Our best margherita pizza recipe is based on our visits to Italy and years of research! It features tangy pizza sauce & a perfect chewy pizza crust.
After falling in love with artisan pizza on our honeymoon in Rome Italy, Alex and I have spent years of research on how to recreate perfect Italian pizza at home. And there’s no topping we love more than the margherita. Stretchy mozzarella cheese, tangy tomatoes, and peppery basil are all piled on a chewy charred crust. After a research trip to the birthplace of pizza, Naples Italy, and interviewing some renowned experts, we’ve gotten the inside scoop to the world’s best pizza. And now we’re sharing it with you! Here are the secrets to making the best margherita pizza on the planet.
Related: Homemade Pizza for Beginners
Video: How to make margherita pizza
First off: let’s start with a video! Because it’s easiest to learn how to make and stretch dough by watching it, here’s an instructional video. Above, Alex and I show you exactly how to make margherita pizza, from dough to baking.
What is margherita pizza?
What’s the origin of this popular pizza topping? Allegedly invented in the 1800s, pizza margherita showcases the colors of the Italian flag: red from the tomato sauce, white from the mozzarella, and green from the basil. What does margherita pizza mean? Widespread belief is that the margherita is named after Queen Margherita of Savoy, an Italian queen in the 1800’s.
How to pronounce margherita pizza? It sounds essentially like margarita (which incidentally is a common mis-spelling). With an proper Italian accent, it sounds like pi-za mar-geh-ri-ta.
How to make authentic Italian margherita pizza at home
Is it easy to make margherita pizza? After you’ve learned our tricks, we hope you’ll find it to be easy—or at least, simple! A key to making a high-quality pie is to use the best ingredients possible. Because there are so few toppings, it’s worth buying high quality canned tomatoes and fresh mozzarella (more on that below).
To get that authentic Italian crispy-on-the-outside crust, you need to bake it at a high temperature, preferably on a hot stone. Here are the tools you’ll need to make truly great margherita pizza:
- Pizza stone: This is what makes the crust crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Here’s the pizza stone we recommend, and a bit more on how to care for it.
- Pizza peel: A peel is used to slide your pie onto the hot stone in the oven. We recommend this Standard pizza peel or this Conveyor pizza peel. The conveyor peel is absolutely worth the extra investment for ease of use.
- Pizza oven (optional): Do you need a pizza oven? Not at all! But if you really want to step up your game, artisan pizza is cooked at temperatures way hotter than your standard oven can achieve. We’ve found a relatively inexpensive oven that heats to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit in just 10 minutes! Here’s the Ooni pizza oven we use, and more on why we think it’s the best out there.
How to make pizza dough
To make a great margherita pizza, you’ve got to start with a great pizza dough. Alex and I have been working on our recipe for over 10 years. In honing our dough recipe, we’ve learned a few things from some of the premiere chefs in America, who themselves have studied the pizza in Naples!
Our second-best tip for next-level pizza dough is to use great flour. The flour we use is called Tipo 00 flour; it’s what Neapolitan pizza restaurants use. It makes for a beautiful, supple and fluffy dough. We buy our Tipo 00 flour online.
But our best tip for pizza dough? Use the best recipe! Here’s ours, and a few variations you can make depending on your tastes and equipment:
- Master Recipe: Pizza Dough is the absolute best method. You can make it using a stand mixer or your own two hands.
- Easy Thin Crust Pizza is similar, but you’ll roll it out thinner with a rolling pin.
- Quick Food Processor Dough is fast and uses a food processor to mix.
The secrets to margherita pizza toppings
What’s on a margherita pizza? The traditional margherita pizza ingredients are mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, and basil. Some experts will argue that it can also have a topping of Parmesan cheese. You’ll see that the toppings are minimal, but they all add up to big flavor. Because the toppings are so simple, they must be top of the line in quality. Here are the secrets to the best margherita pizza toppings:
- Tomatoes: How to find that perfect tomato flavor? Our best margherita pizza sauce is a made of fire roasted canned tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and salt. The type of tomato is very important here: canned fire roasted tomatoes are becoming widely available at groceries and online. If you can’t find them, opt for the highest quality canned tomato (use the San Marzano variety if available).
- Cheese: What’s the best mozzarella for pizza? Use fresh mozzarella cheese, and cut it into small pieces for overall coverage. See the photo below for the approximate size. Then add a light grating of Parmesan cheese for extra complexity.
- Basil: Using fresh basil is key. Add it after baking your pizza in the oven so that it will stay green—otherwise it turns black).
It takes a little bit of practice, but you’ll be making homemade margherita pizza in no time! And you can put your know-how to use in our other favorite pizza recipes, too.
Want a side with that? Accessorize with one of our 10 Best Sides to Go with Pizza.
Margherita pizza FAQ
Got more questions? Here are a few more questions we’ve been asked about margherita pizza:
Is Margherita pizza healthy? We wouldn’t call it a health food. But because the toppings are minimal and the crust is fairly thin, it’s healthier than other types: especially delivery. You might be surprised to find that this margherita pizza is just 100 calories per slice. For the full nutrition facts, scroll down to the recipe below.
Nope. But there is an Italian vegan topping topping called pizza marinara: it’s pizza without cheese, just garclicky tomato sauce on top. Another option is this Best Vegan Pizza recipe, topped with loads of veggies.
This just refers to Neapolitan-style pizza, the classic style in Naples, Italy. Got to our Neapolitan Style Pizza Recipe.
No. We’re purists over here, so our position is that if there’s no sauce, it’s not margherita. Pizza without sauce is traditionally called white pizza or pizza bianca.
Looking for more homemade pizza recipes?
Outside of this pizza recipe, here are a few more of our favorites:
- Pesto Pizza
- Spinach Artichoke Pizza
- Homemade Cheese Pizza
- Salad Pizza with Ranch
- Loaded Mexican Pizza
- Breakfast Pizza with Scrambled Egg
- Best Ever Taco Pizza
- Neapolitan Style Pizza
- Our Favorite Pizza Topping Ideas
- How to Make Homemade Artisan Pizza
This recipe is…
This homemade margherita pizza recipe is vegetarian.Print
The most classic homemade pizza, this margherita pizza recipe features a tangy pizza sauce, gooey mozzarella, and a perfect chewy pizza crust.
For the pizza dough
- 1 ball Best Pizza Dough (or Food Processor Dough or Thin Crust Dough)
- Semolina flour or cornmeal, for dusting the pizza peel
For the pizza sauce
- 1 small garlic clove (1/2 medium)
- 15 ounces crushed fire roasted tomatoes or high quality organic canned tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- Scant 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the toppings
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup pizza sauce
- 3/4 cup shredded cheese or 2 to 3 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- A few fresh basil leaves
- Make the pizza dough: Follow the Best Pizza Dough recipe to prepare the dough. (This takes about 15 minutes to make and 45 minutes to rest.)
- Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 500°F. OR preheat your pizza oven (here’s the pizza oven we use).
- Make the pizza sauce: Cut the garlic into a few rough pieces. Place the garlic, tomatoes, olive oil, oregano and kosher salt in a blender. Blend until fully combined. (You’ll use about 1/3 cup for the pizza; reserve the remaining sauce and refrigerate for up to 1 week.)
- Prepare the cheese: If using fresh mozzarella cheese, slice it into 1/4 inch thick pieces (see the photos of the pre-baked pizza above). If it’s incredibly watery fresh mozzarella (all brands vary), you may want to let it sit on a paper towel to remove moisture for about 15 minutes then dab the mozzarella with the paper towel to remove any additional moisture.
- 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.
- Spread a thin layer of the pizza sauce over the dough, using about 1/4 to 1/3 cup. Add the mozzarella cheese. Top with a thin layer of fresh grated Parmesan cheese and a few pinches of kosher salt.
- 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).
- Allow the pizza to cool for a minute or two before adding the basil on top (whole leaves, lightly torn, or thinly sliced). Slice into pieces and serve immediately.
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: margherita pizza recipe, margarita pizza, Italian style pizza, artisan pizza, pizza recipes, homemade margarita pizza
More vegetarian Italian recipes
Here are a few more of our favorite vegetarian Italian recipes:
- Simple Calzone Recipe
- Tomato & Grilled Eggplant Stacked Sandwich
- Creamy Pasta Marinara
- 5-Minute Gnocchi with Romesco Sauce
- Spaghetti with Vegetarian Meatballs
- KitchenAid Pizza Dough Recipe
- 10 Romantic Dinner Recipes
- Easy Dinner Recipes for Two
About the Authors
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 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.