Grilled Caprese Focaccia

published Jul 18, 2023
summer
Grilled Caprese Focaccia Recipe

The classic Italian flatbread gets a summer makeover on the grill with tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella.

Serves6 to 8

Prep30 minutes

Cook20 minutes to 25 minutes

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Close up of fresh grilled caprese focaccia in skillet.
Credit: Kelli Foster

Cooking for friends is one of my greatest joys. I always make sure that there’s one small part of the meal that is utterly unexpected. This summer, dinner is coming from the grill, so why not bake a skillet of no-knead bread while you’re at it? Enter: grilled caprese focaccia.

Here, pools of golden olive oil settle into the dimpled focaccia, which is topped with flaky salt and the seasonal trio of fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. After 20 minutes on the grill, this chewy, caprese-inspired bread is ready to serve. 

What Is Focaccia?

Focaccia is an Italian yeasted flatbread that is dimpled, drizzled with olive oil, and topped with salt. This recipe harnesses the high heat of the grill to bake the focaccia to deliver its characteristic chewy texture and crunchy, browned crust. It is best served warm on the same day it is made.

Ingredients You’ll Need for Grilled Caprese Focaccia

  • All-purpose flour: All-purpose flour gives the focaccia its structure. 
  • Active dry yeast: Buy active dry yeast in small glass jars or measure the amount needed from an individual packet. 
  • Salt: You’ll need two types of salt for this recipe — kosher salt adds flavor to the focaccia dough, while a sprinkle of flaky salt, such as Maldon, on top adds crunch.  
  • Barley malt syrup: Barley malt syrup acts as food for the yeast and improves browning. Honey can be substituted. 
  • Olive oil: Keeps the bread moist and gives the focaccia its signature crispy crust.
  • Cherry tomatoes: Arrange cut-side up all over the dimpled dough. Grape tomatoes can also be used.
  • Fresh mozzarella: Cut a round of fresh mozzarella into 1/2-inch cubes or use fresh mozzarella pearls (known as ciliegine).
  • Fresh basil leaves: Scatter chopped, fresh basil leaves over the top before grilling, but save some for garnishing the finished focaccia.

How To Make Grilled Caprese Focaccia

Make no-knead grilled focaccia in just five simple steps. 

  1. Make the dough. Bloom the yeast in warm water and barley malt syrup until foamy. Add the yeast mixture and olive oil to a bowl of flour and kosher salt, then stir until a dough forms. 
  2. First rise. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, which takes about one hour at room temperature or 12 hours refrigerated. 
  3. Shape and top the focaccia. Flatten the dough in an oiled cast iron skillet; dimple the dough with your fingertips; and top with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. 
  4. Second rise. Let the focaccia rise at room temperature until puffed, 45 minutes to one hour.
  5. Grill. Grill the focaccia until the edges and bottom of the bread are crisp and golden-brown.

Other Ways to Enjoy Caprese

Grilled Caprese Focaccia Recipe

The classic Italian flatbread gets a summer makeover on the grill with tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes to 25 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 3/4 cup

    warm water (100°F to 110°F)

  • 1 teaspoon

    barley malt syrup or honey

  • 1 teaspoon

    active dry yeast

  • 5 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 1/2 cup

    cherry tomatoes (about 2 ounces)

  • 2 ounces

    fresh mozzarella cheese or ciliegine

  • 2 sprigs

    fresh basil, plus more for garnish

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    flaky salt

Instructions

  1. Place 2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

  2. Place 3/4 cup warm water and 1 teaspoon barley malt syrup or honey in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon active dry yeast over the top. Let stand until the yeast dissolves and is foamy, about 5 minutes.

  3. Add the yeast mixture and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the flour mixture and stir with a flexible spatula until no dry flour remains.

  4. Remove the dough from the bowl. Clean and dry the bowl, then coat the bowl with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Return the dough to the bowl and turn to coat in the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour; alternatively, let rise in the refrigerator for 12 hours.

  5. Halve 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes. Cut 2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup). Pick the leaves from 2 fresh basil sprigs and coarsely chop until you have 1 tablespoon.

  6. Place 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a 10-inch cast iron skillet and rub it into the bottom and sides of the pan. Place the dough in the skillet. Gently stretch to the edges of the pan; if the dough is very sticky, use damp hands or a plastic dough scraper. Use your fingertips to gently dimple the surface of the dough.

  7. Arrange the tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil evenly over the top. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon flaky salt. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until puffed and slightly risen, 45 minutes if the dough was at room temperature or 1 hour if the dough has been refrigerated.

  8. Heat an outdoor grill for direct, medium heat (425° to 450°F).

  9. Place the skillet directly on the grates. Cover and cook until the edges of the focaccia are dark-golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

  10. Place the skillet on a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove the focaccia from the pan, place on the rack, and let cool completely. Top with more fresh basil if desired. Cut into wedges and serve.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The dough can be made and do its first rise in the refrigerator for 12 hours.

Oven variation: Arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven. Place a baking sheet on the rack and heat the oven to 450°F. When ready to bake, place the skillet with dough on the preheated baking sheet and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 425°F. Bake until the edges of the focaccia are dark-golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

Storage: Focaccia is best the day it is made, but can be stored, well-wrapped, at room temperature for up to one day. The crust will soften as it sits.