Grilled Pizzas

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Everything you need to know about how to grill pizza (easier than you might think!).

Two Grilled Pizzas on a wooden tray.

Pizza is arguably The Best Food on the Planet, according to most kids (and most everyone else); sometimes even bad pizza is good. And, your family likely has its fair share of pizza in the given course of a month. But pizza on the grill has the capacity to amaze and dazzle like few other dinners. I make this many times every summer, and it’s always everyone’s favorite grilled meal.

Making pizza on the grill is so much easier than you might think. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll make this a summertime staple. You can use store-bought dough or throw together some delicious homemade dough. It’s quicker to cook than pizza in the oven, and has that signature char flavor of a wood-burning oven professional pizza pie. No pizza stone required!

Sometimes I make these for an appetizer at a cookout, sometimes as the main event. If you want to go full out, you can also grill some toppings, like grilled peppers, onions, or eggplant before making the pizzas. You might buy your pizza or tomato sauce, or make marinara sauce or spaghetti sauce to create the base layer under the cheese. Make sure all of your toppings are ready to roll, from the shredded mozzarella to the pepperoni, before you preheat the grill as once the dough hits the hot grill, the process goes very fast!

Two Grilled Pizzas on a wooden tray.

Grilled Pizza: This is simply the best way to cook pizzas during the summer, and it’s so easy. No pizza stone, the pizzas cook right on the grill!

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Ingredients for Grilled Pizza

  • Pizza dough – Store-bought dough is great, but if you really want to go all out, I recommend making a batch of Homemade Pizza Dough.
  • Olive oil – prevent the dough from sticking while you roll it out and grill it.
  • Cornmeal or all-purpose flour – Combined with the olive oil, either cornmeal or flour will help prevent sticking.
  • Tomato or pizza sauce – Whip up a quick homemade tomato sauce or use store-bought.
  • Mozzarella cheese – Try to use fresh mozzarella, and shred it or slice it very thin.
  • Fresh basil leaves (optional) – A lovely summery finishing touch is a shower of torn or chiffonaded basil. See how to chiffonade basil for the skinny on getting those pretty thin strands of the fresh herb.

Toppings for Grilled Pizza

These are just some of the ways to go – anything you like as a pizza topping is fair game, but don’t overload the pizzas or they will be harder to handle on the grill.

How to Make Pizza on the Grill

  1. Prepare the dough: If you are making the pizza dough from scratch, follow these directions. If you are using store-bought dough, just coat with olive oil and let it come to room temp.
  2. Shape the dough: Using a coating of cornmeal to prevent sticking, stretch the dough out into a thin circle or rectangle. Rest the dough in between stretching so that it doesn’t spring back. Keep them on oiled baking sheets.
  3. Set up to grill: While you preheat the grill to medium- high heat, bring out your dough, tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings.
  4. Place on the grill: Brush the olive oil on the pizza dough and flip it onto the hot grill. Cover and cook for a minute or two to give it a chance to rise and firm up a bit.
Two pizza crusts on the grill.
  1. Flip: Once cooked, brush the top side with oil and flip it over again.
  2. Add toppings: Once the bottom crusts are ready to be turned over, you can do this right on the grill and add the sauce and toppings there or, if the heat is too much for you, turn them cooked side up onto oiled baking sheets, load on the toppings, and carefully transfer the pizzas back to the grill.
  3. Finish: Once the cheese is melted and the toppings are cooked, remove the pizza from the grill. Top with fresh basil and cut into slices. Then serve!
Grilled Pizza topped with onions, broccoli, and other vegetables.

Cooking Tips for Grilled Pizza

Here are some helpful hints to remember when cooking pizzas on the grill.

  1. Let the dough “relax,” and handle it gently. Realizing that word relax is so alien to moms in general, in this case it should be interpreted as letting the dough rest. This allows the activated gluten in the dough to have a chance to unclench, making the dough more pliable and supple. (Note to family: If we moms were given more chances to relax and unclench we would likely be more pliable and supple, too.)
  2. Start with smaller pizzas which are easier to flip and get on and off the grill.
  3. Make sure your grill is super clean: If there is food or charred bits from a previous grilling session, it will get onto your pizza for sure. The dough is placed directly onto the hot grill grates, so they need to be sparkling clean and very lightly oiled.
  4. You will want to precook some of the more dense raw topping ingredients, like broccoli, onions, or sliced red peppers, and have all of the toppings sliced, slivered, or grated and ready to go before you begin the grilling.
  5. Adjust the heat as needed. Watch the grill temperature. If it’s too hot, the pizza can scorch and if it’s too low it might stick or come out soggy.
  6. Turn the crusts over. Turning the crusts over after three minutes or so means that the firmed-up bottom becomes the top crust, and now you can layer on your sauce and cheese and toppings and not end up with an undercooked layer of dough underneath the toppings.

Kitchen Smarts

Begin by cooking only one small pizza at a time until you get the hang of it. Then you can work your way up to larger pies, or multiple smaller pies once you get a better sense of the timing and the process.

FAQs

Do I need a pizza stone to grill pizzas?

Nope. You can use one, certainly, but the recipe below doesn’t call for one. You can put the pizza directly on the hot grill.

How do you keep pizza from burning on the grill?

Make sure the heat is not too high, and if possible keep one side of the grill at a lower temperature (2-zone grilling) so if necessary you can move the pizza to a cooler spot to stop it from burning. Keep lifting the edge of the pizza every few minutes to check that the bottom is now getting too browned.

Two pizzas with sauce and cheese on the grill.

Make Ahead Grilled Pizzas

You can make or buy the dough a day or two ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. Allow to come to room temperature before beginning to form your pizzas. You can also make all of your toppings up to a few days ahead of time and keep those in the fridge.

Making Grilled Pizza With Kids

It’s no secret that pizza is one of the most kid-friendly foods of all time. And in my lengthy grilled pizza experience, they are completely dazzled to see it made on the grill. And they can help, by shaping the dough, and later adding the sauce, and choosing the toppings for their own pizzas.

You absolutely should make sure the kids top their pizza when it’s off the grill; you’ll pull the dough from the grill after the bottom firms up. Place it on an oiled baking sheet, let them top away, then return the pizzas to the grill to finish the cooking..

Grilled Pizza topped with green and purple vegetables.

What to Serve With Grilled Pizza

Also see: Homemade Pizza Dough and 10 Things to Do to Get Your Grill Ready for Summer.

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5 from 3 votes

Grilled Pizzas

Everything you need to know about how to grill pizza (easier than you might think!).
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 People
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Equipment

Ingredients 

  • 1 ball (1 pound) pizza dough (store-bought, or Homemade Pizza Dough; thawed if frozen)
  • Olive oil (for coating the dough and baking sheets)
  • Coarsely ground cornmeal or all-purpose flour (for rolling and stretching the dough;see Note)
  • 1 cup store-bought or homemade tomato sauce (or pizza sauce)
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese (preferably fresh)
  • about 1 ½ cups toppings (approximately; see recipe notes)
  • ¼ cup slivered fresh basil leaves (optional)

Instructions 

  • If you’re using the Homemade Pizza Dough, follow the recipe directions. If you’re using store-bought dough, divide the dough into two balls, gently coat each with olive oil, and let the dough come to room temperature either in a large bowl or on the counter, covered with a dish towel, about 
1 hour.
  • Lightly coat two baking sheets with olive oil. Sprinkle a work surface with cornmeal or flour. Gently begin to stretch or roll each ball of pizza dough into a 12- to 14-inch circle or a rectangular shape. You will need to stretch or roll the dough a bit, then give it a few minutes to relax before stretching it again, so that it doesn’t keep springing back into a smaller shape. The goal is to make the dough less than 1⁄4-inch thick (it puffs up on the grill). Give the dough one final stretch. Don’t worry about a small hole or two and definitely don’t worry about an uneven shape; that’s part of the pizzas’ charm. Transfer the shaped dough to the prepared baking sheets.
  • Preheat the grill to medium-high. Make sure your grill grates are clean, and lightly oil them.
  • Put the tomato sauce in a small bowl. Bring it along with a pastry brush, some olive oil, the mozzarella, and the dough on the baking sheets.
  • Pizza with tomato sauce and mozzarella is delicious, but if you’re adding other toppings, bring them to the grill, too, so they are prepared and ready to go.
  • Brush the top of each stretched pizza dough with olive oil. Using a swift motion, pick up each circle or rectangle of dough by one edge and flip it oiled side down onto the grill grate. Close the grill lid and don’t open it for 3 minutes, which gives the dough a chance to rise a bit and firm up.
  • Open the lid, peek at the underside of the dough, and check to see that nice grill marks have formed. Lightly brush the uncooked tops of the crusts with olive oil and turn over each crust. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Carefully brush the entire surface of each crust with 1⁄2 cup of the tomato sauce and sprinkle 1 cup of the mozzarella evenly over each top. Sprinkle any toppings, if you are using them, evenly over the pizzas. Close the lid of the grill and let the pizzas cook for 4 minutes, then begin checking to see if they are done. The cheese should be completely melted and the crust should have a nicely browned underside and be stiff when you lift it with tongs.
  • Remove the pizzas from the grill, sprinkle them with the fresh basil, if using, and cut the pizzas into pieces. Now you get to relax.

Notes

Nutrition

Calories: 671kcal, Carbohydrates: 59g, Protein: 32g, Fat: 35g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Cholesterol: 89mg, Sodium: 2238mg, Potassium: 364mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 10g, Vitamin A: 723IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 303mg, Iron: 5mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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2 Comments

  1. Annie says:

    Pizza Friday all summer long!

  2. Denise says:

    Grilled pizza recipe