Margherita pizza or ‘pizza margherita’ is the simplest pizza agoing. You may look at it at first glance and call it cheese pizza, however it’s so much more than that. Classic margherita pizza goes a step above plain cheese with freshly sliced mozzarella, tomato sauce made from San Marzano tomatoes, and chopped fresh basil. If you venture to Italy you’ll find margherita pizza on every pizza joint’s menu.
For simplicity, I’ll usually opt for my favorite marinara sauce with additional sliced fresh plum tomatoes. If you do this, use very thinly sliced tomato and a thin layer of sauce. Too thick and the crust will get soggy. Fresh mozzarella contains more moisture than processed shredded cheese, so keep toppings light so your crust stays crispy.
If you’re feeling REALLY authentic, you can buy canned San Marzano tomatoes and blend with a pinch of salt, a splash of olive oil, and a garlic clove to make your own homemade Neapolitan style pizza sauce.
I’ve said my spiel on how to cook the perfect pizza at home numerous times before, so I will keep the details brief. If you are new and need to catch up, you should read this quick post first on some easy tips for making perfect homemade pizza. For this recipe I use a pizza stone. I heat the stone up for one hour in the oven at 500° F before baking. Then I throw the pizza in the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes for the perfect finish every time.Print
- 18–20 ounces pizza dough
- 1/2 cup marinara or homemade pizza sauce
- 1 plum tomato, thinly sliced (optional)
- 6–7 1/4 inch slices fresh mozzarella
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
- cornmeal (or plenty of flour), for pizza peel
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, for crust
- pinch of salt
Homemade pizza sauce
- 1 can (28 ounce) whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- pinch of salt
For the homemade sauce
- Combine all ingredient in a blender or food processor. Pulse 4-5 times until smooth. This will render more, but you’ll only want about 1/2 a cup of sauce for the pizza.
For the pizza
- Preheat the oven to 500° F. Place the pizza stone in the oven and let preheat for one hour.
- Meanwhile, roll out the dough into a 12 inch crust.
- Place a small handful of flour onto a pizza peel and spread evenly to prevent the dough from sticking to the peel.
- Transfer the dough onto the peel. Top with a light coating of evenly spread olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Evenly coat with pizza sauce leaving a 1/2 inch crust. Add the fresh mozzarella first and then top with optional sliced tomato if desired.
- Slide the finished pizza onto the pizza stone and bake for 10-15 minutes. Be sure to carefully watch the pizza because all ovens will cook at different rates. Sometimes it will only take 10 minutes to fully cook.
- Remove from the oven, let cool, and serve topped with fresh chopped basil.