You’re only a few steps away from crispy, bubbly grilled pizza.
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Credit: Caitlin Bensel

Summer’s nearly here, and it’s time to give your oven a break and fire up the grill. If you’ve never made grilled pizza, you’re seriously missing out. Cooking pizza on the grill is the perfect way speed up your summer dinner or cook for a crowd—plus, it’s also one of the best ways to get a crisp crust and super melty toppings. Here’s how to do it.

Use the right tools.

When grilling pizza, you want to use the same tools you’d use to make a good pizza in your oven: a pizza stone (we love this pizza stone from Primo because it's ceramic and safe for the grill), and a pizza peel. “A stone works fantastic on the grill and really gives the crust a uniform crispness,” says chef Mario Scordato, who teaches grilling classes at recreational cooking school The Chopping Block in Chicago. Use a pizza peel to get the pizza on and off the stone.

Preheat the grill.

Light the grill, add the pizza stone, close the lid and allow the stone to heat up with the grill for about 30 minutes. A hot stone will give you a crisp crust once you add the dough from the peel.

Mind the temperature.

The best temperature for grilling pizza is between 425-450 degrees, says Kevin Kolman, grill master for Weber. “People think they need more heat, but they have a problem managing it,” he says. “When you’re using higher heat, then your margin of error becomes a little bit smaller.” This temperature will give you enough heat to cook your pizza thoroughly—and melt the cheese on top.

Bring your dough to room temperature.

Cold pizza dough is tight and tough to work with. Let your dough come to room temperature for two to three hours before you’re ready to make pizza, recommends Kolman, and it will be much easier to roll out. You can get premade pizza dough from grocery stores, and many pizzerias will also sell dough if you ask.

Cook your toppings.

If you’re working with certain toppings, pre-cooking them before grilling might be necessary (think: onions, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bacon, etc.). The grill won't completely cook most meats or tough-to-chew veggies, and no one wants to bite into their pizza to find a chunk of raw chicken. Conversely, certain toppings—like raw arugula or frisee—are a delicious last-minute, no-cook topping to grilled pizza.

Build the pizza before grilling.

Add a little coarse cornmeal or semolina flour to your pizza peel (this will allow the pizza to slide easily from the peel to the stone), then make your pizza directly on the peel—sauce, toppings, cheese and all. Alternatively, if you don’t have a peel, you can roll out just the crust on parchment paper drizzled with olive oil, then turn the pizza over directly onto the grill, says Kolman. If you’re using this method, grill just the crust for three or four minutes, remove from the grill and add toppings to the grilled side, and return to the grill for three or four more minutes to finish.

Use fresh cheese.

Many pre-shredded cheeses have anticoagulant added to prevent clumping (ever notice that weird white coating?). This can prevent that ooey, gooey melty factor that makes a pizza perfect. Instead, buy a block of cheese and shred it yourself.

Keep the lid closed after you put pizza on.

As tempting as it is to peek at your glorious creation, keep the lid closed to trap the heat inside the grill. Depending on the size and thickness of your pizza, you’ll want to cook it for 6-10 minutes. “That’s more than enough time to get a nice, crispy bottom and bubbly cheese on top,” says Kolman.

Be patient.

As tempting as it can be, resist cutting into your grilled pizza right away. “It’s molten hot, so let it sit a little bit first,” says Scordato. “This way, the crust will stay nice and crisp, and the toppings will start to firm so it won’t be as sloppy.”

Try new flavor combinations.

Bountiful summer produce means unlimited options for pizza toppings. One of Scordato’s favorite combinations is grilled artichokes or asparagus with goat cheese and prosciutto. When using vegetables on pizza, lightly grill or sauté them first to ensure they cook through. Kolman says pizza can be a vessel for any other grilled summer food your family enjoys, such as grilled chicken (add buffalo sauce, your favorite spicy cheese, and a bit of bleu cheese dressing to serve). He’s even topped pizza with grilled brat slices and onions.

Buy an extra ball of dough.

Just like you wouldn’t attempt a new extravagant recipe for a dinner party, you shouldn’t grill pizza for the first time when you have a lot of hungry people to feed. “Practice a little bit first to get acclimated with the process,” says Kolman, and buy an extra ball of dough just in case something happens.