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This margherita pizza recipe tastes like an artisan pie from Italy! It’s the perfect meld of zingy tomato sauce, gooey cheese and chewy crust.

Margherita pizza
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The ultimate pizza pie, in our opinion? The pure and simple pizza Margherita. This iconic Italian pie is truly something special: stretchy mozzarella cheese, garlicky pizza sauce, and peppery basil all piled on a chewy, charred crust.

Alex and I have spent over a decade researching authentic Italian pizza methods, interviewing experts, and even traveling to Naples Italy to taste it for ourselves! Here are the secrets to making the very best margherita pizza.

“I’ve used this recipe with the sauce and dough about 5 times now and every time in perfect! It tastes amazing and all my friends want it now. Super simple and not too time consuming. Love it!” -Christine

How to make margherita pizza: step by step

Here is an overview of how to make margherita pizza. For all the details, jump to the full recipe!

Step 1: Make the pizza dough

Step 1: Make the pizza dough. You’ll need 15 minutes to make it, then allow it to rise for 45 minutes. You can also make it ahead and refrigerate or freeze until ready to bake.

Step 2: Stretch the pizza

Step 2: Stretch the pizza dough and place it into a pizza peel. Go to How to Stretch Pizza Dough for our tips. Top the pizza with pizza sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small pieces.

Step 3 Bake the Margherita pizza on a pizza stone.

Step 3: Bake the pizza on a pizza stone in a 500°F oven for 6 to 7 minutes, or in a pizza oven for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and add fresh basil. Go to the full recipe for the tutorial.

Why is it called margherita pizza?

Pizza margherita showcases the colors of the Italian flag: red from the tomato sauce, white from the mozzarella, and green from the basil. The story goes that it was named after Queen Margherita of Savoy, an Italian queen in the 1800’s.

How to pronounce margherita? With an proper Italian accent, it sounds like mar-geh-REE-ta. It sounds like the classic Mexican cocktail, the margarita, which incidentally is a common misspelling of this word!

Tools you’ll need for homemade margherita pizza

It’s easy to make margherita pizza with a few tools and tips! To get that authentic Italian crispy-on-the-outside crust, you need to bake it at a very high temperature on a blazing hot pizza stone. Here are the tools you’ll need:

  • Pizza stone: This is what makes the crust crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Here’s the pizza stone we recommend.
  • Pizza peel: A pizza peel is a paddle used to slide a pie onto the hot stone in the oven. We recommend this standard pizza peel. A conveyor pizza peel is worth the investment: it’s handy for easily sliding the pizza onto the stone.

🔥Try a pizza oven if you really want to step up your game! True artisan pizza is cooked at temperatures much hotter than your standard oven can achieve. The oven we recommend is relatively inexpensive and heats quickly to 1000°F.

Tips for the pizza dough

Alex and I worked on the pizza dough in this margherita pizza recipe for years, and it’s gotten lots of rave reviews from readers! The recipe incorporates what we’ve learned from some of the premiere pizza chefs in America, who themselves have studied the pizza in Naples. Here are a few tips:

  • The best flour for margherita pizza dough is Tipo 00 flour. This type of Italian flour is used by pizzerias and makes a supple, fluffy dough. We buy our Tipo 00 flour online. All-purpose or bread flour also work, but Tipo 00 makes the best pizza dough, hands down.
  • Use a great pizza dough recipe. Our master pizza dough recipe is the best method for fluffy, artisan-style pizza dough. You can make it using a stand mixer or knead it by hand. Or try thin crust pizza dough, which similar but rolled out using a rolling pin.
  • If desired, try alternative pizza dough recipes that are easier and don’t require a pizza stone or stretching. These sheet pan pizza or focaccia pizza recipes make two pizzas at once in a sheet pan. You can also make cast iron pizza or pan pizza in a skillet.

Pro tip: Make the pizza dough in advance and refrigerate it for up to 3 days: it increases in flavor over time! Or, you can freeze pizza dough for up to 3 months.

Margherita pizza recipe with basil and mozzarella cheese.

Margherita pizza ingredients

In Italy, the traditional margherita pizza topping ingredients are fresh mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, and a sauce made from crushed tomatoes, garlic, salt and herbs. Often the cheese is mozzarella di bufala, a fresh cheese made from the milk of water buffalos that has a creamy texture.

The margherita pizza ingredients you need for topping this recipe are:

  • Tomatoes: Our simple pizza sauce recipe stars canned fire roasted tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt and herbs. Fire roasted tomatoes have a sweet, developed flavor and are available at most US grocery stores. Substitutes include San Marzano tomatoes or other best quality canned tomatoes.
  • Cheese: Use fresh mozzarella cheese here, the kind sold in balls, and cut it into small pieces for overall coverage. We like to top with a light sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese for flavor complexity (but it’s not required).
  • Basil: Fresh basil is key to the flavor of a great margherita pizza. Make sure to add to the pizza after baking so that is stays beautifully green (basil turns black in minutes in the oven).

Video with step by step instructions

Perfecting margherita pizza can be tricky: turns out, it’s easiest to learn by watching. This step-by-step video shows exactly how to make the pizza, from kneading to shaping to baking. We highly recommend watching this before you start!

Margherita pizza recipes

More homemade pizza recipes

Love a great homemade pizza? Here are a few more of our favorite pizza recipes:

Dietary notes

This margherita pizza recipe is vegetarian. For gluten-free, use our Gluten-Free Pizza Dough.

Frequently asked questions

What are the essential ingredients for a Margherita pizza?

A true Margherita pizza features a base of fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil leaves, and a sprinkle of salt. They’re placed on a bed of classic tomato sauce atop a hand-stretched pizza dough.

Fresh mozzarella offers a creamy and slightly sweet taste that complements the other ingredients perfectly. If desired, you can top with a thin layer of grated Parmesan cheese.

Can I use other types of tomatoes?

San Marzano tomatoes are prized for their sweetness and acidity, making them ideal for Margherita pizza. We like using canned fire roasted tomatoes for a similar flavor profile.

What kind of pizza dough is best?

A classic Neapolitan pizza dough made with Tipo 00 flour and cooked in a very hot oven is ideal. However, homemade or store-bought pizza dough can work too!

What temperature should I bake my margherita pizza at?

Aim for a high temperature (around 450°F to 500°F) to achieve a crispy crust. Baking on a preheated pizza stone can further enhance the crust’s texture.

When is the best time to add the basil?

Fresh basil is best added after baking. The heat wilts the leaves slightly, releasing their fragrant aroma without burning them.

Can I make this pizza ahead of time?

The dough can be prepared in advance, but assemble and bake the pizza right before serving for optimal freshness and a crispy crust. Leftovers can be reheated in the oven or in a dry skillet on the stovetop (add a drop or two of water and heat covered for a nice way to reheat).

How can I transfer the pizza to the hot oven without a pizza peel?

You can use a parchment paper “peel.” Slide the pizza onto a large piece of parchment paper dusted with flour. Then, carefully slide the parchment paper with the pizza onto the preheated pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven.

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Margherita pizza recipes

Homemade Margherita Pizza


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4.6 from 7 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 7 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 7 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings (2 slices each) 1x

Description

This margherita pizza recipe tastes like an artisan pie from Italy! It’s the perfect meld of zingy tomato sauce, gooey cheese and chewy crust.


Ingredients

Scale

For the pizza dough

For the pizza sauce

  • 1 small garlic clove (1/2 medium)
  • 15 ounces crushed fire roasted tomatoes or San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (scant)

For the toppings

  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup pizza sauce
  • ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese or 2 to 3 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan cheese, for topping (optional)
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Instructions

  1. 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.)
  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. 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 ⅓ cup for the pizza; reserve the remaining sauce and refrigerate for up to 1 week.)
  4. Prepare the cheese: If using fresh mozzarella cheese, slice it into ¼ 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.
  5. 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. 
  6. Spread a thin layer of the pizza sauce over the dough, using about ¼ to ⅓ cup. Add the mozzarella cheese. Top with a thin layer of fresh grated Parmesan cheese (if using) and a few pinches of kosher salt.
  7. 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).
  8. 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.

Notes

*Make the pizza dough 1 hour in advance (for day of preparation), or you can make it in advance and refrigerate up to 3 days. Refrigerating the dough actually adds to the flavor. Allow refrigerated dough to come to room temperature before using by letting it stand for about 30 to 45 minutes. You can also freeze the dough: go to How to Freeze Pizza Dough.

**Make the pizza sauce up to 1 week in advance and refrigerate.

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

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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26 Comments

  1. pablo says:

    pizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizza🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕






  2. Doug Armey says:

    I’ve been making your recipe for the Margherita pizza using your sauce. It is absolutely delicious.

    A quick question about how much Parmesan cheese are you using in ounces or grams?

    Thanks, Doug

  3. Docmike says:

    Excellent recipe. Thank you.






  4. Andy says:

    A margherita pizza has no tomato sauce. It merely uses olive oil (as the base), Roma tomatoes, mozzarella (large ball or mini balls) and basil. That’s it. Nothing more.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pizza_Margherita






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