The Grandma pizza is my favorite pizza to make and once you see how easy it is, it will become yours as well.  Created at Umberto’s of New Hyde Park in Nassau County, Long Island, this amazing pizza can now be found in most of the New York metro area.  Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the technique and ingredients needed to create the perfect Grandma pizza is below. 

Slice of Grandma pizza in white plate with full pie below.


What is Grandma pizza?

Grandma pizza is unique and quite different from the ubiquitous traditional New York pizza.

It is a fairly thin sheet-pan pizza that’s baked in a pan that has been heavily coated with olive oil.  This creates the perfect environment to fry the bottom of the pizza giving Grandma pizza that unmistakable crunch!

Grandma pizza contains sliced mozzarella cheese and randomly scattered thick plum tomatoes on top. 

Kind of like an upside-down pie.

It’s almost always drizzled with a heavy dose of garlic-infused olive oil and finished with some Sicilian oregano and Pecorino Romano cheese.

Just talking about it makes me want to make one right now!

Where did Grandma pizza come from?

The Grandma pie was created on Long Island at Umberto’s of New Hyde Park.  Its popularity soared in the 2000s and onward in the New York metro area. 

Fun fact:  Umberto’s would often make special deliveries for the New York Giants and Yankees.  I’m sure the Mets and Jets like it too. 😉

Though the Grandma pie isn’t quite as well known as a traditional New York pizza or a New York Sicilian, it’s still very well known amongst New Yorkers.   

Some of the more popular places amongst the hipster crowd will create their own names for the style, but basically, it’s a thin sheet pan pizza. 

Just like the one your Nonna would make.

Ingredients shown: Locatelli Pecorino Romano, San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, olive oil, garlic, and Sicilian oregano.

How to make the dough

Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.

Note: Mass measurements will always be more accurate than volume measurements.  For doughs and bread, this is a good thing, because it provides absolute consistency.  I only use mass measurements for baking/dough recipes and always stick to standard cups, tablespoons, etc. when “cooking”.  But, I also provide the volume (standard U.S. customary) measurements here and in the recipe card below.

Bakers Percentages: 64% hydration, .4% yeast, 2% salt, 3.4% oil, 1.2% sugar

Note:  Baker’s percentages will allow you to scale the dough amount up or down depending on how much you need.  To use baker’s percentages you simply divide the amount of flour in a recipe by 100 and then multiply that number by the percentages listed above.

  1. Weigh out or measure 406 grams (3.25 cups) of bread flour, 2 grams (1/2 teaspoon) of instant yeast, 8 grams (1.5 teaspoons) of fine sea salt, and 4 grams (1 teaspoon) of sugar and combine into a large bowl. 
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together.
Grandma pizza recipe process shot collage group number one.
  1. Pour 9 ounces of cold water into another large bowl.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the water and mix together.
  2. Pour 14 grams or 1 tablespoon of olive oil all over the dough and continue to mix well to incorporate all of the ingredients.
  3. Place the dough onto a large work surface (a plastic cutting board or granite/marble countertop work best) and begin kneading. To knead, you want to fold the dough over and press down and away on the cutting board with a bit of force.  Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat.  Knead for at least 5 minutes.  If the dough becomes too sticky, cover it for 30 minutes with plastic or an inverted clean bowl and let the dough warm up.  Return to kneading (just make sure to knead for at least 5 minutes total) and then form a dough ball.
  4. You do not need a perfect dough ball for Grandma pizza so don’t go crazy.  To form the ball, fold the dough tight and create a seam.  Rotate the dough and fold again.  Do this 20 times, then pinch the seam side.  Place the dough ball seam side down in an oiled container and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate the dough for at least 12 hours to cold ferment.  Do 24-48 hours if you can plan ahead.
Grandma pizza recipe process shot collage group number two.
  1. Remove the dough 2 hours prior to use to warm up.  Oil the sheet pan with a 3/8 cup of olive oil.  You need plenty of oil.  Remove the dough and place it into the oiled pan.  Using your fingers press down and try to stretch the dough into the pan.  You will not be able to do this right away.
  2. Cover the sheet pan with plastic wrap and wait 45 minutes, before returning to stretch the dough.  Depending on how warm the dough is, you might need to repeat the process one more time to completely fill the pan.

How to make the best Grandma pizza

Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.

  1. Hand crush 1 (28 ounce) can of whole San Marzano or other good quality plum tomatoes in a large bowl.
  2. After hand crushing, strain the tomatoes and save the juice for another purpose.  You want to be left with thick tomato pulp with minimal juice.  Season the tomatoes with a 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt, mix well, and set aside.
Recipe process shot collage group number three.
  1. Combine 3 tablespoons of olive oil with 3 cloves of minced garlic in a small bowl to create the garlic oil.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450f and set the rack to the lowest level.  Here I am stretching the dough again.  Be sure to keep it covered with plastic after stretching.
  3. I highly recommend buying sliced mozzarella cheese at your local deli or supermarket.  If not using already sliced mozzarella, a partially frozen block of cheese is easier to slice.  You’ll need 12-16 ounces of sliced mozzarella.  The exact weight isn’t as important as covering the dough.
  4. Now that the dough has filled the pan almost completely, we can move on to assembly and cooking.
Recipe process shot collage group number four.
  1. In pic 7 above I am pinning a corner with my hands then placing the cheese down and applying light pressure.  This will lock in the corners and prevent them from moving too much.  Layer the remaining cheese in an overlapping shingle pattern, leaving about a 1/4″ around the edges.
  2. Distribute the tomatoes all over the cheese in a random pattern.  Resist the urge to over sauce.  The tomatoes will spread out during the cooking and will create the characteristic Grandma pizza pattern.
  3. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of garlic oil all over the pizza.  If you love garlic, use more.  Bake the pizza in the oven on the lowest rack for 12 minutes, rotating 180 degrees after 6 minutes.  After 12 minutes check the bottom of the pizza with a spatula.  If the pizza is nice and brown, move it to the top oven rack and cook for 6 more minutes. 
  4. Remove the pizza from the oven at 18 minutes.  Sprinkle a few tablespoons of Pecorino Romano cheese all over the pizza. 
Grandma pizza recipe process shot collage group number 5.
  1. Sprinkle 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of oregano on the pizza.  In pic 11 I’m using Sicilian oregano and crumbling it in my hands.  Return the pizza to the top rack and cook for 2 more minutes.  Additionally, if the Grandma pizza is not crisp enough on top, broil for 30-60 seconds but watch carefully.  Normally the pizza does not need to be broiled.
  2. Here is your perfect Grandma pizza.  
Overhead shot of pan pizza.

That is how to make the real-deal, New York Grandma pizza.  It is the easiest of the 3 types of New York pizza – the hardest part is waiting for the dough to cold ferment, but it is worth it!

What type of pan for Grandma Pizza?

Many pizza shops use heavy steel pans for their Sicilian and Grandma pies.  They are cooking their pies in a deck oven which browns the bottom quicker.   Most home cooks can’t replicate this, though if you have a baking or pizza steel as large as your pan you could try.

If you were to attempt to make this Grandma pizza in a thick steel or cast iron pan in your home oven, the bottom wouldn’t get brown enough in time.

For this reason, I recommend using an aluminum pan on the bottom of your oven.  If anything, you’ll have to worry more about the bottom burning.  An aluminum pan is thin and will crisp the bottom of the pizza very quickly on the lowest level of the oven. 

A dark aluminum pan like the one seen throughout my pictures works amazingly well.  It’s a LloydPans 16 x 12″ Grandma pan.

You can also use a standard 18 x 13 half-sheet pan with great results.

Crisp bottom of Grandma pizza held in hands.
The perfect crispy bottom to a slice of Grandma pizza.

Oven temperature and placement

Now you know the type of pan, but what about the oven?

I cook all of my pizzas in a standard 20-year-old GE oven.  I have not tested this pizza using a convection oven, so you may need to adjust the cooking time, oven temperature levels, and of course pan placement.

Note:  Many experts state that convection adds 20-25F degrees to recipes that call for a conventional oven.  

As mentioned above in the detailed steps you should check the bottom of the pizza after 12 minutes of cooking.  If the bottom is very blond, finish cooking it on the bottom rack for the remaining 8 minutes.   

If you’re having problems with browning, you could pour 3 more tablespoons of olive oil under the pizza.  Grandma pizza uses a lot of olive oil!

Inevitably, the temperature of all ovens fluctuates.  Your oven is not my oven, and so on.  You may need to play around with the placement and temperatures a bit, but I’m confident that with these instructions you’ll be able to make a Grandma pizza that looks just like mine.

Making Grandma pizza dough in a Kitchen Aid mixer

I’ve shown the process here and on YouTube, (for more pizza check out the 20 pizza videos on my channel) using hand mixing.

Why?  Because I like to show without special equipment.  But if you want to use your mixer all you have to do is:

  1. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and place half of them and all the water into the Kitchen Aid mixer bowl.
  2. With the dough hook attached, mix for 1 minute on low (speed level 1) and begin adding in the remaining dry ingredients.
  3. Drizzle the olive oil into the mixing bowl and continue at speed level 1 for 4 more minutes or until the dough is sticking well to the bread hook.
  4. Remove the dough, hand knead for 1 minute and cover for 40 minutes.  After 40 minutes, ball the dough, place it in an oiled proofing container and get it in the fridge for at least 12 hours.  Simple!
Grandma pizza slice held in hands.

More New York pizzeria specialties

  • Homemade New York pizza – This is the largest and most comprehensive post on this site regarding pizza.
  • New York Sicilian pizza – Thick airy crust with mozzarella, Pecorino, and Sicilian oregano.
  • Vodka sauce pizza – Grandma style with vodka sauce.
  • Pepperoni pizza – Sheet pan pizza with cupping pepperoni, Calabrian chili paste, mozzarella, and Pecorino.
  • New York white pizza – Mozzarella, ricotta, a touch of Pecorino Romano, and garlic.
  • Garlic knots – Classic knots with garlic oil and butter, Pecorino Romano, hot pepper, and parsley.
  • Cast iron pan pizza – pizza dough topped with tomato, mozzarella, Pecorino, garlic oil, and oregano and baked in a cast iron pan until crisp.
  • Pepperoni pinwheels – Pepperoni, ham, and mozzarella rolls – a perfect Grandma pizza addition.

If you’ve enjoyed this Grandma pizza recipe or any recipe on this site, we want to know so tell us in the comments below. 

We would love to hear how you did and it’s nice to show others as well.  Thanks!

Watch the video below where Jim will show you how to make this recipe with easy-to-follow instructions. 

Some people learn by watching.  If you’re that type of person, you can find most of our recipes on YouTube and our Facebook Page.

Grandma Pizza

4.97 from 65 votes
Prep: 3 hours
Cook: 20 minutes
Cold fermenting time: 1 day
Total: 1 day 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 9 pieces
The Grandma pizza consists of a sheet pan style pizza baked with mozzarella, plum tomatoes, fresh garlic, Pecorino Romano, and oregano.

Ingredients 

For the dough

  • 406 grams bread flour or 3 1/4 cups
  • 2 grams instant yeast or half teaspoon
  • 8 grams fine sea salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • 4 grams sugar or 1 teaspoon
  • 260 grams cold water 9 ounces
  • 14 grams olive oil or 1 tablespoon

For the Grandma pizza

  • 1 ~24 ounce dough ball from above
  • 1 28 ounce can San Marzano plum tomatoes hand crushed and completely drained of liquid
  • 12-16 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese weight will vary, but use enough to cover the pizza completely
  • 3 tablespoons Pecorino Romano grated
  • 3/4 cup olive oil divided
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Sicilian oregano or Italian

Instructions 

For the dough

  • Place water in a bowl large enough to hold both the water and all the dry ingredients and still have room to spare. Mix together dry ingredients in another bowl.
  • Add dry ingredients to water a bit at a time and mix thoroughly to form a dry rough mass.
  • Pour the oil over the dough, mix again to scrape off any dough residue stuck to side of the bowl, and place the rough shaggy dough onto a work surface.
  • Knead the dough for 5-7 minutes.  If the dough is too sticky, place a clean bowl inverted over the dough and wait 30 minutes before resuming.  Return to kneading (just make sure to knead for at least a total of 5 minutes).
  • Place the bowl over the dough once more and let sit for 30-40 minutes to warm up before forming the dough ball.
  • After 40 minutes pull the dough towards its end repeatedly to form a smooth ball.  Pinch the seam side and place the dough ball seam side down into an oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 12 hours before using. 

For the Grandma pizza

  • Take the dough out of the fridge 2 hours prior to using. Do not uncover the bowl. Oil the bottom of a 12 by 16 sheet pan (or standard half sheet pan) with 3/8's cup of olive oil. You need to use a lot of oil!
  • Remove the dough from the bowl and place it into the pan. With your fingertips begin pressing the dough into the corners of the pan. You will not be able to do this in one attempt.  Place plastic over the pan and let the dough warm up. 
  • After 45 minutes remove the plastic and try to stretch it again to the size of the pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and repeat process one more time until the dough has completely filled the pan.  Cover the dough one more time and set aside.  Preheat oven to 450f and set one rack to the lowest level of the oven and one to the highest.
  • Hand crush the plum tomatoes and drain the juice.  Save the juice for another use.  Add a ½ teaspoon of kosher salt to the tomatoes and set aside.
  • Mince the garlic and add to a bowl with a ¼ cup of olive oil.
  • Remove the plastic from the pan and if required press the dough into the edges.  Right away layer the mozzarella cheese in an overlapping shingle pattern, leaving the outside 1/4 to 1/2 inch uncovered.  Start with a corner.  By pressing the dough down slightly you can lock the dough into the corner.  Make sure the dough is layered completely with the mozzarella slices. 
  • Next, add the drained plum tomatoes to the pizza.  You can use 45 degree lines or spoon the sauce all over.  Leave some open areas.  Don’t coat it all.  Take the garlic oil and drizzle 3 tablespoons of the oil and garlic pieces all over the pizza.
  • Place the pizza onto the lowest rack and cook for 12 minutes rotating the pan 180 degrees after 6 minutes. 
  • After 12 minutes remove the pizza from oven and check the bottom for browning. If the pizza is well-browned, bake on top rack for 6 more minutes. Otherwise, leave the pizza on the bottom rack for 6 more minutes.
  • After 18 minutes of baking remove the pizza and sprinkle with the oregano and Pecorino Romano cheese. Bake for 2 minutes more on top oven rack.
  • If the Grandma pizza is not crisp enough on top, you can broil for 30-60 seconds.  Watch very carefully though!
  • The total cooking time will be approximately 20-22 minutes.  Let the pizza sit for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.  Enjoy!

Notes

  • The dough can be cold fermented for as little as 12 hours in the fridge, to as long as 72 hours.
  • If refrigerating the dough ball in a metal bowl use a bit more oil to coat.  The metal bowls tend to stick more than plastic.
  • Cooking time will vary depending on the exact oven temp.  After 12 minutes of cooking on the lowest rack the pizza should be very brown and crisp.  If it’s completely blond the pizza should be cooked for the remaining 8-10 minutes on the lowest rack.
  • The Grandma pizza needs a lot of oil.  More than you think!  The oil helps develop the amazing crispy bottom, so please use enough of it.
  • Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days and the pizza can be reheated at 350f on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet until hot.  About 10 minutes.
Bakers Percentages: 64% hydration, .4% yeast, 2% salt, 3.4% oil, 1.2% sugar
Thickness Factor (TF): .127

Nutrition

Calories: 424kcal | Carbohydrates: 37.5g | Protein: 14.4g | Fat: 24.3g | Saturated Fat: 8.3g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 734mg | Potassium: 77mg | Fiber: 1.6g | Sugar: 2.2g | Calcium: 263mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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4.97 from 65 votes (10 ratings without comment)

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206 Comments

  1. Cathy says:

    5 stars
    I followed this recipe exact and it was delicious!! Shared it with some of my neighbors and they all loved it’s. This recipe is a keeper!

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Cathy, thank you for the comment and rating. I’m so happy you enjoyed the pizza!

  2. Edward Minelli says:

    5 stars
    excellent pie!!

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Edward, thanks for the comment and so happy you enjoyed the pizza!

  3. Beth says:

    5 stars
    Made this pizza and it has become our favorite. So delicious

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Beth, thanks for the comment and so happy you enjoyed the pizza!

  4. Christine says:

    5 stars
    All your pizza recipes are fabulous! Tonight I made the grandma/vodka grandma ( half and half), I used bread flour and a 48 he cold ferment. Following your NY style, I used all trumps flour, 48 hour cold ferment. I’ve been dabbling in pizza at home for 25 years, but tonight was the best by far! Will definitely recommend your recipes to anyone who asks! Thank you and keep up the great content!

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Christine, thanks for the wonderful comment! I’m so happy you enjoyed the pizza and appreciate the rating!

  5. Patrick says:

    Hey Jim–for the first time since making this, the cold fermented dough is MASSIVELY increasing in volume. Any ideas what could be causing this? I used a newly opened yeast but same brand I’ve always used and I measure by weight.

    Do you think it could be NG by the time I use it? Is it possible to rise TOO much? Thanks for all your incredible content!

    1. Jim says:

      Hey Patrick,

      Something went wrong but I can’t say for sure. So since you are positive regarding the yeast, you can eliminate that. It could be the mixing process heated it up too much and it rose a bit much before refrigerating. As long as you have 24-ounces of dough you could just reball/punch it down and get it back in the pan. Then just bake it once it fills the pan. I would make sure you actually have 24 ounces of dough and not more by accident. I’ve done that a few times lol. Hope it works out for you.

  6. Debbie says:

    Is the pan you use nonstick? I have have several of these that are new and not scratched as I don’t cut on them and also an older aluminum one that is ‘well loved’ but perhaps a little warped..Wondering how you cut the pizza when done without destroying the pan..?

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Debbie, I never cut the pizza in the pan. The pizza should be removed, placed on a cutting board, sliced there, then move back to the pan.

    2. Debbie says:

      Thanks Jim! I am making this now and it smells heavenly!!

  7. Peter says:

    5 stars
    I followed the recipe to the letter and this is by far my favourite sheet pan pizza. Do not skip the garlic oil drizzle because it makes this pizza something special. I love sauce on top of cheese!

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Peter, thanks for the comment and so happy you enjoyed! Thanks for calling out the garlic oil, because I agree that it is special!

  8. Steven says:

    Hi

    Can this be adjusted to a same day pizza recipe?

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Steven, you can but it’s not going to have the same flavor. If you want to research further, you can do a poolish, but even that has a minimum of 4 hours.

  9. Donna says:

    5 stars
    My pizza dough is precisely like yours, and I discovered cold-fermenting a couple of years ago, and it really makes a huge difference! But, not heating the tomatoes and making that garlic oil is something I had not tried. Delicious!

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Donna, I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe and really appreciate your comment and review!

  10. Cathy P. says:

    Hi Jim,
    Going to make this Grandma pizza and want to know if you have any suggestions for using Italian sausage as a topping?

    Thanks!!

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Cathy, I’d recommend watching my YouTube video titled “meat lover’s pizza” for suggestions on using sausage. I don’t have this recipe on my website, just on YouTube.