Over the last couple of weeks I’ve pretty much read every authority I could for doing pizza on the grill. My obsession with it started last summer, when on a whim I bought a ball of pizza dough and some fresh mozzarella because I didn’t feel like the salmon I was making for Bo. It was the most half assed attempt at pizza on the grill ever, but there was just something so great there, I had to learn how to do it right.
I weeded through everything, made my notes, and then put it all in place this weekend. The results? Insane. Pizza better than I’d ever even ordered from a restaurant, with a dough made for grilling, and a bag full of tricks to make sure every one I threw on the grill was perfectly cooked.
So, here it is, everything you need to know to grill the perfect pizza. I’m formatting it all within the recipe for pizza dough, so that you can print it all out and keep it with you. I’ll also quickly walk through the steps below with some pictures. Here’s my BBQ Jerk Chicken Pizza recipe that’s shown in the pics below.
Here is the ball of dough after kneading and resting. At this point you split it into three equal 9oz pieces, cover well with plastic wrap, and let rise in the fridge overnight. I know this means that you have to plan ahead, but it’s an important step to let the gluten do its thing. It also leaves you with a VERY manageable dough – one that doesn’t spring back when you roll it out the next day.
Use a rolling pin to roll out your dough when BBQing it. You want a nice even thickness for even grilling, and that can be tough to do by hand.
Put some flour on a pizza peel and transfer your dough to it. You don’t want to use cornmeal when you’re grilling, because it’s more likely to burn with the direct flame. If you don’t have a pizza peel, use the back of a baking sheet – you just need to be able to slide the dough off of the peel (or sheet) and onto the grill.
The most important thing to do when grilling a pizza is have EVERYTHING you want to go on top of the pizza ready and waiting outside and close to the grill. This means you need to prep all of your toppings in advance, and also have a pair of long tongs, oven mitts, and a baking sheet on hand.
CHEESE: For your cheese – when grilling, do a FINE GRATE to your mozzarella. Your cheese grater always has the big holes on one side, and the little holes on the other. Use the little holes. Having a finer grate means that it will melt faster for you on the grill.
MEAT: Make sure that your raw meats are pre-cooked before putting onto the pizza. A grilled pizza doesn’t spend enough time in the heat to cook them all the way through.
BACON: We like a bacon crumble, and I’ve worked out this way of making it like the pizza places. I freeze my bacon, then cut it into small chunks (about 2″ wide), then pulse the chunks in the food processor until evenly crumbled. Cook in a large frying pan, stirring very frequently, until evenly browned and just starting to crisp.
FIRST GRILLING: Slide the dough onto the grill over a medium heat. You’ll see the dough start to slip through the grates just a little bit, and that’s just fine! It won’t go far, and those will give you some nice grill marks.
Cook for 1 minute, LID OPEN, then rotate 90º and grill for another 30 – 60 seconds. The dough will be just starting to brown on the bottom, and will show some grill marks.
Use your tongs to lift a corner up and slide it back up onto your pizza peel.
Flip your dough over, so that the grilled side is facing up, and press down on it to flatten any air bubbles.
Add your toppings, leaving about ½ – 1″ around the edge.
SECOND GRILLING: Use your tongs to slide the pizza back onto the grill (very important to use the tongs so that your toppings don’t fly off!) and CLOSE THE LID for 1 minute. Open and rotate the pizza 90º, then close the lid for another 30 seconds. If at this point the cheese still hasn’t melted enough (and it probably hasn’t), use the tongs to slide the pizza onto your baking sheet. Return the baking sheet to the grill, close the lid, and check every 30 seconds or so until the cheese has sufficiently melted. The baking sheet ensures that your crust doesn’t overcook or burn.
At this point you are left with one hell of an amazing bbq’d pizza with a tender and slightly crisp crust. Enjoy!