Hand Tossed vs Pan Pizza: The Epic Battle! [Must Read]

When it comes to pizza, there are a few things that can spark a heated debate among pizza lovers. One of those topics is the Hand Tossed vs Pan Pizza. and what are the differences?

Both are popular styles of pizza, but they have their distinct features and characteristics.

In this article, we’ll break down the differences between hand-tossed and pan-pizza to give you a better understanding of these two types of pizza.

Hand Tossed Pizza vs Pan Pizza: What’s the Difference?

Crafting perfect pizza involves the technique of preparing pizza dough, pivotal for the crust’s texture and flavor.

Hand-tossed Pizza

  • Time-honored manual method.
  • Yields thinner, crispy outside, chewy inside crust.
  • Fewer air bubbles, less fluffy, more crunchy.

Pan Pizza

  • Thicker, robust, like focaccia.
  • Dough pressed into an olive oil-coated pan, fries in oil.
  • Golden, crisp crust with a fluffy interior.
  • Accommodates more toppings due to drier, softer crust.
  • The choice between hand-tossed and pan-pizza affects crunchiness, fluffiness, and topping suitability.
  • Hand-tossed suits simpler toppings; pan pizza supports heavier cheese blends and ingredients.

Crafting at home

A mix of science and art.

Importance of dough temperature: room temp for hand-tossed, slightly warmer for pan pizzas.

Basic pizza dough recipe: all-purpose flour, dry yeast, warm water, salt, olive oil.

MUST READ: 12-inch Neapolitan Pizza Calories

6 Key Differences Between Hand Tossed vs Pan Pizza

1- Dough

When it comes to the dough that is the backbone of both hand-tossed and pan pizza, there’s a simplicity in the ingredients that belies the complexity of the results. Each style utilizes the same foundational elements flour, yeast, salt, warm water, and olive oil—but it’s the technique that diverges, influencing the crust’s character.

For hand-tossed pizza, the dough needs to be more flexible and softer, allowing it to toss into perfect shape without tearing. This action introduces air and a gentle stretch, leading to a thinner, softer crust that bakes with fewer air bubbles. It’s a method that doesn’t overdo the work on the dough, allowing it to rise and spread naturally during baking.

On the flip side, pan pizza demands a dough that’s thicker and more firm, capable of supporting a heftier load of toppings. The dough is more robust, pressed directly into a pan coated with olive oil, creating a fluffier interior with a golden crust that’s crisp due to the oil’s frying effect.

This type of dough seems to lack the flexible expansion found in its hand-tossed counterpart, instead offering a denser base that enriches the eating experience with its substantially fluffier, almost focaccia-like texture.

2- Crust

When it comes to hand-tossed versus pan pizza, the crust is the battleground where most differences grow. The hand-tossed pizza boasts a thin, flatter crust, a direct result of tossing the dough into the air. This aerates the dough, creating fewer air bubbles and a distinct texture that’s slightly crunchy on the outside yet chewy on the inside. The art of tossing,

however, demands skill to avoid rupture or crumble, ensuring the dough stretches just enough but remains intact.

On the flip side, pan-cooked pizza, aligns more with conventional pizza expectations, offering a thicker, fluffier experience akin to focaccia. Rather than air and finesse, this style relies on the oven’s heat conducting through a pan drenched in olive oil.

This process allows the dough to rise more substantially, accommodating a heavier load of toppings and more cheese, reflective of medium to deep-dish pizzas. The width and thickness of the pan pizza’s crust make it a heartier meal.

In my own kitchen, these differences become not just theory but practice. Shifting between a thin, crisp base and a thick, doughy one alters not just the texture but the very soul of the pizza.

Whether seeking the lighter, more crispy bite of a hand-tossed pizza or the heavier, richer taste of pan pizza, understanding and mastering these differences can turn a simple meal into an exquisite culinary experience.

3- Toppings

When it comes to toppings, the battle between hand-tossed and pan pizza becomes even more intriguing. With hand-tossed pizza, you often find a lighter assortment of toppings. This is due to the thin crust that characterizes Neapolitan-style pizzas, which can only support fewer toppings before becoming soggy.

The thin and crisp nature of the crust demands less quantity, aligning with those who adore a dry, buttery texture that cooks evenly distributed through. Customize these pizzas with an intricately selected array of toppings that taste magnificent without overwhelming the delicate base.

On the flip side, thicker and wider pan pizzas, with their robust and often buttery crusts, invite a heavier and additional quantity of toppings.

This style is perfect for crust lovers and those who adore a thicker, heavier taste of cheese and toppings that are baked deeply into the dough.

This thick crust can handle heavier loads, allowing for more creative and heavier toppings that might overwhelm a thin base. The choice between thicker and lighter crusts significantly influences not just the taste but also the method of consumption

whether you can casually pick up a slice with your hands or need cutlery to manage the thickness and quantity of toppings.

4- Texture

The difference in texture between hand-tossed and pan pizza is stark and can greatly affect one’s dining experience. Hand-tossed pizza, known for its softer, slightly drier base, offers a crunchier bite that many pizza aficionados cherish.

This traditional style allows the cheese often a mix of mozzarella, cheddar, and fontina—to melt just right, creating a flavorful harmony with the crust that’s crispy yet tender. On the other hand, pan pizza boasts a thicker, bread-like texture.

Its golden crust, enriched by the pan’s olive oil, provides a softer underlayer that’s capable of supporting a heavier hold on toppings.

The choice between these distinct textures influences not just the taste but also how the pizza interacts with its toppings, from the cheese to the final sprinkle of herbs. In my kitchen adventures, straddling these textural worlds has become a beloved experiment, with the day’s mood often dictating the path from dough to delicious.

5- Taste

The taste of a pizza significantly boils down to its type of crust.

Hand-tossed pizza dough leans towards a crisp exterior with a crunchy bite along the edge, creating a unique contrast to the softer, more flavorful base that’s slightly dry but cherished by pizza aficionados. This crispiness often reveals a distinct flavor that is less greasy, catering to those who are oil-averse.

The dough’s minimal thickness allows for a dry yet flavorful combination of cheese, sauce, and toppings, maintaining a lovely balance without becoming dehydrated or overly blistered.

pan pizza presents a thicker, bread-like crust that is inch-thick with a golden-brown and durable edge. The dough for pan pizza undergoes a different preparation process, often involving a generous spritz of oil in the baking pan to achieve a fluffy, bread crust that’s beautifully brown.

This oil base contributes to a softer, more fluffy experience, making the crust thicker and more durable, capable of holding a heavier margin of toppings.

6- Calorie Count

When it comes to calorie count and nutritional value, the battle between hand-tossed and pan-pizza takes a fascinating turn. My forays into pizza making have led me to a deeper understanding of their fat content differences

Hand-tossed pizzas typically boast a thinner crust, which often translates to fewer calories per slice.

This style tends to have a lower fat content, primarily due to less oil being used in the dough and cooking process, aligning with a lighter eating experience.

pan pizza, with its thicker crust, can hold more toppings, which might increase the overall calorie count and fat content.

The pan’s oil not only contributes to the crust’s fluffy texture but also adds to the calorie density. This makes pan pizzas a heartier option, possibly packing a higher nutritional value in terms of sheer energy but also contributing to a higher fat intake.

In my kitchen, I’ve always leaned towards creating a balance choosing hand-tossed for its crispiness and lighter fare, while saving pan pizza for those days when only a richer, more indulgent meal will do.

What Is a Pan Pizza?

A Pan Pizza stands out as the epitome of a thick-crust pizza, with its origins deeply rooted in the iconic deep-dish and Chicago-style pizzas.

Unlike its counterpart, this pizza is baked in a cast-iron skillet, cake pan, or sheet tray, allowing it to develop a rich, golden crust that is both thick and fluffy.

The rectangular or round shape is significantly influenced by Detroit-style and Sicilian variations, offering a generous base that supports a heavy load of toppings, cheese, and sauce.

How to Make a Pan Pizza

Creating a homemade pan pizza requires attention to detail but rewards with rich flavors and textures. – Start with dough that’s doubled in size.

  • Choose a cast-iron skillet or baking sheet for even heating and a perfect crust.
  • Coat the pan with olive oil or vegetable oil to prevent sticking and get a crispy base.
  • Use fingers to spread the dough across the pan, making edges for toppings.
  • Add a layer of tomato sauce, then cheese (mozzarella is great), and your choice of toppings.
  • Sprinkle oregano for flavor.
  • Bake at 475 Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes until the crust is crispy and the top is bubbly and brown.
  • Enjoy a pan pizza with a crispy bottom and golden brown edge.

From my kitchen experiments, I’ve found that the type of oil used can subtly influence the flavor of the crust. Olive oil lends a more traditional, slightly earthy taste, while vegetable oil is all about achieving that crispy texture without much flavor alteration.

The joy of making pan pizza at home is the freedom to customize your toppings and the satisfaction of slicing into a thick, crispy base that you crafted with your own hands.

What Is a Hand-Tossed Pizza?

A Hand-Tossed Pizza is a classic style of pizza, often associated with New York-style pizzas. This type of pizza features a thin, crispy crust that is stretched by hand to create a slightly dry yet flavorful base.

The dough for this pizza is typically prepared using high-gluten flour and goes through an extensive stretching process to achieve its unique texture.


How to Make a Hand Tossed Pizza?

  1. Start by making your dough ball.
  2. Flatten the dough ball on a floured work surface.
  3. Use your fingertips to knead the dough gently.
  4. Stretch the dough to the desired size by using your hands and stretching it across the back of your hands.
  5. Rotate and toss the dough in the air in a circle to achieve an even crust without tearing.
  6. Once the dough is flattened and stretched, lay it back on the work surface.
  7. Begin adding toppings, starting with a layer of pizza sauce.
  8. Add mozzarella cheese and then choose between pepperoni, veggie, or other toppings.
  9. Sprinkle oregano for authentic flavor.
  10. Transfer the pizza onto a heated pizza stone or steel in the oven using a pizza peel or baking sheet.
  11. Preheat your oven and bake at approximately 475 Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted, the crust is puffy, and the edges are brown.

By choosing either a hand-tossed or pan pizza, you’re not just picking a pizza you’re selecting an experience and a taste that is as clear as the effort and love put into its creation.

Which is better, Pan Pizza or hand-tossed?

Determining whether Pan Pizza or Hand-tossed pizza is superior depends largely on personal preference, as each style has its unique characteristics and appeal.

Pan Pizza, known for its thick, fluffy interior and golden, buttery crust, offers a more hearty and indulgent experience. The generous toppings and substantial crust make it a satisfying choice for those seeking a richer meal.

Hand-tossed pizza boasts a thin, traditional crust with a perfect balance of crispy and chewy textures. Its classic taste and versatile nature cater to those who appreciate a more subtle, yet flavorful base for their toppings.

From my experience, the decision between Pan Pizza and hand-tossed pizza often comes down to the mood and setting.

A quiet night in might call for the comforting heft of a Pan Pizza, while a casual gathering with friends might be better suited to the lighter, social nature of Hand-tossed pizzas.


whether one opts for the indulgent depth and richness of a Pan Pizza or the classic, crispy simplicity of a Hand-Tossed Pizza comes down to personal taste preferences and the occasion.

Each style offers a distinct eating experience, proving that the world of pizza is as diverse and nuanced as its countless aficionados.


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

The main difference between hand-tossed and pan pizza is the thickness of the crust. Hand-tossed pizza has a thin, crispy crust while pan pizza has a thicker, fluffier crust that is baked in a cast-iron skillet or sheet tray.

Which type of pizza is more popular?

It ultimately depends on personal preference, but hand-tossed pizzas are typically more widely available and considered a classic style of pizza.

Can I make both types of pizza at home?

Yes, you can make both hand-tossed and pan pizzas at home with the right ingredients and techniques.

What are some popular toppings for hand-tossed and pan pizzas?

Some popular topping choices for hand-tossed pizzas include pepperoni, mushrooms, and onions.

Ahmed is a seasoned writer and expert in restaurant setup consultancy. With a rich background spanning over a decade in the food industry, Ahmedtakes pride in delivering unparalleled service to clients.


Leave a Comment