This Is How You Grill Pizza at Home
Now that summer is in full swing, you might be getting bored of standard hotdogs and hamburgers on the grill. Spice up your next party by trying something new and different — grilled pizza! I live near an old Italian restaurant that has built its reputation on its flavorful grilled pies. After eating many myself, I have spent years replicating them at home. (Related: This Is How You Make Restaurant Quality Pizza at Home)
If you make your own pizzas on the regular, you probably know the drill. Grilling pies outdoors, though, requires a bit more foresight and a slightly different method. Below are the points you should consider before you get started — as well as detailed instructions for the grilling process from start to finish.
Build Your Crust
A great, grill-able pizza crust is one that is stretchy, but also firm enough to withstand some extra transport. Really, though, any dough recipe should work. I like using my own recipe, which contains pumpkin puree for extra flavor. You'll want a hearty dough from the start that isn't too wet or sticky. I use all white flour versus mixing with any whole wheat to ensure the most gluten production and avoid tears in the crust's surface.
Once your batch is mixed together and set to rise for at least a few hours, you can start in with the rest of the ingredients. I often make my pizza dough the night before I bake it, whether grilling or oven baking, as I feel it helps the flavor develop better.
Choose Your Sauce
One of the tweaks that has worked best for me is to put down a layer of cheese before placing any sauce on your grilled pizza. This way, there's less chance your dough will become soggy. As a result, I've modified the type of "sauce" I use over the years to include bulked up versions versus smoother purees.
The Italian restaurant near me tops its grilled pies with coarsely crushed tomatoes and roasted garlic. At home, think diced tomatoes or salsa or even dabs of homemade pesto. The chunkier the better. However, you may also wish to try using spoonfuls of thick barbecue sauce to fit your BBQ theme. (Related: Make Pizza Night Fun Again With These 30 Sauce Alternatives)
Prepare Your Toppings
Perhaps the most important part of grilled pizza prep is getting your toppings out and ready for action. I like to make a toppings station with pinch bowls for cheese and sauce. If I want something more complicated, like veggies or meat, I prepare these ingredients ahead of time. Cooking pizza atop fire is a rapid process, so toppings should already be cooked before you toss them into the mix or you risk burning the crust waiting for them to heat fully.
Here are some ideas:
- Cheese (shredded mozzarella, Jack, cheddar, really any melty block cheese will do)
- Sauce (I often just use canned crushed tomatoes that contain garlic)
- Grilled veggies, like zucchini, onions, peppers, and mushrooms
- Protein, like prosciutto, pepperoni, and grilled sausage
- Olive oil (for brushing)
- Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and other herbs/spices
Summer is also a wonderful season to experiment with using cold toppings (once the pizza is cooked) to compliment the hot. I love sliced avocado, balsamic reduction, ranch dressing, and even grilled romaine lettuce, just to name a few additions you might want to include.
On a gas grill, you'll want to turn the heat all the way up to high before starting. Let your grill get hot and then turn it down to medium heat when you are ready to begin. You'll start by making sure the grill grates are clean and then brush them with a little olive oil. Stretch out your dough on a flat surface and brush with additional olive oil (around two teaspoons). Then carefully place the oiled side of your dough on the grill and cook for just 1 minute before flipping onto the next side and oiling. It should bubble considerably.
This is where all the prep ahead of time will start to make sense. You'll immediately need to lay down a thin layer of shredded cheese and then dabs of your sauce and other toppings before closing the lid of the grill to let everything melt. Believe me: This all needs to happen quickly so you don't burn the bottom of your pizza in the process. You will only cook on this side for another minute or two maximum, so be sure to make the time count.
Cool, Slice, and Serve
Remove your pizza from the grill and let it cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving. The crust texture should be crunchy and chewy all at the same time. Don't worry if your burn your first pizza a little, you will eventually get the hang.
Note: I have made grilled pizza on both charcoal and gas grills. If you have a charcoal grill, the process is much the same as outlined above with the exception of the heat control. Likely your grill and coals we be quite hot, so after cooking on the first side and flipping onto the other for topping (and an initial searing), you may wish to transfer to a metal pan to finish up melting the cheese without burning while the cover is closed. Alternatively, if your grill has cooled off, you may wish to cook up to three minutes on each side.
Have you ever grilled pizza? What tips do you have to share?
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