The first recipe that convinced me I would be able to stick to a Ketogenic diet for the rest of my life was for fathead dough. It’s a simple dough made with melted mozzarella and almond flour. Most recipes that I found also called for cream cheese. I omit the cream cheese in my recipe because I found that it made the dough wetter and harder to work with, it added calories, and added no flavor. I make pizza, bagels, onion sticks, spinach feta pinwheels, bear claws, and hundreds of other things with this basic dough. Add a bit of garlic powder if you’re using this dough for pizza. Trust me :)
10 Oz. shredded mozzarella
5 oz. Almond flour
1 tsp. baking powder
A few notes. I weigh my ingredients rather than measure them. When you measure dry ingredients you are actually measuring volume. You are measuring how much space that ingredient takes up. You are not measuring how much of it there is. The size of your cheese shreds will determine how much cheese is measured in a cup. How finely ground or packed your almond flour is will determine how much you actually have in your cup. If you don’t have a kitchen scale I would invest in one immediately. It will make an enormous difference in how your baked goods turn out when following someone else's recipe. I have a $10 scale I got from Target 10 years ago. You can, but don’t need to go fancy. Here is a good scale. Here is a better scale. Here is a best. One day I’m going to spring for the best. Ooooo she’s pretty. Update! I sprung for the best when it went on sale. She is, indeed, very pretty.
I like to shred my own mozzarella. I opt for a block of low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella. Fresh mozzarella will NOT work. I have used a few pre-shredded cheeses but I’ve never had any luck at all with less expensive store brands. This is a bummer. I buy the big double bags of shredded mozzarella from Costco or Trader Joe’s. The reason I prefer shredding my own is that in order to ship a bag of pre-shredded cheese to the store they have to coat it with starches to keep all of the tiny shreds from sticking together. I’ve seen potato starch, plant cellulose, corn starch, lots of things are added to the bags. These do add a little extra carbohydrate to your cheese. You get to decide how much that matters to you :)
Melt your mozzarella in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments. You want to warm it slowly and mix in between each turn in the microwave. For 10 oz. of mozzarella it takes me 3, 30 second spins in the microwave to get perfectly melty cheese. I have seen some recipes that say, throw it in for 2 and a half minutes. My microwave would cook my cheese to a crisp around the edges of my bowl if I did that. Like all keto baking, we’re in a new world here. The best thing you can do is go slowly and pay attention to how much time it takes so you can repeat it in the future. If you heat your cheese up and it begins to harden and cook it will begin to separate into proteins and fats. the oil will begin to pull away from the cheese and you will get a greasy mess for a dough. Your patience when melting your cheese will pay off. I promise. :)
Once your cheese is melted add your egg. Combine with a wooden spoon or spatula. You may never get them fully incorporated, that’s ok! We are just trying to get the wet mixed with wet before we add our dry. In a separate bowl, combine your almond flour and your baking powder and mix well. Add the dry ingredients to your wet ingredients and fold them together. You will reach a point where you can’t mix them completely and that means it’s time to knead! Wash your hands, roll up your sleeves and prepare to knead the dough for about 3 minutes. Sometimes it doesn’t take this long but like I said, keto baking can be finicky. Each batch of dough turns out just the tiniest bit different. Fold the dough towards you and then push it away from you with the heel of your hand. I knead my dough right in the bowl. Your hands may get a little sticky, that’s ok. By the time your dough has come together you should be able to pull any pieces off of your fingers and mush them back into the dough ball. There is a video of the assembly process up in my highlights on my instagram @keto.copy
If your dough becomes too hard to work with you can put it in the microwave, again, on super low power, for very short periods of time. I haven’t had to do this since I first started making this dough because I can get it together pretty fast. If you heat it up too much, the oil will separate from the cheese and you will get a greasy mess and not a puffed up traditional dough substitute. Low and slow is the best strategy. You can make an endless assortment of things with this dough! Baking time will depend on what you make. If you use this dough to make a pizza you will need to prebake it. Roll it out between two pieces of parchment into whatever shape you like and bake it on one piece of that parchment on a baking sheet for 10-12 minutes before you add your toppings.
These are my FAVORITE baking sheets! Aluminum baking sheets transfer heat extremely well and are nice and light and versatile. I always bake on a sheet of parchment or a mat and not directly on the aluminum.
You can also bake on a silicone baking mat. I have these! Be careful with these mats if you’ve never owned a silicone baking sheet before. They transfer heat really well because of a weaved fiberglass core. You cannot cut on these mats. Also, never put them in the dishwasher. I ruined my first mat this way. I don’t even wash mine anymore. I find that silicone really absorbs soapy flavors. Because they are so nonstick I simply wipe them down with a washcloth or paper towel after using.
A few more notes. I prefer blanched, super fine almond flour. It seems to yield the breadiest, yes that is a word, product. Be careful of the almond meals, they are not as fine and do not incorporate quite as well. That being said, there are plenty of recipes for fathead that call for almond meal but the ratios of cheese to almond meal are different than mine. If possible, buy a whole block of part-skim, low-moisture mozzarella and shred it yourself. Pre-shredded mozzarella is coated in potato starch or corn starch or sometimes both! Although these ingredients do add trace carbohydrates, the biggest issue it presents is that they are there to prevent caking. They wick moisture and adding it keeps all of the cheese shreds from melting together into a “I was once a shredded bag of cheese” ball. Because there is such a difference between brands it’s hard to recommend a brand of pre-shredded cheese. I will say that I have never had any luck with any store brand of shredded cheese. Trader Joe’s and Costco brands are the only pre-shredded I’ve ever had any luck with.
Baking time and temp will depend on what you are using the fathead dough for. If you’re making a pizza, roll out the dough and pre-bake on a parchment lined sheet for 10 minutes then remove, top with pizza toppings and then back into the oven until you have reached your desired cheese bubbliness and browning. I cook at 350 but every oven is different. You may need to bake at 325 if your pizza is browning up before it is cooked all the way through. Enjoy!
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The video below is a saved Instagram Live that I filmed and saved to YouTube. I know this is a bit of an awkward format because you can’t see the comments that I was responding to on the replay. I still hope that this tutorial is helpful to anyone trying to make this dough for the first time :)