It's pizza time! I am sharing my grandmother's simple Sicilian-style sheet pan pizza recipe.
It has a delicious, almost focaccia-like thick pizza crust and is topped with a crushed tomato pizza sauce heavenly flavored with sweet, softened onions, herbs, and olive oil.
My grandmother would make this sheet pan pizza recipe only once or twice a year. It was a specialty food when I grew up and is so good!
I want to share it on the blog because it is part of my childhood, and I still make it a few times a year—especially around the Holidays.
Homemade comfort foods can easily fit into a healthy lifestyle as long as enjoyed in moderation—and this type of pizza is pure homemade goodness.
Let's make it.
- Reasons to make this sheet pan pizza recipe
- It's perfect for special occasions
- Ingredients you'll need to make the dough
- How to rehydrate active dry yeast
- How to make Sicilian-style pizza dough by hand
- Ingredients for the pizza sauce and toppings
- How to make crushed tomato & onion pizza sauce
- How to bake the pizza (putting it all together)
- Serving suggestions
- Storage instructions
- Other Italian recipes you should try
- 📖 Recipe
Reasons to make this sheet pan pizza recipe
- This original pizza recipe is made by hand without a rolling pin.
- It's an easy, authentic thick pizza with only fresh ingredients and tons of flavor.
- It can feed a large family or crowd.
- If you want, make this great pizza ahead of time and freeze it.
- Leftovers store easily in the fridge.
- No special equipment is needed, only a large sheet pan.
- You can also use the pizza dough with your favorite toppings or make a thin-crust pizza.
It's perfect for special occasions
Although you can make this pizza for almost every occasion, we often make it to:
- Throw a pizza party at home on Saturday nights.
- Enjoy it on Movie nights and have friends over.
- Do something different during the Holiday season and serve Sicilian-style pizza on New Year's Eve.
- Add it to a Mezze board for casual entertaining.
Ingredients you'll need to make the dough
- A thick homemade pizza dough is the heart of this pizza recipe, with simple ingredients such as flour, water, a bit of salt, a few spices and herbs, and yeast.
- The dough is stretched out to a rectangular shape in an olive oil-coated sheet pan and then pre-baked before adding the pizza toppings.
- You will appreciate its freshness when it comes out of the oven with its soft middle and crispy bottom that has soaked up the olive oil.
- Plus, it has extra flavor from Italian dried herbs and spices mixed into the dough.
Flour: The recipe calls for bread flour, but you can also use all-purpose flour.
Water: You'll need about 2 ¼ cups, but always have more on hand as required.
Active dry yeast: This ingredient deviates from the original recipe, which calls for fresh yeast. However, fresh yeast has a short two-week shelf life, costs more, must be refrigerated, and not all markets carry it. Plus, I don't use yeast all that much, except for making my fig cake recipe or zeppole doughnuts. So, I use active dry yeast, which works just as well.
Olive oil: I'm adding one tablespoon for a smooth elastic finish and to add wonderful flavor to the dough.
Seasoning: Although optional, I recommend adding salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano to the dough. It adds delicious authentic Italian flavors.
How to rehydrate active dry yeast
The package instructions are pretty straightforward, but here are a few notes:
- Use 7 to 9 grams of active dry yeast and place the content of the package in a small bowl.
- Add a bit of sugar—about ½ teaspoon. It feeds the yeast and helps you determine if it is still active. A pinch of sugar will make the yeast bubble, proving that it hasn't expired.
- Stir in ¼ cup lukewarm water! You need warm water between about 110°F-115°F. It will stay inactive if too cold, and the yeast will die if too hot.
- You can use an instant-read thermometer. I usually test the warmth of the water with my wrist. It should feel very warm but not hot.
- Then let it rest for about 5 to 10 minutes. If active, the yeast should dissolve in the water and bubble. If not, the yeast is dead, or your water too hot or cold.
Note: Always check the expiration date of your active dry yeast packets—they expire fast. I also usually buy a pack of three, so if one does not bloom, I always have an extra one.
How to make Sicilian-style pizza dough by hand
Let's make this unique thick yet easy homemade pizza crust recipe and have some fun with hand mixing and kneading—I promise, it's all easy, and you don't need a stand mixer.
First, gather your ingredients.
STEP 1: Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and add salt, oregano, and the rest of the spices. Stir until well combined, and you can't even see the oregano anymore. Best to do this with a whisk to fluff up the flour.
STEP 2: Add the bloomed yeast and gently stir it in. Gradually add water to the flour.
STEP 3: Mix the water with the flour until the flour starts holding together.
STEP 4: Eventually, the flour will absorb all the water, and as you keep kneading, you will form a rough ball of dough. Then work in one tablespoon of olive oil—optional but highly recommended. Place it on a lightly floured surface.
STEP 5: Continue to knead the dough for a few minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic.
STEP 6: Place the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl and cover it with a clean kitchen towel. Let it rise for 90 minutes at room temperature and until the dough has almost doubled in size (first rise).
STEP 7: Then lightly oil the sheet pan and place the risen dough in the center of the sheet. Gently stretch and push the dough out—coercing the crust to the pan's edges.
Keep doing that until the elastic dough is evenly covering almost the whole length of the baking sheet, and the dough stops resisting.
STEP 8: Now cover it again and let it rest at room temperature for another 30 minutes.
Note: if you have the time, an 90 minutes second rise instead of 30 will give you an even lighter crust.
STEP 9: The second rise has allowed the dough to settle in its new form and puff up again. Now pre-bake for 15 minutes until firm at the top and the edges are slightly brown.
The pizza dough is now ready for the pizza toppings and sauce.
Why do I have to pre-bake the pizza crust: it allows the crust to crisp up, prevents undercooking, and becomes quite stable to handle the weight of sauce and toppings.
Ingredients for the pizza sauce and toppings
YELLOW ONIONS: Best onions for pizza are yellow onions. They become deliciously sweet once softened and won't overpower the rest of the seasoning.
CRUSHED TOMATOES: Good-quality crushed tomatoes add a beautiful touch of acidity and natural sweetness. Best to pick pure sweet tomatoes straight out of the jar or can with no additions (I love the Jovial brand.) They will be seasoned together with the onions, and it brings tons of flavor. You can, of course, opt for a pre-made red pasta sauce instead.
OLIVE OIL: Always use good quality olive oil! It adds tons of flavor.
SEASONING: Salt, dried oregano, and crushed red peppers add Italian aromatic flavors and a hint of spiciness.
Note: Traditionally, it is a meatless sauce made from tomatoes, lots of onions, and herbs sans the anchovies. If you are going for the New York Style Sicilian pizza, sprinkle on top fresh mozzarella cheese (if you don't mind some dairy) during the last 15 minutes of baking time.
How to make crushed tomato & onion pizza sauce
This is an easy pizza sauce that comes together in no time and adds beautiful Italian flavors to this thick-crusted sheet pan pizza recipe.
Make this in the last 15 minutes of the pizza dough's resting time or when it's pre-baking in the oven—your choice.
STEP 1: Thinly slice the onions.
STEP 2: Heat olive oil over medium heat in a wide skillet. Add onions and cook for about 10 minutes or until soft. Stir frequently.
STEP 3: Stir in the crushed tomatoes for one minute—you can also use the same amount of my go-to homemade tomato sauce sans meatballs.
Season with salt and half of the oregano, and red pepper flakes. Remove from the stove.
How to bake the pizza (putting it all together)
STEP 1: Use a sifter to transfer the pizza sauce to the pre-baked pizza crust. It might strain any thin liquid from the onions or tomatoes—normally unnecessary. You should have no or very little watery liquid in the pan (about 1 tablespoon, if even).
STEP 2: Evenly distribute the pizza sauce on top of the pre-baked crust. I suggest brushing the edges of the pre-baked dough with a bit of extra olive oil.
Note: alternatively, you can brush the whole crust with a little olive oil before adding the toppings for extra flavor.
STEP 3: Season with the remaining dried oregano and red pepper flakes. Add more red pepper if you like it extra spicy.
STEP 4: Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes on the lowest oven rack until the crust is firm at the bottom with crispy edges. You should have the occasionally charred bits of onions on top.
Look at that beautifully browned and crispy crust.
Note: Bake this thick pizza close to the oven floor, where the pizza crust will get the most radiant heat from the base. It will help crisp up the bottom of the pizza and create a beautiful crunchy golden-brown crust.
Here are a few healthy combo and topping suggestions:
- You can't go wrong with a protein-rich and simple Italian-flavored chicken salad.
- Go for a creamy kale salad, or pair it with a healthy spicy mango-avocado salad.
- During colder days, I like to serve it with a cup of nourishing stracciatella soup, a Butternut Squash-Zucchini and Rosemary Soup, or Red Kuri Squash Soup.
- Top it off with extra (vegan) cheese of your choice, arugula, or Basil leaves.
- Are you making it for Movie night? Make it part of a grazing board or serve it with a platter of raw veggies. Anything from sliced red bell peppers, cucumbers, fresh fennel pieces, and sweet Romaine lettuce leaves will add some crunchy pizzazz to your pizza. And don't forget maybe some olives and fresh figs!
IN THE FRIDGE
- I usually store leftovers in the fridge, stacked in between parchment paper, and sealed in an airtight container.
- It will last up to five days.
- Just reheat in the microwave or pop it back into 350 degrees preheated oven on an olive oil brushed baking sheet (my preference) until hot—time varies depending on the crispiness you want.
- You can, of course, freeze it too.
- Freeze any leftovers or the whole pizza.
- Best to wrap the pizza in waxed paper sheets—you can even use the first layer of unbleached butcher paper (optional).
- Then store it either in an airtight container or freezer bag and then freeze for 1 to 2 months.
- Reheat it directly in a 450-preheated oven for about 12 to 15 minutes.
Now all that is left to do is for you to try out my family's delicious Sicilian-style thick-crust pizza recipe.
Other Italian recipes you should try
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Thick-Crust Sicilian-Style PizzaMariska Ramondino
- 11- x 17-inch rimmed baking sheet About that size
Authentic Sicilian-Style Pizza Dough
- 1 package active dry yeast, rehydrated according to package instructions (see notes) 7 to 9 grams
- ½ teaspoon sugar to feed the yeast
- 3 teaspoons fine salt
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 7 ½ cups unbleached bread flour (or all-purpose flour) 1 kilo plus more to sprinkle the work surface
- 2 ¼ cups water at room temperature, or as required 560 ml
- 4 tablespoons olive oil divided
Pizza sauce & toppings
- 4 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 2 large yellow onions thinly sliced about 24 ounces/675 grams
- 1 jar diced or crushed tomatoes 18.3 ounces/520 grams
- 2 ½ teaspoons fine salt
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper or more as desired
Sicilian-style Pizza Dough
- Whisk together salt, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and flour in a large bowl.
- Then stir in the rehydrated yeast.
- Gradually add water. Mix the flour and water by hand until the dough comes together.
- At first, you only get chunks of flour, which is normal. But the flour eventually absorbs all the water, and as you keep kneading, you will form a rough ball (this happens quickly).
- At this point, add one tablespoon of olive oil as you form the dough into a smoother ball. It will give flavor and soften the crust.
- Remove the ball of dough from the bowl and place it on a well-floured flat surface.
- Continue kneading it for about 2 minutes or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. (During the kneading process, sprinkle the work surface with more flour if the dough feels too sticky, and gently knead it in).
- Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let it rise for about 90 minutes at room temperature.
- After the initial rising time, take out the baking sheet and coat it with two tablespoons of olive oil (it adds extra flavor to the bottom of the pizza).
- Place the risen dough in the center of the sheet. Gently stretch and push it first into a large oval.
- Then continue to shape it into a rectangular form, evenly covering almost the whole length of the baking sheet, and the dough stops resisting.
- Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it rise for another 30 minutes at room temperature. If the dough has stretched back a little, gently reshape it into its final form.
- Note: if you have the time, an 90 minutes second rise instead of 30 will give you an even lighter crust.
- Continue to pre-bake the pizza crust.
Prebake the pizza dough
- During the last 15 minutes of the pizza dough's rising time, preheat the oven to 450°F/230°C.
- Bake the pizza dough on the lowest oven rack for 12 to 15 minutes. It should look mostly pale but firm, with a few light golden brown spots. Remove the crust from the oven.
Make the pizza sauce and toppings
- While the pizza crust is pre-baking in the oven, make the pizza sauce and toppings.
- Cover the bottom of a wide skillet, large enough to hold the onions, liberally with 3 tablespoons olive oil, and heat over medium heat.
- Add the onions and cook, frequently stirring, for about 10 minutes, or until soft.
- Stir in the tomatoes for one minute—season with salt and ½ teaspoon of dried oregano, and ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper.
- Remove the pan from heat; reserve.
Make the Sicilian-style pizza (assemble and bake)
- Use a hand sifter to distribute the reserved onions and tomatoes on top of the pre-baked pizza crust.
- Sift out any watery liquid—you should have almost none or very little.
- Top off with the remaining dried oregano and crushed red peppers.
- Brush some olive oil over the corners and sides of the pizza crust.
- Place the pizza back in the oven on the lowest oven rack for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the crust is firm at the bottom, crisp at the edges, and the top has bits of charred onions.
- Take it out of the oven and let it sit for a few minutes before serving.
- Cut into squares and serve.
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Nutrition (% Daily value)
Disclaimer: This nutritional data is calculated using third party tools and is only intended as a reference.
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