There’s Something About (Pizza) Margherita. Here’s the Official Recipe.

Katia Amore | Fri, 04/12/2013 - 09:09
pizza margherita in Naples
Pizza margherita in Naples / Photo: Shutterstock
Difficulty Level
Cooking Time
1 hour

Pizza margherita is, for many, the true Italian flag.

In 1889 — 28 years after the unification of Italy — Queen Margherita of Savoy, wife of King Umberto I, visited Naples. According to popular lore, chef Raffaele Esposito of Pizzeria Brandi created, with help from his wife, a pizza that resembled the Italian flag — with its red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green (basil). They named it after the queen herself.

Descriptions of such a pizza recipe, however, can be traced back to at least 1866 in the Francesco DeBouchard book Customs and Traditions of Naples (Vol II, p. 124). There, DeBouchard describes the most popular pizzas of the time; one was a pie topped with basil and cheese (often slices of mozzarella). Whatever the real origins of the pizza margherita, what we know for sure is that Raffaele Esposito’s version for Queen Margherita was the one that made it popular.

Pizza margherita has grown into one of the most recognizable symbols of Italian food culture in the world.  Since 2009, it has been one of the three Neapolitan pizzas with an STG (Specialità Tradizionali Garantite — Traditional Guaranteed Specialty) EU label, alongside Marinara (made with garlic and oregano) and the Margherita Extra (made with mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP, fresh basil and tomatoes).

Top-tier ingredient quality and traditional preparation and cooking methods form the basis of a true Pizza Napoletana STG. You need to have a 3mm-thick disk of dough with a crust that is 1-2cm high. Other than the hands of the pizzaiolo, no other working tools are allowed —  not even rolling pins or mechanical press machines. The pie needs to be cooked in a wood-fired brick oven at 485°C for about 90 seconds. Below is the original Pizza Margherita recipe you will find in the official standard procedures codified in the Disciplinare di Produzione della Specialità Tradizionale Garantita Pizza Napoletana.

2 Kg
1 ltr
50-55 gr
3 gr
60-70 gr chopped
buffalo mozzarella
80-100 gr
extra virgin olive oil
4-5 gr
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For the dough

Mix flour, water, salt and yeast. Pour a liter of water into a dough making machine, dissolve 50-55 g of salt, add 10% of the total amount of flour you are planning to use, then dissolve 3g of yeast, and start mixing gradually, adding the remaining 1.8 kg of flour until the dough reaches the desired texture and consistency, defined as Il Punto di Pasta — smooth to the touch and very extendable.


Let the the dough rest on a marble slab or a wooden surface for 2 hours covered with a damp cloth, then divide into individual ball-shaped portions of 180g each. Set aside in a container to rise for a second time for 4-6 hours at room temperature.


Use your hands: With a round motion, roll out the dough on a marble slab covered with flour until it becomes 3mm thick with a 1-2cm edge.


Take about 60g to 70g of chopped tomatoes and, using a wooden spoon, place in the center of the disk of dough. With a spiraling motion, spread the tomato over the surface. Then add a pinch of salt on the tomatoes, 80-100g of DOP buffalo mozzarella, cut into strips and some basil leaves. Again with a spiraling motion starting from the centre, add 4-5g of extra virgin olive oil.


Cook in a wood-fired brick oven at a temperature between 450C° to 480C°, rotating the position of the pizza frequently to make sure the heat is spread evenly.


Use your hands and enjoy!