Scratch-made pizza was a “road to Damascus” home-cooking moment. My oven-baked pizzas were really good. Yet whilst being tasty, and much better than pre-packaged products, they lacked that authentic pizzeria quality.
I needed a pizza oven. My wife agreed. Seriously, she did … and I discovered the Big Green Egg.
Big Green Egg Pizza Set-up
My set-up for pizza is platesetter legs up, standard grid and two fire bricks (not house bricks, they will shatter and damage the BGE). The fire bricks are placed on top of the grid vertically (pictured below). This raises the pizza stone up into the dome so that heat radiating down from the ceramic lid cooks the toppings at the same rate as the base. I work with someone who was a pizza chef in Naples. He commented this setup is close to the spatial set-up in a Neapolitan pizza oven.
A thick crust pizza can also be cooked using the vertical brick set-up, it depends on the thickness and toppings. If unsure, cook with the bricks flat and see how it turns out, then adapt as necessary. Deep pan pizzas do not need fire bricks, and the pan can be placed directly on the grid.
Using fire bricks for thin crust pizza made a big difference to both quality and consistency. In addition, the pizzas had that lovely slightly burnt edge pizzeria look. The fire bricks that I use are 114mm high. The platesetter needs to be sitting on the BGE fire ring, any higher and the thermometer may touch the pizza. PSWoo owners may need to remove this and sit the platesetter on the fire ring.
Get this set up when the coals have lit, so that as the Egg comes up to temperature the stone warms as well. Continue to warm the stone for 20-30 minutes after the Egg has got to the desired temperature (see next section) before baking the pizza. I check that the pizza stone is ready by using a handheld instant read temperature gun.
Cooking Temperature and Time
This depends on the crust and/or amount of toppings.
- Thin crust: 375-400°C/710-750°F, cook for 4-5 minutes.
- Thick crust: 300°C/570°F, cook for 7-9 minutes.
- Deep-pan: 190°C/375°F, cook for 20-25 minutes. This is more like baking a pie, and the pizza stone does not need to be raised on fire bricks.
Whilst 400°C may seem excessive, consider that an authentic Neapolitan pizza is cooked at 485°C for 60-90 seconds.
For your first time cooking pizza on a Egg, I recommend going with thin crust and cooking at 300°C/570°F for 7-9 minutes (or thick crust at 260°C/500°F for 8-10 minutes). It’s easy to cook an underdone pizza for a few more minutes, but impossible to go back in time and fix a burnt pizza cooked at too high a temperature. Once you get the hang of it, experiment with crust, toppings, temperature and time.
Getting the Pizza Onto The Stone
For cooking up to 300°C/570°F, you can use baking parchment to transfer the pizza to the stone. Higher temperatures require a tool such as a pizza peel, preferably a wooden one. I use a Superpeel (pictured below) to deploy the pizza into the Egg. To take the pizza out of the Egg I remove the cloth runner and use it as a normal pizza peel.
Using Cornmeal/Polenta … Or Not
The picture below shows cornmeal on the pizza stone. Burnt cornmeal. I used to think that using cornmeal was essential to safely getting the pizza off the stone. However, this isn’t the case. Pizza dough won’t stick to a hot (i.e. pre-heated) pizza stone. So I just ended up with burnt cornmeal and a slightly burnt base. I don’t use cornmeal for dusting the stone anymore.
High Temperature Cooking Safety Precautions
- High temperature cooking on a Egg must not be attempted until it has been used a few times at lower temperatures.
- The pizza stone must be able to handle the cooking temperature. If it can’t, it will shatter. I personally use the large Egg pizza stone.
- I use Extreme Heat BBQ Grill Gloves when cooking pizza (pictured above). They can withstand the heat of a Egg running at such a high temperature.
- Always burp the Egg before opening fully.
And Lastly … Why Choose a Big Green Egg?
A Big Green Egg is well suited for baking authentic pizzas:
- It can get to high temperatures (400°C/750°F), which produces great thin crust pizza.
- The curved dome radiates heat down onto the toppings for an even cook.
- Smoke chips can be added for smoked-style pizzas.
Does it make that much difference? Yes, absolutely. In my experience there’s no contest, pizzas cooked in a BGE win every time. For the Ham and Mushroom pizza article, I used our oven. My wife said “It’s good, and it also shows how much better pizza tastes when cooked in our egg”.