If you’ve been reading for a while, you’re probably well aware of my deep affection (obsession?) with grilling pizzas. It’s become mine and Adam’s favorite way to spend an evening, and over the last couple of years we’ve mastered our technique and experimented with topping combinations ranging from butternut squash & blue cheese to thai chicken & bean sprouts. After countless reader requests for the recipe, I decided it was finally time to spill – and invited my photographer friend Buff Strickland to capture every moment of a typical pizza night at our house. Hope you enjoy the step-by-step…and if you decide to adopt this as your “secret” pizza recipe too, I won’t tell a soul.
Let’s start with the recipe for the perfect dough, shall we?
*makes 24 oz dough or enough for 6- 10” pizzas
- 1 envelope (2.5 tsp) active dry yeast
- 2 cup warm water
- 2 tsp sugar
- 3 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup finely ground corn meal or whole wheat flour (I use a mixture)
- 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 4 1/2 – 5 cups all purpose flour
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with dough hook, stir yeast into warm water and sugar. After 5 minutes it should bubble, then stir in salt, corn meal & 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring at low speed until dough forms a ball and pulls away from sides of bowl (about 4 minutes.) You may need to add a little more flour or water to get the right consistency. Let dough rest in bowl for 15 minutes. It should be fairly soft.
Remove from bowl and divide into 6 equal pieces. Gently round each piece into a ball and brush with olive oil. Place each ball into a zippered plastic storage bag and drizzle remaining olive oil over each. Seal bags closed. Let sit for at least 30 minutes, or for the best flavor, refrigerate them overnight. Remove from fridge at least 1 hour before making pizzas. You can also freeze dough for up to 3 months – let thaw and come to room temperature before rolling out.
On a lightly floured cutting board, roll dough into a 10-inch free form circle as thinly as you can. Even thickness is key, but don’t worry too much about if it’s round, oval or rectangular…it should look “rustic!” Place on a sheet pan or cutting board, with sheets of parchment paper layered between stacked crusts.
I completely prep all my ingredients and set them next to the grill beforehand, since once the cooking process starts everything happens really fast. For a fun pizza party with a big group of friends friends, set out tons of ingredients and let guests build their favorite combos. This time, we had roasted peppers, fresh figs, roma tomatoes, italian sausage, fresh mozzarella, basil, garlic oil and caramelized onions.
The key to grilling the perfect pizza is all in the temperature of the grill. Prepare a two-level gas grill: one side should be at the highest temperature possible (we bring ours up to 600 degrees) and the other side should be on low heat. Brush one side of your rolled out dough with olive oil, and place the oiled side down onto the hottest part of the grill.
Within a minute, the dough will puff and bubble on top. Lift up the edge with tongs or a spatula, and if grill marks are visible, flip the crust over onto the cooler side of the grill.
Starting with the sauce, spread a thin layer of all your desired toppings onto the crust leaving a border. I topped this pizza with crushed tomato sauce, roasted red peppers, spicy italian sausage and fresh mozzarella.
Immediately close the grill hood and cook for a few minutes until the cheese melts. You want to put the hood down as quickly as possible, as this creates a flow of convection heat that simulates a pizza oven and results in the perfect crispy crust.
Using a large spatula, transfer the pizza to a cutting board.
Top with herbs or arugula after the cooking process so they don’t wilt. At our house, pizza nights usually call for a simple, modern table setting. A burlap runner, striped West Elm napkins, stemless tumblers and Heath stoneware plates are my go-to accessories.
While the grilling’s going on, I like to set out appetizers and wine for my guests to enjoy on the terrace. Grilled artichokes sprinkled with maldon sea salt are always a winner. (I shared the recipe here.)
Serve the pizzas family-style on a big wood cutting board in the middle of the table, and cut into squares or wedges with a sharp pizza wheel.
Let the feasting begin…
Get the recipe for this fig & caramelized onion pizza here.
The perfect ending? Icy scoops of sorbet are a refreshing palate cleanser after all that pizza. This lavender version is my fave, especially served in pretty Anthro glasses and topped with lavender from the garden. We poured glasses of sweet Moscato d’Asti and hung out until the sun went down.
See more of Buff’s work here