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
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
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 1/3 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 1/3 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.
**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!
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.