Preparing pizza toppings | Neapolitan Pizza from scratch | Part 5

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Preparing pizza toppings

Preparing your pizza toppings is a really easy step but should be done well in advance of making the pizzas. Preparation really does pay off when it comes to toppings.

By having all your toppings ready, you will find making the pizza much easier. You will want everything to hand as a stretched pizza can’t be left for too long.

If this happens the pizza can stick to the side. The pizza will then likely rip as it is transferred to the peel and then the oven.

Preparing pizza toppings video

Below is a video showing you how to prepare the pizza toppings for a classic Neapolitan pizza Margherita. It’s super easy but there a couple of key steps that you don’t want to miss out!

Preparing Pizza Toppings

The preparation takes just a few minutes but it is important to pay attention to the small details. Pay particular attention to the moisture content of your toppings. Too much moisture leads to a soggy pizza and not enough moisture leads to a dry pizza.

By following the advice in this article you should get close to the perfect topping preparation. But it will take some practice before these steps become second nature.

Sauce for Neapolitan pizza

The sauce for practically every Neapolitan pizza is a tomato sauce. But there are a couple of different ways of preparing the sauce.

Neapolitan tomato sauce
A simple Neapolitan tomato sauce

In this article, and in the video at the top of the page, I prepare the sauce in the most simple and classic way. It is an uncooked sauce that is simply blended and sieved.

Traditionally, fresh tomatoes would be crushed in a pestle and mortar. However, tinned tomatoes are a great option as they are so consistent in flavour and overall quality.

Tinned Tomatoes for Neapolitan pizza sauce
Using good qua;ity tinned tomatoes is a great option

In fact, the vast majority of Neapolitan pizzerias use tinned tomatoes. Use the best quality you can get though. The best pizzerias use San Marazano tomatoes from Naples.

In addition, using a blender is much easier than using a pestle and mortar and produces an excellent sauce. You can always leave the sauce a little more chunky if you want something a bit more authentic.

Different tinned tomatoes contain different amounts of water. If the blended tomatoes are too thin they should be sieved to remove some of the moisture. This is an important step as a watery sauce usually leads to a soggy pizza.

Sieving tomatoes for Neapolitan pizza
Sieving the blended tomatoes helps to make a thicker sauce

Once the tomatoes are at the correct consistency, season liberally with salt and pepper. Be sure to taste the sauce to ensure the seasoning is good.

Does Margherita Pizza have sauce?

Margherita pizza is topped with tomato sauce, like practically every other Neapolitan pizza. The good news is that once you can prepare a simple tomato sauce, you can make any Neapolitan pizza.

Margherita pizza with tomato sauce

In general, I recommend between 2-3 tablespoons of sauce for a 10 inch Margherita. You will need to use some trial an error before you find the best amount for your pizzas.

If you are unsure, I would lean on the side of less sauce. Too much sauce and you create a soggy pizza, which would just be a shame.

Toppings for Margherita pizza

The toppings for the classic Margherita are so simple that it’s easy to overlook them. But, the proper preparation will depend on your particular toppings.

Margherita pizza toppings:

Authentic Neapolitan Pizza
A classic Margherita

The tomatoes and the mozzarella are the main toppings for Margherita pizza but basil and olive oil are important too.

Fortunately, the basil and the olive oil don’t require any preparation at all.

Preparing mozzarella for pizza

The preparation of the mozzarella for pizza is an important step that many people miss out. Get this step wrong and you will almost definitely end up with a soggy pizza.

Fresh store bought mozzarella is usually stored in a brine (salt water). This helps to keep the mozzarella nice and fresh, which is great. But if we use the mozzarella straight out the bag, there will be far too much moisture on our pizza.

Preparing mozzarella for pizza
This is the water (brine) from just a small bag of mozzarella!

The easiest and quickest way to fix this issue is to dry the mozzarella on some kitchen roll or a clean, dry towel.

Simply squeeze as much water from the mozzarella as you can and then slice it and wrap it in kitchen roll. It is best to leave the wrapped mozzarella in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Slicing fresh mozzarella for pizza
Slice the fresh mozzarella and wrap it in kitchen roll

After this time, the cheese will be perfect to use. It will be nice and dry just like it was when it was first made. Don’t worry about it being too dry, it will melt wonderfully on the pizza as it cooks. Mmmm creamy mozzarella!

Using grated mozzarella

It is worth mentioning that you can also use grated mozzarella instead of the fresh stuff. You can buy this at most supermarkets.

It is a much drier cheese so it requires no preparation at all. Whilst it is not traditional, it still makes excellent Margheritas. Typically, it is more commonly used on New York style pizzas.

Neapolitan pizza unsliced
A Margherita made with grated mozzarella

If you are unsure on your fresh mozzarella, or it’s your first time making pizzas, it may be wise to get some grated mozzarella. Even if you don’t intend to use it, the grated cheese could come in useful as a backup.

It’s pretty fool proof to be honest. And even if you don’t use it on the pizza I’m sure it won’t go to waste!

The Method – Preparing the toppings for Neapolitan Margherita Pizza

  • Enough toppings for 4 pizzas


  • 1 tin of tomatoes (good quality)
  • 250g fresh mozzarella (or grated)
  • Couple of handfulls of fresh basil
  • Few glugs of olive oil (extra virgin)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Small piece of parmesan (optional)


  1. Squeeze moisture from fresh mozzarella
  2. Slice/crumble fresh mozzarella and wrap in kitchen roll
  3. Leave in fridge for 30 minutes to a couple of hours
  4. Blend tinned tomatoes (leave slightly chunky)
  5. Sieve excess water from tomatoes if required
  6. Season the tomatoes liberally with salt and pepper
  7. Use tomato sauce immediately or cover and store in the fridge

And that’s all there is to it! Preparing pizza toppings is that easy.

Just be sure to have your other toppings (basil, olive oil, parmesan, pepper) to hand so that you can quickly access them without moving when you’re making your pizzas.

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Final thoughts on preparing toppings for Margherita pizza…

There are so many different pizzas you can make. But the Margherita is the most classic and when done well it takes some beating.

I recommend that everyone starts off making Neapolitan Margheritas before moving onto different pizzas. Many people think it’s a boring pizza but it definitely isn’t when it’s made with the proper ingredients. You may be surprised just how good it is!

Pizza made in clean oven

A delicious homemade Margherita!

Also, you will learn so much by making Margheritas. It will teach all the basics you need to know before you start throwing other toppings into the mix.

Good luck with your toppings! And stay tuned for the next part where we’ll be shaping and topping the pizza!

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!

Ooni Pizza Ovens
Tom Rothwell's Ooni pizza oven

My Pizza Oven

I often get asked what type of oven I use for my pizzas. Well, I use a pizza oven made by a company called Ooni.

The range of pizza ovens that Ooni offers is just brilliant. They cover all bases, and all price points. There's affordable and portable models such as the Fyra 12 Pizza Oven and then there's state-of-the-art models such as the Karu 16 Pizza Oven pictured below.

In all honesty, I would say that the oven makes a huge difference. If you're looking to make authentic Italian pizza, a pizza oven is a must.

Pizza cooked in Ooni pizza oven

By clicking the link below and purchasing from Ooni, you would be supporting this website. I've been using their ovens for a long time now and I wouldn't recommend them if I didn't believe in their products.

Time to make some amazing pizza!

K16 - US
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