I’m always looking for new dinner ideas to change things up, and this Caprese Pizza is seriously amazing. Seriously.
Recently I have been trying out different ways to incorporate balsamic caprese into my dishes (check out this Balsamic Caprese Risotto!!!) because my mom LOVES caprese and I wanted to do something a little different for her while keeping the caprese flare.
The acidity of the tomatoes and balsamic cuts through the richness of the cheese and makes a perfect balance of so many flavors without any of them overpowering the rest.
This Balsamic Caprese Pizza is my husband’s favorite pizza to date, and he asks for it regularly!
Making your own pizza elements is completely worth the time and effort. And it is really rather simple to make your own dough and sauce.
What does Caprese mean in cooking?
Caprese refers to the combination of tomato, mozzarella, and basil.
Caprese is most commonly known in its salad form where slices of tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese are layered with fresh basil leaves.
The flavors are so amazing together that I love to use them in new and fun recipes like my Chicken Caprese Stuffed Shells, the wildly popular Caprese Pesto Crostini, and the even more popular Pesto Caprese Pasta.
Why is it called caprese?
It is believed that the caprese salad originated in the Italian island of Capri. And it took on the name of its birthplace.
Here is what you need to make a Caprese Pizza:
- Pizza Dough (I like to use my Oregano Garlic Pizza Dough)
- Pizza Sauce (I like to use my Red Wine and Oregano Pizza Sauce)
- Mozzarella Cheese
- Parmesan Cheese
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Balsamic Vinegar (to marinate tomatoes)
- Fresh Basil
- Balsamic Glaze (optional)
Learn how to make this Oregano Garlic Pizza Dough which is enough for two thin crust 12″ pizzas like you see here, or one thick crust pizza.
And, my favorite part, the sauce! I like to use my Red Wine and Oregano Pizza Sauce packed with lots of flavor. You will never want pizza sauce without wine in it ever again. This sauce recipe makes enough for three 12″ pizzas (freeze the extras for a fast dinner!).
The Key to a Great Caprese Pizza
Italian food is known for simple flavors.
And what makes them so special is using good quality ingredients!
So use tomatoes that are as fresh and ripe as possible, in season if you can. It is a great use of garden tomatoes!
Also use good quality cheese. Either shredded or a fresh mozzarella ball will work. Use the full fat and moisture because this is what will help the cheese melt beautifully!
Basil tastes completely different when it is fresh rather than dried. It will bring a wonderful freshness to the pizza.
And of course use a great pizza dough and pizza sauce such as our own recipes listed above!
First get your tomatoes cut in half and marinating. You can skip the marinade if desired, but I love the extra flavor it brings!
Also get that oven preheating with the pizza stone inside. If you are using a baking sheet, make sure the sheet is in the oven. You can flip the baking sheet upside down so the edges do not get in the way and it is easier to get the pizza on and off.
Then roll out your pizza dough to approximately 12 inches wide right on top of the pizza peel for easy moving. Get a good layer of cornmeal down under it to prevent from sticking.
Don’t have a pizza peel? Use a thing, flexible cutting board instead. Make sure the rolled dough will fit on the pizza peel and stone! Measure the width of the stone before you get started.
Prick the dough everywhere except for the crust edge to keep it from bubbling up too much in the oven.
Blind bake the dough (without sauce or toppings) for 5 minutes. This will help make sure the dough is cooked through before the cheese and toppings are overcooked. Remove from the oven. (This step is optional-you could also wait to bake it until everything is on it).
Use a little oil along the edge of the crust and sprinkle with a little oregano and garlic powder if desired.
Then spread out the sauce across the pizza, leaving a crust edge as thick as desired.
Add your fresh mozzarella and scoop the tomatoes on top. Try not to use much of the marinating liquid, even though it will be tempting, as it could make the pizza soggy.
Top it off with the Parmesan cheese and you are ready to bake!
Shimmy the pizza onto the pizza stone and bake until the crust is a golden brown and cheese are melted, approximately 10-12 minutes.
Top with the fresh basil and serve!
I think it is worth it to have these gems because the stone makes my pizza crisp up beautifully and the peel makes it so easy to get the dough/pizza in and out of the oven.
But you can also use a plain cookie sheet instead.
How to Use a Pizza Peel
Using a pizza peel can be a little intimidating! Trying to get a beautiful pizza off the peel and onto the stone without anything sticky requires a couple tricks.
First, make sure you have a lot of cornmeal under the dough on top of the peel.
I do this before rolling out the dough straight on the peel.
And before loading up the dough with sauce and cheese, make sure it is not stuck anywhere by shaking the peel back and forth like you would with a skillet. If it sticks anywhere instead of moving, gently peel that area up and throw some more cornmeal under it.
When putting the pizza in the oven, you will shake, or shimmy, the peel forward and backwards at a slight tilt to encourage the pizza to fall onto the stone.
Do this with the end of the peel lined up at the back of the pizza stone. And then once it is touching the stone, pull the peel toward you for the rest of the pizza to fall on the stone.
Once on the stone, it doesn’t move, so try your best to aim!
How to Cook Pizza on a Pizza Stone
The secret to cooking with a pizza stone is to make sure it is hot!
Place the stone in the oven during preheating. The super hot surface is going to crisp up the crust and help make cooking really fast!
I also dust it with a little cornmeal to help prevent the pizza from sticking.
Do Italians put balsamic vinegar on pizza?
Not normally. I have been to Italy several times, including being lucky to live there for a semester abroad, and I never saw it.
But if you love balsamic vinegar, try this pizza with a balsamic glaze!
- 6 ounces cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese shredded
- ¼ cup fresh basil
- 1 batch Oregano Garlic Pizza Dough (or your favorite raw pizza dough)
- 1 ½ cups Red Wine and Oregano Pizza Sauce (or your favorite pizza sauce)
- balsamic glaze optional (see note)
- cornmeal for dusting peel and stone
Prep the Dough
- Place your pizza stone (or a large baking sheet) in the oven on the center rack. Preheat to 450F.
- Place the halved cherry tomatoes into a small bowl. Combine with the 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and stir to coat. Set aside to marinate while preparing the rest of the pizza.
- Dust your pizza peel with some cornmeal. The cornmeal will give the crust a great texture and bite while also preventing it from sticking to the surface you are working on. Cut the dough in half for two thin crust pizzas.
- Roll out one piece of the dough to your desired size, approximately 12″ is what I aim for, on the pizza peel and make sure that the size and shape will fit onto your stone or cooking sheet that is in the oven.
- Using a fork or knife, poke holes in the dough everywhere except for the crust edge. This will allow air to escape and prevent the dough from bubbling up too much.
- Make sure that the dough is loose on the pizza peel by shaking it gently. The dough should move around. If the dough is sticking anywhere, pull up that area and throw some more cornmeal under it until nothing is sticking.
- When the oven is done preheating and you are at 450F, open the oven door and throw some cornmeal onto the stone or sheet. Use the pizza peel to shimmy the dough onto the stone/sheet. If you have the cornmeal under the dough, this should be rather easy to do.
- Blind bake the dough (without toppings or sauce) for approximately 5 minutes. Pull out the crust using your pizza peel when the dough is not soft to the touch anymore and it is just starting to get some color on it.
- Brush the crust edge with some olive oil and sprinkle with some garlic salt, parmesan, and/or oregano to give it some flavor. (Optional but recommended)!
- Add your sauce and mozzarella cheese. Drain the tomatoes out of the leftover balsamic and place around the pizza. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
- Put the pizza back in the oven and cook approximately 10-12 minutes longer until the cheese is melting and starting to brown. Let the pizza rest just a couple minutes before serving.
- Top the pizza with fresh basil finely chopped or cut into thin strips (julienne). Sprinkle with additional Parmesan if desired. Serve with balsamic glaze or vinegar reduction if desired.