Irresistibly crisp, lightly charred, and fragrant with herbs and veggies…grilled pizzas make an ideal summer meal, and one that’s probably quicker and easier to pull together than you think.
Your outdoor grill is perfect for delivering the kind of intense heat that makes pizza crust so delicious. Add to that the abundance of great seasonal ingredients like tomatoes and basil and you really can’t lose.
Here’s my 1-2-3 cheat sheet for making fabulous grilled pizza, plus a few superb recipes for further inspiration.
1. Prep your dough. You can buy pizza dough fresh or frozen or make your own if you have enough time in advance. Have the dough at room temperature and start forming the crusts while your grill is heating up. Roll or stretch the dough until it’s as thin as you can get it; it’s liable to scrunch up as you grill, so starting thin is always best.
If you find the dough pulling back as you work with it, cover it with a clean cloth and let it sit for 10 minutes to relax and then continue shaping it. Small circles are easiest to handle on the grill, but the shape and size can be guided by your recipe or your preference. And don’t worry about keeping the shape perfect−grilled pizza is deliciously rustic by nature.
Brush the prepped crusts lightly on both sides with olive oil and place them on baking sheets.
2. Gather your toppings. Things will move very rapidly once you start grilling, so prepare all the ingredients you need and have them ready beside the grill. If you’re following a recipe, read through it to make sure you have everything you’ll need, including tools and utensils.
I like to have both tongs and a metal spatula handy for moving and flipping the pizzas.
3. Ready to grill. The best heat for pizza grilling is medium-hot. To judge the heat, hold your palm over the grill about 5 inches above the grate; you should be able to keep it there for about 5 seconds before it becomes uncomfortably hot.
Make sure the grate is scrupulously clean to minimize sticking, then slide or place your crust on the grill. If it deforms a bit you can use tongs to pull it back into shape, but don’t worry about it too much.
Let the crusts sit on the grill until you see bubbles form on the surface of the dough and the underside takes on dark grill marks. Use tongs or a spatula to start rotating the crust until the bottom is firm and well browned with a few (not too many!) charred spots, about 3 minutes or so.
Transfer the crust back to the baking sheet with the browned side up and add your toppings: Sauce, cheese, veggies, whatever you like!
Slide the pizza back onto the grill, and close the cover so everything gets warm and melty. Rotate a few times until the bottom is browned and your toppings are hot, about 3 to 5 minutes.
That’s it! Sprinkle the pizza with fresh herbs and a drizzle of olive if you like and dig in.
Ready to give it a go? Experiment with your favorite topping combos, or try one of these recipes designed especially for summer pleasure:
For pure seasonal simplicity, nothing beats the combination of flavors in Grilled Heirloom Tomato and Pesto Pizzas . The tomatoes are the star here, but I also love the sprinkling of goat cheese on top — it’s irresistible when it gets warm and gooey!
For sausage fans, this Sausage and Arugula Pizza on the Grill is the way to go. And you don’t have to stick with classic Italian sausage: Try lamb sausage, chicken sausage or vegetarian sausage.
I have a weakness for white pizza, and Grilled Pizzas with Mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano is one of the tastiest pies I know. I could live on it all summer.
But pizza doesn’t always need cheese, a point proved most deliciously by this Spicy Grilled Vegan Pizza with Summer Squash and Pine Nuts . These pies are packed with flavor and gorgeous to look at too.
Got a favorite summer pizza? Tell us about it!