Flavorful Margherita Pizza only includes a few simple and tasty ingredients, like perfectly melty mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. My easy version includes a homemade whole wheat pizza dough and scratch-made tomato sauce, but can also be made using store bought staples and your choice of toppings. Try this Italian-inspired Margherita recipe for your next pizza party or weekend movie night!
Table of Contents
About This Recipe
Margherita pizza is a simple, delicious pizza that’s easy to make at home. What makes a Margherita special is just how brilliantly basic it is.
The best versions feature mozzarella and parmesan cheese over a zesty tomato sauce, and include plenty of fresh basil. You can add tomato slices, too, for an extra pop of flavor.
I recommend using high quality ingredients for creating absolutely the tastiest pizza with a perfectly chewy, lightly crispy crust and bold tomato sauce.
No yeast? No problem! Try this easy No Yeast Pizza Dough recipe!
I have made this recipe easy for you as I am not using a pizza stone. But I do have a pizza stone and make pizza on it often.
Many of us do not have a pizza stone, so I am showing an easy method to bake in a pan.
If you do own a pizza stone, then read the instructions in my “expert tips” section below or in the notes section of the recipe card.
What’s the difference between Margherita Pizza and regular cheese Pizza?
If you are wondering what is the difference, then let me tell you. Margherita Pizza is made with tomato sauce or marinara as the base sauce on the crust.
Fresh Mozzarella and optionally some parmesan cheese is included which after being baked is topped with some fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil.
A cheese pizza has tomato sauce on the crust and topped with shredded mozzarella and a mix of various cheese – fontina, romano, provolone or parmesan.
How to make Margherita Pizza from Scratch
Make the dough
1. The first step to making a great pizza is to make a great pizza dough. In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a standing mixer with a hook attachment, add 1 teaspoon of instant yeast (3 grams) and ½ teaspoon of sugar. Instant yeast is rapid rising yeast.
If using dry active yeast or fresh yeast, then check the “Notes“ section of the recipe card below or follow these instructions:
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast = 1.5 teaspoons active dry yeast = 3 teaspoons fresh yeast
- Mix dry active yeast or fresh yeast and ½ teaspoon sugar in 1 cup lukewarm water. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes or until the mixture has become frothy and bubbly
- Mix with rest of the ingredients and knead to a soft dough.
2. Add 1 cup of water and mix well.
3. Next add 3 cups of whole wheat flour and 1 teaspoon of salt.
4. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, or preferred flavorless oil.
5. Plus add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
TIP: A little bit of acidity helps in gluten development. If you do not have lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar is an option.
6. Use the hook attachment of the standing mixture on medium speed to combine the ingredients and bring the dough together.
You can also knead the pizza dough by hand. To do so just be sure to fully knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface.
7. The dough should be smooth, pliable and soft. If the dough looks dry, then you can add some water while kneading. If the dough seems sticky, sprinkle a bit of flour over the dough and continue to knead.
Proof the Dough
8. Once combined, shape into a round ball within the bowl. Use your fingers to spread a light layer of water all over the dough.
9. Cover the bowl with a lid or a kitchen towel, and allow to rise until the dough increases in volume and doubles up. This should take about 45 minutes to 1.5 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
If using dry active yeast, then keep covered for 1:30 hours to 3 hours (it depends on the temperature conditions in your city).
10. Below is a picture of my dough having doubled in size.
11. And here is the dough once I started to work with it again. It should be stringy with tiny air pockets. This texture is what creates that slightly chewy crust you want.
12. Knead the dough lightly again, and either use immediately or pack and store in the fridge or freezer.
Assembling Margherita Pizza
13. To make pizza with your homemade dough, first prepare a 9-inch pan or tray by lightly greasing with oil and dusting with flour, cornmeal, or semolina.
Preheat the oven to its highest possible temperature. My oven has 250 degrees Celsius (475 degrees Fahrenheit) as the highest temperature.
Allow the oven to preheat for 15 to 20 minutes before baking the pizza to make sure it’s perfectly hot.
14. Separate the pizza dough into 6 or 7 even sections, packaging and storing any you’re not planning to use. To store, wrap each individual section in plastic wrap, and then seal all of the dough in an airtight plastic bag or other container.
Working one pizza crust at a time, lightly flour a clean surface and sprinkle the dough with flour.
15. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough ball into a flat circle, about 0.5 centimeter or ¼ inch thick. Flour the rolling pin if it sticks, or use a piece of parchment paper between the dough and rolling pin.
16. Carefully lift and place the dough into the greased baking or tray.
17. Next, spread on a thin layer of store bought or homemade pizza sauce. Leave a good bit of room around the edge of the dough clear for the crust.
18. Add a generous sprinkling of vegetarian parmesan cheese (optional).
19. And top with lots of fresh mozzarella cheese. Spread out evenly, again, avoiding the very edge of the crust. Break fresh mozzarella cheese into chunks and place it on the crust.
TIP: If you have water soaked fresh mozzarella, then squeeze water from the mozzarella to avoid a soggy crust.
20. Move the baking rack or tray to the lowest position in your preheated oven. This will help create a wonderfully crispy crust.
Place the pizza pan either on the rack or on the tray.
21. Bake the Margherita pizza for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese is completely melted and the crust is lightly golden in color.
22. Remove from the oven and top the pizza with some torn fresh basil leaves. You can also add a dash of dried oregano or red chili flakes, if you want.
I also recommend that you drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive on the Margherita pizza just before serving, for a truly authentic Italian taste.
TIP: Fresh basil is always added on a baked pizza. Do not add fresh basil before baking the pizza as it will wilt, dry out and loose its delicate aromatic flavor.
23. Use a pizza cutter or serrated knife to cut the Margherita pizza into 4 to 6 even slices.
Make Ahead and Storage
You can make the sauce and dough well in advance of when you plan to assemble and bake your pizzas. Both the pizza dough and my Homemade Pizza Sauce will keep well in the fridge for a couple of days or can be frozen for up to 3 months.
However, feel free to make this an easier pizza dish by using store bought dough and jarred sauce.
Either way this recipe will yield approximately 6 or 7 thin crust pizzas that are about 9 inches in diameter each – roughly the size of a small-to-medium personal pizza.
These are perfect for making to host a DIY pizza party, or keeping in the freezer to use one at a time whenever you have a craving for some pizza!
- Hard pizza crust: Use a good brand of dry active yeast. The yeast has to get activated which helps in leavening of the dough. If the yeast does not get activated which happens if the water is hot or cold – the pizza crust will become hard.
- Flour: All-purpose flour and bread flour work wonderfully in this recipe. Make sure to use the unbleached and preferably organic versions of these flours.
- Toppings: A classic Margherita pizza does not have any vegetable toppings. Sliced tomatoes are included in some variations. If you prefer you can add some vegetable toppings like – bell pepper, sautéed or roasted mushrooms, sautéed spinach, onions, steamed or canned corn kernels.
- Fat: Olive oil is the best choice. Any neutral oil can be replaced with olive oil. Butter also makes for a good substitute.
- Chewy cheese: Baking pizza for a longer time will result in the cheese getting chewy.
- Using a pizza stone: Preheat your pizza stone in the oven for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Assemble margherita pizza on a flour dusted pizza peel. Dusting pizza peel with flour helps the pizza to slide easily from the peel to the baking stone. Slide the pizza carefully on the baking stone. Bake pizza for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges are golden and the cheese has melted.
Please be sure to rate the recipe in the recipe card or leave a comment below if you have made it. For more vegetarian inspirations, Sign Up for my emails or follow me on Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.
Margherita Pizza Recipe
- 3 cups whole wheat flour or 360 grams whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast or rapid rising yeast, 3 grams (check notes for dry active yeast or fresh yeast)
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup water – you can also add 1.25 cups water or add as required
- ½ cup Pizza Sauce or passata or marinara sauce – as required
- 200 grams fresh mozzarella cheese or shredded mozzarella – can add as required
- vegetarian parmesan cheese – as required (optional)
- 20 to 25 basil (fresh) or add as required, optional
- dried oregano – as required (optional)
- red chili flakes – as required (optional)
- Take the instant yeast, sugar and water in a mixing bowl or in the stand mixer bowl. Mix thoroughly.
- Add in the whole wheat flour, salt, olive oil and lemon juice.
- Attach the bowl to a stand mixer with the hook attachment. On a medium-high speed knead the dough. If kneading with hands, then mix everything very well and then knead for atleast 8 to 10 minutes.
- The dough should be smooth, pliable and soft. If the dough looks dry, add some water while kneading. If the dough looks sticky, sprinkle some flour. Depending on the quality of flour, you may add add less or more water.
- Spread some water all over the dough.
- Cover with a lid or a kitchen towel and allow to leaven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the dough increases in volume and doubles up.
- Knead the dough lightly again and then you can directly make pizzas from these. Or you can keep them covered in a tight box or pan. Spread some olive oil all over the dough before placing them in the box.
- Preheat the oven to its highest possible temperature for 15 to 20 minutes. My oven has 250 degrees Celsius (475 degrees Fahrenheit) as the highest temperature.
- Grease a 9-inch pan or tray with some extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle some flour all over. You can even use cornmeal or semolina for sprinkling.
- Take a medium to large ball and sprinkle some flour on the dough.
- Roll to a thin pizza having 0.3 to 0.5 cm thickness.
- Carefully lift and place the pizza in the greased baking pan or tray.
- Spread a thin layer of pizza sauce or passata.
- Add some grated vegetarian parmesan cheese. If you do not have parmesan cheese, then skip this step.
- Now top with mozzarella cheese or pizza cheese.
- Keep the pizza pan on the lower rack near the bottom heating element. This helps the pizza to get a nice crisp and crusty base. Only use the bottom heating element in the oven. Also keep your oven’s highest temp. My oven has 250 degrees celsius (475 degrees Fahrenheit) as the highest.
- Bake the pizza for 10 to 15 minutes until the base gets golden and the cheese also melts.
- Top with some torn fresh basil leaves.
- You can also add dried oregano or red chili flakes if you want. Drizzle some extra virgin olive on the margherita pizza before serving.
- Cut with a pizza cutter or knife and serve margherita pizza.
How to use dry active yeast or fresh yeast?
- Proof dry active yeast or fresh yeast in 1 cup warm water and ½ teaspoon sugar solution for 10 to 15 minutes or until the mixture froths and bubbles. Mix with rest of the ingredients and knead.
- Use good quality dry active yeast and do make sure that the water is neither on the cooler side or hot. It should be lukewarm.
- The time taken to leaven will depend on the temperature conditions in your city. So you can keep the dough for 2 to 3 hours or more if required.
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast = 1.5 teaspoons active dry yeast = 3 teaspoons fresh yeast
How to use a pizza stone?Preheat your pizza stone in the oven for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Assemble pizza on a flour dusted pizza peel. Dusting pizza peel with flour helps the pizza to slide easily from the peel to the baking stone. Slide the pizza carefully on the baking stone. Bake pizza for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges are golden and the cheese has melted.
Make ahead and storageYou can make the sauce and dough well in advance before you plan to assemble and bake. Both the pizza dough and my homemade pizza sauce (recipe linked above in the ingredients list) will keep well in the fridge for a few days or can be frozen for up to 3 months. Though, feel free to make to use store bought dough and jarred sauce. This recipe makes for 6 or 7 thin crust pizzas that are about 9 inches in diameter each – roughly the size of a small-to-medium personal pizza.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This margherita pizza post from the archives (December 2016) has been republished and updated on 31 December 2020.