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How to Make Grilled Pizza: Some Quick Tips

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[Photograph: Adam Kuban]

Grilled pizza. What's there to say about it but that it's pretty awesome and that, yes, you can grill a pizza.

It's much more fun and interesting that that other stuff you're thinking about grilling. Burgers? Hot dogs? Steak? Hmmph. Don't you do those every weekend?

So here's my quickie guide to doing grilled pizza. It's not a step-by-step, hold-your-hand guide—because I don't think doing grilled pizza is that difficult. Are you going to get it right the first time? Maybe. But it takes some practice. So, to get you started, here's what you'll need, along with some helpful tips and links to some good recipes.


Update: Our Step-by-Step Grilled-Pizza Guide!

Editor's note (5/27/2010): OK, I know I said I wasn't going to hold your hand through this, but so many people have asked for detailed instrux during the summer grilling season that we have put together The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Grilling Pizza. And though I still think the tips below are good, this all-new updated guide is even better — especially for beginning pizza-grillers!
Check it out here! »



What You'll Need

So you're probably askin': What do I need to grill a pizza? That's not an altogether unreasonable query. Get your answer after the jump.

Preheating the Grill

Once you have all the tools and your topping prep work done, light your grill.

Gas: If you're using gas, preheat to medium. Done.

Coals: They're a bit trickier. Before you light them, pour enough in the grill to completely cover the bottom; then stack that amount in a pyramid for lighting or load it into a starter chimney. Light it and let it go till the coals are uniformly covered in gray ash. At that point, spread them around evenly. You'll want to cook over a moderately hot fire. To test this, hold your hand about 4 inches over the coals. It's moderately hot if you can keep your hand there for no longer than 3 seconds.

Going for It

Strech out your dough on a lightly floured pizza peel so that it's about 1/8-inch thick. At this point, brush olive oil generously over the dough with the pastry brush. Now slap that thing on the grill. Here you're going to have to use some skill. I slap it on the grill by quickly flipping the peel over so the oiled side of the dough smacks right on there quickly. Don't worry: The dough won't fall through the grate. You'd think it would, but it doesn't, and I've tried this on all different grills.

Once the dough is on the grill, you have about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes of cooking time before you need to flip it. But in the meantime, you'll want to quickly brush on a slathering of olive oil on the exposed side. Be careful not to overdo it here; too much oil, and it'll start dripping into the coals, causing dreaded flare-ups. When the dough starts to bubble on exposed side--like a pancake does (right)--it's time to flip. The dough should release easily from the grate at this point, since it frees up after a bit of cooking. Slide the peel under it, and lift off cooking surface.

Flip that thing and sauce and top it like like the devil himself is chasing your ass. This is not the time to go heavy on toppings. You need them to heat through and the cheese to melt. I might add here that it's helpful to have an assistant who serves as the sauce-applier. Once you've got your pizza topped, close the grill lid so heat can reflect down onto the top. Cook for about 1 1/2 minutes, checking after about a minute for doneness.

When the pizza's ready, use the metal peel--or tongs and wooden peel--to remove it from the grill. Throw it on a flat pizza pan, slice that sucker, and serve.

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