How to Stretch Pizza Dough Like a Boss

Learn how to stretch and shape and, yes, fling pizza dough from baker Jim Lahey in this simple, step-by-step tutorial in getting some air beneath your pizza dough.

A thin circle of stretched pizza dough being tossed in the air.

My Pizza Cookbook
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We know you’ve always wanted to toss pizza dough like a boss. And Jim Lahey is going to help you get there. It may not come naturally to you at first toss. And, in fact, it may instead feel like you’re something of a dough-flinging fool with all the grace of a baby elephant. Not to worry. It’ll happen. Persevere. You just need practice.

Well, practice and the inspired and really quite informational instructions and photos below from Lahey’s book excellent book, My Pizza. (To give you some sense of its confidence-building powders, everyone who’s tried the recipe has given it 5 stars.)

Whatever plans you’ve got for this dough, we strongly encourage you first take a gander at our fave pizza recipes.

1. Shape the dough in a circle

Hands stretching out pizza dough.
Gently streeeeeetch the dough into a circle

Take 1 ball of your pizza dough and generously flour it, your hands, and the work surface. Then press it down and gently stretch it out to 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm). You may see some bubbles form. That’s perfectly okay.

2. Get the dough onto your knuckles

Hands in the air stretching pizza dough.
Gently streeeeeetch the dough, supporting its outer edges with your knuckles

Keep stretching the dough by slipping your hands beneath the dough and supporting it with your knuckles toward the outer edge. Lift the dough above the work surface.

3. Continue to stretch the dough

Stretching Pizza Dough More in the air so that it is almost transparent.
Continue to streeeeeetch the dough simply by rotating it with your knuckles

All you’re looking to do is continue to streeeeetch the dough simply by rotating it with your knuckles.

4. Tug—don’t pull—the dough into a wider and wider circle

Final Stretching of Pizza Dough with man standing behind it.
Keep on streeeeeetching the dough, gently tugging—not pulling—it wider and wider

Simple stuff here. You’re simply rotating the dough with your knuckles and gently tugging, rather than pulling, it wider and wider. Go easy and treat the dough gently. You want it to retain a bit of bumpiness so not all of the gas is smashed out of the dough.

5. Fling that dough in the air like a boss

A thin circle of stretched pizza dough being tossed in the air.
4. Jim Lahey’s Pizza Dough

Launch it into the air with a slight circling motion of the hands until it’s about 10 to 12 inches in diameter. Set the disk on a well-floured peel and continue with your recipe.


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