Authentic Margherita Pizza
Authentic Margherita Pizza is easy to make right at home with simple ingredients! Grab your Homemade Pizza Dough, some crushed tomatoes, kosher salt, fresh mozzarella and lots of fresh basil and you are ready to turn your home kitchen into an Italian pizzeria!
I love using the simple crushed tomatoes with kosher salt for the pizza sauce, but if you are one who prefers a lot more flair to their red tomato sauce, then my Pizza Sauce with Tomato Paste is easy and delicious! Then grab more of that homemade pizza dough and try my favorite Blackberry Pizza and Pesto Arugula Pizza pizza recipes that the entire family will love!
Why This Recipe Works
- Amazing ratios. The key to the best authentic margherita pizza recipe is getting the ratios right! We have just the right amount of sauce, salt, cheese, and basil for the perfect pizza!
- Fresh tomato sauce. The amazing thing about Italian pizza is they have simple, fresh ingredients. We just use a can of crushed tomatoes for the sauce. No fancy additives or spices (except a good dash of kosher salt!) and you get a fresh tomato flavor.
- Easy margherita pizza you can make at home! This best margherita pizza recipe is easy enough for you to make right at home! You get that classic margherita pizza taste and textures without forking out tons of money at your local Italian pizzeria.
- Pizza Dough: I always use my homemade pizza dough recipe for this!
- Canned Crushed Tomatoes: I don’t like tons of sauce, so you can always add more if you want!
- Kosher Salt: Kosher salt is coarser than table salt. This really adds an awesome saltiness to the authentic margherita pizza sauce (which, like the Italians, is just pure tomatoes!).
- Fresh Mozzarella: For a good margherita pizza, you really want the slices of fresh mozzarella!
- Fresh Basil: This is a must! You really want fresh basil leaves and not dried basil!
- Preheat the oven and pizza stone. Place your oven rack in the middle of the oven. Place a pizza stone (round) (or pizza stone (rectangular)) on the middle rack. Preheat the oven to 500ºF.
- Roll out the pizza dough. Roll out the pizza dough onto a sheet of parchment. It doesn’t matter what shape you roll it out to, just make sure the shape will fit your pizza stone. You want the dough thin.
- Top with crushed tomatoes. Spoon the crushed tomatoes over the top of the dough, spreading it to cover the whole pizza except 1 inch along the border. This will act as the crust. Sprinkle the sauce with kosher salt.
- Top with fresh mozzarella. Place slices of fresh mozzarella on top of the sauce to cover the pizza to your liking.
- Transfer to the pizza stone using a pizza peel. Transfer the pizza to the hot pizza stone, grabbing the parchment paper and sliding the pizza onto the stone. Be careful! The oven and stone are HOT! Bake for 11-12 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the pizza has lightly golden brown spots.
- Remove and top with fresh basil. Remove the pizza from the oven with the pizza peel (or back of a baking sheet — see Recipe Tips). Transfer to a cutting board and top with chopped basil. Slice and serve immediately. Enjoy!
When cooking pizza, you always want to cook it at a high temperature. Pizzas are often made in a wood-fired oven, so we’re trying to mimic that with a HOT oven.
I do a fairly thin layer of crushed tomatoes, but if you want more, feel free to add more. If you rolled the dough really thin and your pizza is quite large, you may need more than 1/4 cup of crushed tomatoes.
If you want to use fresh tomatoes to make the sauce, then you’ll want to boil the tomatoes until the skin comes off (the skin will become wrinkly; you can also make a small cut in the bottom of the tomatoes so you can see the skin peel away and know when they are done about 60-90 seconds). Remove, let cool, then quarter. Pulse in a blender.
You can use a store bought pizza dough ball to make your pizza crust if you don’t want to make homemade. BUT! Making Pizza Dough really is super easy!
I find if I roll out my pizza dough on a lightly floured surface, the dough won’t be as soft because you’re adding all that extra flour. Roll it out onto a surface lightly sprayed with cooking spray or with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
I find using a pizza peel is easiest to transfer the pizza to the baking stone in the hot oven. If you don’t have a wooden peel, you can use the back of a baking sheet.
Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing
Make the dough ahead of time and store it to use later. I have all my best storing and freezing tips on my Pizza Dough Recipe post.
Store any leftover margherita pizza slices in a ziplock bag or container in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave or in the oven if you want the crust to get toasted. I find the crust stays soft if you microwave it.
To freeze leftover pizza margherita slices, let cool completely, then store in a freezer safe bag and freeze. They’ll keep in the freezer for up to 1 month. Remove and let thaw then reheat following my directions above.
Yes it does! There typically isn’t as much red sauce as a traditional American pizza, but margherita pizzas DO have a tomato sauce base on them.
According to Italian legend, the traditional margherita pizza was named after Queen Margherita who asked Raffaele Esposito (the most famous pizza maker in Naples, Italy — known as the birth place of pizza) to make a delicious pizza for her and King Umberto. Out of 3 varieties, the classic sauce, mozzarella and basil (representing the colors of the Italian flag) was her favorite. Read more about the story at 11inchpizza.
You can, but you won’t get the same taste or texture in the pizza. Authentic margherita pizzas are made with slices of fresh mozzarella cheese which has a lot more water content than shredded mozzarella. This will add a delicious moistness to the pizza that you won’t get otherwise. For best quality, use fresh mozzarella!
More Favorite Pizza Recipes
Authentic Margherita Pizza
- 6-8 oz pizza dough - I always use my homemade pizza dough recipe for this!
- 1/4 cup canned crushed tomatoes - amount needed will vary. I use a small amount, but you may want more
- pinch kosher salt - I love kosher salt for this! (the crystals are bigger than table salt)
- 3 oz fresh mozzarella - can always use more or less, depends on your preference
- fresh basil - chopped, for topping
- Set your oven rack to the middle of the oven. Place a pizza stone on the middle rack and then preheat the oven to 500°F. When cooking pizza, you always want to do it in a HOT oven.
- While the oven is preheating, roll the pizza dough onto a piece of parchment paper, roll into whatever shape your pizza stone is (mine is rectangular, others have round pizza stones. (Shape of the pizza doesn't matter, you just want to make sure it'll fit on your pizza stone). Roll it nice and thin.
- Spoon the crushed tomatoes onto the dough. Smear it into a thin layer leaving a 1 inch border along the perimeter to act as the "crust". I do a fairly thin layer of crushed tomatoes, but if you want more, feel free to add more. If you rolled the dough really thin and your pizza is quite large, you may need more than 1/4 cup of crushed tomatoes.
- Sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt over the sauce, then top with the fresh mozzarella, spreading it out evenly amongst the pizza.
- Using a pizza peel (or the back of a baking sheet) grab the parchment paper and slide the pizza onto of the pizza peel and transfer the parchment and pizza to the pizza stone. Bake for 11-12 minutes or until cheese is melted and areas of the pizza are lightly golden brown.
- Remove the pizza from the oven using the same method you used to place it in the oven. Use a pizza peel (or back of a baking sheet) and carefully push the pizza peel under the parchment paper and slide the parchment and pizza onto the pizza peel. Transfer to a cutting board. Top with fresh chopped basil, cut and enjoy!