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Grilled Pizza

All of the recipes I've found so far for grilling pizza also involve the process of making the pizza dough.

But, I went out to a nearby Italian deli, and just bought their pizza dough.

When I buy the pizza dough, can I just plop it on the grill? Or, do I need to let it rest and rise first and all the other stuff you'd do if you were making the dough?

And, what are some other tips/pitfalls I need to know for grilling pizza at home.

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  1. I would assume you are buying it ready to use, which means it has been bench rested and rolled out for you. Should be fine to use.

    Be prepared to ruin a few as you get used to the heat settings. I'm on my 4th batch, and just now really getting comfortable. But totally worth it.

    1. If it's cold you'll need to let it come to room temp.

      1. Indirect heat. I like putting the dough over the heat source until the dough bubbles/browns then flip it over off the heat and put the toppings on.

        1. You may need to cut the dough into smaller rounds, if it's a full pound of dough. Otherwise you will have a grande crust with no room on the grill for indirect heat. Make sure you have oiled the crust, and a little cornmeal on an unrimmed baking sheet as a makeshift pizza peel.

          And make sure your toppings are right next to you and ready to go at the grill. You need to work fast before it burns.

          1. Here is our process. Sorry that I am not completely sure about temps, but DH does most of the grill work. Our process does not involve indirect heat.

            - roll out dough to desired size and coat both side with olive oil.
            - put directly on grill grates (over hi/med-hi) until bottom is cooked.
            - Flip and par-cook next side (what was originally the top).
            - Remove from grill and put pizza on top of heavy duty aluminum foil, leaving the par-cooked side down.
            - Add toppings and place back on grill (still on aluminum foil) turning heat down to med/med-low.
            - When toppings are nice and melted, bottom should now be fully cooked.

            I have to admit out pizzas might be more like flat-bread, but they sure are tasty :-)

            1. We've done grilled pizza with great success. Our local pizza place will sell a ball of dough. We cut it in half and usually oil and cover with plastic wrap and bring to room temperature. Then flatten them out (either round or rectangle shape - it doesn't matter). Oil well and place on low grill to get some good grill marks. Oil top good before you flip and put toppings on. When you flip, place on heat just enough to get grill marks then move to indirect heat to finish until toppings are done to your liking without burning the crust. We absolutely love grilled pizza.

              1. The dough should be at room temp, besides that, you don't need to do anything else with it. If its refrigerated dough (as opposed to frozen) that should take about 2 hours.

                After it comes to room temp, stretch it, oil one side and place oiled side down on the grill and then oil the other side while on the grill. Depending on this heat, it should take 1-2 minutes to get charred and puffy on one side. Then flip it, top immediately (not too much) and put the lid on for another two minutes. Then it will be done. You won't get the fully meltiness on the grill because of the lack of ambient heat but it should be hot enough to generally melt the cheese somewhat, just don't overload it.

                7 Replies
                1. re: ESNY

                  Thanks everybody for the tip about bringing the dough to room temp because I would have never thought of it on my own.

                  Another question is the difference between grilling a pizza on charcoal vs. gas. I have a charcoal grill, but most of the stuff I've found has been for gas. Do I need to make any conversions in following the steps they show for grilling pizza with gas?

                  In a Fine Cooking video, they kept on closing the lid when they grilled it on gas. Do I also have to keep closing the lid as well if I cook over charcoal?

                  1. re: hobbess

                    When I brush olive oil over the pizza before I grill it, is the quality of the olive oil important?
                    Do I want to use the expensive stuff I save for drizzling or the cheaper stuff I saute stuff in?

                    My thinking is that the high heat of the grill would burn off the subtleties in expensive olive oil so you'd want to use cheaper olive oil but I just wanted to confirm my theory first with everybody here.

                    1. re: hobbess

                      Have you ever grilled or used olive oil in the past?

                      1. re: tommy

                        I thought that was obvious since I asked the question.

                        I got a grill, and grilling pizza is one of the fist things I'm playing around with on it.

                    2. re: hobbess

                      gas vs. charcoal makes no difference related to the instructions. Obviously if they say to turn the burners to high, you'll have to figure out what that means for charcoal but the actual means of cooking won't be different.

                      You want to keep the top closed for the ambient heat to melt the toppings. Not as important when cooking the first side as the second side. Here is a link from the website slice. They did a thing on grilled pizza few weeks back and have good pictures on the process.


                      Also, i wouldn't waste your expensive oil on this application.

                      1. re: hobbess

                        I always close the top when using the gas grill, but not when I'm grilling on charcoal because if you take the top off and on you run the risk of getting some floating ash over your food. This may not be a problem, but sometimes it happens. Other than that, charcoal grill with a full load of charcoal in it generally will be hotter than a regular gas grill so you may have to adjust temperatures.

                        1. re: Shann

                          I would suggest that if you don't close the grill this pizza will not cook correctly at all. Gas or not.

                    3. You need to build your charcoal fire low and have a hot side and a cool to the grill. Start it on the hot side. then flip it onto cooler side, add toppings and cover until they are heated thru.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mariab

                        Exactly, I have a charcoal only grill, and it's important to make an indirect fire, and use your vents to control the heat, or it will burn pretty quickly.

                      2. I'm definately not a baker but have been making grilled pizza from scratch since it graced the cover of the July '97 issue of Bon Appetit. I strongly reccomend you give it a try sometime. It's super easy and foolproof. Anyone....and I mean anyone will have great success with it. Olive oil goes into making the dough so no additional oil is used for the grill itself. The secret is having the grate hot enough. I've never had a problem with it sticking. After grilling the dough on both sides, I remove it, place on a baking sheet and load it up with whatever combo of fixings desired. Then return it to the grill on the side w/ the least heat, til heated thoroughly. I've used both, gas and charcoal. Charcoal definately adds the most flavor. The recipe can probably be found on Epicurious. If not, I'll be glad to post.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Phoebe

                          Grilled some pizzas tonight, and they were an unmitigated disaster.

                          The 'best' one was all burnt and black; the worst one was all burnt on the outside but still raw in the middle.

                          I did the two zone approach, but I think where everything went wrong was that I didn't get the pizza dough thin enough before I put them on the grill. It ended up a mess where the dough was too thick, while at the same time, not thick enough in some parts because there were holes in the same dough.

                          Things got off to a bad start when I couldn't use flour on the cutting board to make it non-sticky to roll the dough out- the flour had gone bad and had to throw it out.

                          How do you know when the dough is thin enough? And, if its that thin, won't it be more susceptible to tears and holes?

                          1. re: hobbess

                            If you charred its but it was still raw in the middle, you're fire was too hot. How long did the pizzas stay on the grill on each side?

                            Its just a feeling for me but I'd guess I stretch it to 1/4 inch thick or less. Its easier to grill smaller pizza since having to throw it on the grill is more difficult that using a peel to slide into the oven. It shouldn't take more than a minute or two per side. And the flames shouldn't be touching the pizza but the dough should start bubbling within a few seconds.

                            1. re: hobbess

                              What kind of dough did you use? The recipe I use usually makes four 8 inch rounds. I have a peel that I use to assist me, but the dough is never sticky. I use minimal flour on the peel. I do roll the dough out pretty thin. (Kind of like a thin pita bread.) I've never had a problem with it tearing. The secret is to have the grate hot enough but not too hot. I let the coals turn gray. As soon as my dough hits the grill, it starts to "puff" up almost instantly. This is not something you can walk away from. Total grilling time on each side......2 to 3 min each. Which ever side cooks the most, is the side I use to place the toppings on. I do get blackened char marks on the dough, but the dough does not burn.

                              Here's the dough recipe I use:
                              1 cup warm water (105*-115*)
                              1 Tblsp sugar
                              1 envelope dry yeast (reg or fast acting work equally well)
                              3 Tblsp olive oil
                              3 cups (or more) AP flour
                              1 1/2 tsp salt
                              1 Tblsp chopped fresh rosemary (I always use more)

                              Combine water and sugar. Sprinkle yeast over and let stand til foamy, about 10 min.
                              Add oil, chopped rosemary, salt and flour. Turn dough onto floured work surface. Knead til smooth. (I don't spend a lot of time kneading) Add more flour by tablespoonfuls if sticky, til dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a large oiled bowl, cover w/ plastic wrap, then a towel and let rest atleast 1 hour. (I've let it rest for up to 3 hours) Dough produces a softer crust using minimal flour. This all depends on the humidity. After time lapses, punch down dough and proceed with rolling it out. I divide the dough into fourths. Easier to work with. I've never had it not turn out great!

                              1. re: hobbess

                                Ah that's too bad. I hope it doesn't put you off to the process.

                                So a few things that I think might have happened or may help for next time.

                                1. The lack of bench flour to help you while you stretched your dough out was a killer. Really tough to overcome that one.

                                2. Was your dough resistant to being stretched? I find previously frozen or chilled dough tough to stretch and therefore do it in stages. The less it resists, the more even the thickness and the less likely you'll develop tears and holes. If it springs back, don't force it. Stretch it as far as it wants to go, let it rest under a towel for 5 or ten minutes, then stretch again. I'd also avoid rolling pins as I find they tend to decrease the lightness of the finished product and you can't create a cornicone at the edge. Or at least I can't.

                                3. Was your dough at room temp? Cold dough could lead to excessive charring on the outside and raw dough on the inside.

                                4. You fire may be too hot for your desired thickness. Use fewer coals if you prefer a thicker pizza. Pizza ovens are CRAZY hot so if it's the right thickness it shouldn't be an issue.

                                5. I don't do a two zone system and I do just fine. I get by because I top my pizza very lightly and cut ingredients incredibly thin. The less you have to manage, the better. You should get a few blackened spots, but it shouldn't be all burnt.

                                6. Skip the mad dash until you have the technique down. Cook one side first with the lid on. Transfer the shell cooked side UP onto a plate. Take your time and brush with olive oil. Take your time and apply the toppings. Bring it back to the grill the char the bottom and cook the toppings.

                                7. Don't pile the coals too close to the grill. You're aiming for a really even, really high heat.

                                I hope those tips help you out. Please try it again. Once you have it down I'm sure you'll love the technique, especially when it's too hot to crank the oven inside the house.

                            2. I've been making pizzas and pitas on my trusty Weber grill for at least 20 years and have done it literally hundreds of times. Here's how:

                              For the dough, place 3 cups A/P flour (I usually use 2-1/2 cups A/P and 1/2 cup whole wheat), slightly heaping 1/2 tsp active, dry yeast, 1 tsp table salt in food processor fitted with a dough blade. Pulse to mix. With the machine running, slowly add exactly 13 fluid ounces warm water, and continue to process until dough comes together and pulls cleanly away from the sides of the bowl. (It's ok to continue to process for about 10 seconds after the ball forms, but don't get carried away.) Generously oil the inside of a bowl (at least 2 quart size) with extra virgin olive oil. With a spatula, transfer the dough ball to the bowl, and turn it over once just to coat it with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for several hours. If you don't want to use the dough immediately, place it in the fridge after it has risen. It'll keep for up to about 2 days and will improve in flavor as it rests. Just bring it to room temperature at least 4 hours before you want to use it. This will make enough dough for 3 very large or 4 medium/large pizzas.

                              To make pizza, pre-heat the grill on medium/low for about 20 minutes in warm weather and longer in cool/cold weather. Prepare a pizza peel or thin, flat board such as an old drawer bottom by sprinkling it with a little coarse corn meal. Roll out a piece of the dough so that it's quite thin - how thin is up to you. Place it on the peel or board, brush or spray it with a little olive oil, and cover it with a plastic bag for about 10 to 15 minutes. Before sliding the dough onto the grill, lower the heat to low. (Before you try to slide the dough off the board, make sure it will slide freely without sticking by shaking the board.) As soon as the dough is on the grill, close the cover and set a timer for 3 minutes. Check the dough by lifting a corner gently; if it's sufficiently browned turn it over with tongs. Immediately and quickly brush or spray the other side with a little olive oil, and, working as quickly as possible, sprinkle on whatever toppings you prefer. Close the cover and continue to cook until the bottom side is nicely browned. The second side will brown more quickly because it was oiled unlike the first side which was facing down on the board. Keep in mind that the toppings will not brown as they would in a conventional oven (unless you want to cremate the whole thing.)

                              I keep several old drawer bottoms on hand that I've sanded down to about 1/8th inch thickness with tapered ends. They take up very little storage space and are perfect for this purpose. The dough won't stick to the wood if you just remember to use a little cornmeal. (I bought an old dresser at a tag sale for $1, removed all the drawer bottoms and burned the rest of the wood in the fireplace.)

                              You can make pocket pitas with the same dough recipe. This recipe will make 8 pitas. If you want pockets to form, DO NOT oil them. For some strange reason, the oil seems to prevent pockets from forming. They take exactly two-and-a-half minutes on the first side and one-and-a-half minutes on the second side - 4 minutes total. Brush or spray them with a little olive after they are finished cooking, and keep them in a plastic bag so they stay soft.

                              One thing to definitely remember is DO NOT overload the pizzas with topping. Less is more! The toppings should be very sparse unless you want to end up with a soggy mess. The toppings should be as dry as possible. If you use fresh basil leaves, put them on immediately after the pizza is finished cooking. If you use any tomato, drain it really, really thoroughly and use very little of it. That's probably the most important rule to remember.

                              1. Lots of good replies already here, but no one has mentioned my technique so I figured I'd chime in. I cheat a bit... I use parchment paper, as follows:

                                1) I roll the dough out on parchment paper.

                                2) I plop the rolled dough, still on the paper (paper side down) right on top of the grill (all burners firing, preheated to a point where I'm seeing a constant 475-500 on the thermometer).

                                3) After a minute or two I give the dough a 90 degree turn.

                                4) Another minute or two, and I brush the top of the dough with olive oil, and then use the corners of the parchment paper to flip the whole thing over.

                                5) Peel off the paper, apply whatever sauce and cheese you like, then give the pizza a 90 degree turn (assuming that it took you long enough to apply the toppings that at this point you have nice grill marks in one direction on the bottom of the pie. If not, wait a bit longer.)

                                6) Close the grill for 2 minutes or so to promote melting of the cheese

                                7) Pull the pizza off the grill, let it rest for a few minutes, and then devour it.

                                I've done this with homemade dough but usually I buy it at the supermarket. It's sold in the deli section of most of the grocery stores local to me.

                                Problem with this method: You don't get quite as well defined grill marks on the top of the pizza thanks to the paper getting in the way.

                                Benefit of this method: Worry-free, dead simple pizza on the grill. Having done it both ways I have to say that I'm much happier with the parchment paper than without; it lets me enjoy my time with the grill, gives me a chance to sip on my cold beverage from time to time, and allows me to concentrate on better things than whether the pizza will work.