Baking Bread in an Outdoor Grill

Bake Outdoors and Beat the Heat

Do you want to avoid baking yourself out of your own kitchen on hot summer days? With a little trial and error, I was able to quite successfully bake bread in an outdoor barbeque grill. See the short video documentary.

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With summer temperatures running obnoxiously high on occasion, the appeal of indoor baking starts to wane a bit for me. The energy conservationist (and cheapskate) in me finds it a little painful to watch our central air conditioner struggling to compete with the kitchen oven. I also enjoy grilling pizza so I sometimes combine the events. There’s an element of adventure in outdoor baking you may find appealing.

My grill is a pretty basic model and not thermostatically controlled, so it took some practice to get familiar with where to set the flame height and where to position the bread in relation to the flames. The most important thing I found was not to have too much heat too close to the bottom of the bread or it will scorch. That was easily solved by cranking up the side burners while keeping the center burners, directly under the bread, on medium.

For the bread to bake uniformly, I think it’s necessary to bake it in some kind of covered baking vessel, ala the no knead baking method. A cast iron Dutch oven ought to work well, but definitely do NOT use a La Cloche clay baker as the base is too fragile for grilling purposes. As you can see in the video, I use a heavy baking stone with a Cloche lid over it. This works great but even a heavy duty baking stone should not come into direct contact with flames or it may crack. The stone I use is specifically designed for grilling and comes with a flame diverter (a metal tray the stone rests in) that prevents cracking.

Even if your grill has a thermometer on it, it’s probably not going to give you a very reliable reading. The use of a simple instant read probe type thermometer takes the guesswork out of determining your total baking time. Wait until the internal temperature of the bread is in the 200-205 degree range before taking it out to cool.

If you have any experience with bread or pizza grilling, I’d love to hear about it.

 

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda October 15, 2013 at 11:26 pm

I baked several loaves of beautiful, tasty bread on the BBQ this summer. I used my normal recipe and my usual metal bread pan (no covered vessel). When it was risen properly, I baked it, starting at 400 and letting the heat drop to 350. It was raised on two bricks set towards the back of the oven and cooked for 18-20 minutes. The loaf rose beautifully, was really tasty and had a lovely, light crumb.

During the cooking of the 2nd loaf, I realized that I could peek through a space in the back of the grill and actually monitor the bread through the opening. As a result, I realized that the bread was cooked in 20 min.

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Linda Marcella October 12, 2011 at 9:05 am

I baked on a gas grill for a year and a half while we were remodeling an old farmhouse. I baked bread almost daily and made pizza a couple of times a week. I simply heated the grill for about 20 minutes, placed the raised bread on a pizza pan on one side of the grill that I had turned the burners off. I checked after 15 minutes and baked a few minutes more equalling about the same 20 minutes I baked the loaves in the oven. Pizzas were done the same way. Sometimes I did the crust about 10 minutes and then added toppings and back in for another 10 minutes or so. I usually slid the pizza off and onto the grill for the last 5 minutes. Make sure to open and close the lid quickly so as to not lose heat. When I baked other items such as brownies and pies I put them in the appropriate pan and set it on top of the pizza pan.

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Espen Nybråten October 20, 2010 at 5:27 am

Why is everybody talking about grilling in the summer when its hot outside?Personaly i’m grilling the whole year trough!Exept this winter with 10-15 degrees celsius minus!Would do it if i could get my gasgrill up burning but not in that cold!But 5 minus went good!! Done pizzagrilling for a long time now, but just the italian style with thin bottom!But my neighbour ( who now also grills all the year no matter if its raining or snowing) did the thick bottom pizza and it was wonderfull!! Have a round weber pizzastone in granite (spelled this way??)and my neighbour has a squere one! Next project now is bread on the grill! Anyone who know the coretemperature of the bred when its done??Sorry for my kind of bad english, but norwegians is’nt known for good english!:)

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Breadtopia October 20, 2010 at 5:42 am

Hi Espen,

If I lived in Norway, I don’t think I would EVER come inside the house. It’s too beautiful outdoors.
I think you want about 95 Celsius on the core bread temp.

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Mary Beth August 27, 2010 at 8:38 pm

Maria,

Thank you for taking the time to detail your experiences with your grill. It is exactly the kind of information I am seeking in deciding which one to purchase as well as which accessories will be necessary.

Sounds like folks eat *very* well at your table! Loved reading the menu of items you cook up on the grill as well as how you do it.

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Maria August 25, 2010 at 10:30 pm

@MaryBeth: I, too, am not a fan of baking inside the house in the middle of the summer. But I am a fan of baking and cooking. I do both. A LOT.

Two summers ago, my husband and I finally purchased a Ducane Affinity 3400 (Weber distributes these) for about $450. I think that particular model has been discontinued, but I think there are similar models out there. I wanted a sturdy grill, and something that I could use frequently without having to worry about it falling apart, but at the same time, I did not want an over-the-top backyard kitchen.

This grill has the following features, and I use every single one: 3-burner stainless steel grill (12,000 BTU each, about 340 square inches); side burner; rotisserie kit; smoker box, in-lid thermometer; electronic ignition. The stainless steel features on this feel a bit thin, but it’s held up very well to this point. However, I must point out that we are rather fastidious about maintenance. I think I would have rather had a Weber, but we live in a small community, and supplies are often limited.

When we purchased the grill, I also purchased the round baking stone with the flame diverter that is mentioned in this thread, above, as well as two pizza slips. I bake/cook the following frequently: No-knead bread, rustic fruit tarts, pizza (you can bake a thin-crust pizza on these things in less than 7 minutes once you get the hang of it), fruit cobblers, paella, cookies, hamburger buns and other sorts of bread rolls, banana bread, biscuits, tortillas. I roast tomatoes for canning, cook potatoes, roast chickens and other meats using the rotisserie, etc., as well as the “usual” grilling items (hamburgers, sausages, fish, shellfish, vegetables, kebab, kofte, etc.). The grill and the accessories (baking stone, slips) are in constant use during the summer and fall time, at least 3 times per week, and sometimes twice or more in a day.

This size grill works well for my husband and me (we have no children), but often entertain a few other people, and have never had a problem with the grill being “too small”.

Baking on a grill does take practice, so it’s important to realize that there may be a lot of mistakes at first, but sometimes that’s the best way to learn.

Hope this essay gives you a few ideas to work with. Good luck in your grill search!

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Mary Beth August 25, 2010 at 11:22 am

Dear Bakers,

I have been a life-long bread baker, and in recent years have taken to baking almost all of my bread in covered pots in the oven. I seem to get such consistent results this way and even bake long loaves in a caphalon fish poacher.

I have a question for all you bread grilling/outdoor bread baking enthusiasts:

I am finally having a patio built and will be able to install a natural gas grill. I live in central Ohio, so weather wise, it gets pretty hot in the summer and can go below zero in the winter. I would like to purchase a grill that can be a de facto second oven/stove. I like the idea of baking bread outside when it’s 95 degrees so I don’t make it worse in my kitchen, but also would like to use the grill to smoke meats or roast veggies or grill whatever when I have my indoor oven otherwise occupied, say during the holidays. I have never owned or cooked on a gas grill; it’s always been charcoal for me til now.

What do you all recommend? I’d like something that I won’t need to replace due to rust after a few years; I’d like something that I might want to use several times a week; I don’t want to spend thousands but have budgeted for between $300-$999. I can hardly sort through all the stuff online- there is just too much info- and I want to ask folks who use these grill in the way that I would like to- what works for you? Or if you have something now that would be perfect if you just had a particular feature that you hadn’t considered at the time of purchase? (I don’t want to be shortsighted- I mean, I don’t *think* I “need” a rotisserie, for example, but might I regret not having it eventually?

I finally accepted reality- as much as I would love a wood-fired or charcoal outdoor fireplace/brick pizza oven, I know I wouldn’t have the patience to nurture the fire properly and wait for it to get to the right temp., etc. But to bake outside, grill or roast when I’d like, smoke something occasionally, well, this would be the final stage of having my dream kitchen.

I suspect that a four-burner would be a necessity, from what I’ve read, so that I can manage indirect cooking methods. Beyond that, what else?

Thank you SO much!

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Sarah Taylor August 22, 2010 at 6:38 pm

I just baked my first loaf on the gas grill. It is over 100 degrees in the San Fernando Valley and I cannot stand turning on the oven right now. I used my clay stone. The loaf looks fabulous, but, alas, burned on the bottom. Thanks for the posts. I am going to make another and elevate my clay stone on bricks. I think it’ll be perfect. And my husband doesn’t care about the burned bottom; he cuts it off and slathers butter on his slice! I have learned so much from this website..I’m getting pretty good at bread! I made a dark caraway rye last week that was great.

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Vic May 10, 2010 at 1:11 pm

I’ve been baking breads and sweets in the oven for over 40 years, so transferring what I know to the grill isn’t such a reach. A few years ago my husband and I started grilling Pizzas. I make the bread, pat it out and oil it, my husband throws it right on the grill rack, closes the lid and times it. Comes off w/ pretty grilling stripes. Guests toss on the topping of their choice, back in the (sorry… gas grill here) grill on a top shelf to melt the cheeses and warm the ingredients… mmm…Sigh.

Yesterday I tried a cookie crust for a fruit pizza. Put it on a cookie sheet, monitor the heat closely (easier w/ a gas grill). Worked out fine… still no baking brick required. I will try the baking brick, you all seem so sold on the idea… but it’s not always necessary.

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Breadtopia June 10, 2009 at 5:51 am

Read the whole story of Marianne’s Big Green bread baking experience.

Thanks Marianne!

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Marianne June 3, 2009 at 11:07 am

With the recent hot weather, I decided to try baking no-knead bread in my Big Green Egg charcoal grill. I used a pizza stone and covered the bread for the first 20 minutes with a clay terracotta flowerpot. Worked like a charm!

[img]IMG_1720a.jpg[/img]

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Richard Hren August 23, 2008 at 12:28 pm

I have been making pizzas on my gas outdoor grill for years.. the resulting pizzas have gotten raves for many many years..

I will post a picture the next time I fire one up

I do use a large heavy pizza stone, and even a mesh grill between the pizza dough and the grill grates..

havent tried bread yet.. but I will soon
nice work everyone

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Maria August 7, 2008 at 9:07 am

Hi – I broke down and purchased the Fibrament pizza stone for the grill and have been using it mostly for pizzas and No-knead Bread with good results (click on “Maria” link above)! I wanted a good method for baking pizzas and such on the grill instead of the brick set-up I had before; I couldn’t get consistent (and good) results on the pizza.

For bread, I heated stone and grill for 10-15 minutes with side burners on high-ish, the middle on medium, dropped the bread dough onto the stone, and covered with a stainless steel bowl. Baked with the grill lid down for 20 minutes. Removed bowl and let bake for another 7-10 minutes. The one I baked last night has mysteriously disappeared from the house (I think my husband took it to work to share the results).

Also, I know this isn’t the forum for it, but I used the stone on the grill yesterday to bake a rustic peach tart with very good results. A very versatile baking tool indeed! Thanks for all of the videos and tips.

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breadtopia July 1, 2008 at 10:00 pm

Nice going Maria. I love your post. That’s the kind of tweaking that seems to be necessary for each particular grill. But it’s sure worth it.

Folks – click on Maria’s name to see her flickr post of her grill baked bread picture.

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Maria June 30, 2008 at 7:59 pm

After a few tries, I think I finally did it. Here’s what worked for our grill: Plain old bricks on grill (4-6). Grill heated, with lid down, for 10 minutes. Grill has 3 burners. Two side burners on near high, middle burner on medium (as suggested in a previous post). Cast iron griddle or comal place directly on bricks. Set-up heated for another 10 minutes, lid down. Dough dropped onto comal, then covered with a stainless steel bowl, and baked for 20 minutes, lid down. Bowl removed, then bread baked for another 7 minutes with lid down on grill. Notes: I live at 8,200 feet 2500 m) altitude. Also, light, but steady rain outside, temperature 55 F (13 C) at time of baking.

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Jeff White February 1, 2008 at 2:44 pm

Hi,
We’ve baked bread and pies on our charcoal grill using 8″ clay flower pot dishes (from HomeDepot). The pies were perfect — better than we get in an oven. The bread was a little black on the bottom, so I will try the suggestion of putting bricks underneath.
- Jeff

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breadtopia August 21, 2007 at 11:22 am

Good to hear from you, Malcolm. And thanks for the added tips. Using commonly available brick to keep the pot/stone away from direct heat sounds like a winner.

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Krusty (Malcolm Kronby) August 21, 2007 at 11:13 am

Hi Eric:

Excellent videos !!

I’ve been baking bread successfully on a gas barbecue all summer, both in a covered pot and on a stone, covered and uncovered.

I arrange four bricks (ordinary house bricks) on the grill, and place the pot or baking stone on them, which keeps the pot/stone away from direct heat. My covered bakers of choice are the unglazed clay loaf shape, or an unglazed clay tagine (equivalent to La Cloche). If I want to bake on the stone and cover the dough, I use an inverted large pyrex or stainless steel mixing bowl as the cloche.

The baking temperature and time is the same as for an indoor oven.

Thanks for sending the dry sourdough starter. It revived perfectly, and adds a complex depth of flavor to the bread.

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