How to Knead Neapolitan Pizza Dough | Kneading Pizza Dough by Hand

Although pizza dough is similar in substance to bread dough, the way you treat it is pretty different. If you have a food processor or mixer that has a dough hook, you might be tempted to just use that. 

This will do the job but it’s not nearly as fun. Dough hooks are best suited for professionals who need to make a lot of dough. If you’re just making a pizza for the fun of it on a Friday night, then you should try working it by hand.

Kneading dough can be a little intimidating. (Especially if you have ever seen The Great British Baking Show and can only imagine Paul Hollywood staring you down).

But it isn’t that difficult! Like we said, if you’re just making a pizza for the fun of it then you don’t need (or knead) to worry too much about how perfectly you make the dough. 

So long as your dough is combined, supports your toppings, and cooks through you’re fine. Don’t worry about making the perfect shape or trying to do anything too complicated. Just have fun and see what happens. Who knows? You might be a natural! Just have a go and see!

How do you need pizza dough by hand?

So, how exactly do you knead pizza dough? It’s a little difficult to get the hang of kneading at first. But you will soon get used to it.

Plus, you have probably seen it done so many times on TV and in films, you will have the basic moves down without even knowing it. 

The key is to just get in the groove. You will get into the rhythm of kneading easily. Kneading dough is something people have been doing forever in order to provide a food staple. So you can definitely master it. Here are some basic steps to kneading pizza dough.

Step One

Flour the surface. If you don’t want to work directly on your countertop, you can use a chopping board. But we recommend giving your countertop a good clean and working directly on the surface. It will give you much more freedom and be much more fun.

Make sure your surface is completely clear and clean. Then sprinkle a handful of flour over it. Make sure to keep the bag of flour next to you in case you need some more. Don’t worry about altering the measurements too much. If your dough gets sticky, then it needs more flour. This won’t affect the recipe.

Step Two

Shape the dough. Either pick up the dough from the bowl or tip it onto the floured surface. Then go ahead and cover the palms of your hands in flour. 

Next, shape it into a dome. Do this by placing your hands on either side of the dough and twisting it gently. Twist it just enough that it comes away from the surface slightly. (Add some more flour if the dough is starting to stick to the surface or has picked up most of the flour).

Shaping the dough like this isn’t 100% necessary and you can start kneading it straight away. But it will make it easier. Especially if you’re a beginner.

Step Three

Now it’s time to knead the dough. There are two ways to knead pizza dough and you should alternate between these two.

The first way is with your knuckles. You will likely have seen this on cookery shows or in films. Simply press your knuckles firmly into the dough so that it squishes together. Then, fold the farthest edge of the dough over to meet the bottom edge. And repeat.

The second way is with the heel of your hand and your fingers. Firmly press the heel of your hand into the dough and, at the same time, pick the dough up with your fingers. The dough should come away from the surface as you do this.

So each of these a few times and then alternate. You don’t have to do each an even number of times. Just do what feels right and most natural.

Step Four

Keep kneading until the dough is entirely smooth and well-combined. Press your finger gently into the top of the dough.

If it springs back, then it’s done. If it doesn’t, then you need to keep kneading. 

Do you have to knead pizza dough?

As it’s not necessary to leave pizza dough to rise like bread (although you can if you want a thicker and fluffier base) you might assume you don’t need to knead it either. But kneading dough is very important. 

Kneading pizza dough combines all of the ingredients. If you don’t knead pizza dough, it won’t cook properly and also won’t hold itself together. This is because kneading the dough activates the gluten inside.

Gluten is what keeps the dough together. That’s why you need to check if it is springy and smooth when you finish kneading. This will only happen if the gluten has been activated enough to properly combine all of the ingredients.


The Neapolitan pizza uses a specific kind of dough but that doesn’t mean that it needs to be kneaded any differently. All pizza dough can (mostly) be kneaded in the same way.

This is because kneading dough is simply to properly combine it. The gluten needs to be activated in a certain way for quite a while before the ingredients have become properly combined.

But, now you know exactly what to do! So you can go ahead and try out your own pizza recipes. (And no, throwing pizza dough up in the air isn’t necessary...but it is good fun, so we say do it!)


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