Basil Pizza bursts with the wonderful, fresh flavor of basil — with both pesto and whole basil leaves throughout. This unique pizza is the perfect recipe for using up your summer basil from the garden, and it can stand on its own as a whole meal.
Basil on pizza is, simply put, dreamy. While there’s an abundance of basil in the summertime, we’re fortunate that we can typically find it year round.
While a lot of pizza recipes include the beautiful, aromatic fresh herb, in this basil pizza, it's the main ingredient -- and it's amazing!
(I often suggest brands I love and use -- these are only suggestions and this is not a sponsored post.)
- fresh basil leaves - Any variety, but the softer the leaves, the better. Choose perky bunches, and avoid any brown, bruised or yellow leaves.
- toasted pine nuts - Toasted pine nuts will have a deeper flavor than those that are raw.
- Parmesan cheese - If you can, use Parmesan Reggiano, and grate it right before adding it to the pizza. Buying pre-grated cheese is fine, too.
- mozzarella cheese - Again, if you can grate it from a block just before using, that's great -- but, pre-grated is fine, too.
- tomato paste - From a tube or can.
- garlic - Look for firm heads of garlic without any soft spots or green shoots, which is an indication of old garlic. (Raw garlic cloves should be firm without any dark spots.)
- lemon juice - Use Meyer lemons if they're in season. They're a touch less tart and a touch sweeter.
- extra virgin olive oil - I like this one.
- pizza dough or pre-baked crust - I've always had great success with the refrigerated, raw pizza dough from Trader Joe's.
- red onion - Choose onions that are firm, heavy for their size and without bruises.
- red chili flakes - To sprinkle on top for a bit of heat.
- salt -I cook with Kosher salt. I prefer it over other salts for a few reasons: its larger flake size, it's less refined and usually doesn't contain additives, and it does a great job enhancing the flavor of foods without making them taste salty.
- black pepper - Preferably freshly ground.
- sugar - We will only use a pinch.
(See recipe card below for quantities.)
- To save time, you can substitute the pesto that's a part of this recipe, with any prepared, jarred pesto you like.
- Thins slices of fresh mozzarella can be used instead of the grated mozzarella if you prefer.
If you'd like to add more ingredients to basil pizza, here are a few additions that are delicious with it:
- roasted red peppers
- fresh slices of tomato
- caramelized onions
- grilled chicken
- ground turkey
- goat cheese
- If you have a pizza stone, use it. If not, you can use a baking sheet. To do so, preheat it, just as you would the stone.
- Feel free to add more toppings. (Suggestions are below.)
How to Make it
- Preheat the oven to 500°F, with a pizza stone on the center rack. If you don't have a pizza stone, place a sheet pan on the rack a few minutes before you assemble the pizzas.
- Make the pesto: Add the basil, pine nuts, Parmesan and garlic to a food processor and blend until the basil is in tiny pieces. Then add the tomato paste, lemon juice, olive oil and pinch of sugar, and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Either shape your pizza dough into approximately 12-inch rounds, or set out your pre-baked approximately 12-inch rounds, on a lightly floured work surface.
- Spread the pesto thinly between the two crusts or dough. Then sprinkle each with equal amounts of the Mozzarella and onion slices, and about half of the basil leaves.
- Once out of the oven, add toasted pine nuts, chili flakes and the remaining fresh basil leaves. Then drizzle with the remaining olive oil, slice and serve.
- Transfer the pizzas to the stone or baking sheet and drizzle about ½ tablespoon of the olive oil along the edges of the crusts. Place in the preheated 500°F oven, and bake until the crust is golden along the edges, about 15 minutes. (For pre-baked crusts, heat just long enough to melt the cheese and heat it through.)
(More detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.)
More Recipes with Fresh Basil
- Watermelon Basil Salad
- Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette
- Cold Cucumber Basil Soup
- Sweet Basil Cheesecake with Lemon Crust
What pizza crust should you use?
Fresh basil on pizza, no matter what crust you use, will be delicious. So you should use your favorite for this basil pizza.
You can make your own (this recipe is excellent), use a pre-baked crust, or use pre-made dough. Whatever you go with, you will want enough to make two (approximately 12-inch) crusts.
You can also use gluten-free pizza crust (I make this one and love it), or a cauliflower crust. Just be aware that cauliflower crusts are typically softer and you might need a fork and knife to eat the pizza.
I hope you love basil pizza as much as I do!
Basil Pizza Recipe
For the pesto
- 4 ounces (approx. 4 loosely packed cups) basil leaves, washed and dried
- ⅓ cup pine nuts, toasted
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 teaspoons garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- pinch granulated sugar
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Remaining pizza ingredients
- 1½ pounds raw pizza dough -- OR, 2 (approx. 12-inch) pre-baked pizza crusts
- 1½ cups mozzarella cheese, grated
- ¼ cup red onion, thinly sliced
- 1¼ ounces (approx. 1 ¼ loosely packed cup) basil leaves, washed and dried
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (for garnish, if desired)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- red chili flakes (if desired)
- Preheat the oven and stone/sheet pan. Preheat the oven to 500°F, with a pizza stone on center rack. If you don't have a pizza stone, place a sheet pan on the rack a few minutes before you assemble the pizzas.
- Make the pesto. Add the basil, pine nuts, Parmesan and garlic to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Blend until the basil is in tiny pieces. Then add the tomato paste, lemon juice, olive oil and pinch of sugar, and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Here's How to Season to Taste.)
- Prepare the pizza crust. Either shape your pizza dough into approximately 12-inch rounds, or set out your pre-baked approximately 12-inch rounds, on a lightly floured work surface.
- Assemble the pizzas. Evenly divide the pesto among the two crusts, spreading it thinly. Then sprinkle each with equal amounts of the grated Mozzarella. Now divide the red onion slices between the two, and about half of the basil leaves.
- Bake. Transfer the pizzas to the stone or baking sheet and drizzle about ½ tablespoon of the olive oil along the edges of the crusts. Place in the preheated 500°F oven, and bake until the crust is golden along the edges, about 15 minutes. (For pre-baked crusts, heat just long enough to melt the cheese and heat it through.)
- Garnish, cut and serve. Once out of the oven, add the chili flakes (if desired), pine nuts, and the remaining fresh basil leaves. Then drizzle with the remaining olive oil, slice and serve.
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