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This pesto pizza recipe is better than take out and comes together in less than 20 minutes! Use refrigerated pizza dough from the store or my quick and easy pizza dough recipe along with all those ripe tomatoes and overgrown basil from the garden!
You Will Love This
- It's the perfect way to showcase all those fresh veggies and herbs from the garden or farmer's market! If you've got an abundance of ripe tomatoes and bushes of basil in the garden, this pizza is a MUST. It's the perfect way to use up the last of the late summer harvest (or welcome a new season of warmth)!
- It's a hearty vegetarian dinner that will even please the meat-eaters in your life! My carnivorous, meat-loving partner gave this pizza his stamp of approval, saying it was "the best pizza you've ever made". So, I'm pretty confident that you can serve this at your next pizza night or backyard movie night and everyone is going to LOVE it.
- It's a welcomed reprieve from the classic pepperoni pizza you're always making on Friday night! Switch things up a bit and give the pepperoni a rest next week! The classic toppings have had their day in the sun - let's give the tomatoes and basil some time to shine! If you're looking for other unique pizza recipes be sure to check out my BBQ Chickpea Pizza, Greek Flatbread Pizza, or Loaded Baked Potato Pizza.
Ingredients and Substitutions
The best part about this pesto pizza recipe — other than how simple it is to make — is that it only requires a handful of ingredients.
For this homemade Pesto Pizza, you’ll need:
- Pizza Crust - Raw or pre-baked store-bought is fine, but try my favorite no-knead dough recipe if you have a few extra minutes! It comes together with no kneading, but it does require an overnight rise so it involves some planning ahead.
- Fresh Pesto - I highly recommend making my quick and easy pesto recipe (it literally takes 5 minutes), but if you’re in a pinch you can buy it at the grocery store. This is my favorite store-bought brand.
- Mozzarella Cheese - I like to use whole milk shredded mozzarella for this pizza because that extra bit of fat gives the pizza more flavor. Remember, fat equals flavor!
- Fresh Tomatoes - I used what I had available in my garden, but you can use your favorite variety - beefsteak, Roma, heirloom, or cherry tomatoes will all work. Sun-dried tomatoes would also pair well with the pesto.
- Fresh Basil - I highly recommend picking up some fresh basil (from your backyard of the farmer's market) because it really takes this pizza to the next level!
Par-bake crust for 3-5 minutes. See how nice and golden brown this pan helps the crust get?! If there is one pan you invest in - let it be this one! Also - it's actually super inexpensive so it's worth every penny!!
While the crust is par-baking, throw together my super easy basil pesto.
Remove from the oven and spread pesto across the crust, leaving about an inch around the perimeter.
Sprinkle mozzarella cheese evenly across the pizza.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the crust is dark golden brown.
- Don't skip the par-baking! It may seem like an unnecessary extra step, but you have to partially bake the crust in order to get that perfectly crisp, golden-brown crust. Trust me, it's worth the extra 3 minutes!
- For a really extra crispy crust make sure you brush it with oil before par-baking and then also brush the edges before the final bake. This will give the crust the most buttery, rich flavor, and just the right amount of crunch!
- Less is more when it comes to toppings. When making a 12-inch pie, make sure you stick to about a ½ cup of sauce and 1 cup of cheese plus a handful of veggies or meats. This will ensure that the crust cooks evenly and thoroughly and you're not left with a soggy mess!
- I topped my Pesto Pizza with garden-fresh ingredients like juicy ripe tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, and more pesto, but the sky's the limit with what you can do with this recipe!
- Grilled chicken, Italian meatballs, or sausage would be divine if you want to add some meat.
- You could also add your favorite veggies like thinly sliced onions and peppers. You could even top it with arugula tossed in olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper before serving.
Storage, Reheating, and Freezing Instructions
- Store leftover pizza in an airtight container or bag in your fridge for up to 4 days.
- Freeze cooked and cooled pizza in a freezer-safe bag for up to 1 month.
- Reheat thawed pizza in your oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or so, until warmed through and bubbling. You want to crust to get crispy again, so allow it to cook long enough in the oven for this to happen. Best to warm directly on the racks in the oven.
Yes! There's Parmesan cheese in pesto, so pesto definitely pairs well with cheese. I prefer it with lighter white cheeses like mozzarella, making it the perfect addition to pizza!
Absolutely not! Like anything, it's best enjoyed in moderation, but this is a wonderful veggie-filled, protein-packed sauce alternative to traditional tomato-based pizza sauce and can even be used as a marinade for chicken or shrimp!
Unfortunately not. An aged cheddar that is very dry could work, but even then the flavor just isn't quite right for pesto. A regular block of mozzarella or shredded mozzarella will not work for pesto either. The Parmesan cheese works well in pesto because it is dry and when processed it crumbles into a fine, sand-like texture. Save mozzarella for topping your pizza, not for making pesto!
If you want to make a dairy-free pesto, you could use more nuts in place of the Parmesan or substitute nutritional yeast. The latter would give you a cheesy, nutty taste similar to that of Parmesan. You could also substitute a vegan Parmesan cheese in place of regular in the pesto!
Family Favorite Pizzas
- Loaded Baked Potato Pizza
- Sheet Pan Pizza
- Deep Dish Cast Iron Skillet Pizza
- Mediterranean Flatbread Pizza
- BBQ Chickpea Pizza