Friday, April 26, 2013

Favorite Pizza Crust Recipe | A Mellow Mushroom Copycat! | Holy Shiitake

UPDATE: Before trying this recipe, read the comments below this post! A couple Mellow Mushroom employees have chimed in with some great tips! Thanks to everyone who has made this and taken the time to comment.

Have you ever been to Mellow Mushroom? They opened one near us a couple years ago and it has quickly become our favorite pizza joint. Not that we eat out frequently, but when we do, Mellow Mushroom is one of our top picks. We've never had a pizza there we didn't absolutely LOVE.

But what really makes their pizza, and you know this if you've been there, is their amazing crust. The texture is divine. The taste is wonderful. There is NO crust avoiding at Mellow Mushroom. Even crust discarders will eat their crust.

Every time we go there, without fail, I'll end up whining to my husband how "I wish I could make a crust like this at home!" Until now. Because after our last visit there, I became determined to find a similar enough pizza crust recipe that I can make at home.

And by golly--I've really got it! I think I've got it! {That's a My Fair Lady reference for you. Your Friday is now complete. You're welcome.}

I came home and searched and Googled, I read blogs and forums and scoured Pinterest. I sifted through obscure parts of the internets, reading strange posts by baking scientists. I baked multiple pizzas, tweaking the recipes each time. Finally, I came up with a crust that, while {probably} not the exact recipe Mellow Mushroom uses, it's close enough that I'm HAPPY!

My husband is also very HAPPY these days. Thanks to my new pizza crust.

It's easy, it's simple, but I learned so much that I went from the girl who used a blah recipe without questions to knowing tons of facts and info about how to really make pizza crust. It's not complicated, but there are a few tricks...

I'll get to the Holy Shiitake copycat later, that's just toppings. First, let's look at what I learned about crust during my studies....

To make fantastic pizza crust at home:
  1. Preheat your oven AND your pizza stone {you NEED a pizza stone} to 550 degrees at least an hour before baking. Yes, 550! That's as high as my oven goes, but oh we go there. No we didn't? Yes we did!
  2. DSC_0729
  3. Cornmeal is a must. Of course! Why did I never think of this before? All the restaurants use it. It helps avoid using too much flour and makes your crust a little more crunchy on the outside. We want this. You'll roll your pizza dough out on a lightly floured, but heavily cornmealed, surface. If you don't have a pizza peel, I recommend rolling out your pizza dough onto parchment paper. Don't use wax paper, you'll burn down your house.
  4. DSC_0732
  5. Skip the sugar! Word on the street is Mellow Mushroom uses molasses--yes, molasses!--in place of any sugar. I've tried this, and it's delicious. Why granny, I never knew you could be like this in the kitchen--you saucy minx!
  6. DSC_0673
  7. Make your crust like so:DSC_0714
First, pour 1 1/2 cups of hot water into your mixer bowl, add 2 tablespoons of molasses and stir it in.

TIP: Try using spring water instead of tap, as Mellow Mushroom says they do. I haven't noticed a difference, but if you really want to copycat MM, then go ahead and try.

Between the metal bowl and the molasses, your water should cool quickly enough to sprinkle in your yeast. Think bath water temperature, around 100 degrees, you don't want it too hot, that will kill your yeast. Cooler is better than too hot, but warm is best. 
Sprinkle in your yeast

TIP: I even go so far as to stir it gently in to make sure it all gets wet.
TIP: Don't smell molasses right out of the jar. Especially if you're pregnant. I love molasses in cookies and even pizza, but right out of the jar it smells like wet dog. You don't want to have to start a whole new batch of dough because you tossed your cookies into the first one.

In 5-10 minutes, you'll have a delicious smelling puff ball of yeast.
Meanwhile, mix together 3 1/2 cups flour with 2 teaspoons of salt.

TIP: You don't want to just dump salt into your yeast mixture, as salt kills yeast when it has direct contact. It's actually important to dilute it into the flour first.
Go ahead and dump your flour and salt mix into the yeast mixture, then add 1 tablespoon olive oil.
See? That's really all very simple.
Turn your mixer on stir with the dough hook and let it knead your dough for about 5 minutes.
The dough will get itself all worked up. Sheesh, you'd think you started talking politics with it or something.
It should be sticky, but if it's too sticky to even handle then go ahead and mix in another 1/4 cup of flour and try again.

Remove it from the bowl, form into a ball, and place it into a greased, lightly floured bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.
At this point you can place it in the fridge to rise over the course of several hours, a great choice if you want to make your crust in the morning. Or, leave it out covered in a dark warm place for a couple hours.

This dough makes one large pizza, two medium pizzas, or 4-6 personal pizzas. Divide it as you wish.

Now let's talk baking...

Again, you want to roll your pizza dough out with cornmeal {and maybe a little flour, and flour your hands a tad}.
But when I say "roll it out" I mean, pick that ball of dough up and let gravity work for you. Turn the dough in your hands like you would a steering wheel.
You can do thin or thick crust, and I wanted to show you a few options you have...

Here, I preheated my pizza stone high up in the oven, rolled the crust pretty thin, and turned on the broiler right after putting my pizza in.
For this pizza, the Holy Shiitake copycat, I kept my stone lower in the oven, did a pretty thick crust, and you can see the result.
You can do whatever you think you'd like best. Broiler or no broiler? Broiling gets a darker, blackened crust in spots. Thin or thick crust is a preference thing. Both methods had lovely texture.

BEFORE baking your pizza, however, brush the crust with a melted garlic butter. This is, supposedly, what is done at Mellow Mushroom.
If you don't have a pizza peel, the parchment paper works great for easy sliding on and off the pizza stone. For serving, the baked pizza should come off your parchment paper just fine. If you're having the Queen of England over for dinner, you don't want to serve her pizza directly off the parchment paper, do you?

{WARNING: After a commenter mentioned her parchment paper catching on fire, I'd recommend cutting the paper very close to the pizza's edge so there is no excess to burn as well as keeping a VERY close eye on the pizza while cooking. Of course, a pizza peel would be the best thing to avoid fires altogether!}
Bake at 550 degrees for 5-7 minutes, keeping a close eye on it. The beauty of a preheated pizza stone is that your pizza's center will be just as well baked as the crust.
Another last minute Mellow Mushroom touch, sprinkled that crust with parmesan right when it comes out of the oven.

This crust has been WONDERFUL for us! Between the molasses and the baking methods I've learned, we get that perfect mix of chewy & crunchy crust that is still soft on the inside and has a rich taste. I'll never try another crust recipe again I think. The molasses adds an extra sumpthin' to the taste as well, for sure, while not tasting molassesy.
It tastes very much like Mellow Mushroom's pizza, but even if you've never been there, I think this crust recipe would be a hit for any family. The Queen of England might even like it. Just don't serve hers on parchment paper.

Now, since I talked up Mellow Mushroom so much, I'll share our homemade version of our very favorite pizza from MM: their "Holy Shiitake" pizza!

Once my dough was formed, I brushed it with olive oil and truffle oil, and topped it with mozzarella and shredded romano cheese. Then I sprinkled on a liberal amount of sliced baby bella mushrooms {Mellow Mushroom uses a mushroom variety but they're pricey so I just picked up a pack of sliced baby bellas}, caramelized red onion, and pre-cooked bacon. {The MM menu doesn't include bacon, but the waiters always suggest it as an add-on and it's very yummy, so I added it at home.}
I baked it the same, though lower in the oven and no broiler. Of course, the crust was brushed with garlic butter before and sprinkled with parmesan after baking.
The finishing touches include a drizzle of garlic aioli and a sprinkling of chives!
Not only was this very similar to Mellow Mushroom's Holy Shiitake pizza, some family members who helped us eat it said it was the best pizza they've ever had. Well, shoot!

Pizza Crust Recipe - A Mellow Mushroom Copycat

1 1/2 cups hot water (optional, use spring water)
2 Tbsp molasses
2 packets of active yeast
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
melted butter with garlic
parmesan cheese crumbs

1. Place hot water in mixer bowl and stir in molasses. Once cooled to warm, sprinkle on yeast and gently stir it in. Let sit 10 minutes.
2. Mix flour and salt together. Add flour mix and olive oil to yeast mixture.
3. Using a dough hook, run mixer on low/stir for 5 minutes.
4. Form dough into ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, sprinkle with flour. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and kitchen towel, let rise in fridge over several hours or on counter top for 2 hours, or until doubled.
5. Preheat oven to 550 degrees with pizza stone, hold temperature at least 30 minutes before baking pizza.
6. Form dough into pizza crust, top as desired. Brush crust with garlic butter. Slide onto preheated pizza stone, bake 5-7 minutes or until done, using oven on bake or broil setting, as desired. Sprinkle crust with parmesan cheese immediately after removing from oven.

Toppings for a "Holy Shiitake" copycat:

  • sliced mushrooms (baby bellas, shiitake, or whatever gets your goat)
  • caramelized onions
  • pre-cooked bacon, chopped
  • olive oil
  • white truffle oil (buy this, it's so worth it)
  • garlic aioli (added after baking)
  • chives, chopped (added after baking)
Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we have! Though we will still frequent our local Mellow Mushroom, they have amazing pizzas and drinks. Our other favorite pies of their's include the Philosopher's Pie, the Red Skin Potato Pie, and the Magical Mystery Tour. Everything there is delish!

Thanks for visiting today. Happy homemade pizza making!


This week at my family blog, Last Day Ago:


  1. I do have to say that the Holy Shiitake pizza was the best pizza I have had the pleasure of enjoying. Great job Heather and by the way, I blame you if I started to gain a few pounds because of all this delicious pizza!

  2. Oh, yum yum yum. First Edie's honey garlic pizza and now your Holy Shitake. I am going to be making pizza all week! So excited about the garlic butter and Parmesan tips--what a great idea.

    1. Yes, I am very much looking forward to trying Edie's honey garlic pizza next!

      Is there a Mellow Mushroom out in Tennessee?

  3. Yes, right in Knoxville. I was considering a research trip pre-baking, in fact. :)

  4. Any tips on what you should do if you need to do a lower temp? My parchment paper only goes up to 400 degrees safely and even my oven just goes to 500 degrees.

    1. Yes, actually!

      I only use parchment paper because we don't have a pizza peel! I've also just used the corm meal generously to make the pizza slide onto the pizza stone without getting the toppings *too* messed up. You don't HAVE to have the parchment paper.

      As for your oven, 500 degrees is still good, just go with that. Try out the broiling method too, but watch your pizza carefully. As long as the pizza stone is pre-heated well, it should cook thoroughly.

      Good luck!

  5. Can you freeze the dough u Dont use???

    1. Yes, just like you would any other pizza dough :)

      I like to roll mine out and even put on the toppings so it's all ready to pull out just like a store bought frozen pizza. But you can also just wrap the dough ball up really well, lightly greased of course, and freeze it in an airtight bag.

  6. I'm glad I found this. I actually work at Mellow Mushroom and I've been trying to emulate the dough and I've come sort of kind of close but I will absolutely have to try this. One thing, The garlic butter goes on after the pizza comes out of the oven.

    1. Thanks Tyler! I'll change the directions to say that, it sounds right that it'd go on after now that you say that...

      Let me know what you think if you try this recipe! I can't say it's exact, but it's been close enough for my family to enjoy the Mellow Mushroom taste at home!

  7. Interesting conversation, i really love it. Thanks for sharing!

    Pizza In Zion

  8. MMMMMMM! Thanks for sharing! I ate there yesterday and immediately became obsessed with how to make their crust. I'll give it a try!

  9. I tried your recipe tonight and made a couple adjustments....I didn't have molasses so I subbed honey. I also used a cup of whole wheat flour in place of a cup of all purpose. I used parchment like you suggested. All I can say is OMG!!!! My family and I LOVE Mellow Mushroom and this crust is surprisingly CLOSE to the actual crust at Mellow Mushroom. I was shocked! I can only imagine how much better it is going to be when I try the molasses (which will be in a couple Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. It is amazing!!!!

    1. Ahh! I'm so glad to read your comment! As I said, I can't say it's exact unless I have the Mellow Mushroom recipe card right in front of me (and I don't!) but it's very close in my family's opinion too. We've grown to love this homemade pizza crust just as much as the Mellow Mushroom's.

      I hope you continue to enjoy it! Thanks so much for the lovely comment ;-)

  10. So I made this today and while the dough was absolutely fantastic, I can't recommend putting it directly under the broiler. MY PARCHMENT PAPER CAUGHT FIRE and burned half of the top of one of the pizzas. I was able to cut off the burned part off and eat the rest of the deliciousness. The second pizza at the bottom of the oven was perfect.

    1. Oh my goodness! I'm glad you didn't burn the house down after my advice! I should change my blog to warn about this...

      But so glad the crust turned out well for you! Thanks for visiting & the comment ;-)

  11. So you suggest keeping the oven at 550 for a thick crust as well? Or is there a lower temperature you suggest for the thicker crust to cook perfectly.

    Thanks for the recipe, I think we're going to try this tomorrow. We were thinking of going to mellow mushroom, but it's pretty far from home. This should be perfect to have in our own house. =]

    1. I did 550 for both, but 500 would probably yield good results also. Things is, the 350-400 pizza cooking temps we've seen in the past are just not right! 500+ is best for most pizzas.

  12. Do you have a recipe for garlic aioli?

    1. 3/4 c mayonnaise
      3 cloves garlic, minced
      2 1/2 tbs lemon juice
      3/4 tsp salt
      1/2 tsp ground black pepper

  13. Now all I need is their recipe for Herb Vinaigrette Dressing & I will be complete :-)-

  14. Can I get away with subbing some of the white flour for whole wheat (maybe 1/3 or so) without otherwise adjusting the recipe?

    1. I'm sure you can! I've done that with many recipes. Of course, it can change the texture a tad, but usually people know this and it's a good trade for a healthier dough. Let me know how it turns out!

  15. This might be a silly question...but self-rising or all-purpose flour?

  16. I have made this twice now and LOVE it! I do have a question though… both times I have made this I have had to add quite a bit more flour to get the dough to come together. The first time I thought maybe I measured wrong, but after the 2nd time (and being especially careful to measure properly) turned out too runny I knew there was something wrong. The crust still turns out great (after adding close to another 1/2-1 cup or more of flour) but I was wondering what I may be doing wrong? Can it be due to kitchen temp or humidity? We usually keep the house a cool 69 degrees, so I wouldn’t think so… Any ideas?

    1. Hey there, I don't think you're doing anything wrong! I've encountered recipes like this where I had to add flour to get the right effect, and I think it just depends on the person and the place. Add flour until the consistency is right, it what I'd say. I live in an extremely dry state (Colorado) and thus we might need less flour than our more moisturized friends :-)

  17. Just wondering, why 550 degrees. On a YouTube video one of the workers said they use 475.

    1. That's what has worked for me! Try 475 and tell me how it works for you, I'd love to know! I've recently discovered a lot of pizza recipes call for higher temperatures than I'd originally expected.

  18. I'm a pizza baker at Mellow and I have to say you are quite close.Although I don't know there entirety of the dough recipe, it's often discussed amongst workers. Here's a few tip's though, 1. About a minute and a half/two minutes before the pizza is done, place a baking screen beneath it. It gives the crust an even cook. The goal at Mellow is for our crust to be "Mellow Brown" (the color of our pizza boxes) all of the way through. 2. Brush the crust with garlic butter AFTER, that's what keeps it warm and soft to the center of the crust by the time you reach it. 3. Parmesan the crust and the center (where the tip of each slice would meet). It gives you all of the flavor, first and last bite. Hope you found it useful! Stay Mellow!

  19. I just like to say, excellent dough recipe. I've used this recipe multiple times and it always comes out great. A definite regular in the household.

  20. I can't wait to try this! I work at Mellow Mushroom but I can't afford to eat there except on rare occasions. But the food is SO GOOD and I have to be around it all day! So I figured I'd see if anyone found a dupe for their dough so I could make it at home.

    A couple of tips:

    It might vary between different restaurants, but at the one where I work we always butter the crust right after it comes out of the oven.

    For the Holy Shitake pizza, we use a base of olive oil sprinkled with minced garlic.

  21. Stumbled across your blog while searching for yet another homemade pizza crust. I mean, how hard can it be to make a decent one at home?? Apparently more so than I realized. This, however, was *delicious* and I'm excited to make it again! I'm not familiar with MM but now I'd like them to make their way out to the west coast :)

  22. Thank you! Can't wait to try this!!

  23. 550 degrees burned & ruined my pizza stone.

    1. I'm sorry to hear that. How exactly was the pizza stone ruined?

      From what I've researched on pizza stones, good quality ones are usually heat safe up to 600 degrees. Cheaper ones have a reputation for cracking. My Pampered Chef pizza stone is well-seasoned and has been used at 500+ degrees for over 11 years now!

      I would suggest also testing your oven temperature to see if it runs hot. Also, never place a chilled pizza on a heated stone or you'll risk thermal shock. Finally, since pizza stones vary from brand to brand, it's always a good idea to check your pizza stone's instructions to see what specific degree your stone is heat safe up to.

      500-550 degrees, however, is a pretty typical cooking temperature for homemade pizza recipes all over the internet. I'm sorry you had some misfortune with it!

  24. I can't wait to try this recipe. My husband and I both love Mellow Mushroom, but where we live now there's not one within an hour's drive. One question- what would happen if I used bread flour?


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