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Grilled Pizza

The technique for grilling pizza is a little different from making it in the oven. You begin by grilling the crust alone -- so it is cooked on one side before you flip it, top it, and finish it. The trickiest part of the whole process is getting that circle of raw dough neatly onto the grill. The first time you try this, you might want to make a double batch of the dough -- to allow for bloopers!
Course Main
Author Lee Burdett

Ingredients

  • parchment paper
  • pizza peel or rimless baking sheet
  • long-handled tongs
  • basting brush
  • extra virgin olive oil small bowl as needed
  • grill charcoal or gas with lid or cover
  • pizza dough of choice*
  • toppings of choice

Instructions

  1. Preheat your grill on high for 10 minutes, or prepare your charcoal fire to a medium-hot temperature. (Medium-hot means you can only hold your hand five inches above the heat for about 2 to 3 seconds.)
  2. Enough heat is key to the crust releasing from the grill racks.
  3. Remember, a brick oven can get upwards of 900 degrees Fahrenheit -- so don't worry about getting your grill too hot.
  4. Have your sauce and toppings prepped and ready at a table near the grill.
  5. Divide the dough into four equal balls.
  6. Working with one ball at a time on a floured surface, press it into a flattened disk and then work it into a larger and larger circle by pressing, turning, and stretching as you go.
  7. I like to shape my crust on parchment paper.
  8. You want the crust to remain loose on the surface, not stick, so you can transfer it easily to the grill.
  9. You can use a rolling pin to shape it, or if you are adventurous you can try tossing it.
  10. The goal is even thickness to ensure even cooking; a perfect circle is not important.
  11. In fact the non-round shapes have a charming, rustic appeal.
  12. I find thinner crusts work the best, giving a nice crispy exterior while still yielding open pockets and chewy interior.
  13. Too thick and you have foccacia instead of pizza, or it might not cook all the way through before the outside burns.
  14. If you have kept your dough loose as you shape it you will be able to slip the shaped crust onto the pizza peel or (floured) rimless baking sheet.
  15. Using a basting brush coat the entire top of the crust with the olive oil.
  16. Think of this next step as if you were turning a giant pancake and just flip the crust quickly, oiled side down, onto the grill.
  17. This is why I recommend making that double batch of dough, because the first couple of tries may end in a few wrinkles or folds. (Or, you could hold the crust by the edge and drape it across the grill, but be careful not to tear the dough as you are holding it up.)
  18. Soon you will get the hang of it and the crust will flip neatly onto the grill with a satisfying sizzle. Shut the lid for about two minutes.
  19. When you open the lid you will see the top side of the crust has bubbled up while the underside has magically released somewhat from the grill and now has nice grill marks underneath.
  20. Use tongs to slip the crust back onto the pizza peel.
  21. Brush the uncooked side with oil.
  22. Then flip it over on the peel, so that the uncooked side is down.
  23. Now it's time to add your toppings to the grilled side.
  24. Carefully slide the topped pizza back onto the grill.
  25. Cover the grill again and let the toppings cook while the underside of the crust gets grilled (and those beautiful tell-tale grill marks).
  26. The amount of time this takes depends on how you topped it.
  27. Your grill can get close to that intense brick oven heat, so a simple Margherita pizza of sauce, cheese, and basil leaves will take only 3 to 4 minutes, while a super supreme loaded pizza might take 6 minutes.
  28. If the crust bottom is already done but the toppings are not, you can move the pizza away from the direct heat to continue cooking without burning the crust.
  29. Slide the finished pizza back onto the peel and then onto a cutting board or cooling rack.
  30. Slice and enjoy that crispy, smoky, homemade, authentic Italian pizza!

Recipe Notes

With these easy techniques and my special pizza dough recipe you can have that amazing brick oven crispy, chewy, full-flavored pizza right in your own backyard. Why settle for someone else's idea of "better ingredients" when you can make the best yourself at home!

 

*Gluten-Free Options

Here's a homemade gluten-free sourdough pizza crust.

Or, I tested the grill technique using Udi's Gluten Free pizza crust. I oiled the premade crust, grilled one side, oiled the other side, added toppings and returned it to the grill to finish. The Udi's crust held up to the grilling without cracking or crumbling and the finished pizza was quite tasty.