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Easy Guide to Hosting a Backyard Pizza Party

By Ed Ball | Published on January 31, 2024 | 5 min read

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What’s more fun than a pizza party? A backyard pizza party with an outdoor kitchen, of course. When the weather is favorable, there’s nothing better than enjoying customized pizzas and other food, and perhaps sipping an adult beverage.

Doing a backyard pizza party right, though, requires a good amount of work. After all, you want your guests to leave satisfied, and having eaten too much pizza.

Make Sure There’s Enough Seating

Allow enough seating for everyone to be outside. People might well circulate into parts of the house, but you don’t want to assume that when planning. Folding chairs work well, as pizza parties with an outdoor kitchen tend to be informal affairs in which people stand up and move around a lot, so seating that can be shifted around as the evening progresses is ideal. If you have a fixed seating area, then use that as a focal area. Consider, for example, putting dessert on the table.

Friends sitting at the dining table and enjoying afternoon in the backyard.

Make Sure Everyone Can See

If your pizza party is a daytime affair, lighting isn’t going to be an issue. But if it runs into the evening, it might be. Pay attention to when sunset is on the day you’re throwing the party. Do a test of visibility and lighting at that time to see if you need to add or move lights. Portable solar lights are the best way to provide extra, special occasion lighting. Some people also like to put up strings of lights, but these tend to generate mood more than visibility.

Candles are also a great option for mood lighting, but don’t leave them unattended if they’re on wooden furniture or close to the house.

Prepare Ahead of Time

Even if you don’t plan on serving right away, everything should be together. Most importantly? Proof your dough. Seriously, proof your dough. If using a pizza oven, make sure you use the dough intended for it.

Make a list of toppings (and ask guests for suggestions) ahead of time, and check it with more than enough time to make that one more store run before the party starts. Remember that some people are going to be early…assume that your first arrival will be about 30 minutes before the announced time. Set out the toppings on a long table so people can easily access them. If you are making gluten-free dough, it should be separate and clearly labeled.

Lactose-free cheese is another thing to consider providing, and should also be kept separate from regular cheese to avoid confusion. Order things in a “conveyer belt” style so somebody can select dough, then cheese, then sauce, then toppings without having to go back and forth.

Offer marinara sauce as well as plain tomato! It makes for an amazing pizza. Toppings should be precut and in some cases (veggies, meat) precooked. Grate the cheese if you didn’t buy pre-grated cheese.

Group of friends sitting outside together eating and drinking while making pizza with an outdoor kitchen.

Have the Right Gear

Pizzas should be made on a stone or use a specialist pizza oven. These heat the dough to a high temperature and make great pizzas quickly. If your outdoor kitchen doesn’t have space for a full-sized pizza oven with the traditional facade, invest in a couple of portable outdoor pizza ovens. These produce fantastic results and they cook pizza far more quickly (shortening lines) than a more traditional oven.

Wear heavy-duty gloves when operating the pizza oven and don’t allow your guests to operate it. Some of these ovens can reach temperatures of up to 950 degrees F. Keep children and pets away from the pizza ovens.

Make sure you have multiple pizza peels, this speeds up getting the pizza to the guest who made it. Use pizza peels that are rated for the ovens you are using.

You can throw a decent pizza party with a regular outdoor oven, but pizza ovens make it much faster and give a good result once you have the knack for them. If acquiring a new pizza oven, test it before inviting people over and make sure you know what you’re doing.

Finally, make sure you have multiple pizza cutters available in your outdoor kitchen so people can slice their pizzas and mix and match with other gates.

Do Dessert Pizza

You can, of course, do brownies, cupcakes, or ice cream. But offering the option of a dessert pizza is fun and makes for an interesting twist. There are tons of dessert pizza recipes out there. Consider toppings such as mixed fruit, watermelon, strawberry and Nutella, chocolate chip, and s’mores. Another option is a giant cookie pie or a “brownie” pizza with the crust made from brownie mix (cook this one in the regular oven, though).

Dessert pizza is an interesting addition. Just watch out, it might start an all-new argument about the appropriateness of pineapple!

Group of friends having pizza while drinking wine.

Provide the Right Beverages

First of all, provide good quality soda or lemonade for the non-drinkers and any kids. Too many party hosts provide two options: Alcohol or water. With more people being sober and sober-curious, that’s not a good way to go anymore. If you can find it, consider Mole Cola, which is an artisanal Italian cola that isn’t quite the same as Coca-Cola but will likely keep Coke fans happy. Consider providing flavored, no-added-sugar sparkling water too…better for you than either regular or diet soda and has some of the same taste.

As pizza is Italian, it does pair well with wine…and consider Italian wine for an authentic option. However, most Americans see beer, specifically lager, as the classic beverage with pizza. Doing both will likely make most of the party happy. Of course, if you have a full bar, you can allow your guests to pick or mix their cocktails. A rum and coke or Cuba libre works well.

Don’t Forget the Snacks

Salad is a great appetizer with pizza. Also consider a variety of picnic snacks including nuts and cheeses, and veggies and dips. Be aware that if you put out a charcuterie board somebody is going to experiment using bits of it as pizza toppings. Which is likely all for the best.

If you have kids…or adults who are addicted to junk food…it’s not a bad idea to provide a variety of potato chips and similar too.

Throwing a backyard pizza party with an outdoor kitchen is a great way to celebrate any occasion. It’s made all the easier by having a well-designed outdoor living space, with extra space for portable appliances. For help designing your perfect outdoor space, contact Ed Ball Landscape Architecture today.