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The Incomparable Ecstasy of a Grilled Frozen Pizza

You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced the flame-licked, golden-brown cheese of a propane-grilled pie

Just 24 hours ago, I thought the whole world had gone crazy. Everywhere I seemed to look, people were talking about grilling frozen pizza and I could not figure out why. They were talking about it on Twitter and Reddit, they were searching for it on Google and there were even several sets of instructions posted online for how to grill your frozen pizza. 

Some of these posts claimed that it was a different experience, with one redditor saying that “grilling a $3 Jack’s frozen pizza makes it taste like a $20 pie from the Hut.” Others claimed that — specifically with a propane grill — it was quicker than the oven because there’s no preheat time. A few people even said charcoal was the way to go for an added smoky flavor.

Needless to say, I had to try this for myself. I went to Walmart and got myself four Red BaronCheese Trio” pizzas: One for my propane grill, one for my charcoal grill, another for the oven — or, the “control” — and an extra in case something went wrong. When I got home, I dragged out my old charcoal grill, piled up the coals, doused them in lighter fluid and waited. While I like the taste of charcoal, I recently bought a new propane grill for two reasons: One, I hate waiting a fucking hour for the grill to heat up. Two, I’ve been binging King of the Hill on repeat since I interviewed propane salesmen about Hank Hill, and I guess you can say that Hank converted me to propane.

When the charcoal grill seemed close to ready, I began preheating my oven inside and then turned on the propane grill, which, of course, heated up in an instant with no trouble at all. (Did I mention how much I love propane?) I then tossed one frozen pizza in each cooking apparatus and waited. 

Propane (top) and charcoal (bottom)

Unfortunately, I burned the fuck out of both pizzas I put on each grill. The instructions online said 10 minutes directly on the grate, and I got each grill to about 400 degrees because they didn’t specify temperature and 400 degrees is what the Red Baron box said. But that was way too much heat, and while both looked good on top, they were completely inedible so I threw them in the woods. 

Propane (left) and charcoal (right)

I wasn’t about to give up though — after all, I still had that extra pizza. I reasoned that direct heat was too intense for either grill, so I pulled out my pizza stone and a pizza tray I stole from Chuck E. Cheese during my kid’s third birthday party. I then cut in half the last frozen pizza and popped a side on each grill.

Propane (top) and charcoal (bottom)

This time, I monitored them much more closely, pulling open the grill every couple of minutes to take stock. This likely distorted the cook time, but I didn’t want to go back to Walmart again. Honestly, eight-to-ten minutes was probably about right for both, but if you try this at home, use a pizza stone or tray and keep a close eye on things.

When the pizzas were finally done, the results were mixed. The propane pizza looked simply amazing with the perfect amount of browning on the edges of the cheese. It also appeared to have a nice crispy bottom. As for the charcoal pizza, it didn’t cook quite as nicely. Even with the pizza stone, it appeared that the bottom of the pizza was cooking faster than the top, so I pulled it off before it burnt again — cheesy goldenness be damned.

Propane (top) and charcoal (bottom)

What really matters, though, is the taste. The propane-grilled pizza was every bit as good as it looked. Not only did it seem to resemble an authentic, brick-oven pizza, but it damn-near tasted like one, too. The bottom was perfectly crisp and the cheese was cooked beautifully. Honestly, it may very well have been the best frozen pizza I’ve ever had — and I’ve had a fuck-ton of frozen pizza in my life. 

The oven-baked pizza was fine, but honestly, I don’t know why the fuck I thought I needed a control for this experiment. I know what frozen pizza tastes like. As for the charcoal pizza, it was good, but hardly worth the effort. The bottom was nicely crisp, but the top was only okay on texture. The charcoal did indeed add a nice smoky flavor but that was hardly enough of a benefit to warrant all the effort it takes to pile up the charcoal, wait a really long time and then cook a frozen $4 pizza — it’s just not worth it. 

In other words, to paraphrase Hank Hill, nothing beats clean-burning, energy efficient propane — even when it comes to a dang frozen pizza, I tell you what.