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Pesto Pizza with Fresh Tomatoes & Mozzarella

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Loaded with basil pesto, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella, pesto pizza is the ultimate summer pizza.

Slices of pesto pizza with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella on a wooden board.

To me, a good pesto pizza should have bold pesto flavor. I don’t want it to taste faintly of basil, garlic, Parmesan and olive oil—I want those flavors to bowl me over. The key is to spread a generous layer of pesto over the pizzas before baking, and then top them with more pesto when they come out of the oven. Not only do these pizzas taste very “pesto-y,” they also look gorgeous and feel a little more special than your typical pizza pie.

I’ve given instructions for homemade pizza dough below but don’t feel obligated to make it; store-bought pizza dough works beautifully and makes this recipe totally doable on a weeknight. Same goes for the pesto — if you want to make it from scratch, use my pesto sauce recipe, but store-bought works well, too (I like Mama’s pesto from Whole Foods).

What you’ll need To Make Pesto Pizza With Fresh Tomatoes & Mozzarella

For The Pizza Dough

pizza dough ingredients

For the Toppings

ingredients for pesto pizza

How to make Pesto Pizza with Fresh Tomatoes & Mozzarella

Step 1: Make the Dough

In a mixer fitted with the dough hook (or a large bowl if you’d like to make it by hand), combine the flour, yeast, salt, olive oil, and water.

flour, oil, water, and salt in mixing bowl

Mix until the dough comes together.

pizza dough just mixed

Increase the speed and knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

smooth and elastic dough

Flour your hands if necessary, and transfer the dough to a lightly oiled large bowl.

dough in bowl

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

dough after rising

When the dough has risen, punch it down.

punched down dough in bowl Place the dough on a lightly floured surface.

dough on floured surface

Cut it in half and roll each part into a ball.

pizza dough balls

Cover the dough balls with a damp kitchen towel and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes — the dough will rise a bit.

letting pizza dough rest on counter

Lightly dust a work surface with flour, and then pat and stretch the rested dough into two 12×8-inch rectangles. If the dough is sticky, dust it lightly with flour.

stretching the dough

Place the two pizza doughs side-by-side on the prepared baking sheet. Then press the dough out again so that it almost touches the edges of the pan.

pizza dough on pan

Step 2: Assemble and Bake the Pizzas

Cut the tomatoes crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices and place on a paper towel-lined plate or cutting board to drain the juices.

Tomatoes draining on paper towels.

Spread 1/3 cup of the pesto evenly over the pizzas, leaving a 1-inch border.

spreading pesto on pizza dough

Bake the pizzas on the bottom rack for 4 minutes. (I do this so the crust has time to crisp up; if you add the cheese from the get-go, it gets too brown before the crust is fully cooked.)

partially cooked pesto pizzas

Remove the pan from the oven; and then top the pizzas with the mozzarella cheese, followed by the tomato slices, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt and pepper.

pizzas topped with cheese and tomatoes

Place the pizzas back in the oven and bake until the crust is crisp and golden, 6 to 8 minutes more.

Two pesto pizzas with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella on a baking sheet.

Transfer the pizzas to a cutting board and drizzle with the with remaining pesto.

drizzling the pizzas with pesto

Sprinkle with fresh basil, then cut into slices and serve. Enjoy!

Slices of pesto pizza with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella on a wooden board.

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Pesto Pizza with Fresh Tomatoes & Mozzarella

Loaded with basil pesto, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella, pesto pizza is the ultimate summer pizza.

Servings: 4 (Makes two 12x8-inch pizzas)


For the Pizza Dough

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) instant/rapid-rise yeast (see note)
  • 1¾ teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons cornmeal, for dusting the pan

For the Topping

  • ½ cup good quality store-bought or homemade pesto, divided
  • 8 ounces whole milk mozzarella cheese (not Buffalo mozzarella), thinly sliced or grated
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes
  • ¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup gently packed fresh basil leaves, torn


  1. Combine the flour, olive oil, yeast, salt and water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together. Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. When the dough has risen, punch it down and place it on a lightly floured surface. Cut in half and roll each part into a ball. Cover the dough balls with a damp kitchen towel and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes (the dough will rise a bit).
  4. Meanwhile, set an oven rack in the bottom position and preheat the oven to 500°F. Sprinkle the cornmeal on an 18x13-inch baking sheet; set aside. Cut the tomatoes crosswise into ⅛-inch-thick slices and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain the juices.
  5. Lightly dust a work surface with flour, and then press and stretch the rested dough into two 12x8-inch rectangles. If the dough is sticky, dust it lightly with flour. Place the two pizza doughs side-by-side on the cornmeal-dusted baking sheet. Press the dough out again so that it almost touches the edges of the pan.
  6. Spread ⅓ cup of the pesto evenly over the pizzas (2½ tablespoons each), leaving a 1-inch border. Bake on the bottom rack for 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven; and then top the pizzas with the mozzarella cheese, followed by the tomato slices and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Season each pizza with an ⅛-teaspoon salt and a few grinds fresh black pepper. Place the pizzas back in the oven and bake until the crust is crisp and golden, 6 to 8 minutes more. Transfer the pizzas to a cutting board. Drizzle the remaining pesto over the pizzas and sprinkle with the fresh basil. Cut into slices and serve immediately.
  7. Note: Active dry yeast may be used instead of instant/rapid-rise yeast, however, the dough will take longer to rise. To give active dry yeast a boost, you can dissolve it in the warm water and let it sit until frothy, about 10 minutes. After that, add it to the flour, olive oil, and salt, and proceed with the recipe.
  8. Make Ahead Instructions: Once the dough has completed it's initial rise, and you've cut it in half to form two balls, lightly coat each dough ball with olive oil. Place the dough ball(s) into a freezer bag and seal shut, squeezing out all the air. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 days. When ready to use, let the dough sit out on the countertop for 30 minutes to warm up before stretching.
  9. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The dough can be frozen for up to 3 months. When ready to use, defrost in the refrigerator overnight (or for at least 12 hours), and then let it warm up on the countertop for about 30 minutes before stretching.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Calories: 950
  • Fat: 57g
  • Saturated fat: 10g
  • Carbohydrates: 80g
  • Sugar: 3g
  • Fiber: 6g
  • Protein: 32g
  • Sodium: 1663mg
  • Cholesterol: 60mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • Best pizza I’ve ever had. Going to keep this one.

  • Made this pizza for friends and it was enjoyed by all, even the crust. I made the dough and froze it as we were taking it on a road trip. It worked perfectly and I wouldn’t hesitate to use the dough recipe. The flavours of the tomatoes with the pesto were delicious.

  • If I use a round pizza stone, should I use all the dough or just half? I use a whole dough ball when buying store-bought pizza dough for this stone. Thanks!

    • Hi Katy, I’d use all the dough. Hope you enjoy!

  • The dough wasn’t very good, I would suggest following your own recipe and using 00 flour. The toppings themselves are fine, and I love the actual pesto recipe, but the dough is a pass.

  • I made this with Jamie Oliver pizza dough my two friends swore was best pizza they ever had.

  • H Jenn. This is a delicious recipe that I have made many times successfully. A few times the dough ended up being very sticky. Could this happen when the weather is really humid? I use Heckers unbleached flour. Would King Arthur flour be a better choice for pizza dough? Thank you for your feedback.

    • Hi Maria, Glad you like it! Yes, humidity can definitely make dough stickier. You can read more about it here. And I’m not familiar with Heckers flour, so I can’t compare to other brands, but I’m definitely partial to King Arthur. Hope that helps!

  • Hi Jenn, thanks for this pizza recipe. I made it for the first time this summer with my garden tomatoes and my own pesto. I made my own pizza dough and followed your recipe exactly. It was the best pizza I have ever had. I make it all the time but now during the winter, after I bake the dough with the pesto on it, I just add other toppings. We will never order pizza out again thanks to you.

    • I should have said that “my own” pesto was actually your Best Pesto recipe I had in my freezer.

  • We loved this pizza! I used the Best Basic Pesto with it and it was Scrumptious! What a great combination.
    I must confess, however, that we ended up regularly preparing ours on store bought pita breads, since it is just my husband and myself. We made them this way countless times over our stay-at-home summer. Thanks, Jenn, for both wonderful recipes!

  • Never had pesto pizza before, and never thought it would be so tasty! I wanted some ideas to use up my the basil in my fridge, apart from pesto pasta that I always make. This one is better than the usual pizza with a tomato-based sauce. And the sliced fresh tomatoes on top really take it to another level – I am glad I didn’t skip that step. I used cashew nuts instead of walnuts, but it was great. Thanks for your recipe!

  • I made this pizza tonight (with a store bought dough ball) and it was out of this world! I wonder how this would be with a balsamic reduction drizzle. May try it next time. Hubby was very impressed! Thank you.

  • Just made this the other night and it was fabulous! The only change that I made was to use naan as my crust instead of pizza dough because I had them on hand. Will definitely be making this again.

  • I’m having a problem where the olive oil in the pesto boils before the mozzarella is melted (I’m using fresh mozzarella). Any thoughts on how to get past that?

    Btw I use a baking steel on a pellet grill @ 500* (which crisps the bottom perfectly) as well as a Twin Eagles Salamagrill with its own baking steel for finishing off the top/melting the cheese.

    • — Mike Schoonmaker
    • Reply
    • Hi Mike, To avoid that I’d bake the crust without the pesto for that first round of cooking and once you remove it, I’d add the pesto and the cheese at the same time. Hope that helps!

  • Made this tonight–LOVED it! Very fresh tasting, not heavy. Will definitely make it again, used homemade pesto and herbs from our garden.

  • Hi Jenn,
    I have used your recipes for years and just love them Absolutely dependable. I finally bought your cookbook on Kindle because I felt so guilty using all of your wonderful free resources. Thanks for your generosity.
    Now my question. I haven’t made this yet but am curious why you said not to use Buffalo Mozzarella. Is it because it’s too watery?
    Best, Julia

    • — Julia Craighill
    • Reply
    • Hi Julia, so glad you like the recipes! I’ve stayed away from Buffalo mozzarella because it can be a bit watery and the tomatoes also add some water to the pizza. If you want to use Buffalo mozzarella (and it comes stored in water), just make sure you dry it really well before putting it on top of the pizza. Hope that helps!

  • Really really nice…. all the recipes have been brilliant …. thank you so much.
    kind regards
    Sunshine coast Queensland Australia.

  • About what size baking sheet do you recommend for this? Is there a particular one you would recommend?

    • Yes, you should use an 18×13-inch baking sheet for this. Hope you enjoy!

      • Thank you!

  • Hi! I LOVE your pizza crust recipe and make it often! I am wondering about whether the recipe would need to change if all I have on hand is active dry yeast? Or would the rising time just be longer? I haven’t been able to find instant yeast for several weeks. Thank you!

    • You can use active dry yeast here; use the same amount but dissolve it with the lukewarm water and salt first, then add the flour. And the rising time will be about 1/3 longer, but keep in mind that’s just a general guideline. Hope that helps and that you enjoy!

  • Jenn! I absolutely loved this pizza!
    I think I’ve written you a review before (Elle,18) but I HAD to write another. This pizza is soooo so good. My dad is not a pizza person at all (or any junk foods really) and he thought this was delicious. I decided to switch it up the second time I made it. I used pizza sauce, and topped with mozzarella, jalapeños, mushrooms, peppers, and olives. The other pizza was your pesto recipe. It was STILL delicious. I hate pizza crust and I devoured yours. Second time around I didn’t put the tomato sauce until the actual toppings because I found it overcooks a bit. I also put less Parmegiano than dictated bc it was a bit much for me. The pizzas were perfection. I’d give you 100 stars if I could!

    • So glad you enjoyed this! (And good for you for being so active in the kitchen at 18!!) 🙂

  • Oh my god, what a delicious recipe! Truly awesome, my family loves this and we have tweaked a bit you can use whole wheat flour too or add half an half. The doughs more pizza-like if you add 1/4 whole wheat and 3/4 all-purpose but being the healthy me I tried out with only whole wheat and it still tasted amazing. Although the texture isn’t pizzalike, it still tastes great, an easy healthy way to tweak the recipe. Once again awesome recipe. use it everytime!

  • This was absolutely delicious and so easy. Lunch for a family of five–excellent. Thanks, Jenn!

  • Great dough. Very tasty. Can reduce salt in the dough!

  • I tried it today and it made a perfect Sunday lunch! Your presentation is a feast for the eyes too!
    Thanks very much!
    Usha Venkat

  • Hi Jen I love all your recipes but I’m having some trouble with this pizza dough. Every time I make it it gets tough and has creases. It’s not sticky and pliable and looks nothing like your beautiful dough 😊
    Can you offer some advice? I’m following direction and measurements to a T.

    Thank you!


    • Sorry you’re having a problem with the dough, Lindsey! What brand of flour are you using? That can actually have a significant impact on the dough.

      • Hi Jen I’m using all purpose enriched bleach flour from Costco

        • Hi Lindsey, If you’re following the recipe instructions and have done careful measuring, I suspect it’s the flour. I consistently have good luck with King Arthur’s all-purpose flour. Hope that helps!

    • Hey Lindsey,
      I found when I use all purpose enriched flour it turns out a bit crease-y and I always have to add water. Are you using ROGERS brand?

      • Hi Elle,

        I’m using Costco’s all purpose enriched and bleached flour. Maybe that’s it!

  • Jenn, my family is loving your recipes! Today I made the pizza dough from this recipe. It was delicious and very crispy. Thank you! (I cut the salt down to 1 tsp because my husband is on a lower sodium diet)

  • Jenn,
    I have made your pizza dough twice. Both times it has taken at least 2 hours for the dough to rise. I follow the directions exactly and have a great place for dough to rise so that isn’t the problem. I have noticed that you do not add sugar to your pizza dough. Should I add sugar for a quicker rise? Do you have any suggestions? Otherwise the dough is perfect for pizza! Thanks.

    • Hi Jeana, Are you using instant/quick-rising yeast? And, you could add 1 tablespoon of sugar but it won’t make a huge difference. The yeast is really what has an impact on the rise.

      • Hi Jenn,
        Yes, I used quick rise yeast. Should I switch to traditional yeast. The pizza dough was delicious. It just took an additional hour to rise. All of your recipes are truly fool proof. Your cookbook is so good, it is my go to cookbook every time! Thanks.

        • I’d just stick to the recipe — there definitely can be some variation in rise-times. (And so glad you enjoy the recipes and the cookbook ❤️.)

  • Hello, I have made a pizza twice now with pesto sauce, and both times my fire alarm went off because of all the smoke. The oil from the pesto drips to the bottom of the oven and smokes like crazy. How do I stop this from happening? Is it because the pesto sauce has too much oil in it?

    • I used homemade pesto bought from a deli.

    • Hi Sharon, Are you using a rimmed sheet pan?

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