How to make delicious Neapolitan-style Margherita pizza in a conventional kitchen oven.
- 16–18 ounces pizza dough (room temp)
- 1/3–1/2 cup pizza sauce
- 4 ounces fresh buffalo mozzarella, cut into small cubes or thin strips
- Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano (optional)
- 3–4 fresh basil leaves, for topping
- Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Homemade pizza sauce (makes 1 cup)
- 3 canned San Marzano tomatoes + 2 tablespoons of sauce from the can (look for certified Cento San Marzano Peeled Tomatoes)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- pinch of salt, to taste
- 1 garlic clove (optional)
For the homemade sauce
- Combine tomatoes, oil, and salt in a small bowl. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth. You can also pulse a blender or food processor. Add more salt to taste as needed. This will render more sauce than you need. I use 1/3-1/2 cup of sauce for each pizza. For a more rustic sauce, you can hand-crush the tomatoes or use a potato masher. If the sauce is too acidic, add a TINY pinch of sugar.
For the pizza
- Remove the dough from the fridge prior to cooking. Place dough in a greased bowl and seal with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Let rest for at least 3-4 hours or until the dough is no longer cool to the touch. This is very important for light and fluffy crust. The dough will puff up and nearly double in size.
- Preheat the oven to as hot as it goes, usually 500-550°F. Place the pizza steel (or pizza stone) in the oven and let preheat for one hour. I position my rack about 8 inches from the top burner.
- Place the dough onto a floured surface and shape/stretch it into a 12-inch crust. Be sure the dough is adequately floured and not sticky. Try to get the crust as thin as possible in the center, about 1/4 inch thick. This is best done with your hands by gently stretching. Avoid a roller for best results.
- 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. Evenly coat with sauce leaving a 1-inch crust all the way around. Add the fresh mozzarella strips or cubes. Do not overcrowd.
- Slide the finished pizza onto the steel and bake for 5-6 minutes or until the pizza is 80% done. Turn on the oven broiler and broil on high for 2-3 additional minutes or until the crust is just starting to char on top.
- Remove from the oven and immediately top with freshly and finely grated parmigiano reggiano. Serve topped with fresh basil leaves and a circular drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
If making your own dough, here is a great pizza dough recipe.
For this recipe, I use a baking steel and pizza peel. While a pizza stone works, a pizza steel transfers more heat and gets hotter, rendering better crust. Here is what I use
For the best tomatoes, look for imported San Marzano Peeled Tomatoes. These are grown in the Sarnese-Nocerino district and are renowned for their quality due to the mineral-rich soil near Mount Vesuvius. Pastene and Cento are two brands I’ve used.
Homemade pizza sauce is really easy to make and taste fresher than anything you can buy in a jar. You don’t need to precook the sauce. Several recipes call for simmering the tomato sauce to cook it before topping the pizza. The high oven temps will cook the tomatoes enough in the oven while the pizza cooks. The garlic in the sauce is optional because it can be overpowering to some. Neopolitan-style sauce typically omits garlic.
- Serving Size: 2 slices
- Calories: 615
- Sugar: 6.6g
- Sodium: 990mg
- Fat: 2.9g
- Saturated Fat: 1.6g
- Carbohydrates: 66.5g
- Fiber: 5.6g
- Protein: 23g
- Cholesterol: 8mg
Keywords: margherita pizza recipe