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Wooden bowl of salt next to a large wooden spoon with salt.
Wooden bowl of salt next to a large wooden spoon with salt.

The Importance of Salt in Pizza Dough Explained

If you’ve always wondered what salt does for pizza dough, UK-based Ooni Ambassador and Community and Product Support Manager, Lewis Pope (@unholypizzauk), is here to help. He’s broken down the most important aspects of salt, including what kind to use, the ideal quantity and more so you can make the most delicious pizzas possible. While we won’t be touching the question of when to add salt, we plan to get into that debate in the near future!a hand sprinkles salt into a bowlWhat kind of salt should you use?
There are four types of salt that most people have in their cupboards: salt flakes, coarse salt, table salt and fine sea salt. When it comes to making delicious pizza, Lewis recommends using fine sea salt, because it’s the easiest of the three to dissolve in water for your dough. 

Salt flakes and coarse salt, on the other hand, take much longer to dissolve than fine sea salt. That means there’s a higher chance that your dough will end up with gritty deposits, definitely not ideal for a pizza. If all you have is table salt, you can use it, but many pizza makers will tell you that using fine sea salt will enhance the flavour. 

Salt isn’t just for flavour. It also plays an important role in the fermentation process. It helps tighten the gluten structure within the dough, which helps strengthen it, so your dough is less likely to tear or fall apart. Salt also helps regulate the yeast. Using less salt means more active yeast and a weaker dough. Using too much salt will slow fermentation.margherita pizza on a perforated pizza peelSo, the question remains: what’s the ideal quantity of salt to use when it comes to pizza dough? 

For Neapolitan-style pizza, Lewis recommends around 2.5 to 3% salt. For example, if you have 1 kilogram of flour, 2.5% of that will be 25 grams of salt.

Tip: For help, check out the Ooni app, which features a Dough Calculator and takes the hassle out of calculating percentages!

Lewis conducted an experiment to demonstrate the power and effects of salt. He made pizza dough balls using no salt, 3% salt, and 6% salt. For each dough ball, he used 63% hydration and left them to proof for 2 hours at room temperature (around 23 °C or 73 °F). Here’s what happened (which you also can see for yourself here): a man uses a dough scraper tool to divide a ball of dough0% salt:
184 grams flour
116 grams water
4 grams fresh yeast
0 grams salt 

Results: After two hours, the dough ball was bursting out of the container, and the yeast was quite active. The dough ripped easily, there was no strength in its structure at all. 

3% salt:
181 grams flour
115 grams water
4 grams fresh yeast
5 grams salt

Results: The dough ball was looking pretty great. It rose a good amount. The dough stretched well, with nice elasticity.

6% salt:
178 grams flour
112 grams water
4 grams fresh yeast
11 grams salt 

Results: The dough ball rose a tiny amount, and there was very little change to the volume. Although the dough still stretched well, the flavour was unpleasant. 

Lewis’ overall recommendation? Use 3% salt to achieve an easy-to-work-with dough full of delicious flavour. And if you’re not sure how to top your pizza, we've got tons of recipes to get you started. 

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