It’s Charcoal-Grilled Pizza Season!

When I was in high school I had grilled pizza for the first time. I was spending the night at my friend Steve’s house and when he made us grilled pizzas, I thought he was some mystic shamanic grill whisperer. My family made homemade pizzas, of course, but ours were made in the oven, like normal suburbanites..

We're redoing the patio this year, go easy on me
We’re redoing the patio this year, go easy on me

Fast forward a distressingly large number of years and I’m a homeowner with a backyard and an affinity for the grill. At this point I’ll grill just about anything (last night’s grilled bacon was… interesting) and I’ve been grilling pizzas for years. I know it can seem a little daunting so here are the tips that make it a lot less scary.

Grilled pizzas need the right dough

That spongy, high-rising dough that you like for your indoor pizzas? It’s probably going to droop between the grill grates and create a mess. The dough recipe I use is from Cook’s Illustrated (seriously, the subscription is totally worth it, and no this isn’t an affiliate link) and it’s a lot more like a flatbread. After all, it needs to cook really quickly before it chars, and you need to be able to flip it around with tongs. If you’re using wet or heavy toppings you’ll want a dough with olive oil in the crust, as that helps it stand up to moisture.

grilled pizza 01

Go easy on the toppings

Over the coals of a ripping hot charcoal fire is not the place for a Chicago deep dish pie. These pizzas cook fast, so you want something that heats through quickly and a light dusting of cheese that melts readily.

Build your assembly line

Chefs call this mis en place – all your ingredients prepped and ready and laid out for you because when you drop that first circle of doughy awesomeness, there’s no pause button. Grilled pizzas happen in a fluid motion: brush one side of the dough with olive oil, drop it on the grate (oiled side down), pop the bubbles with your tongs for the 90-120 seconds the first side takes, and pull the dough off the grill. Brush the uncooked side with oil, flip the pizza over on your work surface, add your toppings, and pop it back on the grill.

Everything's ready to go, including the wine and acrylic wine glasses. ESPECIALLY the wine.
Everything’s ready to go, including the wine and acrylic wine glasses. ESPECIALLY the wine.

Whenever I make grilled pizza dough I make extra and freeze it in Foodsaver bags. This allows me to thaw a few and use grilled pizzas as a weeknight dinner, even with as busy as MJ and I both are. Our most recent grilled pizzas have included a simple one with tomatoes, basil, and parmesan cheese, and an amazing pizza with shrimp and Feta cheese. What’s your favorite grilled pizza?

Dave Marciniak is a landscape designer and speaker. He lives in Culpeper, Virginia and can be found via his website and on Twitter.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *