posted January 15, 2024
Rich, tangy tomato sauce with gooey mozzarella cheese and a little sweet basil all on a soft yet crispy crust, my Margherita Pizza is a classic with a little extra touch.
Classic Margherita Pizza
If you’re looking for a pizza rich in flavors fit for royalty, look no further than Margherita pizza. This indulgent pie is named after Queen Margherita in honor of the Italian unification, and boy is it royally delicious. It’s known for highlighting the tangy pizza sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes, which is then topped with balls of fresh mozzarella and fresh, sweet basil leaves. It’s a savory delight on a crust that is somehow crispy while still having that soft, chewy bite on the inside. Fire up your pizza oven, it’s time to bake some out-of-this world pies that would make Italy proud.
Homemade Pizza Dough
For this recipe, I’m using my Neapolitan Pizza Dough recipe, and cooking it Neapolitan style. The main difference between Margherita and Neapolitan pizzas is in how long you cook them. To be a true Margherita pizza, you will cook longer at a lower temperature, which is going to give you a thicker crust. With this recipe, we’re cooking them at a high heat for a shorter time. This is going to result in a thinner crust with a crispy exterior, and a soft, chewy inside.
If you want to go for a true Margherita, then you just need to cook them for a bit longer at a lower temperature. This is perfect if you’re planning on using the conventional oven in your kitchen, or on your grill. You can also use my Homemade Grilled Pizza Dough in either case.
Sauce for Margherita Pizza
When it comes to Margherita style pizza, the sauce you use makes a huge difference. That’s because unlike many traditional pizzas smothered in cheese and pepperoni, your sauce has a starring role on this pizza. By using whole mozzarella, a lot of your surface area is going to be sauce. This is why your choice of sauce is so important.
I’m using my 4 Ingredient Pizza Sauce for this recipe. Not only does this homemade pizza sauce taste amazing, but it’s super easy to make, and yes, it’s just 4 ingredients. There’s no cooking involved, so it would take you longer to go to the store for a jar of premade stuff than it will to make this incredible sauce. And again, you’ll have a whole pizza you made from scratch.
Margherita Pizza Toppings
An authentic Margherita pizza has just a few basic, but super important toppings aside from your sauce. When used right, there’s nothing better than this simple combination, and I’m going to teach you how to get the most of them.
- Cheese. Margherita pizza is known for gooey, melted hunks of fresh mozzarella cheese, and my recipe is no exception. I like to use a mix of thin sliced mozzarella and also hand-torn shreds. These shredded pieces bubble up quickly and create some great texture to your slices.
- Basil. With basil, there are two types of people. On one hand you have people who bake pizza with basil on it. On the other hand you have those who add it after. I say, put those hands together. I like to add some before so that sweet, herbal flavor melds into the rest of the slices. I also add some fresh basil after I cool and slice my pizza.
- Olive oil. Drizzling a little olive oil on top of your pizza before baking is going to do a few awesome things. First, the rich taste is amazing on its own, and it’s going to help bring out the flavors of your other toppings. Second, it’s going to help everything cook better. You’re going to get bubblier cheese with a little crisp, and the rest of your toppings will cook better as well.
- Salt. Just a sprinkle of salt on top of your pizza before baking will elevate the mouthwatering flavors of all your ingredients. Seriously, if you want to take the taste of your pies to a whole new level, a little salt goes a long way.
Tips for the Best Pizza
If you’re ready to up your pizza game, follow these simple steps for pies worthy of a real pizza joint:
- Make your own ingredients. Making your own pizza is fun. Making your own pizza totally from scratch is game-changing. Check out my recipes for Neapolitan Pizza Dough and 4 Ingredient Pizza Sauce. You will need to prep your dough 1-3 days in advance, but there’s not much more rewarding than a bite of pizza with completely handmade ingredients.
- Smack your basil. If you want to get the absolute maximum sweet, herby flavor from your basil, smack it in your hands before placing it on top of your pizza. This is going to release the oils in the basil, and it’s going to elevate the flavor in ways you have to taste to believe.
- Cool it. The last thing you want to do after baking a beautiful pie is try to slice and eat it too quickly. Give your pizza a couple minutes to cool. This will give your toppings enough time to slice more cleanly, you can add some fresh basil leaves, and you won’t burn your mouth. Patience, I promise it’s worth it.
- No pizza oven, no problem. Don’t have a pizza oven? Don’t stress, I’ve got you covered. You can easily make this pizza in a conventional oven. Just set your kitchen oven to 400 degrees F and bake for 10 minutes, or until your cheese starts to get oh-so melty and your crust turns that gorgeous, golden brown. While this might not be quite as fun, it’s actually more like a traditional pizza Margherita. You can also invest in a pizza stone if you want to get closer to the crispy crust you achieve with a pizza oven.
How to Make Margherita Pizza
- Stretch and sauce. Once you’ve made your dough and sauce (or purchased it) you want to stretch your dough onto a pizza peel coated generously with flour. Then, spoon your sauce onto the dough, circling from the center out in a nice, even layer.
- Cheese. Place 5-6 thin slices of fresh mozzarella on top of your pizza, and then tear or shred some to sprinkle on the rest of your pie to give it a little texture. Remember you still want to leave the sauce some space to shine.
- Smack the basil. Before adding your basil, smack it in your hands. This is going to release the oils inside and really bring out the sweetness in a way you’ll love. Then just place the leaves on your pizza.
- Oil and salt. Add a drizzle of olive oil on your pizza and then sprinkle on some Kosher salt. The olive oil will help give some nice, crispy texture to your toppings, and both will bring out the incredible natural flavors of everything.
- Bake. Slide your pizza off the peel and into your pizza oven once it’s in the 600-650 degrees F range. You’ll want to rotate your pizza 90 degrees every 1-2 minutes so you get a nice, even crispiness all the way around.
- Rest, slice, and serve. Once you remove your pizza from the oven, allow it to rest for a few minutes before you slice it. This way your cheese and toppings will stay where you want them instead of sticking to your pizza cutter. This is a great time to add some fresh basil. Make sure you smack it first, too.
More Recipes for Yummy Homemade Pizzas
With the Hey Grill Hey app, any time can be pizza time. Here are some of my favorite pizza recipes, as well as a killer sauce, and not one, but two different recipes for delicious dough:
- Dutch Oven Pizza with Pear, Brie, and Porsciutto
- Thai Grilled Chicken Pizza
- Wood Fired Pizza with Red Pesto and Grilled Chicken
- 4 Ingredient Pizza Sauce
- Homemade Grilled Pizza Dough
- Neapolitan Pizza Dough
Margherita Pizza Recipe
Queen Margherita would be proud of your pizza, and you should be too. Share your experience with us in the comments and let us know how it tasted. At Hey Grill Hey we’re here to help you become a backyard BBQ hero and feed the people you love. If you want to learn even more about making your own delicious pizzas at home, check out our pizza course in The Grill Squad, taught by pizza master Jack Carlisle.
You can get a peak behind the scenes of making all your favorite recipes, helpful tips and tricks, and a whole lot more by following Hey Grill Hey on all our social channels including YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook.
- Stretch and sauce. Stretch your dough onto a lightly floured pizza peel, and then spoon your sauce from the center out in a circular motion.4 8 ounce balls Neapolitan Pizza Dough, 1 cup 4 Ingredient Pizza Sauce
- Cheese. Place fresh balls of mozzarella on your pizza, and then some shreds for texture. Make sure to leave plenty of exposed sauce.16 ounces fresh Mozzarella
- Basil. Smack basil to release oils and then add to your pizza.1 cup fresh basil leaves
- Oil and salt. Drizzle olive oil on your pizza and then sprinkle with some Kosher salt.1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- Bake. Slide your pizza into your oven. Bake at 600-650 degrees F, rotating every 1-2 minutes.
- Rest, slice, and serve. After removing your pizza from the oven, allow it to cool for 2-5 minutes. Slice, add fresh toppings, and enjoy.1 cup fresh basil leaves
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