Lisa’s Letters Home: Throw a Pizza on the Barbie!

Lisa’s Letters Home: Throw a Pizza on the Barbie!

Our BBQ has been our good friend lately. It’s been far too hot to turn on the oven or cook anything on the stovetop, so we’ve been firing up the grill almost every day. During this heatwave, lunches have mostly meant salads or anything I can grab out of the fridge and stuff in my face (I have no shame.) Some days though, I want a hot lunch in spite of the high temperatures.

Grilled meats and fish (and of course the very lovely and sqeaky halloumi) are great, but meals were becoming a bit samey. My husband fired up the smoker a couple of weekends ago and were in rib heaven. Sticky, messy, finger-lickingly blissful heaven. As wonderful as this change of meal was, it’s very time-consuming and would never work for a quick lunch.


A friend of mine posted a photo of pizza he made on his BBQ, using the top grill element. Our gas BBQ only heats from below, but I wondered if I could close the lid and use it like an oven to cook pizza. The short answer is: yes you can, but don’t take your eye off it. Oh and make sure you oil up your spatula and whatever surface your dough is sitting on (or dust it all with cornmeal/semolina flour.) Pizza dough is sticky, especially in the heat.

I tend to make up the dough about half an hour before cooking, but you can make it in advance and freeze it. You can either freeze the raw dough in a plastic bag and defrost before use, or you can shape it then partially cook it (for about 2 minutes) and freeze it in layers with parchment paper in between. If you partially cook it, reduce your overall cooking time accordingly. I use a KitchenAid with a dough hook attachment to make the dough, which will horrify my Italian friends. (Who are already horrified by the fact that I don’t like Negronis. I’m sorry, I did try.)

The dough recipe I use is from Jamie Oliver: I only make half the recipe, which will give you about three pizzas the size of large dinner plates (depending on how thick you like your crust.) Your BBQ might be hotter than mine or have various random hot spots, so you may need to experiment with temperature and timings. My BBQ has a temperature gauge which is why I’ve given a temperature in this recipe, but really, you just want your BBQ up almost full whack as you would if you were cooking pizza in an oven.

I didn’t try cooking the pizza on a stone or tile because I didn’t trust it sitting on top of the intense, direct heat from the bottom of my BBQ. I’m sure you could do this with a charcoal BBQ, or if you can just light the elements around the stone rather than underneath it. Don’t quote me on this, though.


Use whatever sauce you want. I make a very simple sauce with a tin of plum tomatoes heated up in a saucepan with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, a clove of garlic, and fresh basil. I let it bubble for about 5 minutes, then press it through a fine sieve. I heat the sauce through until it thickens (about 10 minutes), season, and either use it right away or freeze it in ice cube trays. And that’s the most organised I will EVER get in the kitchen, I promise you.

Lisa’s Letters Home: Throw a Pizza on the Barbie!


  • 4 cups (500g) strong bread flour or Italian '00' flour
  • ½ Tbsp sea salt
  • 1x7g sachet of dried yeast (I used quick action yeast)
  • ½ Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (325ml) lukewarm water (I test it on my wrist – if I can’t feel it, it’s the right temperature.)


Preheat the BBQ to 250C with the lid closed.

Sieve the flour and salt on to the counter and make a well in the middle.

Mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil into the water and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well. Using a fork, bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl it into the liquid.

Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour in, and when it all starts to come together, work the rest of the flour.

Knead until you have a smooth, springy dough.

Place the ball of dough in a large bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Leave it until it’s doubled in size; about half an hour.

Remove the dough and shape into 3-4 pizza bases.

Place the bases directly on the grill on the BBQ.

With the lid open, let the dough cook for about 3 or 4 minutes until the bottom starts to get brown and the top bubbles a bit. Remove the bases.

Flip the bases over so that the cooked side is on top.

Add your sauce and toppings, and carefully slide the pizzas back on to the BBQ.

Close the lid and cook for about another 3-4 minutes, checking fairly frequently to make sure you’re not burning anything.

If you haven’t burned the crust and haven’t managed to drop the pizza and/or toppings through the grill to the flames below, congratulations! Eat and enjoy pizza, even in a heatwave.

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