Here’s a recipe for Neapolitan style pizza you can make at home, inspired by the best pizza in Naples Italy! Includes a step-by-step video.
When you’ve had the best pizza in Naples Italy, it’s hard to go back. You know in the movie The Matrix when Neo is allowed to pick the blue and red pill, a choice between blissful ignorance or truth? Eating pizza in Naples, the place where pizza was invented, is like choosing the red pill. Once you’ve tasted Neapolitan pizza, you’ll never go back. Then you’ll spend the rest of your life trying to recreate it at home! Luckily, we did that for you. Here are all our tips and tricks for the best homemade Neapolitan pizza, so you can enjoy it for a lifetime!
Video: how to make Neapolitan pizza (2 minutes!)
Perfecting real Neapolitan pizza can be tricky. It’s easiest to learn by watching. Since we can’t come to your kitchen to show you ourselves, here’s the next best thing! 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!
What is Neapolitan pizza?
Neapolitan pizza is pizza made in the style that originated in Naples, Italy. Like any famous dish, there many variations on what it means to be “authentic.” After eating some of what is considered the best pizza in the world on the ground in Naples, here’s what Alex and I found are characteristics of Neapolitan pizza:
- Simple flavors: The best Neapolitan pizza restaurant we’ve been to, Da Michele, served only two flavors: Margherita and Marinara. Pizza margherita is tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, and Pizza marinara is simply tomatoes and garlic. Both were perfection in their simplicity.
- Soft, thin crust, cooked in a very hot oven: Most Neapolitan pizzas are baked in a wood fired pizza oven that’s around 800 to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. The crust is typically blackened by the fire, with puffed edges and very thin towards the middle.
- Simple tomatoes: The crust on Neapolitan pizzas is typically spread simply with tomatoes, usually San Marzano variety. The recipe below uses a simple sauce that mimics the flavors we had in Naples.
- Mozzarella: The cheese in Italy is top notch. Neapolitan pizza often uses fresh mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella cheese.
How to make Neapolitan pizza dough?
The essential part of Neapolitan pizza is the 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 pizza restaurant chefs in America, who themselves have studied the pizza in Naples!
- Use Tipo 00 flour. Tipo 00 flour is the type of Italian flour that Neapolitan pizza restaurants use. It makes for a beautiful, supple and fluffy dough. You can find it at your local grocery or online. If you can’t find it, you can use all-purpose; it will still make next level pizza!
- Refrigerate the dough 2 to 3 days before baking (optional). If you can, we recommend placing your pizza dough in a sealed container and refrigerating it for 2 to 3 days. This naturally ferments the dough and brings a nutty, complex flavor to the dough. Of course, this is optional: sometimes it’s not possible to think ahead!
Do I need Neapolitan pizza oven?
Wouldn’t it be nice if every human could own a Neapolitan pizza oven? We wish! No, you don’t need a Neapolitan pizza oven for this recipe. You can cook it in a standard oven at 500 degrees Fahrenheit along with a preheated pizza stone inside. (Don’t have one? Here’s the best pizza stone, plus some care tips.)
But, caveat! If you want those beautiful black char marks on your crust like in these photos, you’ll need a pizza oven. Why use a pizza oven? And what’s the best one to use?
- A pizza oven can get much hotter than a regular oven. Your standard oven can get only to 550 degrees, but a pizza oven reaches temperatures of up to almost 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit!
- What pizza oven to buy? Alex and I use a genius pizza oven called the Ooni pizza oven. The Ooni is small, transportable, and heats up to 1,000 degrees in just 10 minutes! It’s powered by wood pellets. Using the Ooni takes a bit of practice, but it’s revolutionized our homemade pizza.
What sauce should I use for Neapolitan pizza?
Most Neapolitan pizza recipes call for placing tomatoes right onto the dough. The San Marzano variety of tomato is a type of Italian tomato that is most often used on Neapolitan pizza. You can find canned San Marzano tomatoes in many grocery stores in the United States these days.
But recently, Alex and I discovered an even better trick for making a tomato sauce that was closer to what we remember from our Neapolitan pizza. Using fire-roasted tomatoes! They have a flavor that’s extremely sweet right out of the can. This Easy Pizza Sauce uses just 5 ingredients to make a flavor-popping pizza sauce that reminds us of the best pizza in Naples Italy.
Does Neapolitan pizza have basil?
Yes and no! Like any famous recipe, there are lots of opinions on what makes an authentic Neapolitan pizza recipe. If you’re making a Margherita-style pizza, we’d say basil is a must. When we had Naples pizza a few years ago, the pizza had one leaf of fresh basil on it. One leaf! Somehow, it brought in just the right basil flavor.
Should you put the basil on a pizza before or after baking? The answer depends on your oven. If you’re using a Neapolitan pizza oven, the bake time is only 1 minute. Because it’s in the oven for such a short time, the fresh basil stays green! But if you’re baking pizza in a standard oven, you’ll have to cook it for about 7 minutes. In that time, fresh basil turns fully black. So if you’re using a standard oven, make sure to add the basil after baking.
How to avoid watery pizza made with fresh mozzarella cheese?
Mozzarella cheese has a lot of moisture in it, which can sometimes result in a watery pizza! The moisture varies based on the brand. If you’re using fresh mozzarella cheese for this Neapolitan pizza recipe, do the following:
- Slice the mozzarella into 1/4 inch thick pieces for topping your pizza. (Using huge chunks causes a water build up.)
- If the brand seems extra watery, let it sit on a towel for about 15 minutes, then blot away the extra moisture.
This Neapolitan pizza recipe is…
Here’s a recipe for simple Neapolitan style pizza you can make at home, inspired by the best pizza in Naples Italy! Includes a step-by-step video.
- Prepare the dough using the Best Pizza Dough recipe (follow this video instruction for more). Follow the preparation instructions in the dough recipe if prepared in advance.
- Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 500°F. OR preheat your pizza oven (here’s the pizza oven we have!).
- Make the Homemade Pizza Sauce.
- Slice the mozzarella into 1/4 inch thick pieces. 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.
- When the oven is ready, stretch the dough into a circle; see How to Stretch Pizza Dough for instructions. Sprinkle a pizza peel with semolina flour or cornmeal, then carefully place the dough on top. Spread the pizza sauce across the dough. Top with mozzarella cheese. Taste a bite of the mozzarella cheese; if it does not taste salty, add a few pinches of kosher salt to the pizza.
- If you’re baking in a pizza oven, add the basil leaves. For baking in a standard oven, add the basil leaves after you bake (the leaves turn black in a standard oven).
- Transfer the pizza to the pizza stone on the pizza peel, then bake until the cheese is melted, about 7 minutes in the oven (or 1 minute in the pizza oven). Slice into pieces and serve immediately.
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: Pizza, Vegetarian Pizza, Neapolitan Pizza, Italian Pizza, Pizza Oven, Vegetarian, Entertaining,
Looking for artisan pizza recipes?
This Neapolitan pizza is one of our favorite artisan pizzas we’ve ever made at home! Here are a few of our other favorite homemade pizza recipes:
- Spicy Vegetarian Diavola Pizza
- Loaded Mexican Pizza
- Veggie Supreme Pizza
- Our Best Vegan Pizza
- Veggie Pizza with Avocado
- Artichoke & Cherry Tomato Pizza
- Italian Pizza with Pesto
- Best Anchovy Pizza
- Egg Pizza with Scallions
- Easy Calzone Recipe
- KitchenAid Pizza Dough Recipe
- Best Ever Taco Pizza
- Homemade Pizza for Beginners
- How to Make Artisan Pizza
- Easy Thin Crust Pizza Dough
- Related: 10 Romantic Dinner Recipes
Last updated: February 2020
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.