Even if you're intimidated by the idea, I'm hopeful that the following tips for grilling pizza will put your mind at ease and rev up your sense of culinary adventure. Grilled pizza is next-level pizza. While traditional pizza is still the best, of course, there's something about the crispness, smoky flavor, and gooey cheese you get on the grill. It's not a hard technique to perfect, but it does take a bit of practice – and, of course, having some great tips for grilling pizza to perfection definitely won't hurt.
1. Get the Right Tools
Whatever you're cooking, you need to make sure you have all the necessary tools ahead of time, and they need to be handy when you're ready to start cooking as well. None of the other tips for grilling pizza will matter if you don't have the implements you need. To start with, you'll want at least two pizza peels, and preferably three – just for building and transferring your pizzas. A lot of cooks recommend having one metal and one wooden peel, but you may find that you like all metal or all wood – it's up to you! You'll also need to make sure you have grilling tongs, to easily flip your pizza, a brush for your olive oil, and your grill, of course. That's pretty important, too.
2. Always Clean Your Grate
The grate on your grill is likewise important. Specifically, you absolutely have to keep it clean. If your grate is at all dirty, something really bad is going to happen. Your pizza dough is going to stick all over that thing, and you're going to end up with a huge mess and a demolished, inedible pizza. Clean your grate!
3. D'oh, the Dough
Speaking of the dough, let's have a long conversation about that. You have several choices in the dough you use. Namely, you can buy pre-made dough, get dough from a local bakery or pizzeria, or make your own. You don't need to worry that it's going to fall through your grill grate either – it won't, unless you make it incredibly thin and load it up with toppings. Don't worry, traditional thin crust is perfectly okay. As for the cooking, you first need to cook it without any toppings, to get both sides done – a grill doesn't heat the top and bottom of the food, remember. Really, remember, because that's about to be really important. You just need to let it cook for maybe a minute and a half, then you can flip it and get ready for your toppings.
4. Don't Skimp on the Oil
Grilled pizza requires a lot of oil – olive oil being the best choice, naturally. That's why you need a pastry brush. Brush the hell out of your dough, and do it often. If you don't, it will still stick to the grate, and then you once more run the risk of ending up with a stuck-on mess.
5. Work That Cheese
Owing to the very nature of a grill, it's more difficult to get things to melt – that lack of a high heat source again. As such, no matter what kind of cheese you use or how much, make sure it's very finely grated. Seriously, get it as thin and fine as you can make it.
6. Pre-Cook Certain Toppings
Now, once more, let's go back to that heat thing. You don't get all-over heat in a grill, and some things may not have long enough to cook properly anyway – unless you want to risk burning your crust. As such, you need to cook certain things before you put them on your pizza. This typically goes for large chunks of meat, like sausage, and toppings like spinach.
7. Reverse the Order
Now, it doesn't matter what kind of sauce you use, whether it's pre-made or homemade. Similarly, you can use as many ingredients as you want. Here's the thing, though: you have to reverse the order of your toppings. Your cheese needs to go right on the crust so that it melts and gets all gooey and stringy and, you know, cheesy. With your sauce, just drop it on in dollops, because then the cheese will peek through.
Grilled pizza is a definite summertime treat, especially since you can get so many inventive, tasty ingredients from local farmers markets. That being said, whenever it's warm enough to grill outside, get out there with your dough – you won't be disappointed. Have you ever grilled pizza? If you've got any techniques to share, please do!