A Spicy Perspective

Perfect Neapolitan Pizza (Pizza Napoletana)

Neapolitan Pizza Recipe (with Homemade Dough!) – Traditional pizza Napoletana is a wonderfully simple and flavorful dish made with a thin and yeasty crust, tomato sauce, Italian cheeses, and fresh basil.

whole pizza napoletana on a baking stone

Pizza is the PERFECT food, when you really think about it. All of the food groups are covered… crust made of grain, tomatoes for fruits and veggies, and cheese for protein.

Ok, so maybe pizzas aren’t the most “healthy” and well-balanced meals. But still, there’s no denying the utter tastiness and near perfection of a good ‘za.

Classic Neapolitan Pizza (Pizza Napoletana)

Neapolitan-style pizza, AKA the original pizza, is by far our family’s favorite. Traditionally, Neapolitan pizza crust is very thin, with a raised bubbly edge. It is topped with pure thin tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, and fresh basil.

And although other ingredients of course can be added, truly the beauty of Pizza Napoletana is how simple it is so that each element shines. Every bite is a symphony of flavors and textures: the yeasty crust, the fresh perkiness of the tomato sauce, the pure salty richness of the cheese. Perfetta!

overhead view of an uncut pizza with tomato sauce, cheese, and basil

What is the Difference Between Neapolitan and Margherita Pizza?

Neapolitan Pizza is the name given to the original pizza created in Italy, made with tomato sauce, cheese, and basil. However, other ingredients are now often added to the classic recipe. You are likely to find mushrooms, prosciutto, or other cured meats, peppers, garlic, and all kinds of other tasty goodies.

Margherita pizza, on the other hand, is a dish strictly made with tomato, mozzarella, olive oil, and fresh basil. No other toppings are included… Otherwise, it becomes, well, not a Margherita and more like a Neapolitan Pizza.

So while the pizza dough recipe for Neapolitan and Margherita pizzas are the same, they can turn out to be wildly different (but equally delish) dishes.

taking a slice of Neapolitan pizza with homemade dough off of a baking stone

Ingredients You Need

The best Neapolitan pizzas begin with the most basic, but precise, pizza dough recipe. The dough is spread into that iconic circle shape, then loaded with just the right amount of crushed tomato sauce, cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil. Once baked the pizza is finished with basil leaves, so there is a great combination of crunchy, cheesy, zesty, fresh, and a touch of sweetness in every mouthful.

You might be surprised that all of that flavor comes from just a handful of simple, readily available ingredients!

For the Neapolitan Pizza dough you need:

To make a classic Italian pizza sauce you need:

  • Canned plum tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper

Traditional Napoletana Pizza toppings:

  • Buffalo mozzarella cheese
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Basil leaves

You’ll also need a bit of cornmeal for the pans.

Pro Tip: It’s worth making the Neapolitan pizza dough and pizza sauce from scratch, but in a pinch, you can use the frozen pizza dough balls and jarred sauce from the grocery store.

tomatoes in a sieve

How to Make Neapolitan Pizza from Scratch

Step #1 – Make the Pizza Dough

Start a day in advance if possible. The longer the pizza dough rests the better it stretches and rises. Place the yeast in an electric mixing bowl with a bread hook attachment. Pour 1/4 cup of warm water over the yeast and swirl. Allow the mixture to foam for 10 minutes. (Make sure the water is just above room temperature, not hot, or you will kill the yeast.)

Then add the remaining 1/2 cup of water and salt. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add 2 cups of bread flour. Allow the mixer to run until the flour is well combined and the hook is kneading the dough. The dough should be very sticky, but still firm enough to pick up. Add a little more flour if needed. Let the mixer knead the dough for another 5-10 minutes.

Cover the mixing bowl and let the dough rise for 2 hours. Once the dough has doubled in size dump it out on a floured work surface and cut it into two 8-ounce pieces. Roll the ends under to create round balls. Then wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, if possible.

Step #2 – Make the Homemade Tomato Sauce

Place a sieve over a mixing bowl. Drain the tomatoes. Discard the tomato juices from the can. Then press the tomatoes through the mesh strainer to make a thin sauce.

pushing tomatoes through a sieve to make the sauce

Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir. Then taste, and season the sauce again if needed.

Pro Tip: If you are in a hurry, place the drained tomatoes in the blender and puree.

mixing tomato sauce with a spatula

Step #3 – Prep the Neapolitan Pizza

Preheat the oven to 550 degrees F, or a grill to 650-800 degrees F. Place a pizza stone in the oven (or on the grill) to preheat while you prepare the pizza.

Using a well-floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to 12 to 13-inch circles. You can also use your hands to gently stretch the dough. Be careful not to poke holes through the dough with your fingertips. Sprinkle cornmeal on two flat baking sheets and place the dough circles on the pans.

stretched out Neapolitan pizza dough recipe finished

Step #4 – Top and Bake the Pizza Napoletana

Top the pizzas: Use a ladle to spoon tomato sauce onto the pizza dough. Spread the sauce in a thin, even layer, leaving a 1-inch rim around the edges.

using a ladle to evenly spread tomato sauce on the pizza dough

Slice the mozzarella balls into ¼ inch rounds. Arrange the mozzarella slices around the pizza dough. Then sprinkle 3 tablespoons of parmesan cheese on top of each pizza. Gently stretch the pizzas back out, being careful to leave good fluffy edges around the rims. This helps create the thin bottom and raised edge.

drizzling on evoo

Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over each pizza. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Get the Complete (Printable) Neapolitan Pizza Recipe + VIDEO Below. Enjoy!

pizza napoletana ready to bake

Slide the pizza off the baking sheet onto the hot stone. (The cornmeal helps with sliding.)

Bake for 5-7 minutes until the edges are golden. If grilling, cook for 3-5 minutes.

Note: Cook one pizza at a time if you only have one baking stone.

Once the Pizza Napoletana crusts are golden and the cheese is melty, remove from the oven and arrange fresh basil leaves over the top.

overhead view of freshly baked neapolitan pizza with basil

Cut each pizza into 6 even slices and serve warm.

neapolitan pizza on a baking stone cut into 6 slices

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use gluten-free flour to make the Neapolitan pizza dough recipe?

Technically yes you can, but note that the taste and texture will not be the same. You likely won’t get that same great stretch in the dough. I suggest using a readymade frozen crust from a GF company you like and trust.

How do I make vegan Neapolitan pizzas?

  • For a vegan Neapolitan pizza recipe simply use your favorite melty dairy-free Italian-style cheese.
  • What other toppings can I add to this classic Pizza Napoletana recipe?

    Feel free to add nearly any goodies you like: sauteed mushrooms, arugula, pepperoni or cooked sausage, pepperoncini… Whatever you are feeling! Just make sure they are not toppings with lots of moisture (like cucumber), otherwise your pizza will become soggy in the oven.

    How long does homemade pizza keep?

    Store leftovers in an airtight container and keep them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. I recommend reheating leftovers in the oven at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes.

    overhead view of finished pizza napoletana cut into 6 slices

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    Perfect Neapolitan Pizza (Pizza Napoletana)

    Prep Time: 30 minutes
    Cook Time: 5 minutes
    Total Time: 35 minutes
    This simply delicious Pizza Napoletana recipes features a homemade Neapolitan pizza dough to make a thin crust, then is topped with tomato sauce, Italian cheeses and fresh basil.
    Servings: 12 slices (2 pizzas)

    Ingredients

    For the Neapolitan Pizza Dough –

    For the Neapolitan Pizza Sauce –

    For the Neapolitan Pizza Toppings –

    Instructions

    For the pizza dough:

    • Start a day in advance if possible. The longer the pizza dough rests the better it stretches and rises. Place the yeast in an electric mixing bowl with a bread hook attachment. Pour 1/4 cup of warm water over the yeast and swirl. Allow the mixture to foam for 10 minutes. (Make sure the water is just above room temperature, not hot, or you will kill the yeast.)
    • Then add the remaining 1/2 cup of water and salt. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add 2 cups of bread flour. Allow the mixer to run until the flour is well combined and the hook is kneading the dough. The dough should be very sticky, but still firm enough to pick up. Add a little more flour if needed. Let the mixer knead the dough for another 5-10 minutes.
    • Cover the mixing bowl and let the dough rise for 2 hours. Once the dough has doubled in size dump it out on a floured work surface and cut it into two 8-ounce pieces. Roll the ends under to create round balls. Then wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, if possible.

    For the tomato sauce:

    • Place a sieve over a mixing bowl. Drain the tomatoes. Discard the tomato juices from the can. Then press the tomatoes through the mesh strainer to make a thin sauce. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir. Then taste, and season the sauce again if needed. (If in a hurry, place the drained tomatoes in the blender and puree.)
    • Preheat the oven to 550 degrees F, or a grill to 650-800 degrees F. Place a pizza stone in the oven (or on the grill) to preheat.

    Prep the crusts:

    • Using a well-floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to 12 to 13-inch circles. You can also use your hands to gently stretch the dough. Sprinkle cornmeal on two flat baking sheets and place the dough circles on the pans.

    Top the pizzas:

    • Use a ladle to spoon tomato sauce onto the pizza dough. Spread the sauce in a thin even layer, leaving a 1-inch rim around the edges.
    • Slice the mozzarella balls into ¼ inch rounds. Arrange the mozzarella slices around the pizza crusts. Then sprinkle 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese on top of each pizza. Gently stretch the pizzas back out, being careful lot leave a good fluffy edges around the rims. This helps create the thin bottom and raised edge.
    • Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over each pizza. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

    Bake the pizzas:

    • Slide the pizza off the baking sheet onto the hot stone. (The cornmeal helps with sliding.)
    • Bake for 5-7 minutes until the edges are golden. If grilling, cook for 3-5 minutes. (Cook one at a time if you only have one baking stone.)
    • Once the pizza crusts are golden and the cheese is melty, remove from the oven and arrange fresh basil leaves over the top. Cut and serve.

    Video

    Notes

    In a hurry? Use pre-made pizza dough from the freezer section or deli.
    Leftover pizza will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1slice, Calories: 238kcal, Carbohydrates: 20g, Protein: 13g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 32mg, Sodium: 663mg, Potassium: 197mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 376IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 244mg, Iron: 1mg
    Course: dinner, Main, Main Course
    Cuisine: American, Italian, Mediterranean
    Author: Sommer Collier

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    3 comments on “Perfect Neapolitan Pizza (Pizza Napoletana)”

    1. I LOVE this pizza! It is so perfectly simple but incredibly flavorful. This is how pizza should be!

    2. Felt like I was in Italy while making this! So good.

    3. this is perfect for my friends and I to have a pizza dinner party! love it!