Best-Ever Homemade Pizza

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homemade margherita pizza   delishcom
Parker Feierbach

Nothing beats a fresh-out-of-the-oven pizza, and once you see how easy it is to make for yourself, you'll never order delivery again. Switch up the toppings and add your favorites to make it your own. Pepperoni, mushrooms, bell peppers, pineapple? You can have it all! We can't get enough of Bacon Pickle Pizza, personally. 

First things first, make your dough. You can read the easy step-by-step guide, here. Then, get topping. For the perfect margherita-style base, don't skip the following.

Start with the right sauce

When you're perusing the aisle for sauce, we say skip anything labeled "pizza sauce." Usually, that stuff ends up being too thick or cloyingly sweet (or both). Stick to marinara here, either homemade or store-bought

Choose your cheese

The way to go here is fresh, thinly sliced mozzarella. Sometimes it comes packed in water, so be sure to dry it off before slicing to avoid a watery pizza! If you've only got pre-shredded mozz on hand, that'll work in a pinch.

Nail the temp

Our pizza cooks at the very high temp of 500°. We're essentially trying to recreate a pizza oven, which can reach 1,000°, in a more realistic, at-home way. Because the dough is so thin, you really just want to crisp up the outside and keep it soft and chewy on the inside, versus baking it all the way through until it's cracker crisp. High temp is perfect for this. If your oven goes higher, feel free to crank the heat, just keep an eye on it!

Transfer, then top

Before you get started, stretch your dough and transfer it to a well-oiled baking sheet. We also love adding a thin layer of cornmeal for an extra-crunchy crust, but feel free to skip if you're not into that. Word to the wise: add your toppings only once your dough has been transferred to the baking sheet (or pizza stone). If you top it and then try to move it, things tend to get messy and extremely frustrating.

Finishing touches

After your pizza is baked, add another drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, torn fresh basil, and red pepper flakes. These things are much more pungent and delicious when fresh.

Best flours for pizza dough

Our pizza dough calls for all-purpose flour and not just because it's the easiest to find. All-purpose flour has a moderate protein content making it easy to work with and it creates a great crust. You'll get a slightly chewy, crisp crust that stretches well and has an airy crumb inside. 

Some people swear by bread flour for pizza crust and we think it's a great choice! You'll get an even chewier crust with a slight toughness to it that will stand up against all of your saucy toppings. If you want to use bread flour here you may need to add a little more water as it has a higher absorbency rate than all-purpose. 

Want to get really fancy with your pizza? Try using "00" bread flour. The "00" means the flour has been ground the finest it can be and is ultra smooth. This will result in a chewy crust with a really airy and soft inside!

Do I need a pizza stone for crispy pizza?

Not necessarily! While a hot stone will really cook that bottom crust to perfection there's a way around it. We recommend preheating the pan you are going to cook your pizza on with the oven. Give it time to get nice and hot, then add your oil, cornmeal, and finally pizza. With the pan already hot your bottom crust will instantly start crisping and won't get soggy from the sauce. Just be careful when you place the pizza dough on the hot pan! 

Have you made this yet? Let us know how it went in the comments below! 

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Yields: 8 servings
Prep Time: 0 hours 20 mins
Total Time: 2 hours 15 mins
For the Dough

Cooking spray

1 1/4 c.

lukewarm water

1 tbsp.

granulated sugar


(1/4-oz.) packet active dry yeast (2¼ tsp.) 

3 c.

all-purpose flour

2 tsp.

kosher salt

1/4 c.

extra-virgin olive oil

For the Pizza

Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed

1/4 c.

cornmeal, divided 

1 c.

marinara, divided 

16 oz.

fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced, divided

Fresh basil leaves

Pinch red pepper flakes

  1. Grease a large bowl with cooking spray. In a small bowl add water and sugar and stir to dissolve, then sprinkle over yeast and let sit until frothy, about 8 minutes.
  2. In another large bowl, add flour, salt, and oil. Pour in yeast mixture, then mix with a wooden spoon until everything is combined and a shaggy dough begins to form. Knead against sides of bowl until dough starts to come together, then turn onto your work surface and knead, adding a pinch of flour if needed, until it feels elastic and only slightly tacky, 5 minutes. Form into a tight ball, place into prepared bowl, and cover with a clean dish towel. Let rise in a warm spot in your kitchen until doubled in size, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  3. Gently punch down dough, then divide in 2, and roll into balls. At this point, you can freeze one, or make two pizzas. Let dough balls rest as you preheat oven to 500° and grease a large baking sheet with olive oil. Sprinkle all over with 2 tablespoons cornmeal. 
  4. On your work surface, gently flatten one ball of dough and roll with a rolling pin (or stretch with your hands) until about 12” in diameter (as thin as you can). Carefully transfer to prepared baking sheet and brush dough all over with oil. Then, add your 1/2 cup sauce to middle of dough and spread outwards with a spoon or ladle, leaving about 1” for the crust. Top with half the slices of mozzarella. Bake until crust is golden and cheese is melty, about 15 minutes. 
  5. Top with fresh basil leaves, a drizzle of olive oil, and red pepper flakes. 
  6. Repeat with remaining dough and toppings for second pizza. 

Parker Feierbach

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