grilled pizza – smitten kitchen

For a lengthier conversation about pizza dough and how and why I make margherita pizzas the way I do, read here. This post is just for the purpose of cooking pizza on an outdoor grill, one of my favorite summer meals.

To doctor a can of tomatoes into a great pizza sauce, drain or pour off some (but not all) of the extra liquid in the can, and blend the tomatoes to your desired texture. Season with a few fine gratings of fresh garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes. Sometimes, a pinch of sugar helps overcome the acidic flavor of canned tomatoes. You also might use a few drops of red wine vinegar. Do not cook this sauce; it will cook on the pizza.

One of the most common things I’ve read about grilling pizza, and what used to be my least favorite thing about it, is that you have to be hyper-organized and ready to work quickly. I disagree; I grill the first side then, if I don’t have enough space to spread out outside, take it back inside, top all the pizzas at a normal pace — set the table, toss the salad, etc. — and finish grilling them when we’re ready to eat.  

As written, this makes 4 thin, smallish pizzas. For us, this is an un-heavy meal with a big salad. But I know it’s a bit scant for heartier eaters. If you double it and find it’s more than you need, the extra dough will keep in the fridge for at least a day, sometimes two, and longer in the freezer. I don’t think anyone will mind if you have to make this again .

  • 1 fully risen pizza dough (below) or about a 2/3 volume of my lazy fitted-to-your-schedule favorite or your favorite, whichever it may be
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • 1 generous cup prepared tomato sauce (see note up top about doctoring your own)
  • 8 ounces aged mozzarella (sold in plastic, not water) (this amount is light on the cheese, use more if that’s your preference)
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • A few leaves of fresh basil, torn or sliced

Heat your grill over medium-high.

Divide your dough into four quarters. Use your hands to gently stretch it into a thinner blob — it doesn’t need to be round — then lay it on a plate where you can stretch it further. We’re looking for a thin dough but it doesn’t need to be paper-thin or it might get too cracker-like once cooked. For this reason, I absolutely prefer hand-stretched over rolling pin-rolled for grilled pizza. You want an uneven, hand-stretched, thinness with some thicker spots. Repeat with other three quarters.

Brush tops of each thinly with olive oil. Place doughs oil-side-down on the grill (it will not fall through, promise) and cook for just a minute or two, until lightly browned underneath but still very doughy and soft on top. While they’re cooking, brush the tops of the doughs lightly with olive oil.

Once undersides are lightly cooked, remove doughs from grill and place cooked-side-up on a large tray. Thinly coat each cooked top with prepared sauce, then scatter with cheese. I like to season my pizzas at this point with a little salt and pepper before cooking them.

Slide each pizza back onto the grill and cook, lid down, until undersides are browned with a tiny char spot or two, and cheese has melted. If you abhor a pale pizza top, you could run these under your oven’s broiler for a minute for a toastier lid, but we rarely bother as the whole point is to cook and eat outside. Finish with fresh basil and eat immediately.

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