Margherita Pizza

Recipe by David Turner

Margherita pizza, topped with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, is one of the most popular types of Neapolitan pizzas. While a true Margherita pizza is topped with ingredients from the Campania region of Italy, our Margherita pizza recipe allows you to enjoy this classic Italian staple with ingredients from your local market. Simply start with our Neapolitan-style pizza crust and add a simple homemade sauce and traditional toppings.  

15 mins
6 to 7 mins
1 day 30 mins
two 10” to 12” pizzas
Margherita Pizza - select to zoom
Margherita Pizza - select to zoom
Margherita Pizza - select to zoom
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  1. To make the sauce: In a food processor, blend the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper until you reach your desired texture; if you prefer a sauce with some chunks, mix less. If you like it smooth, mix more. Set aside until ready for assembly. (The sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. It will become more flavorful over time.) 

  2. To make the dough: Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients, then add the water. Stir until just combined, making a rough but cohesive dough. 

    Neapolitan-Style Pizza Crust – Step 1
  3. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise at room temperature overnight, for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.  

    After being mixed (left) this dough probably won't double in size; instead it will simply become a bit puffy (right).

    Neapolitan-Style Pizza Crust – Step 2
  4. Place a rack in the center of the oven, at least 8" below the broiler, and preheat the oven to 500°F to 550°F (if your oven goes to 550°F) with a baking steel or stone inside. Make sure your oven is at the required temperature for at least 30 minutes before baking, so the steel or stone can fully preheat. 

  5. Divide the dough in half (about 200g per piece). Working with one piece at a time, transfer the dough to a well-floured surface. 

    Neapolitan-Style Pizza Crust – Step 4
  6. Stretch and fold the dough as follows: Holding onto the dough at both ends, pull one end away from the other, then fold it back onto itself. Repeat on the other side. The dough will likely be sticky — don't worry about it looking neat as you fold. Be sure to keep your hands floured as you work. 

    Neapolitan-Style Pizza Crust – Step 5
  7. Repeat this process on the other side of the dough, so that all four corners of have been stretched and folded. 

  8. Next, pull the ends of the dough towards the middle, then turn it over. Using your fingers, pull the dough under itself to make a smooth, round ball with the seams tucked into the bottom.  

    Neapolitan-Style Pizza Crust – Step 7
  9. Repeat with the second piece of dough and place each ball seam-side down into a floured bowl. 

  10. Cover the bowls and allow the dough to rise for 45 minutes to an hour, while your oven preheats. In colder weather, place the bowls near the preheating oven to stay warm. 

  11. Generously flour a baker's peel; if using a wooden peel, rub flour into the board to completely coat. If you're using a metal peel, or if this is your first attempt at homemade pizza, place a piece of parchment on the peel or the back of a baking sheet instead of using flour. 

  12. Gently transfer the risen dough to a well-floured work surface seam-side down (a bowl scraper is helpful here), using care to keep it as round as possible for easier stretching. If the dough feels wet, dust the top generously with flour. If dough feels drier, use less flour. 

  13. Use your fingertips to gently depress the dough, being careful not to touch the outer edge of the crust. This step is important — leaving the circumference untouched at this stage will result in a beautiful, bubbly outer crust post-bake. 

    Neapolitan-Style Pizza Crust – Step 12
  14. Again, using care not to touch the outermost edge of the crust, lift the pizza from the work surface and use your knuckles to gently stretch the dough into a 10" to 12" circle. If the dough is at all sticky, use more flour. Use two hands at once to gently move the dough in a circle, allowing gravity to perform the stretch. Let gravity do most of the work for you, as pulling will stretch the center more than the edges. If you find your dough is difficult to stretch, set it down on a floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the gluten to relax. 

    Neapolitan-Style Pizza Crust – Step 13
  15. Move the dough to the floured peel (or floured sheet of parchment) and adjust it so none is hanging off the edge. Remember — if the dough is sticky when you put it on the peel, it will stick to the peel so flour generously. 

  16. If you're using parchment, trim the excess around the dough to prevent it from burning. To be safe, trim the paper flush with the dough, especially if your parchment's heat rating is below 500°F, as many are. 

  17. To assemble the pizza: Add about 1/4 cup (roughly 74g) of sauce to the dough and spread to cover, leaving a 1" to 1 1/2" border around the edges. Distribute half the mozzarella on top of the sauce. 

    Neapolitan-Style Pizza Crust – Step 16
  18. If you're using a wooden peel, jiggle the uncooked pizza back and forth until it moves easily on the peel before quickly transferring it to the steel. If you're using parchment, gently slide the pizza and parchment onto the steel. The parchment will blacken around any exposed edges but remain intact under the pizza. 

  19. Bake the pizza for approximately 6 minutes on the steel or 7 minutes on the stone (give or take). 

  20. Turn on the oven’s top broiler and continue cooking the pizza for 2 to 3 minutes or until bubbly and charred around the edges. Keep a close eye on the pizza at this stage and rotate it as needed to prevent burning on the top. Remove the pizza from the oven and top it with fresh basil leaves.  

    Neapolitan-Style Pizza Crust – Step 19
  21. Switch your oven back to bake mode and allow the steel or stone to reheat while you shape your second pizza with the remaining dough and toppings. Bake the second pizza using the method described above (steps 18 through 20).  

  22. Storage information: Margherita pizza is best enjoyed fresh from the oven but can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Slices can be reheated in a 300°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until warm.  

Tips from our Bakers

  • For a shorter-rise version of this recipe, proceed as follows: Increase the yeast to 1/2 teaspoon. After mixing the ingredients into a rough but cohesive dough, cover and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes. After this rest, grasp one edge of the dough, pull it up and out, and tuck it into the center. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat three more times, until you’ve gone all the way around. Cover and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for at least 8 hours; this can be done before leaving for work. When you're ready to bake pizza, follow the recipe above starting with preheating the oven and then dividing the dough in half. 

  • Warning: DO NOT place your pizza under a broiler with less than 8" of space between it and the cooking surface. Broiling instructions for this recipe are written for an oven equipped with a top broiler. If you have an oven where the broiler is on the bottom (usually in the bottom compartment of the oven) or on top in a smaller, separate compartment, make sure there's at least 8" between the broiler and the cooking surface. If you can't use the broiler, preheat your oven and steel or stone as instructed, but bake your pizza (do not switch to “broil” mode) — you’ll need to add a few additional minutes to the cook time.  

  • Why use parchment instead of flour on a metal peel? Releasing the dough from a wooden peel (even a generously floured one) takes some practice, and is even more difficult using a metal peel. Parchment is easier to use while you perfect your technique, and renders equally delicious crusts.

  • Make absolutely sure the pizza moves easily on the peel before you transfer it to the stone or steel. If you're using a wooden peel, be sure to apply your toppings quickly. The longer the dough sits on the peel, the more it'll want to stick. See baker Martin Philip's tips for loading pizza into the oven like a pro. 

  • The maximum temperature rating for most parchment paper is below 500°F, and at temperatures between 450°F and 500°F parchment’s exposed edges begin to char. To be safe, keep a close eye on anything being cooked at temperatures above 450°F (especially anything on an upper rack). Burned edges can also be minimized by trimming away excess parchment before baking.