How to Grill Pizza on a Charcoal Grill?

How to Grill Pizza on a Charcoal Grill?

If you’re a fan of pizza and grilling, then you’re in for a treat with grilled pizza on a charcoal grill. The smoky flavor of charcoal adds a delicious twist to this classic dish, making it a must-try for any grill master. In this article, I’ll guide you through the process of grilling pizza on a charcoal grill, sharing some valuable tips to ensure a successful and unforgettable grilling experience.

Key Takeaways:

  • Grilling pizza on a charcoal grill adds a smoky flavor to this classic dish.
  • Proper preparation and technique are crucial for a successful and delicious outcome.
  • Experiment with different toppings and flavors to personalize your grilled pizzas.

Getting Started: Preparing the Charcoal Grill

Grilling pizza on a charcoal grill requires careful preparation to achieve that crispy, charred crust and perfectly melted cheese. The first step to making homemade grilled pizza is preparing the charcoal grill.

Charcoal Grill Pizza Dough

Start by selecting the right dough for your grilled pizza. When making your pizza dough, use high-gluten flour, which can withstand the high heat of the charcoal grill without burning. Once you have the dough, divide it into small, manageable pizza portions.

Next, preheat your charcoal grill. To do this, use a chimney starter to light the charcoal. Once the charcoal is hot and ashed over, pour it into the grill and arrange the coals in a single layer for even heat distribution.

Place a wire rack over the coals, close the lid, and let the grill preheat for about 15 minutes. The ideal grilling temperature for pizza is around 500°F, so keep an eye on the grill temperature using a thermometer.

Homemade Grilled Pizza

While the grill is preheating, it’s time to prepare your homemade grilled pizza. Roll out your pizza dough on a floured surface to your desired thickness and size. Once you have rolled out the dough, brush it with olive oil to prevent it from sticking to the grill grates.

Next, gather your toppings and arrange them on a baking sheet for easy access and assembly. It’s best to use toppings that are quick-cooking and won’t release too much liquid, which can make the pizza soggy.

With your pizza dough and toppings ready, it’s time to assemble and preheat the grill for cooking. Check out the next section for tips on assembling your pizza and managing the heat on a charcoal grill.

Prepping the Pizza: Toppings and Dough

When it comes to grilling pizza on a charcoal grill, selecting the right toppings can make a big difference in flavor and texture. While you can certainly stick with classic pizza toppings like tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, feel free to get creative! Some excellent options for grilled pizza toppings include:

  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Grilled vegetables such as eggplant, zucchini, or bell peppers
  • Pesto sauce
  • Crumbled feta or goat cheese
  • Sliced jalapenos
  • Bacon or prosciutto

Of course, the perfect pizza starts with the right dough. When it comes to grilling pizza, you’ll want a dough that is sturdy enough to hold up to the heat without becoming too brittle or tough. Homemade pizza dough is a great option, particularly if you’re looking to experiment with different flavors, but you can also use store-bought dough in a pinch.

One important note: be sure to bring your dough to room temperature before grilling. Cold dough will not cook evenly and can result in an undercooked or mushy crust.

Ready to get started with a delicious grilled pizza recipe? Try this classic Margherita pizza:

Ingredients: Instructions:
1 pound pizza dough 1. Preheat your charcoal grill to medium-high heat.
1/2 cup tomato sauce 2. Stretch the pizza dough into a thin, even round shape.
8-10 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces 3. Spread the tomato sauce over the dough, leaving a small border around the edge.
1-2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese 4. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the sauce.
1-2 garlic cloves, minced 5. Scatter the torn basil leaves and minced garlic over the cheese.
1 tablespoon olive oil 6. Drizzle the pizza with olive oil.
Salt and pepper to taste 7. Transfer the pizza to the grill and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the crust is charred and the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Remember, these are just guidelines! Feel free to experiment with different toppings and flavors to find the perfect combination for you. As long as you have a sturdy dough and follow the proper grilling techniques, you’re sure to end up with a delicious pizza.

Assembling and Preheating the Grill

Before placing the pizza on the grill, I prepare my toppings and dough atop a floured pizza peel. To ensure a crispy crust, I recommend using a thin layer of cornmeal on the peel.

Next, it’s time to preheat the grill. I recommend opening the vents and letting the charcoal burn for about 20 minutes before placing the pizza on the grill. This allows the grill to reach an optimal temperature of about 500-550°F.

When you’re ready to cook, place the pizza on the grill with the toppings facing up. Close the lid and cook for about 3-5 minutes. The key here is to check the pizza frequently and rotate it as needed to avoid any burning.

If you’re working with an open flame grill, I recommend placing a heat-resistant pizza stone on the grates. This helps distribute the heat evenly across the pizza for a perfect cook.

Charcoal grill tip: Managing the heat is the key to perfectly-grilled pizza. If the grill is too hot, the crust will burn before the toppings cook through. If the grill is too cool, the pizza will take longer to cook and may end up soggy. Be attentive to the heat and adjust the vents accordingly to maintain an optimal temperature.

The Grilling Process: Techniques and Timing

Grilling pizza on a charcoal grill is all about technique and timing. With the right approach, you can achieve a crispy crust, perfectly melted cheese, and deliciously charred toppings. Here are some pizza grilling techniques to help you get started:

Flipping the Dough

When grilling pizza, it’s crucial to flip the dough at the right time. You want to wait until the bottom of the crust is slightly charred and firm before flipping it over. Use a pizza peel to gently lift the pizza off the grill and quickly flip it over to cook the other side.

Managing the Heat

One of the biggest challenges when grilling pizza on a charcoal grill is managing the heat. You want to make sure the grill is hot enough to cook the pizza quickly without burning it. A good rule of thumb is to wait until the charcoal has turned white before cooking the pizza. You can also adjust the heat by moving the pizza around on the grill or by placing a heat-resistant barrier, such as a cast iron skillet, between the pizza and the coals.

Achieving the Perfect Char

Charred crust and toppings are one of the hallmarks of grilled pizza. To achieve the perfect char, you need to cook the pizza directly over the coals and rotate it frequently to ensure even cooking. Use a pizza peel to move the pizza around on the grill and monitor the heat to prevent burning.

Timing Guidelines

The cooking time for grilled pizza can vary depending on the thickness of the crust and the toppings you choose. Here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • Thin crust pizza: 2-3 minutes per side
  • Thick crust pizza: 4-5 minutes per side
  • Pizzas with lots of toppings: 5-7 minutes per side

Remember to rotate the pizza frequently to ensure even cooking and to remove it from the grill once the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Grilling pizza on a charcoal grill can be a challenging task, and you might encounter some difficulties along the way. Here are some common issues and practical solutions to help you overcome them.

Sticking Dough

One of the most common problems when grilling pizza on a charcoal grill is dough sticking to the grates. To avoid this issue, make sure that your grill grates are well-oiled before placing the dough. You can also sprinkle a small amount of cornmeal on the grates to create a non-stick surface. Use a spatula to lift the pizza gently and check if it’s ready to be flipped.

Uneven Cooking

Another common issue is uneven cooking, which can result in a burnt crust or uncooked toppings. To prevent this, make sure that the heat is evenly distributed on the grill. Place the pizza on the coolest part of the grill and monitor the temperature regularly. If you notice that one part of the pizza is cooking faster than the other, move it to a cooler area of the grill.

You can also try rotating the pizza every few minutes to ensure that it’s cooked evenly on all sides. Use a pizza peel or spatula to turn the pizza and avoid puncturing the crust.

Managing the Heat

One of the biggest challenges when grilling pizza on a charcoal grill is managing the heat. It’s important to maintain a consistent temperature to avoid burning the crust or toppings.

One way to achieve this is to use a two-zone fire. Create a hot zone and a cool zone on the grill by piling the coals on one side and leaving the other side empty. Place the pizza on the cool side and close the lid to retain the heat. Monitor the temperature regularly and adjust the air vents accordingly.

You can also use a pizza stone to help regulate the temperature. Place the stone on the grill and preheat it for at least 30 minutes before placing the pizza. The stone will absorb the heat and distribute it evenly, resulting in a crispy crust and well-cooked toppings.

With these simple tips and tricks, you can overcome the common issues that arise when grilling pizza on a charcoal grill. Remember to be patient and experiment with different techniques to find what works best for you. Happy grilling!


In conclusion, grilling pizza on a charcoal grill is a fun and flavorful way to enjoy this classic dish. By following the tips and techniques outlined in this article, you can create delicious homemade grilled pizza with crispy crusts and perfectly melted cheese.

Remember to start by properly preparing your charcoal grill and selecting the best dough and toppings for your pizza. Preheat the grill and assemble the pizza on a pizza peel before carefully placing it on the hot grates.

Throughout the grilling process, be sure to manage the heat and use various techniques, such as flipping the dough, to achieve even cooking and a desirable char. If any issues arise, don’t panic, and instead troubleshoot with practical solutions.

With a little practice and experimentation, you may find yourself creating your own unique grilled pizza creations that are sure to impress your family and friends. So fire up that charcoal grill, and let’s get grilling!


Q: Can I use a gas grill instead of a charcoal grill?

A: Yes, you can use a gas grill to grill pizza, but the flavor may be different compared to grilling on a charcoal grill.

Q: What type of dough works best for grilling pizza on a charcoal grill?

A: A dough with higher hydration levels, such as Neapolitan-style dough, works well for grilling on a charcoal grill.

Q: How long does it take to grill a pizza on a charcoal grill?

A: The cooking time can vary depending on the heat of your charcoal grill and the thickness of the pizza dough, but generally, it takes around 5-10 minutes to grill a pizza.

Q: Can I use a pizza stone on a charcoal grill?

A: Yes, using a pizza stone can help distribute the heat evenly and prevent the dough from sticking to the grill grates.

Q: How do I prevent the dough from sticking to the grill grates?

A: To prevent the dough from sticking, make sure to preheat the grill grates and brush them with oil before placing the dough on the grill.

Q: Can I grill frozen pizza on a charcoal grill?

A: While it is possible to grill frozen pizza on a charcoal grill, it is recommended to thaw the pizza before grilling for more even cooking.

Q: Can I use a pizza oven attachment for my charcoal grill?

A: Yes, a pizza oven attachment can be a great addition to your charcoal grill and can help achieve higher temperatures for a crispier crust.

Michael Davis
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