Grilled pizza is one of the most delicious foods you can prepare on the grill. It’s cheap, easy, and a great way to show off those grilling skills. Pizza, for most, is baked in a hot oven. A crispy crust, underneath a warm gooey melty layer of cheese.
Expand your skills on the grill, learn to grill pizza. Not only does it add a very delicious food to your repertoire, it takes some of the heat outside by not using an oven.
One of my all-time favorite grill parties is a pizza party! It takes some prep to prepare all the dough and cut all the toppings, but it is worth the work. Grilled pizza is unlike anything you can make at home. All your friends crowded around the table, all hoping the last slice stays put while the finish what’s currently on their plate.
Perfectly melted cheese, barely holding on to its’ neighbors, as it gets lifted to be eaten. Toppings of your choice, your favorites, or new bold choices to experiment. Everyone is happy, having a great time until that last slice gets eaten. Plus cleanup is a breeze!
I have included a list of 10 steps to grill pizza perfectly at the bottom. The article goes into each step in detail below, I suggest you read each part and soak in the knowledge.
All this talk of pizza is making me hungry, let’s learn how to make some!
Your First Grilled Pizza
If this is the first time you are grilling pizza, don’t be nervous. Grilled pizza is much easier then you would think. First, the grill is set up much like the pizza ovens we know so well. A heat source rising from the bottom, which gets trapped in the cooking space. The grill is built just like the ovens, but with the flame exposed.
Since we are grilling a pizza, make sure your grill is properly cleaned before starting. Any leftover gunk on the grates can get stuck in the dough. You don’t want old meat stuck on the bottom.
Let your grill get hot! This is the most important step. By letting your grill preheat you are allowing your pizza to cook evenly. While preheating keep the lid closed to trap that heat, it’s no use to your pizza if it escapes.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with your pizza. You can do much more than just cheese and sauce. Create a brand-new pizza and most importantly, have fun!
How to Grill a Pizza
Grilled Pizza may seem very complicated, but that’s not the case. Actually, grilled pizza is very easy, and is one of the best ways to make pizza. The grill gets very hot, sometimes hotter than your oven, allowing you to make perfect pizza easily.
First, we must select a dough. There are countless options for dough on the market. From premade frozen crusts, to homemade, your choices are almost endless.
If you are unsure of where to start, try grilling one of the frozen boxed pizzas. They are already cooked and just need to be warmed up, making it super easy. This will give you an easy step into the world of grilled pizza.
I suggest everyone try to make their own dough at least once. Pizza dough recipes are abundant online. Googling “pizza dough recipe” will result in thousands of different techniques to make your dough. Making the dough is the easy part, forming the dough is another monster.
If you’re struggling to form the dough correctly don’t give up! It took me many tries before I could say I can confidently make pizza dough, I still mess up sometimes. Youtube is a great place to search for help in making the dough. A lot of videos show step-by-step how to create a pizza.
Now that we got dough squared away, let’s get cooking. The most important step in grilling pizza is preheating the grill. Depending on the thickness of the dough the heat may vary, but most likely we are shooting for 400 degrees. If your grill’s thermostat isn’t accurate just turn it on high and wait fifteen or so minutes. That should be enough time to get it hot.
Be sure to lower the heat before placing the dough on the grill!
I would suggest placing the dough upside down first and closing the lid. This cooks the side of the pizza that gets the toppings. After two or so minutes give the dough a flip and begin cooking the pizza on the correct side.
You should always start cooking the dough before placing any toppings on the pizza. If you add the sauce and cheese too soon you risk burning the toppings before the dough is fully cooked. Once the dough begins stiffening up and getting brown you can add the toppings. Some recipes say don’t add the toppings until the dough is completely cooked, but I have to say it depends on the thickness of your dough.
If you are cooking a thin crust pizza, place the toppings while the dough is finishing up. A thinner crust will cook much faster and leaving the cooked dough on the grill to warm up the toppings may cause it to burn. If you are using a thicker crust, wait until the dough is almost finished.
Remember the heat is the most important factor in grilling a pizza. Keep that lid closed! Let the heat circulate and cover the entire area of the dough. If you keep opening the lid the top of the pizza won’t cook while the bottom cooks normally. Leading to a mushy pizza, no one likes that.
What to Avoid when Grilling Pizza
Grilling pizza is easy, but you should avoid certain things to get perfect pizza.
First, don’t let the heat get out of control. Pizza needs a well controlled heat to fully cook. Too much heat and you can burn the bottom and the toppings. Not enough heat and your pizza will never fully cook.
Avoid opening the lid! If you are grilling multiple items that require flipping or constant attention, grilling a pizza should not be done. A pizza should be grilled when you can shut the lid and wait. Either grill your pizza first or last, not while other foods are cooking. Because of this, a grilled pizza might be a great appetizer to serve while the main dish cooks.
Keep the thickness of your dough in mind. Remember, like steaks, pizza dough’s thickness will affect the cooking time and temperature required. I’ve found thin crust pizzas are the best to grill. They grill quickly and get super crispy, leading to perfect pizza.
Avoid overloading your pizza. When making any pizza, keep it simple. Almost all Italian dishes need to remain simple to be perfect. Don’t overload your pizza with a lot of toppings. A good rule is three to four toppings per pizza. Sauce, Cheese, a meat, and a green. If you want multiple topping choices, make multiple pizzas.
Avoid the flames! A little char on your dough is good, but when you overly char the dough it becomes burned. If the flames are flaring up, turn down the heat a bit. You don’t want a burned pizza, trust me.
If you turn the heat down while cooking, make sure the temperature doesn’t drop to low!
Just as always, avoid overloading the cooking area. Placing too many foods on a cooking surface will cause a drop in temperature. Most importantly it will choke off heat circulation, which is vital in grilling a pizza. Allow your pizza to breath, give it ample space to cook fully.
The dough is notorious for sticking. To avoid sticking place a good layer of oil on each side prior to placing it on the heat. The oil will not only prevent sticking but will add some flavor without being overbearing. My suggestion is olive oil, as it already goes with most of the flavors you are adding to your pizza.
Hot TipTry adding a little melted butter and garlic to the outter crust just before the pizza finishes cooking to get a delicious garlicbread flavor on a part of the pizza people often ignore.
Most importantly avoid getting frustrated. Grilling pizza is a process. You will fail, have the strength to learn from your mistakes and turn it into perfect pizza! It took me many tries to finally say I can perfectly grill pizza! With anything in life, practice makes perfect.
Ten Steps to Perfectly Grill Pizza
Below is the list of 10 steps to perfectly grilled pizza. Follow these steps and don’t get frustrated!
1. Preheat your grill!
Always preheat your grill before cooking anything. Pizza is extra important as it requires a high temperature to cook and get crispy. If you have a build in thermostat try to get the temperature to 400 degrees.
2. Oil your dough before cooking
Brushing a small layer of oil on your dough will stop it from sticking. I would suggest using olive oil, it is very mild and adds a good foundation of flavor on the dough.
3. Keep the lid closed!
Pizza requires heat to cook. If you keep opening the lid the top won’t cook, while the bottom does. This will lead to a burned bottom in order to properly cook the top. Let the heat do all the work, so you can relax.
4. Grill the dough on both sides
Grilling the dough on both sides will help the top cook evenly. This is not an excuse to open the lid, just a tip to give the top crust some extra crisp.
5. Don’t add toppings until dough is almost cooked
Adding the toppings prior to letting the dough finish can be problematic. First, it can get stuck in the dough. Secondly, some of the toppings may be sensitive to heat, adding ingredients such as leafy greens too soon will cause them to wilt, they will look and taste bad.
6. Have all ingredients prepped and close by
Make sure to prepare all your ingredients prior to cooking. Have them all close at hand so you can add them quickly to the pizzas. This way the lid is open for a short time and you don’t have to waste time preparing your toppings while the pizzas are cooking. Not having everything ready can lead to burned pizza!
7. Don’t let the flames touch the dough
A little bit of char on the crust can be delicious. Too much can be nasty. Try to keep the flames away from the dough, let it get just a bit charred. A good way to do this would be let the grill preheat on high but turn the flame down a minute before adding the dough.
8. Keep the heat under control
The heat is vital! You need to control the heat as best you can. Keep the lid closed to keep the heat inside. Also, keep the cooking space nice and open to allow heat to circulate. You also need to make sure the grill isn’t getting too cold! It needs to remain at a constant temperature in order to properly grill the pizza.
9. Don’t overload your pizza
You may feel extra adventurous when grilling your pizzas but keep the toppings simple. Overloading a pizza can cause the top to not be cooked fully. It also can put too much weight on the dough causing it to break or leading to the toppings falling off when trying to eat. Lastly, it may not taste that good with too many mixing flavors. Keep it simple!
10. Don’t get frustrated
Try and try again. Grilling new foods will always have a learning curve. It took me a few tries to get comfortable grilling pizzas. Don’t let a failure stop you from trying again, you can do better! Learn from your mistakes and let next time be a success!
Grilled pizza is a fun addition to any griller’s repertoire. If you follow the tips above and make your first few attempts simple, you’ll have success and happy friends and family.