This delicious classic Margherita pizza is topped with crushed tomatoes, garlic, salt, mozzarella, and basil. So simple to make and perfect for feeding a crowd!

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Top down view of prepared margherita pizza with whole leaf basil topping.

About Classic Margherita Pizza

This easy-to-make classic Margherita pizza keeps things simple with storebought dough (or you can make your own), a quick sauce, and delicious toppings of mozzarella, olive oil, basil, and garlic.

What is a Margherita pizza?

Margherita pizza is traditionally made with a bubbly crust that’s topped with crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, olive oil, and salt. And if this flavor combination sounds delicious to you, then you have something in common with Queen Margherita of Savoy, as she loved this pizza so much it was named after her.

As the story goes, Queen Margherita of Savoy was visiting Naples shortly after Italy unified (around 1861). The Queen was tired of eating the French cuisine that had become the norm for European royalty, so a local pizza chef by the name of Raffaele Esposito made her three pies to try: pizza marinara, pizza Napoli, and a third option that embodied the white, red, and green colors of the Italian flag. It was this third, unnamed pizza that won the Queen over, eventually leading to the pizza taking on her name.

What’s in a Margherita pizza?

One of the best parts of this iconic pizza is how few ingredients you need to create the simple, delicious flavor it’s known for. To do this, you’ll only need seven key ingredients:

  • Pizza dough – I personally like to use storebought pizza dough because it’s quick and easy, but you can also use your favorite homemade pizza dough as well.
  • Olive oil – One of the core flavors in a Margherita pizza.
  • Crushed tomatoes – For creating the pizza sauce. San Marzano tomatoes are highly recommended.
  • Salt – The only seasoning you need.
  • Fresh garlic – Optional, but great for flavor.
  • Mozzarella pearls – Because every pizza needs cheese.
  • Basil leaves – A classic Margherita pizza topping.
Close up side view of baked Margherita pizza.

Can you make this pizza in advance?

In most cases, it’s best to fully stage a homemade pizza (which means stretching out the dough, adding sauce and toppings, etc) right before baking. Letting a staged pizza sit for any length of time could impact how well the dough bakes and puffs up.

All that being said, you should always check the usage instructions included with the recipe or the pizza dough package to learn how to properly handle and use the dough. It may include instructions to help you successfully stage the pizza in advance.

But if the dough you’re using doesn’t specify these types of usage instructions, and you really need to prepare this pizza ahead of time, you can use the following (with caution!) as general guidelines:

  • For homemade dough, you should be able to fully stage the pizza one to four hours before baking.
  • For storebought dough that’s already been rolled out, you should be able to fully stage the pizza up to 12 hours before cooking. if the dough still needs to be stretched, then it can be fully staged one to four hours in advance.

How long is Margherita pizza good for?

Once prepared and cooled, homemade pizza can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Can you freeze this pizza?

Yes, you totally can!

Once prepared and cooled, this Margherita pizza can be stored in a sealed container or freezer bag for one to two months.

Notes & tips for this margherita pizza

  • Instead of using mozzarella pearls, you can also use a mozzarella ball and a melon ball scooper or freshly shredded mozzarella.
Side view of lifting up a slice of Margherita pizza.

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How to make Margherita pizza

This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.

Step 1 – Preheat your oven and prepare your pizza dough as directed, whether this be following a recipe for homemade pizza dough or following instructions on a package of storebought pizza dough. If using storebought dough, keep in mind that some brands may state to bake the pizza crust first without the toppings; that is okay to do for this recipe.

Step 2Brush the pizza dough with olive oil.

Step 3 – Top the dough with crushed tomatoes, spreading it out into an even layer. Be sure to leave a rim for the crust!

Step 4 – Sprinkle with garlic and salt, then use a spoon to mix them in with the tomato sauce.

Step 5 – Add the mozzarella pearls on top.

Step 6 – Bake!

Step 7 – While the cheese is still warm, add fresh basil and gently press down, so that the basil sticks to the pizza.

Step 8 – Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Details

Top down view of prepared margherita pizza with whole leaf basil topping.
4.67 from 6 votes

Classic Margherita Pizza

15 mins prep + 25 mins cook
217 kcal
Yields: 8 slices
This delicious classic Margherita pizza is topped with crushed tomatoes, garlic, salt, mozzarella, and basil. So simple to make and perfect for feeding a crowd!

Ingredients 

  • pizza dough, either store bought or homemade
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup crushed or pureed tomatoes, San Marzano recommended
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 8 ounces mozzarella pearls, patted dry
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, whole or shredded into strips

Instructions

  • Preheat oven and prepare your pizza dough as directed, whether this be following a recipe for homemade pizza dough or following instructions on a package of storebought pizza dough. If using storebought, keep in mind that some brands may state to bake the pizza crust first without the toppings; that is okay for this recipe.
    pizza dough
  • Using a basting brush, cover the top of the pizza dough thoroughly with olive oil.
    1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pour crushed tomatoes on top of pizza dough, then smooth it out into an even layer, leaving a 1/2 to 3/4 inch clean rim around all edges.
    3/4 cup crushed or pureed tomatoes
  • Sprinkle with garlic and salt, then use a spoon to mix them in with the tomato sauce.
    2 teaspoons fresh minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Arrange mozzarella pearls evenly on top of pizza sauce.
    8 ounces mozzarella pearls
  • Bake pizza per dough or package instructions or until crust is golden brown and done to your liking.
  • Remove pizza from oven. Top with fresh basil leaves, gently pressing them into the melted mozzarella cheese so they stick.
    1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • Serve Margherita pizza immediately.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 217kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 554mg | Potassium: 74mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 128IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 113mg | Iron: 2mg

I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.

Author: Chrisy

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Recipe Rating




5 comments

    • Sherman Feldmann

    Bellissimo lavoro,bravo continua cosi!!

    • Jeannette

    This looks great! Pizza is my favorite! I just have one silly question: do we eat the basil or remove I once it is cooked? I’ve always wanted to try this and those tomato-mozzarella-fresh basil things on baguettes (I can’t remember the name tonight) but never in public because I wasn’t sure what to do with the basil! Thank you for the recipe and the answer! 😊

      • Edward Green

      Hi Jeannette, looks like no-one’s replied to you. Basil is great to eat, and tastes wonderful as a garnish for many dishes. All the best, Ted.

    • Debs
    • 5 stars

    I absolutely love a homemade pizza. I broke up with my delivery boy a few years ago and haven’t looked back. And this looks like the next pizza pie on my list! Lovely recipe.

    • Karly
    • 5 stars

    Margherita pizzas are definitely my favorite. So simple, so flavorful!