Why Does My Pizza Turn Out Watery?

Pizza’s just groovy, you should know that by now. But there’s times when your homemade pizza doesn’t turn out as expected, and you end up with a watery mess instead.

If you’ve found yourself staring at a watery pizza, we’re going to go out on a limb here by saying it’s probably got something to do with the amount of water sitting on the pizza, which is usually an issue with the sauce, cheese or toppings, rather than the amount of water (hydration) within the dough.

Pizza dough hydration is a whole topic of its own, but this is where we run through some of the most common pizza problems you might face when it comes to watery pizza. Without further ado, here’s the top reasons why wet pizza happens…

Excessive Moisture in Toppings

One of the most common culprits for a watery pizza is excessive moisture in the toppings. Vegetables like tomatoes, mushrooms, and even bell peppers can release liquid when heated, resulting in a watery pizza. To prevent this, make sure to drain any excess liquid from your toppings before adding them to pizza. Options include using a colander or paper towels to remove moisture, ensuring your pizza comes out deliciously crisp.

High-Moisture Cheese

Cheese is an essential ingredient in almost any pizza, but certain types of cheese have higher moisture content than others. Fresh mozzarella, for example, is known for its high moisture content, which can lead to a watery pizza. If you prefer using fresh mozzarella, try slicing it thinly and patting it dry with a paper towel before adding it to your pizza. Alternatively, you can use low-moisture mozzarella or other cheeses like cheddar or provolone, which have a lower moisture content and will melt reasonably well without adding excess liquid.

Overdoing the Sauce

While a generous amount of sauce is essential for flavour, using too much can make your pizza soggy. The excess sauce can release water during baking and result in a watery pizza. To avoid this, think about using a moderate amount of sauce and spread it evenly on the dough, leaving some space around the edges for the crust to crisp up. Keeping pizza sauce simple is really the way to go, but if you opt to make your own, be careful not to over-blend as this can cause too much water to seep out of your tomatoes, resulting in a watery pizza sauce.

Using Frozen Ingredients

Using frozen ingredients for pizza can also introduce excess moisture to the final slice. When frozen ingredients thaw, they release liquid, which is a sure fire way to make pizza watery. If you choose to use frozen vegetables or meats as toppings, make sure to defrost them completely and pat them dry before adding them to your pizza. This will help prevent excess moisture from seeping into the crust.

Too Many Toppings

While it’s tempting to load your pizza with a variety of toppings, going overboard can lead to a watery outcome. Excessive toppings can release excess moisture during baking, overwhelming the crust and making it soggy. To avoid this, choose a few complementary toppings and distribute them evenly across the pizza. This way, each bite will be balanced, and the crust will maintain its crispness.

Improper Dough Handling

You’d have to do a pretty bad job of handling dough to get watery pizza, but this still plays a crucial role in how the final pizza turns out. Technically, if you don’t properly mix and knead the dough ingredients, the water isn’t dispersed properly. When preparing dough, make sure to follow a good recipe, or even better, actually understand the basics of pizza making and how groovy tasting pizza is made. But basically, you want to take the dough past the ‘shaggy’ wet stage, by kneading into a smooth ball.

Too Thin or Undercooked Crust

The crust acts as a barrier between the toppings and the pizza base. Thin pizza can be a groovy thing, but if your crust is too thin or undercooked, it may not be able to withstand the moisture released by the toppings, resulting in a watery pizza. Ensure that you roll or stretch the dough to a consistent thickness and bake until golden brown and crispy. A well formed and sufficiently cooked crust will provide the necessary structure to hold the toppings without becoming soggy.

Not Preheating the Pizza Oven / Stone

Using a pizza stone, or if you’re lucky enough, a special pizza oven can help achieve a perfectly crispy crust, but it’s crucial to preheat it properly. If you place your pizza in a cold pizza oven or on a cold pizza stone, the dough will come into contact with a cold surface, causing moisture to be trapped and resulting in a watery pizza. To avoid this, you’ll typically need to preheat your stone or oven for at least 30 minutes before baking your pizza. The hot surface will help the dough cook evenly and develop a crisp bottom.

Incorrect Baking Temperature

Baking temperature and time are essential factors in achieving a perfect pizza crust. If your oven temperature is too low, the pizza may not cook quickly enough, causing the toppings to release excess moisture before the crust has a chance to crisp up. On the other hand, if the temperature is too high, the pizza can cook too quickly, resulting in burnt toppings and an undercooked, watery center. Until you get a feel for time and temperature, follow recipe guidelines and monitor the pizza closely while baking to achieve the ideal balance.

Insufficient Resting Time

Once your pizza is out of the oven, it’s tempting to slice into it immediately. But allowing your pizza to rest for a few minutes before cutting into it can be beneficial. Cutting the pizza too soon can cause the toppings to release more moisture, leading to a watery result. Resting allows the cheese to set slightly and the moisture to redistribute within the pizza, resulting in a more stable and less watery slice.

In Summary 

There’s not much worse than an overly wet slice, but knowing the causes behind watery pizza will help to ensure a perfectly crisp crust instead. Properly draining toppings, balancing sauce quantity, handling the dough correctly, baking at the right temperature, and allowing the pizza to rest, are just some of the key things to consider in preventing a watery pizza. By paying attention to these details, while learning the basics of pizza making, should mean you enjoy a perfectly groovy pizza every time…