There are tons of compelling reasons to cook and dine al fresco, from avoiding a sweltering summertime kitchen to throwing together a dinner party without having to clean your house. The problem is, you can start to run out of outdoor cooking ideas pretty quickly.

Hamburgers again? Grilled vegetables again? We’re here to help you break out of your outdoor cooking rut by talking about something you’ve never tried before: pizza cooked outdoors.

Whether you have an outdoor cooking grill or you’ve just invested in an outdoor pizza oven, we’ve got you covered.

Read on for our best tips and tricks for cooking pizza outdoors.

Getting to Know Your Outdoor Equipment

In order to make pizza outside, you’re going to need either a grill or an outdoor pizza oven. Both will lead to incredible, mouth-watering pies, but the methods and results are going to vary. Let’s take a quick look at what you need to know before you get started.

What You Need to Know to Grill a Pizza

Before you fire up the grill, you’re going to want to clean it well. Pizza dough is a vessel for flavor, which means that if your grill has any burnt residue on it, you’re going to taste it. 

To cook a pizza on the grill, you’re looking to achieve a high, even heat. How you go about this will depend on your grill. If your grill is new, make sure to read the user manual to find out the best methods for getting a high, consistent, and even temperature. 

Finally, you will need to wipe down the grill grates with olive oil once the grill is hot. To do so, fold a paper towel into a tight square, dip it in olive oil, and use tongs to apply olive oil to the grates. 

What You Need to Know to Use an Outdoor Pizza Oven

Like grills, pizza oven settings vary based on the make and model. This portable pizza oven is great for both beginners and traveling outdoor cooks because it makes temperature control easy and straightforward. Others will require more trial and error.

Keep in mind that if you’re using a pizza oven, you’re going to need something called a pizza peel. Wooden pizza peels are often small and easy to lift, but metal peels with perforations offer the advantage of dough removal. No matter which one you use, you’re going to want to flour it up more than you think.

Getting Your Ingredients

At the end of the day, only you can decide what tastes good on a pizza–we’re not here to weigh in on the pineapple debate! However, you’re cooking pizza outdoors at very high temperatures whether you’re using a grill or an outdoor pizza oven. This can impact the way that your pizza cooks and which ingredients are best to use.

For starters, you don’t want to create too much moisture when cooking at high temperatures. That means that you will want to go light on the sauce and use low-moisture mozzarella as well as hard cheeses like Pecorino or shaved parmesan. 

Next, keep in mind that at such high temperatures, you’re only leaving your pizza on the grill or in the oven for, at most, five minutes. If you don’t mind al dente vegetables, then there is no need to pre-cook. However, if you’re using any meat toppings, make sure that they are pre-cooked to avoid any safety hazards.

Putting Together and Cooking Your Pizza

Now, let’s go through a quick and easy step-by-step guide to cooking pizza outdoors. This is a fast process and you may want to have enough of everything to try a few times. 

Step 1: Get All of Your Ingredients Together and Fire Up Your Equipment

Set up an outdoor cooking station with everything from your prepped dough on a flat cookie sheet or pizza peel to your toppings. Once the dough is on the cookie sheet or pizza peel, you want to move quickly so that the dough doesn’t start to warm to the surface. Make sure that your grill or pizza oven is brought to the desired temperature before you start assembling.

Bonus tip: if you’re using a grill, pre-grill your dough. Get it into the size and shape that you desire, throw it on the grill for two to three minutes or until browned, then flip and repeat. This will add structural integrity once the pizza is topped.

Step 3: Load and Launch

Get your dough situation on your pizza peel or crust and load it up. Again, you want to use a light layer of sauce and cheese and you want to move fast.

Once your pizza is loaded up, it’s time to launch your pizza. This is a stressful moment for beginners. The key is to slide the pizza forward onto your cooking surface while pulling the cookie sheet or pizza peel back.

Step 4: Cool, Cut, and Enjoy

After a few short minutes, check that your cheese is melting and your crust is browned to your liking. With care, slide the pizza back onto the cookie sheet or pizza peel and transfer it to a cutting board. Allow it to cool for a few minutes before cutting it and a few minutes more before serving it up.

Don’t forget tasty outdoor-appropriate sides like grilled chicken wings, a refreshing salad, and cool beverages!

Enjoy Outdoor Cooking in New Ways

Whether you’re looking for new ways to approach RV cooking or you love spending as much time in the summer outside, outdoor cooking is the way to go. If you’ve never tried cooking pizza outdoors, we hope that this guide has inspired you to give it a shot.

Looking for more food-spiration? Take a look around for recipes, cooking guides, and more.