Grilled Pizza

How to make grilled pizza and everything you need to know to get it right - with topping ideas!

Grilled Pizza

When you pair a hot grill with great pizza dough plus a handful of seasonal toppings, your meal game is going to be next level. Grilled pizza season is on and this post covers everything you need to know to about how to get it right.
Grilled Pizza topped with Corn, Chiles, and Mozzarella”   border=

How to Grill Pizza: The Basics

To grill great pizza start with a hot grill that has been cleaned well with a brush. Also key, it helps to be organized. Have your pizza dough, pizza sauce and all toppings ready. Like, right next to the grill. Once you slide your pizza dough onto the grill, the next steps come in rapid succession. This means, whether you're ready or not. Brush one side of the pizza dough with olive oil and cook that side first, flip it, brush the grilled side with sauce and toppings. Then finish cooking. If you’re a bit on the slow side arranging toppings, you’ll want to pull the pizza off the grill for this step. This helps to avoid the potential for burning. Return the topped pizza to the grill for final cooking. Happens in a flash!

Grilled Pizza topped with Kale, Tomato Sauce and Mozzarella” border=

General Grilled Pizza Tips

  • Start with a good pizza dough foundation. This is my go-to homemade pizza dough, and it works well on the grill.
  • Similar to baking pizza in an oven, you want to achieve medium-high to high heat here. Pre-heat the grill as long as possible and check the temperature before starting the pizza. I aim for 450-500F-ish. You can go hotter if you’re baking your pizza on an upper grill rack, but run the risk of scorchy (burnt) grill marks if it’s in a more direct spot. If you’re using a pizza stone, ignore this and get your grill hot hot hot.
  • Pizza on the grill differs from baking pizza in the oven in that with grilled pizza you generally flip the dough once before adding toppings.
  • Consider pre-cooking any veggies or other toppings if needed. They won't have much time to cook on the grill. Arrange each in an individual bowl along with the rest of your toppings bar.  
  • Use a bit of olive oil on the pizza dough to prevent the first side from sticking to the grill.

Close-up photo of a white pizza topped with corn, chiles, and mozzarella” border=

Grilled Pizza: The Dough

Start with the right dough: As I mentioned up above, you need to start with a pizza dough that is on your team. I love this pizza dough. It's the one you see in the pictures here. You can read all about why I like it, in short: the flavor is great, it’s easy to work with, you don’t need a mixer, and there is no need to proof the yeast you’re using. Great in an oven or on a grill. It's super flex and adaptable. Alternately, you can experiment with doughs purchased from local pizza spots or stores.

Grill Temperature

Temperature: This is the second pillar after good dough. Controlling the grill temperature is key to your success - and, I'll be honest, there can be a bit of a leaning curve. If you’re having trouble with pizza dough sticking to the grill, dial up the heat. And when using a gas grill, the lid is your friend. Use the lid to control the heat, and to get the hot air circulating all the way around the dough. If you need your toppings to cook/melt more quickly - slap the lid on for a bit. Keep in mind, you have to be particularly vigilant with pizzas you've pulled parchment thin - they'll burn through in a flash. If you’re worried about burning pizzas, you can move them to the upper rack if your grill has one.

Broadly speaking, whatever type of outdoor oven/grill I'm using I obsessively check the bottom and top of the dough and let it tell me what it needs - more time, more heat, a flip, etc. If you have a grill with dual burners, or a way to set up a hot zone, and a not-so-hot zone, moving the dough around can also be helpful.

Grilled pizza dough arranged on sheets of parchment paper before baking” border=

The Parchment Technique

When grilling pizzas this is the approach I like. First, pull the dough out and shape it on a sheet of parchment paper that has been spritzed with a bit of olive oil. Unlike oven-baked pizza you skip the flour here. You can then gently flip the dough onto the grill with the parchment providing a nice amount of structure (see below). Peel the parchment paper away and proceed.

Placing dough on hot grill

Do you need a Pizza Stone to Grill Pizza?

If you have and use a pizza stone in your oven, you can use it on the grill. That said, you don’t need a pizza stone to grill pizza.

Pizza toppings arranged on a baking sheet

Best Toppings for Grilled Pizza

This is the fun part. The rule of thumb here is to use toppings that really sing after a just a couple minutes on the grill. This means you might want to pre-cook (or pre-grill) any toppings that would take longer than that. Use flavor-packed, fast cooking ingredients that have a tendency to melt (or cook) quickly for your toppings. Don't go overboard, thoughtfully curate each pizza so the flavors of each ingredient have room to speak. Some favorites include:

  • Vegetables: corn, thin asparagus, roasted cherry tomatoes, peas, roasted mushrooms, caramelized onions, olives, fava beans, citrus zests, grilled artichoke hearts, sautéed thinly sliced potatoes.
  • Cheeses: ricotta, fresh mozzarella, gruyere, feta, freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino
  • Finishing touches: lemon olive oil, tangerine olive oil, makrut lime oil, chives and chive flowers, hot honey
  • Herbs: a sprinkle of fresh herbs like oregano, thyme, fresh basil, minced chives, lemon verbena

Spreading tomato sauce on pizza dough” border=

  • Topping Combinations:
    - tomato sauce, mozzarella, crushed kale chips, lemon oil (pictured)
    - mozzarella, roasted corn, pickled serrano chiles, chive flowers, pine nuts (pictured)
    - caramelized fennel & olives
    - spinach/pea & ricotta pesto, potatoes & smoke chile sauce
    - tomato & roasted red peppers with goat cheese
    - a while back I also compiled this page of A+ grilled pizza topping ideas
    - And, here’s a page where I’ve listed a lot of recent favorite pizza combinations

Pizza dough on grill prior to adding toppings” border=

Thick or Thin Pizzas?

Play around with how thick or thin you pull your pizza dough. You'll get widely varying results. As far as the thick or thin debate goes, I tend to lean into thin. That being said, leaving the dough a bit thicker yields a pizza with a different personality, still delicious - try both to see what you like.

Make-Ahead Crusts

You can pre-grill pizza crusts up to a few hours ahead of time. For example, if you’re feeding a crowd and want to get a bit of a jump start. Lightly grill both sides and then allow to cool on a rack. The key is to go light, knowing they will be going back on the grill later. When you’re ready for prime time, sauce and top each pizza and do the final grilling.

If you've never tried this, give it a go! It's fun to set up for a small crowd because everyone can take a turn making their own custom pizza. Let me know your favorite topping combos in the comments.

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Grilled Pizza Recipe

5 from 3 votes

I’ve included many pointers in the main entry of this post about temperature, dough, toppings and the like. Be sure to read through it before you get started.

Ingredients
Pizza Dough
  • use a favorite pizza dough or the one I've linked to up above

Pizza 
Toppings (for ex:):

Instructions
  1. Have your pizza dough and toppings ready. Heat the grill to high heat.

  2. While the grill is heating, shape the dough on pieces of lightly oiled parchment paper. Try not to over handle the dough, but attempt even thickness throughout. This way you aren't fighting parts that are burning, while other parts are still doughy.
  3. Brush or spray olive oil on the top side of the dough and turn that side down onto the grill. Now that the dough is on the grill, brush the side that is face up with olive oil. If you are on a gas grill, this is when I'd slap on the cover in 20-30 second stretches. Check on the bottom of the dough often, and when it is deeply golden, flip the dough.
  4. Get the toppings on quickly, or if you’re a bit slower, pull the pizza off the grill and top it on the side before returning to the grill (to avoid burning).
  5. Check on the bottom of the dough regularly, and when it is deeply golden remove. Repeat with the remaining dough and toppings.
Serves
4
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
 
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

We tried grilling pizza for the first time last week, with not a great outcome. I am thrilled that you wrote about this, because we knew that there was a way to do it and we want to try again. Thanks!

Kathryn

.....thinly sliced potatoes, fresh rosemary, roasted garlic, a bit of pancetta, bleu cheese mixed with a little ricotta and dolloped around.....OMG.

vivian

Those pizzas look fantastic! Perfect and ever so scrumptious! There's nothing better than homemade pizzas! Cheers, Rosa

Rosa

I love you Heidi! I have shared this blog w/ so many friends. I love your style, it is so great!! Thanks sister!

Kelly Smith

I love making pizza on an open fire. I learned to have the bottom of a terra cotta flower pot (a big one) handy. We stoke the coals, put on the dough, cook it a few minutes, flip it over, add the toppings (off the fire works best), return it to the fire - place the bottom over to kind of make an oven to help melt the cheese and cook the toppings. Takes only a few minutes and its delicious. Enjoy!

Susan

I love grilled pizzas! Thanks for the inspiration to get started on these again. Sometimes when we go camping I buy the premade pizza dough - I've seen nice spelt ones - to make it easier (making dough the while tenting seems too hard core for me!). I love Asiago - on everything!

Sarah

Sorry...I meant to say thank you for all the fabulous and delicious recipes!!! Heidi you are a class act!

Ruth

I just got a new gas grill, I must agree with you, getting the right temperature is soooo hard, but, patience, love and a wonderful dough make grilled pizza better than any other pizza!!! the flipping can get a little tricky, but, not flipping the first couple of times I made it was a terrible mistake!!! I think I am going to try some flavored brickets next time too, how do you get the pizza dough so thin, yet, stays intact, no holes? mine is never that thin, I want to be able to do that...

Ruth

Weber makes a stainless perforated baking sheet that is intended for grilling veggies or seafood, but is perfect for grilled pizza and bread dough. I got one this spring and the dough was perfectly cooked the first time. I am using it on a gas grill, but I expect it would moderate the heat on a charcoal grill just as well, no burnt crust ffor me ever again. Bought it at my local hardware store.

skeip

this looks amazing! a great recipe for my oldest child to help me with now that she's on summer holiday. yum!

Tai

Your pictures are making my mouth water! This is my second summer with my Weber charcoal grill, but I've not yet tackled pizza. Would you suggest putting it directly on the grill or using a pizza stone to keep a bit of control in the burn department?

Mari

Oh, yum! It seems a little daunting, but definitely worth trying! And perfect for a hot day when you don't want to cook in the house.

Kitt

What technique do you use for keeping the paper thin dough from sticking to the grill grates? Have you found the the brushing of olive oil is enough? I am just afraid that I will char my dough while trying to get it to loosen from the grates. Thanks!

Danielle

    Yes, and just be sure the grill is hot enough.

    Heidi Swanson

I always thought it was ironic that when tomatoes and basil are ripe and ready, it is too hot to turn your oven on to make pizza. I suppose this is the solution...

vici

We've been making some delicious grilled pizzas w/whole wheat dough for a couple of years. One of my favorites has a pesto sauce with fresh tomatoes, but it's not August yet, so we have had caramelized vidalia onions with olives and blue cheese. A big hit even with those who are committed to a red sauce on pizza ( my husband). I wish I had read your idea about fennel and olives a few days ago - we just ate the fennel from our garden-I'll buy some for this-it sounds delicious. Thanks for a great read and some really amazing recipes.

Sue

Our favorite pizza-on-the-grill topping so far is preserved Meyer lemon, Parmesan, roasted garlic, and olive oil. Really, anything that looks good on pasta looks good on pizza, that's my rule of thumb.

Katie in Berkeley

Love pizza on the grill - so much more flavor then the oven. Your toppings look good, never tried caramelized fennel. My favs are feta, tomatoes, black olives/kalmata, zucchini and red onion.

Tracy

I love fresh pizza... I know this will probably sound like a poke in the eye to the rest of you, but I have a real, built-in, Italian wood-fired pizza oven in my basement. Of course my basement is located in real, built-in Monte di Procida, Italy... we're about 30k outside of Naples, so pizza in my area is spectacular. I do love to make pizza, but with Lo Sfizio and Salvatore's about a 10 minute walk from our place I've become lazy. They cook in stone ovens, and because they keep them at a constant temperature all night I can watch Salvatore throw the dough, make the pizza, and have it hot at my table all in a matter of 10 minutes - it really is incredible, and until I experienced it I would probably have said that this was against the laws of Physics. The fast cooking time might be due, in part, to an ability to read the paper through Salvatore's crusts after he throws them (ok, not literally, but you get the point) he's a master. Another reason why I often prefer to head to town on Pizza night... I've not yet mastered the ultra-thin part of the thin Naples style pizza...

Ammaliatrice

It can help greatly if your grill is big enough to have a side that's hot and a side that's cooler in case you need to move it around to get things even. This works in gas grills with dual burners. off topic, cast iron is an awesome launching/lunching platforms for pizzas. I use a 10" Lodge for deep dish, and I picked up one of those super-cheap after closeout flat "emeril" branded chinese ones for thin and regular crust. I'll NEVER go back to the old stones. You've got to have some Muenster love to give your pizza an extra mile of delicious!

Mike

Cast iron skillets are the very best for reheating pizza: a dry skillet with a lid, and the heat on pretty much as low as you can make it, and pizza will be much better than fresh in about 10 minutes. I've made pizza in cast iron before, but -- at least if you're doing it on a stovetop -- you have to not pre-heat nearly as much as you would either for cooking pizza in the oven or for cooking anything in cast iron. (Well, maybe if you had a literally parchment-thin crust...)

threemilechild

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