Traditional pizza is always delicious, but there's something about a cheese-filled white pizza that really hits the spot. Add on a slathering of garlic oil and plenty of basil and you'll be in pizza heaven!
(This recipe for Basil and Garlic White Pizza was originally published in May 2012, but has been updated with new photos and content in 2018.)
File this under an actual conversation that really happened in real life:
Check-out boy at grocery store, ringing in my baby basil plant: Hey, I hear some people actually eat this stuff!
Me: Um, yes; it's basil.
Check-Out Boy: Ew. It's a plant.
Me: Yes, basil.
Check-Out Boy: If it grows in the ground, you won't find me eating it!
Me: Like pretty much all vegetables? What about this pepper? (holding up a green bell pepper)
Check-Out Boy: That's spicy, so it's OK! But that (pointing at basil) is a plant and it has leaves. Why do I want to eat leaves?
Me: Because they taste good? And they're healthy? Have you ever tried basil before?
Check-Out Boy: NO! I don't eat plants!
At this point, I give up, collect my bags, and leave. LE SIGH.
And then I proceeded to go home and make a pizza with plants on it. Because I like plants. And also because I love white pizza and know it always tastes better with basil. And I figured I at least need one plant on this cheese-filled pizza. Grocery store boy doesn't know what he's missing out on.
What is White Pizza?
When we think of pizza, many of us think tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and maybe a topping like pepperoni, sausage, or basil. Of course, traditional pizza is delicious, but once you try white pizza, chances are you'll be hooked!
White pizza is essentially pizza without tomato sauce and extra cheese instead, usually ricotta and mozzarella (sometimes they even involve alfredo sauce).
In my opinion, white pizzas often need a little something to add dimension to the cheese, which is why I use a garlic olive oil here plus lots of basil. The added parmesan cheese also adds a nice sharpness. I can pretty much promise you that you won't be missing the tomato sauce at all!
What Kind of Dough is Best?
You can really use any pizza dough you want for this recipe, even store-bought. But I'm including the recipe for a whole wheat dough because I think it goes so perfectly with the pizza toppings.
I almost never make whole wheat dough for my pizza, but now that I've tried this half whole wheat dough, I feel like I'm going to be making it all the time. It is seriously so, so good!
I adapted the recipe from Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois's Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day (affiliate link), which is a must-have book for anyone interested in learning absolutely everything about pizza dough making (in case you don't know Jeff and Zoe are Gods in the bread-making world).
You only need about ⅓ of this recipe for one pizza, but you can always put the leftover in the fridge for a few days (until you start craving another one of these!) or you can even freeze it for up to 3 months.
If you have an Ooni pizza oven, I recommend using this recipe for Ooni pizza dough.
How to Make Basil and Garlic White Pizza
This white pizza is a pretty simple one, but one that is going to be on your mind for days after it's long gone... It basically involves garlic, cheese, and basil. Hello, heaven.
To start, pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Cover a 12-inch round pan with foil and lightly brush with 1 Tbsp olive oil. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 12-inch round and place on prepared pan.
Mix together minced garlic and 2 ½ T extra-virgin olive oil in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush dough with garlic olive oil mixture.
Layer slices of mozzarella on top of dough and spoon crumbles of ricotta cheese around. Cover pizza with 12 basil leaves and parmesan cheese shavings.
If you want to add additional toppings here, you certainly can. Anything works, but sausage or roasted chicken breast is especially delicious on white pizza! Also, if you're feeling a little crazy, go for clams (white clam pizza is seriously to die for!)
Bake for about 18-22 minutes, until crust is browning and crispy.
Call me crazy, but I love the little little burn marks on top of the cheese. Burnt cheese= best ever! I also love the combination of mozzarella, ricotta, and parmesan cheese. Give me all your cheese, people.
But also, give me all your garlic olive oil because I will drink that ish out of a water bottle. Isn't "slathered in garlic" one of the best phrases ever? Garlic-slathered white pizza? Yes, please!
Don't forget to chiffonade your leftover basil and sprinkle that around, as well. Basil baked at 450 degrees is nice and crispy and yummy, but fresh basil is even better. I feel like basil is one of those things you can enjoy year round and it will give you a little bit of summer happiness in the middle of winter.
Also, my grocery store sells basil plants almost all the time and how happy is it to have a basil plant in your kitchen in the middle of winter?
This partially whole wheat crust was honestly perfect. Delightfully chewy, but not overly so. Hearty without being heavy. And really, more satisfying than the typical all-purpose flour crust.
I've totally been back on my pizza-making game lately and I never want to stop. It feels like 2011 again. It's super rare that I make tomato sauce-based pizzas, but I also haven't made a white pizza in forever.
Oh, grocery store checkout boy, how I wish I could have brought you a slice. Maybe then you could have seen how glorious plants are. And not just those "spicy" peppers that are actually bell peppers. Oh man, I fear that the youth of today is in serious trouble.
Do you love white pizza or are you more of a tomato sauce traditionalist?
For another fun spin on white pizza, try using cottage cheese! Check out my Cracked Pepper Cottage Cheese Pizza with Prosciutto and Arugula to see how easy it is.
If you like this non-traditional pizza, check out my French Onion Soup Pizza and my Shrimp Scampi Pizza.
Oh and for my fellow white pizza lovers, you have to try my Bacon White Pizza Dip! Oh, and I love the idea of burrata pizza like this one from Spices in my DNA.
Basil and Garlic White Pizza
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 ½ Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Whole wheat pizza dough (⅓ of recipe below or you can use store-bought)
- 8 oz. mozzarella cheese, cut into slices
- ½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 15 basil leaves, divided
- 1 oz. shaved parmesan cheese
Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
- ½ Tbsp active dry yeast
- 1 ¾ cup lukewarm water
- ½ Tbsp salt
- 1 Tbsp honey (can substitute with sugar)
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Cover a 12-inch round pan with foil and lightly brush with 1 Tbsp olive oil.
- Mix together minced garlic and 2 ½ T extra-virgin olive oil in a small bowl.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 12-inch round and place on prepared pan.
- Using a pastry brush, brush dough with garlic olive oil mixture. Layer slices of mozzarella on top of dough and spoon crumbles of ricotta cheese around.
- Cover pizza with 12 basil leaves and parmesan cheese shavings.
- Bake for about 18-22 minutes, until crust is browning and crispy. Chiffonade remaining 3 basil leaves and sprinkle over the top.
Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
- In a large bowl, combine yeast and water. Let sit for 3 minutes. Stir in salt, honey or sugar, and olive oil.
- Using a wooden spoon, stir in whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour until just blended. If dough is still wet, add in a bit more flour, 1 Tbsp at a time.
- Cover the bowl with a towel and set aside at room temperature for about two hours, so it can rise. Once risen, either use dough or refrigerate if not using right away.
- Pizza dough recipe adapted from Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in 5 Minutes a Day.
- Leftover dough can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored in fridge for 5 days.
- You can also freeze it for up to three months. Just make sure to divide it into individual portions before freezing.
- Feel free to add more toppings to this pizza before baking, including pepperoni, sausage, roasted chicken breast, etc.
Blog is the New Black says
Looks AWESOME, ladies!
Simply Life says
haha, what a funny conversation- bet he doesn't know how many times he's eaten basil before 🙂
Lauren at Keep It Sweet says
That checkout boy is seriously missing out, this pizza sounds amazing!
Looks yummy!!! - even with the leaves on top 🙂
First of all I have all three of the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day books and have been a bread-making fiend since receiving them! I made a 1/3 whole wheat roll this morning for my lunch! Secondly, I have now accidentally killed both a basil and a parsley plant so I have given up on growing herbs in my apartment. Looking forward to trying this pizza! I looove garlic 🙂
Mal @ The Chic Geek says
wow, that conversation w/ the checkout boy is hilarious!
I actually just bought a basil plant this weekend myself, I think I'll have to put it to good use with this recipe!
Erica @ In and Around Town says
I LOVE a good white pizza. Sometimes the red sauce is just unnecessary 🙂
Ha! That conversation is hysterical!
Emily @ A Cambridge Story says
Yum! Well, I love plants and would have been equally frustrated with that check out boy. We're growing some herbs (or attempting to) in planters outsides. So far the arugula and spinach are doing much better than the basil!
The conversation scares me...but the pizza looks lovely!
How do you keep your basil plant alive? Mine always die after a week 🙁
Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic says
I love white pizza. And yes, "slathered in garlic" almost sounds like music to my ears!
Bee (Quarter Life Crisis Cuisine) says
Ohh yum! I love light pizzas like this! And that's so funny the guy didn't think plants were food? What does he think salad is?
Windy P. says
That pizza looks fab. Heck yea I keep basil plants at home. Summer isn't summer without all my herb plants. Have to have basil, mint, thyme, sage and lemon verbena at a minimum! I confess that I use the basil and the mint the absolute most.
Emily @ The Happy Home says
this pizza looks delish, but white pizza + boy who won't eat plants= flashbacks to my ex BF who patently REFUSED to eat vegetables or fruits. the entire four years we dated, he never ate ANYTHING but meat, cheese, and bread. not even herbs! four years of pizza with *no* red sauce!
seriously...nothing that comes from the ground?! no wonder most americans are constipated and have heart disease. 🙂
my boyfriend and i love pizza, especially anything involving basil. we need to try this!
That is hilarious! I often have check out people asking what my vegetables are to ring them up.
I love white pizza, looks great!
sarah k. @ the pajama chef says
that checkout boy is ridiculous! the people at the grocery store never seem to know what i'm buying, or they crush produce when bagging using my reusable bags. so i just do self checkout most of the time. ha 🙂 this pizza looks so flavorful!
Rolling my eyes and laughing at the checkout boy. I bet he eats pizza... I would love for someone to explain cheese/dairy in general to the kid.
This looks delicious. Basil is my favorite as well - in limeade/lime cocktails, and just wrapped around cherry tomatoes, and just fresh from the garden...so good!
Hope your final weeks leading up to your wedding are going smoothly--congratulations!!
That is beyond hilarious! If I knew him I'd trick him into eating a whole bunch of plants. I'd puree them up in pesto or something hee-hee. The pizza looks amazing! I grow lots of herbs!
ha, i don't eat plants. love this pizza 🙂 a better version of the white pizza i grew up eating!
Think of it this way, you planted a seed in that young man and he will pause whenever he sees basil.
Your pizza looks wonderful! I like a traditional tomato pizza, but sometimes I get tired of it. White pizza ftw.
I'll eat any plants that taste like basil, especially on a pizza like this one!
I made this (or an adaptation) a few nights ago and added crimini mushrooms and then arugula after it came out of the oven. It was AMAZING...better than any restaurant! Thank you!
Just made this pizza. Was delicious! Mad a different crust and it was waaaay too thick, but my first time ever making dough so I wasn't sure what the thickness pre baking should be. Great recipe!
I love white pizza....and pesto...and garlic, lol This sounds phenomenal!
Pam Greer says
I've had similar discussions with grocery store check out clerks. White pizza is my favorite kind of pizza, I prefer it over the traditional red!
This is the best pizza ever...I used goat cheese and added artichokes. Used half the dough recipe for.a great crispy crust. Super easy!