Hand tossed pizza


Pan Pizza Vs. Hand-Tossed Pizza: The Ultimate Guide

What the world’s favorite fast food? Yes, it is pizza. No matter where you travel globally, you will find one or another version of pizza bliss. Be it at home, restaurants, or street corners, and people have been eating pizza for centuries now.

Amidst various choices, there are two prevalent forms of pizza – pan pizza and hand-tossed pizza. The choice you make between hand-tossed and pan pizza will determine whether you are getting a thin or thick crust.

Pizza chefs use different methods to create the crust of the pizza, which is the lowest base. Based on these methods, pizza has been divided into two forms hand-tossed and pan.

What is the difference between pan pizza and hand-tossed?

Basis of ComparisonPanHand-tossed
TossingNo tossing neededTossed in the air
CrustThin and crispyThink and fluffy
TemperatureHigher than 500FAround 500 F
Eating methodEat with a forkCan be eaten with hand
OriginInvented in ChicagoOriginated in Italy
ToppingsMore toppingLess topping

What is hand-tossed pizza?

To prepare a hand-tossed pizza, you need to toss the dough through the air. However, it does not eliminate the process of kneading the dough until its tender. Once the needed suppleness is acquired, the dough is hand-tossed to make a thin crust. The tricky part here is – the dough has to be soft but not very slender. If it gets too thin, it won’t be able to hold the toppings.

Once the tossing is done, a thin layer of pizza sauce is added to the crust and left for two to three hours. The dough becomes very soft, and then the topping is added. Note that the topping is added only when the crust has risen a little.

For those who want to create a hand-tossed pizza, they first need to master the art of tossing the crust. The idea behind tossing the dough is to reduce the extra volume that is created by the yeast. It might need a little practice, but can be achieved.

What is a pan pizza?

Pan pizza is also known as Chicago Style pizza. Some even call it deep-dish pizza. The entire procedure of baking pan pizza is very different from what is used in the hand-tossed pizza. First of all, there is no tossing required in baking a pan pizza.

The dough is rolled and spread into the pan directly. You don’t need to knead as much as in hand-tossed pizza. Once the shape is taken, the dough is poked, and then the toppings are added. This kind of pizza was first prepared in the 1940s in Pizzeria Uno in Chicago that is why it is named Chicago Pizza. With time pizza evolved, and its popularity spread all across the world. Given below is an elaborated look at how these two Pizzas differ.

Temperature difference

Keep in mind that baking pan pizza requires more temperature than what is used in hand-tossed pizza. The reason behind this is the pizza is not directly placed on the baking stone. Instead, it is placed into a pan that requires more heat.

The needed temperature for baking a pan pizza is 500°F and 260°C. This is the minimum heat required, and if it can increase a little, it will be better. If your oven does not support this much heat, at least turn it to the maximum. Provided the right amount of temperature and crust, the crust will come out to be crunchy and delicious.

On the other hand, for baking Hand-tossed pizza, you require a little lesser energy. As the pizza is going to be directly placed on to the stone, there will be less reflection of heat. So, the heat will be same, but it will take lesser time to cook.

Difference of shape

When you bake a pan pizza, it has to acquire the shape of the pan. The baker will spread the dough throughout the pan using his hands. It will be shaped to fit the surface, and the result will be a thick, compact crust.

 The good thing here is you can get any shape that you wish. People usually prefer a round-shaped pan, but you can get creative and choose a form you like. As for hand-tossed pizza, it automatically becomes a circle when you throw the pizza in the air.   There’s nothing much you can do with the shape here.

Crust difference

When you are preparing a hand-tossed pizza, the dough has to be soft. Else it cannot spread itself when tossed using hand. There should be certain elasticity in it so that it doesn’t break when you toss it.

As for the pan pizza, it does not need to grow in width. In fact, the dough needs to rise! The dough has to be smooth but not as elastic as the hand-tossed dough. There should be some bubbles and sponge in it. If done correctly, the crust comes outs to be crunchy and chewy.

All in all, when you are ordering a pan pizza, expect a thicker dough. But in hand-tossed pizza, it will be a fragile and crunchy crust.

Topping difference

As we said above, the pan pizzas are thicker in shape to withhold more topping on them. In comparison, the hand-tossed pizza is so thin that it’s more about the sauce spread. The toppings here will be lighter in comparison to what you will get in the pan pizza. So do not expect the cheese oozing out of it.

Difference in texture and taste

Both the pizzas need to be crispy, but it comes with a golden fried crust when you order a pan pizza. This is because of the oil used in the pan to avoid the stickiness of the dough. Given it has a deep texture, the topping spreads to the edges.

This is possible because the average height of a pan pizza is about one-inch deep, which allows a lot of cheese stuffing and toppings. However, in the hand-tossed pizza, the crust is a little dry and blistered. Even the toppings are not so extravagant.

Difference in tools and techniques

Preparing a pan pizza requires nothing more than a pan and an oven? Even the most unskilled pizza makers can begin to work with pan pizza. It just requires poking the dough into the pan. Some of the popular forms of the pan are – iron skillet, cake tin, and deep-sided baking dishes.

The pan size you use will affect the crunchiness of the pizza. So the bigger is the pan, the better it is for the crust. Try to get a pan between 22 to 26 inches. However, those who prefer a tick crust should go for 14 to 18 inches pan.

Another thing to keep in mind while buying a pan is how thick it should be? Once again, if you want the pizza to be crunchy, go for the thinner one, else go for a thicker pan. You will also come across perforated pans which makes helps in increasing the crispiness of the crust.

Always keep in mind that there is a chance that the dough will stick to the surface of the pan. In that case, a non-stick pan with a perforated surface is the best.   

Cooking the hand-tossed pizza will require some technique and well-mastered skills. Without regular practice, the pizza will end up lumpy and may be broken. If you are using a home oven, use a pizza stone, or steel to bake the pizza. Here, you will also need a pizza peel to transfer the uncooked pizza into the oven. Some people even use parchments instead of the baking stone.

Variety of pan and hand tossed pizzas

Two of the famous forms of pizza that you eat are – thin crust and wood-fired. Both these varieties come under the hand-tossed pizza family. All these pizzas are cooked under blazing heat and in the wood-fired oven. Another similar kind of pizza is New York-style pizza which has a thicker crust than the Neapolitan.

Dividing the hand-tossed pizza is easier than when it comes to the pan pizza family as it’s a bigger group. There is Chicago deep-dish pizza, Detroit’s style Pizza, and East Coast Sicilian. All these come under the Pan pizza. The Chicago Deep Dish pizza is somewhat like a pie with an extra deep crust. You will find a lot of toppings here with sauce, cheese, veggies, and meat.

Another style is Detroit’s pizza, which has a crust loaded with cheese. Here the cheese comes before the sauce, so it will melt into the mouth. And, the taste is really amazing. In Italy, it is the Sicilian Pizza, which is the most popular kind of pan pizza. It is cooked in a rectangular pan and cut into squares before serving.

Bottom Line

Just beginning to make pizzas at home? We recommend starting with the Pan pizza. Being patient and precise with the dough is what you need. To attain the perfect texture, try to get a recipe that one of your family members has always used.

Follow the same standard every time you make the dough and keep your creative side for the toppings and sauce. Making pizza at home will offer you the chance to try different flavors and toppings. Hit the nearby store, and you will get to choose from a variety of toppings.