How to Make Homemade Naan for Naan Pizza

Fluffy, homemade naan is the perfect vessel for mouthwatering toppings, whether crafting a dish for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. If you prefer eggs and cheese on your naan pizza or a heaping pile of veggies, you'll need a stable foundation (aka the naan) for the best results. The goal is for every naan bite to be chewy, delicious, and covered in golden brown spots.

Where Did Naan Bread Come From?

As you might expect, naan has its origins in India. It was initially mentioned in a text from 1300 AD by an Indo-Persian poet. Its name developed from a Persian word meaning bread. While it was first mentioned in this period, it is likely much older than that. However, no evidence points to when exactly naan was created.

In the early years, naan was available in two forms: light bread (naan-e-tunuk) and an option cooked in a tandoor oven (naan-e-tanuri). These naan versions were crafted and made available at the Delhi Imperial Court. Of course, this meant that naan was served to the nobles and royals of the Moghul era. Generally, it was served as a breakfast dish during this period.

From here, naan spread to other countries, including Iran, Myanmar, and Afghanistan. This migration is why you'll often see naan served with dishes from countries in this area. It spread into other countries, like the US, in the 1700s. Now, naan is commonly seen in Middle Eastern restaurants, served alongside curries, in grocery store aisles, and available at farmers' markets around America.

While you can find some great options for naan, nothing beats recreating a naan recipe at home.

Prepping for the Naan Recipe

The best part about creating naan at home is you'll only need a few ingredients (most of which you likely already have!). The ingredients for this recipe are warm water, olive oil, active dry yeast, plain yogurt, flour, granulated sugar, and salt. Measure the amount for each ingredient before starting this recipe; it will help with timing and organization.

Prep is the name of the game for naan dough (and any bread dough you craft at home). So, it's important to grease a large bowl with olive oil or melted butter before combining any of the naan ingredients. This step ensures that your dough is easy to get out later.

If you skip this step, you'll be stuck scraping the sides of the bowl later when it's time to cook the dough. It also helps keep the dough from forming a dry, unappealing crust on the outside.


Blooming the Yeast

It's important to use warm water when blooming active yeast. Otherwise, your yeast may not properly activate, leaving you with flat naan bread. Ideally, the water you use should be between 105 - 155F. Use a cooking thermometer to check the temp before adding the yeast. Adding sugar is the other key ingredient in this step, as it is the "food" for the yeast.


You'll know the mixture is ready when it has a foamy appearance (about 10 minutes).

Making Naan Dough

Now, add the remaining ingredients to the yeast mixture. It's important to stir (either by hand or a stand mixer) until the dough pulls away from the bowl. It will have a lumpy texture at this point.




Then, the dough will be ready to knead. Ensure you use a surface dusted with flour to keep the dough from sticking to your counter. Then, knead the dough for about five minutes. You'll know the dough is done when it has a smooth texture and feels soft.




Letting the Dough Rise


Here's the hardest part - waiting for the dough to rise. This essential step is when the bubbles in the dough form, creating a fluffy consistency once the naan is cooked. After shaping your dough into a ball, shift it back into your oiled bowl. It's important to cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap, to keep it from drying out during this step. You can also brush oil or butter on the dough ball as an extra preventative measure.


You'll see better results if you allow the naan dough to rise in a warm environment, like a kitchen. If you don't have a warm environment, heat your oven to 200F for about two minutes. Turn the oven off, and place the covered dough on a rack for about one hour. The dough is ready when it has doubled in size.


Shaping the Dough

The next step involves putting the dough back on a floured surface and punching it down. It may seem counterintuitive to punch down the dough, but it helps control the proofing rate for a better final product. Otherwise, the dough will be tough, over-proofed, and flat once cooked.


You'll want to separate the dough into eight equal portions during this step. Then, you'll roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it's even and about 1/4" thick. It's important that the dough is even when rolled out, or you'll have naan that is overcooked in some sections and undercooked in others. Here's where you shape each dough portion as you please, though a round or oval-like shape is the typical go-to.




Cooking the Naan Bread

The final step in this set of instructions is cooking the naan bread to perfection. The key to this step is warming a cast iron skillet to medium-high heat. It must also be lightly greased, so the dough doesn't stick while cooking.

A cast iron pan will create the best naan since it holds heat well due to its thick bottom. However, any pan with a thick bottom will also work for this recipe. Once your pan is hot, you can begin cooking the naan. Each piece should take about 1.5 minutes to cook (one minute on the first side and 30 seconds on the other). You'll know the naan is ready to flip when you see bubbles forming in the dough. Once the naan is golden brown on both sides, remove it from the pan.


Keep cooking the naan until all pieces are cooked. Don't worry if you've made too much; you can freeze naan once cooked. It lasts for about 4-6 months in the freezer.

Once cooked, it's time to eat the naan! You can turn them into flatbreads, use them as wraps, or serve them alongside chicken tikka masala; the naan dishes are endless! Here's a tip - melt butter with fresh garlic to create homemade garlic butter. Then, drizzle it on top to create an easy garlic naan. You can also sprinkle other herbs and seasonings on top for a fun naan recipe twist.

Now that you're an expert on making naan, try our Breakfast Naan Bake recipe. It's a perfect way to start the day with pizza but with no guilt!