Almost nothing handles the job of making pizza at home as perfectly as a grill-safe pizza stone blasted on the surface of your grill.
Almost nothing handles the job of making pizza at home as perfectly as your grill. With a grill-safe pizza stone, you can achieve that blistery-charred, crisp-chewy crust you usually only get with professional pizza ovens. A closed grill lid helps replicate the ambient heat of a real-deal pizza oven and brings you the magic of just-golden, bubbling cheese. The relative precision of a gas grill means it's better suited for this task than charcoal.
To master the art of pizza-making, it's important to know that practice makes perfect. You know the peculiarities of your own grill. You know your own tastes. Consider this recipe a blueprint from which to build your own version of pizza perfection.
To save time and your sanity, we suggest sourcing high-quality store-bought pizza dough. You'll need about a half-pound of dough to fit a standard round pizza stone. Bring it up to room temperature for about 30 minutes if it's refrigerated. If it's frozen, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then bring it up to room temperature.
In the meantime, prep your sauces and toppings (more about that below) and arrange them next to your grill. You'll have to move fast.
Some recipes insist that you make your pizza on a pizza peel before sliding the dough, toppings and all, onto the stone. We say the chances for disaster are too high. Instead, make the pizza on the preheated pizza stone. Yes, right on the grill. Such a task requires organization and high heat tolerance. You've got this.
Set your grill for medium-high heat. Put the pizza stone on the grate for a few minutes so your dough starts crisping up the second it hits the hot surface. This means char, which means flavor.
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Stretch the dough out to fit your stone — the thinner the better. Toss it right on the hot stone when the temperature of the grill reaches around 500 degrees. A little semolina scattered over the stone helps prevent the crust from sticking. Don't use oil on the stone, but you can brush or drizzle some nice olive oil on the edges of your crust after getting it settled on the grill.
Apply your sauce sparingly and spread it around with a spoon. Add too much sauce, and you'll have a soggy mess. Then add your cheese and your other toppings, then close the lid to let the heat embrace your pizza in a fiery hug. Things are about to get good.
Check your pizza often, using tongs to rotate the pizza stone occasionally so your pizza cooks evenly. Your pie should be good to go in anytime between 8-13 minutes, depending on how thick your crust is and how hot your grill is. You want to hit the sweet spot: slightly golden, bubbling cheese over a crisp blistered crust that's browned on the bottom.
When it's ready, carefully — so carefully — transfer your pizza to a cutting board with a couple of large metal spatulas. Add your finishing touches (a bit of salt is key), let it sit for just a hot minute, then slice and serve with a nice, cold drink and plenty of napkins.
A pizza is only as good as its ingredients, so plan accordingly. Use these ideas to build your best pizza life.
How to build the best grilled pizza step by step
This is your foundation. Look for fresh pizza dough, readily available at any grocery store. Pre-stretched raw dough is a godsend. A pound should make two crusts on a standard pizza stone.
Use sparingly to avoid a soggy crust. For a white pie: olive oil and garlic. For a standard pie: high-quality canned tomatoes blended with a little fresh basil, salt, garlic and olive oil. For a vegetarian pie: pesto. Or use the canned stuff. We won't tell.
At least one soft or semi-soft: fresh mozzarella, shredded, low-moisture mozzarella, feta, goat cheese, ricotta, taleggio, gouda, provolone, fontina, raclette, blue, havarti and more. At least one hard: Asiago, manchego, aged provolone, pecorino.
The choices are endless, but don't go overboard: Roasted or fresh sweet peppers, pickled or fresh sliced jalapenos, thinly sliced red onion, crushed fresh or roasted garlic, browned sausage, chorizo, salami, mushrooms, olives, artichoke hearts or roasted chicken.
These are the final touches that take your pizza over the top. Add one or two right before serving: smoked salt, Maldon salt, chopped fresh basil, fresh arugula, oregano, crushed red pepper, a drizzle of aged balsamic, hot honey or olive oil.
Mackensy Lunsford is the food and culture storyteller for USA TODAY Network's South region and the editor of Southern Kitchen. Reach her at email@example.com.