Simple Grilled Pizza Margherita

There’s an Italian restaurant a few minutes away that serves a wood-fired Pizza Margherita that is absolutely mouthwatering. What makes the pizza so amazing is its simplicity, the only toppings are olive oil, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and seasoning. No sauce. That might sound boring but trust me, the flavors combine to perform a sleight of magic on your taste buds. 

I was eager to recreate the recipe at home but I sadly remembered that I don’t have a wood-burning pizza oven. Who does? Well besides Elijah Wood and Jamie Oliver. Grilling sounded like the next best thing. And I’m happy to report, it was. The pizza crust is thin and crisp, just like at your favorite restaurant. I’ve actually never managed to get such a beautiful crust in the oven, even with my pizza stone. And the best part about grilling pizza during this time of the year is that you don’t have to crank your oven to the hottest temperature it can handle, thus turning your house into an active volcano. Also, grilling pizza is quick. So quick, in fact, that it’s a good idea to have all your toppings prepared and at your side while grilling. 

Recipe Rundown
Taste: Just perfect. Fruity, rich, fresh, sweet, simple.
Texture: The crust is perfectly crisp with a slight tender, chewy bite. The cheesy is wonderfully melted yet still firm.
Ease: The instructions might appear lengthy, but not a single part is difficult. I like to make the dough when I have some time and toss it in the freezer until I want to use it. Having dough on hand makes homemade pizza super easy.
Appearance: I just love the grill marks in the pizza dough and the rustic quality of the shape and toppings. 

Pros: Just wonderfully simple yet satisfying. Plus, faster than the oven method.
Cons: None!
Would I make this again? Yes.
Dough on the grill. Be sure to prick the air bubbles before flipping!
Adding pizza toppings while dough is on the grill.
Grilled Pizza Margherita 
Serves 4
For the dough:
  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 package (2 1/2 teaspoons) quick-rise yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees), plus extra if needed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra if needed

For the toppings:

  • 5-6 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 2 large vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced
  • handful fresh basil leaves, torn
  • extra virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper

For the dough
Food processor method: In a food processor, combine the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Pulse to mix together. With the motor running, add the water and olive oil in a steady stream, and then pulse until the dough comes together in a rough mass, about 12 seconds. If the dough does not form into a ball, sprinkle with 1-2 teaspoons of water and pulse again until a ball forms. Let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes. Process again for 25-30 seconds, steadying the top of the food processor with one hand. The dough should be tacky to the touch but not sticky. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and form into a smooth ball with your hands. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, turn to coat with oil, and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk and spongy, about 1 1/2 hours.

Stand mixer method: Fit the mixer with the dough hook attachment and combine the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, yeast, and salt. Mix together. On low speed, add the water and olive oil in a steady stream and mix until the dough comes together in a rough mass. If the dough does not form into a ball, sprinkle with 1-2 teaspoons of water and mix again until a ball forms. Let the dough rest 5-10 minutes. Process again 5-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and form into a smooth ball with your hands. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, turn to coat with oil, and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk and spongy, about 1 1/2 hours.

Once dough is risen, turn out onto a lightly floured work surface, punch it down, and shape into a smooth cylinder. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball, dusting with flour only if the dough becomes sticky. Cover both balls of dough with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes before proceeding.

Place one ball of dough in a zip-top bag and freeze for up to 2 months for later use (when ready to use, thaw the frozen dough for 3-4 hours at room temperature).

For the pizza
Preheat gas grill burners on high for 10 minutes with lid closed, then reduce heat to medium.
While grill is preheating, divide ball of dough into two equal pieces for 2 smaller pizzas that will fit on the grill and serve 1-2 people each. On a lightly floured surface, take one of the small dough balls and flatten into a disk with your hands. Using a combination of your hands and a rolling pin, stretch out the dough until it is 1/4-inch in thickness and is slightly rectangular so it will fit on the grill plates. If the dough is bouncing back instead of stretching out, let rest for 5 minutes then continue shaping. Repeat with second ball of dough. To make ahead of time, place dough rounds on baking sheet separated by pieces of parchment paper in the fridge for up to 2 hours. Brush one side of each pizza round with olive oil (this adds richness and prevents sticking on the grill).

Once ready to grill, place dough rounds on a flour or cornmeal-coated pizza peel, rimless cookie sheet, or other flat surface. Slide or carefully lay the dough, oiled side down, directly on the grill plates (don’t worry about it falling through the grate, it firms up almost instantly). If you have a big grill, you can grill both dough rounds at once. If you have a small grill, work in batches. Quickly brush the side of the dough facing you with olive oil. Using a pair of tongs, check every few minutes to see how the dough is browning. Pierce any bubbles that rise with a knife or fork. Once the dough is golden brown and slightly blistered, use your tongs to flip the dough over. Quickly place the cheese, tomatoes, basil, salt, and pepper on the dough. Close the lid to let the dough finish cooking and allow the cheese to melt, 4-7 more minutes. Once cooked, carefully slide the pizza back onto the pizza peel or other flat surface. Allow to cool for a few minutes then serve.

Dough recipe from Pizza

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22 Responses to “Simple Grilled Pizza Margherita”

  1. #
    Lauren — May 31, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Gorgeous! I love the grill marks on the dough, and you simply can't beat the margherita combination of mozzarella, tomato, and basil.

  2. #
    Karin — May 31, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Looks beautiful! Somehow I seem to see pizzas everywhere these days, but that could have something to do with my current pizza cravings :)

  3. #
    Flavia — May 31, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Beautiful! This is my favorite type of pizza ever. Classic, uncomplicated and elegantly simple.

  4. #
    Lauren @ KeepItSweet — May 31, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    This pizza looks perfect! I love grilled pizza, it is such a special summertime treat!

  5. #
    Maris — May 31, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    This loks like the most delicious pizza ever!

  6. #
    Tracey — May 31, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Grilled pizza is one of my favorite summer dinners and yours looks wonderful! Anything to save me from having to turn my oven to 500 F for an hour+ :)

  7. #
    Claire K Creations — May 31, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    Yum that's a great idea! We get charged a daily rate for our gas cooker so the more we can use it and not the oven the better.

  8. #
    Linds@TheLeanGrnBean — June 1, 2011 at 1:08 am

    girl, this looks amazing! grilled pizza is on my list for next week :)

  9. #
    Gloria — June 1, 2011 at 4:08 am

    I've wanted to grill pizza since I had seen it an issue of Everyday Food last year. Your post inspires me to actually do it this grilling season! I love the fresh, simple ingredients.

  10. #
    susan — June 1, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    your dough looks perfect! i tried grilling a pizza this past sunday…disaster. need to try again. thanks for the tips!

  11. #
    Kristin — June 1, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Ah, wouldn't a pizza stone oven be incredible. Gwyneth Paltrow recently did a pizza recipe on Goop with her ridiculously beautiful outdoor wood burning oven. Can't wait to try this…

  12. #
    Julia — June 1, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    We LOVE margherita pizzas, especially on the grill. Your pictures are making my mouth water!

  13. #
    skylar — June 1, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    I tried making a recipe similar to this just the other day. some parts came out amazingly well while others needed some work yet. might have to try your recipe next time since it looks exactly like what i'm going for!

  14. #
    Kulsum — June 2, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    wow grilling pizza dough? how awesome!!!

  15. #
    Tracey Hand — June 5, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Hey there. Being British, I'm not 100% sure of your definition of 'grill'
    Can you clarify, do you mean like a George Foreman type grill?
    Or something else?
    Looks great and can't wait to try it!

    • handleheat replied: — June 5th, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

      Tracey – grill as in a stand-alone outdoor gas (or charcoal) barbeque. Not George Foreman.

  16. #
    ringr — June 28, 2011 at 11:47 am

    We (by we – I mean my other half… its the one thing he makes at home) love making pizza but I can not stand turning on the oven in the summer. This step-by-step blog is super helpful and I cannot wait to (help) make it this week, since I have been really wanting to give it a try. THANKS & cross your fingers for us :-)

  17. #
    17 — May 28, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Tessa, What an awesome pizza! This recipe is scheduled to be featured on Saturday, June 2nd on the as the “Daily Nosh”. It will be paired with Toscolo 2010 Chianti.

    Keep up the excellent cooking and writing!

    ~ Cheers!


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