For several years, I found the concept of grilled pizza intriguing, yet intimidating. I shuddered at the thought of placing pizza dough atop the grill grates, picturing globs of stuck-on dough or whole pizzas lost in the flames. Despite assurances to the contrary, I just couldn’t bring myself to try grilled pizza, until my co-blogger Lisa taught me how to grill pizza using a baking stone.
A baking stone makes grilling pizza amazingly simple. While some companies sell expensive stones that are specifically designed to withstand a grill’s high heat, I’ve had pretty good luck with the basic, inexpensive stones that can be found at Amazon, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond and similar retailers. Baking stones are more likely to crack if exposed to sudden changes in temperature, so it’s important to allow the stone to preheat on the grill and to give it plenty of time to cool. It’s also worth noting that baking stones should only be cleaned using a scraper and hot water, as they can absorb dish soap. Over time your stone will become stained and discolored; this is completely normal.
If your grill is too small to close completely when a pizza stone is placed on the grate, you can still grill your pizza. Simply allow the grill cover to rest on the protruding stone and keep in mind that you may need to adjust your grilling time. Since grills can vary so much in temperature, you’ll probably need to keep a close eye on your pizza to determine exactly what heat setting and times work for you.
When grilling a pizza in this manner, the only items you absolutely need are a baking stone, corn meal, and a portable preparation surface. The pizza must be prepared on a separate surface before being transferred to the preheated stone. A pizza peel is the ideal tool, although a rimless cookie sheet or large cutting board will work in a pinch. I have two peels, and my favorite is a large, smooth bamboo one that was a great find at Christmas Tree Shop. Before stretching the dough, it’s important to liberally sprinkle corn meal on the pizza peel. This will prevent the stretched dough from sticking, and make it easier to slide the prepared pizza from the peel to the stone.
Pizza dough is more relaxed and easier to work with when it’s at room temperature. Remove the dough from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you plan to use it (Since I like thin crust, I usually buy a large ball of unstretched dough from Bertucci’s and use it to make two pizzas). Unwrap the dough and set it on a lightly floured work surface. In a pinch, I have found that placing dough in a zip-top bag and then placing the sealed bag in a bowl of hot water allows the dough to relax more quickly.
Grilling your own pizza allows you to make the perfectly customized meal. It has become one of our go-to summer treats, and provides for an endless array of possibilities. Stay tuned for some of my favorite pizza recipes!
Grilling the Pizza:
1. Place pizza stone on cold grill. Preheat grill on high for about 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, stretch your dough by hand or roll it out on a lightly floured surface.
3. Place the stretched dough on a pizza peel covered with a generous layer of cornmeal.
4. Reduce heat to medium-high. Slide prepared pizza onto preheated stone, close lid and grill for 8-10 minutes (for thin crust) until crust is golden and slightly crispy. Thicker crusts will require more time.
5. Remove pizza from stone and allow stone to cool on the grill.