Please forgive me if I sound a little bit too excited, but that's just because I get to discuss two of my favorite things in the universe; pizza and grilling out.
If you are anything like me and prefer to do your cooking in the great outdoors on your trusty grill or BBQ whenever weather is permitting, then you might find your culinary options a little bit limited at times.
I mean, if you absolutely love burgers and charred veggies, then you're probably not suffering, but what if your mouth is watering for a nice ooey-gooey slice of pizza pie?
You may not have ever actually tried to bake a pizza on the grill, or maybe you've heard of it but never actually given it a try. Regardless, there's no shame in being ignorant of this little life hack that is certain to change the way you look at pizza forever.
Seriously, you won't want to preheat your oven ever again after I show you the top 4 ways to use your grill to make the perfect piping hot pizza that is sure to make a splash at your next pool party or family grill-out.
Make sure to check out my personal favorite way to bake a pizza on the grill.
Method 4 combines all the things that make the first 3 methods great while giving you more control over the finished product and arguably much tastier results. If you like bubbly golden brown cheese, then that's going to be the method for you.
1. Baking A Pizza Directly On The Grill Grate
If you've never baked a pizza on the grill before, then the idea of plopping a whole pie on the grates without a pan or baking sheet may be a little worrisome to you. Before I talk about the 'how-tos' of this method, I think it's important to clear up some common questions that you might have.
Will My Pizza Fall Through The Grates?
Frozen pizza typically has a pre-baked dough that will hold it's own and not slip through to the flames or coals below. Fortunately, the crust will solidify quickly, even if you are working with homemade or prepared dough. You'll never have to deal with anything falling through and ruining your day.
Does It Matter If The Pizza Is Frozen Or Fresh?
Frozen or fresh prepared pizzas can both be baked on a grill. There are a few differences in the cooking instructions that are worth pointing out.
If you are working with freshly prepared dough, you'll want to give the bottom of your dough a light brushing of olive oil and pre-cook it on the grate for 2-3 minutes before taking it off the heat to finish adding the sauce, cheese, and toppings.
The side with the grill marks should be the top - the side that you add your toppings to. Don't forget to brush the bottom side of your crust as well with oil before placing your pizza back on the grate.
Frozen pizza, on the other hand, needs less prep work. However, since you are working with ingredients that are quite cold, you're going to need to give it more time to melt the cheese completely and thoroughly cook the toppings.
Fresh pizza will cook in 10 to 15 minutes.
Frozen pizza requires an additional 5 - 10 minutes depending on the variety and type of crust for the best results.
Does It Matter If My Grill Is Gas, Wood, Or Coal Burning?
All grill types are capable of cooking a tasty pizza. Gas Grills are much easier to regulate the temperature than coal or wood-burning grills. However, an experienced griller should be capable of achieving the approximate temps needed to grill a pizza to perfection, especially with the aid of a grill thermometer.
Wood-grilled pizza is a delicacy in its own right. The smokey seductive flavor of the wood you're working with will permeate the crust and add a whole new layer of dynamic flavor to your creation. I personally love working with hickory or cherry to add that little extra spark of pizzazz to my pizza.
Coal grills are certainly capable of cooking pizza on an open grate just as well as other types of grills. However, you might want to consider the health impact of consuming food cooked on charcoal, which has been proven to be higher in certain troublesome chemicals.
If you are working with a charcoal grill, it might be worth using a pan or investing in a grill-top pizza oven.
Instructions For Open Grate Cooking
Now that we've covered most of the basics, let's get down to business.
The instructions that follow assume that you are working with a fresh round base of dough. If you are working with a frozen pizza, simply add 5 or so minutes of cook time while keeping an eye on your crust to make sure it doesn't burn.
- Carefully clean your grill grate before preheating to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190°C).
- Layout some flour on your prep surface and stretch out your dough.
- Oil the dough and place oil-side down on the grill for 1-2 minutes.
- Take the dough off and put back on your prep surface.
- Oil the side without grill marks, then flip the side with the char facing up.
- Add your sauce and toppings.
- Place on the grill grates and shut the lid.
- Cook for 8-10 minutes (10-15 if frozen) before opening lid.
- Rotate the pizza, then cook it for another 5-8 minutes before taking it off the heat.
- Allow the pie to cool for 4-5 minutes before cutting and serving.
2. Using A Cast Iron Skillet
I'm a pretty big fan of cast irons. I love the way they evenly disperse heat. They also are especially nice for cooking pizza on the grill, especially if you're into deep-dish Chicago style pizza.
It might be hard to come across a cast iron big enough to accommodate your average frozen pizza, so you can also use a regular baking sheet or pan for similar results.
- Preheat your grill to around 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190°C).
- Lightly grease your cast iron or pan with olive oil.
- If you are working with a fresh pizza and a cast iron, you should prepare your pie In the skillet before putting it on the flames. Otherwise, place the pan on the grate and then add your pizza.
- Shut the lid and bake for 8-10 minutes (10-15 if frozen).
- Rotate it carefully then bake for another 3-5 minutes.
- Allow to cool for 4-5 minutes then enjoy.
3. Stonebake On The Grill
Using a pizza stone in addition to your grill offers its own set of benefits that you might enjoy. Pizza Stones hold in their heat fairly evenly and are slightly porous, thus allowing the stone itself to draw out some of the moisture from the dough as it bakes.
You also preheat a stone, so when you drop your pizza on to it with a pizza peel -which, if you don't have already, you should seriously consider investing in one - it gets a quick burst of initial heat that helps puff up the crust.
This stoneware on Amazon is perfect for both gas or charcoal grill and doesn't break at high temperatures.
Follow the same instructions as if you were using a baking sheet or cast iron, but first, allow your pizza stone to preheat with your grill.
You can test to see if your stone is hot enough by sprinkling corn starch across it. If it smolders, then it's the ideal heat for your pizza. If it immediately combusts into flames, then it is too hot.
4. Using A Grill Top Pizza Oven - My Favorite Method
Have I already mentioned my love affair with pizza and grilling? Well, it should go without saying then that I've experimented quite a fair bit with the best way to cook a pizza pie on the grill to perfection.
While grilling on the grate and using a cast iron or stone are all fine ways to grill a pizza, there is one method that combines all of the pros from these different ways into one amazing baking method without any of the cons.
Grill top pizza oven's like this one here on Amazon by Camp Chef take all the guesswork out of baking a pizza on the grill while combining all the benefits of using a stone with the toasty goodness of a wood-fired oven into one single easy-to-use package.
I love how it gets the cheese to that perfect state of golden bubbly goodness without over-baking the crust. I can't overstate how much this grill top oven has improved my grilling experience.
If you are going to go this route - and I highly recommend you give it a try - I also encourage you to use an Infrared thermometer to get your pizza oven to the right temperature.
Pizzas cook the best when you find the right temperature sweet spot. I've found this to be between 550 and 575 degrees Fahrenheit (288°C - 301°C). However, depending on your preferences, you might increase that to 600°F (315°C) if you enjoy a crispier crust.
- Position your grill top pizza oven on the grate.
- Preheat your grill (medium on most gas grills is perfect).
- Use an IR thermometer to check the internal temp of the oven.
- Sprinkle corn starch on the stone to prevent sticking.
- Use a pizza peel to slide your pie in the oven.
- Bake for 5-8 minutes.
- Rotate the Pizza.
- Use a large spatula to lift the pizza about 2 inches off the stone for 2-3 minutes - be careful not to touch it to the top of the oven. This step will brown and bubble the cheese.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 4-5 minutes before cutting and serving.
Hopefully, this has been a helpful exploration of the various ways to bake a pizza on the grill. When I first discovered that you could actually grill a pizza, I felt like I had just uncovered some super-secret key to how the universe works.
When I stumbled upon the grill top pizza oven, it was yet another life-changing experience - yes, yes, I know. I take pizza much too seriously. Regardless of which method you decide to try out, could you do me a favor and save me a slice?
Read Also: Eating Pizza That Was Left Out Overnight - What Could Go Wrong?