7 Tips for Hosting a Successful Pizza Night

Entertaining at home doesn’t have to mean getting the placemats and napkin rings out of the cabinet. It doesn’t even have to mean doing 100% of the cooking! We’re talking, of course, about a pizza party, doable any time of the year but especially nice during the long, laid-back days of summer. It’s a casual, family-friendly gathering that’s pretty much guaranteed to be a blast.

The formula is simple: Make lots of pizza dough and have a buffet of pizza toppings ready. When guests come over, have them shape and top the dough however they’d like. But pulling off a successful pizza night takes a good deal of advanced planning, which is why we asked bread expert (and Borough Market store regular) Lacey Osterman (@_lacebakes_) for her top tips.

  1. Make the dough a day or two ahead of time and carry out the first proof in the fridge. On the day of the party, shape the dough and let it proof for the second and final time. It’s easiest to work with dough when it’s room temperature, so plan ahead to make sure your dough is room temperature at the time your guests shape it into pizza. (A thermometer inserted into the dough should read at least 20°C.) This ensures the dough is soft and stretchy enough to rotate in the air for a bit of theatre.

    The best way to make lots of dough ahead of time? The Ankarsrum stand mixer, which whips up enough dough for a dozen pies with minimal mess and no overheating. See our Ankarsrum pizza dough recipe here.
  2. Make sure your toppings are at room temperature before you add them to pizza. This is important because adding warm pizza toppings will generate more steam, resulting in a soggy texture. If you're including ingredients that need to be cooked beforehand – i.e. bacon, sausages, or vegetables like pumpkin or sweet potato – make sure to do so the day before so they have plenty of time to cool. When serving, Lacey suggests putting all the ingredients in separate bowls, so it’s easy for guests to grab.

    If you’re not sure what to serve, or even if you do, ask your guests ahead of time what their favourite pizza toppings are. (We all know how polarising pineapple is, after all!) This way, there will always be an option your guests will love.
  3. Have a few different options for base sauces. Tomato sauce, white sauce (or Béchamel), pesto (red or green), are great options. It goes without saying, but homemade is better.
  4. Any good pizzeria will have finishing oils on the table – and the same should go for pizza at home! Chilli oil is a classic; garlic and/or truffle oil are excellent options too. You’re forgiven if you decide not to go the homemade route with these. A bowl of fresh basil is also excellent to have out as a finishing touch
  5. The best side to pizza is a nice, big salad to share. Make your salad in advance and dress it before serving, or keep the dressing on the side so your guests can dress their own when they are ready to eat. (This ensures the salad does not get soggy.) Lacey’s ideal pizza party salad leans Italian, with rocket, shaved asparagus, pistachio and Parmesan, with a lemony vinaigrette.
  6. As for drinks, a ‘house wine’ and ice-cold beer are perfect. Pizza is big on flavour so it may clash with more involved cocktails. However, simple spritzes, with or without alcohol, are great mixed drink options.
  7. Similarly, dessert doesn’t need to be fussed over. Lacey recommends sorbet or a colourful fruit salad with mint and a squeeze of lime. If chocolate’s non-negotiable, as it is for a majority of BK team members, a tiramisu is both delicious and practical, as it can be made ahead of time.