Background: Neapolitan pizza is among the best known and most highly acclaimed styles of pizza in the world. It makes sense, too—Neapolitan pizza is the original style of pizza that the world fell in love with and that inspired all other styles to come after it. That means, whatever style of pizza is local to where you live owes its existence to the old pizza makers of Naples hundreds of years ago.
Summary: Part of what makes Neapolitan pizza so special is how it’s cooked, especially in terms of oven temperature. According to the AVPN (Italy’s pizza regulating body), Neapolitan pizza should be cooked at a temperature between 805-900F (430-480C) when using a pizza oven. If you’re using a lower-temperature conventional home oven, Neapolitan pizza should be cooked at that oven’s maximum temperature—usually somewhere between 500-550F (260-290C).
Bottom Line: Neapolitan pizza needs to be cooked at an extremely high temperature for the crust to turn out right. That means, whatever kind of oven you’re using, set it to the maximum temperature for the best results. This also means you’ll need to par-bake the crust in a home oven or else you’ll burn the cheese.
Neapolitan Pizza is Cooked Quickly at a High Temperature
There’s a lot that makes Neapolitan pizza so special, but perhaps the most important feature that sets it apart is the crust. A Neapolitan pizza should have a light, airy crust that visibly puffs up when it cooks. This is in contrast to the thin and crispy style crust you see on the typical New York (or general American) style pizza.
Several factors come into play in producing this puffy crust, like hydration levels and dough stretching technique, but chief among them is the temperature of the pizza oven itself. This extremely hot temperature allows the outer crust to puff up and fully cook in as little as 60 seconds—quick enough for the crust to be slightly crispy on the outside yet soft and moist in the middle.
Best Temperature to Cook Neapolitan Pizza in a Pizza Oven
In a professional pizza oven, Neapolitan pizza is typically cooked at a temperature between 800-1000F (430-540C) for 60-90 seconds. Even using a relatively low hydration pizza dough between 50-60% moisture, the super high temperature of a pizza oven will fully cook a Neapolitan pizza quickly enough to prevent evaporating all of the water from the crust.
These high temperatures are ultimately why the pizza you make at home is so different from one you get at a pizzeria, especially when it comes to Neapolitan style pizza. Pizza ovens are typically twice as hot as a conventional home oven.
Best Temperature to Cook Neapolitan Pizza in a Home Oven
Most people reading this are probably wondering what temperature to set their oven when making homemade Neapolitan style pizza. Fortunately, the answer is very simple: as high as possible.
When making Neapolitan pizza in a home oven, it’s best to use the highest temperature setting available—usually around 500F (260C).
But there’s a catch. While a home oven is half as hot as a pizza oven, you can’t simply cook the pizza for twice as long and expect everything to work out the same. For starters, your pizza won’t be nearly done in only 2-3 minutes—it will actually take closer to 10 minutes, or 5-10x longer than in a pizza oven. By then, your crust and toppings will be completely dried out, if not burned.
Instead, we need to make a few minor adjustments to the recipe and process when making Neapolitan pizza in a home oven. Those adjustments include:
- Adding honey and oil to the pizza dough so the crust browns under lower temperatures.
- Adding extra water to the pizza dough to prevent it from completely drying during the longer baking time.
- Par-baking the crust and sauce first then adding toppings half-way through to prevent the fresh mozzarella from burning or crusting over.
- Using a pizza steel (or stone) to replicate the hot stone baking floor of a pizza oven (vastly improves the crust).
But of course, that’s not all it takes to make the perfect Neapolitan pizza in a home oven. For more information, I recommend you check out my complete guide to making Neapolitan pizza at home.
Related Post: How To Make AUTHENTIC Neapolitan Pizza At Home
Use a Pizza Steel for Best Results
As mentioned above, a pizza steel is one of the best ways to instantly improve your homemade Neapolitan pizza. A pizza steel is basically a large slab of solid steel seasoned with vegetable oils to prevent sticking.
The purpose of a pizza steel is to directly cook the underside of a pizza crust (or bread). Without a pizza steel (or stone), it’s almost impossible to get adequate browning, or the right texture, on homemade pizza crust.
Also, because a pizza steel is so good at absorbing and conducting heat, it actually gets hotter than the ambient air of the oven. For example, my oven can reach an maximum ambient temperature of 500F (260C), while my pizza steel easily reaches a temperature of 545F in the same oven. This helps to drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to fully cook the crust.
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Why Is Neapolitan Pizza So Special?
Neapolitan pizza is the original kind of pizza invented in Naples, Italy hundreds of years ago. It features the essence of pizza—simple, fresh, and few ingredients, and was the influence for all other styles of pizza to come after. If you like pizza, you have Neapolitan pizza to thank for it.
How Can I Make Neapolitan Pizza More Crispy?
By design, Neapolitan pizza should be soft, unlike a crispy slice of New York style pizza. This mostly has to do with how thin the base of a Neapolitan pizza crust is combined with the relatively wet fresh mozzarella and tomato sauce on top. That said, Neapolitan pizza crust should not be soggy. If it is soggy, try placing it on a cooling rack for 1-2 minutes straight out of the oven to allow some steam to escape from the underside.
How Do You Cook Neapolitan Pizza In The Oven?
Neapolitan style pizza can be cooked in a home oven, with a few adjustments to the recipe. Use a baking steel to speed up the cooking process and par-bake the crust and sauce before adding the cheese to prevent the toppings from burning. Also, consider using a high-hydration pizza dough recipe to help keep the crust moist and tender during the longer cooking time.