When my omniscient editor asked me to write a post on how to grill pizza, I literally yelled out loud, “YESSSSS!” In my short career of grilling pizzas, I have become obsessed. I honestly can’t believe how satisfying and easy homemade grilled pizzas can be. And keep in mind that I’m a New Yorker: Ordering out for pizza here is as natural as drinking coffee.
Your grill imparts a wonderful smoky flavor and the high heat crisps the dough so that you get a soft and crisp texture in almost every bite. No soggy boxed pizza here.
Most of the time I make grilled pizza with a few store-bought shortcuts and can have dinner on the table in 30 minutes. Like I said, it’s not difficult, but here are a couple of tips, recipes and, most importantly, my step-by-step method for how to grill pizza like a pizzaiolo.
– Article updated for 2021 –
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How to grill pizza: Expert prep tips
1. Be prepared. Grilled pizza success comes to those who are organized. Get all of your ingredients prepped onto a platter or baking sheet before you even think about grilling.
Do everything from slicing fresh mozzarella to pouring the pizza sauce into a bowl ahead of time so that you are ready to go, because the whole thing goes down rather quickly.
Also, take the dough out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before grilling so that it can rest while you prep the toppings.
2. Divide the dough into two rounds. A chef friend gave me this tip, and I’m a believer. I buy the Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s 16 oz. pizza dough and divide it in half. Smaller pizzas, about 6- to 8-inches in diameter, are not only easier to roll out, but they’re also much easier to place and flip on the grill.
Plus, I like having two pies to top since my kids have no love for mommy’s favorite Broccoli Rabe with Chili Flakes and Garlic Pizza (above).
Side note: If your inner Italian is calling for a homemade crust, see Jim Lahey’s recipe below.
How to grill pizza: Step-by-step instructions
1. Heat the grill with one side set to high and the other side to low.
2. Roll out the dough on a floured surface, lightly flouring your rolling pin as needed. Don’t worry if you don’t end up with a perfect circle–mine never are. (Proof: See above.) If your dough is stubbornly shrinking back, let it sit for another 5 minutes and try again.
3. Lightly oil both sides of the dough with olive oil (this California olive oil is a top pick of chefs and home cooks), and place on a cutting board or baking sheet.
4. Once the toppings are ready, bring everything out to the grill. Slide the oiled pizza dough onto the high-heat side of the grill. (This is the only part I find tricky. It’s a little awkward, but it does get easier the more you do it.) Cook for about one minute, or until char marks appear. Flip over and repeat on the other side. The dough is ready when it releases easily from the grill.
5. Move the dough to the cooler side of the grill and start topping. Smear a thin layer of tomato sauce, place the cheese on top, and add any other toppings you like. Close the lid of your grill and allow the pizza to cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the cheese melts.
If the underside of your crust looks like it is cooking more than you want, turn the heat off completely; I’ve found that with the lid closed, I don’t even need the direct heat to get the toppings where they need to be.
If you have space, you can also start the second pizza as the first one finishes cooking.
6. Let the pizzas rest for a few minutes and top with flaky sea salt and fresh pepper if desired. And don’t blame me if it this becomes your new summer addiction.
How to Grill Pizza: Some recipes to get you started
If you’re feeling lost on which pizza dough recipe is worth it’s salt, turn to baking expert, Jim Lahey. Check out his famous 3-ingredient No-Knead Pizza Dough at Serious Eats, along with his tips on how to handle the dough.
Nothing more than tomatoes, olive oil, and salt, this Rustic Pizza Sauce from Stacie’s site, One Hungry Mama, is simplicity at its finest. A little time and a little love (in the form of a spoon) is all you need for a delicious homemade sauce.
The Perfect Homemade Pizza post at Mel’s Kitchen Café is a fantastic source for pizza-making tips and ideas for scrumptious topping combinations. The BBQ Chicken Pizza and Kale, Sausage, and Ricotta Pizza (above) are calling my name.