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Some people like pizzas with a lot of ingredients. Some people (myself included) like specialty pizzas that have uncommon ingredients like figs on them. Many people like pepperoni pizzas, such as my husband. In the long run, I'm always happy with a good Margherita Pizza.
Rumor has it that the Margherita Pizza was so named for Queen Margherita of Italy and that it was created to reflect the colors of the nation's flag: red, white, and green. Of course, there are multiple stories all claiming to be factual!
How to make a successful Margherita Pizza in a home oven
I'm no pizzaiolo, but I do know a little about how to create a good pizza in a home oven. An outdoor wood-fired oven would be preferred but for the lack of it, I make myself happy with my kitchen oven. Here are my tips:
- Heat the oven as hot as it will go. Most home ovens top out at about 550° which is about 400° too cool for a true pizza oven result! But you do what you can do.
- Set the oven rack in the middle of the oven.
- Heat a baking stone in the oven as you preheat.
- Use a pizza peel to transfer the pizza into and out of the oven.
How to make the crust for Margherita Pizza
Since Margherita Pizza had its origins in Naples according to the legends, I feel that the crust should be a long-fermented sourdough, thin and crispy Neopolitan crust. I have found great success using Maurizio's recipe.
However! Do NOT let that detail keep you from making Margherita Pizza! Use your own favorite pizza dough recipe, or buy premade dough at the store. Just be sure to roll it super thin ... because at least you should keep that crispy characteristic of Neopolitan pizza!
Does Margherita Pizza have tomatoes on it?
This seems to be up for debate. Sometimes you find it with sliced tomatoes on it and other times, it only has tomato sauce. For myself, I like thinly sliced tomatoes when they are in season ... so only in the summer. Otherwise, I just use sauce.
When I use the tomatoes, I like slice them thinly and lay them out on a paper towel to absorb some of the juice. When the first towel gets wet, I put another dry one underneath. It's also smart to peel the tomatoes just to make easier to eat. To be truthful, this is not something I usually do!
I keep my pizza sauce very simple. I warm organic tomato sauce, put some chopped garlic in it, and salt it. I simmer it just long enough to pull the flavor out of the garlic, about 15 minutes.
Layer the tomatoes over the sauce, and bake for about 10 minutes to get the crust browning and starting to crisp.
Cheese for Margherita Pizza
Let's talk about the cheese. We typically think of Margherita Pizza as only having mozzarella, but a nice little bit of Romano and Parmiggiano is a great addition. Just a little bit.
And then, the mozzarella. Use fresh mozzarella or use my favorite, burrata. Burrata has a solid exterior with a creamy middle. It's just beautiful.
Stick the Margherita Pizza back into the oven to melt the cheeses and finish the crisping.
When you bring it out of the oven, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle it with fresh basil. Et voila! A beautiful Margherita Pizza.
Other recipes you might like:
- 1 pizza crust See notes
- ⅓-½ cup pizza sauce See notes
- thinly sliced tomatoes
- 2 Tablespoons Romano and Parmiggiano cheeses grated
- 1 ball fresh mozzarella sliced thin
- fresh basil leaves
- olive oil to drizzle at the end
- Preheat the oven to its highest setting.
- Press out the dough into a 12-inch round on a piece of parchment paper.
- Put sauce on the crust and spread it to the edges. Top with the tomato slices. Put into the oven for 8-10 minutes to start the browning and crisping.
- Take it out of the oven, sprinkle with the Romano and Parmigianno cheeses, then lay the fresh mozzarella slices on top. Put it back in the oven for 2-3 minutes to allow the cheeses to melt.
- Remove from the oven, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with fresh basil leaves.
- Bon Appetit!