How to Grill Pizza

5 Steps to Pizza-Grilling Success

Of the less-than-conventional foods to throw on the grill, my favorite is probably pizza. I love a luscious, melted pie in any form, but there's something about the crunch and char of the crust from the grill that makes barbecued pizza irresistible. Thinking of throwing a pizza on your grates for the first time? Here are a few tips for grilled pizza pizzazz.

  1. Make sure your grill is hot! When it comes to pizza crust, the higher the temperature of your grill, the more blistery and chewably crispy your pizza will be. If you don't have a thermometer on your grill, then check the heat using the "Mississippi" test: hold your hand three inches over the grill grates, and start counting, "One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi," and so on. If you can only count to two or three before the force of the heat makes you pull back your hands, then you know you've got your grill at 600ºF or higher.

For more pointers, keep reading.

  1. Know the basics. Brush your dough with oil. Then, once you've hand-stretched it or rolled it out, gently drape the dough over the hot grates. Cook until the dough puffs and grill marks begin to appear underneath, about one to two minutes. Using tongs, flip the dough over, then cook until the other side is slightly charred, another couple minutes. Then add your cheese and cooked toppings, close the cover, and allow everything to meld and the cheese to become oozy (this will take several minutes).
  2. Take advantage of the grill-oven hybrid method. If you're adding toppings that require cooking time, or if you've got limited grill space and time, then try starting the dough on the grill, adding your toppings, and then finishing the whole thing in a preheated oven. This works especially well with toppings such as raw sausage in a hot sausage, pepper, and onion pizza.
  3. Make sure your pizza's thin — but don't worry if it isn't the prettiest. A superthick crust will mean the possibility of an undercooked, doughy pizza. Roll or stretch your pizza dough out to no thicker than 1/8 of an inch. That said, don't worry if your pizza's not a perfectly rectangular or round shape. The more uneven and rustic, the better.
  4. Close the lid when your pizza's on the grill — always. It's the only way to trap in the smoky flavors of the grill, and it's also the surest way to make sure your cheese melts.

Looking for some ideas? Get inspired with a few of our favorite grilled pizza recipes:

Fontina and prosciutto grilled pizza
Red, white, and blue grilled pizzas
Grilled pizza with hot sausage, peppers, and onions

How often have you taken your crust to the grill?

Photo: Katie Sweeney

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