How to make next level Margherita pizza

Learn how to create the perfect Margherita pizza at home without a pizza oven by using unconventional methods to achieve classic Italian flavours.

Next level Margherita pizza title sign

Forget stuffed crusts and meat feasts – add the name ‘Margherita’ to a pizza and what you’re referencing is the classic Neapolitan. Three main elements (dough, tomatoes and cheese) need to be carefully considered then brought together and baked for a matter of minutes on the floor of a furnace-hot oven to give a thin crisp base with a bubbled, chewy crust – easy if you own a pizzeria, but how do you get those same results at home?  

For the base, we use a bread-making technique of staggered mixing, which cuts out kneading and produces a light stretchable dough. For the sauce, we made things easy by not cooking it first, and ended up with the best tasting result. When it came to replicating a pizza oven in a home kitchen, we tried everything from barbecuing to red-hot pizza stones, but the best results came from using a hot pan then a grillm which delivered a puffed-up, singe-crusted slice of pizza perfection.

10 tips for the perfect Margherita pizza:

1. No-knead dough 
2. Be gentle
3. Sour power
4. Raw sauce
5. A good stretch
6. Protective parmesan 
7. Mozzarella dilemma
8. Replicate a pizza oven
9. Flick of the wrist
10. Less is more  

1. No-knead dough 

Four pizza dough balls on a floured surface with a scraper

By staggering mixing flour and water together and leaving it before you add the yeast and salt, you ‘activate’ the flour and the gluten starts to work so there is no need to knead the dough.

2. Be gentle

Bubbly dough

Unlike traditional methods to pizza dough making, the air is never knocked out of the dough, so you end up with a bubbly crust to the pizza.

3. Sour power

Dough ball on floured board

The pizza dough can be made in a matter of hours, but for a sourer flavour, leave it to rise in the fridge overnight. The longer you leave it, the sourer it will become – which might not be to everyone’s taste.  

4. Raw sauce

Pizza dough covered in tomato sauce on a pizza peel

We tried lots of different tomato sauces and the one that was the biggest revelation for a vibrant flavour was an uncooked, seasoned sauce infused with a few herbs.

5. A good stretch

Pizza dough stretched into a circle on a floured surface

You can use a rolling pin for ease, but we found that it knocked a lot of the air (and bubbles) out of the dough. For the best, most puffed-up results, gently stretch the dough into a circle with your fingers.

6. Protective parmesan 

Pizza dough with sprinkling of Parmesan

We found that a slightly unauthentic sprinkling of parmesan helped to hold everything together and made the finished pizza less sloppy.

7. Mozzarella dilemma

Mozzarella cheese cut into chunks

The best-quality mozzarella is very wet and makes the finished pizza sloppy, so we opted for the cheaper, drier, low-hydration mozzarella from a block.   

8. Flick of the wrist

Pizza dough topped with Parmesan shavings and mozzarella chunks on a pizza peel

Like tossing a pancake or turning a tortilla, sliding the pizza from the tray to the pan takes confidence and precision. An easier option is to stretch the dough then build the pizza in the hot pan, but you need to move fast.

9. Replicate a pizza oven

Whole cooked pizza topped with basil leaves

The stone floor of a professional pizza oven can reach 400C – the only way to replicate that at home is to start the pizza in a smoking hot pan. The second stage to replicating a pizza oven is to grill the pizza, which melts the cheese and gives the crust its mottled finish.

10. Less is more  

Cooked Margherita pizza divided into quarters and topped with basil leaves

Yes, there are a world of toppings you can personalise a pizza with, but for a Margherita you need to keep it minimal – the only flourish you can allow yourself is a few basil leaves. You can even take the simplicity one step further and make a vegan ‘pizza pomodoro’ version without any cheese.        

See the full recipe for our next level Margherita pizza.

Find more perfect Margherita pizza recipes...

Pizza Margherita in 4 easy steps
Ultimate pizza Margherita
Very simple Margherita pizza
Lighter pizza Margherita
Vegan pizza Margherita

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