant and feta pizzas – one of my faves! – as well as pepper jelly & goat cheese. That last one, I loved while everyone else tolerated. It’s always an experiment, but I do at least one just plain cheese so we have something we know we’ll eat.

      2. OMG I want pepper jelly and goat cheese pizza.

      3. It’s even better cold and leftover.

  4. Thank you Lana. Ricotta is incredibly easy and I love that you can make it ahead of time. I hope you like it and the ginger beer. Ginger beer is one of my favorite things to make (don’t tell my kombucha scoby…) and it goes well with pizza. Enjoy! ~ Anne Marie

  5. Thank you for this…I wanted to make this fermented watermelon soda and was wondering about what to do with the curds I’d have left over from making the whey, when your email popped up in my inbox! Perfect, So I made the ricotta, used some of the whey for the watermelon soda, pickled the watermelon rinds, some more of the whey in the pizza and the rest for stock. 🙂

    1. Hi Mary. Unfortunately the whey isn’t probiotic 🙁 I wish it was. Even if I had used raw milk, I heat it for the ricotta, so that kills the microbes. So your soda and watermelon rinds won’t be lacto-fermented. I’ll have to edit the post and add a line about that… Thanks for the link to the soda. It looks fantastic. I want to try it! ~Anne Marie

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