Tips and Tricks for Amazing Grilled Pizza

In Backyard grilling tips by Shubham JL

What’s better for a party than to have a grill-master extraordinaire? When you think of grilling, though, meals that contain some combination of hot dogs, hamburgers, steak, and chicken are probably what most quickly come into your mind. Wouldn’t you love to wow your guests with a make-your-own grilled pizza party?

Tips and tricks for amazing grilled pizza: 

  1. Make sure your grill is clean and very hot.
  2. Use smaller rounds of dough.
  3. Have your toppings prepared ahead of time
  4. Create a topping center near the grill.
  5. Use a pizza peel.

Pizza is the ultimate party food – it’s easy and customizable. Cooking pizza on the grill also makes for a built-in conversation starter. We’re going to talk about several grilling pizza tips to help you successfully navigate through your first experience.

The Top 5 Tips for Grilling Amazing Pizza

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to finish your pizza, let’s talk about how to make this an easy grilled pizza experience.

  1. Make sure your grill is clean and very hot.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re using a charcoal, gas, or electric grill, your barbecue grate needs to be clean. (Check out this article on how to clean a charcoal grill the right way.) As you can imagine, pizza dough likes to stick to most anything it touches.

If you’re using a charcoal grill, start heating those briquettes about 30 minutes before you want to be able to start cooking.

(Here are our recommendations for the best charcoal grills for your money)

For a gas or electric grill, let the temperature get to at least 550-600 degrees Fahrenheit. (This usually takes about 10-15 minutes.)

(Here are our recommendations for the best propane gas grills for your money)

Tip: Make sure that you have two different heating areas for your cooking. You’ll use the hot side to cook your dough. Then you’ll want a lower heat/ambient side for warming the pizza toppings on your freshly cooked crust.

  1. Use smaller rounds of dough.

There are many schools of thought as to how to make the perfect pizza dough. Some swear by the type that pops out of a can, while others can’t imagine anything other than fresh, hand-made dough.

Regardless of which camp you’re in, one of the keys to successfully navigating the “easy grilled pizza” process, is to make sure that your globs of dough rounds are no larger than about 4 ounces – or the equivalent of a large tangerine (about three inches in diameter).

A general rule of thumb is that 1 ounce of dough = 1 square inch of pizza.

You can either roll your dough out on a lightly greased counter or create your own hand-tossed pizzas working the dough from the center to the edge.

When you’re grilling your pizza, you don’t want to have to manage something oversized that will spill your toppings into the flames or be difficult to remove from the grill.

Tip: For a homemade pizza dough recipe designed specifically for grilling, try this easy to prepare recipe from Kitchn. This recipe gives you options for same-day cooking, next day cooking, and even freezing for future use.

  1. Have your toppings prepared ahead of time.

Pizza parties are a lot of fun. They also require some pre-party prep.

To make sure that you don’t accidentally burn your pizza crust while you’re getting everything ready, it is recommended that you have all of your topping diced, sliced, and browned before you start putting the dough on the grill.

Really, the only limitation to the toppings you put on a pizza is your imagination:

Do you prefer a more traditional approach to pizza? Have marinara sauce, grated mozzarella, pepperoni slices, sliced olives, diced green pepper, browned sausage or hamburger, and sliced, sautéed mushrooms on hand and ready to top that yummy pizza crust.

Perhaps you are a little more adventurous! You could consider adding random dollops of mozzarella, artichokes, broiled shrimp, fresh basil leaves, sliced cherry tomatoes, grilled chicken slices, bacon crumbles, or the ever-controversial anchovies or pineapple.

  1. Create a topping center near the grill.

You have everything prepared. Your guests have arrived, the tableware is out, the drinks are chilled, the grill is at temperature, the dough is stretched, and the toppings are prepped. Now what?

It’s a good idea to set up a table near the side of the grill that is set at the warming temperature. By having the toppings readily available, the amount of time the crust cools down when it’s transferred from one side to the other will be lessened.

There are several different ways to handle a party arranged around grilling pizza.

Tips include:

  • Know your guest’s preferences and make several pizzas to meet those tastes.
  • Use even smaller dough rounds and allow everyone to design their own personal pizza.
  • You can even turn the event into a team or individual competition with awards for the most artistic, most creative, and best use of surface space.
  • Prevent burns by having parents help with any children’s pizza creations and by limiting how many people are around the grill at the same time.
  1. Use a pizza peel.

Grilling pizza is not for the faint-of-heart. Neither is getting the pizza dough on and off of the grill. Investing in a pizza peel will help prevent burns and accidents.

Amy-Mae Turner published an article on Amazon.com highlighting several affordable and popular pizza peels. These handheld tools offer a slightly sloped front edge making it easier to scoop underneath the pizza and get it on its flat surface to the cooking surface or to remove the finished pizza from the heat.

Tip: There are both aluminum and wooden pizza peels. Make sure yours has a wooden handle to avoid heat traveling from the flat surface up the handle to your hands.

Also, consider sprinkling a small amount of cornmeal on your peel before placing the pizza dough on it. The cornmeal will function like mini rollers and keep the dough from sticking.

Once you have everything ready, it’s time to get this party started!

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How Do I Cook a Grilled Pizza?

Now that you have everything set up and everyone is drooling waiting for their turn, it’s time to put the pizza dough rounds on the grill – no toppings yet, just the dough.

Roll the raw dough off of your pizza peel onto the hot side of the grill for about three minutes. Using either your peel or some long tongs, flip the dough over to allow the other side to grill for another two to three minutes.

 

Once the crust is ready, transfer it to the ambient side of the grill, load it with toppings, lower the grill’s lid and let it bake for about five more minutes.

Within 10 to 11 minutes you’ve gone from raw pizza dough to a mouth-watering creation worthy of Gordon Ramsay, himself. Depending on the size of your grill, you may be able to cook three or four pizza pies at once!

Can You Use a Pizza Stone on the Grill?

The direct answer is yes. You can use a pizza stone on a grill. Regardless of whether you are using a pizza stone in a conventional oven or on the grill, place your pizza stone on the cooking implement while both are cold. Allow the grill/oven and stone to heat at the same time.

That said, similar to the pizza peel, there are many different types of pizza stones on the market, and not all pizza stones are created equal. If you are going to grill pizzas on a pizza stone, it is best to invest in a quality stone that is made to withstand the higher temperatures associated with grilling.

Many pizza stones are made to handle the heat produced by a conventional oven – between 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit. As we discussed earlier, grilling your pizza requires much higher temperatures – 550-600 degrees (pizza kitchens use brick ovens that heat up to between 800 – 1200 degrees Fahrenheit!)

You can use a general pizza stone, but chances are it will crack under the extreme heat. Pizza stones created for grilling can be a bit more expensive on the front-end, but when you consider having to replace stones on a regular basis, the investment can pay off.

Pizza stones made for use on grills come in round, square, and rectangle shapes – some even come with handles or a carrying rack. Here are some examples on Amazon.com.

Can You Use a Pizza Stone on the Grill?

The direct answer is yes. You can use a pizza stone on a grill. Regardless of whether you are using a pizza stone in a conventional oven or on the grill, place your pizza stone on the cooking implement while both are cold. Allow the grill/oven and stone to heat at the same time.

That said, similar to the pizza peel, there are many different types of pizza stones on the market, and not all pizza stones are created equal. If you are going to grill pizzas on a pizza stone, it is best to invest in a quality stone that is made to withstand the higher temperatures associated with grilling.

Many pizza stones are made to handle the heat produced by a conventional oven – between 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit. As we discussed earlier, grilling your pizza requires much higher temperatures – 550-600 degrees (pizza kitchens use brick ovens that heat up to between 800 – 1200 degrees Fahrenheit!)

You can use a general pizza stone, but chances are it will crack under the extreme heat. Pizza stones created for grilling can be a bit more expensive on the front-end, but when you consider having to replace stones on a regular basis, the investment can pay off.

Pizza stones made for use on grills come in round, square, and rectangle shapes – some even come with handles or a carrying rack. Here are some examples on Amazon.com.

Should I Season My Pizza Stone?

There are three different camps of opinion on this topic, but they all boil down to one thing: does your stone say do not treat or season? Here are the various points of view:

  1. Some stones come pre-treated, and additional seasoning will actually ruin the stone’s ability to cook evenly.
  2. Remember that pizza peel recommendation of putting a small amount of cornmeal on it to help the dough slide? Some people recommend placing a small amount of cornmeal or flour on your pizza stone for the same reason. Those in this camp consider this all the seasoning that is necessary.
  3. The third group says to season your pizza stone the same way you would your new cast iron skillet. This process suggests that you need to:
    • Rub a generous amount of oil onto the pizza stone and place it in a preheated 450-degree oven.
    • Let the stone bake until the oil has been completely absorbed by the stone.
    • Carefully remove the stone from the oven and allow it to cool.
    • Once your pizza stone has cooled enough that it is not too hot to touch, repeat the process a second time.
    • Lightly oil your pizza stone before each use to help it continue its seasoning process.

Before you decide to follow one of these instructions, carefully read the preparation and care instructions included with your new pizza stone. These care tips will help you know what kind of stone you have and what you need to do to ensure you have the best possible experience.

Do You Use Oil on a Pizza Stone?

The answer to this question directly relates back to the question we just answered about how to season your pizza stone.

If your stone’s care instructions tell you that you need to season your stone before using it, then yes, you will use oil on your pizza stone.

If, on the other hand, you have bought a stone that has been manufactured to be ready for use, you will not use oil on your stone. Using oil on a stone that has been pre-seasoned can result in smoke and/or foul tastes on your food.

How Do I Clean My Pizza Stone?

This is an excellent question. The first thing to remember is that you should never use soap, stainless steel, or other abrasive metal cleaners on your pizza stone.

Similarly, to your beloved cast-iron skillet, to effectively clean your pizza stone, place it under a small stream of hot water and use a stoneware scraper to remove any chunks of baked-on cheese or crust. You don’t need to soak your pizza stone – just scrape it clean under the hot water and then let it air dry.

Attempting to dry your pizza stone in the oven may cause it to crack – air drying, although it takes longer, is best.

What’s an Alternative to Using a Pizza Stone for Grilling Pizza?

There are two things you can consider as an alternative to a pizza stone when you are grilling your pizza:

  1. Place your pizza dough directly on your grill’s grate.

This is the most popular option. Many people like the slightly charred stripes on their flatbread. They like the smoky taste and the visual sense of accomplishment that come along with grilling directly on your grill’s hot grates.

This is yet another reason why your barbecue needs to be thoroughly cleaned before beginning your pizza grilling party. Clean grates will not only help you with cleanliness; it will also prevent flames from latching onto anything that may be clinging to your grates from your last cookout.

  1. Cook your pizza directly on your pizza pe

Before deciding to take this approach, take care to inspect your pizza peel’s care instructions to make sure that keeping it over high heat for an extended period of time will not damage or destroy it.

Another thing to consider is that if you cook directly on your pizza peel, you may want to have a second so you can turn your pizza dough over to cook the second side.

How Do You Grill a Frozen Pizza?

Some people will tell you that grilling a frozen pizza is the only way to go!

To cook a frozen pizza on the grill, keep the barbecue’s lid closed and thoroughly preheat it on a low setting for approximately 30 minutes.

Once your grill is thoroughly warmed, remove the frozen pizza from its wrapping and place it directly on your cleaned barbecue grate. Close your grill’s lid and allow the pizza to heat for six to seven minutes.

At the end of that time period, open your grill, use your pizza peel to rotate the pizza 180 degrees, reclose the grill’s lid, and allow the pizza to heat for another five to seven minutes. Viola! Your pizza is ready!

Can I Make a Dessert Pizza on My Grill?

Yes! There are a few things to consider when preparing your dessert pizza on your grill:

  1. Your pizza crust will generally be made of sugar cookie, chocolate chip cookie, or chocolate cookie dough. None of these options will allow you to cook them directly on the grates. Your options are to cook them on:
    • Heavy-duty aluminum foil,
    • A sturdy cookie sheet,
    • A pizza stone rated for your grill,
    • Your pizza peel rated for secondary use of cooking on a grill.
  2. You will want to make sure that your cookie dough is of a heavier consistency and is not delicate. A delicate sugar cookie dough will be temperamental and will most likely burn when cooked on a grill.
  3. Keeping the lid closed, preheat your grill to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and fastidiously manage your grill’s flame and temperature. When the grill is consistently at temperature, and the flames are not leaping to grate level, place your cookie pizza into the heated grill and reclose the lid. Depending on your cookie dough’s consistency, bake it for between 11-15 minutes.
  4. Unlike your regular pizza, you will not put your toppings on your dessert pizza until it has cooled. Once your cookie crust is cool enough, top with some wonderful surprises. You may choose to use anything from Nutella to marshmallow or jelly as your “sauce.”

You may decide to top your dessert pizza’s sauce with sliced strawberries, bananas, kiwi, or other fruit. Some have used chocolate chips, nuts, or ice cream. Others have used gummy bears or candy bar crumbles.

In Conclusion

There are many ways you can use your grill to cook your pizza, and most of them lead to an easy “grilled pizza” fix. There isn’t one right way to cook your pizza on the grill, but there are precautions you need to take:

  • Make sure your tools are rated for use with your grill.
  • Be aware of how many people are crowding around your grill because they want to get in on the grill master action.
  • Keep track of the time that passes while you’re cooking, or you’ll end up with an unanticipated charred mess.
  • Have fun and let your imagination take you to wonderful new experiences.

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