This is a simple recipe for pesto pizza on top of homemade pizza dough. Feel free to use store-bought dough if needed. Yields one 12-inch pizza or you can make two pizzas from the whole dough recipe. If doing so, double the pesto and other topping ingredients.
- 1 cup (30g) fresh basil leaves
- 3 Tablespoons (24g) pine nuts
- 3 Tablespoons (12g) freshly grated or shredded parmesan cheese
- 2 small cloves garlic
- 3 Tablespoons (45ml) olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 recipe homemade pizza dough (or 1 lb. store-bought pizza dough)
- 1 Tablespoon (15ml) olive oil, divided
- 1 Tablespoon (8g) cornmeal
- 1 and 1/2 cups (6 ounces or 180g) shredded mozzarella cheese*
- 1/2 cup (90g) halved cherry tomatoes or sliced tomatoes (optional)
- 1/4 cup (12g) chopped fresh basil
- optional for garnish: extra pesto, sprinkle of shredded parmesan cheese and/or red pepper flakes
- Pesto: Pulse the basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and garlic together in a food processor or blender. Scrape down the sides and then add the oil, lemon juice, and salt. Pulse until everything is blended together and relatively smooth. Add a drizzle more olive oil to thin out, if desired. Taste and add pepper (and/or more salt or lemon juice) if desired. I always add a pinch of pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Yields just over 1/2 cup.
- Dough: Prepare pizza dough through step 3. If using store-bought frozen pizza dough, make sure it’s thawed.
- Preheat oven to 475°F (246°C). Allow it to heat for at least 15–20 minutes as you shape the pizza in the next step. If using a pizza stone, place it in the oven to preheat as well. Lightly grease a large baking sheet or pizza pan with 1/2 Tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with cornmeal, which gives the crust extra crunch and flavor.
- Shape the dough: When the homemade dough is ready, punch it down to release any air bubbles. Divide the dough in half and freeze half the dough for another time—see freezing instructions in the pizza dough recipe. On a lightly floured work surface using lightly floured hands or rolling pin, gently flatten the dough into a disc. Place on prepared pan and, using lightly floured hands, stretch and flatten the disc into a 12-inch circle, about 1/2-inch thick. If the dough keeps shrinking back as you try to stretch it, stop what you’re doing, cover it lightly and let it rest for 5–10 minutes, then try again. Once shaped into a 12-inch circle, lift the edge of the dough up to create a lip around the edges. I simply pinch the edges up to create the rim. If using a pizza stone, place the dough directly on a baker’s peel dusted with cornmeal. Cover dough lightly with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and allow to rest for a few minutes as you gather the pizza toppings.
- Top & bake the pizza: Using your fingers, push dents into the surface of the dough to prevent bubbling. Brush remaining olive oil all over the dough. Spread 1/2 cup pesto on the dough and top evenly with mozzarella cheese and tomatoes. Add a light sprinkle of salt and pepper on top.
- Bake for 14–15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chopped fresh basil all over the top of the hot pizza. If desired, add a drizzle of pesto (if you have any left) and/or a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese.
- Slice hot pizza and serve immediately. Cover leftover pizza tightly and store in the refrigerator. Reheat as you prefer.
- Freezing Instructions: See homemade pizza dough recipe for how to freeze the pizza dough. You can freeze the baked and cooled pizza or pizza slices. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place wrapped slices in a freezer container or bag. Freeze up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature, and then reheat in the microwave or cover with aluminum foil and bake on a lined baking sheet/pizza pan in a 350°F (204°C) oven until warmed. (About 10 minutes for slices, 15–20 minutes for whole pizza.)
- Pesto: I recommend using homemade pesto on this pizza and I include the recipe here. It’s basically my homemade pesto recipe, only halved. You can use your own pesto recipe or store-bought quality pesto if desired. If you don’t have pine nuts, you can use walnuts, almonds, or pistachios.
- Garlic: If you don’t have fresh garlic cloves, use 2 teaspoons minced garlic from a jar.
- Cheese: Feel free to use your favorite shredded cheese instead of/in addition to mozzarella. You can also use 1/4-inch-thick slices of fresh mozzarella instead of shredded.
- Other Toppings: Instead of/in addition to the tomatoes, you can top the pizza with sliced sweet peppers, mushrooms, fresh spinach or kale, pepperoni slices, and/or 1 cup cooked shredded chicken before baking.
Keywords: pesto pizza