How To Avoid A Soggy, Undercooked Pizza

Pizza is a delicacy enjoyed by many and while shop bought and takeaway options provide a convenient alternative, you can't beat the great taste of a pizza that you have cooked yourself from the comfort of your home.

While the thought of tucking into your tasty homemade creation is particularly exciting, the taste can soon be ruined if it is soggy and undercooked.

Although the toppings may appear golden and crispy, removing the pizza too soon may mean that the rest is yet to reach the same standard.

There are several causes of a soggy, undercooked pizza, and many steps that you can implement to avoid the occurrence of these issues. The leading cause of a soggy or undercooked pizza tends to be due to the heat of your oven.

How To Avoid A Soggy, Undercooked Pizza

If your oven is yet to reach the right temperature but you cook your pizza in it anyway, it isn't going to cook your pizza thoroughly. Another reason may be that it has been removed too soon and hasn't been cooked for the correct amount of time. It may also be caused by your choice of toppings.

Toppings with high water content are likely to release more moisture which is going to make the pizza soggier. Likewise, you may have added too many toppings or too much sauce which has prevented your pizza from developing a crispy texture.

While these are some of the main causes of a soggy, undercooked pizza, there are a few other issues that can cause this to happen too. 

Now that we have pinpointed some reasons that may be causing this issue, how can you stop this from happening to your home-cooked pizza?

Below we have detailed some measures that you can implement to prevent your pizza from becoming soggy or undercooked, instead, it is going to cook to the perfect crispy standard. 

How do I stop my homemade pizza from being soggy and undercooked?

Cook Your Pizza At The Correct Temperature

Your pizza needs to be cooked at a high temperature as this will ensure that it is crispy and cooked thoroughly but not dry. If your oven isn't hot enough it isn't going to cook your pizza evenly.

The recommended temperature to cook a homemade pizza is between 450 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit. You should allow your oven to heat up beforehand and insert the pizza once it has reached the peak temperature.

Heating the oven beforehand will mean that the dough begins to puff up and cook as soon as it hits the heat. 

Be Careful With Your Toppings

Although it can be tempting to load your pizza with a selection of toppings, you should try to avoid doing so. Too many toppings can make it difficult for the heat to reach the base.

Because of this, you will often find patches beneath the heavily topped sections that will trap moisture and cause the pizza to become soggy. 

Also, if possible you should try to avoid using toppings that have a wet consistency. Wet ingredients are going to produce more moisture as they cook so ideally you should try and stick to ingredients that have an oilier consistency. 

Try To Avoid Using Fresh Cheeses

Although fresh cheese like mozzarella has a delicious taste, it isn't the best option for pizza. This is because cheese of this kind has a higher water content and is going to release more moisture during the cooking process.

Ideally, you should try and stick to dried cheeses like cheddar because they don't have high liquid content and as such, they aren't going to add moisture to the pizza.

However, if you would like to use mozzarella, you should use it in small amounts and drain the moisture beforehand. 

Use A Pan Or Stone To Cook The Pizza

The use of a cooking stone will result in improved cooking times and better results. You should place the stone or pan in the oven to allow it to heat up before adding your pizza. Exposure to the heat of the pan is going to cook the base to a crispier standard. If you don't have a pizza stone or a specific pizza pan a standard baking tray will suffice. 

Cook Your Pizza For The Correct Amount Of Time

When you cook a shop-bought pizza you will find guidance on the packaging that will inform you of the temperature to cook the pizza and the amount of time to cook it for.

Although you do not have this guidance to hand when making a homemade pizza, it is likely to take around 10 to 15 minutes to cook and you will often find visual indicators that will inform you when it's almost ready.

For example, the toppings will appear golden and the base will be crusty. If you remove your pizza from the oven too soon it may not be cooked through thoroughly.

The appearance of the toppings can often be deceiving because while they may appear melted and golden, the base of the pizza may not necessarily be cooked to the same standard. You may need to rotate the pizza during the cooking process to achieve consistent cooking results. 

Ensure That The Base Of Your Pizza Isn't Too Thick

A thin pizza base is preferable although it is likely going to be decided by your taste preferences too.

A thicker pizza base is going to take longer to cook because the heat has to work through more dough, however, a base that is too thin may be prone to breaking and so it is important to maintain the correct balance. 

As you develop your confidence in creating your pizza, your techniques will improve. Stretching your pizza dough beforehand will create an even base that is likely to cook evenly.

It can be difficult to establish the right thickness of your pizza and so you should use a rolling pin to achieve the best thickness. You will need to select your ingredients according to the thickness of the base.

If you load a thin pizza base with a lot of ingredients not only is it going to be more likely to break, it is also going to lengthen the cooking time potentially resulting in an overcooked pizza. 

Try Not To Use Too Much Sauce Or Watery Sauces

Selecting the right sauce for your pizza is super important. You should try to use a sauce with a thicker consistency. You are going to experience great difficulties in achieving a crispy crust if the sauce has high water content.

It is also important to remember that the sauce is the layer that is in direct contact with the base so a sauce with a watery texture is going to turn into steam and this is going to create a soggy base.

We would advise you to opt for a tomato paste or a pizza sauce with a thicker consistency because it isn't going to contain so much moisture. If you are intending to use canned tomatoes you should strain them beforehand to remove most of the moisture while maintaining the tomatoey goodness.

Also, ensure that you apply the sauce in moderate amounts. If you apply a thick layer it is going to make it harder for the heat to reach the base. A thin layer is sufficient as it still provides you with great flavor without being overpowering or affecting the heat absorption. 

Ensure That Your Oven Isn't Too Hot

Although pizza requires exposure to a high temperature to cook thoroughly, you must ensure that the internal temperature isn't too hot.

While the temperature helps to avoid a soggy and undercooked pizza, too much exposure can cause it to develop a dry texture and this is going to affect the taste. 

The temperature of your oven shouldn't be higher than 500 degrees Fahrenheit. If you ensure that your oven remains between 450 to 500 degrees, as mentioned above your pizza is going to be cooked to the best standard. 

Don't Add The Sauce Or Toppings To Your Pizza Too Soon

For many, the process of creating a homemade masterpiece is particularly exciting as you have the opportunity to create a pizza that showcases your favorite toppings, however, you should resist adding the sauce and toppings to your pizza too soon.

Adding the sauce and then leaving the pizza to sit around before adding the toppings is going to cause the moisture from the sauce to seep into the dough and this will create a soggy base.

This also applies if you add the sauce and toppings and then leave the pizza for some time before cooking it. Working quickly will avoid this issue and so if possible you should only begin preparing your pizza if you intend to cook it shortly after.

Reducing the amount of time that your pizza is sat around will make it more difficult for the dough to absorb the moisture from the sauce and the toppings. Once you have added the sauce and your chosen toppings you should then put the pizza straight onto a stone or pan and place it into the oven to cook.

Precook Particular Toppings

Some toppings will need to be cooked before being added to your pizza. For example, particular meats will need to be cooked before and there will also be certain vegetables that take longer to cook.

If you add these toppings straight onto your pizza without precooking them it is going to lengthen the cooking time of your pizza. It can also be misleading and while the majority of your pizza may look as if it's cooked, after taking a bite of your ingredients you may find that they aren't cooked all the way through.

If you are going to be using these types of ingredients the timing is going to be crucial in ensuring that everything cooks at the right time and all of the toppings are cooked evenly. 

Prebake The Pizza Dough

You may also find it useful to prebake the pizza dough before adding your toppings. If you are going to follow this step you should only bake it for a short amount of time otherwise it may overcook before you’ve even added your toppings.

While this step is more optional rather than essential it can help to create a pizza that has a crispy base and a soft and fluffy interior. 

What Can I Do To Fix A Soggy And Undercooked Pizza?

Should you find yourself faced with a pizza that doesn't seem to want to cook evenly there are some steps that you can follow to rectify these issues.

To cook your pizza further without overcooking and burning the toppings, you should place it on a lower shelf inside your oven, this way it is still going to be exposed to the heat to cook the base further but the heat isn't going to be as intense.

You should then drop the temperature and cook it for a couple of minutes longer. Following this process will ensure that the base is cooked properly but the ingredients aren't going to be burnt. 

Reheating Homemade Pizza

For many, eating a whole pizza can be a little too filling so what's better than saving some to look forward to the following day. When reheating your pizza, following certain methods will achieve better results.

Reheating your pizza in the microwave is going to work but it can cause the pizza to become soggy. To avoid this issue you will need to alter the temperature of the microwave to ensure that it isn't too high.

It is also worth placing a piece of paper beneath the pizza because this will absorb any steam and moisture that is dispersed from the base. Ideally, heating the pizza in the oven will achieve the crispiest results.

As you would when cooking the pizza normally, you should preheat your oven before adding the pizza to the pan and this will help to retain the crispy consistency. 

Final Thoughts

A soggy and undercooked base can greatly affect the appeal and taste of your pizza and while this can be an annoying problem there are many steps that you can follow to avoid this issue occurring.

As mentioned the most common causes of an undercooked pizza are watery ingredients and the use of too many toppings. It can also be caused by cooking your pizza at the incorrect temperature for an insufficient amount of time.

By following some of the tips mentioned above it is going to be easier to identify the cause and avoid this issue.

Using a pan or stone to cook your pizza is recommended because they are effective conductors of heat and once the pizza has contact with this heat it is going to begin to cook straight away. 

Remember to preheat the stone or pan before adding the pizza as this is going to cook the pizza to the best standard. You should also be careful with the ingredients that you select by ensuring that they don't have a lot of water content.

You should also ensure that your pizza isn't overcrowded with toppings as this can make it difficult for the heat to reach the base. 


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