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Here’s a recipe for real Italian pizza, and everything you need to know make it at home! Includes a pizza dough tutorial and a step-by-step video.

Italian pizza

Want to make real Italian pizza at home? For over 10 years, Alex and I have been studying the art of homemade artisan pizza. We’ve even taken a few trips to Italy to bring back secrets from Rome and Naples. Want to make the best homemade pizza crust and pizza sauce? Want to bake it just right on a blazing hot pizza stone? We’ll show you how to do it all. Let’s make Italian pizza together!

Italian style pizza

What is Italian pizza?

Before we start: what is real Italian pizza? American-style delivery pizza is nothing like Italian pizza. But just like any popular food, there are different styles of Italian pizza based on region and method. For example:

  • In Rome: There’s a Roman pizza chef called Bonci who’s made a name for himself making rectangular thick crust pizza with incredible bright colored toppings (see our Rome post!).
  • In Naples: Naples is the birth place of pizza itself, and here the pizza crust is thin and supple! It’s covered in tangy tomatoes, often a simple pizza margherita.

Here’s our definition of Italian pizza: a pizza with simple flavors and a supple, thin crust, that’s cooked in a very hot oven. (This is also the definition we use for our Neapolitan pizza.) The recipe we’ll share below is elegantly simple: a perfect crust, tangy tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and a bright green homemade basil pesto.

how to make italian pizza
Italian peel on the Conveyor pizza peel

What you need: the tools for Italian pizza

Before you start making Italian pizza, you’ll need a few special tools. Are you in it to win it? Then you need these two tools to make truly great Italian pizza:

  • Pizza stone: A pizza stone is what makes Italian pizza crust crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Here’s a pizza stone� we recommend, plus a bit more on� the best pizza stones and pizza stone care.
  • Pizza peel:� A pizza peel is used to slide the pizza onto the hot pizza stone in the oven. Try this� standard pizza peel� or this� Conveyor pizza peel. The conveyor is worth the extra investment since it makes it very easy to slide the pizza out of the oven.
Real Italian pizza

How to make Italian pizza dough

It all starts with a good Italian pizza dough. It took Alex and me 10 years to create our perfect dough recipe! We’ve learned a few things from some of the premiere pizza restaurant chefs in America, who themselves have studied the pizza in Naples. Here are a few tips:

  • If you can, use great flour (Tipo 00). The flour we use is called Tipo 00 flour; it’s what Neapolitan pizza restaurants use. It makes for a beautiful, supple and fluffy dough. We buy our Tipo 00 flour online. If you can’t find it, all-purpose works too.
  • Use the right recipe. This Pizza Dough Master Recipe is our perfect method! We make it using stand mixer, but you can also knead it by hand. Or, try our Easy Thin Crust that makes a thinner dough that you roll out.
  • Watch our video! Dough is easiest to learn about by watching it. Since we can’t come to your kitchen, here’s the next best thing! Below is a video of Alex showing how to make and stretch the Italian pizza dough. We highly recommend watching before you try out the recipe!

Video: How to make Italian pizza dough (1:45 minutes!)

Top with easy Italian-style pizza sauce

This Italian pizza uses our best pizza sauce recipe. It’s truly the best because it brings big flavor with high quality ingredients. Even better, it only takes 5 minutes to make! It makes the most flavorful pizza sauce you’ve ever had, reminiscent of pizza straight out of Naples. (We think, at least!) Here are some tips:

  • In a blender, whiz together canned fire roasted tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and a little salt. That’s it! 5 minutes, tops.
  • Make sure to use fire roasted tomatoes. Fire roasted tomatoes are becoming easily accessible at most grocery stores in the US. If you can’t find them, use the highest quality tomatoes you can find.
Homemade pesto

Dollop with homemade pesto (or best quality store-bought)!

In this Italian pizza recipe, we’ve gone super simple: tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and homemade pesto. The simplicity of the flavors is truly stunning. Add the pesto after baking the pizza for the freshest flavor and brightest color. Here are a few notes on the pesto topping:

  • Homemade pesto makes the brightest green color. This pesto recipe we used is our Best Basil Pesto recipe. It’s made by whizzing up fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and olive oil in a food processor until they form a bright green paste.
  • Try one of our variations for a twist. Try our Basil Cashew Pesto, Basil Walnut Pesto, or even Vegan Cashew Pesto.
  • Or, use a highest quality store-bought pesto. The flavor is better with homemade pesto, but these days there are lots of great purchased options. Sometimes the color on purchased pesto sauces can look more brown than green. If you’d like the bright green in the photo, homemade pesto is best.
Italian pesto pizza

This Italian pizza recipe is…


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Italian pizza

Italian Pizza Recipe (Make it Like a Pro!)

  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 7 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 7 minutes
  • Yield: 8 slices 1x


Here’s a recipe for real Italian pizza, and everything you need to know make it at home! Includes a pizza dough tutorial and a step-by-step video.




  1. Make the pizza dough: Follow the Best Pizza Dough� recipe to prepare the dough. (This takes about 15 minutes to make and 45 minutes to rest.)
  2. Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 500°F. OR preheat your pizza oven (here’s the� pizza oven we use).
  3. Make the pizza sauce: Make the 5 Minute Pizza Sauce.
  4. Prepare the cheese:� If using fresh mozzarella cheese, slice it into ¼ inch thick pieces (see the photo). If it’s incredibly watery fresh mozzarella (all brands vary), you may want to let it sit on a paper towel to remove moisture for about 15 minutes then dab the mozzarella with the paper towel to remove any additional moisture.
  5. Bake the pizza:� When the oven is ready, dust a pizza peel with cornmeal or semolina flour. (If you don’t have a pizza peel, you can use a rimless baking sheet or the back of a rimmed baking sheet. But a pizza peel is well worth the investment!) Stretch the dough into a circle; see� How to Stretch Pizza Dough� for instructions.� Then gently place the dough onto the pizza peel.� 
  6. Spread the pizza sauce over the dough using the back of a spoon to create a thin layer. Add the mozzarella cheese. Top with a few pinches of kosher salt.
  7. Use the pizza peel to carefully transfer the pizza onto the preheated pizza stone. Bake the pizza until the cheese and crust are nicely browned, about 5 to 7 minutes in the oven (or 1 minute in a pizza oven).
  8. Dollop with the basil pesto. Slice into pieces and serve immediately.
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Italian pizza, Italian style pizza, Real Italian pizza, Is pizza Italian

Looking for more pizza recipes?

Outside of this Italian pizza recipe, here are some of our favorite pizza recipes for more inspiration:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Can I make a good pizza on a cast iron pizza pan? I don’t have a stone, but I have a well seasoned cast iron pizza pan. Do you have any suggestions for using a cast iron pan?

  2. I’m trying your recipe today for supper. I have two questions. First, regarding flour, would bread flour work instead of the tipi 00 flour? I have all purpose flour and bread flour in my house right now. Also, I don’t own a pizza stone. I have a cast iron pizza pan. I also have a pizza peel. Can I use the cast iron pan in the same way you’d use a pizza stone? Thank you!