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pizza express margherita
Photograph: Pizza Express

Pizza Express just shared its ‘secret’ margherita pizza recipe

Laura Richards

Just over a week ago, fans of Pizza Express across the UK were bowled over by the news that the high-street pizza chain had revealed the secret formula for its dough balls. The recipe was released to help ease the pain of those in lockdown with a penchant for pizza and more than a bit of time on their hands.  

Following the popular announcement, Pizza Express asked its fans on Facebook which of its recipes they’d most like to have a go at recreating at home. We don’t know if it’s down to a lack of imagination or store cupboard ingredients, but the outright winner was the margherita pizza. It’s been a restaurant secret for more than 50 years, but now the cat is officially out of the bag. And hey, you can always add more toppings if the purist’s pizza isn’t going to cut it for you. 

Here’s the full recipe for one large marg...  

Margherita pizza


  • 150ml warm water – around 27C
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 15g fresh yeast (or 2 level teaspoons of dry yeast)
  • 225g of plain flour (plus extra for working)
  • 1.5 teaspoons of salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil (and a little for drizzling)
  • 80g of passata 
  • 70g mozzarella (or any cheese you have)
  • Pinch of oregano
  • 1 basil leaf
  • Black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 230C
  2. Add the sugar and crumble the fresh yeast into warm water
  3. Allow the mixture to stand for 10-15 minutes in a warm place (we find a windowsill on a sunny day works best) until froth develops on the surface
  4. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast mixture and olive oil
  5. Lightly flour your hands, and slowly mix the ingredients together until they bind
  6. Generously dust your surface with flour
  7. Throw down the dough and begin kneading for ten minutes until smooth, silky and soft
  8. Place in a lightly oiled, non-stick baking tray (a round one is preferable)
  9. Spread the passata on top making sure you go to the edge
  10. Evenly place the mozzarella on top, season with the oregano and black pepper, then drizzle with a little olive oil
  11. Cook in the oven for 10-12 minutes until the cheese slightly colours
  12. When ready, place the basil leaf on top and tuck in.

And there you have it – hopefully, a restaurant-standard pizza! Buon appetito!  

Now have a go at making the restaurant chain’s iconic dough balls.

Don’t fancy the faff? Check out these London restaurants still delivering pizza to your door during lockdown.

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