If you’ve never grilled pizza before, now is the perfect time to try it! And if you have grilled pizza before, now is definitely time to do it again. This is my FAVORITE way to make homemade pizza because no matter how hard I try, most homemade pizza tastes, well, slightly homemade, even in the best of circumstances. This is because most of us don’t have the kind of equipment needed to bake pizza crusts quickly and evenly, so frequently taste a lot like bread instead of pizza crust. But if you have a grill, you can replicate individual-sized pizzas from your favorite brick- or wood-fired pizza restaurants! This is amazing party food because everyone can get exactly the pizza they want in just a few minutes.
You’ll need pizza dough. Obviously. You can use any pizza dough- whatever you normally use to make pizza at home. Here is a great recipe for homemade dough and another for Neapolitan Pizza Crust (which is perfect for the grill.) If you’re planning on serving more than a few people, but even if you’re not, I highly recommend making the dough ahead of time and freezing it into individual crusts to prevent the dough from over-rising, especially on a hot summer night.. You could also buy dough. Many grocery stores, clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club, and bakeries sell fresh, raw pizza dough.
I suggest going a little lighter than normal on the toppings for a few reasons.
- It will keep the pizzas easy to work with and easy to move around, etc.
- The toppings will cook faster and be sure to be done if they’re not piled on heavy.
- (And probably the biggest reason)–the grill adds so much flavor and texture that you don’t want (or need) to overpower it. Grilled pizza works great sauce-less, or try it with this pizza sauce, bbq, pesto, or garlic alfredo.
- Some great toppings include…
- Meats like pepperoni, Canadian bacon, bacon bacon, pancetta (Italian bacon), smoked pulled pork, grilled chicken, hamburger, Italian sausage, etc.
- Fruits and veggies–traditional things like bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, olives, fresh basil (don’t add this until your pizza has cooked!) and pineapple (we know this is controversial, but it’s popular for a reason), but try some other, less traditional things like roasted red peppers, pepperoncini, and stone fruit like cherries or peaches (I’m dreaming of a peach/bacon pizza with alfredo sauce).
- Shredded mozzarella cheese is a classic, but other great options are dollops of ricotta, fresh mozzarella balls or slices, pepper jack, or smoked gouda.
Let’s Do This!
- First, you need to preheat your grill. This is an important step. The rack needs to be nice and hot so the dough will start cooking immediately and the overall temperature needs to be hot in order to act like an oven when the lid is closed. I set my gas grill to medium-high heat and shut the lid.
- Get all of your toppings ready. You have to move very quickly while on the grill so everything needs to be prepared and easy to grab. If you’re making a single pizza or using all the same toppings, set up a platter with everything you need and keep it next to the grill, but if you’re having a party, provide bowls or small paper plates and let people pick out what they’d like on their pizza and then hand it to you when it’s their turn.
- Your toppings (cut, sliced, shredded, etc.) including sauce.
- Olive oil and a brush to brush it on (this is a great way to use our flavored olive oils!)
- A spoon to spread on sauce.
- A large spatula or pizza peel to flip the pizza
A Few Notes on Dough…
- You want this dough as thin as you can roll it–not any thicker than 1/4″ inch, but thinner if you can.
- Throw all of your preconceived pizza notions out the window. You don’t need to make round pizza. The irregular shaped dough is part of the rustic beauty of grilled pizza. No rules! We’re all wild and crazy.Like we said before, it’s easiest to make several small pizzas, especially if you’re trying this for the first time. If you want to go big, don’t go much larger than 2 9-10″ pizzas. I like to do 4 small pizzas. You get a good 6-8″ pizza that will easily feed one very hungry adult or a couple of hungry kids. Another benefit of doing several smaller pizzas is that you can try out a bunch of different topping combos. Everyone loves having their own!
- When your dough is flattened out, drizzle a little olive oil on one side and brush it around. If you’d like, sprinkle it with a little garlic or onion salt.
- Now comes the fun part. Toss that puppy (oil side down) straight on the grill and then shut the lid immediately. You’ll want the heat to stay inside so it acts like an oven and cooks the dough. The timing all depends on the heat of the grill and the thickness of the dough. But it usually only takes about 5 minutes or less. Have a spatula handy to lift up the dough and check it. You’ll want to see nice brown grill marks, but avoid burning it. If you can tell that your dough is cooking too fast and too hot, you may want to use indirect heat. For a gas grill with multiple burners, turn off the burner directly under the pizza, but leave the others on. For a charcoal grill, move the charcoal to one side of the grill and place the pizza on the other side.
These only need a few minutes–Check the bottom for nice grill marks and make sure it’s dry to the touch before flipping. Right before you flip it, brush a little olive oil on the uncooked side.
As soon as you flip the crust, grab that tray with your toppings and put them on the cooked side right away. Shut the lid again and leave it shut. The second side cooks pretty fast. If the bottom of your pizza is done, but the top still needs to cook, you can place it on an upper rack if you have one.
Take a peek at the bottom crust and as soon as it’s done and your cheese is all melty, grab a spatula and pull it off. You can place these right onto people’s plates or onto a large cutting board and let everyone snag their pizzas.