How to make Charcoal Grilled Pizza

Want to learn how to make Charcoal Grilled Pizza? If you’ve never grilled pizza it will be a revelation of flavor. The smoky, lightly charred crust is completely addictive.

a slice of pizza on a cutting board

I’ll eat pizza any time and we have a favorite local spot for takeout. Homemade pizza tends to be a summer specialty at our house because I like to make pizza outside on the grill.

I have both a gas and a charcoal grill, but I always use charcoal for pizza. I love the smokey flavor the charcoal imparts on the dough and I love the charred bits on the bottom of the crust.

You could probably use the same method on a gas grill by lighting the side burners and leaving the middle burner off. I’ve never made it on the gas grill so you’d have to work out the method by trial and error.

I’ve been making pizza over charcoal for almost 20 years, and I would say it took about 10 years to figure out a system that works for me every time. It took many burnt crusts (and fingers) to come up with this method.

I’ve got two pizza dough recipes for you, my Easy Homemade Pizza Dough using commercial yeast and my Sourdough Pizza Crust for those who keep a starter. An overview of how to make Sourdough Pizza Crust is available as a web story.

Visit this page to see how to shape pizza dough then you’ll be ready for grilling.

If you love this charcoal grilled pizza as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

a slice of pizza on a cutting board
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4.75 from 4 reviews

How to Make Pizza on a Charcoal Grill

If you've never grilled pizza it will be a revelation of flavor. The smoky, lightly charred crust is completely addictive.
Prep Time30 minutes
Active Time1 hour
Additional Time20 minutes
Total Time1 hour 50 minutes
Course: Baking How-Tos
Yield: 2 pizzas
Author: Eileen Gray
Cost: $10

Equipment

Materials

Instructions

  • Using hardwood charcoal, build a split fire. Put 1/2 the coals on each side of the grill and leave an open space between. (If your charcoal grill is too small to do a split fire you can try the same method with one hot side and one cool side.) Place the grate over the fire and allow it to heat up for 5 minutes. Use a grill brush to clean the grate. Hold a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil with long grill tongs and oil the grate.
    a split charcoal fire for making grilled pizza
  • Slide the dough onto the grate between the two sides of the fire. Poke it all over with a fork to pop the bubbles that will form as soon as the dough hits the heat.
    sliding pizza dough from a wooden peel onto a grill
  • After a minute or two the edges of the dough closest to the fire should no longer be raw. Use two large spatulas to spin the dough a quarter turn so that the two sides closest to the coals are away from the heat and the other two sides are now facing the coals. Lift the dough occasionally to make sure no spots are burning.
    pizza dough on a grill
  • After about 4-5 minutes the bottom of the dough should be baked and just lightly browned. The top of the dough should be pale but set and probably bubbling. Use a fork to pop any very large bubbles.
  • Brush the dough with olive oil and then add the toppings. Keep an eye on the bottom of the dough and continue to spin quarter turns to avoid burnt spots (personally, I like a little char). Sometimes I'll move the pie over one of the hot spots very briefly to evenly brown the bottom of the crust.
    a pizza with tomato sauce and mozzarella on a grill
  • You can remove the pizza from the grill and finish baking it in the oven if the bottom of the crust is done baking before the toppings are ready. I usually preheat the oven so I can finish baking the first pizza while I put the second pizza on the grill.

9 Comments

  1. I’ve been grilling pizzas for many years. I use a gas grill, dough over direct flame. I grill the first side until browned, take the dough off the grill and turn onto a plate grilled side up. Then I top the pizza then put it on the grill again to brown the second side. By the time the second side is browned, the cheese is melted and the rest of the toppings are hot. It’s a hit every time.

  2. So I have this brick oven about 12×18 inches, bottom is coal with conveyor for easy reload. Would coal pizza really require to split the fire?

    1. I split the fire because I put the dough directly on the grate. With your oven would the dough be directly over the coals?

  3. My first attempt was yummy but too soft. Well, we did drive 45 minutes to our son’s home before shaping it. I’ll try again this weekend. But my real question is: “we have a favorite local spot for takeout” What is your favorite local spot?
    Thanks!

    1. You’re welcome, Samuel. As I said, it took many burnt pizzas and many burnt fingers to get the process right.

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