As a professionally trained baker, I can guarantee you that the kind of flour you use can make or break your baked goods.
“If you’re serious about making pizza at home, then you need to invest in some 00 flour. It’s the secret to making a truly delicious and authentic pizza.” – Jamie Oliver. And I agree. 00 flour is finely ground and sifted Italian flour used in pastries like pizza and cannoli shells because of its fine texture.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find outside of Italy and Europe, especially if you don’t have access to an international grocery store. But it didn’t stop me from making pizzas and focaccias from scratch.
After several weeks of research and rigorous trials and errors, I found several substitutes for 00 flour that yield great results, such as:
- Rye Flour
- Cake Flour
- Bread Flour
- All-Purpose Flour
- Whole Wheat Flour
- Semolina Flour
- Spelt Flour
And a few more…
That’s not it. I’ve also tried a bunch of gluten-free 00 flour substitutions such as almond flour, oat flour, buckwheat, and paleo baking flour purely out of curiosity.
While they don’t taste like your everyday pizza crust, it’s a trade-off I can live with.
Read on to learn more about 00 flour substitutions and how each substitute impacts the taste and texture of the pie.
What Can I Use Instead of 00 Flour for Pizza?
What if you don’t have access to it for whatsoever reason? Does it mean you can’t make delicious pizzas at home?
Umm, both yes and no. Mostly yes. In all honestly, the results won’t be exactly the same. The reason? Protein content.
Some alternatives have less, while others have more than the ideal level of protein required for a Neapolitan pizza dough.
To get a clearer perspective, I made small batches of pizza dough with each of the substitute flours mentioned below.
The baking parameters I am going to mention for each alternative aren’t set in stone. Ambient temperature, humidity, and your oven’s quirks will more likely determine the outcome than my suggestions.
Don’t worry, though. You will get it right after a couple of trials and errors.
My Go-to Pizza Flour Substitutes Comparison Chart – Find Your Flour
So, should you or should you not make pizza dough with the above-mentioned substitute flours? Below I have provided a comparison chart summarizing protein content, hydration ratios, baking tips, and the resulting texture of each substitute.
One more thing. Switching the flour means you will have to make some tweaks to the recipe. That’s because different flours have different water absorption abilities and gluten content.
Don’t worry, I’ll get to that part in a bit. But before that, take a look at this comparison chart:
|Bake at 550°F for 6-8 min
|Crispy, chewy, airy
|Bake at high temp for 4 min or 550°F for 10-12 min
|Chewy with less air pockets
|Bake at lower temp like 480°F for 8 min
|Soft, tender, mild flavor
|Bake at 550°F for 8-12 min
|Crispy and cracker-like if low hydration
|Whole Wheat Flour
|Bake at 550°F for 10-12 min or higher temp until golden brown
|Subtle nutty flavor
|Bake at 550°F for 6-8 min
|Distinct rye flavor, chewy
|Bake at 550°F for 8-10 min
|Chewy, holds moisture well
|Add more liquid than the typical amount
|Mild oat flavor. Slightly dense
|Add more liquid, bake longer
|Strong nutty flavor. Airy
Finely milled, light rye flour is surprisingly one of the best substitutes for 00 flour and my personal favorite. It has much less gluten than wheat, meaning you will likely not be able to make a thin, crispy crust.
However, it has a delicious flavor and chewy texture that makes for an excellent pie base.
What I love the most about rye flour pizza crust is the distinct flavor and aroma it adds to the dish. Don’t use dark rye, as the intense flavor will likely leave an unpleasant aftertaste in your mouth.
I recommend using medium to light rye flour to give you the best results. You can bake the dough at 550 F (which is standard for most domestic electric ovens) for 6-7 minutes or until golden brown.
Yes, I know, rye flour pizzas aren’t widely heard of. If any Italian is reading this, I’d urge you to take it easy. It exists, okay? However, you need to keep a few things in mind before you give it a shot:
- Rye flour has a high absorption value by itself (70% on average). This means the dough will require more water than 00 pizza flour.
- It contains very little gluten-forming protein, which can result in a denser and heavier pizza crust.
- The typical rye flavor may be everyone’s cup of tea.
- Blend with a stronger flour like semolina or even almond flour for a better flavor and texture.
- Use more water while kneading, but not so much that the dough turns all gloopy.
- Reduce baking time.
Another surprisingly great alternative for pizza flour for domestic electric ovens, cake flour pizza crust was a revelation.
The low protein content of cake flour allows it to cook quickly at low temperatures, while crusts made with high-gluten flour take too long.
A shorter cooking time yields a soft, chewy crust with a pleasant, mild taste. You can bake the dough at 480 F for about 8 minutes or until golden brown.
- Due to the lower protein content, the pizza dough tends to be more delicate and can tear or become overly soft. Thus, I found the dough to be quite difficult to handle and shape.
- The dough I made struggled to support heavy or bulky toppings.
- Combine cake flour with a stronger flour like AP flour for easy handling.
- Don’t bake for too long.
Bread flour is higher in protein than 00 flour, around 12 to 14%. This means it will result in a chewier crust and less air pockets than pizza flour.
On the bright side, the higher protein content also makes it more suitable for 65%-70% or even 80% hydration pizza doughs.
For a 70% hydration dough, you will need to add 70 grams of water to every 100 grams of flour. Bake it at the highest temp your oven allows until the crust turns golden and crispy.
- Higher protein content can lead to a denser pizza crust
- Working with bread flour can be more challenging. It requires proper kneading and shaping to develop the gluten structure without making the dough too tough
- I’ve noticed that longer resting or proofing time makes the dough more pliable
- Experiment with higher hydration levels
With around 8-9% gluten, A.P. flour lacks enough protein to give a pizza dough the right amount of rise. For the same reason, dough made with A.P. flour tends to get too crispy (like a cracker) and burn quickly.
However, with a very low hydration level and baking at a moderate temp (550 degrees) for 8-12 minutes. A.P. flour is commonly used for making Sicilian and deep-dish pizza crusts.
- Lacks the authentic chewiness and structure that I like.
- Tends to yield a slightly thicker and more bread-like crust.
- I’ve found that all-purpose flour dough can be a bit springy and resistant to stretching thinly.
- To enhance the dough’s structure and chewiness, I’ve learned that kneading the dough a bit longer can help.
- Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours.
Whole Wheat Flour
Like bread flour, whole wheat flour also has great elastic toughness due to its high gluten level (12% to 14%). If you are looking for a healthier substitute for refined flour, choose whole wheat high-hydration dough by all means.
The whole wheat crust will have a stronger flavor which can be easily masked with loads of delicious toppings.
Note: whole wheat dough will require more water due to the higher fiber content and will also take longer to bake due to the lower pH level.
- Contains more bran and germ, which can result in a heavier pizza crust compared to using refined flours.
- The additional fiber can make the dough less pliable.
- To mitigate the density and improve the texture of the crust, I blend whole wheat flour with all-purpose flour. Start with 70:30 ratio.
- I prefer to use a rolling pin to roll the whole wheat dough instead of hand stretching.
Semolina flour pizza crusts are super chewy and crispy. You should ideally mix it with cake flour for added elastic toughness to the dough. I would definitely recommend giving it a shot if you want a crust that can hold a lot of sauce and wet toppings without turning soggy.
It will take about 10 minutes or less for a semolina flour pizza crust to cook through at 550 F.
- I am not a huge fan of the grainy or gritty texture in the pizza crust.
- The semolina pizza dough I made for testing purpose was quite resistant to stretching.
- Don’t be shy. Use a rolling pin.
- Add some AP flour to balance out the coarseness of semolina.
Spelt flour is a type of whole-grain flour that may be used to make bread. It’s similar in texture and taste to regular wheat flour but contains less gluten, so it’s often used for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. It also has more fiber than other types of flour.
Spelt flour is made from an ancient wheat form with a higher protein content than regular wheat flour. It’s often used in bread, pastries, and other baked goods.
Like other pizza doughs made of high-gluten flour, spelt flour doughs will also benefit from high hydration, longer fermentation, higher oven temp, and short baking time.
- Spelt dough tends to ferment more quickly due to its higher enzymatic activity. If you are not careful enough, it can easily lead to overproofing.
- Tricky to stretch thinly without tearing it apart.
- To control the faster fermentation of spelt, I’ve experimented with cooler fermentation temperatures.
- Replace around 5 tablespoons of spelt flour with bread flour or even almond flour for a better gluten structure.
4 Gluten-free Substitutes for 00 Flour for Pizza Making
Gluten is the very foundation of pizza dough. It is what gives the crust its signature chew and structure, allowing it to hold the weight of toppings without collapsing.
Gluten-free pizza crusts are much more delicate and prone to crumbling if you don’t use the right ingredients and techniques.
Here are some gluten-free substitutes for 00 flour that will get you started on your quest for the perfect gluten-free pizza dough:
Can you use oat flour for pizza dough? Sure, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Oat flour is very absorbent, so you’ll need to add more liquid than you would for a traditional 00 pizza dough.
For example, if your standard 00 pizza crust recipe calls for 4 cups of flour, try using 3 cups of oat flour and 1 cup of water instead. Oat flour also has a mild flavor that won’t overpower your toppings like other grain flour might.
- Due to lack of protein, the dough has a crumbly and delicate texture that can be challenging to work with
- The grittiness in the finished crust is not to my liking. (I’ll eat it anyway).
- Given oat flour’s high moisture absorption, I’ve learned to adjust the hydration level by adding more liquid to the dough.
- Baking the pizza on a preheated pizza stone helped me reduce the “crumbliness” a bit.
Perfect for individuals on a keto or paleo diet, almond flour adds a hint of nutty flavor to your pizza crust. It’s higher in protein than other grain flour, which means you will need more water to get the right consistency.
Almond flour also has a higher fat content than other grain flour, which means it absorbs more moisture and may result in a moister crust. If you’re making a pizza with almond flour, be sure to bake it longer than usual so that the middle isn’t soggy.
- I love the mildly sweet and nutty flavor of almond, just not on my pizza.
- People with both gluten and nut allergies need to avoid this pizza like plague.
- The crust is prone to falling apart easily.
- Mixing egg or tapioca starch can help you form a more cohesive dough that holds together better.
- Bake at a lower temp to prevent over-browing.
Buckwheat flour has a strong flavor that may take some time to get used to. It’s also high in protein and fiber, so it can be beneficial for those looking to increase their intake of both nutrients.
If you’re on a keto diet and want to use buckwheat flour, note that it’s not considered low-carb because it contains carbohydrates from raffinose (a type of sugar). However, it’s a healthier version of carbs.
Many people find that it makes the dough taste better if they let it sit overnight before use.
- Buckwheat flour has a strong, distinctive earthy, and slightly nutty flavor. It’s an acquired taste (which I’m yet to acquire, sadly).
- Produces a darker pizza crust, due to the flour’s natural hue.
- The dough isn’t very elastic.
- Pay close attention to hydration levels.
- Learn to acquire a taste for the robust, whole grain-y pizza crusts.
Paleo Baking Flour
Enjoying a pizza even when you’re on a paleo diet is possible. Pizza crust made of paleo flour is ultra-thin and crispy, which goes well with light toppings.
Make sure you use a high-quality brand of paleo flour and make the dough using cold water. It’s also important to roll out the dough very thin, so it’s best to use a pizza stone or baking sheet with holes in it.
- Results in a drier crust due to the absence of gluten.
- Doesn’t really suit quintessential pizza topping combinations.
- Use eggs or potato starch for binding.
- I’ve found that adding extra liquid, such as olive oil or water, can help prevent the crust from becoming overly dry. The exact amount will depend on the specific brand of Paleo Baking Flour you’re using.
And there you have it. 00 flour is a tough ingredient to substitute, but with the right alternatives, you can make pizzas just the way you like them without having to make any sacrifices.
I mean, the flavor and texture won’t nearly be the same, but there’s nothing a good old tomato sauce, combined with some fresh mozzarella and fresh toppings, can’t fix.