Authentic Neapolitan Pizza Recipe | How To Make The Perfect Neapolitan Pizza

The most authentic, perfect Neapolitan pizza recipe!

This is perhaps the most authentic Neapolitan pizza recipe you will find! What’s more, it’s really easy with just 4 ingredients; flour, water, salt, and yeast.

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What is authentic Neapolitan pizza?

Authentic Neapolitan pizza originates from the birthplace of pizza, Naples. It involves traditional methods and ingredients that have been largely forgotten for quite a while.

Authentic Neapolitan pizza originated in Naples, Italy
A pizza from Naples, Italy

American style pizza has mostly taken over Italian pizza with takeaways across the world. But fortunately, the traditional Italian pizzas are making a resurgence.

That’s not to say that American style pizzas can’t be nice because they can. But for me, and many more people like me, nothing comes close to an authentic Italian Neapolitan pizza.

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What makes Neapolitan pizza different?

The key characteristics of a perfect Neapolitan pizza are a super thin base with a crispy but light and airy crust.

The thin base and light airy crust of Authentic Neapolitan pizza
The thin base and light airy crust of Authentic Neapolitan pizza

The base is typically topped with a tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, as well as many other topping combinations.

The other main characteristic of an authentic Neapolitan pizza, the true classic, is that it’s wood fired. This means that it’s cooked in a traditional pizza oven that uses wood as fuel.

A traditional Neapolitan brick pizza oven
A traditional Neapolitan brick pizza oven

The flames lick over the pizza as it’s cooking, providing a slightly smoky taste, not unlike barbecuing or smoking meat. What’s more, the extreme heat produced allows for oven temperatures of up to 500 degrees Celsius (over 900 degrees Fahrenheit)!

To find out more about exactly what wood fired ovens are all about , check out my article on wood fired pizza here.

This extreme heat allows for exceptional rise in crust, allowing for a crispy yet light and soft pizza at the same time! It really is pizza heaven!

What makes a Neapolitan pizza?

Now you know what a Neapolitan pizza is, but what actually makes the pizza? What really makes this style of pizza better than other pizza? Isn’t pizza just pizza!

Well…No! It isn’t!

For me, the key is that it’s made with quality ingredients, time tested methods, artisan techniques, but most of all, it’s the fact that it’s made with love! When you make Neapolitan pizza, the perfect Neapolitan pizza, you make it with a passion!

A pizza made, with love, by me!
A pizza made, with love, by me!

It’s not just pizza, it’s a taste and texture sensation that’s amongst the most rewarding food in the world to make and eat.

Is Neapolitan pizza thin crust?

In a word, no. The pizza you are probably thinking of is a Romana pizza.

Neapolitan pizza has a thin base with a large, well-risen crust. The thin base is extremely important as it allows the base to become crispy without the pizza becoming too crispy and dry.

However, Neapolitan pizza has a thick crust, and is not to be confused with the very crispy and thin crust Romana pizza.

What is the difference between Neapolitan style pizza and Roman style pizza?

Both styles of pizza are renowned for their excellence. A Romana pizza appeals to those like a really crispy crust and a Neapolitan pizza appeals to those that like a crispy crust that is soft in the middle.

Romana style vs Neapolitan style pizza
Romana style vs Neapolitan style pizza

For me, the Neapolitan pizza is the best as you get the really thin base with a crispy crust, but with the added benefit of a soft, baguette-like interior to the crust.

Is Neapolitan pizza healthy?

Whilst Neapolitan pizza is not necessarily a healthy meal, in comparison to a takeaway pizza, it is a much more nutritious mealCheck out my article here about this to find out how healthy Neapolitan pizza really is.

For instance, unlike the American style pizza, Neapolitan pizza dough does not contain sugar or oil. In an American style pizza, the sugar and oil is used to encourage browning on the crust, since the pizza is cooked at a much lower temperature.

Neapolitan pizzas are made with quality ingredients
Neapolitan pizzas are made with quality ingredients

An authentic Neapolitan pizza dough, on the other hand,  is made with just 4 ingredients! Flour, water, salt, and yeast.

What’s more, the simple yet perfect Neapolitan pizza sauce doesn’t contain any added sugar. It contains just tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Whilst this may not sound that exciting, only the best tomatoes are used to produce a wonderfully bright and fresh sauce.

Tomatoes being sieved for a Neapolitan pizza
Tomatoes being sieved for a Neapolitan pizza

Also, a Neapolitan pizza has much less toppings on. One of the reasons why an American style pizza is thicker is so that it can support the extra weight of the toppings.

Since the base is so thin on a Neapolitan pizza, a much more modest amount of toppings are required. In addition, the quality of the dough in a Neapolitan pizza is allowed to shine. Ensuring that the toppings do not overpower the taste of the dough is a key part of the perfect Neapolitan pizza.

For some great healthy topping ideas, check out my article on authentic Neapolitan pizza toppings here.

Does authentic Italian pizza have cheese?

Most authentic Italian pizzas are typically topped with some form of cheese. The most common cheese is Mozzarella, closely followed by Parmesan. In fact, the two are often used together.

Fresh mozzarella - a key ingredient of Neapolitan pizza
Fresh mozzarella – a key ingredient of Neapolitan pizza

Only good quality, fresh cheese is used, which is typically much more tasty and nutritious when compared to the cheese used on American style takeaway pizzas.

Fortunately, delicious mozzarella is readily available at supermarkets and on Amazon. Mozzarella often comes in a bag with a brine solution to keep it fresh.

Click the link here to check the price of 400g of Mozzarella on Amazon. Parmesan is also available at the vast majority of supermarkets. Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano, to give it it’s real name, usually comes in a little packet in the shape of a wedge. Click the link here to check the price of a big wedge of delicious 48 months matured parmesan.

How do you make Neapolitan pizza dough from scratch?

First the dough is made, and often mixed by hand. Then the dough is proved for around 24 hours. Yes, I know this sounds like a long time but it makes the dough tastier and vastly improves the texture.

Then the dough is balled, before being shaped into a pizza, topped, and then loaded into the oven.

Neapolitan pizza with instant yeast

As with any great pizza, or bread for that matter, the magic ingredient is yeast! There really is no substitute for yeast, it makes the pizza rise and gives it lovely light and airy crust.

The good news is the yeast is really easy to get hold of, in the form of instant yeast. This is a dried yeast which is readily available at most supermarkets and on Amazon.

Fortunately, instant dried yeast is really east to work with and lasts for many months in a cool cupboard or the fridge.

Follow this link here to check the price of instant yeast on Amazon.

How long does it take to cook a Neapolitan pizza?

For the perfect authentic Neapolitan pizza, which is cooked in a wood fired oven, the cooking takes just 90 seconds! This is due to the extreme temperatures inside a wood fired oven, which reach up to 500 degrees Celsius (900 degrees Fahrenheit)!

Pizza cooking in a portable pizza oven
Pizza cooking in an Ooni – a portable pizza oven

However, Neapolitan style pizza can also be made in a home oven. It is important to get the oven and baking tray/baking stone as hot as possible before loading the pizza. In a home oven, a Neapolitan style pizza can still take as little as 6 minutes.

For more information on cooking in a normal domestic oven, check out my article here.

Here's an authentic Neapolitan pizza I made with this recipe!
Here’s an authentic Neapolitan pizza I made with this recipe!

Note: For authentic Neapolitan topping ideas, check out my article here.

How do you eat Neapolitan pizza?

Should an Authentic Neapolitan pizza be eaten with a knife and fork or by hand?

This is a maybe pointless (excuse the pun) debate, but it is hotly (do not excuse the pun this time) contested.

Neapolitan pizza slice

In truth, this will largely depend on the particular setting, and how posh it is. But for the most part, you can eat your pizza with your hands without worrying. And this is definitely my favourite way of eating pizza!

In many restaurants, pizza is served unsliced, with a knife and fork. This is generally done to save time slicing the pizza. In which case you can cut the pizza into slices yourself and then eat it with your hands.

If the pizza is served with a pizza slicer then I think it’s definitely safe to assume that the pizza is expected to be eaten with the hands.

Many Italians prefer to eat pizza, when it is served as a meal, with a knife and fork. However, many italians also prefer cutting it into slices and then eating it.

Neapolitan pizza in a posh restaurant
Pizza in a posh restaurant

I would just do whatever you feel comfortable with. If you are in a very posh restaurant you may want to eat it with the knife and fork (or you may just not care).

You could always ask the waiter to slice your pizza for you when you order it and gauge the reaction. Many restaurants are happy to slice the pizza before serving it if requested.

Are you supposed to fold pizza?

This is another controversial question for many people! Should a pizza slice be folded or not?!

In truth, it is a widely accepted and popular way of eating Neapolitan pizza. Because authentic Neapolitan pizza is very thin and a bit floppy, it folds very easily.

Me folding an authentic homemade Neapolitan pizza!
Me folding an authentic homemade Neapolitan pizza!

In fact, if a slice of Neapolitan pizza isn’t folded it can be quite difficult to eat by hand. Folding it is also my favourite way of eating pizza.

Time to make some delicious Authentic Neapolitan pizza!

With all that being said, let’s jump into the recipe! Feel free to rate the recipe afterwards if you found it useful. Good luck!

The Recipe – Authentic Neapolitan Pizza

How To Make The Perfect Neapolitan Pizza:

Ingredients

Makes 4 x 10 inch pizzas.

For the dough

With 00 flour (recommended):

  • Flour – 640g
  • Water (room temperature) – 360g
  • Salt (fine) – 14g
  • Yeast (dried) – 0.3g

With Strong white bread flour (decent substitute for 00 flour):

  • Flour – 620g
  • Water (room temperature) – 380g
  • Salt (fine) – 14g
  • Yeast (dried) – 0.3g

For the toppings

  • 300g tin of plum tomatoes
  • Tomato puree (optional) – a tablespoon
  • Salt – sprinkling of table salt or sea salt
  • Pepper – freshly ground black pepper
  • Mozzarella – 2 x 125g bags of fresh Mozzarella balls
  • Parmesan – about 30g
  • Olive Oil – a few glugs
  • Basil – hand full of fresh leaves

Note

0.3g of yeast may seem like a small amount, and it is. Most recipies you see online will probably call for around 7g of yeast, but that’s for a quick prove of just a couple of hours or so. For a 24 hour prove, we only need 0.3g of yeast, which will produce a much nicer dough.

To measure the yeast I recommend getting some inexpensive scales with an accuracy of 0.01g like the ones I have below:

Yeast on scales for Authentic Neapolitan pizza

You can pick up some scales like these cheap online

I only use these scales for weighing the yeast. I use normal digital scales for weighing the other ingredients.

If you don’t have some accurate scales though, don’t worry. I’ve taken a picture of 0.3g of yeast on a regular teaspoon so you can see what it looks like:

Yeast for Authentic Neapolitan pizza on a teaspoon

This is what 0.3g of yeast looks like on a teaspoon

Method

For the dough

Tip: This recipe is for a 24 hour prove. I know it sounds like a long time but don’t worry! Simply make the dough the night before you want to make pizza and you will be good to go on the following evening. Don’t worry about exact timings, anywhere around 20-28 hours will be fine.

Neapolitan pizza dough in bowl

  1. Mix all the ingredients into a shaggy mass in a large bowl, starting by adding the water first. You can do this by hand or use a wooden spoon.
  2. Cover the bowl with cling film, a plastic carrier bag, or a damp cloth (if the cloth isn’t damp the dough may dry out).
  3. Leave the dough to rest for around 1 hour (the technical term for this process is the Autolyse).
  4. Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead for around 5 minutes. There is no correct technique here, just use the heel of your hands and don’t be afraid to put your body weight into it. Try to stretch the dough as much as possible as you knead. (To find out more about kneading check out my article here.)
  5. Place the dough back into the bowl and cover.
  6. Leave the dough to prove (in one big lump, don’t worry about the shape) for around 20 hours.
  7. About 4 hours before you intend to cook the pizza (after about a 20 hour prove), divide the dough into 4 equal parts (250g each) using some kitchen scales and a knife (or dough scraper).
  8. Place each dough ball into a small bowl and cover. Alternatively, use a large tupperware container with a lid, or two smaller ones.
  9. Leave the dough balls to prove again for about 4 hours.

For the tomato sauce

Tip: Do not skimp on the tomatoes, quality tinned tomatoes are key to this simple sauce. Instead of cooking the sauce, you can also reduce it by sieving if you prefer.

Sieving tomatoes for Neapolitan pizza

  1. Blend a tin of quality plum tomatoes into a smooth sauce.
  2. Cook the sauce until it reaches the desired thickness (still runny but quite thick).
  3. Add a tablespoon or 2 of tomato puree for a richer, sweeter sauce (optional).
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the shaping/cooking

Tip: Shape and cook the pizzas one at a time. If the pizzas are shaped and left to sit before cooking, they may stick to the surface and then rip when moved. Speed is quite important! Removing moisture from fresh mozzarella stops the pizza from becoming soggy, this can be done by breaking it up and wrapping it in kitchen roll 30 minutes before.

Stretching Neapolitan pizza

  1. Ensure that you baking stone/tray is inside your oven.
  2. Get your oven up to temperature. For pizza ovens 420 – 480 degrees Celsius (790 – 900 Fahrenheit). For a regular domestic oven, as hot as it will get (around 260 Celsius or 500 Fahrenheit). An infrared thermometer is useful here for measuring the temperature of the cooking surface.
  3. Dust a dough ball with plenty of flour and remove from the container. Place the dough into a large bowl with a covering of flour in the base of it.
  4. In the bowl, press down from the centre of the dough towards the edges. The idea here is to move the air from the middle of the dough to the outside, where it will form a crust. Be careful not to press the edge of the dough down (the crust), any air removed cannot be regained and you will not end up with a well-risen crust.
  5. Keep turning the dough as you work the air towards the edges. You should start forming a small pizza shape at this stage.
  6. Turn the dough over and repeat this process in the bowl, on the other side.
  7. Ensuring the base of the dough is coated with plenty of flour, remove from the bowl and place on the counter.
  8. Remembering not to touch the edge of the dough (the crust), hold the dough down with your right hand, and with the other gently stretch the dough outwards.
  9. Keep turning the dough and repeating this until you have a base which is about 9 to 10 inches in diameter. You can usually go thinner than you think so don’t worry too much about the dough ripping.
  10. Top the base with around 2 soup spoons (dessert spoons) of tomato sauce and spread gently across the pizza and up to the edges (just before the crusts). Be careful not to press down as you spread or you may make the dough stick to the counter.
  11. Spread about a handful of Mozzarella (half of a 125g packet) evenly across the pizza, and you are ready to cook! (We will add the parmesan, basil, and olive oil after cooking.)
  12. Slide the pizza onto a peel, or chopping board if you don’t have a peel.
  13. Load straight onto baking stone/tray inside oven.
  14. For a pizza oven, cook for around 60 – 90 seconds and turn every 20 – 30 seconds as required. For a regular domestic oven, cook for around 6 – 8 minutes, turning about every 2 – 3 minutes as required.
  15. Remove the pizza from the oven (preferably with a peel) and place on a chopping board or a plate.
  16. Grate parmesan on top and add some torn basil. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of black pepper.
  17. Let the pizza cool a little and tuck in!

The finished Authentic Neapolitan pizza

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Final thoughts on making the perfect Neapolitan pizza…

Making delicious authentic Neapolitan pizza is not easy! However, it is an incredible taste and texture experience. What’s more the whole process is really fun so just enjoy the journey!

Tom Rothwell from My Pizza Corner eating homemade pizza

About Me

I’m Tom Rothwell and I’m super passionate about all kinds of homemade pizza! In the last few years I've been on a quest to find the perfect pizza. Now I'm sharing what I've found out with the world!

Comments
  1. Dean says:

    Should the dough be left to prove in the fridge or at room temperature? (20 hours at room temperature sounds…risky)

    1. Tom Rothwell says:

      Thanks for the question Dean and yep, 20 hours at room temperature is correct (we are only using 0.3g dried yeast). You can prove in the fridge if you prefer but you’ll need almost 10 times the amount of yeast, so about 3g or just less.

      I’m going to write an article soon about a pizza app that I use for adjusting yeast. I have mentioned the app and explained it a little at the bottom of my no knead dough recipe here: https://mypizzacorner.com/pizza-dough/easy-no-knead-neapolitan-pizza-dough/

  2. Tyler says:

    Tom,
    Thanks for all the details. Would you use warmer water when working with shorter proving times? I’ve seen other recipes where instant dry yeast is mixed with warm water prior to adding in with salt flour mixture. I’ve also been warned that salt can have adverse effects on yeast if it is not fully activated when mixing. Any thoughts?

    1. Tom Rothwell says:

      Hi Tyler, thanks for the questions. You can use room temperature water but I wouldn’t recommend using warm water. If the water is too warm it can kill the yeast.

      Also, if you have active dried yeast then yes, it will need to be activated first. Simply stir it into some room temperature water and leave it for 5-10 minutes.

      If you have instant dried yeast then you can add that straight to your flour without the need to activate first. And I wouldn’t worry about the salt. As long as you don’t mix it directly with the yeast, you will be fine. Cheers

  3. Neha says:

    Hi.. I tried cooking on 500F in conventional oven onw lower rack, top was nicely done in 7 mins but bottom was not completely done.
    Next one I broiled for 3 mins on top rack and top was very nicely done but same with bottom, not fully cooked even after cooking further on 500F on lower rack for 2 mins. Any suggestions?

    1. Tom Rothwell says:

      Hi Neha, it sounds like your baking tray wasn’t hot enough. Make sure to preheat your tray for at least 30 minutes. Also, consider using a baking stone as this will help with the cooking of the bottom of the pizza. But again, be sure to preheat your stone for at least 30 minutes. Good luck!

  4. Roberto says:

    Hi Tom , how much yeast do I need to make more pizzas (like 12-16 )?

    1. Tom Rothwell says:

      Hi Roberto. You can simply multiply all the ingredients by 4 to make 16 pizzas. So you will need 1.2g of yeast. I’m planning an article on doing pizza parties as they’re not easy! Good luck!

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