Grilling pizza is one of the easiest, most delicious ways to get the kind of charred, crisp crust that the greatest pizzas in the world strive for. More importantly, it affords you the opportunity to grill your toppings before applying them to the pie, giving your finished pizzas an extra level of flavor. These three topping combos are cooked 100% outside (no need to pull out a pan indoors before you hit the grill), and none of them use sauce, letting the flavor of the grilled vegetables really shine through.
'Grilled Pizza' on Serious Eats
I know I'm committing a grave seasonal recipe faux pas here by combining a spring ingredient (we're in the middle of asparagus season!) with a late summer product, but dammit, we've gotten so good at cherry tomatoes that they're sweet and flavorful pretty much all year round.
This guy is all savoriness. It starts with shiitake mushrooms charred on the grill. Slices of sopressata get the briefest turn over the fire, then go on top of a pie with fresh mozzarella. On go the mushrooms, along with a fistful of coarsely shaved Parmesan cheese.
Broccolini or broccoli rabe with garlic and chilies is a classic flavor combination. In this recipe, I toss the broccolini in garlic oil before grilling it over hot coals, then apply it in whole pieces to the pie which also gets slices of fresh mozzarella and a scattering of fresh hot chilies.
As I write this post, I'm sitting in the study at my friend's home in Belfast, looking out the French windows to his back yard. His dad is busy stoking the flames of a wood-fired stone pizza oven that he built with his own hands. This is probably the best possible way to enjoy pizza: real fire, close friends and family, everything hand-made. But I'm usually not this lucky. My own best pizzas are made on my little 80 square-foot deck on the 17th floor of a Manhattan apartment. If you're like me and your access to stone ovens is limited, the grill is your best bet for making crisp-on-the-outside, soft-and-airy-on-the-inside pizza. It's the only heat source that approaches the insanely high temperatures that are so essential to great pizza.
If you're looking for a gluten-free pizza to try, start here. Shauna James Ahern's grilled pizza recipe in Gluten-Free Girl Every Day uses dough made from a mixture of millet, sweet rice flour, potato starch, psyllium, oil, egg, and yeast. Once mixed and risen, it looks more like cookie batter than pizza dough, but it rolls out easily and bakes into a half crackery, half bready crust.
Smoked mozzarella, pulled barbecue chicken, sauteed onions, and fresh cilantro come together into a truly winning grilled pie.
We've written enough about grilled pizza in the past that I don't really need to go into detail here, but here are the basics: It's the easiest way to get crisp, charred, crackly, poofy, smoky, crunchy, perfect pizza at home without resorting to hacking your oven or grill or building your own pizza oven. Pies are ready in minutes, making it the ideal way to feed hungry friends in the backyard. Here's how to throw a grilled pizza party, soup to nuts.
Good news: we finally got some good results out of the KettlePizza after-market insert that supposedly turns your kettle grill into a wood-burning pizza oven. Strike that, we actually got great results. In fact, I'd even say the pies I've been pulling off my grill for the past few weeks have been some of the best I've ever made at home. This time, we've tried out a few different inexpensive hacks to modify the existing insert into something that really produces a great pie. By the time we were through, we were pulling out neapolitan-style pies that cooked through in a mere two to three minutes, producing excellent charring, a moist, cloud-like interior, and a crackly, blistered crusts.
We tested the KettlePizza insert back in 2010 when it first came out and were not extremely impressed with the results. Since that early look, the inventor, Al Contarino has jumped into the conversation to let us know that he's come up with a new and improved model that should address many of the problems we had with the old one. We were all too happy to give the new model another shot. Here's how it went down.
The KettlePizza insert does indeed add some juice to Weber-grill pizza-cooking—once you get the coal temperature and stone temperature up to snuff. And doing that takes a boatload of fuel and a lot of attention.
"Sort of an open-faced, fancy-pants quesadilla," is the note I typed into my phone after eating one of Universal Cafe's grilled flatbreads, and it might as well serve as my whole review. It's pretty hard to think of their toppings as resting on anything other than a tortilla. Though, please understand, I do like quesadillas.
I've long said that grilling pizza is by far the easiest way for a regular home cook to get pizzeria-quality, soft and airy, crisp, well-charred, smoky pies at home (that is, without resorting to hacking your kitchen equipment), and with grilled pizza season well into full swing, I figured it was time we updated last year's Grilled Pizza Guide, which gives a pretty good overview of the process, but ignores one thing: Toppings.
Al Forno is the place where grilled pizza was born. Judging by the pizzas I tried there last week, it's still on its game. Pizza is served as an appetizer there. Our tip? Forgo a table and just sit at the bar, drinking beer or wine and eating the pizza.
Academia di Vino is a very respectable two-location wine bar (Upper West and Upper East) with that offers grilled pizza. The Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella ($12) features a few splotches of a cooked, olive-oil heavy tomato sauce (a departure from the uncooked canned San Marzanos that top Al Forno pies), and a good amount of fresh and dried mozz. But the Robiola, Black Truffle Pâté, and Pecorino ($15) is the one to get here.
Cambridge, 1 is located in the heart of Harvard Square, in what used to be the the city's original firehouse, with a recently-opened second location in Boston's Fenway neighborhood. Appropriately enough for a former fire station, this hip, minimalist bar, as popular with the locals as it is with Harvard glitterati, serves pizzas grilled over a charcoal fire.
one sixtyblue in Chicago offers a Margherita pizza with a twist; the sauce is made from smoked tomatoes. The idea sounds like a good one and there is surely room for it in the pizza universe. However, in this particular version, the smokiness proves too much for the rest of the pizza to handle.
The Kettle Pizza grill insert promises to help you turn your 22-inch Weber kettle grill into a fire-breathing pizza-cooking machine. But does it work as billed? That's the question we sought to answer last night when we tested it out.
Dagnabbit! While we were waiting for Kenji Lopez-Alt to get back to town and help test the Kettle Pizza grill insert we bought last week, SE'r Mmmph received his and beat us to the punch. No biggie—we'll still be grilling with ours. In the meantime, here's Mmmph's report on the device that aims to turn your grill into a coal-fired pizza oven.