If you’ve been curious about how to make pizza on a pellet grill, then you have found the right resource. Not only can you make restaurant quality pizza on a pellet grill, but with a few tools and knowing how to best manage the heat, you’ll be impressing your friends and family with your new skills for years to come!
We are paid culinary partners with MAK Grills, and love using their pellet grills. This technique can be applied to most other pellet grills.
This is not a recipe in the classic sense, but more of a guide on how to make a great pizza on a pellet grill. What it really comes down to is understanding how the convection in a pellet grill works, the right pizza dough, and making sure the grill can get hot enough to get crispy dough, and melted cheese.
Not all pizza dough is created equal for use on the pellet grill. The best pizza doughs balance the moisture content so it is not overly wet, nor is it so dry that it won’t spread out.
If purchasing a pre-made pizza dough try calling your favorite local pizza shop and ask if they sell their pizza dough. Many will! It will typically cost you around $3-$5.00 per dough and makes for easy prep. If they don’t sell their dough, or if you are buying at a local grocery store, then try to buy fresh dough. This way you can see if it’s too wet or not. If it’s frozen, you are at the mercy of defrosting it to see how it turns out.
When defrosting dough, be sure to defrost in the refrigerator to avoid any bacterial growth. Best to give it 24 hours to defrost fully.
If you want to make our all time favorite homemade pizza yourself, then consider using Ken Forkish’s pizza dough recipe. We have found this is the best “do-it-yourself” pizza dough recipe and works great when making pizza in a pellet grill. It uses weighted measurements versus volume, but that is why it’s so good (because the recipe is so precise).
Tools for Pellet Grilled Pizzas
If you are interested in cooking pizza on a pellet grill (or a pizza of any type), then there are a few investments you need to make.
- Food Scale – Being able to make your own dough will benefit with a good quality scale to weigh the precise ingredients. It does not have to be fancy or expensive, it should simply be able to tare (that’s when you zero out the weight when you add a bowl), and to display ounces, pounds, and grams.
- Pizza Stone and Peel – A pizza stone is a ceramic circle or block that absorbs and radiates heat to the pizza. Having a pizza stone prevents the crust from falling through grill grates, and it also radiates the heat so the pizza cooks evenly. You can use a pizza steel (the metal equivalent), but we find on a grill the pizza stone allows much better distribution of the heat to the dough. The Peel is an added bonus to easily move the pizza on, off, and around the stone. Think of it as a giant pizza spatula, and the time you need it most is when you slide the pizza onto the stone.
- IR Thermometer – The difference between a good and great pizza (besides dough) is knowing when to put the pizza on the stone. An IR thermometer points at the object you want the temperature of (in this case, it’s the pizza stone). The best IR Thermometer we have used is the Thermoworks Industrial IR Gun.
- The Elements of Pizza is a fantastic resource all about dough and the art of pizza and can be found at Amazon as well.
Now that you have your tools and the right pizza dough, it’s time to do some preparation to have the best pellet grill pizza experience.
- Be sure the dough is room temperature. A cold dough will not easily roll out, and will actually contract. Having a room temperature dough will allow you to easily shape and work with it.
- Have lots of flour and large grit cornmeal. Want to easily slide that pizza off your pizza peel onto the stone? The secret is a combination of flour and the large grit cornmeal. Before and after you roll out your dough, you dust the peel with both the flour and some of the cornmeal. That allows you to shake the pizza off and onto the grill so it doesn’t fall apart.
- Have a place to prep the next dough. It’s highly likely you are making at least two pizzas. Consider making one at a time as you cook (since it’s unlikely you want to invest in two stones and racks). So as you cook one pizza, have a well-floured surface or cutting board to have the next dough and pizza ready to make.
- Prep all the ingredients in advance. Having everything laid out in advance (the sauce, the toppings, the cheese) to just add to the pizza is so much easier than trying to get it prepared while you roll out the pizza dough and make the pies, cook, monitor, and be able to pull off in time.
The Right Pellet Grill – How it Works
The two most important steps in a successful pellet grill pizza is holding the right temperature in the grill and elevating the pizza stone off the base grate.
First, regarding the cooking temperature, pellet grills act like a convection oven. For a pellet grill, the fan blows air into the fire pot which maintains the fire, fed by pellets pushed into the pot by an auger. That air from the fan and from the flame still travels around the grill and out the vents creating a convection style current of air.
We have found for a classic NY Style pizza crust, setting the grill between 450 and 500 degrees is the ideal temperature for a good pizza. This gets the actual stone to heat up to 500+ degrees. Not all pellet grills can run this hot. We’re cooking ours on our MAK Two-Star General Grill and have no issues hitting the high heat.
Second, the reason we elevate the pizza stone is to allow the heat under the stone to move with the convection current. When you place the stone directly on the base grate, you will find that the bottom of the pizza will cook faster than the toppings and interior of the crust. So elevating the pizza up, using a shelving system allows the air to travel around the grate. This evens out the temperature for even grilling. Shout out to the MAK team for that tip, and for making a grill with multiple shelving arrangements.
We call this the pizza method.
How to Cook Pizza on a Pellet Grill
- Prepare the pellet grill for pizza method targeting 500 degrees on the stone. For our MAK Grill we set it at 450 degrees, and we make sure we have an elevated shelf and place the pizza stone on the shelf. We then close the lid and let it warm up. After about 20 minutes, the stone should be running at 500 – 525 degrees F.
- Dust a pizza peel with flour and large grit cornmeal and roll out dough to a 12-inch diameter. Slightly move the peel back and forth to see if the dough will move. If it doesn’t, it’s sticking to the peel and you need to carefully lift one side of the dough and add more flour and cornmeal. Repeat on the other side until the pizza can easily slide on the peel.
- Add your toppings. We recommend starting with the sauce, then adding the cheese, and finally any additional toppings. The more toppings you add to the pizza, the heavier it is, so be careful not to overload or the dough won’t easily slide off.
- When pizza is prepared and the stone is at 500 degrees, slide the pizza onto the stone. Grill for 5 – 7 minutes and then using the peel rotate the pizza 180 degrees. The rotation allows for even cooking on all sides. Continue grilling for 5 – 7 more minutes or until the bottom of the dough is golden and the cheese is melted. Remove with the pizza peel.
After we remove the pizza, we dust with a little finishing salt, large crystal sea, or kosher salt (this is a personal preference). Then cut the pizza into slices and serve.
If you grill a second pizza, wait until the stone heats back up again to at least 500 degrees and repeat.
Specific to the MAK Grill:
- Be sure your fire pot is clean and pellets are full.
- Have both Flamezone covers on and a second shelf in the bottom shelf rung. This will enhance the convection and heat.
- Run the grill at 450 degrees F with the stone on the second shelf. The stone should warm up to 500 – 525 degrees F with an IR Thermometer.
- Make your pizza following directions. For a second pizza, be sure the stone gets back up to 500 degrees before putting the pizza on.
Other Pizza Recipes for the Grill
- How to Make a Pizza on the Big Green Egg
- BBQ Chicken Pizza
- Grilled Pizza with Pear and Prosciutto
- Smoked Buffalo Chicken Pizza
- Brisket Pizza
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Sausage and Pepper Pellet Grill Pizza
- Pizza Stone
- Pizza Peel
- IR Thermometer
- 1 ball pizza dough (your favorite recipe or storebought dough)
- 1 cup pizza sauce
- 1 cup shredded low moisture mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
- ½ pound smoked Italian style sausage (We are using fully cooked smoked sausage. You can do this in advance or just pan sear the sausage so it's completely cooked through before adding to the pizza.)
- ½ red bell pepper, sliced thin
- ¼ cup finely diced red onion
- ¼ teaspoon finishing flake salt
- pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- Prep Grill: Prepare the grill for pizza method targeting 500 degrees on the stone. For our MAK Grill we set it at 450 degrees, we make sure we have an elevated shelf and place the pizza stone on the shelf. We then close the lid and let it warm up. After about 20 minutes, the stone should be running at 500 – 525 degrees F.
- Prep Dough and Peel: Dust a pizza peel with flour and large grit cornmeal and roll out dough to a 12-inch diameter. Slightly move the peel back and forth to see if the dough will move. If it doesn’t, it’s sticking to the peel and you need to carefully lift one side of the dough and add more flour and cornmeal. Repeat on the other side until the pizza can easily slide on the peel. Do this before adding the pizza toppings.
- Add your toppings: We recommend starting with the sauce, then adding the cheese, and finally any additional toppings (we're layering cooked sausage, red bell peppers, and sliced mushrooms). The more toppings you add to the pizza, the heavier it is, so be careful not to overload or the dough won’t easily slide off.
- Grill Pizza: When pizza is prepared and the stone is at 500 degrees, slide the pizza onto the stone. Grill for 5 – 7 minutes, and then using the peel rotate the pizza 180 degrees. The rotation allows for even cooking on all sides. Continue grilling for 5 – 7 more minutes or until the bottom of the dough is golden, and the cheese is melted. Remove with the pizza peel.