Salt and Pizza Dough – A Beginner’s Guide

Pizza is basically a groovy canvas of flavours, where several ingredients play a crucial role in achieving the perfect tasting slice. But while we often focus on toppings and sauce, there’s one ingredient that pizza just can’t go without – salt.

As a beginner pizza-maker, understanding the role of salt and how it benefits your dough can elevate your pizza game to new heights. In this guide, we cover the basics of what you need to know about salt as it relates to pizza dough.

The Importance of Salt in Pizza

So let’s start with the very basics. Salt isn’t just about adding a salty taste to your dough for the fun of it; it serves several critical functions in pizza:

Flavour Enhancement

Most obviously, salt is a flavour enhancer, in that it provides seasoning and boosts the flavour of foods it’s added to, and this is no different with pizza. Not only will salt improve the taste of your dough, but it can enhance the overall flavour profile of your pizza by also complementing the sauce and toppings.

Dough Strengthening

Salt strengthens dough by helping to tighten the gluten structure within within it, so you’re less likely to end up with dough that tears or falls apart. In other words, from a dough strength point of view, if you add the right amount of salt, you shouldn’t experience the nightmare that is collapsed dough, and instead you’ll have a well-structured crust.

Controlling Fermentation

Salt helps to control the fermentation process with pizza dough. In other words, it regulates yeast activity and stops the dough rising too quickly. Picture it this way: using too little salt allows yeast to go wild and throw a pizza party inside the dough (creating a weak dough), whereas using too much salt will restrict the yeast and slow fermentation to the point that your dough won’t rise.

What Type of Salt To Use (For Pizza Dough)

You hear some people say that “salt is salt”, while others insist that not all salt is created equal. So which type of salt do you use for pizza? Well, there’s loads more you can learn about salt when it comes to pizza, but we think the grooviest way to go is to simply use pure, fine sea salt in your dough. It’s the most natural flavour enhancer, free of added chemicals, and dissolves easiest in the dough. Simple.

How Much Salt To Use in Pizza Dough?

The general rule of thumb for salt in pizza dough, is to use 2-3% of the flour weight. So, for example, if you’re using 500 grams of flour, 2% would mean 10 grams of salt and 3% would mean 15 grams. Remember, the more or less salt you use will have an impact on the strength and fermentation of the dough, and of course, taste is subjective. But 2-3% is standard.

When To Add Salt To Pizza Dough

Like most other aspects of pizza-making, everyone’s got their opinion on when salt should be added to the dough. Some believe it should be dissolved in the water before adding to the flour and yeast, so it evenly distributes in the dough. Others think it’s fine to just throw the salt in and make some pizza. Then there’s the people who think the yeast will kill the salt if they’re in the same room together… 

Does Salt Kill Yeast?

It’s true that salt will kill yeast if they’re directly exposed to each other for a long enough period of time, so it can be good practice to add your salt and yeast to separate sides of your bowl or container when making pizza dough (or keeping them apart in some other way, e.g. dissolving the yeast in the water and mixing the salt with the flour before combining all). That said, as long as the salt isn’t directly touching it for a long time, the yeast should be fine.

In Summary

In the world of pizza, salt may seem like a small player, but it has a big role to play. Most importantly, it contributes to flavour, structure and texture of the dough. Learning all you need to know about making groovy tasting pizza includes knowing which type of salt to use, how much, and when to add it to the dough.

And now you know all that, you can start making some pizza…