Cheese Pizza Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 30 min. + chilling Bake: 25 min.
The best cheese pizza combines a chewy pizza crust with rich tomato sauce and ooey-gooey cheese. We cover all the basics here, from kneading the pizza dough to blending the cheeses for flavor and texture.

Updated: Apr. 18, 2024

Cheese pizza is my favorite food—and it probably always will be. I’m so passionate about it that I became the chef of a restaurant specializing in brick-oven pizza. Over the years, I’ve created many fantastic pizza recipes (including a bacon, kale and roasted garlic pie that still makes me drool a little when I think about it!). But, in the end, none of them compare to the simplicity of a well-made cheese pizza.

Here’s the thing about simple food, though: It has to be done right. The dough has to be flavorful enough to stand on its own without distracting from the other ingredients. The sauce needs to be bold enough to have character without tasting overly sweet or savory. And the cheese. This pizza is all about the cheese, so it must be melty, stretchy, chewy and downright craveable.

If you get those three components—dough, sauce and cheese—correct, you won’t need to add any extra toppings. The flavor will speak for itself.

What is the best cheese for pizza?

The best cheese for pizza is low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella, an aged version of fresh mozzarella. This cheese is formed into a block and allowed to dry out, giving it a firmer texture and a saltier, tangier flavor. The lower moisture content also improves the cheese’s meltability to create that satisfying “cheese pull” effect when a slice is removed from the pie.

That doesn’t mean you can’t put fresh mozzarella—or any other type of cheese, for that matter—on pizza. A blend of cheeses is a wonderful way to introduce complex flavor and texture. Provolone adds chewiness, fontina introduces a silken texture and milky fresh mozzarella puddles beautifully on margherita pizzas. Pizza cheese isn’t limited to melting cheeses, either. Add creamy consistency with soft cheeses like feta, ricotta or goat cheese.

When it comes to hard or aged cheeses like Asiago, Parmesan or Romano, use them sparingly. They work well blended with a melting cheese like mozzarella, but they can become oily or grainy when melted on their own.

Cheese Pizza Ingredients

  • Pizza dough: The dough in this recipe (enough for two pizzas!) is made with water, sugar, active dry yeast, flour, salt and oil. You can add dried herbs to the mix, if desired. Check out our homemade pizza dough recipe for helpful tips and tricks.
  • Homemade pizza sauce: We understand if you want to use a store-bought pizza sauce brand to cut down on prep. Not everyone has time to make sauce from scratch! But for the very best cheese pizza, you’ll need a sauce with depth and complexity. This homemade pizza sauce can be frozen, too, so make a big batch and use it whenever the pizza craving hits.
  • Cheese blend: Mozzarella cheese covers the pizza with a layer of melty goodness, while Parmesan adds depth with its nutty taste. For the best results, buy block cheese and put your cheese grater to work. Freshly grated is the best cheese for pizza because it melts better than pre-shredded cheese, which can contain added ingredients to prevent clumping.


Step 1: Make the pizza dough

A bowl of flour with a spatulaTMB Studio

In a small bowl, mix the warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar. Add the yeast and whisk until it is dissolved. Let the yeast mixture stand until bubbles form on the surface.

A hand whisking a mixture of flour and spicesTMB Studio

In a large bowl, whisk 3 cups flour, the salt, the remaining 1 teaspoon sugar and, if desired, dried herbs.

A bowl of pizza dough with a spatulaTMB Studio

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add the yeast mixture and the oil. Stir until smooth. Add enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Step 2: Knead the dough

Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Knead the dough, adding more flour to the surface as needed to prevent stickiness, until the dough is smooth and elastic, six to eight minutes. Place the dough in a large greased bowl, and turn the dough once to grease the top.

Step 3: Rest the dough

A bowl of pizza dough in plastic wrapTMB Studio

Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. Then, transfer the bowl to the refrigerator and chill the dough overnight.

Editor’s Tip: Chilling the dough overnight improves its flavor and makes it easier to stretch. However, if you’re running short on time, feel free to move on to the next step after the dough rises.

Step 4: Parbake the dough

A person rolling out dough with a rolling pinTMB Studio

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Allow the dough to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Then, divide the dough in half. Roll out each dough half onto an ungreased 12-inch pizza pan. Prick the dough thoroughly with a fork. Bake the dough until lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes.

Editor’s Tip: If you don’t want to bake both pizzas today, you can freeze pizza dough for up to a month.

Step 5: Add the toppings and bake the pizza

A pizza in pizza pan with cheese on itTMB Studio

Top the parbaked dough with the sauce and cheeses. Bake each pizza until golden brown and the cheese is bubbling, 12 to 15 minutes. If desired, sprinkle the pizza with additional basil or oregano.

A cheese pizza on a trayTMB Studio

Recipe Variations

  • Garlic cheese pizza: Skip the tomato sauce and make a white pizza with garlic-flavored oil. You can make a simple garlic sauce by steeping minced garlic in olive oil for about 10 minutes, or use the oil from this garlic confit recipe.
  • Pesto cheese pizza: Use pesto instead of tomato sauce to give the pizza a rich, herbaceous character. Use classic pesto made with basil leaves, or experiment with spinach pesto or arugula pesto.
  • Deep-dish cheese pizza: Use the dough and baking instructions from our deep-dish pizza recipe to make a deep-dish cheese pizza in a cast-iron pan.
  • Thin crust cheese pizza: Check out our thin-crust pizza dough recipe for a crispier version. This dough doesn’t need to be parbaked, but it does require a higher oven temperature.

Can you make cheese pizza ahead of time?

You can make homemade pizza dough up to two days in advance. Store it in the refrigerator in a covered container with enough room for the dough to expand slightly. Then, remove the dough from the fridge 30 minutes before baking, and bake the pizza as directed.

How to Store Cheese Pizza

Store cheese pizza in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. The best way to reheat pizza is in the oven, where the crust will crisp up. Microwaved slices can get soggy.

Cheese Pizza Tips

A cheese pizza pan with Parmesan cheese & crushed red pepper flakesTMB Studio

What can you add to cheese pizza?

Cheese pizza tastes fantastic with a dusting of Parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper flakes, or herbs like basil and oregano. Sometimes I like to drizzle the slices with spicy chili crisp for a unique finish. Of course, you can always dress up cheese pizza with your favorite pizza toppings too. Before baking, add cooked meats like pepperoni or sausage, or vegetables like mushrooms and green peppers. Or add finishing components like thinly sliced prosciutto or arugula after baking.

Do you have to use mozzarella cheese on pizza?

Low-moisture mozzarella cheese is the best choice for a classic cheese pizza, but it’s not required for all pizzas! We use cheddar cheese to make taco pizza, Monterey Jack for breakfast pizza, Gruyere for mushroom pizza and provolone cheese for Philly cheesesteak pizza. Have some fun and experiment with different types of cheese to find your favorite blend.

Cheese Pizza

Prep Time 30 min
Cook Time 25 min
Yield 2 pizzas (8 servings each).


  • 1-1/4 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar, divided
  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 3-1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose or 00 flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon each dried basil, oregano and marjoram, optional
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups Homemade Pizza Sauce
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. In a small bowl, mix warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar; add yeast and whisk until dissolved. Let stand until bubbles form on surface. In a large bowl, whisk 3 cups flour, salt, remaining 1 teaspoon sugar and, if desired, dried herbs. Make a well in center; add yeast mixture and oil. Stir until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
  2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead, adding more flour to surface as needed until no longer sticky and dough is smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. Place in a large greased bowl; turn once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes; transfer bowl to refrigerator and chill overnight. Allow dough to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes, before rolling.
  3. Preheat oven to 400°. Divide dough in half. With greased fingers, pat each half onto an ungreased 12-in. pizza pan. Prick dough thoroughly with a fork. Bake until lightly browned, 10-12 minutes. Top with sauce and cheeses. Bake at 400° until golden brown and cheese is bubbling, 12-15 minutes. If desired, sprinkle with additional basil or oregano.

Nutrition Facts

1 piece: 225 calories, 10g fat (4g saturated fat), 18mg cholesterol, 357mg sodium, 24g carbohydrate (2g sugars, 1g fiber), 9g protein.

This recipe is a great starter pizza if you're new to making it from scratch. It's plain cheese with homemade pizza sauce, but you could add your family's favorite toppings and save time using a prepared sauce. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin