One of the things I adore about living down south is the fact that we can grill year round. I love the fact that there are days that I don’t have to turn on my oven and cleaning up a grilled dinner is so much easier than cleaning pots and pans that have been in the oven. While Jim is usually the expert griller my specialty has become Grilled Pizza!!
The first thing I will tell you about grilled pizza is that it is not something you choose to do on an evening when you have some place to be or lots of things to get done. This is definitely a dinner for a night when you have time to hang out on the deck and have a few drinks. The kids are running through the sprinkler or eager to help make dinner. Believe me though, once you make your pizza on the grill you won’t want it any other way.
This post is not so much of a recipe post, but rather steps to make grilled pizza. I’m sure you can google other techniques and there might be other ways of doing it, but this is what works for us on our Weber Gas Grill. You can add any of your favorite toppings or sauce. You can choose to make your dough from scratch, buy it at the bakery or pop open a can. The sky is the limit with pizza, which is why it is such a fun thing to make. The kids can make their own pizzas, too. Completely up to you and it all depends on how much patience you have. Patience is good here:-).
The biggest thing you need to remember about grilled pizza is that planning ahead is the best way to end up with success. I always prep my ingredients ahead of time and it helps to have a tray or two to take everything from your kitchen to the grill. You will be working kind of quickly, so there isn’t a lot of time to run back into the house for items you forgot about.
My favorite toppings are caramelized onions and Italian sausage and both need to be cooked ahead of time. For the sauce, pizza sauce might be an obvious choice but some other favorites are pesto, garlic infused olive oil, marinara (what I usually use) or Alfredo sauce. I also have a bowl of olive oil and a brush handy to put on the dough while it is cooking. In the picture above my pizza has Trader Joe’s Marinara sauce, grilled Italian sausage, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil as my toppings.
Another thing you will need to prep ahead of time is your dough. My suggestion for first time pizza grillers is to buy pre-made dough. Once you have the grilling technique down you can make your own dough if you wish, but if you aren’t an experienced dough maker just stick with the pre-made dough and you won’t know the difference. Take the dough out of the fridge about 10 minutes before you will be grilling so that it isn’t too cold. You don’t want to let it sit out too much longer because it will be too warm and hard to work with. I actually use the Pillsbury thin crust dough in the blue can. I like this option because it is the easiest to work with since it is already rolled out. I just make Jim open the can because that thing popping at any moment terrifies me!
You will want to get out two or three baking sheets. One for the cooked pizzas and one for the uncooked dough. The third sheet just helps take the pizza off the grill so you can top it. I usually cut one can of dough into four squares and just stretch the dough into a nice even and thin crust. My pizza is not usually round but very rustic looking and usually kind of oblong. Lay your cut dough on your first baking sheet and you can place a piece of wax paper between each piece if the dough seems kind of sticky. Making smaller pizzas is a little bit easier to work with, too.
Once you have your ingredients prepped and your dough ready, you are are ready to turn on your grill. I like to have one zone with really high heat and another with indirect heat. When your grill is at temp (around 400-500 degrees depending on how high you trust your grill), brush the first piece of dough lightly with oil on one side. Optionally, you can sprinkle a little cornmeal on for a little texture. Lay the lightly oiled side down on the direct heat and let it cook about 1-2 minutes with the top open. When it starts to bubble and and it is cooked on the bottom flip the dough over and let it cook on the other side about 1-2 minutes more. You aren’t going for fully cooked dough here, just cooked enough that you can remove it from the grill and add some toppings. Remove the dough from the grill and place it on an empty baking sheet. It helps to have a rimless baking sheet but since I usually work wtih smaller pizzas they slide on and off the rimmed sheets really easy. Close the lid while you add your toppings so your grill can heat back up.
Now you can add your toppings onto your partially cooked dough as you wish. I like to brush a little more olive oil on the top of the crust and sprinkle with a little garlic powder. Dried oregano or basil taste great here, too. When you are adding your sauce, don’t overdo it as you can end up with soggy crust. I love fresh mozzarella on my pizza but just remember it has a higher water content than other cheeses and it melts a little slower, too. When your pizza is fully topped, place the dough back on the grill on the side with the indirect heat, close the lid and let it cook until the cheese is melted. It is ok if the crust burns a little bit – actually that is how you want it. Not burnt to a crisp, but a little char is what grilled pizza is all about. Adjust the heat as needed so your pizza cooks evenly.
Repeat this process with the rest of the pizzas, placing the cooked pizzas in a warmed oven or eat as your go!
If grilled pizza isn’t your thing, here are some other great summer grilling ideas!
Balsamic Grilled Chicken with Roasted Vegetables and Lemon Pasta – I don’t know what it is but grilled chicken, roasted veggies and pasta are a favorite combo of mine. I could eat this every day!
Easy Baked and Grilled BBQ Babyback Ribs – This is another really good and not too difficult recipe for the grill. If you love ribs but have never made them at home try this recipe.
The Best BBQ Chicken with Cornell Sauce – This is the grilled chicken my dad made growing up and this is what I always make now. It is the best grilled chicken you will ever have! Let it marinate overnight for the best flavor. If you grew up in Upstate NY there is a good chance you have had this or something similar Delish!