Grilled Pizza

We have been teaching friends old and new how to grill pizzas all throughout our trip, so now I’d like to teach you as well. Grilled pizza is fun, delicious, and always different.  It is great for when you don’t have an oven or it is too hot to turn it on! It works well for just the four of us, or a group. It helps to have at least two people participating- one topping, and one running the grill. It is even more fun if you let the kids and other friends help!

The Dough

This part takes a little prior planning, but this recipe makes enough for four pizzas, so I freeze half of it for the next time. Start about 2.5-3 hours before you want to eat. (Recipe modified from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone)

  • 1.5 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 4-4.5 cups flour (up to half can be whole wheat)

Put ½ cup warm water (test on the inside of your wrist, it should be slightly warmer than body temp) in a large bowl with yeast, stirring to combine. Let sit a few minutes to dissolve and become active. Stir in the rest of the water, salt, olive oil, and one cup flour. Mix well, then add the rest of the flour, one cup at a time. When the dough becomes too still to handle with a spoon, turn it out onto a floured work surface and begin kneading it. Add enough flour so that the dough no longer sticks to the counter, but not so much that it becomes too stiff and dry. Knead for about 5-10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary.

Leave the dough to rest while you wash out the bowl and put olive oil in the bottom. If you return to the dough and it is stuck in a gob to the counter, add more flour and continue kneading. As you knead, your dough will become soft and supple. When it is done, put it in the oiled bowl, turning to coat it with olive oil, then flip it over so it is all covered with oil. Drape a towel over it and let it rise in a warm, dry place for about 1 hour, or until it is doubled in size. If your house is cold, or your yeast old, it may take 2 or 3 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and cut it into 4-6 pieces with a knife. Shape each piece into a disk and set back on the floured counter. Drape with a towel and let rise again for 20-30 minutes. If you need to let them rise longer, cover lightly with plastic wrap to avoid drying out. Meanwhile, prep your sauce, cheese, and other toppings.


The Sauce

You can use anything for this! The key is that it is not too watery or it will make your crust soggy. We often just use olive oil. You can infuse your olive oil with garlic and/or herbs if you want to get fancy (oregano, basil, thyme, or rosemary would be excellent.)   Marinara and pesto work great. My favorite lately has been BBQ sauce because Matt bought 2 huge Costco sized bottles in Portland. We had a really great pizza the other night that used cream cheese as a sauce and had onions and bacon on top.

Easy Marinara

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 pounds roma tomatoes, diced
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt, to taste

Heat the olive oil gently in a sauté pan. Add the garlic and sauté for one minute. Add the tomatoes, oregano, and ½ teaspoon salt. Simmer about 10 minutes until tomatoes are soft and most of the water has evaporated.

The Cheese

In the states we usually use mozzarella or cheddar, but you can use just about any cheese. Goat, feta, and parmesan are great for topping last. In Mexico, we found queso Oaxaca to be a fine substitute for mozzarella, but queso fresco also works fine.  Queso durro, or cotija is a good substitute for feta.

The Toppings

Be creative! Think beyond pepperoni. This is a great way to use leftover meats like chicken, pork or steak, or leftover vegetables like grilled broccoli or asparagus. The key here in regards to grilled pizzas is to not load them too heavily, or they will be difficult to get onto and remove from the grill. If you want a topping to be cooked, you will have to precook it because these pizzas do not stay on the grill for long. For instance, our bodies do not digest raw mushrooms well, so just sauté them ahead of time in some butter. Here are some fun combinations to try:

  • BBQ, cheddar, broccoli, bacon, and onion
  • Olive oil, sautéed onions – just onions!
  • Marinara, mozzarella, chard, black olives, onions, red pepper
  • BBQ, mozzarella, assertive greens (arugula or mustard), sausage, onion, pineapple
  • BBQ, mozzarella, chicken, poblano peppers, pineapple
  • Olive oil, sautéed mushrooms and leeks, and goat cheese
  • Olive oil, prosciutto, dates, and goat cheese


The Procedure

Make sure your work surface is clean and dry and sprinkle on some flour. Take a ball of dough and gently flatten it into a disk on your table. Continue to flatten it and stretch it gently, picking it up into the air as needed. Try to create an even thickness so you don’t end up with holes. If you mess up, you can ball it up again and then return it to the table to rest another 15 minutes before you try to stretch it again.

Once it is stretched, let the dough rest another few minutes, then brush the top with olive oil. Put on grill olive-oil-side DOWN. Grill a few minutes until it is browned and a little stiff. Flip the grilled dough onto a plate so that the grilled side is UP. This is the side you will top. First brush the edges of the crust with olive oil, then follow with sauce, cheese, then the rest of the toppings. If you want the cheese to melt, it has to be under the toppings. Return to the grill for a few more minutes until the bottom is browned. Remove onto cutting board, cut, and devour!



Photo Credits: Amy Loukes



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