It took longer to write.

chicken pesto fresh mozzarella pizza on a wooden peel

I’m pretty sure this recipe took longer to write than it takes to prepare. Admittedly you are going to be making some homemade, yeasted pizza dough which takes about an hour to rise. That does require planning, what it doesn’t require, especially with the help of a stand mixer with a dough hook, is the slightest amount of work.

While the dough rises and the chicken marinates you can call your mother (yeah, I’m talking to you), make a quick red wine, pesto vinaigrette for your salad or sit quietly and enjoy not having any work to do in the kitchen because this really is so ridiculously easy.

Ridiculously easy, that is, the second time you do it. The first time you’ll be stressed about about whether the dough has risen enough, where to find fresh mozzarella in the grocery store, convinced your yeast isn’t active enough (don’t judge) and figuring out how to shape your crust. You’ll make a misstep or two and that’s just fine. The second time you make pizza it’ll seem so easy you’ll be planning the third and the fourth.

Chicken pesto pizza

Makes two 10″ pizzas serves 4-6

Got some time? Make this simple homemade dough. You’ll have it made and set aside to rise in under 10 minutes. Busy night? Use pre-bought dough or crusts and top away!

For topping:

chicken pesto fresh mozzarella pizza on a wooden peel with cornmeal
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil – the good stuff
  • 2 tbs dry oregano
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto
  • 2 cups freshly shredded mozzarella (see tip below)
  • 2 large balls fresh mozzarella, about 3″ across, cut in 1/8″ slices

For dough:

  • 1.25 cups warm water
  • 2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1.5 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbs olive oil


  • Marinate chicken: Place chicken in a 1 quart sealable freezer bag with 2 tbs oil and oregano. Season with salt and pepper, about 1/4 tsp each. Toss to coat chicken and marinate in refrigerator.
  • Make dough: Place water in bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle yeast over water and let sit until it begin to foam, about 5 minutes. If it is not foaming at 5 minutes then add a pinch of sugar. It it sill does not foam than discard and get new yeast.
  • Add flour and salt. Using paddle, mix until dough comes together. Switch to dough hook and knead for 5-6 minutes until dough springs back when poked. You can also do all of this by hand, never fear!
  • Drizzle oil into a large bowl. Form dough into a ball, toss in oil to coat and seal bowl with plastic wrap or cover with a damp towel. Place in a warm place, about 75F is ideal, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven: Place a pizza stone or sheet pan on a rack in the top third of the oven and preheat to 500F.
  • Cook chicken: While dough rises, warm remaining 2 tbs oil in a 10″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, browning both sides. Reduce heat to medium and cook through. Let rest on a plate for 10 minutes and cut in 1/4″ thick slices.
  • Assemble and bake: Take half of the pizza dough and stretch into a 10″ round. Place on a pizza peel or another sheet pan. Spread with 1/4 cup pesto, topped with 1 cup shredded mozzarella followed by the half of the fresh mozzarella and chicken. Slide on the stone in your preheated oven and cook for 7-10 minutes until the outside crust is crisp and beginning to brown. Remove from oven with the peel and slice to serve. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

TIP: Buy your cheese in whole blocks and shred it at home. Pre-shredded cheeses are usually coated in starch to keep them from clumping.

TIP: If you are using a wooden pizza peel sprinkle it generously with cornmeal so the pizza slides off it easily.

TIP: Avoid the urge to load up your pizza. Too many toppings weigh it down and it won’t slide off the peel into your oven.

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