You can't beat Dough Balls when they are fresh out of the oven with a garlic butter dip.
Served as a starter (and dessert) in pizza express restaurants, but you can make them yourself at home too.
This easy homemade dough balls recipe makes soft, fluffy treats every time!
How to make dough balls?
We have all the advice on how to make dough balls, check out our quick slideshow to see how easy they are.
For more in-depth details on making the best dough balls, continue reading our blog post below.
Dough Balls Ingredients
This recipe makes about 14 depending on their size; it's easy to double up if you want to make more!
Ingredients needed to make these mini treats are water, milk, strong white bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt and olive oil.
Water & Milk
We like to add a 50/50 mix of water and milk. The milk fat content helps produce a softer, fluffier result.
The yeast makes the dough rise, so don't skip this ingredient! Pay attention to what type of yeast you are using.
We recommend using dry yeast, found in the baking section of the supermarket.
When using dried yeast, you need to activate it first. Warm up the milk and water to about 40°C / 105°F before adding the yeast.
While preparing the dried ingredients, you will notice the yeast bubble and dissolve into the milk and water.
If it doesn't bubble, this is a sure way of knowing that the yeast you are using will not work!
Yeast is a sensitive ingredient; if it is near its use-by date or not stored properly after opening (which should be in the fridge), it will not activate.
If using an instant, also known as fast action or quick-rise yeast, you will not need to activate it first. Simply add to the dry ingredients; there is no need to warm up the milk and water.
A more straightforward method. However, you won't know if the yeast is working until 30 minutes later when the dough hasn't doubled in size!!
If using fresh yeast, use double the amount suggested in the recipe card.
Strong White Bread Flour
Strong white bread flour works best to create a lighter, taller, soft, fluffy dough ball.
You can substitute bread flour with plain flour (all-purpose flour) but, the texture will be denser and not so airy.
Adding sugar to bread helps the yeast multiply and rise.
Salt slows down the fermentation process to build a strong structure.
Adding olive oil helps to soften the dough and add flavour.
Olive oil is added to the mixture and brushed on top before cooking.
Dough ball mix
To make the dough mix, take the necessary steps dependent on the yeast; see above!
Add flour, sugar, salt, and olive oil to a large bowl. Now add in the yeast, milk and water.
For quick mess-free preparation, use a stand mixer or knead by hand for a more traditional way.
By Stand Mixer
Use the hook attachment and knead for about 5-6 minutes until it forms a sticky ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute until smooth but still tacky.
Knead by hand on a floured surface with your hands for ten minutes until the dough is smooth. The dough should be tacky when touched, don't add too much flour.
Shape into one large ball and place in an oiled mixing bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel or cling film and leave to double in size.
Proofing takes between 30 minutes to 1 hour. It can take longer, dependent on room temperature and the yeast used.
How to shape
Tip the dough out of the oiled bowl onto a floured surface.
Take the large dough and squeeze a smaller ball between your thumb and forefinger to shape it into more petite size. They should be slightly smaller than the size of a golf ball.
Twist the ball around with the other hand until it easily breaks away.
Repeat until there is no dough left.
Place on a greaseproof lined baking tray or sheet. Keep well spaced out as they will rise more.
Cover with a damp towel and leave to rise for the second time for about 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven at 180°C fan / 200°C / 400°F / Gas mark for 8-10 minutes. Don’t cook too long; they will be a very pale golden colour once cooked.
Brush dough balls with olive oil, then bake at 180°C fan / 200°C / 400°F for 8-10 minutes.
Finish with another brush over with olive oil.
They are at their best served warm when they are softest and fluffiest.
They can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days and reheated in the oven for 5 minutes or microwave when needed.
You can freeze cooked dough balls in freezer bags where they will keep for 3 months.
Cook straight from frozen when a craving arrives, in an oven for 8 minutes.
📖 Step by Step Recipe
Dough Balls Recipe
- 75 ml Warm Water
- 75 ml Whole fat milk
- 1 teaspoon Dry Yeast or active /instant yeast
- 250 grams Strong White Bread Flour
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
Optional Dip -Garlic Butter | Check the blog post for more sweet or savoury ideas!
- 1 teaspoon garlic
- 3 tablespoon Butter
- ½ teaspoon Italian Seasoning
How to activate dried yeast.
- If using dried yeast put milk and water into a microwaveable jug or bowl. Heat on high for 30 seconds. The temperature should be 40°C75 ml Warm Water, 75 ml Whole fat milk
- Add yeast and stir in. Leave to activate whilst preparing dry ingredients.1 teaspoon Dry Yeast
If using active/instant yeast there is no need to activate yeast first, simply add straight to the dry ingredients with the milk and water.
- In a large mixing bowl add flour, sugar and salt.250 grams Strong White Bread Flour, 1 teaspoon Sugar, 1 teaspoon Salt
- Pour in olive oil and the yeast mixture prepared in step 1-275 ml Warm Water, 75 ml Whole fat milk, 1 tablespoon Olive Oil, 1 teaspoon Dry Yeast
- For a stand mixer use a dough hook to mix together for 6 minutes
- If kneading by hand 10 minutes
- Pop dough into an olive oil greased bowl. Cover with a wet tea towel and leave to rise for 30 minutes to1 hour. Until doubled in size. If making garlic butter as well, take the butter out of the fridge now to soften.
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface.
- To shape into balls, take the large dough ball and squeeze a smaller ball between your thumb and forefinger. They should be slightly smaller than the size of a golf ball.
- Twist ball around with the other hand until it easily breaks away.
- Place in a parchment-lined baking tray with spaces between cover with a wet tea towel again. Rest for 15 minutes.
- Coat each ball with olive oil
- Oven bake for 8-10 minutes - 180°C fan oven / 200°C / 400°F/ Gas mark 6.Brush over with more oil after cooking.
- To make garlic butter mix together butter, garlic and Italian seasoning1 teaspoon garlic, 3 tablespoon Butter, ½ teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- Serve with garlic butter dip whilst still warm. See blog post for more serving suggestions!
Use them for dipping into the spicy sauce from our haddock and clams or with spicy soup.
Garlic butter dip
Dough balls in pizza express restaurants are served with garlic butter to dip in. Here is how to make a similar garlic dip at home.
-3 tablespoon softened butter
-1 clove garlic, pureed
-½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl until well combined, season to taste with salt and pepper.
Store garlic butter in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. It is best to let it come to room temperature before serving for easier dipping.
Want a bit more flavouring? Try our seafood garlic and butter dip recipe instead.
Dough balls can also be served as a dessert.
Sprinkle with icing sugar, cocoa powder or cinnamon.
We hope you enjoy making these homemade dough balls. Let us know what you serve them with; it’s always great to see how different people like them.