That is homemade pesto pizza, the unassuming, very green version of pizza, with walnuts and garlic, topped with tomato sauce. Use fresh homemade pesto and garnish with mozzarella and any other pizza toppings you like. I like to finish with fresh basil and a sprinkle of chili flakes before serving.
And yet another use for this surprisingly simple, beginner-friendly pizza dough. And, well, that’s also another use for homemade pesto, but a stripped down version to make enough for your pizza.
Both recipes are repeat favorites and I want to show you how I put them together to make an epic pesto pizza that the delivery boxes are likely to fight over!
Tell me about this pesto pizza
- Structure: Most of the texture comes from the dough you use and if you decide to try my homemade dough, the pizza is generally chewy, soft and crispy right out of the oven. And the cornmeal dusted pan provides extra crunch!
- Taste: Cheese, garlicky, herbaceous, salty, and a bit spicy if you add a few chili flakes. What more could you want on pizza night? If the answer is ice cream and chocolate, make an ice cream cake. 😉
- Relief: The hardest part would be making the pizza dough, but you can definitely use store-bought frozen dough. Homemade pesto is child’s play and I encourage you to try it. You need a food processor, less than 10 minutes, and a handful of easy ingredients.
Try this homemade pizza dough
Listen, if making pizza dough from scratch makes you nervous, I get it. Working with yeast can be intimidating and time consuming. But this pizza dough only requires 6 ingredients (two of which are water and salt…so easy) and the majority of the 2 hours it takes is completely hands-off while the dough rises. You can also make the dough earlier in the day, the night before, or freeze it ahead of time. I also have an equally simple whole grain pizza recipe that cooks surprisingly smooth. (I love the healthier, healthier flavor than that.)
The dough makes about 2 pounds, which is enough for 2 pizzas. You need half the recipe dough for 1 pesto pizza or you can double the topping and pesto ingredients to make 2 pizzas. (If you’re only making 1 pizza, make a series of cheesy breadsticks on the side or freeze the second half of the dough. Because you’ll want to go back to making pesto pizza!)
The recipe below includes a small homemade pesto recipe that yields about 1/2 cup, which is barely enough for 1 pizza. You need a food processor or blender to do this. If you love pesto and want extras, make a double batch which is basically the recipe on my homemade pesto page. Of course, you can use your favorite pesto recipe or a jar of quality store-bought pesto.
Necessary Ingredients and Optional Additions
- fresh basil: This is the base of your pesto and we will use more to garnish the hot pizza.
- Pinions: Pine nuts can be expensive and sometimes hard to find, so if you’re having trouble getting a bag, use walnuts, almonds, or pistachios instead.
- Parmesan: The Parmesan cheese adds a bit of salt and helps the pesto stick. You can also sprinkle some on hot pizza before serving.
- Garlic: Garlic adds amazing flavor to homemade pesto. I urge you to try using roasted garlic because the taste is not as bitter. (Here’s how to roast garlic.)
- Lemon juice: This is not a very common ingredient in pesto, but I like to add it for a bit of freshness.
- Pizza dough: You need 1 pound homemade or store bought.
- Olive oil: Pour a drizzle of olive oil into the pizza pan and use the olive oil again to brush all over the dough before adding the toppings. How? Helps keep the crust from tasting bland. You also need olive oil for homemade pesto.
- Cornmeal: A pinch of cornmeal gives the pizza a little more flavor and crunch; add to greased pizza pan. If necessary, you can omit it.
- Mozzarella cheese: Mozzarella is the best cheese for pizza and it tastes amazing with garlic pesto. I don’t always use fresh mozzarella; shown here is pre-shredded because it was the simplest. (If you make homemade dough and pesto, you can take a shortcut here!)
- Salt and pepper: Use some for the pesto and lightly dust the pizza with each before baking.
- Other optional ingredients: You can add more toppings to the pizza before cooking like sliced tomatoes (I usually use halved cherry tomatoes and you can see this in a couple of photos). Or try sliced bell peppers or mushrooms, cooked shredded chicken, fresh spinach or cabbage, or sliced bell peppers. And if you like, you can also sprinkle the finished pizza with chili flakes.
You’ll find many of these same ingredients/flavors in this creamy shrimp pesto recipe.
Should I Make This Round Pesto Pizza?
Absolutely not. If you don’t have a pizza pan, use a regular pan. Grease it with olive oil and dust it with cornmeal, then shred the dough into any shape that fits. Make sure the dough is about 1/2 inch thick. For a thinner pizza, roll out the dough more.
It really is that easy.
Success tip: If the pizza dough continues to shrink as you try to stretch it out, stop what you’re doing, cover it lightly with a clean kitchen towel, and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. This time allow the gluten to settle and relax. When you return to it, the dough will hold its shape much better.
If you’re looking for more fresh dinner recipes, try this Honey Garlic Chicken and Salmon Bruschetta.
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This is a simple recipe for pesto pizza on homemade pizza dough. Feel free to use store-bought dough if you need to. Makes one 12-inch pizza or you can make two pizzas with the whole crust recipe. If so, double the pesto and other ingredients for the topping.
- Pesto: Blend basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and garlic in a food processor or blender. Scrape along the sides then add the oil, lemon juice and salt. Blend until everything is blended and relatively smooth. Add a splash of extra olive oil to thin if desired. Taste and add pepper (and/or other salt or lemon juice) if desired. I always add a pinch of pepper. Cover and refrigerate until use. Makes just over 1/2 cup.
- Dough: Prepare the pizza dough through step 3. If using store-bought frozen pizza dough, make sure it is thawed.
- Preheat oven to 475°F (246°C). Let it heat up for at least 15-20 minutes while you shape the pizza in the next step. If you use a pizza stone, put it in the oven to preheat as well. Lightly grease a large baking sheet or pizza pan with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Dust lightly with cornmeal, which gives the crust extra flavor and crunch.
- Form the dough: When the homemade dough is ready, crush it to release the air bubbles. Divide the dough in half and freeze half of the dough for another time; see instructions for freezing in pizza dough recipe. On a lightly floured work surface, using lightly floured hands or a rolling pin, gently flatten the dough (homemade or store-bought) into a disk. Arrange on prepared baking sheet and, using lightly floured hands, roll out and flatten disc into a 12-inch circle, about 1/2-inch thick. If the dough continues to shrink as you try to stretch it, stop what you’re doing, cover it lightly for 5-10 minutes, and try again. Once it’s shaped into a 12-inch circle, lift the edge of the dough to create a border around the edges. I just pinch the edges to create the border. If using a pizza stone, place the dough directly on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Lightly cover the dough with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for a few minutes while you pick up the pizza topping.
- Garnish and cook the pizza: With your fingers, push the dents into the surface of the dough to prevent bubbles from forming. Brush the remaining olive oil all over the dough. Spread 1/2 cup pesto over dough and top evenly with mozzarella and tomatoes. Add a light pinch of salt and pepper on top.
- Bake for 14-15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle surface of hot pizza with chopped fresh basil. If desired, add a drizzle of pesto (if any) and/or a sprinkle of chili and Parmesan flakes.
- Slice hot pizza and serve immediately. Cover leftover pizza tightly and refrigerate. Heat as you like.
- Instructions for freezing: See Homemade Pizza Dough Recipe for how to freeze pizza dough. You can freeze cooked and cooled pizza or pizza slices. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place the wrapped slices in a freezer container or bag. Freeze up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature, then reheat in the microwave or cover with foil and bake in a lined pizza pan/pan in the 400°F oven until heated through. (Around 10 minutes for slices, 15-20 minutes for whole pizza).
- Pesto: I recommend using homemade pesto on this pizza and I am attaching the recipe here. It’s basically my homemade pesto recipe, only half done. If you like, you can use your own recipe for quality pesto or store-bought pesto. 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 the jar.
- Cheese: Feel free to use your favorite grated cheese instead of mozzarella. Instead, you can use 1/4-inch-thick slices of fresh mozzarella instead of shredded.
- Other ingredients: Instead of or in addition to the tomatoes, you can top the pizza with a handful of sliced bell peppers or mushrooms, fresh spinach or kale, sliced bell peppers, and/or 1 cup cooked, chopped chicken before cooking.
cooking is easy
Are you new to this site? This email series is a great place to start. I’ll show you some of my most popular recipes and show you exactly why they work.