As its name suggests, skillet pizza is a type of pizza cooked in a cast iron or other heavy-duty frying pan. This technique allows home cooks to create pizzas with crisp crusts akin to those produced by the wood-burning ovens found in many pizza restaurants. The exact method used to prepare skillet pizza can vary, with some cooks heating their skillet prior to adding their pizza while others skip this step. Additionally, some cooks bake skillet pizza in an oven, while others cook it under a broiler.
The trait that sets skillet pizza apart from other types of pizza is that the former is cooked in a heavy frying pan. During cooking, the pan conducts a significant amount of heat to the pizza’s crust, causing it to become crisp yet tender. This method helps combat the sogginess that often affects pizza crust cooked in home ovens, which are not capable of achieving the high temperatures used to prepare pizza in restaurants.
In general, skillet pizza is prepared by rolling out or hand-tossing homemade or store-bought pizza dough and then pressing the dough into a large oven-safe skillet. Some cooks opt to grease the skillet with butter, olive oil, or non-stick cooking spray before adding the dough. Once it has been pressed into the skillet, the dough is dressed with toppings such as tomato sauce, cheese, and chopped peppers. The entire skillet is placed in a preheated oven, where it remains until the crust and toppings have reached the desired doneness.
Some skillet pizza enthusiasts opt to preheat their skillet on the stovetop before adding the dough. They argue that this extra step helps yield an even crispier crust than that produced by baking alone. As pizza dough begins to bake as soon as it comes into contact with a preheated skillet, however, when using this method, a pizza must be fully assembled before it is transferred to the pan so that it is immediately ready for cooking. Shifting dough that has already been topped to a hot pan can be difficult, and cooking experts caution that it may take practice to get a clean transfer.
Since preheating one’s skillet causes crust to cook rapidly, pizza made using this technique usually does not need to be baked in the oven. Rather, it can be placed directly beneath a hot broiler for three to four minutes. Pizza is finished as soon as the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted.