Margherita Pizza Recipe

Outside of Italy, the best Margherita Pizza may be in your own kitchen. This classic Naples style pizza uses only a handful of the best ingredients: tomato, mozzarella, and fresh basil. Perfetto!

Sure, you love all things Caprese with all your heart, but have you ever tasted its close relative, the Pizza Margherita? If you prefer meat on your pizza, try my BBQ Chicken Skillet Pizza.

Overhead picture of a margherita pizza on a cutting board.

Pin Now To Save!PIN IT

This Margherita pizza recipe uses the colors of the Italian flag—red, white, and green– on a thin crust that cooks quickly. A thin drizzle of extra virgin olive oil at the very end wouldn’t hurt, either.

This recipe cooks the pizza in an oven-safe skillet, like a cast iron Lodge pan, but you can cook it on a baking stone, an aluminum pizza pan, or a fancy-schmancy baking steel, too. Whatever you do, just make it!

Margherita Pizza origin:

This Neapolitan pizza has a disputed history. Pizza is actually an ancient food that has been made for thousands of years in one form or another. Flatbreads with toppings include matzah, pita bread, focaccia bread, Chinese bing, Indian paratha, Centra Asian naan, and French galette.

In other words, humans have long known the delights of toppings on simple fire-roasted bread.

But back to the Margherita. The most appreciated origin story is that this pizza was created by baker Rafaele Esposito in 1889, who made it for Queen Margherita and King Umberto during their visit to Napoli. The queen loved the colors of the pizza, drawn from the Italian flag, and so the pizza was named in her honor.

While Queen Margherita is long gone, her memory lives on in quite possibly the best pizza ever.

Margherita Pizza toppings:

Margherita Pizza ingredients are simple. Other than the dough, here’s what you need:

  • Tomato-based pizza sauce: you don’t need a lot. Make your own with the recipe below or grab your trusty house tomato sauce.
  • Fresh mozzarella: the better quality cheese, the better your pizza will be. Look for the solid packed cheese, the kind that isn’t floating in salted water. (But if that’s all you can find, that’s great. Just dry off the cheese a little with a paper towel before dicing.)
  • Roma tomatoes: totally optional but a little more tomato tastes fabulous. Romas tend to be drier and won’t make the pizza soggy like other fresh tomatoes. If you don’t have them, leave them off.
  • Basil leaves: fresh green basil is a make or break ingredient. Some chefs cook the pizza with the basil, others wait until the very end.

How to make Margherita Pizza:

Psst! if you’re a visual learner, these pictures show you what’s up–but for the actual recipe with specific amounts, look towards the bottom of the page!

  1. First, preheat your oven to 500 (yes, 500!) degrees. The high temp will cook the pizza quickly and give you a great crust.
  2. Roll out the dough thin (a perfect task for little kitchen helpers) and fit it into the pan you’re going to bake the pizza in. It’s okay if the crust comes up the edges of the pan. The skillet will make everything nice and crispy.

    Overhead picture of a cast iron skillet placed next to a circle of dough on a cutting board.

  3. Now build the pizza. The tomato sauce goes down on the dough first, just to the edges of the dough. Top with mozzarella cheese and tomato slices.

    Overhead picture of a margherita pizza in a skillet before being baked.

  4. Finally, brush the crust with olive oil and sprinkle a little coarse salt over the crust.
  5. Pop it into the oven and bake until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted and irresistible.

    Overhead picture of a margherita pizza in a skillet after being baked.

  6. Right before serving, scatter the basil leaves over the pizza.

    Overhead picture of a margherita pizza in a skillet topped with fresh basil after being baked.

How to make Pizza Sauce:

Margherita uses a scant layer of tomato sauce, so you’ll definitely have extra, here. Freeze it or invite the neighbors over; after all, you’re a professional pizzaioli now.

Homemade Pizza Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic peeled and smashed
  • 1 (8-ounce) can high-quality tomato sauce (like San Marzano tomatoes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • Pinch dried basil
  • Pinch dried oregano
  • Pinch salt

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  2. Add garlic and sauté until browned, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Remove garlic and discard.
  4. Stir in tomato sauce, sugar (if using), basil, oregano, and salt.
  5. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until flavors have blended, about 10 minutes.
  6. Keep warm over low-heat until serving time, or cool completely and store covered in the refrigerator.

What’s the best skillet for cooking pizza?

Any oven-safe pan or skillet should work, as long as it’s okay to use at high oven temperatures and is large enough to accommodate your pizza. Cast iron is a natural choice.

Can you make Pizza Margherita bigger?

Chances are good that if you make this pizza enough, people will find out about it and invite themselves over for dinner. If you’ve got a squad to feed and need to double the recipe, that’s easy too. Simply roll out a couple packages of store-bought pizza dough and arrange them on an oiled sheet pan. Build your pizza that way, and save the skillet for more intimate gatherings. It’s still gonna taste great.

Overhead picture of a margherita pizza on a cutting board.

Can you make Margherita Pizza on a pizza stone?

If you’re completely comfortable with your pizza stone and want to use it instead of a skillet, go right ahead. A pizza stone is preheated for 30-45 minutes in the oven at 500 degrees. It gives you a very hot surface to cook your pie on. Much like a hot brick oven, it cooks the crust very quickly, giving you crispier results, but needs to be watched carefully.

Most people who use pizza stones also use a wooden peel to transfer a raw pizza onto the hot stone, although some folks swear by high-temperature parchment paper or a handful of semolina or cornmeal to keep the pizza from sticking.

Pizza stones cook pizza fast, usually in about 7-10 minutes.

Can you make Margherita Pizza on a pizza steel?

A thick piece of heavy-duty steel is all the rage for cooking pizza in the oven or on the grill. If you’re lucky enough to have one, give it a whirl!

A pizza steel must be preheated for almost an hour in the oven at 500 degrees. Like the stone, it gives you a very hot surface to cook your pizza on. Much like a hot brick oven, it cooks the crust very fast, giving you crispier results, but needs to be watched carefully.

Most people who use pizza steels also use a wooden peel to transfer a raw pizza onto the hot metal.

Some steel aficionados like to cook the pizza for 4 minutes at 500 degrees, then finish cooking under the broiler for exactly 2 minutes.

Margherita Pizza on the grill:

Grilling a pizza isn’t difficult, but it’s a different animal than oven baking, because you treat the dough like a flatbread and cook both sides before adding any toppings. This avoids the soggy on top, burned on the bottom problems that people complain about. No one wants that! Here’s how to cook a pizza on the grill:

To prepare charcoal grill:
Open vents on bottom of grill and on lid. Light a heaping chimneyful of charcoal and pour it evenly over 2 opposite sides of bottom rack (you should have a double or triple layer of charcoal), leaving clear a 9-inch-wide strip in middle (for grilling over indirect heat).
Charcoal fire is medium-hot when you can hold your hand 5 inches above rack for 3 to 4 seconds.

To prepare gas grill:
Preheat burners on high, covered, 10 minutes, then reduce heat to moderate.

To grill pizzas:
Lightly brush bare, rolled out dough (without toppings) with olive oil. Carefully flip dough round, oiled side down, with your hands onto middle of lightly oiled grill rack and brush top with olive oil.

Grill crust, uncovered, until underside is golden brown (rotate if 1 side of grill is hotter than the other), 2 to 3 minutes on gas grill or 4 to 6 minutes on charcoal grill.

Carefully flip crust over with tongs and a spatula and you’re ready for toppings. Top crust with tomato sauce, spreading evenly over dough and leaving a 1/2-inch border around edge.

Sprinkle mozzarella and tomato evenly over sauce and grill pizzas, covered with grill lid, until underside is golden brown and cheese is melted, about 3 minutes on gas grill or 5 minutes on charcoal grill.

Scatter basil over pizza.

Margherita Pizza Recipe

Outside of Italy, the best Margherita Pizza may be in your own kitchen. This classic Naples style pizza uses only a handful of the best ingredients: tomato, mozzarella, and fresh basil. Perfetto!
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword basil, mozzarella, pizza, tomatoes
Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 23 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 530kcal
  • 1 pound pizza dough at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup homemade pizza sauce (see notes) or store-bought
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese diced
  • 2 roma tomatoes thinly sliced (see notes)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt
  • 8-10 small basil leaves or 5 large leaves, chiffonade
  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Brush an ovenproof skillet with oil.
  • On a floured work surface, roll out dough until circumference matches your skillet. Transfer to skillet.
  • Leaving a 1/2" border for crust, spread pizza sauce onto dough. Top with mozzarella cheese and tomato slices.
  • Brush crust with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake until crust is crispy and cheese is melty, 23 to 25 minutes.
  • Garnish with fresh basil before serving.

Recipe Notes

Homemade Pizza Sauce
Ingredients:
    • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 clove garlic peeled and smashed
    • 1 (8 ounce) can high-quality tomato sauce
    • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
    • Pinch dried basil
    • Pinch dried oregano
    • Pinch salt
Instructions:
  1. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add garlic and sauté until browned, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove garlic and discard.
  2. Stir in tomato sauce, sugar (if using), basil, oregano, and salt. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until flavors have blended, about 10 minutes. Keep warm over low-heat until serving time, or cool completely and store covered in the refrigerator.
Roma tomatoes: I like to use roma tomatoes because they generally have less liquid inside overall (compared to juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes). The juicier the tomato, the more likely your pizza will be watery on top.

Nutrition

Calories: 530kcal

Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This form collects your name, email, and content so that we can keep track of the comments placed on the website. For more info check our privacy policy where you will get more info on where, how and why we store your data.
This form collects your name, email and content so that we can keep track of the comments placed on the website. For more info check our privacy policy where you will get more info on where, how and why we store your data.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to top