What is a Neapolitan Pizza and How to Make One?

Our plan here is to not only tell you all about the Neapolitan pizza, and how amazing it tends to be. No, we can also let you know how to make one at home.

If you love pizza, then you may already have heard about a Neapolitan pizza. However, if this term is indeed new to you, then don’t worry. We have you covered.

Before we dive into everything, you should also know that making your own Neapolitan pizza will take some time. However, don’t confuse something that’s time-consuming with something that’s difficult. That’s not the case here.

So, that means we have a lot to cover, so best we get on with it.

neapolitan pizza

What is a Neapolitan Pizza?

First, let’s go through what we mean by a Neapolitan pizza and how it’s different from other pizzas you may have tried.

As the name kind of suggests, this refers to a type of pizza with its origins in Naples, Italy. Of course, as the pizza comes from Italy, it sort of makes sense that different regional variations exist.

However, it seems that the Neapolitan approach has managed to prove popular around the world, and not just in Naples. But what makes it different?

The Difference is in the Crust

The main difference is the crust and in a specific section. As with regular pizza, the Neapolitan does come with a thin crust, but then it changes as you move to the edge.

While your regular thin-crust pizza stays thin across the entire crust, the Neapolitan puffs up around the edges to create a thicker edge. That does mean you get the best of both worlds if you like a bit more crust, but not too much that it’s like a deep-pan pizza.

Also, the crust itself has a tendency to come across as quite airy and light. So, if you want something quite heavy, then the Neapolitan pizza will not hit the mark.

The Toppings are Not Important

Aside from the difference in the crust, you will not generally find too much in the way of differences with any other part of the pizza. 

The one thing we will say is the Neapolitan pizza does go big for a rich tomato sauce on the base. It really does lay down the absolute foundation for a wonderful pizza. They love to take a generous approach here, and then you can go crazy with the toppings.

Speaking of the toppings, they work best when completely fresh. But that applies to every pizza rather than just the Neapolitan.

Making Your Own Neapolitan Pizza at Home

So armed with your new understanding of what we mean by a Neapolitan pizza, how about making your own at home? Trust us when we say it’s easier than you think, and even people with limited experience of cooking should manage to achieve some sort of end result.

One thing you should know is that we intend to keep the toppings nice and simple here as well. However, as we said, you can add whatever you like to this pizza even though it’s best to kick things off without making it too complicated.

neapolitan dough balls

The Dough Ingredients

So all good Neapolitan pizzas start off with a good dough, and this won’t involve too many ingredients. 

Basically, all you need for the dough is flour, water, yeast, and some salt. 

For the flour, use finely milled flour, and get one with a high protein and gluten level. Also, it’s best if you have your water around 20C as this tends to lead to better results. For the salt, we do recommend sea salt, and you will also find that the salt plays a key role beyond adding flavor to the dough.

Oh, and yeast is clearly important for the sake of helping the dough to rise when you want it to, and you can use active dry yeast. You should have no real problem in finding that in your local grocery store.

For quantities, then you need the following:

  • 2.5 cups of water
  • 1kg of flour
  • 30g of salt
  • 1-2g of yeast

Making the Dough

The first step with making the dough is to dissolve the salt in the water. Add the salt, and stir thoroughly until you know it has completely dissolved.

Next, take 100g of flour and add it to this saltwater mix. Then, get in with your hands and mix it until the flour has dissolved into the water. What you should find is you get a very thin batter almost like you would if making pancakes.

Once you have mixed this together, it’s time to add the yeast.

After adding the yeast, use your hands to mix it through. You then need to start to add the rest of the flour but do it with around one hand of flour at a time.

As you add the flour to the mix with one hand, you then need to use your other hand to blend it all together. This should take not too long as you should work quite quickly in creating the dough.

Once the Dough is Mixed

After having incorporated all the flour, you should have something resembling dough. At this point, you need to tip the dough out onto a benchtop and get to work with kneading.

With kneading, your aim is to create something that has a smoother consistency to it. This does involve some work on your part, and you want to keep on kneading until a key point.

This point is where you push your finger into the dough, and the hole springs back almost immediately. If that happens, then you have achieved your aim.

But then, you need to leave it on the bench for two hours, and cover it with a damp towel. 

Making Your Dough Ball

Once you have patiently waited those two hours, it’s time to make your dough balls. For this, you need to cut a section off and aim for around 250g, or 8.8oZ. 

When you have this weight, you then roll it into a smooth ball using your hand. Place it in an airtight container and store it in a cool place for around 24 hours.

Once those 24 hours have passed, you should see the dough balls have risen. At this point, you can then get to work on making the actual pizza.

neapolitan crust

Making the Pizza

Take a dough ball out and place it on a pre-floured bench. Your intention is to press down on the dough to begin to create a thinner part of the crust in the middle, and thicker around the crust.

At times, you may need to lift the dough and stretch it on your forearm before putting it back down on the bench.

Take your time, and eventually, you will notice you have a pizza crust forming before your eyes. Keep in mind the crust needs to have that thicker part around the edge for it to then have that Neapolitan look to it.

Cooking the Original Neapolitan

When you have the crust ready, cover the base with tomato pizza sauce. If you want to stick to the original, then drizzle over some olive oil, throw on fresh basil, and thinly slice some cherry tomatoes.

After that, put it in your oven to the maximum temperature, and cook until the crust is golden brown.

When you have cooked your crust, take out the pizza, and throw on some fresh buffalo Mozzarella. You don’t need to put it back in the oven as the real Neapolitan pizza would not do this.

Once you have completed that step, you can then serve your homemade Neapolitan pizza. Admittedly, it takes some time for you to go ahead and make the dough, so using some pre-made dough could be an option.

However, if you do go for the pre-made option, then get a dough ball you can then work to allow you to form the perfect crust every single time.

But even though we just described making the classic Neapolitan pizza, you can add any topping you like. It all depends on how authentic you want it to come across, and also your own personal preferences for pizza toppings.

Overall Conclusion

So the main thing to know about a Neapolitan pizza is the difference when it comes to the crust. Also, if you have the ability to make the dough yourself at home, then producing your own Neapolitan-inspired pizza should not prove difficult.

The key is always the way in which you get the crust to react. If you can achieve that puffy crust on the edge alongside the thin crust on the base, then you shouldn’t run into any problems.

Finally, go crazy with the toppings, and add in whatever you like. That ability to pick and choose the toppings helps pizza remain as popular. So, add what you want as nobody can stop you from creating your perfect pizza, no matter how strange it may look.