Pizza is one of the food groups for me. I use the word pizza as a verb rather than a noun and it probably evokes more emotion than any other food that I grill on a regular basis. I have been grilling pizza for about three decades now, but grilling pizza on the Big Green Egg has been a challenge for me. After three years of experimenting, I have found a technique that works well for me and is easy for anyone else who is interested in grilling pizza on the Big Green Egg.
Start by taking a few minutes and completely clean the ash out of your Big Green Egg. Take out the fire ring, fire box, and any other things you may have inside, so you can clean out all the ashes and other charcoal debris. I prefer to use a shop vac but an ash tool and dustpan works just as well. Starting with a clean, ash-free Big Green Egg is imperative to cooking at higher temperatures for the time needed to grill a beautiful pizza.
Put your ash-free, Big Green Egg back together, making sure that the air-intake opening on the firebox is aligned with the Big Green Eggs draft door. Fill the big green egg with your favorite hardwood lump charcoal to the top of the firebox. I often dump the hardwood lump charcoal from the bag into the Big Green Egg, but placing larger pieces of hardwood lump on the bottom by hand first, will provide a solid base for your heat, while assuring maximum airflow for your cook.
Light the big green egg and allow it to come to a stabilized temperature of 450-475F. Once your egg has stabilized, it is time to add some thermal mass to your Big Green Egg. Start by putting your plate setter in the Big Green Egg with the legs up.
On top of the fire bricks, I place the big green egg feet that came with my egg. I do not think they are still being made or sold by big green egg but you can buy something similar here. If you cannot find these, you can use any spacers to raise off of the fire bricks. Empty tuna cans, a few stacks of quarters, or even a few evenly-sized balls of foil would probably work fine.
Place the baking stone on top of the spacers. When it comes to a baking stone, this is one of the few items I really recommend you use from Big Green Egg’s accessories . I have broken over a dozen baking stones over the years and the original one I have from Big Green Egg is still going strong after over a hundred pies.
Now that you have your platesetter, grate, fire bricks, spacers, and pizza stone in place, it is time to let them all come to temperature. I recommend a minimum of 30- 45 minutes. Any longer would be a waste of charcoal.
Everyone has different temperatures that they feel are ideal for cooking pizza on the Big Green Egg. A lot of determining temperature has to do with a combination of how hydrated your pizza dough is and how much sugar it has. A dough with higher hydration can handle hotter temperatures, while more than minimal amounts of sugar in a pizza dough will have a higher chance of burning before your pizza is done.
My sweet spot for temperature when it comes to pizza is between 500 and 525F. Some people prefer to go much higher, but there are other factors that come into play when you eclipse 600F. The personal safety of you and your guests is enough of an incentive to keep your temps under 600F. If that is not enough for you, your Big Green Egg’s gasket will thank you as well.
I am a New Haven-style pizza purist. I feel that the pizzas south of New Haven in Connecticut’s Fairfield County are as good as they get. Never once have I seen a pizza in the tri-state area get rolled out and started on parchment paper. Still, I recommend you roll out your pie on parchment paper for grilling pizza on the Big Green Egg. The parchment paper will make your pizza slide onto the Big Green Egg easily and without fail, whereas flour or corn meal’s lubrication is susceptible to get stuck on any kind of moisture. The parchment paper can easily be removed a few minutes after you start grilling pizza on the Big Green Egg, or you can wait until just before the pizza is done.
This set-up for grilling pizza on the big green egg puts a large amount of thermal mass between the lava-hot hardwood lump charcoal by raising the pizza quite high in the dome. The platesetter, brick, and pizza stone barriers between the charcoal and the pizza make the charcoals heat more evenly and consistently from toppings to bottom crust.
Find more Big Green Egg grilling inspiration at GrillingMontana.com