I love pizza. I love making the pizza dough and I love making pizza sauce.
The whole production, especially cooking it on a pizza stone, makes me happy.
However, I haven't been able to get good results with a pizza stone on a charcoal grill. I have spent a good bit of time grilling pizzas directly on the grate.
How To Use a Pizza Stone on a Charcoal Grill
This method results in a fantastic pizza. The only problem with this is that it doesn't have the authentic New York style dough consistency.
Grilling pizza directly on the grill grate results in a stiff bottom crust that has a crunch when you bite into it.
A typical NY style pizza will have a nicely colored crust with an almost floppy bottom.
You can probably picture some people bending a pizza into a "U" shape to take a bite. This isn't really possible on a direct grate grilled pizza unless it is a bit undercooked.
I've been able to make outstanding NY style pizzas in my home oven. My main method is to use a pizza stone and preheat the oven to 550 for about an hour.
This gets the stone really hot, which is crucial for authentic NY pizza.
The pizza is placed on the stone and during the final few minutes the broiler is turned on to help brown the top of the pizza.
This lets the cheese and crust get nicely browned. Perfection.
Well, is it possible to get this type of pizza on a grill? I've spent a few years pondering this question and I finally figured it out.
There is one main thing to keep in mind: the dome temperature must be equal to or higher than the temperature of the pizza stone. This will result in an evenly cooked pizza.
This is advanced grilling so proceed with caution. Please think about what you are doing here and be careful. This is uncharted territory!
The basic plan is to have a small amount of charcoal placed under the pizza stone and a larger amount of coal placed under the area adjacent to the pizza stone.
To really boost the dome temperature and to give the pizza a real direct fire flavor I also propose sitting a basket of charcoal directly on top of the grilling grate next to your stone.
Lighting the Charcoal
The first thing to do is to light a full charcoal chimney and let it get hot. Fill a charcoal basket about halfway full of unlit coal.
Once the coals get lit and spread out you'll add a few of them right over top of the unlit coals in the basket. The basket is then placed directly on the grill grate.
Depending on the size of your pizza stone you'll have an area of the grill that isn't covered by the stone. This is the area where heat will enter the top of the grill and cook the top of your pizza.
The key to using a pizza stone on a charcoal grill is to keep most of the charcoal positioned under this area that is adjacent to the pizza stone.
If you load up the charcoal directly under the stone, the stone will be about 800-900 degrees and the dome temperature will register about 350. This will fail.
So load up the coal underneath of the area away from the pizza stone, as shown in the photos below.
Using a Pizza Stone to Grill Pizza
I used a rounded pizza stone in these pics but Ive since updated to a square pizza stone that I really love
I heat the stone by placing charcoal in the grilling basket then I move it to the side of the grill. Let the stone heat up to about 500 degrees beggar moving the basket.
The grilling grate I have has a nice hinged portion to allow access to the coals below.
This grate area obviously isn't designed to have the Weber charcoal basket sit on top but it sure fits perfectly.
Use long tongs and add some lit coals carefully to the charcoal basket. Place that charcoal basket right up on the grate next to the pizza stone.
If you don't have the hinged grate opening you can still do this by adding lit coals from another grill or a chimney lit at another location. The purpose of adding the unlit coal in the basket is to allow for a longer burn. The basket will be roaring hot later, once the stone is already preheated.
Let the Grill Heat UP
Let the grill sit for about 10-15 minutes with the dome open to let the coals from the charcoal basket fully light and get hot.
Think of it this way: the main way for the top of your pizza to get cooked is via this charcoal basket. You want it to get just a bit hotter than the pizza stone.
For example, a 400 degree stone and a 450 degree dome temperature would be perfect.
I use an Inferred thermometer to check the temperature of the pizza stone. When the stone is in the 500-600 range you are a good to go, as long as the dome temperature registers roughly the same or higher.
Using a pizza peel slide your pizza directly on the stone and let it cook for about 3 minutes. Open the dome and rotate the pizza 180 degrees.
This lets the entire pizza get close to the charcoal basket. The pizza needs to be rotated during the cook since the strong heat is coming from one side.
Dome Temp For Grilling Pizza
My dome temperature here was about 460 degrees, which seemed to make the best pizza of the night.
After another 3 minutes take a look at the pizza. If it is nicely browned you are finished.
If there is an area that doesn't look completely cooked rotate it towards the charcoal basket.
After another 2 minutes it will probably be done. Carefully look under the pizza too; you don't want the bottom to burn.
This method really worked well for my charcoal grill pizza stone set up. Bringing the charcoal basket up top to the grill grate put enough heat into the top dome of the grill to evenly cook the top of the pizza while the pizza stone cooked the bottom.
I wasn't able to get any photos of the bottom of these grilled pizzas but know this: they were not burned or black on the bottom.
The photos show a little black char on the edges but this was the result of being real close to the fully lit charcoal basket. The bottom of the pie was nicely cooked.
If you have a smaller circular pizza stone this method will work well too. A smaller stone will result in the ability to get even more heat to the top of the grill.
Just try to position the charcoal basket on top of the grate next to your stone.
More Recipes You Will Love
Grilled Pizza using a Pizza Stone
- Kettle Grill
- Pizza Stone
- Place pizza stone on top of the grates of a kettle grill. Fill charcoal basket with lump or briquette style charcoal and heat to about 500 degrees F.
- Stretch out your dough to about 12-14 inches depending on the size of the stone. dust your pizza peel with semolina flour then place the dough on the pizza peel. Give the pizza a shake to make sure the dough doesn't stick
- Top with pizza sauce, cheese and any additional topping you like. Once grill is hot slide the pizza off the peel onto the stone gently and cover. Cook for about 90 second before giving the pizza a quarter turn. Cover and repeat this process until cheese is fully melted and crusts crispy and charred all the way around.
- Once the pizza is cooked to your desired doneness top with fresh basil ad a drizzle of olive oil. Slice and serve immediately