Making homemade pizza is easy, and the best part is, you don’t have to stay in your kitchen to cook it! You can use an outdoor pizza oven or gas or charcoal grill to create this fresh alternative to typical grilled fare. Use fresh veggies and local cheeses to whip up a healthy pie, and you’ll have everyone fighting for that last piece. Here are some easy tips for making the ultimate outdoor pie.
- Start with dough. Although there are prebaked pizza crust “blanks” for sale at most grocery stores, using them on a grill won’t work—they will burn before your toppings get a chance to cook. For an all-around better pizza, start with dough. Many grocery stores also sell raw pizza dough in the deli section, or you can make your own in just minutes. It’s one of the simplest doughs to pull together, and you’ll feel like a pro.
- Use a flat cooking surface. You have to support that dough while it cooks, so a pizza stone is best for this. If you don’t have one, a large steel pan or even a big cast iron skillet or griddle will do. Add a little cornmeal to prevent sticking, like the pros do, then shape your dough onto the surface.
- Turn up the heat. Grilled pizzas taste much better than oven pies because the cooking temperature is so much hotter. (If you’ve ever been to a traditional pizzeria, and your pie was at the table in minutes, then you get the idea.) Make sure to preheat your grill and get it nice and hot before you put the pizza on it. If you have a Kamado-style grill—or any grill with a lid—you can cook the pizza with the lid closed for a traditional pizza oven effect.
- Whip up a secret “sauce.” When you’re just getting the hang of grilling pizza, stick with an olive oil base. Start with about ⅓-½ cup—you can always drizzle more over the dough if you need it—then add salt, fresh cracked pepper and dried herbs—from rosemary to thyme to a good sprinkle of oregano—all to taste. Add one or two chopped garlic cloves to the mixture, then blend well and slather on the shaped dough. The olive oil base will taste delicious and help your pizza cook more evenly.
- Choose your toppings and slice them thin. Now for the fun part! Head to your local farmer’s market and choose fresh veggies and soft herbs. Small tomatoes, basil, green onions, and Japanese eggplant are a great combo. Or try baby squash, zucchini, red onion and dill for something unexpected but delicious. Find your favorite flavors, and then experiment.
- Try some goat cheese. Soft goat cheese is often also available at farmers markets, and it’s the perfect cheese for a grilled pizza. It’s velvety soft and easy to spread, so add generous dollops of it as evenly as possible over the whole pie.
- Add the little extras. I always like to add Kalamata olives because they’re my favorite, but olives are just the beginning. Do you like anchovies? Drained artichoke hearts from the jar? Capers? Supplement your market finds with pantry staples and up the ante on the depth of flavor of your pie.
- Don’t walk away. Remember that hot pizza oven or grill? That means your pie is going to cook fast. Dough thickness, heat, and size of the pie all affect cooking times, so you need to stay close by and watch for the pie to get done to a desired golden brown. In the end, you’ll have a delicious crust filled with warm, fresh veggies, melted goat cheese and . . . hold on—can I come over for dinner?
Stephanie Burt writes a lot about grilling and cooking for The Home Depot, and she is the host of The Southern Fork podcast, where each week she speaks with someone interesting in the culinary South. Her personal favorite homemade pizza is fresh figs, red onion, olives, and goat cheese. If you’re interested in grilling your own pizza, you can view The Home Depot’s selection of grills and outdoor pizza ovens here.
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