Pizza Margherita

So, the other night, my mother-in-law asked me what I had cooked for this week’s blog posts.

Pizza Margherita recipe and images by Lacey Baier, a sweet pea chef

I told her I made a Pizza Margherita and, not sure if she knew what it was, listed off the ingredients (essentially tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese). I also clarified it had nothing to do with a Mexican “margarita” cocktail.

My mother-in-law then asked, “Why is it called a Margherita Pizza?”

Pizza Margherita recipe and images by Lacey Baier, a sweet pea chef

To which I then provided a complete history, explanation and short story as to the origin of the name.

Um…or not.

Pizza Margherita recipe and images by Lacey Baier, a sweet pea chef

In actuality, I said I had absolutely no idea as to why a pizza margherita was called a pizza margherita. In fact, I had never even thought about why it was called what it was called. And this is one of my favorite pizzas! And I call myself a chef! Oops.

As you can imagine, I then did some research.  And this is what I found:

Pizza Margherita recipe and images by Lacey Baier, a sweet pea chef

In the 19th century, Umberto I, King of Italy, and his wife, Queen Margherita di Savoia, noticed peasants in Naples eating a large flat bread covered with tomato paste and tomatoes. The queen called for Chef Rafaelle Esposito, the most popular of the pizzaioli (pizza chefs) in Naples, and ordered him to prepare his specialties.

Pizza Margherita recipe and images by Lacey Baier, a sweet pea chef

Chef Rafaelle prepared three kinds of pizzas: one with pork fat, cheese and basil, one with garlic, oil and tomatoes and another with mozzarella, basil and tomatoes (to represent the colors of the Italian flag). The last pizza became the favorite pizza of the Queen and so Chef Rafaelle dedicated his specialty to her and called it “Pizza Margherita.”

Pizza Margherita recipe and images by Lacey Baier, a sweet pea chef

This pizza set the standard by which today’s pizza evolved as well as established Naples as the pizza capitol of the world.

Pretty neat, eh?

Pizza Margherita recipe and images by Lacey Baier, a sweet pea chef

So, the next time you order a pizza margherita (or get asked by your mother-in-law why it’s called what it is), you’ll have this cool little story to share.

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If you give this recipe a try, let me know what you think by leaving a comment and rating it. And don’t forget to take a picture and tag it #asweetpeachef on Instagram! I LOVE seeing what you come up with. Enjoy!

Pizza Margherita
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Next time you order a pizza margherita or get asked why it's called a margherita pizza, you'll have this neat story to share.
Recipe type: Easy
Serves: 6-8
  • pizza crust/dough
  • 1 14-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, not including juices
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2-3 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 7-8 oz. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1 oz. fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Drain tomatoes and puree in a food processor (or blender). Add olive oil, oregano dried basil, salt and pepper and pulse to combine.
  3. Spread sauce over pizza dough, leaving a ½-inch border around the edge for the crust. Create a layer of the thinly sliced tomatoes over the sauce. Line the sliced mozzarella over the tomatoes.
  4. Bake pizza for 8-10 minutes until cheese is melted and the crust begins to turn golden brown. Remove from oven.
  5. Toss fresh basil over cooked pizza and let sit for 3-5 minutes. Slice and serve.


  1. Jasmine says

    I was living in Reno and was having dinner with some friends at a restaurant known for it’s wide selection of brick oven pizzas but had lots of other good food and had a waitress that was eastern European (Ukrainian maybe?). She took my order for my food and then asked what I wanted to drink. I said, “A margarita”.

    “But what do you want to drink?”

    “A margarita”

    “I have your pizza, what about a drink?”

    She had never even heard of the drink. Pizza is delicious.

  2. says

    Hi, I am in LOVE with this kind of pizza. I have made it so many times for my family. I will be sure to try this recipe next time I’m making it. Thank you :)
    Oh by the way, very cool name hahaha.

  3. Patti says

    I made this for my roommates one night, and they loved it! I added thinly sliced garlic for a kick! It was my first time making pizza and I’m glad your recipe is really simple and delicious. (I cheated a little by buying pre-made pizza dough, but i want to try making my own next time). I highly recommend this to first time pizza makers and everyone who enjoys a simple good meal!

  4. Laura says

    Yummy! looks delicious! i love pizza! thanks for the recipe and the short story that goes with it. gotta try it this weekend! 😀

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