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Last Updated on October 26, 2021
It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like pizza. It has so many forms and is incredibly versatile, not to mention delicious. Pizza is a social dish that brings people together and has many delectable variations across different cultural cuisines. Cooking pizza properly is an art form, and there is a wide variety of options available for making pizza outdoors, each with unique results.
Learn how to produce the perfect pizza on a charcoal grill, a Kamado grill, or an outdoor pizza oven and see which method is suitable for you. Cooking mouthwatering pizza in your backyard is the ideal way to host family and friends this summer.
The Perfect Pizza on a Charcoal Grill
If you don’t have access to a top-of-the-range pizza oven but still want to impress your friends and family, a charcoal grill is a fantastic option. Pizza ovens can cost thousands of dollars, and for some, the number of times they would use it just isn’t worth the investment. If this sounds like you, it’s still possible to make authentic tasting pizza on your charcoal grill.
You will be delighted with the results, and your friends and family will be impressed and well-fed. The charcoal grill method takes some perfecting, and you might not grasp it the first time around. Have a go at practicing on your own before you cook pizza this way for a crowd. Once you get the technique down, you will be rustling up restaurant-quality pizzas in the comfort of your backyard. Here are some recommendations to try to get the best out of your charcoal grill when cooking pizza.
For Best Results: Pizza Stone Method
The first method for cooking pizza on a charcoal grill is going to give you results closest to those of a traditional outdoor pizza oven. Consider investing in a pizza stone if you want to get as close to traditional cooking methods on a charcoal grill as possible.
It’s affordable and makes a noticeable difference in your final product. The pizza stone mimics the bottom of a traditional pizza oven and helps distribute the heat evenly to produce an excellent, crispy base. Thin crust fans will love this pizza grilling hack.
When using a pizza stone on a charcoal grill, the first thing to do is light your coals and ensure they are burning at a steady rate. Once you’ve done this, correctly positioning the coals and the stone is an important consideration. You want to place most of your lit charcoal on one side of your grill while scattering 5 to 10 pieces on the other side.
Get your pizza stone and place it above where you placed a few pieces of lit charcoal. You do not want to put it too close or over the top of the main charcoal pile, as this direct heat will cook your pizza too quickly and risks burning the base.
You can then place a few additional coals in a charcoal basket to sit on your grill grate. If you are producing multiple pizzas, you want to make sure you keep a constant temperature. The extra charcoal on the grill grate allows the top and bottom to cook at an even rate by increasing the overall dome temperature. You get melted cheese and an adequately cooked base since the setup is close to a traditional pizza oven, where heat is coming from all directions.
Once you position your pizza stone over the indirect heat section of your charcoal grill, you need to allow some time for it to reach an optimal temperature. 600ºF to 700°F is too hot, and you risk burning the base. If it reaches this heat level, let it cool down. Anywhere around 200ºF to 300°F and your pizza won’t cook all the way through. Instead, aim for somewhere in the region of 400ºF to 500°F.
When you reach this ideal temperature, act reasonably fast to take advantage of it. A helpful tip is to use a pizza peel to place your pizza onto the stone. Some people think this is only necessary with an authentic pizza oven. However, you can avoid a lot of mishaps and maneuver the pizza accurately using a pizza peel.
Leave your pizza to cook for around 5 to 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it at all times. After this time, grab your pizza peel and gently rotate the pizza 180 degrees. Make sure you close the dome again quickly to ensure your pizza is getting heat from all angles. This should finish off the cooking in another 5 to 10 minutes, depending on your dough and toppings. Now you can enjoy the unique taste of a perfect pizza cooked on your very own charcoal grill.
Alternative Method: Directly on the Grill
If you want to try cooking pizza directly on your grill, you will have to be very careful and monitor the process more closely than if you were using a stone. This may take a little more practice and effort, but you can do it. Choose between using indirect or direct heat.
Indirect heat is preferable for your first time because there is less chance of burning your pizza base. To do this, follow the same preparation steps as the pizza stone method, but place your pizza directly onto the grill instead of a stone. Rotate the pizza halfway through cooking, as before. This method should take around the same amount of time as the pizza stone method.
Alternatively, if you want to try placing your pizza over the direct heat, be aware that you should reduce your cooking time. For this method, put your undressed pizza above the lit coals centrally, close the dome and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Then, flip it and cook the other side quickly while adding your toppings. After 10 minutes, your pizza should be ready to go.
Set Up Your Kamado Grill for Pizza Perfection
If you have a Kamado grill and want to add to its long list of potential uses, try cooking a pizza on it. The key here is to put some effort into preparation before you get started. The ceramic grills of a Kamado can reach a very high temperature, so they lend themselves well to making top-quality pizza.
Your Kamado’s egg shape also helps to cook food evenly by distributing the heat throughout the process. Follow this step-by-step guide on how to get the best possible pizza from your Kamado.
Step 1: Clean your grill
Kamado grills use airflow to ensure even cooking, so you’ll need to start by removing any potential obstructions. Remove all ashes from previous cooking sessions and clean your grill thoroughly.
Step 2: Heat your grill
You need to allow your Kamado sufficient time to preheat before you start the cooking process. It can take up to an hour for the grill to reach the desired temperature. Once this temperature is reached, the Kamado can easily maintain it long enough for you to cook multiple pizzas. The reason for this is because there is minimal heat loss with this type of grill.
Step 3: Grab your pizza stone
Again, the best way to get top-quality artisanal results is to use a pizza stone. The stone’s porous nature makes it absorb any excess moisture allowing the base of your pizza to reach maximum crispiness. Make sure you have a pizza stone that is compatible for use with a Kamado grill.
Then, get two fire bricks and put them sideways, on top of the grill grates. Carefully place the pizza stone on top of them. This is a fantastic trick to allow more room for airflow to reach the top of the grill, resulting in your pizza’s toppings cooking at the same speed as the crust.
The fire bricks are also good at retaining heat, meaning that if you open the cover, the bricks will hold on to the heat and bring the interior back up to temperature very quickly after it is shut.
Step 4: Get cooking
Assemble your pizza for cooking. Make sure you don’t overdo it on the toppings, especially the sauce and the cheese. You want to avoid too much moisture making your pizza soggy. When your Kamado has reached around 500°F, sprinkle some flour onto your pizza peel to stop it from sticking, and place the pizza directly onto the stone.
Quickly close the grill lid to keep the heat in. It will usually take around 20 minutes to cook through thoroughly, but you want to monitor the progress and turn the pizza if necessary. However, don’t lift the lid too often; otherwise, you risk losing the heat. Once 20 minutes is up, and you have gooey, melted cheese, and a crispy, even crust, you can proceed to serve and enjoy.
The Ultimate Pizza Using Your Pizza Oven
If you live and breathe pizza and have invested in an outdoor pizza oven, such as an Ooni, you’ll want to ensure you’re getting the most out of it. Although it may seem like a simple concept, there are many factors to consider for cooking pizza correctly in your outdoor oven.
Preheat Your Oven
This is a necessary step for most types of pizza cooking. However, unlike some of the other methods previously mentioned, preheating an outdoor pizza oven doesn’t take as long as you might think. Start off using smaller pieces of kindling and build up to medium and larger sizes once the fire is going strong.
Purpose-built pizza ovens shine through when it comes to achieving optimum temperatures fast. Ovens like this can quickly reach up to 600°F, perfect for cooking a traditional Italian margarita pizza in mere minutes.
Use the thermometer on your pizza oven to ensure it has reached the ideal temperature before moving forward with the cooking process. Depending on the outdoor pizza oven’s particular model, this preheating time can be anywhere from 90 seconds to a full 10 minutes. If you want to cook precisely, invest in an infrared temperature gun to ensure you’re getting the most accurate reading.
Cook and Turn
Make sure you have a pizza peel suitable for use in a traditional pizza oven, as some may not withstand these temperatures. You also want a long handle to ensure you protect yourself from the heat. Sprinkle the peel with flour or semolina, and slide your perfectly formed pizza into the oven smoothly.
Now, you have to work quickly. Since outdoor pizza ovens reach incredibly high temperatures and produce heat from all angles, they cook the food fast. You don’t have a lot of time to work with, and any mistakes could result in burnt pizza. Keep a close eye on the inside of the oven and continuously turn the pizza so that all sides cook evenly.
It will take some effort to get used to producing the perfect pizza, but keep at it. Once you have the technique down, you will be unstoppable. In a matter of a few short minutes, you should have a beautiful, authentic oven-cooked pizza.
Choosing the Best Pizza Making Method for You
Now that you know the best ways to produce a delicious pizza using various outdoor cooking methods, it’s time to consider which cooking style works best for your home setup. Each of these methods creates a unique taste and texture. Whatever your budget is, you can produce mouthwatering pizza in your backyard with a few simple steps.
Invest in a high-quality pizza peel and prepare thoroughly before you begin cooking because once you start, there’s no time to prepare toppings in between. Monitor the pizza as it cooks, and turn it continuously for consistent results on all sides.
Remember, it’s unlikely that your first attempt at cooking a pizza will come out perfectly, whether on a charcoal grill, a Kamado or in a pizza oven. However, with a bit of patience and a lot of practice, you’ll soon be making authentic style pizzas for your friends and family to enjoy.