Grill a Backyard Pizza

I bet you never thought of barbecuing pizza. But did you know that pizza is one of those things that actually benefits from a culinary fire found in most backyard grills?


As an added benefit, backyard pizza is a great meal to make with the kids. To get started, make the dough (recipe is below) into individual serving sizes.


Using your hands (or your kids’), stretch your dough to about 1/4-inch thick and try to keep it even in thinness so that it’s easy enough to lay down toppings. Hand-stretching the dough instead of rolling adds a rustic look and feel to the finished product. Just keep the dough well floured while working with it.


After you have prepared enough flat dough shapes, lightly brush olive oil on both sides and place the dough on a well-oiled grill to cook.


Grill them on both sides for about 2-4 minutes, depending on the thickness and size. When lightly browned, put on the cheese and toppings and turn down the heat on your grill. If you are using charcoal you will want one side hotter than the other so you can put the topped pizzas on the cooler side (indirect heat). The goal here is to get the toppings heated and any cheese melted before the crust burns.


As with all grills, keep a close eye on the kids and the pizzas. With the lid down, you can bake the toppings to get your pizza just right. If you are using heavy toppings, like meats or thick-cut vegetables, sauté or grill them before you cut them up and put them on the pizza. Just remember, while the grill is a great place to cook pizzas, the intense heat can burn through crusts pretty quickly. Don’t walk away.


Here’s a tip: When it comes to grilled pizza, there’s no such thing as a bad topping. Since kids tend to be finicky eaters, have a lot of topping options on hand: grilled or sauteed vegetables like onions and mushrooms; pepperoni slices; sausage; even barbecued chicken.


Finally, top with a light sprinkling of infused oil rather than heavy tomato sauces and enjoy!


Backyard pizzas are a great way to entertain kids – and their parents.


Chef Gigi Gaggero is owner of Kids Culinary Adventures in Belmont.




Grilled Pizza Dough


Makes six 6-ounce pizza crusts.

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, chilled
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  •  1 teaspoon instant yeast
  •  1/8 cup olive oil
  •  1 3/4 cups water (1/4 cup lukewarm to activate yeast)
  •  Flour for dusting


In a small cereal bowl, activate the yeast with 1/4 cup of lukewarm water; set aside while preparing the remainder of your ingredients. Let sit until granules are dissolved and little gas bubbles are formed.  


If you are mixing by hand, have the kids use a large gallon-size food storage bag instead of a bowl – it helps with clean up. Combine the flour and salt, then stir in the oil and a portion of the cold water until the flour is all absorbed (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment if using a mixing bowl). 


Dust hands and dough with a sprinkling of flour and turn out the dough on a clean work surface; knead until it becomes a smooth ball of dough. (With adult hands, this will take a good 5-10 minutes; if you are using the mixer, change the paddle to the dough hook attachment and knead for 8-10 minutes.) Add more flour if the dough is too sticky.


Cover the dough and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. After dough has rested and your work area is clean, lightly flour your work surface and gently press or stretch the dough into flat thin shapes about ¼ inch thick and five inches in diameter.  


Grill and top with your favorite toppings.

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