Pizza Margherita Recipe

This classic dish is named for the queen of Italy in honor of her 1889 visit to Napoli. With colorful toppings that pay homage to the Italian flag, the pizza evokes all things Italia today.




6 people

Cooking time

6 minutes


3 ½ cups 00 flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
3 ½ cups bread flour
½ ounce (about 1 tablespoon) starter
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon instant yeast

1 ½ cups crushed tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 pound mozzarella, thinly sliced
18 fresh basil leaves


In a large bowl, combine the flours with 2 cups lukewarm water. Mix by hand to combine into a shaggy dough, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.


Add the starter (dissolved in a little water if too stiff) to the bowl, and stir to combine. Sprinkle on the salt and yeast. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead until thoroughly combined and soft, about 15 minutes.


Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature to ferment for 1 hour.


Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured work surface, and use a bench scraper to cut into 6 equal pieces. (If you want to be exact, use a scale; each piece should be 10 to 12 ounces.)


Lightly flour a tray or baking sheet. Place 1 piece of dough on the work surface, smooth side up. Cup the dough with your hands and gently turn it while pressing the edges of the dough underneath, so that it forms a round ball with a smooth top stretched tightly. Transfer the rounded dough to the prepared tray or pan and repeat with the remaining dough.


Cover the tray or pan with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the dough until it is very puffy, at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.


About 1 ½ hours before you want to make pizza, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit, covered, until it comes back to room temperature.


Place a baking stone on the lowest rack of the oven. Remove the other racks. Preheat the oven as high as it will go, at least 500°F.


In a small bowl, stir together the crushed tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil, seasoning to taste with salt.


Place 1 ball of dough on a lightly-floured work surface. Stretch the pizza dough into a disk about 10 inches in diameter. The dough should be quite thin with a slightly thicker perimeter. If it resists, set aside for a few minutes to relax.


Transfer the disk of dough to a piece of parchment paper, then move paper and dough to a peel (or an inverted baking sheet or cookie sheet if you don’t have a peel). Spread about ¼ cup tomato sauce on the dough, leaving an uncovered border. Top with a few slices of mozzarella.


Slide the pizza, still on the paper, onto the baking stone. While the pizza is baking, stretch the next ball of dough. Bake until the crust is blistering and golden and the cheese has melted, 4 to 7 minutes, depending on how high the oven temperature goes. Remove the pizza, and transfer to a plate. Top with three basil leaves, and brush a little additional oil on the uncovered crust. Repeat with the remaining dough, tomato sauce, cheese, and basil.