Ever since I got a proper gas grill, I’ve been working on becoming a total grillmaster. That means all the usual things like learning how to make moist and flavorful chicken, steak, fish, and vegetables…but one of my favorite things to experiment with has been grilled pizza.
So I wanted to share what I’ve learned and provide my best tips for how to grill pizza dough (along with some of my favorite grilled pizza recipes).
The beauty of grilled pizza is how versatile it is…you can seriously top it with just about anything, as long as it’s already cooked or mostly cooked. From veggies to protein to fruit to cheese to chocolate, you can’t go wrong.
I’m sharing two different techniques for how to make grilled pizza, both of which I’ve used extensively, are easy, and work well. Part of it depends on what you prefer, and also what kind of end result you’re looking for…technique #1 has a little more of a flatbread feel and #2 is more traditional style with a puffy outer crust.
Some tools that will make grilling pizza easier
First off, you don’t *have* to have anything special to make great grilled pizza. However, over the years I’ve found that these tools make it much easier and my final product more consistent than what I had previously.
- Thin bamboo rolling pin (easier to control with the dough)
- My multi-purpose scraper which is one of my absolute must-haves for working with dough
- Silicone-tipped tongs for moving the dough around on the grill
- A giant spatula for moving the full pizza around
- A silicone brush for brushing on olive oil and other stuff (especially technique #1)
- For technique #2 you need parchment paper (I usually get mine at Costco or Sam’s)
Totally optional things that are I have loved for my own pizza adventures…
- A crazy intense but amazing pizza cutter (I love this sucker, but keep your fingers free!)
- This cheese mill makes grating your own cheese easier (fresh-grated is much better in my opinion, as the store-bought grated cheese have stabilizers that keep them from melting well)
Let’s talk dough…
Obviously, first you need some dough. You can buy pre-made (though I haven’t tried that, so can’t speak to how well it works grilling). But making your own dough is SO easy and the flavor is so much better.
I have what I think is the best grilled pizza dough recipe here with detailed instructions (one of the most popular recipes on my site for years). It’s a really easy recipe, only takes 5 minutes to throw together, and then the rising times are very flexible depending on what you need.
A few tips on preparing your dough for grilling:
- Make sure your dough is nice and sticky before it rises—don’t add too much flour! Dry dough will be hard to work with and won’t roll out nicely. It also has a tighter, tougher texture once grilled. A wetter dough will help make an amazing flavor and soft, chewy texture.
- Feel free to make your dough the night before…it’s a super flexible recipe, and the longer it rises, the more flavor it has.
- I almost always do it the night before to up the flavor potential. Just put it in the fridge overnight and bring it to room temperature before grilling (and letting it rise a bit more doesn’t hurt either).
- I’ve also made the dough, rolled it into balls, and frozen it, then thawed it in the fridge overnight when needed (still need to bring it to room temp beforehand). Basically, it’s extremely forgiving.
- I recommend making slightly smaller pizzas, not full size…the dough is just easier to work with, move around, etc. That’s especially important for technique #1.
- You want to get the dough fairly thin so it grills evenly and your toppings melt and warm. THIS IS KEY.
- If you’re using technique #2, you can leave a slightly thicker edge around the outside so it puffs up nicely.
Save for later: A Tool to Decide What Bread to Make Based On How Long You Have…
How to make the best grilled pizza
Now it’s go time! Regardless of which technique you’re doing, preheat a gas grill with all the burners on medium-high for 10 to 15 minutes before you plan to cook (my grill gets to around 500+ F).
- If you’re needing to make lots of pizzas for a crowd, just adjust your burners to more like medium right as you put the dough on the grill (still around 500 F).
- If you’re only making one or two pizzas, it’s helpful to have one side of your grill on that medium to medium-high, and then one side more like low so you can control how fast your dough cooks (sometimes the bottom cooks too fast and burns).
- If you’re using technique #1, I highly recommend setting up a little table or workspace near the grill with all your toppings, because things go pretty fast once you start.
How to grill pizza method #1: Right on the grill
Using a silicone brush (like this one), brush a light coating of olive oil onto one side of the dough, then carefully place the dough directly onto the grill over the flames (oil side down).
Close the grill and let it cook for a few minutes, until the bottom of the dough shows char marks and is barely cooked (usually 2-3 minutes). While it’s cooking, brush some olive oil on the dough that’s facing up.
Brush a little more olive oil on the cooked side, then quickly spread your sauce and toppings on it. Don’t go overboard, as this will interfere with it cooking well. I like to start with a little coating of shredded mozzarella, to get a good melt.
Close the grill and cook until the bottom is nice and crispy, the toppings are warmed through, and the cheese is melted—another 2 to 5 minutes.
It will vary depending on your grill. You can turn your burners down a little to avoid burning it, but I’ve found that it does need SOME direct heat to get cooked well and get everything melted.
Once it’s done, use your tongs or spatula to slide the finished pizza onto a cutting board. Let it cool for a few minutes, then slice and serve. (I’m obsessed with this pizza cutter.)
How to grill pizza method #2: Parchment paper
This has become my new go-to, as it eliminates the terrifying step of flipping your dough on the grill (and wondering if it will tear). I also like that I get puffier crusts from it, a bit more traditional Italian-style result.
Lay a piece of parchment paper on a cutting board or platter. Roll or stretch your dough out very thin, but you can leave the very outside a bit thicker if desired. Go ahead and top your pizza (but still be careful not to go insane with toppings or it will get very soggy and not cook properly).
Then use scissors to cut around the parchment paper very close to the dough. I initially had issues with all the excess parchment ending up as black burnt bits in my pizza—this eliminates that problem.
Once your grill is hot, gently slide the pizza WITH parchment paper directly onto the grates. Close the lid and let cook for 2-3 minutes.
Then (once the dough starts to crust on the bottom), you can use the tongs to slide the parchment paper out and discard it.
Keep cooking the pizzas directly on the grill for another few minutes. You may need to turn your heat down slightly, or even turn one of the burners off to give it some indirect heat.
You’ll want to keep a very close eye on the bottom, you don’t want to burn it. Once your cheese is melted and the dough seems cooked through and crisp, use tongs, a pizza peel, or a large spatula to slide it off the grill and onto a large platter or cutting board. Let it sit for five or so minutes, then cut and serve.
Grilled pizza recipe ideas
Now you can go crazy with your toppings! I’m constantly playing around with different ingredient combinations, some which work better than others. Here are some of my current favorites.
Fresh Basil Pesto Pizza
Peaches, rosemary, goat cheese, and barbecue chicken
Fresh cherries, feta, and rosemary
I’ve also tried chocolate, peanut butter, and banana, as well as peanut butter and jelly…both were delicious but not perfect (the texture was off), so still working on them. But they’re winning flavor combos! I’m still working on figuring out dessert pizzas I love.
I’m still on the lookout for more awesome grilled pizza flavor and topping combinations, so hit me up with your best recommendations in the comments!
Other grilled faves you’ll love:
- A First-Timer’s Guide to Grilling
- Dynamite Grilled Chicken
- How to Brine & Grill the Best Chicken Breasts
- Sesame-Soy Grilled Salmon
Pin for later!
- 1 3/4 cups of water
- 1 to 2 teaspoons of active dry or instant yeast (see notes)
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 4 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour (see notes)
- 2 teaspoons of salt
Make the dough:
- In a stand mixer (with dough hook) or large mixing bowl, stir together the water and yeast. Let it sit for a few minutes until the yeast is dissolved and starting to bubble. Then stir in 3-4 cups of the flour, the oil, and salt. Mix until a shaggy dough is formed.
- If you're using a mixer, start it kneading the dough on low speed. This will give you an idea of whether you need to add more flour. You definitely want it on the stickier side. If necessary, add more flour a little at a time. Knead the dough with the dough hook for 5 to 7 minutes, or knead by hand on the counter for 6 to 8 minutes. Once it's been kneaded properly, the dough should form a smooth (still slightly sticky) ball and spring slowly back when poked.
Rising and preparing:
- If you're planning to use the dough right away, place it in a lightly-oiled bowl to rise at room temperature for 1-1.5 hours, or until it's doubled. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit.
- You also have the option to let it rise slowly in the fridge overnight. In that case, lightly oil a large ziploc bag and place the dough in there, and seal it. It can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. You can also freeze it (break into the appropriate portions and freeze separately); just thaw it entirely and then let it rise at room temperature for a bit.
See my separate post (linked above) for how to grill the pizzas
- This recipe is super flexible. You can also halve it; I often make a half batch, which gives me 2-3 large single-person pizzas.
- The less time you have to let the dough rise, use more yeast. If you're letting it rise in the fridge overnight, you can err on the lower side. I typically do 2 teaspoons because I'm using it right away.
- Make sure your dough is quite sticky---don't add too much flour! Dry dough will be hard to work with and won't roll out nicely. It also has a tighter, tougher texture once grilled. A wetter dough will help make an amazing flavor and soft, chewy texture.
- Feel free to make your dough the night before...it's aery flexible recipe, and the longer it rises, the more flavor it has. Just put it in the fridge overnight and bring it to room temperature (and letting it rise a bit more doesn't hurt either).
Roll your dough very thin!!! This is key, because it won't be pleasant if it's too thick.
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