Have a taste of Italy at home with this Margherita pizza recipe. The toppings make this pizza unique Margherita. Italian tomatoes, slices of fresh Mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil create this Italian classic. This homemade version is made in a Dutch oven.
Most of us grew up with pizza holding a special place in our hearts. Many of us had pizza parties in school. Pizza was a special treat for birthdays. When I think about pizza, I always associate it with extra special times.
This homemade Margherita pizza recipe is the perfect dinner for classic, rustic pizza flavor without a ton of work, and it's so easy to make, that you don't have to wait for a special occasion to make it.
I enjoy all types of pizza. From Chicago-style deep dish and thin crust pizzas to huge slices of New York-style pizza that you fold up and eat more like a sandwich than a slice, pizza in any form is one of my favorite dishes. However, there's one pizza that stands out above all others for me. That's the classic Margherita pizza.
This Margherita pizza has a thin, crispy pizza crust that has the perfect snap when you bit into it, and it's topped with incredibly simple ingredients, leading to a pizza that perfectly balances light toppings with a delightfully dense crust.
This pizza dough recipe is perfection, if I don't say so myself.
My recipe keeps all the traditional flavor and texture of this classic pizza, but it does it in a bit of a different way. This recipe uses a Dutch oven and no pizza oven or pizza pan! We'll get to that later, though.
If you are looking for other homemade pizza recipes, take a look at air fryer English muffin pizza and double cheeseburger pizza. And, if they don't suit your fancy, try taking a look at this list of summer pizzas or even this one of fall pizzas.
They are all great in their own right and be like Ken...try each and every one of them more than once (they're just that good)!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Classic pizza flavors shine through.
- This is a meal the kids will love too!
- Requires few ingredients.
Ingredients In Margherita Pizza
Don't be intimidated by the list of ingredients for this pizza. What you don't already in your pantry, you should be able to find at the grocery store. The real key is to use quality ingredients - the best you are able to get.
Also, this pizza is relatively easy to make. Once your dough has risen, the rest of this Margherita pizza comes together quickly.
Homemade Pizza Dough: You don't want to mess with perfection and this basic pizza dough is just that. Made with bread flour, instant rise yeast, water, and salt this dough is the perfect chewy/crisp crust to your melted cheese and juicy tomatoes.
Homemade Sauce: Simple is better with it comes to a Margherita pizza. A simple yet flavorful pizza sauce made of tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, shallot, fresh basil, salt and pepper. Use quality Italian tomatoes. I highly recommend using crushed or pureed San Marzano or Italian plum canned tomatoes for the best sauce.
Toppings: The toppings make this pizza uniquely Margherita. All that's required is mozzarella cheese, fresh basil leaves and tomatoes. Use the freshest and best ingredients you are able to get.
How to Make Margherita Pizza
Here are step-by-step photos and instructions for making this delicious homemade Margherita Pizza. For complete instructions, see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this page.
You'll begin making this Margherita pizza recipe by making the dough. Let your yeast proof in warm water for about 10 minutes.
- Add the salt, bread flour, and olive oil to the bowl.
2. Let it proof for 10 minutes.
3. Add salt, bread flour, and olive oil to the bowl.
4. Using a dough hook on a standard mixer or a wooden spoon, mix it all up until it forms a dough.
5. Coat a large bowl with olive oil and place the dough inside. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm spot for 1 hour.
6. Knead dough with fist until flat. Divide the dough into two pieces.
7. Flatten and stretch as best you can.
8. Place onto parchment paper and roll out into a circle. Repeat with each dough ball. Use a fork to poke holes throughout the dough to prevent it from rising too much as it cooks. Keep the pizza on the parchment paper when you place it in the Dutch oven for easy removal.
9. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees with the dutch oven inside.
10. After that, it's on to the sauce. It's as easy as combining all your sauce ingredients into a food processor. Pulsing for about 15 seconds, until it is all blended. That's it.
11. Brush the pizza dough with sauce.
12. Top it with sliced mozzarella, halved tomatoes, and basil, and cook it in the Dutch oven.
Doesn't it look delicious?
- Don't have the correct ingredients on hand? Or want to change something up? Here are some helpful tips for you to change this Dutch Oven Margherita Pizza recipe.
- If you prefer a pizza sauce made with fresh tomatoes, carefully place 14-16 ounces of tomatoes into a pot of simmering water. Once the tomato skin begins to split, gently remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl to cool. Once they are cooled completely, the skin will be easy to pull away with your fingers.
- Dried basil can be swapped with fresh basil. The general rule of thumb for basil is to use a 3:1 ratio. That being 3 parts fresh is the same as 3 parts dried. If you can get it, fresh basil is truly best for this recipe.
- You don’t have to use Italian mozzarella cheese and tomatoes, but you’re shortchanging yourself if you don’t. The flavor just isn’t the same.
- If you don’t have to use a Dutch oven. If you want to try this recipe as I’ve made it, you can use a heavy-duty soup or stockpot instead. Alternately, you can also use a baking stone in place of a pot of any kind.
- Want to personalize this Dutch Oven Margherita Pizza recipe? If you don't want to go the traditional Margherita pizza route, here are some variations for changing up this recipe.
- Like meat on your pizza? Add just a little bit of pepperoni or salami.
- Veggie lover? Try adding some mushroom, onions and peppers on top.
- If mozzarella cheese isn't your thing, try using goat cheese or any other cheese that melts well.
If you love recipes like this you might also enjoy copycat Olive Garden meatballs.
- Refrigerator: Keep leftover pizza in a plastic zipper bag in your refrigerator for two or three days and reheat them in a microwave or in the oven on a pizza stone.
- Freezer: Place the slices in an airtight container and freeze for up to three months.
- Reheat: Reheat using the microwave.
- Always check the date on your yeast to be sure it isn't expired. Expired yeast may not rise.
- For best results, preheat your oven to the highest temperature possible before dialing it back down to 450 degrees for cooking. You want your Dutch oven to be nice and hot. The hotter, the better!
- If you opt to make this pizza on a baking stone or baking sheet, allow either to preheat in the oven for a minimum of 45 minutes. An hour is even better.
- To achieve the crispiest crust possible, you want your pizza dough to be very thin. In fact, your dough should be so thin that you can almost see through it, although a bit thicker at the edges is perfectly fine.
- If you can only find water-packed mozzarella cheese, be sure to thoroughly pat it down with paper towels, removing as much moisture as possible. This prevents excess moisture creating a soggy crust.
- Less is more when it comes to sauce. This rustic-style Margherita pizza only needs a very thin layer of sauce. This keeps the flavors balanced and your crust crispy. A heavy layer of sauce will make your crust soggy.
- To gild the lily on this homemade Margherita pizza, sprinkle some freshly grated parmesan cheese on top of the sauce before topping or directly on top of the cooked pizza right before serving. I recommend a high-quality Parmigiano-Reggiano for the most authentic flavor.
Do you have questions about this Margherita Pizza recipe? Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about Margherita Pizza.
The Margherita pizza is a variation of Neopolitan-style pizza. Neopolitan pizzas are flat and are characterized by their simple ingredient. Although they can include many different toppings, at their core, every pizza of this type uses Italian tomatoes and quality sliced Italian mozzarella cheese. The Margherita pizza recipe only adds one ingredient to this basic recipe - basil. It's one of the simplest Neopolitan pizza variations.
This type of pizza is incredibly simple. They include crushed fresh or canned Italian tomatoes for the sauce and mozzarella, fresh basil, salt, and a drizzle of olive oil as the toppings. These days, some people like to get creative with their toppings, but nothing beats the simplicity of the original.
You can make this dough ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for 24 hours. If you like planning further ahead, you can also freeze the dough. Diving the dough into 2 pieces and wrap each piece in plastic wrap and then foil and place inside an airtight freezer-safe container or heavy-duty freezer bag for up to 3 months.
History of Margherita Pizza
The Margherita pizza recipe was popularized in the late 1800s by a Neopolitan pizza maker named Raffaele Esposito. He wanted to display the colors of the Italian flag for the queen at that time with this pizza. In the end, this pizza ended up memorializing those colors, becoming one of the most popular pizzas of all time. Using tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, Raffaele duplicated the red, white, and green of the Italian flag.
Interestingly, this exact pizza already existed in Naples, Italy, where it was described as having a daisy-like appearance, "Margherita" in Italian. This pizza also included tomatoes and thin slices of mozzarella cheese that were arranged in a flower petal pattern on top of tomato sauce with fresh basil leaves.
The pizza became a huge hit, and the rest, as they say, is history. Today you can find this pizza everywhere, from homemade Margherita pizza in so many of our kitchens to almost every traditional Italian restaurant you'll ever visit.
Give your pizza the love it deserves and had to the specialty cheese section of your local market and get a chunk of high-quality Italian mozzarella cheese. Trust me when I say it's a total game-changer. If you love cheese, it's also a bucket list sort of experience. I guarantee you will never taste mozzarella cheese as delicious as Italian mozzarella cheese. On a final note, avoid water-packed mozzarella cheese if at all possible.
How to Make Margherita Pizza
- 1 medium premade thin crust pizza dough
- 1 large tomato
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons Italian seasoning
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella packed in water
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
- Preheat your oven according to the pizza crust instructions. (mine was preheated to 400 degrees) and line a flat baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl combine tomato sauce, tomato paste, garlic, Italian seasoning, onion powder, salt, and red pepper flakes until well mixed and set aside.
- Slice a tomato into ½ inch slices and slice mozzarella into 2 inch round balls, they do not have to be perfectly round, and set aside.
- On your parchment paper lined baking sheet, spread pizza dough out into a 12 inch round pizza crust.
- Pre bake the crust in your pre heated oven for 6 minutes or until it's starting to turn golden brown. Once your crust is pre baked, brush it with olive oil and spread your tomato sauce around evenly almost to the edge of the pizza crust.
- Top with tomato slices, mozzarella, and basil. Then bake in your oven for an additional 6 minutes or until the toppings are baked and the cheese is melted.
- Slice the pizza into 8 pieces and serve warm.
A Homemade Margherita Pizza Recipe Everyone Will Love
This Margherita pizza will be a winner with every member of the family. Its simple ingredients and crispy crust work together to ensure that even the pickiest eater will be hankering for more of this rustic pizza classic. It's a pizza offering both the classic crisp bite that we all love and light toppings that won't leave us feeling bogged down like the Ultra Deep Dish Quadruple Meat Lover's Stuffed Crust Everything Topped pizza at the pizza joint down the street.
So get out your Dutch oven, stockpot, or baking stone, and get ready to make one of the most delicious rustic pizzas you've ever had. With delicious flavors and a fantastic texture, this Margherita pizza recipe is always a crowd-pleaser.