Margherita Pizza

Lean how to make Margherita pizza at home with step-by-step instructions, tips and tricks!

Your search for the best homemade Margherita pizza is here!  It’s made in a standard oven with minimal everyday ingredients but is chock full of saucy, garlicky, tomato flavor, creamy, buttery mozzarella cheese and fresh, vibrant, peppery basil on a perfectly thin, chewy crust.  You will fall in love with this Margherita pizza recipe with one bite, but you may need to devour the whole pizza just to be sure 😉.

top view of margherita pizza showing toppings:  pizza sauce, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil

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What is Margherita Pizza? 

Pizza Margherita, or more commonly, Margherita pizza in English (pronounced mahr-geh-ree-tah), is a type of pizza from Naples Italy.  It is made with a thin pizza crust, fresh tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil.

The pizza sauce is smeared over thinly rolled pizza dough, topped with slices of fresh mozzarella (never shredded), baked until the cheese is melted and toasted in spots, then drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and topped with fresh basil. It is magical.

Why do they call it a Margherita Pizza?

It is widely believed that Margherita pizza is named after the queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, in 1889, although similar pizzas existed before the official name. The queen was beloved by the people and became a popular symbol of the Italian monarchy, celebrated by poets, authors, and the press. She was heavily involved in the country’s politics but more known for her charitable work, frequently acting as the benefactor of hospitals, schools and institutions for children and the blind.  She even founded the first library for the blind in Florence.

Raffaele Esposito of Pizzeria Brandi, who was deemed the most famous pizza maker of the time in Naples, invented ”Pizza Margherita,” to honor the Queen and Italian unification.  The pizza toppings – pizza sauce (red), mozzarella (white) and basil (green) – represented the colors of Italy’s flag.

side view of homemade margherita pizza recipe with fresh basil and a thin, crispy crust

Margherita pizza Recipe

Margherita pizza has always been our gold standard for pizza.  My husband actually lived in Naples (or as he says, “Napoli” in Italian) years ago and has been on the hunt ever since for the closest facsimile he could find at every Italian restaurant. I also became a dedicated believer when we toured Italy two years ago, one pizza was never enough.

Margherita pizza can vary from city to city but Neapolitan Margherita pizza is made with a thin layer of pizza sauce, hand torn pieces of mozzarella di bufala; and fresh basil. The Buffalo mozzarella is key; it is a mozzarella made from the milk of Italian Mediterranean buffalo, specifically from Caserta and Salerno, Italy.  Buffalo mozzarella is extra rich, creamy and salty, often called “the queen of the Mediterranean cuisine,” “white gold” or “the pearl of the table.”  It is hard to get your hands on in states, or at least at a decent price, so most Italian-American restaurants use fresh mozzarella.  Margherita pizza is also characterized be being flash cooked at high heat in a wood fire oven so the thin crust is both soft, crispy and chewy all at the same time.

Now, that’s a lot to live up to.  I’m not going to claim this homemade Margherita pizza recipe tastes identical to Neapolitan Margherita pizza.  But it gets pretty close.  It is an astonishingly fabulous margherita pizza, and I daresay the best margherita pizza recipe you can make at home with the limitations of fresh mozzarella verses mozzarella di bufala and a pizza stone verses a screaming hot wood fired oven.  And if you’ve never tasted true Neapolitan Margherita pizza, you wouldn’t even know the difference.

After falling in love with Margherita pizza, I’ve researched, experimented and taste tested (I know, it’s a tough job), until I came up with this Patrick-approved Margherita pizza recipe.  It is addicting to say the least.  I crave, I want, I need!  

Despite how divine this homemade Margherita recipe tastes, it is actually very easy to make at home.  You don’t need a fancy oven, but you do need homemade pizza dough and homemade pizza sauce for best results because with so few ingredients, the quality of each ingredient is paramount.   But the good news is, both the dough and the sauce can both be made days ahead of time – actually, assembling the pizza takes minutes.

For the crust, I use a flavorful, chewy homemade pizza dough, a blazing hot oven, and a pizza stone to produce a crisp yet chewy pizza crust. For the pizza sauce, I use my speedy, no-cook pizza sauce made from canned fire roasted diced tomatoes, garlic and Italian seasonings that can be whipped up in 5 minutes in the blender.  Now, all that’s left to do is top the pizza with fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, then bake until melted cheesy, golden crust glory in just 10 minutes.  Then eat, awe, praise and repeat. 

Let’s make some!

What’s on a Margherita Pizza? 

Contrary to what you find at many pizza places in the US, a traditional Neapolitan Margherita pizza is made simply with fresh tomato sauce made from San Marzano tomatoes (from San Marzano sul Sarno, near Naples), fresh mozzarella cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, fresh basil, and olive oil. Seriously, that’s it!   

You won’t find sliced tomatoes, pesto, or anything else on a classic margherita pizza. Although those additions are delicious (I mean, pizza is always delicious in my book!), they’re not traditional. And as much as I love experimenting with my recipes, this is one case in which simplicity is superior. Of course, you can always add any toppings you wish to make a fun and flirty twist on the classic – just don’t call it pizza Margherita!

showing what's on a margherita pizza by adding pizza sauce, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and Parmesan to pizza

Best dough for margherita pizza recipe

For this margherita pizza recipe, I’ve used my homemade pizza dough recipe with hundreds of rave reviews, because nothing compares to homemade pizza dough.  The crust is thick, soft and chewy on the outside and thin and crispy in the center. It’s baked with olive oil and garlic salt for satisfying superior flavor in every bite.   Of course, you can use store bought pizza dough in a pinch.

My homemade pizza dough recipe is perfect for beginners because I’ve included step-by-step photos and lots of tips and tricks to guarantee success every time. So, if you have never made homemade pizza dough before, PLEASE don’t be intimidated!  Trust me that it really is quick to make (then it’s hand’s off rising) easy, delicious and SO WORTH YOUR TIME!

Please note that this recipe makes either two traditional pizza crusts or three thin crust pizzas.  You will want to make three thin crust pizzas.  You don’t want to use traditional thick crust because the toppings are so minimal and the dough will overshadow the toppings.

This pizza dough is also wonderful because you can refrigerate or freeze the leftover dough! After you let the dough rise and divide it into three balls, you can refrigerate or freeze the dough until ready to use. The margherita toppings are for one pizza, so simply double or triple depending on how many pizzas you are going to make at once.

HOMEMADE PIZZA EQUIPMENT RECOMMENDATIONS:

A pizza stone or pizza pan is essential for making margherita pizza at home because the crust needs to be done baking at the same time as the toppings.  So, let’s talk more about stones verses pans and which one is best for homemade pizza dough.  Rachel Arndt conducted a test between sheet pans vs. stones. You can read the details here.  In conclusion, I think if you buy high quality, it just comes down to personal preference – or nostalgia!

I Love my pizza stone, so there is no going back for me.  However, you can still get a perfectly crispy and tender pizza crust full of flavor with a pan.  Make sure to use each item how it is intended to be used.  It’s important that the crust cooks quickly and completely to avoid soggy, undercooked pizza.

  • Pizza Stone:  The crust begins cooking/searing immediately when the dough is placed on the hot stone which results in a beautify crispy crust.  Preheat the stone in a hot oven for 30 to 60 minutes, grease (spray, or parchment paper) and dust with cornmeal.  Be very careful when working with hot stone – I’ve got scars to prove it!
  • Pizza Pan:  If using a pizza pan, a perforated pan is a must.  Preheat the pan to so the pizza dough will cook as quickly as the toppings.  Cook in the middle or bottom of the oven.  There is delay with a pan vs stone, as the pan doesn’t heat as hot, but that obstacle is minimized with a perforated pizza pan.

Using Store-bought vs Homemade Pizza Dough 

Store-bought pizza dough is a nice shortcut when you haven’t prepped ahead, don’t want to spend any extra time in the kitchen, or life simply gets in the way. You can purchase pizza dough at the deli section of specialty grocery stores or even some pizza shops will let you buy it. In a pinch, you can always purchase dough in a can, which is still tasty, but don’t expect restaurant-delicious results.  Please note that store bought dough is likely thicker than traditional margherita pizza.

showing consistency of margherita pizza sauce by scooping up sauce with a spoon

Margherita Pizza Sauce

There are very few topping in margherita pizza so it’s important each one is quality, fresh and flavorful, starting with the margherita pizza sauce! This sauce will make your homemade margherita pizza taste straight out of an Italian pizzeria.  It boasts rich, bright tomato flavor, laced with fresh garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, onion, and red pepper flakes.

The next best thing about this margherita pizza sauce is that it’s ridiculously quick and easy to make in just 5 minutes with pantry friendly ingredients – you likely have everything you need on hand right now!  You’ll just quickly sauté the garlic then throw everything into the blender – that’s it!  This no-simmer method is the authentic way to make pizza sauce and delivers the best tasting sauce that cooks under the blast of the high heat oven delivering fresh, zippy tomato flavor.

The margherita pizza sauce recipe makes 2 cups, which is enough for 6 margherita pizzas. So, you can either make two batches of pizza dough and use all of the sauce or one batch of pizza dough and freeze half of the sauce for later.

Margherita Pizza Ingredients

Here’s all you’ll need for this easy margherita pizza recipe: 

  • Canned fire roasted diced tomatoesTraditional margherita pizza sauce is made of San Marzano tomatoes from Italy which are sweeter and les acidic than Roma tomatoes.  You are welcome to use them, but I find fire roasted tomatoes deliver superior flavor. Fire roasted tomatoes are tomatoes that have been roasted so they boast a complex sweet smokiness and are far less acidic than traditional tomatoes AKA you get TONS of flavor without the work!  Fire roasted tomatoes are located next to the traditional diced tomatoes – just make sure you purchase the ones without any added seasonings.
  • Tomato paste: Adds a rich, concentrated tomato flavor and thickens the sauce.  We won’t use the whole can for this recipe, so you can either purchase it in a tube or I like to freeze tomato paste by the tablespoon wrapped in parchment paper for future use.
  • Garlic cloves: Free to use more garlic depending on your garlic love. 
  • Olive oil: Use extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor. 
  • Dried herbs and spices: This Margherita pizza sauce is seasoned with dried oregano, basil, onion powder, thyme, pepper and red pepper flakes. No skimping on flavor here!  You can add more or less red pepper flakes depending on how much of a kick you would like.
  • Sugar: Tomatoes are highly acidic so they need to be balanced by some sugar. The amount of sugar will vary (even between the times you make the recipe), depending on personal taste and the acidity of the tomatoes.
  • Chicken BouillonMy secret ingredient! For additional depth of flavor, I’ve added just ½ teaspoon granulated chicken bouillon. Bouillon might sound like an odd ingredient, but I have tried making homemade pizza sauce with and without it, and it is far superior with the bouillon – just think salt with flavor!  The bouillon mimics the complex flavor of a sauce that has been reducing all day. You can use granulated chicken bouillon, better than bouillon or bouillon cubes. If you use cubes, you will need ½ cube. Crush it up without dissolving in water before adding to the blender.

Margherita Pizza Sauce Variations

  • Use whole canned tomatoes:  If you only have canned whole peeled tomatoes on hand, never fear!  You can substitute the diced tomatoes with whole canned San Marzano tomatoes that you blitz in a food processor.  You will need 1 ¾ cup after it’s crushed for the pizza sauce recipe.
  • Use crushed tomatoes: Substitute the diced tomatoes with one 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes – go for fire roasted Muir glen brand if you can.
  • Add other Italian style seasonings: You can swap the proportions of the herbs listed in the recipe such as adding more thyme and less oregano or add additional herbs altogether such as marjoram, fennel and/or rosemary. You could also add Italian seasoning, if desired. 
  • Garlic powder:  If you are in a zero-chopping mood, then you can substitute the garlic cloves for garlic powder.  You will need ¾ teaspoon. 
  • Add balsamic:  I often will add up to 1 teaspoon quality balsamic vinegar.  It enhances the sweet tanginess.
  • Make it spicy: Love spicy pizza sauce? Add more red pepper flakes or a dash of cayenne. 
  • Adjust consistency:  For a thicker pizza sauce, add more tomato paste; for a thinner pizza sauce, reduce the tomato paste or thin with water.
showing how to make margherita pizza by spooning margherita pizza sauce onto pizza dough

Margherita Pizza Toppings

The beauty of a homemade margherita pizza is the fresh ingredients.  In addition to pizza sauce, here’s what toppings you’ll need:

MOZZARELLA

Use fresh mozzarella (it will literally say “fresh mozzarella) like widely available BelGioisio brand.  Fresh mozzarella will likely be located with the specialty cheeses in the deli section. 

Please avoid:

  • Pre-sliced fresh mozzarella because we want the pieces thicker. If it’s all you can find, then double up the slices.
  • Fresh mozzarella packed in water because the cheese will weep too much and leave you with a soggy pizza.
  • Cheap blocks of part skim mozzarella that we’re all used to because as it’s not nearly as creamy and flavorful.
  • Pre-shredded mozzarella; it is coated in anti-clumping chemicals which prevent it from melting beautifully and as quickly.

OTHER TOPPINGS

  • Parmesan: Purchase a block of Parmesan and grate it yourself for the best flavor and texture. Avoid pre-shredded Parmesan and the powdered Parmesan that comes in a shaker can, as it’s often too dry and lacks flavor. 
  • Basil: Fresh basil is essential on a pizza margherita!  We are going to roughly tear it and it to the pizza before and after it bakes.
  • Olive oil:  Only extra virgin olive oil will give you the authentic flavor!

How to Make Margherita Pizza

If you’re new to the world of pizza making, you’ve picked the right recipe to begin with! A homemade pizza margherita is as easy as it gets since the toppings are so simple. Here’s a breakdown of the basic steps to making this classic pizza recipe: 

Step 1 – Make the pizza dough: Prepare the homemade pizza dough according to directions. For both homemade and store-bought dough, brush the shaped dough lightly with olive oil to prevent it from becoming soggy. Then, lightly sprinkle the dough with garlic salt (don’t forget the edges for a flavorful crust!) and poke several times with a fork to prevent it from bubbling up. 

If you have any questions at all about making homemade pizza dough, read through the entire blog post (linked above) for answers to FAQs, tips, and tricks. I’ve loaded up that post with as much info as possible so you feel 100% confident about making the recipe! 

showing how to make homemade pizza dough by dividing into three balls
Showing how to make Homemade Pizza Dough by piercing dough with fork and lightly coating with olive oil

Step 2 – Prepare the cheese: Chop the fresh mozzarella into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Let it sit on a paper towel to remove the moisture for about 30 minutes – you’ll be surprised how much water drains out!   Next, dab the mozzarella with the paper towel to remove any additional moisture. It’s important that you take the time to do this, otherwise you may wind up with a soggy pizza! 

Step 3 – Make the margherita pizza sauce: This step is super easy! Sauté the garlic in a splash of olive oil for 30 seconds, then add it to the blender along with the rest of the pizza sauce ingredients and blend to desired consistency, I like mine a little chunky. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings as you see fit (add more sugar to cut through any acidity, add salt and pepper to taste, etc.). 

showing how to make margherita pizza sauce by adding ingredients to a blender

Step 4 – Assemble the pizza: Spread a thin layer of margherita pizza sauce over the pizza crust (about ⅓ cup of sauce). Top evenly with mozzarella, a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan and some roughly torn basil. 

showing how to make margherita pizza recipe by adding sauce, mozzarella and basil

Step 5 – Bake the pizza: Bake the pizza margherita on a preheated pizza stone or baking sheet for about 8 minutes at a high heat, or until the cheese has melted and is slightly toasted and the edges are golden brown.

Step 6 – Top with basil: Let the margherita pizza rest for a minute before adding a drizzle of olive oil and a chiffonade of fresh basil. Then slice and dig in!

showing how to make margherita pizza recipe by topping with fresh basil

How to Make a Crispy Pizza Crust 

To achieve a homemade pizza crust that is crispy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside, you need a very hot pizza stone or perforated pan (you can also use a baking sheet in a bind). To do this. preheat the pizza stone (or pan) in the oven for 30 to 60 minutes at 550 degrees F while you roll out your dough. Once you transfer your pizza to the preheated stone, the dough will begin to sear immediately, resulting in a beautify crispy exterior and soft and chewy interior.

Tips for Making the Best Margherita Pizza 

  • Store bought pizza dough:  If you’re using store-bought pizza dough, let it come to room temperature before shaping.
  • Proof yeast:  If making homemade pizza dough, make sure you proof your yeast. You don’t want to go through all the work of making pizza dough only to find it doesn’t rise!
  • Brush crust with olive oil:  Don’t forget to brush the dough with extra virgin olive oil before adding the toppings because it prevents the crust from getting soggy – but don’t use a heavy hand!
  • Use FRESH cheeses:  Pre-shredded cheeses contain anti-clumping chemicals which prevent the cheese from melting as easily.  More importantly, fresh mozzarella and freshly grated Parmesan taste better!
  • Let the cheese drain: Even if your mozzarella doesn’t seem moist, you’ll be surprised how much moisture is released – so don’t shortcut this process – 30 minutes is the minimum! – or you will end up with pools of moisture all over your pizza and a soggy crust. 
  • Roll the pizza dough thin.  To achieve a thin crust, the pizza dough should be rolled into a 12-inch circle.  If it’s difficult to roll that large, then pick it up with your hands and let gravity do the work! Your pizza shape likely won’t be as uniform, but it’s much easier to shape this way.
  • Prep toppings: You want the mozzarella chopped and drained, the Parmesan grated and half of the basil roughly torn so you can assemble the pizza as quickly as possible and get that pizza stone back in the oven before the stone cools down.
  • Do not add a thick layer of pizza sauce:  The thicker the pizza sauce, the soggier the pizza!  The sauce should be thin enough you can see the dough through it. 
  • Use a pizza stone: Since we don’t have a wood fired oven, a preheated pizza stone is the next best thing.  Preheat the stone for at least 30 minutes – the longer the better! The preheated stone helps you achieve a crispy crust because it holds a ton of heat energy which releases into the dough upon contact and evaporates the moisture from the dough as it bakes, resulting in a crispier crust.
  • Bake your pizza in a very hot oven: 550 degrees F or 500 if your oven doesn’t ho up as high.
  • Add basil after the pizza comes out of the oven: Sometimes I’ll add fresh basil before and after the pizza come out of the oven, but if you don’t have enough go for after. For the best presentation, add the basil just before serving because it will wilt upon contact with the heat of the pizza.

How to make more than one margherita pizza

Unless you’re serving just 1-2 people, you will want to make more than one margherita pizza, luckily the pizza dough makes 3 thin crust pizzas and the margherita pizza sauce recipe makes enough for 6 margherita pizzas. So, you can either make:

  • 1 pizza: freeze the leftover sauce and pizza dough. 
  • 3 pizzas:  use half the sauce with one pizza dough recipe and freeze the rest of the sauce.
  •  6 pizzas:  use all of the sauce and double the pizza dough recipe.

I strongly recommend you make more rather than less margherita pizzas, because they go down fast and easy!  I can eat one whole pizza in one sitting!

showing margherita pizza toppings on pizza: pizza sauce, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and Parmesan

How to bake more than one margherita pizza

Margherita pizza is best devoured shortly after it’s out of the oven, so there’s a few ways you can accomplish this if making more than one pizza:

  • Serve in batches fresh out of the oven:  Serve the first pizza fresh out of the oven while it’s hot.  While people are devouring the first pizza, assemble the second pizza and pop it in the oven.  By the time they’re done oohing and awing over its brilliance, the second pizza will be done.  Repeat if making multiple pizzas.
  • Serve pizzas together:  Alternatively, if you want to serve multiple pizzas at once, bake the first one until done then transfer it from the pizza stone to a baking sheet on the counter.  Pop your second pizza into the oven.  The last couple minutes of baking, place the cooked pizza into the oven on a rack below the pizza stone. Now both pizzas will be hot at the same time!  

Recipe Variations to Try 

  • Individual pizzas.  If it’s a party or you simply want individual pizzas for family night, you can divide the dough into 4 or 6 pieces and roll it out.
  • Add toppings. I know this is a classic margherita pizza recipe, but you’re welcome to add your favorite pizza toppings such as tomatoes, if desired – just don’t call it margherita!  If using fresh veggies, slice them very thinly so they cook in the oven and don’t release too much water on top of the pizza. 

Can I Prep This Margherita Pizza Recipe in Advance? 

Yes! You can prep all the components of this recipe ahead of time. Here’s how to do it: 

  • The dough: Let dough rise through the second rise, then tightly wrap each dough ball in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for longer storage. When ready to use, unwrap the refrigerated dough and place it on a floured surface, parchment paper or non-slip mat. Let the dough come to room temperature (about 30-60 minutes) before rolling out while you preheat the pizza stone.
  • The pizza sauce: Can be made ahead and stored for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or frozen for up to 6 months.
  • The cheese: Grate the Parmesan up to 1 week in advance, and slice the mozzarella up to 48 hours before you plan on using it. 

How to Store and Reheat Margherita Pizza Recipe 

  • To store: Let cool completely, then store in an airtight container in the fridge to up to 5 days. Place parchment paper in between slices if stacking. 
  • To reheat pizza in the oven: Line a baking sheet with foil and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Transfer pizza (slices) to the baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until heated through.
  • To reheat pizza in the microwave: Microwave at 20-second intervals until heated through. Be aware that the crust will lose crunch in the microwave.
  • To reheat pizza on the stove: Add slices of pizza to a skillet and partiall cover. Heat over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until heated through. 
  • Air fryer:  Add slices to the basket and air fry for about 5 minutes.

Can You Freeze Pizza? 

Absolutely! You can freeze homemade margherita pizza, but be aware the cheese and fresh basil won’t have quite the same texture. To freeze:

  1. Bake pizza according to directions.
  2. Let pizza cool completely to room temperature.
  3. Add pizza slices to a large freezer bag and lay flat OR wrap the entire pizza a few times in plastic wrap, then in foil.  
  4. When ready to eat, remove from packaging and bake at 450 degrees F for 15-2o minutes or until heated through. 
margherita pizza by adding pizza sauce, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and Parmesan to pizza

What to Serve with Margherita Pizza 

This margherita pizza recipe is fabulous with just a big green salad, pasta salad and fruit. If you’re looking for more pizza side dish ideas, here are a few of my favorite to get you started:  

 Helpful Pizza Making Tools 

  • Pizza Stone: The crust begins cooking/searing immediately when dough is placed on the hot stone which results in a beautify crispy crust on the bottom that’s still soft and chewy in the middle AKA perfection.
  • Stand mixer:  I use my stand mixer because it saves time, elbow grease and it keeps my hands from getting gooey – but it’s not 100% necessary – the dough will just take a few more minutes and elbow grease without one.
  • Cheese grater: I use this kitchen tool constantly because FRESHLY grated cheese as opposed to bagged shredded cheese is always the way to go, especially in margherita pizza! Using freshly grated cheese also saves money, tastes better, and MELTS better.

Margherita pizza FAQs

Got more questions? Here are a few more questions we’ve been asked about margherita pizza:

What is the difference between Neapolitan and Margherita Pizza?

A Neapolitan pizza is any type of pizza from Naples and can have a wide variety of toppings. A margherita pizza is a type of Neapolitan pizza and only consists of tomato sauce, sliced mozzarella, basil, and extra virgin olive oil.

Is Margherita pizza healthy?

Although margherita is vegetarian, I would not call it healthy because it’s made mostly of carbs and cheese.  Still, because the toppings are minimal, and the crust is fairly thin, it’s healthier than most other types of pizza, especially greasy delivery!

Is Margherita pizza vegan?

No, Margherita pizza is vegetarian (if you omit the bouillon from the sauce) but it is not vegan because its star topping is mozzarella cheese. If you want a vegan option, go for pizza marinara, a pizza without cheese, just fabulous pizza sauce.  Better yet, skip the cheese and load on fresh veggies such as mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions.

Can you make a margherita pizza without sauce?

You can make a pizza without sauce, but you can’t call it margherita!   

Can I Use Another Type of Cheese Instead of Mozzarella?

No, fresh mozzarella is a key ingredient to Margherita pizza and cannot be substituted. If you use another type of cheese, you’ll be making cheese pizza, not margherita pizza.

Looking for More Homemade Pizza Recipes? 

up close of a slice of homemade margherita pizza with toppings

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Margherita Pizza

Your search for the best homemade Margherita pizza is here!  It’s made in a standard oven with minimal everyday ingredients but is chock full of saucy, garlicky, tomato flavor, creamy, buttery mozzarella cheese and fresh, vibrant, peppery basil on a perfectly thin, chewy crust.  You will fall in love with this Margherita pizza recipe with one bite, but you may need to devour the whole pizza just to be sure 😉.
Servings: 1 pizza
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 19 minutes

Ingredients

Toppings for ONE pizza (double, triple as needed)

  • 1/3 cup pizza sauce <–click link for recipe
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese (not packed in water) cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 8 large basil leaves

Instructions

  • Prepare pizza dough according to recipe directions. The recipe makes 3 thin crust pizzas, so you can make 3 margherita pizzas (triple the topping ingredients), or freeze the leftover dough for another time. Follow the directions all the way through adding the garlic salt and olive oil in step 9. Don’t skip preheating the pizza stone or pizza pan!
  • Prepare pizza sauce according to recipe directions. You’ll use ⅓ cup per pizza. Freeze leftover sauce or use it as a dip for breadsticks or calzones.
  • Chop cheese and transfer it in a single layer on paper towels to drain for 30 minutes. Dab the mozzarella with paper towels to remove any additional moisture before using.
  • Spread ⅓ cup of pizza sauce over the dough, leaving a ½- inch to 3/4-inch border. Evenly scatter the mozzarella cheese over top followed by the freshly grated Parmesan. Tear half of the basil leaves into pieces and sprinkle over the pizza.
  • Bake at 550 degrees F until the cheese is completely melted and beginning to toast in spots and the crust is golden, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Transfer pizza to a cutting board and allow to cool for a minute or two. Meanwhile, chiffonade the rest of the basil. Drizzle the top of the pizza with olive oil then sprinkle with the basil.

Notes

**Note: The toppings are for ONE pizza but my pizza dough recipe makes three thin crust pizzas.  So, you can either triple the margherita pizza toppings, or save the other pizza dough for later.

Tips for Making the Best Margherita Pizza 

  • Store bought pizza dough:  If you’re using store-bought pizza dough, let it come to room temperature before shaping.
  • Proof yeast:  If making homemade pizza dough, make sure you proof your yeast. You don’t want to go through all the work of making pizza dough only to find it doesn’t rise!
  • Mozzarella: Use fresh mozzarella (it will literally say “fresh mozzarella) like widely available BelGioisio brand.  Fresh mozzarella will likely be located with the specialty cheeses in the deli section. Please avoid: 1) Fresh mozzarella packed in water because the cheese will weep too much and leave you with a soggy pizza, 2) cheap blocks of part skim mozzarella because as it’s not nearly as creamy and flavorful, 3) Pre-shredded mozzarella; it is coated in anti-clumping chemicals which prevent it from melting beautifully and as quickly.
  • Roll the pizza dough thin.  To achieve a thin crust, the pizza dough should be rolled into a 12-inch circle.  If it’s difficult to roll that large, then pick it up with your hands and let gravity do the work! Your pizza shape likely won’t be as uniform, but it’s much easier to shape this way.
  • Prep toppings: You want the mozzarella chopped and drained, the Parmesan grated and half of the basil roughly torn so you can assemble the pizza as quickly as possible and get that pizza stone back in the oven before the stone cools down.
  • Do not add a thick layer of pizza sauce:  The thicker the pizza sauce, the soggier the pizza!  The sauce should be thin enough you can see the dough through it.
  • Use a pizza stone: Since we don’t have a wood fired oven, a preheated pizza stone is the next best thing.  Preheat the stone for at least 30 minutes – the longer the better! The preheated stone helps you achieve a crispy crust because it holds a ton of heat energy which releases into the dough upon contact and evaporates the moisture from the dough as it bakes, resulting in a crispier crust.

How to bake more than one margherita pizza

Margherita pizza is best devoured shortly after it’s out of the oven, so there’s a few ways you can accomplish this if making more than one pizza:
  • Serve in batches fresh out of the oven:  Serve the first pizza fresh out of the oven while it’s hot.  While people are devouring the first pizza, assemble the second pizza and pop it in the oven.  By the time they’re done oohing and awing over its brilliance, the second pizza will be done.  Repeat if making multiple pizzas.
  • Serve pizzas together:  Alternatively, if you want to serve multiple pizzas at once, bake the first one until done then transfer it from the pizza stone to a baking sheet on the counter.  Pop your second pizza into the oven.  The last couple minutes of baking, place the cooked pizza into the oven on a rack below the pizza stone. Now both pizzas will be hot at the same time!

Make Ahead 

You can prep all the components of this recipe ahead of time. Here’s how to do it:
  • The dough: Let dough rise through the second rise, then tightly wrap each dough ball in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for longer storage. When ready to use, unwrap the refrigerated dough and place it on a floured surface, parchment paper or non-slip mat. Let the dough come to room temperature (about 30-60 minutes) before rolling out while you preheat the pizza stone.
  • The pizza sauce: Can be made ahead and stored for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or frozen for up to 6 months.
  • The cheese: Grate the Parmesan up to 1 week in advance, and slice the mozzarella up to 48 hours before you plan on using it.
 

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8 Comments

  1. Ramya says

    will be making this soon with few subs i love pizza soooooooo much will dm you if i make this and let you know how it goes Thanks Ramya

    • Jen says

      I can’t wait for you to make it!

  2. MaryAnn Coy says

    Unable save this recipe in any fashion to my Pinterest Board. Will try again later. Margherita Pizza is my favorite.

    • Jen says

      I’m having all sorts of problems with my website on mobile but you should be able to save it on desktop. I have a new site design coming next week which will resolve any issues. Thank you for your patience!

  3. Teri Giese says

    Just wanted to let you know that on my phone I am unable to save to Pinterest.I don’t have a computer so I am outta luck

    • Jen says

      Hi Teri, I swapped pinterest plugins so hopefully it’s working now. I’m launching a new site design next week which should solve any issues. Thanks for your patience!

  4. Debby says

    Omg! This is by far the best pizza from scratch that I have ever made. I have to say I am a pizza fanatic. I make one or sometimes order in every Friday. I have a binder full of tried and tested recipes that are ok but never WOW me. Mine isn’t round but rectangular. I don’t have a pizza skin/peel, or stone so I just turned my cookie sheet over and baked it that way. Worked great. First time using cornmeal also and loved it. The sauce is to die for. This recipe made my day and can’t wait to make it for my daughter or other guests. It does taste as close to pizza made in Italy. Thank you so much.

    • Jen says

      You made my day Debby! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and for your awesome review! I am honored that a pizza connoisseur thinks this is the best homemade pizza! Thank you also for your tip about baking on the bottom of a cookie sheet-so happy it worked out! Have fun making pizza with your daughter!