Recipe: Corny pizza

Lynda Balslev's corny pizza.

Lynda Balslev's corny pizza.

This pizza is inspired by Mexican street corn. It's prepared on the grill, which not only keeps the heat outdoors, but lends crucial charred flavor to the crust.

Grill the corn ears first to develop their flavor and start the charring process. When fresh corn is in season, the kernels are crisp, juicy and milky-sweet. Grilling transforms them, softening and amplifying their sweetness, while tempering the sugars with char and smoke. Once grilled, cut the kernels from the cobs and set aside with the pizza toppings. The remaining toppings round out the street corn theme with poblano chiles, onions, crumbled cotija cheese and a drizzle of spicy lime crema. 

There are a few tips to grilling pizza. Ideally, use a pizza stone. Whether you use a grill or oven, a pizza stone is a terrific way to transmit the heat evenly to the bottom of the pizza. Have all your toppings prepped in advance, so that once the dough is rolled out, the pizza can be quickly assembled.

When building your pizza, don't overload the toppings. Too many toppings will weigh the crust down, produce moisture and result in undesirable sogginess. If you have a pizza peel, use it to slide the pizza on and off the stone. A rimless baking sheet will also do the trick.

For the crust, there is no shame in using a store-bought prepared dough ball. There are many good-quality doughs available in the freezer section of well-stocked markets. A recipe is provided below if you prefer to make your own from scratch. If you do, then make a double portion and freeze the extra for easy future access.


Active time: 45 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

Yield: Makes one large pizza


• 3/4 cup sour cream

• 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus the finely grated zest of 1/2 lime

• 1/4 teaspoon Mexican hot sauce 

• 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin 

• 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

• 1/8 teaspoon salt, or to taste 


• 2 ears fresh corn, husked

• Extra-virgin olive oil

• Kosher salt 

• 1 prepared pizza dough ball, about 1 pound, defrosted if frozen, room temperature 

• 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

• 1 cup (packed) coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese 

• 1 small poblano pepper, seeded, chopped

• 1/4 cup chopped red onion

• Freshly ground black pepper

• 1/3 cup crumbled cotija cheese 

• 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions (white and pale green parts)

• 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1. Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate until use.

2. Lightly brush the corn with oil and season with salt. Grill over direct medium-high heat until crisp-tender and charred in spots, about 8 minutes, turning as needed. Remove and cool to the touch, then cut the kernels from the cobs.

3. Heat a pizza stone over indirect high heat for at least 10 minutes.

4. Stretch or roll the pizza dough into a 12-inch circle or your desired shape. Dust a pizza peel or rimless baking sheet with flour. Transfer the dough to the peel or the pan.

5. Brush the crust with oil, leaving a 3/4-inch border clear. Sprinkle the red pepper flakes over it and lightly season with salt. Sprinkle the Monterey Jack cheese over the pizza. 

6. Scatter the corn, poblano and red onion over the cheese. Season with black pepper.

7. Slide the pizza onto the pizza stone, close the grill lid, and cook until the crust is crisp and golden brown and the toppings are lightly charred, 15 to 17 minutes, rotating the pizza once for even cooking. 

8. Slide the pizza off the stone, transfer to a cutting board and immediately brush the rim of the crust with oil. Lightly drizzle the pizza with some of the sauce. Sprinkle the cotija cheese, scallions and cilantro over the pizza. Cut into wedges and serve with the remaining sauce for dipping.

Pizza Dough

Active time: 15 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes, plus refrigeration time

Yields 2 pounds; makes 2 large crusts

• 2 teaspoons dry active yeast

• 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

• 2 teaspoons kosher salt

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Put 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water in a mixing bowl (or use a stand mixer or food processor). Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let it dissolve, about 2 minutes.

2. Add the flour, salt and olive oil and mix well until the flour is incorporated and the dough comes together, about 5 minutes. It may look a little rough.

3. Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and knead lightly until smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Cut the dough into 2 equal pieces, each about 1 pound.

4. Wrap the dough individually in resealable zipper bags and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

5. To use the dough, form each piece into a smooth, firm ball and place on a flour-dusted or parchment-lined baking sheet. Flour lightly, cover loosely with plastic wrap and top with a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Each dough half will make one large pizza.

Lynda Balslev is an award-winning writer, cookbook author, and recipe developer based in northern California. Visit TasteFood at