This margherita pizza recipe is a celebration of simple, fresh ingredients! Juicy tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella cheese top a crisp, chewy crust.
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:
- San Marzano tomatoes
- Fresh mozzarella cheese
- 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
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.
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.
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.
Top with the mozzarella…
…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!
My favorite way to serve a margherita pizza is with a salad on the side. It goes nicely with any of these recipes:
More Homemade Pizza Recipes
If you love this recipe, try one of these homemade pizzas next:
- Favorite Veggie Pizza
- Pesto Pizza
- Sweet Corn Pizza
- Cast Iron Skillet Pizza
- Best Vegan Pizza
- Or any of these Homemade Pizza Recipes!
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 2 small garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Cornmeal, for stretching the dough
- 1 pound Pizza Dough, store-bought or homemade
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, torn or thinly sliced
- Fresh basil leaves
- Red pepper flakes, for sprinkling
- 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.