I’m no gourmet cook, but I love pizza, and I’ve made tons of pizzas using Trader Joe’s pizza dough. After a lot of trial and error, I have it down to a science. Even if you can barely boil an egg (like me), you can make a great pizza at home if you follow my tips!
Which dough to get
There are three types of Trader Joe’s pizza dough: Regular, Wheat, and Garlic & Herb. I’ve tried all of these multiple times, and I recommend Garlic & Herb, hands down. It’s got more flavor and is great if you’re making a pizza with traditional pizza toppings.
Of course, you’ll need toppings. This is where your taste and imagination can go wild! I’m pretty traditional: my favorite toppings are pepperoni, mushrooms, black olives, bell peppers, and onion. On top of that, I’m assuming you’ll also want mozzarella cheese and pizza sauce (also available at Trader Joe’s).
Don’t forget the flour for handling the dough
While you’re at Trader Joe’s, remember to get some white flour if you don’t already have some. This is absolutely essential for handling the dough without it becoming a sticky mess. I know it may seem like a waste to buy a whole bag of flour and just use a tiny amount, but it’s a “must”, believe me.
Tip: keep the flour in your freezer to make it last longer. Otherwise, if you keep it for a long time, it can become infested with disgusting tiny bugs called flour weevils (yes, that too has happened to me).
The pizza pan
I use a 14″ round metal pizza pan to make my pizzas. That results in a good crust thickness. You could probably go a bit larger.
But, you don’t need to go out and buy a round pizza pan. I started out by using a standard rectangular baking sheet. There’s no real downside except for the shape of your pizza.
Of course, I’ve heard a pizza stone is best. Some day I might give that a try.
Sprinkle a thin layer of the white flour on your pizza pan, otherwise the dough will stick to it.
Cut up your vegetables and other toppings.
The secret for getting the dough out of the bag
Unless you know this trick, one of the most difficult parts of using Trader Joe’s pizza dough is getting it out of the bag.
But before you even try though, let it sit at room temperature for thirty minutes as the instructions recommend to let the dough rise.
Now, the problem with the dough is that it is insanely sticky. If you try to just grab it out of the bag, you’ll have a bunch of it stuck to the bag and your hands. It will be a mess and you’ll never want to make pizza again.
Before I knew any better, my technique was to throw a bunch of flour in the bag, then cut the bag and slowly work around the dough with flour to remove it. This takes forever, yet, I’ve seen this technique suggested in other articles online! Do not do this!
Instead, let gravity do the work! Start turning the bag inside-out, and hold it upside down. Then just wait. Gravity will slowly pull it out of the bag. As it does, continue to turn the bag inside out. Eventually, it will drop out, and you’ll get 99% of the dough without even touching it! (OK, you might have to tease it a little here and there to get it off the bag, but it’s much better than any other technique I’ve found!)
Just be sure that wherever it lands, there is plenty of flour so it doesn’t stick.
Flattening the dough
Once you have the dough out, cover it with a thin layer of flour so it doesn’t stick.
If you have a rolling pin, then great. But, you actually don’t need one. You can flatten it by mashing it with your hands and stretching it to reach the edges of the pan.
Be sure to spread out the dough to the very edges of your 14″ pan because it will shrink. (Or, you can use a baking pan of equivalent surface area).
Insuring a crispy, non-soggy crust
One big problem I had with my pizzas was that the middle was soggy. That’s because I like a TON of toppings, many of which are vegetables which leech out water as they cook. Although these pizzas still tasted good, they were far from ideal.
I’ve discovered that the secret to a non-soggy crust is to pre-bake the dough alone for about six minutes. It will start bubbling up, but don’t worry, it will go back down when you take it out. If you want, you can brush olive oil on the dough before cooking.
For bonus points, brush olive oil on the dough and add chopped garlic before baking!
Now, if you are just making a cheese pizza, this pre-bake step is probably not necessary. It’s only needed if you use a lot of toppings like I do.
Adding the toppings and baking
After you pre-bake the crust, take it out of the oven and add the pizza sauce, cheese, and your toppings.
I recommend baking for another ten minutes. When I have a lot of toppings, I’ve baked for fifteen minutes more. I know that sounds scary since the package recommends ten minutes total, but I’ve had some of the best pizzas with crispiest crusts this way.
Cutting the pizza
My final tip is to slide your pizza off of your pizza pan or baking sheet before you cut it. Otherwise, you could damage your pan. I usually slide it into a large cutting board, then cut it using a 4″ rolling pizza cutter. But, you could use a large knife.
My “Super Supreme” Pizza
As I mentioned before, I like a ton of toppings on my pizza. Here’s an example of a pizza I made that was well over 1″ thick. It had so many toppings that I had to cook it in three steps.
First to bake is is the crust with olive oil and garlic as described above. Then, I add the cheese, pepperoni, onions, and green peppers, and cook for another seven minutes. Finally, I add tomatoes, black olives and mushroom and cook for eight more minutes. These baking times could even be extended for a crispier crust.
That’s it! You’re ready to enjoy your Trader Joe’s pizza! Let me know how yours turned out! What other tips do you have? – Brian