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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.
Neapolitan Margherita pizza goes a step above plain cheese with freshly sliced mozzarella, tomato sauce made from San Marzano or plum tomatoes, and fresh basil. Yes, you can make absolutely killer, I must be in Italy pizza, right at home if you stick around.
How to Make Neapolitan-style Pizza
Outside of the authentic fresh Italian ingredients, Neapolitan-style pizza is the technique of quickly cooking pizza at very high temperatures.
Since we don’t have a 1000° F wood-fired pizza oven lying around, I opt for 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. The pizza stones allow for better crust due to the high temperatures generated by the stone while it sits in the oven.
Simple Homemade Pizza Sauce
It all starts with the sauce. In a pinch…or if I’m feeling lazy, I opt for my favorite brand of pizza sauce. I really like Victoria’s pizza sauce. If you’re feeling REALLY authentic and you want even better authentic Italian pizza, you can buy canned San Marzano or plum tomatoes and blend with a pinch of salt, olive oil, and whole garlic cloves.
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.
That being said, you can simmer the sauce beforehand on the stove in a saucepan on medium heat if you would like a thicker style sauce. Simmer until slightly reduced and the sauce reaches your desired thickness.
Keep Sauce and Toppings Light
Always go light on the sauce and cheese. Too much and the crust will get soggy. Fresh mozzarella contains more moisture than processed shredded cheese, so by keeping toppings light, you will help your crust stay crispy.
Fire up the Broiler
One final and really important step. Once the crust is golden and the pizza is nearly complete, I like to switch the oven to broil and crisp the top of the pizza for about a minute. Carefully monitor the pizza during this stage as it can turn from delicately charred to burned very quickly.
Here are a few tips on cooking the perfect pizza at home.
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Neapolitan Margherita Pizza Recipe
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 25 mins
- Yield: 2-3 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Cuisine: Italian
Grab a pizza stone and make this simple Italian margherita pizza made with fresh mozzarella, basil, and red sauce.
- 18–20 ounces pizza dough
- 1/2 cup Victoria’s Pizza Sauce or homemade pizza sauce
- 6–7 1/4 inch slices fresh mozzarella
- 3–4 basil leaves chopped or arranged in the center
- Flour, for pizza peel
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, for crust
- pinch of salt
Homemade pizza sauce
- 2 peeled plum tomatoes (from the can) do not include excess juice
- 1–2 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- pinch of salt, to taste
For the homemade sauce
- Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pulse until smooth. This will render more sauce than you need, but you’ll only want about 1/2 a cup of sauce for the pizza. Don’t be concerned if the sauce appears to be a little runny.
For the pizza
- Preheat the oven to 500 °F. Place the pizza stone in the oven and let preheat for 45 minutes to one hour.
- Meanwhile, roll out the dough into a 12-inch crust. Be sure the dough is adequately floured and not sticky. A little extra is better.
- 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. Use the backside of the spoon to spread the oil over the entire crust. Sprinkle with a little salt. Evenly coat with pizza sauce leaving a 1-inch crust all the way around. Add the fresh mozzarella.
- 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.
- Once the pizza is golden, turn the oven to high-broil and let broil for about 1 minute, or until crust and cheese presents a few lightly charred spots. Remove from the oven, let cool, and serve topped with fresh basil.
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. That being said, you can simmer it beforehand on the stove in a saucepan on medium heat if you would like a thicker style sauce. Simmer until slightly reduced and the sauce reaches your desired thickness.
- 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
Love! Can the leftover sauce be saved? We made extra .. but wondering how/for how long?
Hey Ashley – You can absolutely freeze it for use later. Not sure how long it will last but probably 4-6 months.