Patricia Wells’ Instant No-Knead Dough Recipe on Food52 (2024)

5 Ingredients or Fewer

by: Lindsay-Jean Hard



3 Ratings

  • Makes two 13-inch pizzas

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Author Notes

In My Master Recipes, Wells shares: “I hate kitchen waste and so have gotten into he habit of saving the liquid that comes with fresh mozzarella. When preparing the dough, I use it in place of water, either all or in part.”

She says this no-knead dough is a staple in her kitchen, and uses it immediately for rustic pizzas (like we did in the photo, toppings based onthis recipe), or with a quick rise, for focaccia or pinwheel breads. As the name suggests, it’s ready to right away, but can also be made a few days in advance.

Recipe adapted slightly fromMy Master Recipes (William Morrow Cookbooks, 2017). —Lindsay-Jean Hard

  • Test Kitchen-Approved

What You'll Need

  • 1 cup(250 ml) lukewarm water (regular water, the liquid that mozzarella is packaged in, or a mix—see Note)
  • 2 tablespoonsextra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cupsunbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 packet(about 2 teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 2 1/4 teaspoonsfine sea salt
  1. If you're planning on using this dough immediately for a pizza, place a baking stone or baking steel on the bottom rack of the oven. Heat the oven to its highest temperature (probably 500 or 550° F).
  2. In a cup with a pouring spout, combine the water and the olive oil.
  3. In a food processor, combine the flour, yeast, and salt. Pulse to blend. Add the liquid slowly through the feed tube, pulsing until just before the dough forms a ball, 15 to 20 seconds—you might not need all of the liquid. (Adjust as needed: If the dough is too wet, add a little more flour. If it is too dry, add a little more water.)
  4. Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and form it into a ball. The dough should be soft. Divide the dough into two equal balls. The dough can be used immediately or can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Punch down the dough as necessary.
  5. If you're using the dough immediately for pizza, roll or stretch the dough ball into a 13-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Carefully transfer the dough to a parchment-lined pizza peel. If it helps you handle it, you can fold it in half first and then unfold it once it’s on the peel.
  6. Add your toppings, then transfer the pizza, still on the parchment, to the baking stone or the baking steel. Bake until the dough is firm and crisp and the top is bubbling, 8 to 10 minutes. Check the bottom of the dough: It should be very crispy and well cooked, dotted with bubbles and with sections that are almost blackened.
  7. Note: If you use the water mozzarella is packaged in for the entire cup of water, taste a tiny bit first. If it's really salty, consider dialing back the salt in the dough.


  • Bread
  • Pizza
  • Mozzarella
  • 5 Ingredients or Fewer
  • Vegetarian

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Annbirgit

  • chefrockyrd

  • Smaug

  • Hannah Lee

  • Pat E. in SLO

Recipe by: Lindsay-Jean Hard

I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.

Popular on Food52

48 Reviews

Pizzajoe March 25, 2020

Baking bread is not the same as baking muffins. Yeast is a living organism and when given the time and conditions to do their job the bunch is very forgiving and produces crusty-bubbly-complex crust. The best pizza you've ever had is in your grasp, if you plan ahead just 1 day! Active yeast and 18 hours is a minimum. The no knead concept is to provide a small quantity of yeast (1/4 teaspoon active would be enough in this recipe) with a lot of nutrition (flour) plus moisture to establish proper gluten bonds with minimal handling. It doubles down with time for bacteria to mingle with yeast for some major flavor (more sour and complex). The key here again is to not over handle the dough. Mix, 18 hr rise on the counter, divide and shape, rest or rise, bake.

Smaug March 25, 2020

I believe that the flavor development in refrigerated dough is more a matter of enzymes developed by the yeast, which remain active at refrigerator temperatures though the yeast largely stops growing. The lactobacilli that flavor sourdough are a different thing, and require special procedures (usually involving milk) to capture them.

Annbirgit June 26, 2019

Best pizza dough!!

Corj July 14, 2018

This was a though and pretty tasteless dough for me. Like though, chewy bread. Will not make again.

chefrockyrd April 28, 2017

since I am a big fan of Patricia wells, I got the book right away and have tried a few recipes. pizza was the first one. I am an experienced baker and pizza maker so I have tried lots of recipes. I can't say this is the best I ever made, it was a bomb actually. I will give it another try though. I did use water since I did not have mozz water but was hoping it would be somewhat tasty. it was blah. I kept 1/2 of the dough in the fridge and tried again a few days later but it was not good. my yeast was a new pkg but it still could have been bad, so I will try again with a fresh pkg and proof it this time to be sure. so far blitz dough has worked the best for me when I wanted a faster dough. even my friends from italy loved it. and they are picky.

Pat E. February 8, 2018

Chefrockyrd....what is “blitz dough”? the only thing I can find is for a quick puff pastry. TIA.

chefrockyrd July 14, 2018

Dear Pat in SLO, i am so sorry I never saw this reply to my comment. Just seeing it now because someone else tried the dough and did not like it. Blitz dough is in a few places on the net but basically is a quick version of yeast dough with a slightly different method than Patricia Well’s.
Make the yeast dough in a mixer or food processor. Remove but don’t knead it on a floured board, put it directly on an oiled 1/2 sheet pan, but don’t roll it out or stretch it. Flip it over in the oil but don’t knead it with additional flour or anything.
Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit about 15-20 min to relax it. Then using oiled fingers, stretch it to fit in the pan. If it springs back, cover and let it rest again about 5 min or so. Repeat till it fills the pan. Cover it again.
Then let it rise about an hour or more, to the thickness you want. Personally we like it if the dough is divided in half and put into two pans so its much thinner. When its risen, partially bake it until it is bubbly and just starts to get light brown. Add your toppings, tomato sauce, cheese, veggies whatever and bake again. It’s not real fast but its pretty good.

Smaug April 24, 2017

I was poking around on the computer today and came across a couple of things new to me; 1) St. Louis style pizza, made with a no yeast crust (the description was "cracker like" and 2) something called "pizza yeast", marketed by Fleischmann's and one of the Italian companies- I think Caputo. As near as I could find out, it is instant yeast with some dough relaxers added, intended for making no-rise crusts. Available on Amazon, if you want to give it a shot.

Lindsay-Jean H. April 25, 2017

Very interesting, thanks Smaug. I think I might need to give that pizza yeast a try.

Smaug April 1, 2017

Not sure I see the point of this. There is absolutely nothing about this recipe to make it "instant"- the instant yeast saves you the few minutes it takes to proof the yeast, but still, it behaves exactly as you would expect a yeast dough to behave if not given any time. It is, in fact, a perfectly nondescript bread recipe, a bit on the dry side for a pizza crust, or any low knead dough.

TJ March 27, 2017

I may possibly be the last person on earth who does not own a food processor, but there you go. What would the directions for me be?

Susan N. March 27, 2017

You could do the same thing with a stand mixer and a dough hook. Or, just a large bowl and a wooden spoon or your hands. :) Same directions: maybe whisk the dry ingredients together. Add liquid slowly, mixing with a wooden spoon or your hands until a dough forms. Then continue as directed.

Hannah L. March 25, 2017

Hi - if I don't use the dough immediately, what do I do with the dough, please? Wrap in plastic and put in the fridge? Thanks!

Lindsay-Jean H. March 26, 2017

Yup, I would store it in the fridge in a bowl covered in plastic wrap. (And when necessary, punch it down occasionally.)

Sydney March 24, 2017

I still think the recipe is either missing a component or is very badly written! The recipe writer cannot assume that everyone will know how long to bake the pizza. Otherwise what is the point of a recipe if not to give instructions?

Lindsay-Jean H. March 24, 2017

Hi Sydney - you might not have caught that I've since updated the recipe based on the feedback! (The recipe didn't have the additional steps before, as the dough is used in Wells' book multiple ways.)

Smaug March 25, 2017

If you're going to make pizza, you'll have to figure this out- different ovens, different baking methods, different tastes in pizza all make baking times very unpredictable- I've had to relearn pizza making every time I've changed ovens. I would not, by the way, use parchment paper on this- it's totally unnecessary and parchment (and other silicone products) shouldn't be used at temperatures this high. You could use foil if you insist, but it's really not that hard to learn to use the peel properly and, as always, the learning is much of the fun.

Picholine August 19, 2018

Smaug why don’t you have a good pizza recipe posted or anything else?

Smaug August 19, 2018

Not into posting recipes- I cook to my personal tastes tastes. Since you ask, my pizza crust recipe (not in any tradition I know of)- 1/4c rye flour, 1/2c. AP flour, 1/2cwater, a few grains (maybe 20- never counted); set at room temp. 24 hrs. Add 1Tb. red wine, 1 Tb. olive oil, 1/2 tsp or so salt, pinch oregano. Depending on temp. and how much yeast developed, may add up to 1/2 tsp. yeast. Add flour (usually 1/2c. to 3/4 c.) to make a very soft dough. Let stand 1/2 hr. or so, refrigerate overnight.

Smaug August 19, 2018

That's 20 or so grains active dry yeast.

Picholine August 19, 2018

Thanks..sounds interesting

ellen March 24, 2017

Please update with cooking times (or at least estimates) for the home pizza cooking novice. I didn't expect to have to google & compare pizza recipes to get an idea how to finish this recipe. Thanks!

Lindsay-Jean H. March 24, 2017

Sorry, didn't mean to frustrate you! It will depend on your oven temp, your baking surface, how thinly you stretch out the dough, and how many toppings you load on the pizza. I'd use 8 to 10 minutes as a starting point.

ellen March 24, 2017

Sounds good- thanks! 😊

Susan N. March 23, 2017

If you're using the dough right away, what's the point in the yeast, since you're not letting it rise? Just curious. :)

tamater S. March 24, 2017

I've not tried leaving out the yeast, but am guessing leaving it out would make it more like a giant, hard cracker. Even letting the dough sit 10 minutes does a little magic. But if you get curious enough to experiment, let us know, 'K? I have a pizza dough recipe that's quick if you want it, let me know.

Joyce March 23, 2017

Looks like a beautiful crust! Do you think substituting another flour (gluten-free)such as a nut or bean flour (garbanzo perhaps) would work too?
Thank you for all you share!

Lindsay-Jean H. March 24, 2017

I've never tried it with a gluten-free flour, but please report back if you do!

Colleen K. March 23, 2017

I don't have a big enough food processor. Can I still make it by hand and use it right away?

Pisanella March 24, 2017

Yes, I have been making an "instant" pizza dough for many years and I just make it by hand, then stretch it our patting it into the edges of whichever baking sheet I want to use.

Sydney March 23, 2017

Where is the end of the recipe? Baking times, etc

Nanda G. March 23, 2017

agreed, otherwise why did the preheating of the oven happen at the start?

Lindsay-Jean H. March 24, 2017

Heating the oven happens right away if you're using this dough for pizza because most ovens take a long time to reach their top temperature and you want that baking stone to get really hot, too. As for baking times, it will depend on your oven temp, your baking surface (pizza stone vs baking steel vs sheet pan), how thinly you stretch out the dough, and how many toppings you load on the pizza. I'd use 8 to 10 minutes as a starting point.

rmandell March 23, 2017

I tried this tonight. I didn't have time to let the dough sit and it still worked. It wasn't the best ever, but it was the best "instant" ever. I really think if I had let it sit as suggested (or probably overnight) I would really have loved it. I topped it with sautéed onions and chopped olives. My family said it was a hit. I used plain water by the way since I didn't have the other suggestions. Definitely a good trick to have up ones sleeve

SFCohen March 23, 2017

How about the brine from Feta cheese? That's definitely salty, but might it impart a similar flavor to the mozz whey?

Lindsay-Jean H. March 24, 2017

Sure! I might dial back the salt in the recipe.

soo March 23, 2017

how long should we bake the pizza? and no pre-baking, just add toppings then bake? if I don't have a pizza stone and using a sheet pan, do you know how long i should bake it?

also- could i use yogurt or kefir instead of the mozzarella water? can it be thick like kefir or perhaps i can use the liquidy whey?

Lindsay-Jean H. March 24, 2017

I just add toppings and then bake. It will depend on your oven temp, your baking surface, how thinly you stretch out the dough, and how many toppings you load on the pizza. I use 8 to 10 minutes as a starting point, but it will likely take a bit longer with a sheet pan. You could use whey instead of the the mozzarella water, yogurt would be too thick.

shannon March 23, 2017

Going to try this tonight! Should it be pre-baked at all prior to adding toppings?

Lindsay-Jean H. March 23, 2017

No, you don't need to! (Although... I used it last night myself and topped it with *very* roasted broccoli, which became nearly-charred broccoli by the time the crust was done. So use your best judgment based on the topping!)

clintonhillbilly March 22, 2017

Interesting -- what does the mozzarella water do as opposed to regular water?

Lindsay-Jean H. March 22, 2017

Just gives it a little tang! (And potentially makes it saltier, depending on your mozzarella water.)

Jr0717 March 19, 2017

Interesting! Is the crust very flat, or is there some rise to it?

Lindsay-Jean H. March 20, 2017

It's pretty flat, though as you can kind of see in the photo from the puffed up spots, you will get some rise. You can also let the dough rise for a bit before using it.

Jr0717 March 20, 2017

I see - thank you! I'm looking forward to trying it out!

Lindsay-Jean H. March 20, 2017

Let us know what you think once you do!

Patricia Wells’ Instant No-Knead Dough Recipe on Food52 (2024)
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