Creating the Perfect Pesto Pizza at Home (ingredients, recipe, guide)

by | Aug 16, 2023


Here's the unvarnished truth about pesto pizza:

There are WAY too many people who think "any old pizza" will do.

They say, "if I throw together some cheese and sauce on dough, it'll taste great".

If only it were that simple…

If you're serious about creating a mouthwatering pesto pizza, you need to be very systematic with how you choose your ingredients and assemble your pie.

Otherwise, you’re taking the “toss anything approach” to making pizzas: throwing random ingredients onto a crust and hoping,

Fear not - Wev'e got you covered with our EASY Pesto Pizza Recipe.

The Art of Making Pesto Pizza

Picture this: a pizza night with an unexpected twist - you're serving up pesto pizza. Fresh basil leaves, when in season, make the perfect addition to a summer pizza night; try out this twist on classic tomato sauce and cheese with an aromatic pesto base.

Pesto pizza has carved out its niche among food lovers due to its unique blend of flavors - aromatic basil, punchy garlic, crunchy pine nuts, and rich olive oil all come together beautifully under a layer of melted mozzarella cheese. And let's not forget about the vibrant green color which makes it as pleasing to look at as it is delicious to eat.

Suggested reading: Easy Mediterranean Pizza Recipe

Making Your Own Pizza Dough

Lay The Foundation Right:

There is only one pizza dough we believe in making at home. Our ultimate Roberta's Pizza Dough Recipe.

Your dough forms the bedrock upon which everything else rests; get this right and half your battle is won. You have two options here: homemade or store-bought dough? Both have their merits, depending on what you value more - quality or convenience?

A good homemade dough can be truly transformative; offering superior texture (crisp exterior yet soft inside) while allowing complete control over ingredients, thus ensuring no unwanted preservatives sneak into your meal. It does, however, require a time commitment, from kneading through letting it rise properly before use.

We highly recommend making your own pizza dough at home!

Ingredients for Home Made Pizza Dough (roberta's pizza style)

  • 153 grams 00 flour (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
  • 153 grams all-purpose flour (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons)
  • 8 grams fine sea salt (1 teaspoon)
  • 2 grams active dry yeast (3/4 teaspoon)
  • 4 grams extra-virgin olive oil (1 teaspoon)
  • 200 grams lukewarm water (1 cup)
  • Extra flour

How to Create the Pizza Dough

If you're up for a culinary adventure, making your pizza dough from scratch gives you complete control over what goes into it. There are no artificial flavors or preservatives that might be hiding in some commercial products. Follow this easy pizza dough cooking method:

  • In a petite bowl, combine lukewarm water, yeast, and olive oil. Let it sit.
  • Blend the pair of flours with salt in a bigger bowl.
  • Integrate the previously prepared water-yeast solution into the flour blend, stirring manually or using a wooden ladle until thoroughly combined.
  • Work the dough with your hands for a span of 3 minutes. Afterwards, give it a 15-minute breather. 
  • Massage the dough once more for an additional 3 minutes. It should resemble the feel of an ear's lobe – unusual but precise!
  • Split the dough into twin even segments and mold them into rounded shapes.
  • Dust a suitable container generously with flour for the rising process. Situate the dough rounds in it, ensuring they're spaced out (they will expand). Shield them using plastic wrap or a moist cloth.
  • Allow the dough to puff up inside the refrigerator for a time frame of 8-24 hours. If you're short on patience, letting it sit in ambient conditions for 3–4 hours should suffice.

The Role of Pesto in Pesto Pizza

Imagine a world where the pizza dough is your canvas, and pesto sauce - that rich blend of basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil - is your paint. This vibrant green masterpiece not only gives life to our beloved pizza crust but also imparts an exquisite flavor profile unique to pesto pizzas.

Choosing Between Homemade and Store-Bought Pesto

Making homemade pesto can be likened to creating magic from scratch. With control over each ingredient (no preservatives here.), you are at liberty to weave culinary enchantment into every bite.

If you're short on time, Whole Foods Market's Mama's Basil Pesto is a great way to get quality without sacrificing convenience. There's always Mama's Basil Pesto available at Whole Foods Market as a convenient yet tasty option for busy home chefs who want quality without compromise.

Ingredients for Homemade Pesto 

  • Fresh Basil: This is where your pesto starts, and we'll use more of it to decorate the hot pizza.
  • Pine Nuts: Pine nuts can be expensive and hard to find, so use walnuts, almonds, or pistachios instead if you can't find a bag. People who don't like nuts have used sunflower seeds, pepitas, and cooked and cold edamame in place of the nuts.
  • Parmesan Cheese: The Parmesan cheese makes the pesto a little saltier and helps it stay together. You can also sprinkle some on the hot pizza right before you serve it.
  • Garlic: Garlic gives homemade pesto a great taste. I really think you should try baked garlic because it doesn't taste as strong as raw garlic. Here's how to cook garlic in the oven.
  • Lemon juice: This isn't a very common ingredient in pesto, but I love to add it for a little bit of freshness.
  • Olive Oil: Drizzle a little olive oil on your pizza pan and brush olive oil all over the dough before adding your toppings. Why? It keeps the bread from having a soggy taste. For home-made pesto, you also need olive oil.
  • Cornmeal: A sprinkle of cornmeal adds taste and crispness to the pizza crust. Sprinkle it on the oiled pizza pan. You can skip it if you need to.
  • Mozzarella Cheese: Mozzarella is the best cheese for pizza, and it tastes amazing with spicy pesto. I don't always use fresh mozzarella. In the picture, I used pre-shredded mozzarella because it was easier. (If you're making homemade dough and pesto, you can skip this step!)
  • Salt and Pepper: Use some salt and pepper in the pesto, and sprinkle a little of each on the pizza before baking.

Recipe to try: Make the best vegetarian pizza at home

Step #3: Assembling Your Pesto Pizza

The assembly of your pesto pizza is where the magic truly happens. It's time to create a culinary masterpiece.

1: Preparing the Basil Pesto

Start by assembling all your ingredients. For the basil, ensure it's washed and patted dry. If pine nuts are not available or are too pricey, you can easily substitute them with walnuts, almonds, or even pistachios. For those with nut aversions, sunflower seeds, pepitas, or even cold edamame make excellent replacements.

2: Garlic Preparation 

Garlic infuses the pesto with a depth of flavor. Consider baking the garlic for a milder taste. To bake garlic, preheat your oven, wrap the garlic in foil, and roast until it becomes soft. The resulting baked garlic is milder and blends seamlessly into the pesto.

3: Blending the Pesto

In a food processor, combine the fresh basil, your choice of nuts or seeds, grated Parmesan cheese, garlic (baked or raw depending on your preference), and a squeeze of lemon juice. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely ground. While the processor is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Topping Time

Now comes my favorite part - adding toppings.

Layer 1/2 cup of pesto on the pizza dough, then put mozzarella cheese as well as tomatoes on top in an even layer. Salt and pepper should be sprinkled on top.

For those who like an extra flavor punch, consider throwing red onion slices into the mix along with artichoke hearts or pine nuts.

And don't forget feta cheese which adds a tangy touch plus a few leaves of fresh basil just before popping into the hot oven.

Remember these last two additions aren't mandatory but recommended depending on your taste.

Read more: 6 Easy Pizza Toppings for Delicious Pizza

Step #4: Baking Your Pesto Pizza to Perfection

Your next challenge? Achieving the perfect bake on your pesto pizza. Let's not just settle for good, let's aim for phenomenal.

Pre-heat your oven temperature to 475°F (246°C). Let it heat up for at least 15–20 minutes. If you are using a pizza stone, you should also put it in the oven to heat up. Put about 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil on a big baking sheet or pizza pan.

Pursuit Of Crispiness

To get that crispy texture without burning your toppings requires some strategic timing.

Par-bake the base alone first for about five minutes before adding any toppings.

This method allows direct contact with hot air which helps create crunchiness but prevents overcooked ingredients.

Melting Cheese To Absolute Perfection:

Fresh mozzarella melts beautifully under high heat but can become rubbery if left too long due to its moisture content.

So add slices of fresh mozzarella towards the end of the cooking process about halfway throug ”to ensure perfect meltiness without risking sogginess from released water content.

Always strive to elevate every element involved: temperature control precision, dough quality, and topping choices.

That way, when people taste your creation, they'll know YOU have mastered the art of making an outstanding homemade pesto pizza.

Next Step: Elevate Your Pesto Pizza Experience

Your freshly baked pesto pizza is already a delight, but why not take it up another notch?

The way to do this? Pair your pizza with perfect sides and beverages. Here's how:

Pick the Perfect Side Dish

A simple green salad can be an excellent companion for your pesto pizza. The fresh lettuce leaves dressed in tangy vinaigrette balance out the rich flavors of basil pesto, mozzarella cheese, and fresh tomatoes on your pie.

If you're feeling more adventurous or simply want something heavier than greens, consider garlic knots as they provide a delicious contrast against the herby notes of our star dish - pesto pizza.

Selecting Wine That Complements Pesto Pizza

Nothing beats pairing wine with food, especially when that food is our beloved homemade pesto pizza. An Italian white like Vermentino or Soave offers citrus undertones which harmonize beautifully with aromatic basil while providing enough acidity to cut through creamy mozzarella cheese.

If reds are more appealing to you, then Chianti would make an excellent choice. Its cherry notes pair wonderfully well without overpowering the delicate flavors from fresh ingredients used in making this delightful pie. Here's a detailed guide on how best to pair wines with different types of pizzas.

Serving Non-Alcoholic Beverages With Your Pie

You don't have to drink alcohol to enjoy a great beverage alongside an amazing meal though. There are numerous non-alcoholic drinks that go incredibly well with this type of pizza too.

A classic option is always good old-fashioned tea - whether sweetened or unsweetened, it provides refreshing counterpoints to flavorful foods like ours. Tonight, we'll try cucumber mint lemonade, as its coolness will soothe any potential spicy toppings such as pepper flakes.

Key Takeaway: 

Want to take your homemade pesto pizza experience up a notch? Pair it with the perfect side dish and beverage. A tangy green salad or garlicky knots can balance out rich pizza flavors, while an Italian white wine or Chianti complements without overpowering. Prefer non-alcoholic drinks? Try tea or cucumber mint lemonade for refreshing counterpoints.

Exploring Variations of Pesto Pizza

Pesto pizza, with its unique flavor profile and versatility, invites you to experiment. You can play around not just with the toppings but also the type of pesto or even cheese used.

Varying Your Toppings

Topping Choices:

The beauty of making your own pesto pizza lies in personalizing it. Tomatoes and mozzarella are classic choices, yet artichoke hearts offer a zesty complement to the flavor of basil pesto. Feta cheese instead of mozzarella brings an extra kick while red onion slices introduce crunchiness and sweetness into each bite.

Find healthy pizza toppings here

Experimenting With Different Types Of Pesto

Beyond Basil:

You're free to break away from tradition when crafting your perfect pie. Replacing basil with parsley or cilantro results in a different yet equally delicious sauce. Sun-dried tomato or roasted red pepper as base ingredients provide rich flavors that pair beautifully with various cheeses such as goat cheese or gorgonzola - opening up new avenues for experimentation.

Mixing Up The Cheese Selection

Cheese Revolution:

Fresh mozzarella is always wonderful on any pizza night, but why limit yourself? Fontina offers creamy meltability; Gouda adds smoky notes; Provolone provides something sharper than usual - all enhancing our beloved pesto pizzas' overall taste profiles.

Key Takeaway: 

Unleash your inner pizza maestro with pesto pizzas. Experiment with different toppings, cheeses, and even types of pesto for a personalized flavor adventure. Don't shy away from infusing the dough itself with unique ingredients like rosemary to elevate your homemade pie.

FAQs in Relation to Pesto Pizza

What is the name of the Italian pizza with pesto?

The Italian pizza that features pesto as a key ingredient is often referred to as Pizza al Pesto.

What is pesto pizza sauce made of?

Pesto sauce for pizzas typically includes fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil.

What is a pizza that does not use tomato sauce called?

A pizza without tomato sauce can be referred to as a white or bianca (Italian for 'white') pizza. It usually has an olive oil base instead.

What cheese goes with pesto?

Mozzarella pairs well with pesto due to its mild flavor and creamy texture. Other cheeses like goat cheese or feta also complement the rich taste of pesto nicely.


Mastering the art of pesto pizza is a journey worth embarking on.

The dough you choose for your pizza sets the foundation for your masterpiece.

Pesto, whether homemade or store-bought, gives this pizza its unique flavor profile.

Assembling and baking your pesto pizza to perfection requires careful attention to detail.

Serving it with complementary sides or drinks can elevate your dining experience even further.


Written By SEODave777

David Nilsson is the founder of The SEO Back Office and former SEO agency Converted Click. Passionate about people, search engines, faith, technology and boxing.

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