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.
Why Choose a Big Green Egg?
A Big Green Egg (BGE) 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.
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.
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.
Get this set up as the BGE comes up to temperature to warm the stone. Continue to warm the stone for 20-30 minutes after the BGE has got to the desired temperature before baking the pizza.
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.
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 cooking at 400°C sounds very high, bear in mind that authentic thin crust Neapolitan pizza is cooked at 485°C.
For your first time cooking pizza on a BGE, I recommend going with thin crust and cooking at 300°C/570°F for 7-9 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 at the top of the post 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 BGE must not be attempted until the egg 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 BGE pizza stone.
- I use Extreme Heat BBQ Grill Gloves when cooking pizza. They can withstand the heat of a BGE running at such a high temperature.
- Always burp the BGE before opening fully.