​Fired Up Flavor: How to Grill Pizza

Food & Drink

It’s no secret that grilled food just tastes better. The gentle caress of the flame infusing your food with flavor as it twists and flickers artfully beneath the grill grate. Yet getting the grill going solely to cook meats and vegetables is a missed opportunity. Consider pizza. Crust subtly charring. Cheese turning golden brown before your eyes. The faint crackling of tasty toppings. Learning how to grill pizza can be challenging—timing is everything—it’s also a seriously delicious challenge. So fire up your grill, grab your gear and get ready to make pizza history. Well, at least a really good pizza.

Not-necessarily-known fact: A grill is your pizza’s best buddy. When a pizza goes into an oven, indirect heat—the hot air hanging around, that is—is really what does the cooking. But the high temperatures of pizzeria ovens are not easy to replicate in your home oven. Enter the grill, which generates a lot more heat, getting you closer to those conditions and on your way to pizza magic. Sure, you can expect to suffer some growing pains when it comes to getting your method down pat, but the fact that you can eat your errors will make things much less painful.

You’ll obviously need the appropriate supplies and ingredients:

  • A grill, of course
  • Grilling tongs and spatula
  • Dough (homemade is great, but not required)
  • Your favorite toppings

It is also wise to approach the process with a sense of humility and respect. And a plan.

Like any journey worth its salt, the road to a particularly palatable pizza will be rife with peril and pitfalls, but also rich with possibility. Below are some guidelines to help you find success no matter which way your pizza pilgrimage takes you.

This is no doubt the most intimidating pizza-making step for many. But it doesn’t need to be. A) We’ve got a simple recipe for you to try out, and B) you can always purchase pre-fab dough. See how easy that was? But for those willing and excited to try their hand at homemade dough, here you go:

What to use:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • ¼ oz. (one packet) active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp. + olive oil
  • 2 ¼ + cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar

How to use it:
Add sugar and yeast to water and let stand about 5 mins. until foamy. Whisk salt and oil into the mixture, add flour and combine. Place on floured work surface and knead until dough forms a ball. Oil a large bowl, set the dough in, loosely cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature undisturbed for 45 mins. Hang a “do not disturb” sign on it, if you have one handy. Punch dough down, then cover and let rise 30 mins. more. Place dough on lightly floured surface, divide into four sections and let rest for about 15 mins. before using. Makes four pizza doughs.

When you’re ready to hit the grill, work with one dough ball at a time, stretching each with your hands into a round-ish (don’t stress if it’s not perfectly round) shape. Flour to prevent the dough from sticking as you work. Continue to drape it over your fists to and stretch into a large, thin round, about 10-12 ins. round.

Listen, some people may try to judge you on your choice of grill machinery, but we’re not about that. Charcoal your thing? We got you covered. Got gas? No problem. Well, as it relates to grills, that is. You can be successful at grilled pizza no matter what type of grill you own. And whether or not you have a pizza stone.

For gas grills: Set burners to medium-high heat, place the stone on the grates and allow grill to heat, covered, about 10 mins. to 500F°. When you hit the right temp, place your stretched dough ball onto the stone, add your toppings, close the lid and cook about 5-8 mins until the crust is browned and cheese (if that’s your thing) is bubbly. Using a spatula or tongs, remove pizza from the stone and let sit for about 5 mins. Then go crazy on that thing.

No pizza stone? Set up for indirect medium-high heat and leave one or two burners off. Brush one side of your stretched dough ball with olive oil and place on the grate over direct heat for about 1 min. (just long enough to create grill marks and stiffen it so it releases easily). Flip when the bottom is charred and bubbles are forming and move to indirect heat. Brush second side with olive oil, then add your toppings and cook until crust is browned, etc. Again, let pizza rest for a few before digging in.If you’re working with a charcoal grill, start by getting a chimney’s worth of charcoal hot. Take the hot coals and spread them around the edges of the grill. When the coals are no longer flaming, just glowing, place the stone on the grate, cover and heat to about 500°. Once again, place your stretched dough onto the stone, add toppings, close the lid, cook until crust is browned, then remove from the stone and let sit, you know how this goes.

If you don’t have a stone, set up for indirect heat by keeping coals on one side. Brush one side of dough with olive oil and place on the grate over direct heat for about 1 min., and follow the rest in the “no pizza stone” portion above.

There are any number of things you can throw on your pizza. You probably have your faves—meatballs, sausage, salami, peppers, onions, mozzarella, parm, so many things! The magic of pizza is that it can accommodate practically any topping, even tofu, cough. But if you’re stuck for a recipe, or if you want to try something new, read on for a few recommendations.

Bacon, cheese and tomato. What else is there to say, except, “dig in?”

What to use:

  • ¼ lb. bacon
  • 4 oz. shredded mozzarella
  • ½ cup ricotta
  • 1 plum tomato thinly sliced
  • Fresh basil leaves, shredded

How to use it:

Dice bacon into ¼-inch pieces and cook until crisp. Drain on a paper-towel lined plate. Follow dough instructions as above. When you’re ready to top your pizza, layer the cheeses, bacon and tomato slices and then top with basil. Close the grill and cook until the cheese is melted. Remove and let sit before slicing and serving.

PRO-TIP: You’re already making your own pizza. Why stop there? Make some of your own bacon to send this pizza into homemade overdrive.

Bacon isn’t the only porcine ingredient that goes well with pizza. Prosciutto makes for good eating, especially when it’s combined with figs, cheese and a bit of greens and sits atop a flame-broiled pizza crust.

What to use:

  • 8 figs cut into ¼ in. pieces
  • 6 oz. crumbled gorgonzola
  • 3 oz. prosciutto thinly sliced
  • 2 oz. arugula
  • 1 cup shaved parmesan

How to use it:

Lightly brush fig halves with olive oil and grill for about 1 ½ mins. on each side. Remove and set aside. Follow dough instructions above. When ready to top pizza, layer gorgonzola, figs and prosciutto and close the grill and cook. Remove and immediately top with parmesan and arugula. Let sit before slicing and serving.

Pizza for breakfast—every child’s dream. This pie will fulfill all of your childhood wishes, but in a more adult form because chances are you childhood breakfast pizza dreams involved toppings like Pop Tarts and, well, no.

What to use:

  • 3 slices chopped bacon
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated provolone cheese
  • 1 sliced red onion
  • Fresh basil, chopped

How to use it:
Dice bacon into ¼-inch pieces and cook until crisp. Drain on a paper-towel lined plate. Grill onions until soft and set aside. Follow dough instructions as above. When you’re ready to top pizza, crack eggs on dough and cover until eggs are set. Once set, sprinkle on cheeses, bacon and onion and cover and cook until cheese is melted. Remove, sprinkle with basil and let sit before slicing and serving.

PRO-TIP: Invite the gang over for brunch and pair this pie with a meat-infused Bloody Mary. Your guests and their stomachs will thank you.

No matter what kind of pizza you plan on grilling, your number one tip is to prep like a champ. An organized chef is a successful chef. Or something like that. But you’re going to be adding toppings as you cook, so make sure you’ve got ingredients and tools at the ready and close by before you get going. And don’t forget, pizza tastes best when it’s shared with friends, awww, so get your pie-loving pals over and get grilling.