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Help! Pizza on the grill

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Summer's come to Sacramento; it hit 103 today. Pizza was on the menu for dinner, but there was no way we were going to fire up the oven. So I put the baking stone on the gas grill and turned it up to high. After a while the thermometer was pegged out at 650F.

Slid a pizza onto the stone, closed the lid, and waited 5 minutes. The top was underdone and the bottom was black. Turned the burners off and left the top open for a while, slid on another pie, and turned the burners back to high. Same result.

Has anybody here successfully made traditional pizza on a gas grill? If so, did you run into this problem? And were you able to overcome it?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

Alan

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  1. I do pizza all the time on my BGE. I have a plate setter and the stone sits on top of that. I run the temps around 550-650, works like a charm everytime.
    I wonder if you are running the temps to high? I know the wood fired pizza ovens at commercial places are running around 850-900.

    You might want to put some fire brick underneath the pizza stone to act as an additional heat sink.

    6 Replies
    1. re: duck833

      how tight does the lid close?

      I use a charcoal fired round Weber which has a really tight seal - depending how I arrange the coal and the vents I can manipulate all sorts of effects. between a slab of granite and tightly (almost) closed upper vents, it can do a fairly good oven.

      I believe it really comes down to venting, since your top was undercooked. so many, esp. gas don't seal well.

      saw your weather, isn't 103 a little early for the year? (ex-SF person)

      1. re: hill food

        How do you arrange the coals in a charcoal grill for pizza?

        1. re: krisrishere

          if you have a kettle-style charcoal grill (weber or bge) and a stone, lay a full bottom of charcoal. i strongly prefer lump charcoal to briquettes and avoid squirty starter fluids. i also prefer to use a stone, but then i like a bit of heft and chew to the crust--the sense that it has been baked, not grilled.

          1. re: silverhawk

            Sorry, I neglected to say that I don't have a kettle-style grill and I definitely use lump.

            1. re: krisrishere

              mine's a kettle, but FWIW I spread a thin, even layer across the entire bottom.

      2. re: duck833

        What is a plate setter?

        I have put the dough directly on the grill, it was ok.

      3. I do it all the time, but on the grills instead of on a stone. The thermometer on my hand-me-down Weber doesn't work any longer, but I just put it on H-H-H, keep checking till the bottom is done, then flip, top and close the lid till the thing's done.

        Times are impossible to quantify, since I do it by feel. But I'd suggest 86ing the stone, myself. Five minutes seems a bit too long, too.

        1. I would not use a pizza stone.

          Roll out your dough, preheat the oven, then oil one side of your dough, place the dough (oil side down) on the grill until firm and a bit browned, flip, add toppings and ingredients, turn off gas, close lid for several minutes (depending on toppings). Serve.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ipsedixit

            Exactly. A pizza stone is not required to grill pizza. Commonly, people think that the dough will fall through the grates of the grill but that's just not the case.

          2. surely the problem is caused by the fact that the stone is hotter than the air above it. the gas weber is designed to cook stuff from below. neither its weight nor design will optimize baking. still, you should be able to cook a decent pizza. you might start by checking the temperature of the cooker above the stone--the temperature the pizza cheese would feel. perhaps put a standard oven thermometer on a trivet on the stone and see what you get. it might be quite different from the temperature registered on the hood thermometer.

            presumably the best results will follow when the surface temp is as close as possible to the cooker air temp. the stone might well be baffling heat from the air above it. (this is why the "no stone" guys are having some success.) heat variation caused by direct baffling is less likely with a kettle weber or a bge because of their design. of course, the bge has the additional advantage of greater mass.

            if your stone has a very large area, consider a smaller one. alternatively, try a somewhat lower heat and longer pre-heat period. this should reduce the difference between stone temp and air temp--on balance a good trade off. you could also use a commercial wire mesh pizza pan instead of a stone. this would allow a more even--and hotter--pre-heating, but you'd need to dial down the gas when you put the pizza on the pan to avoid burning the bottom with the direct heat from the cooking bars.

            if you want pizza to become an important part of your outdoor repertoire, however, consider going back to a kettle weber or joining duck in using a bge. i've cooked pizza on a 3-bar gas weber, a charcoal kettle, and a bge. the bge is the best. on the other hand, if you like the convenience of gas and make pizza only as a change-up, the thoughts above might help and should yield good pie.

            1. I don't use a stone but I imagine it would work roughly the same with one if you flip it. I usually have the burners full blast on one side and off on the other. Put the dough on the hot side for a few minutes, flip it to the cool side and top it. You might need two stones, but I love the char on the bottom from being right on the grills.

              1. You don't need a stone on a grill. Open grill is better than closed.

                You DO need Thin Crust dough - not 1/2" or 3/4" thick stuff.

                1 Reply
                1. re: KiltedCook

                  I never use dough that thick on my grill. I make the dough translucent and spray it lightly, cook it on that side until it's firm but not really cooked, spray the top and flip. I can cook it longer by barely cooking the first side and get it very crispy but not burnt.

                2. I can make grill-style pizza just fine; it's traditional pizza that's giving me fits. The dough is way too wet (70% or so) to put on the grates. And the grill-style pizza I've made doesn't have the same bottom crust or the browned and blistered top of a Neapolitan-style pie.

                  I think hill food and silverhawk hit the nail on the head. Too much heat is escaping out the vents and through the steel of the lid. Something that seals up tighter (eg a Weber Kettle) and/or has more thermal mass in the lid (eg a Big Green Egg) could address this problem, but there's no way another cooking device is going to find a home on my patio.

                  I'm thinking the solution might be to build a faux brick oven inside the grill - one layer of fire bricks on the grate and another 8" or so above it. The upper bricks should have enough thermal mass to cook the top properly. But I'll have to find some kind of a sturdy rack to hold them.

                  Any brilliant thoughts or other input is welcome.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    well, you could put down a pizza stone, put a brick--or split brick-- at each end and a second pizza stone on top of the bricks. sounds kind rube goldbergy, but it might work, particularly if cooking pizza is a novelty and not a routine. if you want to cook pizza with a hefty crust frequently, you should consider a cooker better suited to the task--ie a bge. i agree with duck--though i must admit that until i got one some years ago, i thought the bge guys were pretentious blowhards fixated on ceramic jimcracks. the thing is--that cooker really works.

                    actually, i'm curious now about how an internal oven might work on the gas weber. if you give it a go, report back if you would.

                  2. POP for a large BGE and be happy!!! Slow smoker, pizza oven, high temp steaks, it has it all for the hound that wants good backyard food. Only hurts once when you buy it and will give you dividends for years.

                    Cheers!!!

                    1. Hmmm, lots of interesting opinions and differences.

                      I get excellent results using a pizza stone, high heat and a good preheating period as well as a closed lid. I always make the pizzas thin and probably no larger than 10 to 12". Also, while I add toppings, I don't overload them. In about 5 to 6 minutes, the pizzas are done. IMO, the key is the thickness of your crust.

                      1. I make pizza on my gas two burner grill using 12 clay tiles from Home Depot. I preheat on high, add pizza, turn down to medium or lower and watch carefully. I also set the two burners to different temps, which I speculate creates a bit of convection making the heat circulate. I have great success with this. I usually have to rotate the pizzas once or twice.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: scuzzo

                          I'm too lazy to search earlier posts, but when I use a stone, the dough does not go directly on it, just used to create a more homogenous heat between the coals and the grill.

                          1. re: hill food

                            If using clay tiles or stones, make sure they are WELL oiled. After a few times, you won't need to add any more oil.

                        2. Elevate Mr B.

                          Jfood makes pizza on his weber all the time, the first few were a disater.

                          He places two brick on the grates to elevate the pan away from the heat. He also just uses a rimmed cookie sheet instead of a stone. Butthe key was seaparation from the grates.

                          Good luck

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: jfood

                            Now there's a thought. Certainly easier than the Rube Goldberg oven I was envisioning. I'll have to give it a try. Thanks!

                            Time for some trial and error. I wonder how many nights in a row I can feed the kids pizza before they start to complain?

                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              If you have kids that complain about eating pizza every night then your problem lies with your kids, not with the pizza. :-)

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Something tells me the bathroom scale will tell me to quit long before the kids do.

                              2. re: alanbarnes

                                Here's a link with one example to use fire bricks to elevate the stone. With the BGE it's just as easy to over cook the top before the crust is done. Same problem reversed. You may want to consider pizza screens. Readily available on eBay and a lot easier to move your pie from point A to B.
                                You may want to consider a double pizza stone as well. This would lower the temp under your pie and elevate it a bit at the same time.

                                http://www.nakedwhiz.com/pizza.htm

                            2. No need to run your gas grill at 800, I find that five minutes between 450 and 500 does it. Now, for the best surface, forget the pizza stone, it is a waste and will eventually crack up, which is what happened to me when I made a pair of pies at 450. ACE hardware has firebrick which is used in pizza ovens, fireplaces, and the like. You get six in a box which is plenty for this purpose. Wash them and let them dry to get the grit and dust off. Place them in the central area of your gas grill and make sure they butt up against each other. Crank up the heat and level it off about 450 to 500 and let the brick get hot, this takes about 30 minutes...then sprinkle a quarter cup or less of corn meal on the brick. You should smell that corn cook very quickly, then slide your pizza onto the middle of the brick and let cook 5 minutes. At this point, I left the lid, use a wooden spatula and check the underside of the pizza to see if the toasty crust is ready and there you have it. You may need to turn down the flames after 30 minutes as the heat from the brick itself creates more heat and you don't want to burn your pie.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: worldcurmudgeon

                                another word on stone, I no longer have my granite slab, and recently wanted intense and sustained indirect heat and tossed in some rocks I found at random.

                                bad idea. granite is igneous and therefore stable as it's made by high temperatures. the flint I used that day is sedimentary and not only flakes, it also is prone to exploding...

                                I have since switched to fired terra cotta.