How to Choose a Pizza Oven

A pizza oven can change your life. Gone are the days of oven-baked frozen pizzas with rubbery cheese and cardboard crusts. The best outdoor pizza ovens will consistently make top-tier pizzas for the rest of your life.

Know What to Look For When Buying a Pizza Oven

Because they can weigh over 1,000 pounds and get around 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit in temperature, you shouldn’t take this decision lightly. In this pizza oven buyers guide, we’re going to walk you through the steps of picking the best outdoor pizza oven for your needs.

Different Types of Pizza Ovens

Pizza ovens come in many shapes, sizes and styles. Built-in brick ones, portable gas or wood-fired and dual fuel that use gas for constant heat with wood for that smokey flavor.wood-fired-pizza

With more pizza ovens out there than meets the eye, these are some of the common types and features you should consider. 

Let me show you what to look for when buying a pizza oven in this buyers guide.

Whether you want a built-in brick oven, a countertop style pizza oven or a totally portable one (on wheels or light enough to take camping and on picnics). 

You can also get gas fired, wood fired or a combination of both, but more about that in a moment. 

Why is a pizza oven dome shaped?

The dome shape of a pizza oven helps to move the heat around inside by reflecting the stored heat from the fire down to the base of the pizza oven allowing for cooking the top and bottom of the pizzas at the same time. 

I will run through a few of the features you will need to think about if you are undecided on what to look for.

Built-In Pizza Ovens

built in pizza oven

You cannot move these pizza ovens — at least not easily. They are often a built-in separate entity in your backyard. Stationary pizza ovens can be small or large, depending on how many pizzas you want to make at once and how much area you have to build it.

Their prices range from affordable to super expensive, but once you have built one in your backyard it will be an investment for a lifetime and most definitely a good talking point for friends and family. 

Stationary pizza ovens would suit you best for long-term residences. Once you take the time and effort to build one of these you won’t be taking it anywhere easily. 

Generally, they come in kit form and are wood-burning, the built-in pizza ovens are as much about the authentic Italian atmosphere and experience as you can get without travelling to Italy. 

Can you build a pizza oven with normal bricks?

It all depends on the type of brick. If they are clay, kiln-fired bricks they should be ok but if they are made from cement or concrete then they are a no, no as they can explode with the high heat.

The preferred option is to use specially made fire bricks that way there will be no problems whatsoever.

What esle can you cook in a pizza oven

Pizza ovens aren’t just for cooking mouth-watering pizzas, you can also cook burgers, steak, fish, vegetables, bread or practically anything that can be cooked in a conventional oven.

Cooking in a pizza oven will give the additional smokey flavor from the wood used to fire it.

Does a pizza oven need to be round?

The best shape for an efficient pizza oven is round or slightly oval-shaped with a low access doorway at the front. This allows for the best heat flow inside the oven ensuring even distribution of the heat.

Now let’s look at the good points and not so good points.

Pros

  • Perhaps the best quality pizza you could ever make
  • More control over the taste of your pizza through wood fuel usage
  • Long-term investment
  • You can cook more than just pizza on it
  • You should be able to cook multiple pizzas at a time.
  • Super high temperatures are achievable for quick, crispy pizzas
  • A real talking point for family and friends

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Once you install it, you generally can’t move it
  • Most use only one fuel source: wood
  • More effort to cook pizza than with a portable pizza oven
  • Take up the most space

Once you decide that you want a built-in stationary pizza oven the next decision is do you get a professional in to build it or buy a DIY pizza oven kit. 

That will come down to how much time you have for constructing the oven, whether you are up to tackling the DIY version and how much money you want to spend. 

All in all, there are many options to choose if you do decide to go down this road, at the end of the day you will have created a fantastic area to entertain.

Portable Pizza Ovens

Camp Chef Italia Outdoor Pizza Oven

Portable pizza ovens are the better choice for those who want more flexibility in where they place their oven.

Maybe you don’t have a big backyard and only want to whip the pizza oven out when necessary, storing it in the garage when not in use.

Or maybe you move locations a lot, so you want to take your pizza oven with you. 

Some portable pizza ovens resemble backyard grills — the types you’d see people grilling steaks on. Others look like some sort of medieval machinery.

They’re made of metal and often contain a little chimney to direct the smoke out of. Some have tool storage areas to place pans, pizza slicers, and ingredients.

Depending on the model you get, they can be powered by gas, pellets, wood or a combination of these.

Portable pizza ovens tend to be cheaper because they’re made from fewer materials and are lighter in construction. 

Just because they are lighter and portable doesn’t mean they won’t perform like the huge ridgy didge built-in ones.

Most of these portable units can get up to 600 – 900 degs Fahrenheit which is more than ideal for banging out the perfect pizza with a crispy thin base, mmm, yummo. 

They are suitable for folks who occasionally want to make high-quality, tasty pizzas but don’t want to devote a significant portion of their space or savings on a stationary outdoor pizza oven.

And, they come with the added benefit of being able to take on picnics, camping or tailgate cooking.

They are also much easier to clean up afterwards as the metal surfaces just need a wipe over. 

So, what’s low-down on these portable pizza ovens?

Pros

  • More affordable than large built-in pizza ovens
  • You can take away camping
  • Easy to move around the yard or pack away for storage
  • Lighter than brick ovens
  • Often use a variety of fuel sources

Cons

  • Less powerful than a stationary pizza oven, but not by a lot
  • The size of your pizza is limited by the size of the portable pizza oven you get (normally these are around 12-13inches, that’s big enough anyway)
  • Requires more fuel because it’s less insulated

Dual Fuel Pizza Oven

A dual fuel pizza oven uses both gas and wood / wood pellets to cook the pizza. Quite often they are portable or counter-top pizza ovens. 

Why Use Dual Fuel to Heat Your Pizza Oven 

Having a dual fuel source to heat up your oven is not a new concept. The idea behind it is that you can maintain a consistent temperature using gas with the added smokey flavor of wood. 

portable-Outdoor-Pizza-Oven

Wood

Using wood gives you the smoky flavor that most pizza connoisseurs love. You can adjust the taste profile of your pizza based on the type of wood used.

Wood would be a cheaper option if you live in a forested area, but it could be more expensive to get if you don’t.

Using wood to fire up your pizza oven also takes up much more space and requires more care than gas would. You need to protect your wood from the elements and check it for mold and pests before you use.

Can you use any wood in a pizza oven?

The best wood to use in your pizza oven are hardwoods because the temperature will be greater and last longer than softwood. 

Can I use pine in a pizza oven?

You should avoid using pine or other softwoods that have a high sap content because as the sap burns it creates creosote which is harmful to humans and hard to clean from the inside of the oven. 

How long does a wood fired pizza oven take to heat up?

This all depends on the size of the pizza oven, the type of wood used but typically could be anywhere from 30 – 90 minutes depending on the temperature required.

Pellets

Some of the dual fuel ovens use wood pellets, these are easier to light than wood, burn a lot cleaner and efficiently and produce very little ash.

What wood pellets are best for pizza?best pizza oven for pizza

Most of the wood pellet pizza oven manufactures also make wood pellets that are ideal for their ovens.

Having said that you just need to make sure that whatever style and flavor pellets you use don’t contain any chemicals used in the manufacture.

Should I soak wood pellets

There is no need to soak the pellets before using them because they are formed by compressing sawdust which eliminates any contaminants through the heat that is generated.

Therefore, they can be used as is, out of the box.

What happens if wood pellets get wet?

If the wood pellets do get wet you will have to discard them as they will revert back to their former self, ie sawdust.

Yep chuck em out and get some new ones.

Gas

Depending on where you live, you would find it much cheaper to use a gas grill than a wood one. You also need less space to store gas versus several stacks of wood.

Gas pretty much only gives you heat, though. It can’t flavor your pizza in fancy ways. The price of gas also fluctuates based on the price of oil, which would make it less feasible to cook pizza during an expensive upturn in the market.

So What’s Good and Bad About These?

Pros

  • Choose between gas or wood fuel sources
  • You have more flavor options for your pizza
  • You could opt to save money on your fuel source while still getting a tasty pizza
  • Regulate thew heat with gas while adding the smokey flavor of wood

Cons

  • Can be expensive to buy

How to Choose the Perfect Pizza Oven

Now that we’ve listed the most common types of outdoor pizza ovens, let’s discuss how to pick the best type of pizza oven for you.

1. Assess Your Budget

Pizza ovens aren’t cheap. They can range from a couple hundred dollars at the cheapest to several thousand. If you want to devote a chunk of your savings to a lifetime investment of high-quality pizzas, go for it. That option is not for everyone, though.

Your budget will be your limiting factor when choosing an outdoor pizza oven. Ask yourself or your spouse how much you can spend on an outdoor pizza oven and go from there.

2. Take a Look at Your Space

Once you’ve pinpointed your budget range, take a look at how much space you can give your outdoor pizza oven.

Do you have a spacious backyard? How far away would you put the pizza oven from your house? Pizza ovens get quite hot, so you don’t want to put it near where people would be relaxing.

Those without much outdoor space won’t want a stationary pizza oven. A smaller portable pizza oven would suit you better.

3. Be Real With Your Expectations

Don’t buy an outdoor pizza oven and expect it to prompt you to make more pizzas. If you don’t already have a pizza habit, it’s unlikely that you’ll get one after the purchase.

Be realistic with how you’ll actually use the outdoor pizza oven. An expensive one would best serve those who already make lots of pizzas, while a smaller, cheaper one suits less frequent pizza makers.

Final Thoughts on What to Look For When Buying a Pizza Oven

Never ask yourself, “what pizza oven should I buy?” again. Go for the one that suits your budget, space limitations, and pizza cooking frequency.

If you’re a pizza lover, you’ll want to make a long-term investment in your favorite food. If you’re looking to dabble in a pizza-making hobby but aren’t sure you’ll continue, go for a cheaper option.

There’s an outdoor pizza oven for every pizza lover around and now you will know what to look for when buying a pizza oven.