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Cooked Neapolitan Pizza on table outside ready to eat

Perfect Neapolitan Pizza

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How to Cook Authentic Neapolitan Pizza

Cooking authentic Neapolitan pizza involves great attention to detail at every step. From selecting the right ingredients to mastering the dough making process and achieving the perfect bake, here is an in-depth guide to help you create this iconic dish that is loved by millions around the world.

Ingredient List


  • Flour: 500 grams of "00" flour. This finely ground Italian flour has a high protein content that provides the ideal gluten structure for pizza dough.
  • Water: 325 ml of water. Use cold, filtered, or bottled water to avoid any strong tap water taste.
  • Salt: 10 grams of fine sea salt. Salt not only enhances flavour but also strengthens the dough structure.
  • Yeast: 3 grams of fresh yeast or 1 gram of dry yeast. Fresh yeast is traditional, but dry yeast can also be used if measured accurately.

Tomato Sauce:

  • Tomatoes: 400 grams of San Marzano tomatoes. These tomatoes are sweeter and less acidic than other varieties, making them perfect for that Neapolitan pizza sauce.
  • Salt: Sea salt to taste. It’s essential for balancing the acidity of the tomatoes.
  • Basil: Fresh basil leaves. Adds a fresh, aromatic element to the sauce.


  • Mozzarella Cheese: Fresh mozzarella (preferably buffalo mozzarella). Buffalo mozzarella has a richer flavour and creamier texture.
  • Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling. Provides a fruity, robust flavour.
  • Basil or Spinach: Fresh basil and Spinach leaves for garnish.
Cooked Neapolitan Pizza sitting on table ready to eat

Step by step Instructions

Prepare the Dough


  • In a large mixing bowl, dissolve 3 grams of fresh yeast in 325 ml of cold water.
  • Gradually add 500 grams of "00" flour to the water while stirring with your hand or a wooden spoon to combine.
  • Once the flour is fully incorporated, add 10 grams of sea salt. Adding salt at this stage helps to avoid direct contact with yeast which can hinder its activity.


  • Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface.
  • Knead the dough by pushing it away from you with the heel of your hand, folding it over, and repeating the process.
  • Continue kneading for about 15-20 minutes until the dough is smooth, elastic, and slightly tacky to the touch. Proper kneading is crucial for developing gluten, which gives the dough its structure and chewiness.

First Rise:

  • Shape the kneaded dough into a ball and place it in a lightly oiled bowl.
  • Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature (ideally around 20-25°C or 68-77°F) for 2 hours. The dough should double in size.

Second Rise:

  • After the first rise, gently deflate the dough and divide it into 4 equal portions.
  • Shape each portion into a tight, smooth ball by tucking the edges underneath and rolling it gently against the work surface.
  • Place the dough balls on a floured surface, cover them with a damp cloth, and let them rise for an additional 4-6 hours. This second rise helps to develop flavour and makes the dough easier to stretch.
Person kneading dough for Neapolitan Pizza

Prepare the Tomato Sauce

  • Pour the canned San Marzano tomatoes into a bowl.
  • Crush the tomatoes by hand, leaving some small chunks for texture. Avoid over-pureeing, as a slightly chunky sauce adheres better to the dough.
  • Add a pinch of sea salt and a few torn basil leaves. Stir gently to combine. The simplicity of the sauce allows the flavour of the tomatoes to shine.

Prepare the Oven

Wood-Fired Oven:

  • If you have a wood-fired oven, preheat it to 485°C (905°F). This high temperature is essential for achieving the rapid bake and characteristic charred crust of Neapolitan pizza.
  • Build a fire using hardwoods like oak, beech, or ash, which burn hot and impart a pleasant smoky flavour.
  • Once the oven reaches the desired temperature, push the embers to the side to create an even cooking surface.

Pizza Stone/Oven:

  • If using a conventional oven, place a pizza stone on the lowest rack and preheat the oven to its highest setting (usually 250-290°C or 482-554°F). The pizza stone should be preheated for at least 45 minutes to ensure it retains and radiates enough heat.
  • Using a pizza stone mimics the intense heat of a wood-fired oven, allowing for a crispy, well-cooked crust.
Man lighting Alfa pizza oven getting ready to cook a Neapolitan Pizza

Assemble the Neapolitan Pizza

Stretching the Dough:

  • On a lightly floured surface, take one dough ball and press it down gently with your fingers, starting from the centre and working your way outwards.
  • Lift the dough and stretch it over your fists, letting gravity help you. Be careful not to tear the dough. Aim for a thin centre with a slightly thicker edge (cornicione). Avoid using a rolling pin, as it can deflate the dough and prevent the characteristic airy crust that Neapolitan pizza is known for.

Adding Sauce and Toppings:

  • Place the stretched dough on a lightly floured pizza peel. If you don't have a peel, you can use the back of a baking sheet.
  • Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce over the dough, leaving about a 1 cm (1/2 inch) border around the edge.
  • Tear the mozzarella into small pieces and distribute them evenly over the sauce.
  • Add a few fresh basil leaves and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
top view of sauce spread on a dough getting a Neapolitan pizza ready to cook

Bake The Pizza

Wood-Fired Oven:

  • Slide the pizza onto the hot oven floor using the pizza peel. The pizza should cook in about 60-90 seconds.
  • Rotate the pizza halfway through the cooking time to ensure even charring and cooking.

Pizza Stone/Oven:

  • Slide the pizza onto the preheated pizza stone.
  • Bake for about 7-10 minutes, or until the crust is golden, the cheese is melted and bubbling, and there are some charred spots on the crust.
  • Use the broiler for the last minute of baking if needed to achieve a more charred crust.


  • Remove the cooked Neapolitan pizza from the oven and let it cool for a minute or two to allow the flavours to settle.
  • Add a few more fresh basil leaves if desired.
  • Slice and serve immediately.
Cooked Neapolitan Pizza being removed from oven

Additional Tips for Perfect Neapolitan Pizza

  • Fermentation Time: For deeper flavour, you can extend the fermentation time by refrigerating the dough balls for up to 24 hours after the first rise. Just remember to bring them back to room temperature before the second rise.
  • Humidity: A slightly humid environment helps the dough to rise properly. If your kitchen is very dry, place a bowl of water in the oven (turned off) with the dough balls during the second rise.
  • Sauce: Less is more. Too much sauce can make the pizza soggy. Aim for just enough to cover the dough with a thin layer.
  • Mozzarella: If your mozzarella is very wet, let it drain on paper towels before adding it to the pizza. This prevents excess moisture from making the pizza soggy.
  • Practice: Making perfect Neapolitan pizza takes practice. Don't be discouraged if your first few attempts aren't perfect. With time and experience, you'll get a feel for the dough and the baking process.
  • By following these detailed steps and tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating an authentic Neapolitan pizza that captures the essence of this beloved Italian classic. Enjoy your pizza-making journey! Don't forget to let us know how you go and share you experiences below, we would love to hear from you.

For a complete guide on everything you need to know about pizza ovens click here

Author Bio Image

Allan Cooper

Allan Cooper, a licenced electrician is an avid foodie, with experience in spit roasting, smoking meats, and kegerators. He loves the outdoor living lifestyle and shares it with his young family.

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