Pizza party! It’s like Chuck-E-Cheese for adults — only better! And without Skee-Ball! Okay, it’s completely different. But still a great idea for a party. Cooking one pie at a time in the oven, however, is hard when you’re feeding a crowd. We held a pizza party for eight, and here are the top lessons we learned.
1. Make the dough at least a day before.
Have it finished and ready to go. That means your only pre-party prep is getting the toppings ready and making a salad. How much to make? Most homemade pizzas fall in the 10- to 14-inch range, which should feed two people. So figure on one pizza per couple. We made four pies for eight people and everyone was full.
2. Have all topping ingredients chopped and divided.
You’re going to be making these pizzas quickly — one after the other — so have everything chopped, measured, and mixed together (cooked bacon, dried figs, and gorgonzola crumbles, for example). You can’t be too prepared.
3. Use a quick-cooking recipe.
You don’t have a ton of time to wait for these pizzas to come out. Ideally, by the time you get one pizza sliced and served on the table, the next will almost be ready. The recipe below takes around eight to 10 minutes.
4. Plan for a few different flavors.
We made one fig, bacon, and gorgonzola pizza; one barbecue chicken pizza; and two plain margherita pizzas. If you want to do something exotic that you’re not sure everyone will like, send it out first, like an amuse bouche. Then follow up with a crowd-pleaser.
5. Put a note on the wall with each pizza’s toppings.
Sound crazy? Trust us. When you have 12 bowls of ingredients, you may forget if the caramelized onions go with pizza #1 or #2. Jot down each pie’s ingredients so you make sure you don’t forget any.
6. Open your windows (or buy a fan).
Or turn your AC on high. Pizzas typically cook at 550°F, and you heat up the oven for a while to make sure the pizza stone is hot when you start. Let’s just say that our guests were shedding clothes halfway through dinner.
7. You need two rimless sheet pans.
Unless you have a peel, that is. We don’t, so we used flat cookie sheets to slide our pizzas in and out of the oven. We wanted to get a head start on assembling the next pizza while the first was in the oven, but because that happens on a cookie sheet, we needed two — one for the new pizza and one to pull the finished pie out of the oven.
8. If you’re buying a pizza stone, get a big rectangle.
This is an overall pizza tip, and our own opinion, of course, but if you’re trying to be fast, it’s sometimes hard to get a pie positioned just right on a round stone. We dropped a few hunks of mozzarella trying to position one of our pizzas on a round stone, and in a 550°F oven, that creates a lot of smoke. If the pizza stone is the size of the oven rack, there’s less room for error. Read more advice about buying a good pizza stone.
This won’t be the most relaxing dinner party you’ve ever thrown, because you will be back and forth from the kitchen, but it’s fun. Everyone loves pizza (right?), and all you need in addition is a simple salad and some beer.