Bread Dough vs Pizza Dough: Are They Interchangeable?

Understand why they are interchangeable and what to expect when you do.

If you’ve looked at bread and pizza dough recipes, they have the same ingredients: flour, water, salt, and yeast. What makes them different? But more importantly, are they interchangeable? There are many types of bread and pizza, ranging from regular (or quick-rise) to artisanal, but the ingredients and preparation methods affect the outcome.

Table of contents

Intro to Bread Dough vs. Pizza Dough

Many bread and pizza options exist, from soft white bread and pizzas to artisanal bread and pizzas. The comparisons will be based on both types to show what makes them alike and how the differences set them apart to create different doughs. Both doughs start with the essential ingredients: flour, water, salt, and a leavening agent (like commercial yeast, poolish, or sourdough starter). Bread dough can have many other ingredients, like sugar, butter, and milk, while pizza dough sticks to its essential ingredients, plus some sugar or oil.

What are the similarities?

Protein content

Bread and pizzas generally fall under the higher gluten content spectrum than baked goods such as cakes and pastries. But, different recipes will call for bread flour or all-purpose flour because the desired texture might be something other than a chewy crust, so bread and pizza recipes will call for bread flour or pizza flour, which will have a 12-13% protein content needed to create large holes.


Artisanal bread and pizzas will ferment for a long time, while white bread and soft crust pizzas will have a shorter time and at room temperature. Letting doughs ferment for a longer period of time in cold temperatures creates a deep, complex flavor and allows the gluten proteins the time to align. You can let it sit for as little as 16 to 96 hours, changing the flavor from bread-like to sourdough.

Final rise step

For bread and pizza, artisanal or not, allowing the dough to rise at room temperature before going into the oven is an important step to a beautiful and chewy texture. Even though pizzas get stretched out, letting the dough rise will allow it to stretch thinly with a thick crust.

Kneading step

For bread or pizza, especially regular breads and pizzas with a short fermentation time, you’ll have to knead it to give it its stretchy and elastic structure. But for artisanal bread and pizza dough that ferments for a long time, kneading is an optional step because the gluten proteins align naturally while the yeast breaks down the enzymes in the flour.

What are the key differences?

Sugar and fats

Sugar and fats, oil and butter, add flavor and structure to bread and pizzas, whether it’s regular or artisanal. However, the amount used in pizzas is generally less than in bread, making bread stand out in this comparison. 

Sugar adds sweetness and faster browning, but it absorbs more water than the starch granules in the flour, leaving less water for gluten formation. Oil makes the dough softer and adds flavor but coats the gluten strands and prevents a strong network. But these ingredients don’t have to be left out to get a chewy crust because NY-style pizzas use them for cooking at lower temperatures than a wood-fired pizza oven.

Hydration levels

The amount of water in the dough is the main difference between pizza and bread because if you add too much water, the dough will be difficult to stretch into pizza but manageable for bread. Use less water (i.e., 60%-65% hydration for bread flour), and the dough becomes tougher, thus providing more durability; use more water (80%+ hydration for bread flour), and the dough becomes flexible. Artisanal breads have a higher hydration level for their tall rise and open crumb structure. Pizzas have lower hydration to make them more durable to stretch.


Breads are typically baked around 350-475°F and pizzas at 750-1000°F because they’re bigger and taller than pizzas. A lower temperature and longer bake time allow the inside to cook fully before burning the outside. On the other hand, pizzas are baked at a higher temperature because it’s flat, so it doesn’t require much cooking time.


Restaurant pizzas are baked at high temperatures that are not reproducible at home, so a pizza stone or baking steel becomes essential in retaining heat in a home oven. While it might not be necessary, it makes a big difference in getting a fully cooked bottom crust. Also, a pizza peel to get the pizza in and out of the oven.

What to expect when you swap them

Bread dough and pizza dough them interchangeably, but there are some things you should keep in mind. Such as the different types of flour, sugar, and oils can result in different textures and flavors. So if you’re using a recipe for white bread, you’ll end up with a pizza with a soft crust, while if you’re using a recipe for artisanal bread, you’ll end up with a chewier crust pizza like NY-style or Neapolitan. So, if you happen to pick up a premade dough for bread or pizza from the grocery store and wonder, “Can I use this instead?” the answer is yes.

Uses for dough based on its ingredients

If either type of dough contains ingredients like sugar or oil, expect the outcome to be soft and fluffy texture rather than chewy. The possibilities are endless, but here are some suggestions.

Thin crust pizza – stretch it out until light passes the center, top with tomato sauce, and add your 

favorite toppings.

Deep dish pizza – if you’ve got a pizza pan or baking pan, stretch it out, cover the bottom and sides with the dough, and top with sauce and toppings.

Cinnamon rolls – roll it out with a rolling pin, and add a filling of brown sugar and cinnamon.

If it doesn’t, you can make artisan bread like a crusty loaf, baguette, ciabatta, or a Neapolitan-style pizza.

Got questions? Leave a comment below!