These mini grilled margherita pizzas made with fresh mozzarella, basil, and a simple crushed tomato sauce on Naples dough are the perfect summer date night dinner.Jump to Recipe
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While brainstorming for this month’s pizza, Alex and I tried to find inspiration by reminiscing on some of the most delicious and unique pizzas we’ve eaten. Of all the kinds we’ve tried and all the ways they’ve been prepared, two things in particular seemed to stick:
- We love a good margherita pizza
- Grilling pizza gives it a delicious summer flair
So with grilling weather upon us, we figured it was about time to try making a grilled margherita pizza. But because this is Pizza of the Month, and we like to bring even more creativity to the table than usual, we decided to make them mini!
Our mini margherita grilled pizzas are really just slightly smaller than usual. We took one dough ball and split it in two, resulting in roughly 8-inch diameter pizzas. But you can make this recipe into a classic, regular-sized margherita pizza on the grill, or go even more mini and split up the dough into 4 pieces! Get creative and serve these mini grilled pizzas in whatever form you’d like. We promise they’ll be delicious no matter what.
What’s On A Margherita Pizza?
A traditional margherita pizza has four main ingredients:
- Naples-style dough
- San Marzano tomato sauce
- Fresh mozzarella
- Fresh basil
Like the story behind many other classic Italian dishes, old legends claim that the ingredients in a margherita pizza represent the three colors of the Italian flag: red, white, and green. Other stories claim the original margherita pizza was much simpler than what we see today, with a light base of crushed tomatoes instead of a tomato sauce. Whatever the case may be, we’ve eaten our fair share of margherita pizzas, and have never been disappointed!
Our version of the margherita pizza is traditional in some ways and unique in others. We made a Naples-style dough from our Mastering Pizza cookbook, sliced some fresh mozzarella, and picked a few leaves straight from our basil plant. But we strayed from tradition a bit when it came to the sauce and the cooking method.
San Marzano tomatoes are a variety of plum tomato from the Campania Region. They’re supposedly the best canned tomatoes you can buy, and contribute to the delicious flavor of a classic margherita pizza.
However, it’s not always easy to find these at the grocery store! And we wanted to experiment with a simple sauce made mostly from canned crushed tomatoes. For our final recipe, we used organic canned crushed tomatoes with basil, lightly seasoned with some garlic, olive oil, and salt. Super simple, easy, and fresh-tasting, with the hint of basil in the canned tomatoes coming through just enough to complement the fresh basil on our pizza.
Traditionally, margherita pizzas are cooked in a wood–fired dome oven. But with summer quickly approaching, we’ve been craving grilled pizza and thought these mini margherita pizzas were the perfect choice. A wood-fired oven tends to leave a crispy, smoky char on the crust, which can be replicated at home on the grill – or with a stovetop grill pan. With some guidance from our favorite pizza cookbook, we perfected the art of stovetop grilled pizza for this recipe.
How To Make Grilled Margherita Pizza
Here’s how to make these mini pizzas on a grill pan:
- Preheat the pan over medium-high heat and spray or brush with oil
- Stretch the pizza dough into mini crusts
- Transfer the dough to the grill pan and cook until the bottom is lightly crisped, about 2 to 3 minutes
- Lower the heat and transfer the crust to a cutting board or work surface, with the grilled side facing up
- Top the pizza with sauce, mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves
- Transfer the assembled pizza onto the grill pan, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes or until the bottom is crispy and toppings are warmed through
- Transfer the cooked pizza to a cutting board and let it cool for about 2 minutes or so before cutting with a large chef’s knife
Repeat these steps for each pizza (remember to turn the heat back up when grilling the dough, then lower before adding the toppings) until all the mini pizzas are cooked! Note that you can follow the steps in this recipe on a traditional grill, too. This will let you grill as many mini pizzas as you want, all at the same time.
How many mini pizzas can I make?
Mini pizzas are super fun because you can make them as small as you want! Do you want to serve each person their own personal mini pizza? Or do you want a mini pizza for two? Maybe you’re imagining each person with two or three of their own mini pizzas.
It’s really up to you to decide how mini you want to make your margherita pizzas. We split one 270 gram dough ball into 2 mini pizzas, about 8 inches in diameter. But you could definitely make 4 even smaller pizzas out of the same amount of dough. We wouldn’t recommend going any smaller than that, but you can always make more dough if you want more pizza!
Keep in mind that if you’re working on a grill pan, you’ll likely only be able to cook one pizza at a time. You can work in batches and keep the mini pizzas warm in the oven until they’re ready to serve. Just place a large baking sheet on the middle rack of your oven, preheat to 170 degrees, and toss the cooked pizzas on it (before slicing!) to keep them warm. Then, once you’re ready to serve dinner, take all the pizzas out, slice, and serve.
Try the recipe below and let us know what you think in the comments!
Mini Margherita Grilled Pizzas
- 270 g Neapolitan-style dough ball at 60% hydration room temperature, split into 2 equal pieces
- 1 cup Margherita Pizza Sauce see below
- 6 oz fresh mozzarella cheese quartered and sliced thin
- 8 to 10 fresh basil leaves washed and dried
- 2 pinches sea salt for finishing
Margherita Pizza Sauce
- 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes with basil
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- Prepare the Margherita Pizza Sauce. Add crushed tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and salt to a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, covered, for about 5 to 10 minutes or until heated through. Stir occasionally.
- Preheat the grill pan on the stove over medium-high heat and lightly brush with cooking oil.
- Flour a clean work surface and stretch the 2 dough balls into roughly 8-inch circles. One at a time, flatten the dough ball into a disc and gently press around the edges to form a small rim. Then use both hands to stretch from the center outwards, working your way around the dough in a circle until evenly stretched.
- Transfer one of the pizza crusts to the grill pan. Cook until the bottom is crisped, about 2 to 3 minutes, rotating the dough by 90 degrees halfway through.
- Lower the heat and transfer pizza crust to a cutting board or other work surface, grilled side up. Quickly top with about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the sauce, half of the mozzarella, and 4 to 5 fresh basil leaves, then transfer the pizza back onto the grill pan.
- Cover and cook until the bottom is crisped and toppings are warmed through, about 5 minutes, rotating the pizza by 90 degrees halfway through.
- Transfer cooked pizza to a cutting board and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Let cool for at least 2 minutes before slicing. Turn the heat back to medium-high and repeat steps 4-6 to cook the second pizza.
- Slice pizzas with a large chef's knife and serve hot.