Grilled Pizza: outdoor baking at its best

Forget the burgers and dogs; pizza is one of the best things to grill.

The grill marks add an extra layer of flavor to a meal that’s already pretty darned perfect.

I know what you’re thinking:

“There’s no way it’s going to fully cook before it burns.”

“The dough is going to sag down past the grate and fall into the flames.”

“This seems entirely too complicated; baking in the oven is just fine.”

Grilled Pizza via @kingarthurflour

Making grilled pizza is much, much, MUCH easier than it may appear. Not only is it quicker than baking in a conventional oven, but it keeps your house cool and keeps you outside in the gorgeous weather.

Tips for making grilled pizza via @kingarthurflour

For those tiny apartment dwellers, an outside grill is the perfect way to entertain. Not only can you prepare more food on a large grill than in a ridiculous half-oven, you won’t have to pile up your guests on the one love seat that fits in your tiny living room.

No need to push the boundaries of friendship; just have everyone bring a folding chair and spread out comfortably outdoors.

Tips for making grilled pizza via @kingarthurflour

I found that hosting a “grill your own pizza” party is always a huge hit with my friends and friendly co-workers. Sit everyone down at the picnic table with a piece of pizza dough and let them stretch it out.

If there are drinks involved, maybe designate one person to man the grill for safety purposes.

Tips for making grilled pizza via @kingarthurflour

Once the first side is baked and flipped, have a table filled with topping options, and let them create their own masterpieces to bring back to the table and share.

Grilled Pizza via @kingarthurflour

BBQ chicken pizza with crispy potatoes and caramelized onions.

Even better for those who hate dishes, all of the prep and serving can be done on parchment! A friendly warning, I LOVE parchment and will be raving about it for this entire blog. I couldn’t bake without it.

Our Pizza Crust recipe is great for making the night before, popping in the fridge, and taking out 2 to 3 hours before the guests arrive.

Tips for making grilled pizza via @kingarthurflour

Stretch out pizza dough on parchment and use the parchment to flip it out onto the prepped grill.

Things to remember when grilling pizza:

1) You can bake on a pizza stone, baking steel, or right on the grill. I prefer the grill marks, so I typically always go right on the grill.

2) Keep your grill on low. For my crazy, spastic grill, that means anywhere between 300°F-375°F. There’s a pretty short window between grilled and burned when the grill is set too hot.

Tips for making grilled pizza via @kingarthurflour3) Grill one side of the dough first, and put the cover down to get it baking. Once you flip to the other side, you can add the toppings. After you put the toppings on, put the cover down again to get the cheese melting.

Grilled Pizza via @kingarthurflour

Left: Margherita pizza. Right: BBQ chicken pizza with crispy potatoes and caramelized onions.

4) Pizza bakes up much faster on a grill than in the oven; be sure to have those toppings ready!

5) Make sure your grill or pizza stone is well oiled. Brush with oil before the dough goes down, or you’ll have a mess.

6) You can grill pizza without the aid of parchment; I’ve done it before. Lay it down on the grill by hand, or try to slide it off a thoroughly greased baker’s peel or spatula. You won’t look as cool, but it can be done!

Tips for making grilled pizza via @kingarthurflour7) A handy pair of grilling tongs will help you flip the pizzas over more easily than a spatula – provided you greased the grill well enough!

8) Have fun! Figuring out the perfect dough thickness and grilling technique may take a bit. Don’t stress if they aren’t perfect right off. Just call them “rustic” and watch your starving friends inhale them. They don’t care what it looks like, just that it tastes amazing.

Grilled Pizza via @kingarthurflour

Buffalo chicken pizza

Tips for making grilled pizza via @kingarthurflour

Even gluten-free pizza can be grilled. It takes a bit more planning, but even those who are gluten-sensitive can enjoy pizza created outdoors. Our Gluten-Free Pizza Crust is a delicious option and so easy to throw together.

Tips for making grilled pizza via @kingarthurflourGluten-free tips:

1) Be sure to grill the pizza on parchment for the first side. It’ll stick otherwise. I usually put my parchment right on the pizza stone, bake, and then flip it right onto the stone. The maximum baking temperature for single use parchment is 500°F. The edges of the paper will get a little dark, but no worries!

2) Make sure your baking stone is up to temperature before adding the dough. Oil it lightly before baking. Once you flip from parchment to stone, you don’t want your dough to stick.

3) Again, make sure those toppings are ready. All grills are different; you don’t want to end up with a burned bottom because it’s baking faster than expected.

Grilled Pizza via @kingarthurflour

Pepperoni and fresh mozzarella pizza.

Let me tell you, I don’t know how I functioned in the kitchen before parchment. It’s such a work horse. It really makes summer grilling easy, and helps to produce such a tasty and perfectly baked gluten-free pizza.

Tips for making grilled pizza via @kingarthurflour

This crazy group (plus two pooches) gobbled down eight pizzas in the making of this blog. Half had never made a pizza on a grill before; now all will never make it any other way! What a wonderful way to spend a sunny summer day, enjoying grilled pizza outdoors. Cheers!

Gwen Adams
About

Gwen Adams grew up in northern New Hampshire, on top of a mountain, surrounded by nature and not much else. After graduating from Lyndon State College in 2010, Gwen sought a career that combined her passion for writing with her love of baking. She found ...

comments

  1. Rosa

    I have enjoyed pizza on the grill….but I find I miss the browning of the cheese that you get from baking in the oven….any suggestions? 🙂

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Chef’s torch? Or a quick run under the broiler in your oven, though that kind of flies in the face of outdoor grilling… PJH

  2. Leslie

    After grilling the first side of the dough, do you remove it from the grill to add toppings or do you add toppings while it is on the grill? I don’t have a peel so I’m not sure what is the best approach!

    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Leslie, you flip the pizza over so the grilled part is on top, then you add the toppings. If your hands can stand the heat, add them right while the pizza’s on the grill; saves having to move it an extra time. But if you want to take your time over the toppings, it’s probably best to take the pizza off the grill and close the grill cover, to keep it hot while you work. Enjoy – PJH

  3. Garrett Michael Hayes

    For the geometrically inclined, always remember that a circular pizza of radius Z and depth A has a volume of pi*z*z*a.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for making us chuckle out loud this morning, Garrett. Pizza that is grilled and punny tastes the best! Kye@KAF

  4. terrydanner

    I don’t care for a gas grill so don’t own one. I prefer charcoal. How do the methods change?

    Reply
    1. Gwen Adams, post author

      Hi terrydanner. Let your charcoal burn off and get to to ash, and then follow the same steps as you would with gas. Be sure your grill is well oiled, and you base your bake time off of how your bottom crust looks. If it looks baked enough to flip, do so. Pizza bakes in anywhere between 7-10 minutes on the grill. Do some experimenting to see what works best for you. I have to imagine the smokey flavor of the charcoal is going to make your pizza taste amazing! -Gwen

  5. Mark Studer

    Great article. I cook all my pizza crusts, ( both sides) on the grill. Then I let them cool, ziplock bag them and freeze. They will keep for more than two months. Pull a crust or two out of the freezer top them while the oven heats to 400. Bake on a cookie sheet for 10 to 12 minutes. You will never buy another store bought pizza again.

    Reply
    1. SKP

      Wow. Awesome tip. I love home cooking in bulk to create convenience for busy days. Thanks!

    2. Norbert

      I do exactly the same and it works perfect. I pre-cook 12 to 15 pre-pizzas at a time, and refrigerate them and they will last at least 15 days. Light pre-cooking, don’t let them get brown. When ready to cook the pizza, keep them at room temperature and put them directly on the grill with toppings, and close the lid. In 3 minutes they will be done. Use only cooked toppings as this second part will only soften cheese and warm toppings. Secret to this pizza is : thin crust. As thin as you can.

  6. Ralph

    Another benefit to charcoal grilling is the ability to add wood chips to the coals to get that wood-fired oven flavor.

    Reply
  7. Kathy McGee

    Interesting. The hubby and I grilled pizza for the first time yesterday. Used King Arthur Perfect Pizza flour mix and their dough relaxer with Tuscon Herb Olive Oil for yummy flavor (local store for the oil). Pizza pan with holes in it, toppings , then onto grill. No flipping needed. So good we are grilling pizza again tonight. Great idea using parchment paper for serving- thanks!

    Reply
    1. Gwen Adams, post author

      Sounds like you’ve got your grilled pizza techniques all figured out, Kathy! Sometimes I like to brush my pizza with garlic oil before it goes on the grill. So good! -Gwen

  8. deb in sc

    If you are grilling with a pizza stone, do you still put naked dough on it, let it bake, flip it over and then top? Or do you put a “fully dressed” pizza right on the stone?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The method in the blog suggests baking the dough, then flipping and topping. You can definitely experiment with moving the fully dressed pizza, but it’s going to take speed and a very deft hand with the peel. Laurie@KAF

  9. Joe

    Thanks for these tips with photos – they really help illustrate the tips. I love grilled pizza because it has an added taste that you just don’t get with traditional oven-baked pizza. Also, having the grill at a lower temp is key to making sure you have enough time to put all the sauce, toppings, chesse, etc. on before the second side is baked. Thanks!

    Reply
  10. Carly

    This sounds great! I’ve made your pizza dough before with great success. I’m anxious to try it on the grill. I do have one question, though. The pizza dough recipe says to let the dough rise after stretching it in shape (if refrigerated). It doesn’t sound like you did that here? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Carly! When taking dough from the frig, I recommend allowing it to come close to room temperature before hand stretching or rolling. Portioning and pre-shaping into rounds will help speed the process. The dough may need at least a couple hours rest before it is ready to be handled, so plan accordingly. If the dough is a bit on the cooler side, yes, bank on another short rest once stretched. And if it was difficult to stretch (or roll) to that point, try stretching again after the rest. It will be more forgiving! Gwen is probably not using refrigerated (or cooler) dough here in her blog. After her friends stretched their dough, one by one they await their turn for grill space. During this time, the dough will rest and may even do a slight rise. Don’t their pizzas look fabulous? Happy grilling! Elisabeth@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Set your grill temp. low so the pizza bakes between 300′ and 375′. How long to “bake” the first side will take some trial and error on your part (read frequent peeking here) to get the right char marks or golden brown marks on the crust. Gwen used 7-10 minutes as a guide to bake the whole pizza! Enjoy the journey – happy baking! Irene@KAF

  11. Melanie

    If you did kind of an assembly line with a few people… Ie grill one side, remove to add toppings then wait your turn to put it back on the grill for finishing would the interruption to the grilling baking process affect the pizza base?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Not at all. As long as you get a good start on grilling the first side. If the crust is slightly under cooked on that first side it may be harder to maneuver around as it will be softer and less stable. And if this is the case, the ingredients (namely sauce) may further compromise its stability. It is not an impossible situation, so have no fear. Just be slick with the pizza peel as you slide the pizza back onto the grill! Elisabeth@KAF

  12. Brenda

    I don’t have an outdoor grill…. can this be done (albeit in smaller mini pizzas) on a grill pan on the stove or even a tabletop flat electric grill?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      My guess with these methods, the surface will not get hot enough to crisp the crust. But, good question for sure! Elisabeth@KAF

  13. Lesley

    I followed the above direction for dinner last night, including reading the comments. I seem to be the only one who could not remove the dough from the parchment paper. What did I miss.?? Stretched on paper, had to wait for grill to cool, about 5 minutes. Dough had to be pushed off with fingers first then a spatula. In the process dough shrank back and holes created. Was fun to do,enjoyed flavor would like to do again, but like the picture.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Lesley, sometimes if your pizza dough is on the wet side and it sits on the parchment a bit too long it can stick. It’s fine to spray the parchment with nonstick spray or dust the parchment with flour or semolina to help prevent the dough from sticking to it. Barb@KAF

  14. Steve

    I do not oil my pizza stone. I sprinkle it with corn meal. Pizzas slide right off, no mess, no fuss. I make the pizza inside on a corn meal dusted cookie sheet. I slide it off onto the pre heated pizza stone (400) to bake. Then I slide it onto a clean cookie sheet to remove. The Big Green Egg makes a great pizza. So much better than an oven pizza. Nothing beats pepperoni with crispy edges!

    Reply
    1. Alyse

      I also use corn meal for my stone as well as when I use my indoor pizza maker. Never had a sticking problem! Do be careful not to burn your cornmeal

    2. Quasibozo

      The only downside of the meal-on-peel-to-stone method is that it can make a mess of your oven in short time. I have to vacuum it out routinely or the fire alarm may sound off when baking after a few sessions. Try this, my preferred method: I find corn meal to be bitter. It doesn’t make sense to me to use corn products when baking wheat based goods such as pizza and bread. I use old fashioned “Cream Of Wheat” (not instant) as my peel transfer aid. First sprinkle a tablespoon or two of flour on the peel and then add the cream of wheat to your satisfaction. For ease I keep a 1qt plastic beverage container with AP flour and cream of wheat already mixed. Give it a shake and use. Happy baking.

  15. Denise

    I own a Bigg Green Egg. I am having trouble getting a fully prepared pizza from my peel to the preheated stone. I have tried four and semolina. Also, I have read that people are cooking pizza on the Egg @ 500*. Should I precook the crust at a lower temp of 300-400* and then increase my temperature?

    Reply
    1. Steve

      Denise: I roll out the dough on a floured counter, then transfer it to a cornmeal dusted cookie sheet. Then I build the pizza. I precook the onions, peppers, sausage, mushrooms, etc on the grill while the stone is warming. That eliminates some unwanted moisture. The prepared pizza will slide right onto the cornmeal dusted 400 degree stone. About 25 minutes later you have an outrageous pizza. 500 sounds way too high. I guess that I should note that I like more of a Sicilian pizza crust. I use basic white bread dough to achieve my thick crust pizza. I get two pizzas per batch of dough. Perhaps the bread dough is less sticky and easier to handle? Anyway, that is the hookup for us.

  16. VT Made Richard's Sauces

    This is a great grilled pizza. Richard’s Sauces were used as the pizza sauce when we were at the Harpoon Beer Festival a few years back. King Arthur Flour staff are great to work with.

    Reply
  17. Lynn

    Another way to cook the crust in the grill without it sagging between the grates is to make the dough stretch it out into a many small ones or a large puzza the put it in the freezer and let it get stuff. This make the crust totable to the grill. Cook one side then flip add topping to a heated upside that just cooked and while the other side is cooking your toppings are melting and cooking. Just control the temp by not having it so high. Slow and yummy is the key.

    Reply
  18. Norbert

    Try this: pre-cook your thin crusts, don’t let them brown. One side. Take out, put your tomato sauce on it, add cheese. Back to the grill just a minute or so, only enough to soften the cheese. Take them out and with a spoon, press the cheese so it reaches the border of the pizza, every inch, so borders will not burn. Put toppings on , and back to the grill for a couple of minutes. Close lid. Works great with thin crusts.

    Reply
    1. Quasibozo

      Everyone, be sure to offset your heat source when kettle grilling. If your using wood or charcoal, you can poke a few holes in two or three aluminum bread pans, fill with your fuel choice, and place at rear perimeter. Do bring to red embers before baking. Do not place your stone or grilled pizza directly over the heat. Vent for heat convection. Wise to par cook doughs before assembling. Oil tops of pizza dough if toppings may possibly release excess liquid, such as fresh tomatoes. Pre grilling or saute of certain toppings are a plus for that reason.
      Happy pizza.

  19. Stacy

    These look so amazing that I can almost taste and smell them! We’ll be having them for dinner tomorrow! I’ll have to sub kamut flour for the wheat flour but I have good success doing that. I can almost taste it now…come on over, I may save you a bite or two…..

    Reply
  20. JJ

    we bake ours on a **wood pellet grill** @400. The wood smoke (we like hickory) adds a subtle, but delicious element to the flavors.

    Reply
  21. Janay

    We are living in an RV and I don’t have my pizza stone. I sprayed some parchment paper with spray oil, then placed the stretched dough on the parchment. ( 4 pizzas, 4 pieces of parchment). I brushed the top with olive oil and then flipped the oiled side down onto the hot, oiled grill. The parchment peeled off the top, starting from one side without shifting (too much). After cooking one side, I remove to add toppings while the next crust cooks.

    Reply

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