No-Knead Whole-Grain Pizza Crust

Makes 2 pizzas

This is a very special pizza crust. It’s easy to make; it also tastes good, handles well, and has, for me, moved pizza out of the ranks of ambitious undertakings and into the realm of food that works when there’s little time to spare. You will not miss the white flour that’s included in most pizza dough recipes, and you will not miss the kneading either. With this recipe, making whole-grain pizza at home becomes practically effortless—and I don’t use that word lightly.

The vital wheat gluten included in the ingredient list is optional, but I like to add it because it makes a tender dough that rolls out beautifully. In practical terms, this means you get a crust that rolls out large; if you like a thin crust, you will get two pizzas, each about 10” x 14.” If you like a thicker crust, simply roll the dough smaller and thicker. Taking into account the long, slow rise of this dough, if you want to serve pizza for dinner one night, just pull the dough together the evening before, which will take five minutes, and your dough will be ready to roll before dinner the next day.

Dough Ingredients

¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
1-1/2 cups lukewarm water (110 degrees), divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for parchment paper and rolling pin
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2-1/2 cups whole-wheat bread flour
½ cup rye flour
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten, optional

Pizza Ingredients

2-1/2 cups pizza sauce*
1 pound fresh, or 8 ounces shredded, mozzarella cheese


  1. Sprinkle yeast into ¼ cup of warmed water and let it sit for 8-10 minutes to ensure that it’s active. You should see a creamy foam develop, and if you stick your nose into the bowl it should smell like bread. (If you do not see the foam or detect the smell of bread, discard the mixture and start again with new yeast.) Once the yeast foams, add the remaining 1-1/4 cups water, along with the rest of the dough ingredients, and stir with a wooden spoon or your hands until the flour is evenly moistened and the ingredients are well mixed. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and leave on the counter top for about 16-18 hours in a room that is as close to 70 degrees as you can make it. Two or three times during the rest, you may need to lift the cover of the bowl to release trapped gas. (You don’t need to wake up in the night to do this step; just lift the cover in the morning.)
  2. One hour before you plan to bake your pizza, preheat a pizza stone on the lowest rack of a 500-degree oven.
  3. Punch down the dough and divide it in half. Let each half rest covered on the counter top or in an oiled bowl for 30-40 minutes.
  4. Lightly oil 2 pieces of parchment paper, each about 11” x 15” and place one ball of dough on each piece. Flatten each ball into a disc and let one rest, covered with plastic wrap.
  5. Take the other disc and, if it feels sticky, sprinkle it lightly with flour. Using an oiled rolling pin, roll the dough out on top of the parchment paper—into a 10” x 14” rectangle (if you used vital wheat gluten) or a 9”-10” round or rectangle. If you like a thicker pizza crust, roll the dough smaller and thicker. Cover the dough and let it rest for 15-30 minutes. Repeat this process with the second disc of dough.
  6. Cover the first dough you rolled with a generous portion of tomato sauce—the amount depends on the size of your pizza. For a 10” x 15” pizza, you will need about 1-1/4 cups of sauce. Then cover the sauce with half of your mozzarella cheese.
  7. Using a pizza peel, slide the pizza, along with the parchment, onto the pizza stone and bake for about 15 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is lightly browned.
  8. Repeat this process with the second pizza dough.

*To make a simple pizza sauce, fill a 2-quart saucepan with diced tomatoes from one 28-ounce can, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2-4 cloves peeled and crushed garlic, 1 teaspoon dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Bring the contents of the saucepan to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. Puree and season to taste with additional sea salt and freshly-ground pepper before using.


For a good-tasting and nutritious pizza topping, wash and chop about 3 pounds of escarole for one pizza. Then coat it lightly with olive oil and sprinkle it with fine sea salt. Put it on top of the mozzarella cheese before cooking the pizza, and bake the pizza for the same amount of time.

In Transition

If you’re transitioning away from pizza dough made with white flour, you may want to substitute 1 cup of white bread flour and 1-1/2 cups of whole-wheat flour for the 2-1/2 cups of whole-wheat flour in the recipe. Add the same quantity of rye flour called for. This change will lighten the flavor and texture of the pizza dough.

Copyright 2010, Ellen Arian, Ellen’s Food & Soul