Introduction: Quick and Easy Margherita Pizza

Picture of Quick and Easy Margherita Pizza

One of my favorite summertime meals is this easy to make Margherita pizza. It can be made in just over 20 minutes once you've done it a few times and, with a backyard garden, can be made cheaply and organically.

Step 1: Is It Getting Hot in Here or Is It Just Your Oven?

Picture of Is It Getting Hot in Here or Is It Just Your Oven?

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F (or 232 C if you live just about anywhere in the world besides America).

Gather your tools and ingredients. You will need the following:
1Medium sized tomato
6-8 Fresh basil leaves
1 hunk of mozzarella cheese (or you could buy the preshredded, you'll need at least 3/4cup but I suggest a full cup)
1 12" pizza crust (I wimp out and buy the premade kind)
2 to 21/2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for a little more flavor try infusing your oil with something like garlic or basil)
White pepper (no set amount, I never use the same amount twice)

1 cutting board
1 vegetable knife
1 pizza cutter
1 cheese grater (only if you have a hunk of cheese, not store bought preshredded)
1 Oven (duh)

Step 2: Lube Job

Picture of Lube Job

Next we need to make sure that our dough cooks correctly by adding some olive oil to the surface of the crust. This will also add a bit of flavor to the medley (more or less flavor depending on whether or not you've infused your olive oil with any herbs or spices). Pour anywhere from 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons of your oil onto the crust. Spread evenly with the back of a spoon, a basting brush, or use my favorite method: your hand.

Step 3: Secret Ingredient (Hint: It's Not Really Secret)

Picture of Secret Ingredient (Hint: It's Not Really Secret)

One thing that remains a tradition in the Chandler family is using White Pepper over the standard black pepper or peppercorn melange you see most often. It just tastes better people! I'd recommend using whole peppercorns and grinding them out yourself for full flavor, but the canned stuff will work as well. I will typically put 3 to 4 full twists of the grinder onto the crust for a nice zip that is oddly subtle (for pepper).

Step 4: It Slices! It Dices! Part I

Picture of It Slices! It Dices! Part I

Take your rinsed tomato (I shouldn't have to tell you to rinse your produce) and slice it into your preferred thickness. I usually don't go super thick and I've found that if you make them too thin they will scorch VERY easily. Place your slices on the crust. On a 12"crust I usually will get about six slices on board.

Step 5: It Slices! It Dices! Part II

Picture of It Slices! It Dices! Part II

Now it's time to chop up the basil. Other, more culinarily astute people, will say things like, "Cut your basil into Julienne strips." I say stack three or four of your (rinsed, c'mon use common sense!) basil leaves and cut them three or four times horizontally. Pile up the resultant pieces and run your knife through them a few times in a few different directions. That will get you an easily spreadable pile of basil.



Now the best part: CHEESE! I cannot stress enough to you how much better your final product will turn out if you part with a few extra pennies and buy a ball of (sort of) fresh mozzarella. In the end the shredded stuff will turn out fine, save you a step, and cost a little less but your tastebuds will love you for going the extra mile. If you went the fresh(er) route and got a hunk of cheese, now is the time to grate it. Grate to taste, but I'd suggest at least 1/2 a cup just to pull things together. You'll get better results from about 3/4 of a cup and if you want to add lots of flavor and don't care about a small amount of extra calories, throw on a whole cup.

Step 7: Now We Play the Waiting Game...

Picture of Now We Play the Waiting Game...

Place the prepared pizza into your preheated oven for 7 to 8 minutes (or whenever the cheese looks good to you). If you want a slightly softer crust, use a pizza stone in the oven, but if you're a real person and like your crust more towards the crispy side just throw that bad boy right on the middle rack. While you're waiting check out this instructable. I've attached a picture of it just because I think it's cool.

Step 8: Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!

Picture of Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!

Your Quick, Easy, Cheap, Delicious, Healthy, Awesome Margherita pizza is done! Enjoy it with some friends on the patio or plop down in front of the couch with your significant other for the latest DVD from your Netflix queue, this is the perfect meal for sharing. I like it with some ice cold sweet tea and a little bit of pasta salad.


SpagoPizza (author)2012-06-29

I think the tomato slices should be a little thinner

depotdevoid (author)2011-08-30

Very nice, I just made one of these based on your recipe, it was great!

Sunkicked (author)depotdevoid2011-08-31

Sweet! I'm a big fan myself. ;-) We just had one the other day with some fresh, homegrown tomatoes. YUM!

depotdevoid (author)Sunkicked2011-09-02

Here's a picture I took of the results, I used red and yellow tomatoes and fresh basil, all from my garden. The crust came from Little Caesar's where my girlfriend works (the dough is made fresh every day, so it's a pretty good place to get a pizza crust).

Thanks for sharing the recipe, even my picky daughter liked it!

ricklow (author)2011-03-31

That actually doesn't look that hard to make.I'll try it even though I'm more of a "meat" person.:)))

theawesomeninja (author)ricklow2011-06-27

Add bacon! 'cuz bacon makes EVERYTHING better!

I Am An Evil Taco (author)2008-06-17

I could be wrong, but I've worked in pizza places off and on for the last 14 years, most of them in NY, and I've always known a margherita pizza to be sauce based. Dough, plain tomato sauce, basil leaves, cheese. I'm sure what you made is a white pizza, but I'm not sure it qualifies as a margherita. Regardless, good post. Spot on about the white pepper, as well. I like to use both white and black. Personally, I use a stone and have the oven set to "surface of the sun". I dunno about with the pre-made crusts, but with my own dough I find the higher heat brings out the flavor better.

It's not a white pizza, it's similar at cooked caprese pizza ( fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil over a focaccia(pizza cook only with olive oil and salt))
The white pizza it's like focaccia but with some rosemary.
Important: we don't use "cheese", All kind of italian pizza is made with mozzarella.

Believe it or not, the Italian government has an official recipe for making Margherita Pizza (Naples takes its pizza making fairly seriously). I've included a link to the translated site here.

TrueItalian (author)Sunkicked2010-11-25

I can give you the very margherita recipe, this is absolutly not right, i don't know what our government said about that but it's false or a wrong traslation XD. This is the right recipe, i find a perfect explaination in english.

TrueItalian (author)TrueItalian2010-11-25

rix_101 (author)2010-07-11

I love the titles for each step. Makes you want to make pizza ^0^

t.rohner (author)2008-06-08

Good instructable, but i'd make the dough myself. It's really easy. I make it in my bread maker and let it ferment for at least 4 hours. If you want to speed it up, you could prebake the pizzas. My other idea, freeze the dough and then thaw it in the microwave. Otherwise thawing takes too long. But i don't have a microwave to test it ;-) A buddy will lend me one, if it works well, maybe i buy one. For baking, i'd use the highest setting in the oven and a pizza stone for a crunchy crust. In my electric oven, i set it to 300C or 570F for pizza. (The maximum setting) A neighbor has bought a professional electric pizza oven, he sets it to 350C or 662F. I just made "Flammkuchen" last weekend in my wood fired pizza oven. I measured over 380C or 720F on the oven floor. A simple and delicious recipe for a pizza dough: 500g or 1.1 lb gluten-rich bread flour 300ml or 10 floz water 2 tblsp olive oil 14 g or 0,5 oz or 2 tsp salt 3g or 1/2 tsp active dried yeast (less yeast, longer fermenting time, better taste...) mix, knead and let ferment for 4 hours, if it's too moist after mixing add some more flour until workable. (Flours have different water absorbing properties.) This amount makes 4 medium sized pizzas or flammkuchens.

Sunkicked (author)t.rohner2009-04-28

Nearly a year later, I've finally gotten confident about making my own pizza dough. I've been playing around with a whole wheat dough that has turned out fairly well the 3 or 4 times I've made it. Instructable to follow, but I wanted to say thanks for pushing me towards making my own! -Sunkicked

godsdog (author)t.rohner2008-06-09

Instead of using water, try 7up or Sprite.

t.rohner (author)godsdog2008-06-10

Why should i do this? Using carbonated sugar water may speed up the leavening a little bit, but only for the price of less taste. The CO2 in the water will be mostly driven out while kneading, if you knead it sufficiently. The added sugar may speed up the leavening, but there is enough free sugar in the flour. In a long fermentation, some starch is reduced to yeast digestible sugar by alpha-amylase present in the flour as well. (We do this conversion in the mash, when brewing beer at around 63C or 145F) At room temperature, this conversion happens rather slow, but it does. You don't want a pizza dough too fluffy. (At least i don't) In this light, there is enough sugar in the flour for a pizza dough. (for most other yeast leavened doughs as well. Less yeast, longer fermentation ---> better taste

godsdog (author)t.rohner2008-06-10

I suggested "trying" it. I'm not going to track you down if you don't. And by not "trying" it, you will not waste 30 cents on ingredients and you can remain Mr. Wizard of pizza dough.

t.rohner (author)godsdog2008-06-10

You are right, i shouldn't have written it this way. It's too lecturing. I wanted to be constructive, but i shouldn't have wiped away a method i didn't try. I made many doughs in the last 15 years or so. I found that a long fermentation time enhances taste the most. If a recipe calls for sugar, i don't add it, except it's a sweet dough. Your comments are appreciated, that's what instructables is all about. Sorry again.

godsdog (author)t.rohner2008-06-10

No apology required. I'm going to use your recipe this weekend (with the addition of garlic...mmm)

Sunkicked (author)t.rohner2008-06-08

Awesome comment! have you made an Instructable for your pizza dough? Also, do you prefer the wood fired pizza or the electric version?

t.rohner (author)Sunkicked2008-06-08

I haven't done a instructable for pizza dough specifically. Maybe i do one on to whole pizza making, but i think you should be able to make the dough according the directions given in the recipe above. There are pictures of pizzas and flammkuchens in the last step of my pizza oven.
Of course, i prefer the wood fired version. I let a small fire burn, while i bake pizzas. This gives it some more taste. As a next thing, i haven't seen many household ovens, giving the desirable high temperatures of >= 350C / 670F. So using my electric oven for pizza is only second choice. (It takes around 2-3 hours to fire up the wood fired oven.)

PGAlexander (author)2008-09-11

Here are a few improvements for ya--pizza is something I take quite seriously. You seem like a guy who appreciates quality so I recommend you give this a try. Dough- sooo easy to make and 20 times cheaper and tastier than premade. You can make a bunch ahead of time and freeze it in pre-measured balls. (Jamie Oliver's recipe is a good jumping off point) Sauce- tinned plumb tomatoes taste the best (swear to god). As much as I love my vegetable garden, fresh isn't always better. De-seed them and strain out all the liquid through a sieve. Crush em with your hands while tossing in a bit of sun dried tomato paste, olive oil, oregano, roasted garlic, salt, and sugar to taste. (and white pepper ; ) ) Cheese- If you use fresh mozzarella, wrap it in a towel to soak up as much moisture as possible otherwise you'll end up with puddles and soggy dough. No need to grate--you want slightly chilled, chunky shreds so that it melts at the same rate as the dough cooks. Don't forget the basil! Oven- unless you have a pizza oven or have dangerously rigged your oven to cook on self cleaning mode, your best bet is an outdoor grill (mine gets up to around 600F). Preheat it as high as it will go. Two minutes before you throw in the pizza, chuck in a pizza stone (marble slab works well). Be careful not to let the heat escape when the lid is open. Set the pie on the hot stone and close the lid. After three minutes take a peek, lifting the dough to see that it's not burning. Cooks in about 4-6 min. That might sound like a lot but after you get the hang of it, you'll have a pie in under twenty min. Not only that, you'll have a NEW YORK pie which are just as good as neapolitan (because they're made the same way by the same people with the same ingredients). Buon appetito!

Sunkicked (author)2008-06-12

Just wanted to send out a great thanks to everyone who has commented on this little project of mine and given me some great hints on how to make it better. Homemade cheese, homemade dough, and roasted tomatoes with garlic are just a few of the ideas I've taken since I posted this. Again, thanks a lot for the feedback and make sure you send me pics of your own version of Margherita Pizza!

Tidnull (author)2008-06-06

mmmm, if you want a more saucy coating on your pizza, try roasting your tomatoes, first. Here's a good recipe

Sunkicked (author)Tidnull2008-06-07

Wow, that looks really good! I'll bet that if I added those to my pizza I would achievesome kind of Culinary Enlightenment. :-)

GorillazMiko (author)2008-06-04

Wowzerz. Looks really good, I hope I can try this out someday! +5/5 stars.

bddbbd.b (author)2008-06-04

Sweet. Own-make pizza is always the best. But it takes so little to go all out and own-make your crust, too. 1 part wet stuff (mostly water, optionally include an egg, a tablespoon or two olive oil) 3 parts flour (all purpose, bread, whole wheat... mix and match) one package instant yeast (about a teaspoon, i think) mix it up till it isn't sticky. Let it rise till it is twice it's original size, start tossing. It is one of those things that impresses people way out of proportion to it's difficulty- this takes around 7-10 minutes of actively doing anything.

Hello Kitty (author)bddbbd.b2008-06-04
You're right about the home-made crust, but if you're not using instant yeast you can:
  • put (give or take) a cup and a half of water in a microwave-safe dish
  • nuke for about a minute and a half
  • take out
  • put 1 teaspoon of yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar into the water
  • mix with a spoon
  • let sit for 10 minutes while you prepare the rest of the crust

And you don't have to mix for very long, just kneed with your hands after it's mixed up enough to hold together enough to take it out of the bowl.
Also, you can make your own calzone crust (cheese crust) real easy. Just roll out the dough really thin (over the edges of your pizza pan) and spread mozzarella cheese along the edges and then roll it up. Very easy.
Hello Kitty (author)Hello Kitty2008-06-04

Oh yea, and nice Instructable! 5 rating

Sunkicked (author)bddbbd.b2008-06-04

Good call. I'll give it a shot and post the results! :-)

the_burrito_master (author)2008-06-04

ahhh it looks so good! I need to make a pizza! I want pizza its been so long!

canida (author)2008-06-04

Looks awesome!
Now you just need to build a pizza oven to get really crispy crust.

Sunkicked (author)canida2008-06-04

You realize that this web site will eventually cause me to lose my job as I take off more and more from work to build all of the little (and not so little) projects I keep adding to my Favorites list don't you? I mean really, four days off a week just isn't enough for me! When the day comes you'll have to pay me to be your gardener or something. :-)

nightninja87 (author)2008-06-04

just a suggestion here dont get mad but i suggest use a wood or plastic cutting board instead of glass its easier on ur knives

Sunkicked (author)nightninja872008-06-04

I promise you that I would never, ever get mad at someone offering me genuine contstructive criticism. I thank you for giving me the input, but you should know that the cutting board is plastic, I'm just a lousy photographer so the flash makes it look like glass. :)

nightninja87 (author)Sunkicked2008-06-04

ok ur not that bad at photography it looked glass cause it was clear and my friend has one that looks just like it he used to use it all the time intill it somehow broke*cough* lol

thematthatter (author)2008-06-04

I thought at first this was a "Margaretta" pizza, lol. so you dont use a cookie sheet or something to prepare the pizza. you just slapped this straight onto a stove. Can you even taste pepper! its like waving a magic wand over the food.

Sunkicked (author)thematthatter2008-06-04

Well, like I said in Step 7, you can put it on a cookie sheet. All that will happen is your dough will come out a bit softer. I prefer a crispier crust so I just place it right on the middle rack.

The pepper isn't really there to make itself known. It really just accentuates the flavor of the olive oil (using garlic infused oil would eliminate the need for pepper).

This is a great meal to make the first time your girlfriend (or boyfriend) comes over. ;)

Brennn10 (author)2008-06-04

Nothing beats a Margherita Pizza. My family has started to experiment with homemade pizzas, so we will definitely have to try this one.

Sunkicked (author)Brennn102008-06-04

Try brushing some of the oil over the edge of the crust and sprinkling a mix of dried Italian Herbs on it. That's a pretty easy way to really bump up the flavor without making the pizza any more complicated.

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