Everything Basil Pizza

This epic basil pizza is all about one thing: BASIL. It’s got a thick layer of savory pesto, and is topped with loads of fresh leaves!

Basil Pizza

Are you basil obsessed? There’s nothing better than the peppery fresh flavor of this bright green herb. So get ready to take everything that’s incredible about basil and eat it as a pizza topping. That’s right: Everything Basil Pizza! (Get it? Sounds a lot like…this!) That means garlicky, thick homemade basil pesto slathered onto perfect pizza dough, topped with gooey mozzarella and a huge handful of fresh basil leaves. It’s the brightest green, tastiest basil pizza you’ll ever make.

Want a side with that? Try one of our 10 Best Sides to Go with Pizza.

How to make basil pesto

The first step to basil pizza is making basil pesto! If it’s summer and you’ve got a big bushy plant of basil, pesto is the place to use it. Of course if it’s not the season for basil, you can use purchased basil pesto or store-bought fresh basil leaves.

Our favorite pesto our Classic Basil Pesto: it’s garlicky, bright green, and everything a classic pesto should be! The recipe calls for 2 cups of basil leaves. If you don’t have that much, you can get away with making a half recipe. It’s especially helpful to have a small blender or immersion blender for a half recipe, since the quantities will be smaller! Here are the main steps for how to make pesto:

  • Place pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and garlic in a food processor and blend until finely chopped.
  • Add fresh basil leaves, lemon juice and salt. Start the food processor and add the olive oil in a steady stream. Voila: it’s pesto!
Basil pesto

Pesto variations

There are so many different variations on basil pesto! Our Basil Cashew Pesto features cashews, which are easier to find and cheaper than pinenuts. It’s a similar story for our Basil Walnut Pesto, which is just as good. We also have a Vegan Pesto (though if you’re making a pizza we assume you’re okay with eating cheese!). No matter which variation you make, it’s seriously easy to make pesto!

How to make pizza dough

The other major step in this basil pizza is making pizza dough! To shortcut the time required, you can also use store-bought dough. But for the very best basil pizza, our homemade pizza dough is a must. It’s the perfect texture: fluffy and chewy on the inside, and crispy on the outside. Here are a few things to keep in mind with pizza dough:

  • Pick your dough recipe. Our favorite is our Easy Pizza Dough, which has the absolute perfect texture. Another option is our Thin Crust Pizza Dough, easy to roll out into a thinner, crispier crust.
  • The dough requires a 45 minute rise, so plan ahead. Kneading the dough takes only 8 minutes. So most of the time required for making pizza dough is letting it rise! Start making it about 1 hour before you’d like to eat your pizza.
  • Stretching the dough takes a bit of practice. Pizza dough requires a little bit of finesse is shaping the dough. Pat the dough into a circle, then drape it on your knuckles to stretch it. If the dough ever becomes transparent, stop immediately and set it down for a minute. Once you pick it up again, the gluten will have relaxed and it will be possible to stretch. See the video in recipe for more!
Everything basil pizza

Pizza making tools

You’ll also need a few tools to bake your perfect pizza dough:

  • Pizza stone: A pizza stone is what makes Italian pizza crust crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Here’s the best pizza stone we’ve found, plus care tips.
  • Pizza peel: What’s a pizza peel? It’s a paddle used to slide the pizza onto the hot pizza stone in the oven. We recommend this Standard pizza peel or this Conveyor pizza peel.
Basil pizza

Putting together your basil pizza! (Don’t bake with the leaves on.)

Once you’ve got your basil pesto and pizza dough, this basil pizza is a breeze. Simply spread a layer of pesto onto the crust, and mozzarella and Parmesan cheese on the top. We added a sprinkle of dried basil for good measure, but it’s not necessary for flavor.

How to keep the basil leaves beautifully bright green? Place them on the pizza after baking it. Baking a pizza with basil leaves on top makes them turn a sad shade of black. Yes, don’t even think about baking those delicate leaves! You can see in the photo above that some of the basil is already getting a little black in spots because of the heat of the pizza.

Pizza with basil

How to grow basil

Growing your own basil is much cheaper and easier than buying it from the store. You don’t even need garden space to do it: just a sunny ledge! Here are a few tips on how to grow basil at home, and how to store it!

  • Plant it either in a garden or in pots on a sunny ledge. Buy a start plant at your local farmers market or garden store. Then plant it in a pot with plenty of drainage (or your garden. Make sure to prune it regularly by removing branches back to the first set of 2 leaves. Go to How to Grow Basil and How to Harvest Basil for more!
  • Store cut basil in a mason jar with water. Find a large jar and add a bit of water in the bottom. Then place the basil stems in cut side down and cover with a lid. Store in the refrigerator and it will last for 4 to 5 days, instead of just hours on the counter! See How to Store Fresh Basil.

Did you know you can dry basil at home? Go to How to Dry Basil.

Basil pizza

This basil pizza recipe is…

Vegetarian.

Print
clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon print print icon squares squares icon
Basil Pizza

Everything Basil Pizza


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (7 votes, average: 4.43 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8 slices 1x

Description

This epic basil pizza is all about one thing: BASIL. It’s got a thick layer of savory pesto, and is topped with loads of fresh leaves!


Scale

Ingredients


Instructions

  1. Make the pizza dough: Follow the Best Pizza Dough or Thin Crust Dough recipe to prepare the dough. (This takes about 15 minutes to make and 45 minutes to rest.)
  2. Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 500°F. OR preheat your pizza oven (here’s the pizza oven we use).
  3. Prepare the toppings: Make the Best Basil Pesto (or Cashew PestoWalnut Pesto, or Vegan Pesto). Thinly slice the fresh basil (or keep it whole if you like).
  4. Bake the pizza: When the oven is ready, dust a pizza peel with cornmeal or semolina flour. (If you don’t have a pizza peel, you can use a rimless baking sheet or the back of a rimmed baking sheet. But a pizza peel is well worth the investment!) Stretch the dough into a circle; see How to Stretch Pizza Dough for instructions. Then gently place the dough onto the pizza peel.
  5. Spoon the pesto onto the dough and spread it out with the back of the spoon. Then top with the mozzarella cheese in an even layer, then the Parmesan cheese. Add a pinch of dried basil and if you like, a sprinkle of kosher salt. (Most pesto is salty enough, but it depends on your pesto and cheese.)
  6. Use the pizza peel to carefully transfer the pizza onto the preheated pizza stone. Bake the pizza until the cheese and crust are nicely browned, about 5 to 7 minutes in the oven (or 1 minute in a pizza oven).
  7. Top with the basil leaves. Slice into pieces and serve immediately.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Basil pizza

Looking for more pizza recipes?

Outside of this basil pizza recipe, here are some of our favorite pizza recipes:

Last updated: February 2020

Subscribe for free weekly recipes & more!

About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

1 Comment

  • Reply
    Amy Chung
    September 4, 2019 at 2:36 am

    Yum! I was looking for simple pizza recipes and I found yours. Love it.

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.