Guide to Perfect Pizza on the Grill

Guide to Perfect Pizza on the Grill

Just because you don't have an outdoor pizza oven doesn't mean you can't make a great pizza. Freshly made pizza off the grill makes for a fantastic meal or appetizer, and it is quite easy to do.

Following are two basic sets of instructions. A pizza dough recipe and a number of pizza recipes are available in our recipes section. You can buy fresh pizza dough at many markets, or you can make your own.


Pizza on the Grill Technique One — Baked on a Pizza Stone

For larger and more powerful grills.

What You'll Need:

  1. A grill large enough and powerful enough to hold a hood temperature of 500ºF while only some of the main burners are running. You need an indirect cooking zone (an area of the grill grate with the burners underneath turned off) that is large enough for making pizzas. Kalamazoo Hybrid Fire Grills can do this, but not all grills can. If your grill cannot, try using Technique Two described below.
  2. A pizza baking stone that fits over the indirect cooking zone.
  3. A pizza peel.
  4. Pizza ingredients, including extra flour and/or corn meal.
  5. Wood chips or chunks (optional).

Step One: Pre-heat the Pizza Stone

Place the pizza stone on the grill over the indirect cooking zone and preheat the grill to 500 degrees with the hood closed. Most pizza stones will require about an hour to thoroughly come up to temperature.

While the stone is heating, set out the cheese, pizza dough and any other ingredients to bring them to room temperature before assembling the pizza.

We like to use wood smoke while cooking pizzas this way. At the one-hour mark, you should have wood smoking or about to smoke (See wood notes that follow).

Step Two: Pre-cook the Pizza Ingredients

While the pizza stone is preheating, any raw meat ingredients, such as sausage, chicken or shrimp, should be cooked. No raw meat should be assembled on the pizza. You can grill food alongside the pizza stone as it pre-heats, but keep the hood closed as much as possible.

This is also a good time to roast garlic or grill onions, if you are including them on your pizza.

Step Three: Assemble the Pizza

All ingredients should be chopped, sliced and otherwise prepared before forming the pizza dough.

Shape the fresh pizza dough using plenty of flour to prevent sticking. You can use a rolling pin dusted with flour, but we prefer to simply use our hands to stretch and shape the dough. The more "relaxed" the dough becomes, the easier it is to shape. Leave the dough, covered, at room temperature for at least an hour before using it. We find that 10 to 12 ounces of dough is ideal for making pizzas using this technique. It is easier to make multiple small pizzas than it is one large pizza.The dough should be formed to a maximum of 1/4" thick.

Sprinkle the pizza peel with corn meal or flour so that the pizza will slide off easily when you move it to the grill. We recommend a perforated, metal pizza peel. Transfer the pizza dough to the pizza peel before assembling the pizza.

Add the ingredients, and be sure not to overload the pizza.

Step Four: Cook the Pizza

Wood smoke should be going strong at this time (See wood notes that follow).

Bring the assembled pizza on the peel to the hot pizza stone. Maneuver the peel over the pizza stone, and gently shift the peel with a sliding motion to get the leading edge of the pizza crust just off the end of the peel. Touch the crust down to the stone and then quickly and smoothly slide the peel back from under the crust like a magician pulling the tablecloth out from under the place settings.

Close the grill lid and cook the pizza at 500°F for about ten to twelve minutes or until the crust is browned. After the fist five minutes, use a small pizza peel or grilling tongs to rotate the pizza one-half turn (180 degrees) on the stone to help it cook more evenly.

When the pizza is done, remove the pizza from the stone using a pizza peel, or use grilling tongs to lift the edge of the pizza and pull it onto a pizza tray.

Sprinkle with any finishes, like fresh basil, parmesan or finishing salt, then slice and serve.

Wood Notes:

While the smoke from a wood-fired pizza oven will typically hug the ceiling and go straight out of the chimney without touching the pizza, you can often add the flavor of a wood fire when making pizza on the grill because you can trap more smoke in the grill hood. You can use a real wood fire to provide the heat for making pizzas with either technique described above, or you can use wood chips in a foil packet to create smoke (check out our information on smoking techniques).


Pizza on the Grill Technique Two — Grilled Directly on the Grate

For smaller or less powerful grills.

What You'll Need:

  1. A hot grill. This technique cooks the pizza directly on the grill grate.
  2. Pizza ingredients.

Step One: Pre-heat the Grill

Prepare a grill for direct grilling over a hot fire — 500ºF minimum.

Step Two: Pre-cook the Pizza Ingredients

Any raw meat ingredients, such as sausage, chicken or shrimp, should be cooked. No raw meat should be assembled on the pizza. This is also a good time to roast garlic or grill onions, if you are including them on your pizza.

Step Three: Shape the Pizza Dough

All ingredients should be chopped, sliced and otherwise prepared before forming the pizza dough. Toppings for pizza made with this technique should be applied sparingly.

Shape the fresh pizza dough using plenty of flour to prevent sticking. You can use a rolling pin dusted with flour, but we prefer to simply use our hands to stretch and shape the dough. The more "relaxed" the dough becomes, the easier it is to shape. Leave the dough, covered, at room temperature for at least an hour before using it. This technique requires the pizza to cook very quickly, so we recommend using 8 to 10 ounces of dough per pizza. Form the dough to a maximum thickness of 1/4".

Step Four: Grill the Pizza

Place the dough directly onto the grill grate over the hot fire without any toppings. Let it cook for about 30 seconds and then flip it over. Quickly place a thin layer of toppings on top of the grilled dough and close the hood. Continue cooking the pizza on the grate for a couple of minutes more. The need for sparing use of toppings is because they must heat and/or melt quickly before the bottom of the pizza burns. The total cooking time for each pizza is typically less than 4 minutes. Remove the pizza before the dough burns.


Making Pizza on a Kalamazoo Hybrid Grill

Technique One: Preheat the pizza stone in the indirect zone using gas the gas burners only, or add charcoal to the Hybrid Fire Grilling Drawer. After the ingredients are prepared, but before the crust is rolled out (about 15 minutes before the pizza goes on the grill), put  3 or 4 wood chunks into the drawer over the active burners to start them burning. Once the fire has caught, cook the pizza acording to the instructions.

Technique Two: Prepare a hot charcoal or wood fire in the Hybrid Fire Grilling Drawer with the gas burners below running on high. Wait until any visible flames have become small and the charcoal or wood is glowing hot and partially ashed over. Turn the gas burners to low, and follow the instructions for cooking.