This homemade focaccia pizza recipe is a thick and fluffy take on my classic thin crust pepperoni pizza. It bakes up in a 9x13" baking dish on a baking steel for an extra crispy bottom and is topped with my simple no-cook pizza sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, and deliciously crisp rows of pepperoni.
Whether you're looking for a hearty weeknight meal or a fun dinner party option, this focaccia pizza is sure to impress. So grab your favorite apron and get ready to create a thick slab pizza masterpiece that will have everyone coming back for seconds!
While there are plenty of iconic regional varieties of thick crust pizza out there, from Detroit style pies, grandma pizzas, Sicilian pizza (sfincione), and Chicago's deep dish pizzas, to name just a few, this is not an attempt at recreating any of them.
This recipe is simply my favorite way of using my super easy overnight focaccia dough to make a thick, slab-style pizza. I tweaked the base recipe a bit to work better as a pizza, but if you've made that recipe, you can make this one too!
Looking for another thick crust pan pizza recipe? Try my chicken marsala pizza which bakes in a round cast iron pan!
- 📖 Notes from Recipe Testing
- 🥘 Ingredient Notes
- 🍕 How to Make Focaccia Pizza
- 🍕 Focaccia Pizza Toppings & Assembly
- ♨️ Using a Baking Steel
- 🍽 Suggested Equipment
- ⏲️ Storage Notes
- 👩🏻🍳 Practical Tips and Recipe Notes
- 🌡️ A Note on Temperature and Dough Rising
- 🥄 Substituting Active Dry Yeast for Instant Yeast
- 💭 Recipe FAQ
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
📖 Notes from Recipe Testing
When I set out to make this focaccia pizza recipe I thought it would be as simple as adding pizza toppings to my favorite focaccia. Maybe three test batches just to figure out the topping quantities and baking time.
I went to pastry school, how hard could a focaccia pizza it be? Very, it turns out! (Don't worry, I've made this recipe very easy for you. But it took me about 7 focaccia pizzas to get here.)
I started by shrinking my usual focaccia dough by 25%, but it didn't fill the pan. By the fifth focaccia pizza test, I settled on shrinking the original recipe by just 6%. This might not sound like much, but it helps the focaccia cook faster and gives a much better ratio of dough to toppings.
Early in testing, the focaccia dough kept deflating under the toppings. I added one extra quick set of folds to strengthen the gluten structure of the dough. Problem solved, easy peasy!
The last change I made is the one I'm most excited about. It happened after I thought I was done testing — I was actually in the middle of shooting the photos you see here when I had an epiphany.
"What if," I wondered, "instead of dimpling the focaccia dough and then dolloping the sauce overtop, I spread the sauce on the dough and then dimple it?"
Surely there was a reason no one else did it this way, I thought. But I took a mid-photoshoot risk and spread the sauce on the smooth surface of the dough. Then I dimpled the dough, poking my fingers right through the sauce.
It was messy but the risk was worth it — it was my best focaccia pizza yet!
Dimpling the sauce deep into the focaccia dough marbles pizza flavor throughout every bite. It also prevents the sauce from pooling on the surface of the dough, creating soggy pockets where the cheese slides off.
As far as focaccia pizzas go, dimpling the sauce into the dough is a total game changer! I can't wait for you to give this a try.
🥘 Ingredient Notes
Here are the ingredients that you'll need to make this focaccia pizza recipe! See recipe card (at the end of the blog post) for quantities.
- All Purpose Flour - Regular all purpose flour is just fine here! I use King Arthur Baking Company's all purpose flour which has a relatively high protein content, much closer to a bread flour than other brands of all purpose flour. If you're using generic or grocery store brand flour, you may have a better result with bread flour.
- Sugar - Regular plain white granulated sugar. Nothing fancy.
- Instant Yeast - I use instant yeast which can be mixed right into the dry ingredients. Store it in the freezer and you never have to wonder if it died.
- Salt - I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt which half as salty as other brands and types of salt by volume. Measure your salt by weight for best results! For volume measurements, if you're using a different brand of salt, even a different brand of kosher salt, cut the amount of salt in half.
- Olive Oil - Plain olive oil or extra virgin olive oil, whichever one you have. An olive oil without a strong flavor works best here.
- 5-Minute No Cook Pizza Sauce - My favorite go-to classic red pizza sauce, made with unsalted tomato sauce, dried basil and oregano, salt, and a clove of garlic.
- Mozzarella Cheese - Low-moisture whole milk mozzarella cheese that you grate by hand is the best melty cheese for pizza. If you can't or don't want to grate cheese by hand, pre-shredded is fine. It will brown faster than the hand-shredded stuff. Just make sure it's low-moisture AND whole milk for the best melt!
- Pepperoni - I like using Hormel's "original" pepperoni slices or the Wegman's store brand pepperoni slices. They're a good size and don't have too much fat in them (unlike some of the more artisanal cured pepperoni slices) which means no worrying about the top of the focaccia pizza getting soupy and soggy. You could absolutely use pepperoni cups if you wanted to though.
- Powdered Pecorino Romano or Parmesan Cheese - No pizza is complete without a dusting of finely grated cheese. My favorite finishing cheese for pizzas is Locatelli's Pecorino Romano, but any finely grated pecorino or parmesan cheese will do.
- Fresh Basil - Thinly cut in a chiffonade. Wait until the focaccia pizza is out of the oven or in the final minute of cooking to cut the basil so it stays fresh!
Remember: Pizza toppings should always be ready-to-eat (or pre-cooked) before adding to your pizza!
🍕 How to Make Focaccia Pizza
As with all good pizza recipes, we start this focaccia pizza recipe by making the dough. The focaccia pizza dough has about 30 minutes of up front work (with a few five minute rests) and then a long rise for about 7-12 hours.
Make the dough in the morning before you leave for work and it'll be ready and waiting for toppings when you get home. (Or see the recipe notes for how to prep it the night before).
Whisk together flour, salt, and instant yeast. Then pour the warm water and olive oil on top.
Mix well until a messy, sticky dough forms.
I like using a dough whisk for this step — it's super efficient at mixing wet, sticky doughs. A spatula, wooden spoon, or even your hands will also work.
Gather the dough into a loose ball in the bottom of the bowl, cover and let it rise for 5 minutes.
Over the next 20 minutes, you'll perform three sets of folds on the dough. There are two five minute rests and one ten minute rest.
Here's what the whole process looks like in terms of timing:
- Mix the dough. Rest 5 minutes.
- First set of folds. Rest 5 minutes.
- Second set of folds. Rest 10 minutes.
- Third and final set of folds. Transfer the dough into the oiled baking pan.
This folding process builds strength and structure into the dough. It traps air inside the dough for those lovely focaccia bubbles, while also allowing it to support the weight of the sauce and toppings later on.
Grab the top edge of dough and stretch it away from you. Then fold it down across the dough. Rotate the bowl 90° (a quarter turn) and repeat. Keep going all the way around the bowl. That's one set of folds.
By the time you get to the final set of folds, you'll notice that the dough looks much smoother, feels stretchier, and might even feel a little airy or bubbly inside.
TIP: Use damp or lightly oiled hands when folding the dough — this will prevent the dough from sticking to your hands too much.
Spray your 9x13" baking pan with non-stick spray. Make sure to get the sides, too. Then drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the center of the pan.
Tilt the pan so the oil coats the bottom. This is a tip I picked up from King Arthur Baking — the non-stick spray prevents sticking, but the oil is what will give you that crispy bottom!
Gently slide the focaccia out of the mixing bowl and into the pan. Cover with saran wrap and let it rest for 7-12 hours.
When the dough has filled out the pan and looks nice and bubbly, it's ready for dimpling and topping!
The ideal temperature for letting this focaccia pizza dough rise is somewhere between 66°-70°F. If your kitchen is particularly warm, it will rise much faster (closer to 7 hours).
Regardless, once it's filled out the pan and is looking nice and bubbly, it's ready for assembly and baking!
🍕 Focaccia Pizza Toppings & Assembly
When your focaccia dough has risen, it's time for the fun part! Dimpling and topping your focaccia pizza.
First, you'll want to preheat your oven with a baking steel or pizza stone inside (more on that later). This preheating time gives you the perfect window for assembly and the final rise before baking.
Whisk together tomato sauce, basil, oregano, salt, and a finely grated clove of garlic. Easy peasy.
Use the back of a spoon to very gently spread the sauce across the surface of the focaccia pizza dough.
Use a very light touch; you don't want to deflate the dough. Don't worry about getting an even coating, it's okay if it's a little splotchy.
There's not a clean outer edge crust on a pizza like this so no need to keep a clean sauce-free border all the way around. Get the sauce all the way to the edges.
Why do you spread pizza sauce with the back of a spoon? The curved back of the spoon glides gently over the delicate pizza dough. The edges of the spoon are curved away from the dough, so they won't catch or tear it the way a knife or spatula would!
Lightly oil your fingers and get to dimpling. Poke straight down through the dough all across the surface of the focaccia. Use this time to help spread the sauce out a little too.
Then top with a layer of shredded mozzarella cheese, pepperoni slices, and finish with a dusting of finely grated Pecorino romano.
I know, in these photos it looks like I didn't spread the sauce all the way to the edges of the pan like I just told you to do, but I actually ended up using my fingers in the the dimpling step to do that and just didn't get a photo of it.
Make sure the cheese and pepperoni go all the way to the edges of the pan too. Cover the pan and let it rest for another 15 minutes before baking.
♨️ Using a Baking Steel
For this focaccia pizza, you'll need to preheat your oven to 450°F for about 45-60 minutes with a baking steel or pizza stone on the middle or lower-third rack of your oven.
Why do you need to use a baking steel for focaccia pizza? The heat of a baking steel is necessary for getting a crispy bottom on a focaccia pizza. The cheese and sauce on top of the dough insulate the pan too much for the bottom to get crispy otherwise.
The high heat of the baking steel cooks the pizza dough from the bottom of the pan up while the heat of the oven browns the cheese and cooks the pizza from the top down.
If you don't have a baking steel or pizza stone: Invert a sturdy sheet pan on the middle rack of your oven. It doesn't work quite as well as a true baking steel, but is better than using nothing at all.
Slide the baking pan directly on to the baking steel, and bake for 17-20 minutes. To check if it's done, carefully slide a thin flexible fish turner spatula under the pizza and lift it.
If it's golden brown around the sides and dark golden or dark brown on the bottom, it's done!
Top with thinly sliced fresh basil, then let the focaccia pizza sit in the pan for about 5-10 minutes. Just enough for the grease to stop bubbling and for the pan to cool slightly so you don't burn yourself in the next step.
Carefully slide the whole pizza out of the pan and onto a cooling rack. Increasing air flow around the focaccia pizza will prevent the bottom from steaming in the pan and getting soggy.
The best way to slice focaccia pizza btw? Kitchen shears! This comes straight from King Arthur's Crispy Cheesy Pan Pizza recipe, so it's not just me being wacky and goofy. It's a tip endorsed by the experts!
🍽 Suggested Equipment
You don't need to use all of the same equipment that I do to make this recipe but these are the tools I use and recommend to make it easier!
- 9x13" Rectangular Baking Pan - I use a 9x13" metal baking pan for this focaccia pizza recipe. Metal pans conduct heat well and help get a nice crispy bottom. But you can also use a ceramic or stoneware baking dish. I don't recommend using glass for this recipe as it can change the baking time and temperature!
- Pizza Steel or Baking Stone - I use the Original Baking Steel to make all of my pizzas (note: I bought my Baking Steel with my own money but love it so much I became part of their affiliate program; use code TPK10 for 10% off!). A pizza stone will also work if that's all you've got, but it may take slightly longer to cook.
- Dough Whisk - The stiff wire coil of a dough whisk is designed to efficiently mix sticky, wet doughs like focaccia dough! You can also use a spatula or your hands.
⏲️ Storage Notes
Wrap any leftover focaccia pizza slices in foil and store them in the fridge for about 3-4 days.
Reheat on a foil-lined baking sheet in the oven at 350°F for 10-15 minutes or until warmed throughout.
👩🏻🍳 Practical Tips and Recipe Notes
- Freeze the Mozzarella: If the mozzarella cheese is too soft to grate, pop it in the freezer for about 10 minutes then try again.
- You can use other toppings — vegetables, sausage, chicken, etc! Just make sure they're already cooked before you put them on the pizza.
- If making the dough in the morning doesn't work for you, you can make it the night before, and let it rise overnight in the fridge instead. Take it out of the fridge in the morning and let it rise at room temperature during the day (7-10 hours) to use for dinner that night.
- To keep track of what set of folds you're on, place 3 small snack items like M&Ms, crackers, pretzels, Skittles, etc. next to the mixing bowl. Eat one each time you do a set of folds.
🌡️ A Note on Temperature and Dough Rising
Temperature is the main factor in determining how quickly or slowly your dough rises (proofs). This includes the temperature of ingredients in your dough, as well as the ambient temperature of the room where you are leaving your dough to rise.
Depending on how cool or warm your water was, and how cool or warm your kitchen is, your dough may rise faster or slower. Warmer temperatures increase yeast activity and cooler temperatures slow down yeast activity.
- If your kitchen is around 65°F, use warmer water — around 90°F.
- If your kitchen is around 70°F or warmer, use cooler water — around 75°.
If your dough is rising slowly and your kitchen is cold, find somewhere warmer to put your dough to finish rising. If your kitchen is very warm, your dough might be ready to dimple sooner!
In baking, "room temperature" is generally somewhere around 70°F.
Just because the dough isn't ready right at the times given in the recipe doesn't mean it's not working — there might be other factors affecting how quickly or slowly it gets there!
🥄 Substituting Active Dry Yeast for Instant Yeast
Active Dry and Instant yeast are technically the same thing — meaning, they are both saccharomyces cerevisiae, a single-celled living organism used for leavening bread and doughs.
The only difference between the two types of yeast is that Active Dry yeast granules have a little coating around them which needs to be dissolved to reveal the yeast inside.
Because of this extra little shell around the Active Dry yeast granules, you'll need to use slightly more Active Dry yeast to get the same effect as using Instant.
To calculate how much Active Dry yeast to use, increase the amount of Instant yeast by 25%. So for this recipe, you'd need 2.5 grams of Active Dry yeast. If you don't have a jeweler's scale to measure such a small amount precisely I recommend sticking with 2 grams of Active Dry yeast due to this recipe's long rise time.
💭 Recipe FAQ
I haven't tested any other methods, so can't tell you precisely how to do this. There are plenty of resources online that can guide you through the process of using an inverted baking sheet instead. Look for instructions that use a high temperature (450°F+) for best results.
Heat a bare non-stick skillet over medium heat. Place the slices in the pan and let them crisp up that way for about 5-6 minutes or until suitably browned on the bottom.
In order to make this recipe successfully, you need to measure your ingredients by weight. No, I cannot convert it to cups for you.
A kitchen scale is more accurate than cup measurements and will give you the right ratio of water, yeast, salt, olive oil, and flour so that the focaccia dough behaves the way you want it to. Depending on how much you pack the flour in and what brand of measuring cups you’re using, you may be off by 30-50 grams of flour per cup which can make a huge difference in how your focaccia pizza turns out.
I tested and developed this recipe using weight measurements. If I were to convert it to cups, I would be using Google — just like you would. And since there's no set standard for what "1 cup" of flour weighs, different online converters use different amounts, which means converting the recipe to cups would be very inaccurate.
Basically, if you convert this recipe to cup measurements, do so at your own risk. It will have a higher rate of failure. I don’t recommend it!
Thick & Crispy Focaccia Pizza
- 6 ounces unsalted tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon diamond crystal kosher salt (use half as much of any other brand)
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 garlic clove (finely grated)
- 6 ounces low-moisture, whole milk mozzarella cheese
- 22 slices pepperoni
- 2 tablespoons pecorino romano (Locatelli preferred, parmesan will also work)
- 4 leaves fresh basil
Make the Focaccia Pizza Dough
- Prepare the pan. Spray a 9x13" high-sided baking pan with non-stick spray, making sure to get the sides too. Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil in the center, and tilt the pan to spread the oil out.
- Mix the dough. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Pour the warm water and olive oil directly into the center. Mix with a dough whisk until a messy, cohesive, sticky dough forms. Gather the dough in a rough ball at the bottom of the bowl. Cover and rest 5 minutes.
- First set of folds. With damp hands, grab a corner of the dough and stretch and fold it over itself. Rotate the bowl a quarter turn and repeat until all the edges have been folded over the center of the dough. Cover and rest 5 minutes.
- Second set of folds. With damp hands, repeat the stretching and folding process all the way around the bowl. Cover and rest 10 minutes this time
- Third and final set of folds. Repeat the stretching folding process all the way around the dough. The dough will be much stronger and smoother. On the final fold, flip the dough over so the seam side is facing down and the smooth side is facing up.
- Slide the dough out of the bowl and into the oiled baking pan. Cover the pan and rest 7-10 hours at room temperature.
Pizza Sauce & Toppings
- Combine tomato sauce, basil, oregano, salt, and finely minced garlic clove in a bowl and whisk well.
- Grate the mozzarella cheese on the large holes of a box grater. Store in the fridge if not using immediately.
Focaccia Pizza Assembly
- 30 minutes before you plan to bake, preheat the oven to 450°F with a baking steel on the middle or lower third rack. The focaccia dough will have relaxed and filled out the pan and look bubbly and jiggle slightly if you shake the pan. If it hasn't completely filled out the pan, that's okay, you can use the dimpling step to push it into all the corners.
- Sauce and dimpling. Use the back of a spoon to gently dollop and spread the pizza sauce across the surface of the focaccia all the way to the edges of the pan. Coat your fingers lightly with olive oil and poke your fingers through the dough straight down until they hit the bottom of the pan. Repeat this all over the dough.
- Cheese and toppings. Top the focaccia pizza with a layer of grated mozzarella cheese, then arrange the pepperoni slices in alternating offset rows of 2 and 3 slices with the pepperoni slices reaching the edges of the pan. Finish with a dusting of finely pecorino romano cheese. Let the focaccia pizza rest for about 10-15 minutes before baking.
- Bake. Slide the pan directly onto the preheated baking steel and bake for 23-25 minutes until the cheese is crispy and browned on top. If it's browning unevenly, rotate the pan after 17 minutes and bake a few minutes more. Garnish immediately with ribbons of fresh basil.
- Slice and serve. Let cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes, then carefully remove to a cooling rack so the bottom doesn't get soggy (this part is awkward no matter what, just do your best to slide it out! Cut with scissors to serve.
- To keep track of what set of folds you're on, place 3 small snack items like M&Ms, crackers, pretzels, Skittles, etc. next to the mixing bowl. Eat one each time you do a set of folds.
- For a longer rise time, make the dough the night before and refrigerate it in the covered baking pan overnight. Take it out of the fridge in the morning and let it rise 7-12 hours during the day at room temperature (70°F).