Are You Grilling Pizza? Here’s How.

Grilled Pizza. Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Sourdough Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

You don’t need a fancy pizza oven to bake pizza outside. Toasty temperatures this summer has led me to do most of my cooking on the grill, and pizza has been “on repeat “all season.

Here’s my easy-as- (pizza) pie technique. All you need is a grill, pizza peel, parchment paper and good oven mitts that offer some dexterity with your fingers.

  1. Make or buy a good pizza dough.
    1. I love the flavor sourdough “discard” adds to my Sourdough Whole Wheat Pizza Dough recipe below.  Use it for flatbread too, with simpler toppings of garlic oil and herbs.

2. Let dough rest at room temperature for an hour or so while you prepare your toppings. (See Tips).

3. To shape the dough, place about 11 ounces of dough on a piece of oiled parchment paper. Oil your hands and press the dough to a 12- to 14-inch circle.

4. Preheat a clean, grill for direct hot or medium-hot cooking. 

5. To grill your pizza, use a pizza peel to slide the parchment paper and dough (without toppings) on the grill. Close the grill and wait for 3-5 minutes, until the dough stiffens and bubbles and the bottom is golden. While it cooks, bring your pizza toppings out to the grill.

Pizza crust par-baking on the grill. Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

6. This is the tricky part. Use oven mitts to carefully grab the paper and dough and quickly flip the pizza dough onto the grill grates. Immediately  remove and discard the paper.

Par-baked bubbly crust, ready to flip and top. Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

7. Spread sauce, if using, on the dough, followed by a layer of cheese, and other toppings (See Tips).

Pizza dough ready for toppings. Photo by Lorelle Del Matto.

8. Cover the grill and cook for  2-4 minutes, until the bottom is crisp and golden and toppings are hot. Adjust the heat of the grill, as needed, so the bottom doesn’t over-brown before the toppings heat.

9. Use your pizza peel to remove the pizza from the grill to a cutting board. Slice and enjoy.

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto


  • Use top-quality ingredients and don’t overload the crust.
  • I layer ingredients on dough as follows: 1. sauce, pesto or a zesty garlic-anchovy oil on the dough 2. cheese (helps secure the toppings) 3. veggies, meats, other toppings 4. maybe another dusting of cheese.
  • Precook raw meat and watery vegetables. The grill will heat but may not entirely cook raw ingredients.
  • Parchment paper is heat resistant but chars and becomes brittle with prolonged exposure to high heat. Pizzas cook quickly on the grill however it’s best to use a piece of parchment paper 1 1/2- to 2-inches larger than your pizza crust.
  • On Topping:  I could write a book with all the pizza topping combos I’ve tried over the years. Pictured is a version of Pizza Margherita, which “by popular tradition” dates to 1889 (1). According to Italy Magazine (1), it has become a symbol of Italian food culture and is one of only three “ three Pizze Napoletane with a Specialità Tradizional Garantite – Traditional Guaranteed specialty EU label together with the marinara (garlic and oregano) and the Margherita Extra (mozzarella di Bufala Camapna DOP, fresh basil and tomatoes.”   
  • Off the grill, add fresh mozzarella or any other cheese you want to melt gently with the heat of the pizza, delicate items like prosciutto, smoked salmon or cooked baby shrimp, and herbs such as basil.

Sourdough Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (2)

Makes 2 (12-14-inch) thin crust pizzas.

For best flavor, make the dough a day or two ahead and chill. The sourdough is for flavor, not leavening, so it’s fine to use the “discard.” Depending on how thick your sourdough starter or discard is, you may need a little more water or flour to make a soft, slightly sticky ball of dough. Learn some of the science around whole wheat pizza dough below*.

6 ounces whole wheat flour (about 1 ½ cups)

5 ounces bread flour (about 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons)

¾ teaspoon instant yeast

2 teaspoon honey

½ cup sourdough starter or sourdough “discard”

1 cup ice water

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1  teaspoon table salt (1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt)  teaspoons salt

  1. Combine both flours and yeast in food processor. Pulse a few times to blend. Add honey and pulse a few more times. Add sourdough. Process for a few seconds. With the machine running, pour water slowly through feed tube to make a dough with no flour remaining, about 10 seconds. (You may not need all the water.)
  2. Let dough rest for 20 minutes in the food processor.
  3. Add oil and salt and process until dough forms a moist, tacky ball that rotates around the sides of bowl. Adjust the consistency with a little flour or water, as needed.  
  4. Remove dough to an oiled bowl or an oiled freezer bag. Cover (or seal bag) and chill for a few hours or up to 2 days. When the dough rises during chilling, punch it down, press out the gasses, recover or reseal the bag and return to the refrigerator.  Let dough come to room temperature before using. 

To Freeze Pizza Dough: Spray olive oil lightly inside of a freezer bag. Place dough in bag, flatten to a disk and seal bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Then let sit at room temperature for an hour or two before using.   

*About Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (2): As explained by Cook’s Illustrated (1), whole wheat flour has fewer of the proteins glutenin and gliadin that combine to make gluten, compared to refined flours. Also, the bran in whole wheat flour cuts into the gluten and the and germ has glutathione that interferes with gluten development. To get around those factors, most whole grain pizza dough recipes include some refined bread or all-purpose flour to help with structure and texture. Weight to cup flour conversions are based on King Arthur’s Ingredient Weight Chart . If you don’t have a scale see How to Measure Flour.


  1. Italy Magazine   The Story of Pizza Margherita
  2. Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated magazine’s Thin Crust Whole Wheat Pizza with Garlic Oil, Three Cheeses and Basil. May & June 2013. 

© Lorelle Del Matto 2021

lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.

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