If you want to learn how to grill pizza you should be aware of the three basic techniques that you can use. Which one you choose to grill your pizza will most likely depend on the type of crust you prefer. We are not going to get into recipes here this is more of a how to do it. In all these techniques we will be starting with an uncooked dough.
How to grill pizza: With a Pizza Stone:
A pizza stone used on the grill is the same as the ones that are used in your oven. If you can place the stone on a spot on your grill away from direct heat, if this is impossible keep the heat turned down all the way. On a charcoal grill use minimal coals spread thin to reduce the heat transferred to the stone.
Place your pizza stone on the grill and heat the grill for about 20 minutes to a temperature of around 400 degrees, this would be somewhere around medium-high heat. Keep in mind that it will take the stone longer to heat up completely so do not shortcut the time. You will want to dust your stone with corn meal; this allows the pizza to slide off the stone more easily.
Slide the assembled pizza onto the stone and turn the heat up just slightly, to around 450 degrees for around 10 to 20 minutes start checking the crust after around 8 minutes. The pizza is done when the center of the crust is golden brown. If you have never cooked a pizza before you check it by sliding a spatula or pizza peel under the crust and lifting gently, if the crust is to soft do not attempt to lift it.
This technique will result in a soft chewy dough like crust.
How to grill pizza: Directly on your grill grates:
For this you will need to lay out the dough (do not add sauce or toppings yet) and refrigerate. This will minimize the sagging or the dough before it can start to cook.
Take a piece of wax paper or saran wrap and brush a light coat of oil on the dough, then place it on top and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to about 2 hours. We oil the wax paper to keep the dough from sticking to it. Eventually you will need to coat the top with oil, this can be done before refrigerating or before placing it on the grill.
Heat your grill to medium heat. Now if this is first time you have tried this here comes the hard part, getting the soft dough onto the grates. If you own a pizza peel a little corn meal and your good to go. Since most people don’t own one you can either try flipping it off of the wax paper or peeling the wax paper it out from underneath the dough. Either way it needs to be done quickly.
There is no need to close the lid at this point this side will cook in about 3 to 5 minutes. Begin checking the bottom after a minute or two it should be brown and crispy with grill marks. Now you need to turn it over, it is much easier now that the bottom is crispy. Once it is turned add your sauce, cheese and toppings and I cannot stress this enough do it quickly.
Closing the lid now will help melt the cheese, when the dough is almost cooked turn off the heat completely. If possible move the pizza to the upper rack away from the heat until the cheese is completely melted.
This technique will result in a very crispy crust. Now when it comes to pizza I typically prefer a chewy doughy crust, however this technique makes one excellent pizza. Just be sure to keep a constant eye on your crust so it doesn’t burn.
How to grill pizza: Using a grilling pizza pan
The 3rd and final (at least until someone gets more creative) way to cook a pizza on the grill is using a grilling pizza pan. Unlike most pizza pans for the oven these metal pans have perforated bottoms, these are actually very similar to the pans they used at the pizza joint where I worked for a while. The holes in the bottom help speed the cooking process on thicker crusts and will give thinner crusts a just little crunch. You could also use any flat grill topper with holes on the bottom for rectangular pizza’s.
Heat your grill to a medium-high heat; you are looking for around 350 to 400 degrees. You can prepare your dough, sauce and toppings in the pan before hand, but you do not want to work the dough on the pan itself, the holes, soft dough and pressure do not mix well. Most grill pizza pans are non-stick but I like to use high heat Pam on them anyway, better safe than sorry.
You will need indirect heat for this: so turn off any necessary burners or set up your coals accordingly. If indirect heat is not possible keep the heat as low as possible and/or place the pizza as high as possible, or the crust will stick to the pan ruining both pizza and pan.
Place the pan loaded with the pizza onto the grill, away from the heat source. Depending on the thickness of your crust this could take anywhere between 8 to 20 minutes to cook. So the first time you cook one start checking at about the 5-minute mark. Early on you can just look through the holes in the bottom of the pan to see if the crust is browning. When you see the dough through the holes browning, then you can begin lifting the crust to see if the entire bottom has browned yet.
You are looking for an evenly browned crust on the bottom and the cheese completely melted on the top. If the crust browns first you can pull the pizza off of the grill and tent it with tin foil to get the cheese to finish melting.
This method makes a pizza crust somewhere between the pizza stone and cooking it directly on the grates.
Anyone of these techniques will get you that great grilled flavor on your grilled pizza.
One last word of warning for how to grill pizza: If you like to use wood chips for that wood fired flavor, tread lightly. A pizza and cheese is very porous when compared to most things you cook on the grill; this means it will absorb a lot of smoke very quickly.
Since I first wrote the how to grill pizza post a ton of great pizza grilling gadgets have come onto the market. You can turn your grill into a pizza oven with this one.
About the author: Mike is the owner of 4thegrill.com, a Certified Food Safety Professional and KCBS member.
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