Entertaining at home doesn’t have to mean getting the linen 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, especially if you have a garden and a pizza oven. (Our favourite is the DeliVita Oven.) 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) 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 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. Read our Ankarsrum pizza dough recipe here.
  2. Cook topping ingredients beforehand. It’s better to have pre-cooked bacon, for example, because bacon needs more time to cook than a pizza does. Prosciutto and other cured meats are a lower-effort option. Uncooked vegetables release a lot of water as they cook, so if you don’t do it beforehand, it could make pizza soggy. So gather a bunch of veggies on a tray; roast and cool them beforehand, so they are pizza topping–ready. All this can be done a day in advance. To serve, Lacey puts 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 in a gravy boat so your guests can dress their own. 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.