Margherita Pizza

This margherita pizza recipe is a celebration of simple, fresh ingredients! Juicy tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella cheese top a crisp, chewy crust.

Margherita pizza

I think of margherita pizza as the heartier cousin of Caprese salad, with a crisp, chewy crust supporting the delicious trio of tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella. You’ll find this classic pizza on the menu of any Neapolitan pizza joint, but you can also make a really great homemade version. This margherita pizza recipe is here to prove it!

What is Margherita Pizza?

Margherita pizza hails from Naples, Italy. It features three iconic toppings:

  1. San Marzano tomatoes
  2. Fresh mozzarella cheese
  3. Basil leaves

According to Marcella Hazan’s cookbook Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, the pizza was first made for Italy’s Queen Margherita when she visited Naples in the late nineteenth century. The red, white, and green toppings were patriotic, as they decorated the pizza with the colors of the Italian flag.

Margherita pizza ingredients

Margherita Pizza Ingredients

My biggest tip for making margherita pizza is to use the best ingredients you can find.

Because this classic dish is so simple, the quality of each component counts.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Pizza dough, of course! We make our own with this pizza dough recipe. It’s easy to make with ingredients like flour, water, and yeast, and it yields a chewy, delicious pizza crust. Of course, store-bought fresh pizza dough works here too.
  • Canned whole tomatoes – You don’t need fresh tomatoes to make a great margherita pizza. Instead, you’ll pulse good-quality canned tomatoes into a no-cook homemade pizza sauce with olive oil, garlic, and salt. San Marzano tomatoes, a sweet variety of Italian plum tomatoes, are traditional here. Use them if you can!
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese – The perfect rich counterpart to the tomatoes and basil. Cut it into thin slices or tear it before topping the pizza.
  • Fresh basil – Its fresh flavor takes this pizza over the top! You’ll sprinkle it over the pizza after baking so that it doesn’t wilt in the oven.
  • Red pepper flakes – They add a kick of heat.
  • And extra-virgin olive oil – For rich, fruity flavor.

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Pizza dough on a pizza peel

How to Make Margherita Pizza

The first step in this margherita pizza recipe is preparing the tomato sauce.

Place the canned tomatoes and their juices, olive oil, garlic, and salt in a food processor. Blend until smooth.

Next, stretch the dough. Don’t worry if you don’t have any fancy pizza-making equipment like a pizza peel or pizza stone. A baking sheet works perfectly for this recipe!

Dust it with cornmeal and stretch the dough into a large oval.

Spread San Marzano tomatoes on crust

Then, add the toppings. Spread a heaping 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce over the pizza dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges.

This recipe makes extra pizza sauce! Store leftover sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze it for up to 3 months.

  • Tip: I like to freeze small portions of the sauce so that I can just thaw enough for one pizza at a time.

Topping crust with fresh mozzarella

Top with the mozzarella…

Pizza topped with San Marzano tomatoes and fresh mozzarella on parchment

…and bake! Transfer the pizza to a 500°F oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown.

Remove the pizza from the oven and top it with the fresh basil leaves, red pepper flakes, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Slice and serve. That’s it!

Sliced Margherita pizza on parchment

Serving Suggestions

My favorite way to serve a margherita pizza is with a salad on the side. It goes nicely with any of these recipes:

Enjoy!

Margherita pizza recipe

More Homemade Pizza Recipes

If you love this recipe, try one of these homemade pizzas next:

Craving more Italian classics? Try this eggplant caponataeggplant Parmesan, or spaghetti aglio e olio recipe.

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Margherita Pizza

rate this recipe:
4.84 from 18 votes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves 3 to 4
This homemade margherita pizza is so easy and delicious! My biggest tip for this recipe is to use good-quality ingredients like fresh basil and sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes. Because the recipe is so simple, you'll really taste the difference.

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 500°F.
  • In a food processor, place the tomatoes and their juices, olive oil, garlic, and salt. Process until smooth.
  • Dust a baking sheet with cornmeal. Place the pizza dough on the baking sheet and stretch it into a large oval.
  • Spread a heaping ½ cup of the tomato sauce* evenly over the pizza dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges.
  • Top with the mozzarella and transfer to the hot oven. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the crust is browned.
  • Remove from the oven and top with fresh basil and pinches of red pepper flakes. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Notes

*Store leftover pizza sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze it for up to 3 months. 

 

17 comments

4.84 from 18 votes (12 ratings without comment)

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. April
    04.15.2024

    5 stars
    This was great. My family is vegetarian so we love a margherita pizza 🙂 I didn’t use flour etc for the dough and just used a premade doughball from heb. I pressed it into a sheet pan. Those san marzano tomatoes changed my life, lol.

  2. Molly
    12.15.2023

    2 stars
    I was so disappointed with how this pizza turned out. The cornmeal ruined the texture of the crust and it burned about half way through the baking process. Definitely going back to using Semolina.

  3. Shaheen
    11.07.2023

    5 stars
    Making Pizza Margherita at home is a delightful experience that brings the authentic flavors of Italy right in my kitchen.

  4. Lainey
    05.23.2022

    5 stars
    Hi Jeanine.
    Its my 2nd time making your pizza dough recipe, both times turned out great. The 1st time I may have over cooked by 1 min or so, this 2nd time I went one shelf higher and 1 or 2 mins less. Perfect. You really need to keep your eye on it at 500.

    Now on to the your Margherita recipe. I loved that I didn’t cooked the sauce and it was perfection. I had to use a combo of mozzarella cheeses I was a bit shy of the 8 oz for the fresh so just added some shredded brick mozzarella and then the fresh on top. So good.
    Question: Do you have any trick when adding the basil. I did not add it immediately – because when the pizza is too hot it goes black. Also, if it gets hit with the olive oil is also blackens. I waited till it cooled a bit and then put it on top – but would have liked it hotter. Any suggestions?
    Another keeper – both the dough, and the tomato sauce – will never buy pizza dough again and will never cook a tomato sauce for pizza. Winner Dinner.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.26.2022

      Hi Lainey, I’m so glad the pizza and it’s components were such a hit! Unfortunately, I don’t have a better tip for you, basil just bruises and wilts easily.

  5. Jessica Wolvin
    05.22.2022

    I used your dough and sauce recipe, and the pizza was delicious! Thank you, it was a hit!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.23.2022

      I’m so happy to hear!

  6. Sue A Brown
    10.28.2021

    Fresh mozzarella was supposed to be put on prior to baking then bake for 12 minutes.

  7. Naomi Lee
    08.05.2021

    Sensational! I added some chicken, black olives, and extra fresh herbs to mine. Craving it after finishing it.

  8. Lisa Sorzano
    06.05.2021

    How would you recommend cooking the pizza on a grill?

  9. Kelly
    02.03.2021

    Excited to try this recipe! What do you do with leftover sauce? How long is it good for? Can it be frozen?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.03.2021

      Hi Kelly, you can keep it in the fridge for about 5 days or freeze it!

  10. Sheri
    12.09.2020

    5 stars
    I made this for dinner last night as a trial run to making again on Friday for two other guests. Naturally, it was so beautiful I took pics and sent to my sisters of whom complimented the outcome. It was so satisfying, hearty and delicious I’m looking forward to preparing it for others! This will definitely satisfy a pizza craving. I will say that out of convenience and quirkiness, I did use an organic pizza crust I buy at Trader Joe’s. This pizza was absolutely perfect and I’m a picky pizza eater. I wish I could add a picture of my end result!

  11. Sabrina from newkitchenlife.com
    09.16.2019

    a beautiful margarita pizza, thank you, I haven’t had one that looks like this since Naples

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.23.2019

      thanks Sabrina!

  12. sandhya
    09.16.2019

    5 stars
    Add mushroom in the recipe, the taste is delicious.

    • Sara
      09.17.2019

      Thanks for the suggestion. Will try.

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Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.