This margherita pizza recipe tastes like a woodfired pie from Italy! It stars a flavor-popping pizza sauce and perfectly chewy pizza crust.
You can get fancy with pizza toppings, but let’s face it. The ultimate pie is the pristine and simple the Pizza Margherita. Stretchy mozzarella cheese, tangy tomatoes, and peppery basil are all piled on a chewy charred crust. We’ve spent years researching authentic Italian pizza, traveling to the birthplace of pizza, Naples Italy, and interviewing experts. And now we’re sharing it with you! Here are the secrets to making the best margherita pizza on the planet.
Video: How to make margherita pizza
What is margherita pizza?
What’s the origin of this popular pizza topping? 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. Widespread belief is that the margherita is named after Queen Margherita of Savoy, an Italian queen in the 1800’s.
Tools for homemade margherita pizza
Is it easy to make margherita pizza? First you’ll need 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. The key? A blazing hot pizza stone. Here are the tools you’ll need to make truly great pie:
- 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 a paddle used to slide a pie onto the hot stone in the oven. We recommend this standard pizza peel or this conveyor pizza peel. The conveyor makes it incredibly easy to slide onto the stone (it’s worth the investment).
- 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. Here’s the Ooni pizza oven we use: it’s relatively inexpensive and heats to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit in just 10 minutes.
How to make pizza dough
Great margherita pizza needs a great dough. Alex and I have been working on our recipe for over 10 years. These dough recipes incorporate tips from some of the premiere pizza chefs in America, who themselves have studied the pizza in Naples. Here’s what to know:
- Use the best pizza dough recipe! Here are two options:
- For next level dough, use Tipo 00 flour. The best flour is Tipo 00: it’s what Neapolitan pizza restaurants use. It makes for a beautiful, supple and fluffy dough. We buy our Tipo 00 flour online. All-purpose flour also works well, so it’s not required!
The margherita pizza toppings
What’s on a margherita pizza? The traditional margherita pizza ingredients are mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, and basil. Because the toppings are so simple, they must be top quality. Here are the secrets to the best margherita pizza toppings:
- Tomatoes: Make our 5-minute margherita pizza sauce and prepare to be amazed! It’s made with canned fire roasted tomatoes, which have a sweeter flavor than most. They’re easily available at most US grocery stores. Or substitute the highest quality canned tomato you can find (look for San Marzano if possible).
- Cheese: What’s the best mozzarella for pizza? Use fresh mozzarella cheese, the kind sold in balls, then cut it into small pieces for overall coverage (see below). A light topping of grated Parmesan cheese adds 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.
This homemade margherita pizza recipe is…
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
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- Scant ½ teaspoon kosher salt
For the toppings
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup pizza sauce
- ¾ 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 ⅓ 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 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.
- 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 ¼ to ⅓ 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, homemade margarita pizza
Margherita pizza FAQ
Got more questions? Here are a few more facts about this tasty Italian pie:
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.
More homemade pizza recipes
Outside of this pizza recipe, here are a few more of our favorites: