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

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5 from 2 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

Yammy!!! I'll give it a try.it look so tasty and delicious. i've tried several pizza recipe but this looks like a most simple one enough for my little family. love it!!!!!

norah

Thanks for your take on the grilled pizzas. I look forward to trying the caramelized fennel topping. Yum. I think for most of us grilling a pizza is going to be as close as we can get to the charing one gets from a wood burning oven. Coincidently I went to a grilled pizza demo last night at Macy's in SF. A friend had co-written a book on the topic -- Grilled Pizzas and Padinias -- and the chef (Craig Priebe) was in town demonstrating. He used the same techniques for grilled pizza on an indoor grill, cast iron grill pan and a panini grill. It's nice to know grilled pizza is possible even on those nights we don't feel like "lighting" up.

FJK

I haven't grilled a pizza in many moons - this post has inspired me to get busy with it and soon.

lifeinrecipes

This recipe looks amazing. After my last interesting experience with the grill, I am a little intimidated, but I always use pizza as an excuse to eat a lot of veggies. Toss on some broccoli for a healthy dose to a food we all love.

Pirouette

Heidi! I have been reading your blog for over a year and I always enjoy what you're cooking up! Pizza on the grill is a favorite treat in our summertime household. I do agree that it's tough to maintain the perfect temperature. The key is to have all ingredients within easy reach. I also took the leftover dough, basted it with a butter and crushed fresh garlic, wrapped it in foil and stuck it on the side of the grill while the pizzas were cooking. These fantastic breadsticks were the hit of dinner!

Michael

I have been looking for a good crust recipe. I am looking forward to grilling my pizzas! I grill naan all the time and I am sure that I will enjoy the grilled pizzas as well.

Maya

My family discovered this a couple years ago and it's been a monthly staple since then. Just be careful not to coat too much olive oil on the bottom of the dough or you might flare up the grill. You also might want to think about indirect heat by ringing the outside of a charcoal grill instead of putting the pizza right over the coals. Someone else suggested that, I'm agreeing and reinforcing the idea. Enjoy!

Ansel

We just discovered grilled pizza and I love it! I can't wait to try the caramelized fennel and olives next. Also want to say thanks for your white whole wheat pizza dough, can't live w/o it!

Sally

Mmm, grilled pizza.. I've got to give this one a try!

Erica

We have been grilling pizzas for a few years and got the recipe from Raichlen's Barbeque Bible. The dough recipe is nice, incorporating a little whole wheat flower and corn meal. But our local pizza joint sells their dough too for a quick, unplanned meal! The cheeses that we use (from his recipe) are fontina and pecorino Romano.

kristin

Definitely something I want to make this summer!

Hillary

mmm toppings? it sounds granola crunchy but broccoli and shredded carrots are EXCELLENT especially after they've crisped up on the edges.

Jac

This is a timely post -- we just attempted our first grilled pizzas of the season last weekend. It takes some warming up each year I think. The first pizza crust, well, caught on fire. So you might imagine that the crust cooked faster than the toppings, and then some. The second one never quite cooked in the middle, even though the toppings were perfect. I am going to have to get better with controlling temperature. In the end, we cooked them mostly inside and then finished them up outside for that smoky flavor -- not ideal, but it worked.

Becky And The Beanstock

Pizza on the grill is so amazing it tastes so much better that oven baked. A fun Entertaining with Pizza idea - We had a bunch of friends over one night and some did not know one another so as a way to get everyone interacting we just put out all the ingrediants and let everyone build their own pizza. There were about a dozen different toppings and a couple sauces to choose from. It was really fun to see the creations and it really got everyone interacting.... That and a few great bottles of wine that is.... Cheers Cathy

Cathy C

My all time favorite pizza toppings? Carmelized onions, broccoli sliced thin, roasted red peppers, toasted garlic and goat cheese and a dusting of parmesan. Yum! We've been talking about grilling pizzas for awhile now, thanks for the tips. I'll definitely try it.

Elizabeth

Great advice on how to grill a pizza and I love the pictures. What is the ideal temperature to get your grill to?

Jason Adams

I would never think to put fennel and olives on a pizza. I've never even had grilled pizza before, this is some great advice. The best pizza ever is with ground beef, canned black olives and fresh mozz.

Nick

yummy!

YOYO's Cooking

to mike's comment about controlling heat, i find that using the indirect method--with gas or charcoal--makes this possible. if your grill is charcoal, build a circle of charcoal on the outside perimeter after the charcoal is heated through, or bunch it up on one side of the grill to easily move it away from direct heat as it cooks. with gas, they often have two or three "zones" of heat--you can heat the outside two zones and keep the middle "off", which helps control cooking a great deal. but definitely use high heat, as it's how the best wood-fired pizza ovens do their magic!

thatgirlinnewyork

Confession and apologies: I'm only just now beginning to share you! Sorry! I've enjoyed your site for quite some time now, and have decided to comment here because, your pizza entry brought back sweet memories of my kiddies and my grill a few years ago. We went six months with nearly no kitchen (husband remodel...oy vay...), and grilled EVERYTHING that needed to be cooked. LOVED IT. Thanks for the salivations!

C.

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