The original Naples pizza used just a few fresh basil leaves to decorate the Italian tricolore inspired tomato-topped Margherita pizza. And the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) approves only a pinch of oregano if it’s for a Neapolitan marinara sauce.
But purists are purists, and it’s great that they are protecting the original pizza for posterity. The rest of us, though, can be as experimental and innovative with our pizza herbs as we want, right?
Why are basil and oregano the best pizza herbs?
The original and the best? Maybe.
Oregano has a pleasing blend of sweetness and bitterness that goes really well with the saltiness of popular pizza toppings like olives, capers, dried meats. It also works nicely with the spicier pepperoni, which is the world’s favourite pizza topping.
Basil is naturally sweet with minty, peppery notes, but only if you use it fresh. Ideally, pluck from a basil plant and throw it on your pizza right at the end, as a garnish. Cook it or dry it and it gives you nothing.
What other herbs are good on pizzas?
Thyme and rosemary feature high on the alternative herbs for pizzas list. Try Jamie Oliver’s potato, tomato, rosemary and thyme pizza. Or give a tex-mex pizza a go, with chipotle paste, cumin and cinnamon the stars of the show on a chilli con carne meat-feast pizza.
Several homemade pizza recipes call for ‘Italian herbs’ or ‘Italian seasoning’, a combination of dried basil, oregano, rosemary, parsley, thyme, chilli flakes and garlic powder, which work perfectly well if you’re making pizzas with the family.
Should I use salt and pepper on my pizza?
Salt and pepper, while not strictly herbs, season your pizza beautifully, bringing out the flavours of the tomato sauce, cheese and your chosen toppings. And let’s face it, a huge black pepper mill adds some wonderful drama, too, as you serve your perfectly cooked pizza.
What are the weirdest herbs used on pizzas?
If you want drama, you could turn to the weirder pizzas, which call on herbs a million miles from the elegance of oregano and basil.
Hawaiian pizza has the ability to end friendships, but that’s more about the pineapple than the herb choices (which could be oregano, parsley or mixed Italian herbs). But a game changer is the banana and curry pizza – a Swedish favourite. Curry. On a pizza.
If you like salmon on your pizza, then adding dill might not be the weirdest choice, and chilli flakes and parsley complements tuna pizza pretty well. Add harissa for a Moroccan twist or five spice sprinkled over duck and plum could be a dream come true.
What do you think are the best herbs for a pizza – or what is the weirdest pizza you’ve tried? Time to experiment.