Not long ago, outdoor pizza ovens were as mythical and unobtainable as a golden unicorn. Only the super-wealthy could afford one, let alone have space to actually build one. But now the longing is a thing of the past. The elusive golden horned pizza oven has been transformed into an affordable, compact, beautiful reality.
These new outdoor pizza ovens deliver the goods. There is nothing as delicious as a pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven at extremely hot temperatures. But these ovens do so much more than make pizza. They can be used to cook meat, bread, cheese, and veggies too. Basically, it will make anything you would traditionally cook in your standard oven, but it will be so much better. Because anything cooked in a wood-burning stove will taste amazing.
Traditionally, outdoor ovens were made with brick and mortar and took up half an acre. But luckily for us, we live in a world with better options. You can find a miniature replica of the brick and mortar oven or an innovative portable model. Whatever you’re looking for, we’ll help you find the best on the market. Consider your budget before you jump in. Pizza ovens vary in style and features.
Prices range as drastically as your options; you could walk away with spending as little as $200 or as much as $1,700. It all depends on what your specific requirements are.
Before you splurge on the new oven you saw at Home Depot, you should consider what makes a good pizza oven. Not all ovens are equal, and if, in your eagerness, you grab the first one you see, you may suffer from buyer’s remorse.
So what makes a good pizza oven?
Four simple things:
Fuel sources vary from oven to oven; the most common sources are:
The larger ovens typically use logs or large chunks of wood as their heat source.
Logs are known for burning hot, rising to temperatures over 900 degrees, which is perfect for pizza.
To make outdoor ovens affordable and compact enough for average Joes like us, the fuel sources more commonly used are wood pellets and propane gas. These fuel sources require less room, but can still reach temperatures close to their logs fueled counterparts.
Most pizza-making aficionados swear by pellet stoves. They believe you can’t get a true representation of wood-fired pizza without the wood — “wood made it good“— this seems like a fair point. But just as many others are happy with the quality results, they get from a propane sourced oven. The real factor here is whether you prefer to haul around a propane tank or stock up of loads of pellets.
BIGGER ISN’T ALWAYS BETTER
You need to consider the size of the oven. If you throw pizza parties every Friday night, you need a large oven, one that can house a 16-inch pizza. If you are cooking just for yourself or your family, a smaller oven might be just right for you.
Here’s a homemade oven that’s perfect size for all our backyard baking needs.
The size of the oven will determine how large your pizza can be. But if you’re limited on outdoor space, there are still many options available for you. And don’t worry, a smaller oven does not necessarily mean an inferior oven. Some pizza ovens are made with limited space in mind, being perfect for terraces or balconies.
These also usually require less fuel, and because of their small size, they tend to heat up more quickly. Not to mention, they are typically portable, making them much easier to store than their bulkier counterparts.
The design of the oven will be the real test of quality. The best ovens have a vent above the opening to help draw the heat up through the entire oven. The smoke from the rear of the oven will also be sucked through the vent, circulating heat and flavor throughout the whole oven.
The circulation of air from :
is essential for evenly cooked, high-quality food.
The most important thing to consider when looking at pizza ovens is insulation. Quality insulation is paramount because of the necessity of maintaining very high temperature throughout the cooking process.
If the insulation is faulty, the oven will not remain hot enough to produce quality food. You will end up with spotty and unevenly cooked pizza every time, basically disappointment every time. The exterior of the oven should be fully insulated, that means the hearth and the dome, both. Not only will this ensure consistent high temperatures, but it will also prevent the dome from setting fire to your backyard.
There are a few different types of outdoor ovens, we’ll take a closer look at each kind, so you can figure out the right fit for you.There are two main categories of outdoor ovens is:
A stationary oven is large and basically immovable. It is usually built into the backyard; the designs and style vary as widely as the prices. You can hire a professional or try your hand at building one yourself. These are usually too expensive for the average Joe, but if you’ve recently won the lottery, then enjoy your new pizza oven.
The other type of outdoor ovens is more compact and affordable. Typically, these types of outdoor ovens are made of metal instead of brick and are fueled with either wood pellets or propane gas. Building the ovens out of metal instead of brick offers a lot of advantages. First, brick ovens are massive, while metal ovens are smaller and lighter. Their small, compact frames make them more mobile and convenient. Metal ovens can also incorporate a variety of features such as convection motors or rotating cooking surfaces.
Some portable ovens are made with transportation in mind. These ovens are even smaller, they are made to sit on countertops or other surfaces. These adorable little ovens are perfect for people with limited storage space.
Other portable ovens are approximately the size of your outdoor grill and are known as stand-alone ovens. This category has some of the best and worst options out there. Too many companies produce inferior models but cleverly pass off their stand-alone to unsuspecting buyers.
Portable oven manufactures are known for advertising insane high temperature and short cook times. They explain their products something like this:
Heats up to 1000°F in lest than a few minutes so you can cook 5 pizzas in less than 15 minutes.
What you will find is that most portable outdoor pizza ovens will max out at around 800°F and it will take about 20 minutes to them there. With that being said, even though your ambient temperature is good enough to cook after 20 minutes, you really should let the oven preheat for about 45 minutes. By allowing the oven to preheat you ensure a crispy crust that doesn’t stick when trying to slide it out. Another factor that manufactures never mention in their calculations of how many pies you can turnaround in a short period of time. They never calculate the 10 – 15 minutes it takes your oven to bounce back to an ideal cooking temperature each time you remove a pie.
Mobile ovens are fueled by either wood pellets or propane gas. Wood pellets burn very hot and create a smoky, savory flavor in your pizza. However, gas ovens make great pizza as well. Gas fueled ovens reach very high temperatures and maintain those temperatures more reliably than wood or pellet ovens. The best choice for you depends on your perspective. If you already have a gas grill, then a propane sourced oven is more convenient. But if you believe, like many do, that the aromas associated with burning wood are essential to great pizza, then opt for a wood pellet oven.
The Ooni 3 Outdoor Pizza oven is the perfect outdoor oven. Not only does it make great pizza, but it’s also portable. You can take it to barbecues, family parties, or even out to the beach. Once you light the Ooni up, it’ll be ready to make crispy, tasty, pizza toot-sweet. It’s fueled by wood pellets to give your pizza that authentic wood-fired taste.
As for heat, the Ooni 3 reached 780°F in around 15 minutes.
As for size, you can try to stuff a 13-inch pizza in there (as the manufacturer claims) but it is more appropriate for the smaller, 10 or 11-inch pizza.
Setup can be a little tricky. The pellet grate has caused a lot of confusion for many users, but a quick YouTube search will guide you in the right direction if you find yourself struggling to put things together. Another downside is the lack of temperature control. Since the oven is fueled by pellets, controlling, and maintaining the temperature takes a skilled hand.
Priced right for someone who isn’t serious about spending a small fortune. The Onni 3 is designed well, and utilizes cordite stone.
The Kettlepizza Pro 22 is a kit you insert into your grill, which transforms it from barbecue to pizza oven. Grilling an edible pizza takes skills and practice. Every time you open the lid, you lose heat, which is one of the real struggles people have when trying to bake pizza on a grill.
The Kettlepizza Pro 22 solves this problem. But the real star in this show is the pizza stone. Pizza stones collect massive amounts of heat, which is the key to a great pizza crust.
This made in the USA kit comes with a solid stainless steel ring that fits perfectly into a standard Weber kettle, but it will also fit several other kettle style grills. The oven has a place to set wood chunks to burn that will create the aroma and flavors of an actual wood-fired pizza oven.
With only a small opening in the pizza oven, temperatures can reach over 700 degrees, so you can finally grill a perfect pizza.
So here’s the most practical pizza oven if you own a kettle style grill (which many people do). While it’s not the best overall method/oven on the list, it is affordable and makes on okay pizza.
The problem is, well, not sure the kit is really necessary as you can grill a pizza without it —especially, if you have a pizza stone — it just makes the process a little easier.
And, unlike most other pizza ovens, this one isn’t ideal for anything other than pizza. Additionally, you’ll have to find a safe place to store it whenever you’re actually grilling.
Bertello has taken the market by storm with their sleek and multifunctional pizza oven. Whether you like cooking with pellets, wood , or gas you’ll have your choice. Boasting temperatures of 900°F (we reached 800°F) you can cook a pie in under 2.5 minutes.
. The Bertello comes with a 13.5 x 12.5-inch cordierite pizza stone, which is perfect for 10 to11-inch pizzas. Each oven also includes a tray for pellets, charcoal, or wood chunks, and they offer a gas burner attachment so you can fuel your oven by any means.
A Kickstarter success story, the Bertello Wood Fire and Gas Pizza Oven is a good mid-range product. Solid construction and compact design make this pizza oven versatile and portable. It’s great for Neapolitan style pizza but can also be used to cook fish, veggies and pretty much anything you can put into a cast iron skillet.
The small front opening helps keep temperatures high and consistent, but it also makes placing a pizza in the oven a little tricky. Finesse, and a steady hand are needed to prevent your pizza from crashing and burning.
The Camp Chef’s biggest benefits are its tiny size and double layered ceiling. Since the size is is so small and the heat output is 17,000BTUs, you’ll find that the double insulated ceiling does an amazing job at cooking the toppings and getting the cheese to a bubble golden brown.
This model has been around forever, as it was one of the first massively manufactured non-commercial pizza ovens. It is among the cheapest and most portable pizza ovens on the market. You’ll be cooking with gas with the Kettle Pizza PizzaQue. It takes about 15 minutes to heat up, but for the price, this guy had to make our top 8 list.
Manufactured by the same company who won our number 1 spot, the Koda is a gas pizza oven. This one is also designed to run up to 900F (although we have not yet had a chance to put run this oven through the Artisan Pizza Test Kitchen) so this means you’re able turnaournd several pies in under 15 minutes which is a nice selling point when you’re looking to entertain.
Here is our commercial style model, by that we mean it’s the scaled down version of a commercial kitchen oven designed to cook things like chickens, roasts, etc. It comes with a pizza stone like most of our other models, and that’s good because the insulation isn’t the best and while the manufacture sells it with a bimetal theremeter reads up to 800F, we found the max temp to be 500F.
This is the most cost effect outdoor pizza oven on our list. Coming in at under $100 (as long as you’re not trying to buy it directly from the manufacture) it is a true dedicated pizza oven. Which means you can’t expect much when it comes to using it for more than pizza.
Another interesting pizza oven option is the grill attachment oven. It’s a simple attachment to the grill you already have in your backyard. Attachments have become popular because a lot of people don’t want to add another barbeque to their outdoor space and think since a grill has almost all of the functions of a pizza oven, why not just use it instead? It seems like a simple solution, it minimizes the amount of storage you need, plus you don’t have to track down another propane tank. But unfortunately, these attachments make inferior pizza. To get a semi-decent pie, you will need to invest in a conversion box because your grill, on its own, is not a sufficient pizza oven. You would be better off using a pizza stone on your grill than trying to get something worthwhile out of a grill attachment.
Pizza oven conversion boxes usually sit right on top of your grill grates. They are made in a variety of sizes and options. Some boxes are made specifically for sitting on a gas grill while others are inserted between the grate and lid of a charcoal grill. Whichever barbeque grill you have, you will find a variety of options that claim to make great pizza. While we haven’t tried every option out there, we have been disappointed with the ones we have sampled. You should consider very carefully before you jump into the deep end on this one.
The options vary widely in style and design, but they all have one purpose, making great pizza. The style you choose will depend on your needs and your specific situation. If you have the space, a stand-alone oven might be the right choice, but if you only have a balcony, then a smaller mobile option might be the way to go.
Pizza is our passion, but we would be remiss if you didn’t highlight the versatility of an outdoor oven. Their design means you can cook a variety of items to perfection, not just pizza. Steaks, hamburgers, and roasts cook well in these high-temperature environments. The piping hot oven sears the exterior while keeping the interior moist and tender. If you want to keep your electric bill down, you can use the outdoor oven at a lower temperature to cook things like bread and cakes.
Whatever your cooking, remember these ovens operate at very high temperatures, so keep an eye on them. It’s not the type of thing where you can just pop food in the oven and then take a shower while you wait. If you do, you’ll be eating a charred, blackened block of sadness for dinner.