Today, outdoor pizza ovens are one of the hottest culinary trends going. Chefs and cooks everywhere, whether in established restaurants or pop-up eateries or back yard kitchens, are taking the plunge and enjoying the benefits of cooking in a real pizza oven.
Until recently, the pizza oven was the preserve of the professional chef, being too unwieldy and expensive to be suitable for all but the most die-hard pizza aficionados on the domestic market. Now, they’re more affordable than ever – and more portable, with a much smaller footprint.
What’s more, buying an outdoor pizza oven doesn’t have to mean you’ll be eating pizza for every meal; a good outdoor oven can cook almost anything you could cook indoors, including bread, roasted meat and vegetables, and even baked desserts.
If you’re in the market for an outdoor pizza oven, there are hordes of manufacturers on the market, from big names like Cuisinart and Blackstone to artisanal pizza specialists like ilFornino and Pizzacraft.
As with any significant purchase, the outdoor pizza oven that’s best for you will depend on your baking needs, so it pays to think carefully about how you plan on using your oven before taking the plunge.
Below are some of the best outdoor ovens for cooking pizza in your backyard.
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|Name||Fuel Source||Our Rating|
|Camp Chef Italia Artisan Pizza Oven||Gas||9.6 / 10|
|Pizzacraft PizzaQue PC6500 Outdoor Pizza Oven||Gas||9.6 / 10|
|Pizzacraft Pizzeria Pronto Outdoor Pizza Oven (PC60000)||Gas||9.4 / 10|
|Palm Springs Outdoor Pizza Oven||Gas||9.2 / 10|
|Mont Alpi MAPZ-SS Table-Top Gas Pizza Oven||Gas||9.2 / 10|
|Pacific Living Outdoor Large Capacity Gas Oven with Pizza Stone||Gas||9 / 10|
|My Barbecue Maximus Portable Wood Fired Oven||Wood||9 / 10|
|ilFornino Professional Series Wood Burning Pizza Oven||Wood||9 / 10|
|Blackstone Outdoor Pizza Oven||Gas||8.8 / 10|
|KettlePizza Basic Pizza Oven Kit (for 18.5” & 22.5” Kettle Grills)||Gas or charcoal||8.6 / 10|
|Cuisinart CPO-600 Alfrescamore Portable Outdoor Pizza Oven||Gas||8.4 / 10|
Outdoor pizza ovens are cooking devices designed to create and retain a high heat (in some cases as high as 800 degrees Fahrenheit), making them perfect for rapidly cooking authentic pizzas.
Once fully heated, a good wood-burning oven can cook a thin pizza to crispy perfection in 2 or 3 minutes (5-6 minutes for a gas oven). As an added bonus, the best wood-burning ovens will also impart a unique smoky flavor that’s simply impossible to recreate indoors.
The speed of cooking outdoor pizza ovens can provide doesn’t only apply when you’re making pizza: raw meat can be cooked to your liking just as quickly as pizzas, making an outdoor oven an excellent option for any cookout or backyard party.
If you’re looking to buy an outdoor pizza oven, there are a few different styles and shapes available. The most common shape, sometimes called an igloo, has an arched front opening and a rounded dome, giving rise to the igloo name.
The other common shape, most often referred to as a barrel or barrel vault oven, more closely resembles half a cylinder (or barrel) with a front opening and a chimney.
Both these styles of outdoor pizza oven work in the same way, which is convection heating: the vents and chimney draw heat and smoke through the oven, creating a regular flow of super-heated air which ensures quick and even cooking while minimizing the amount of energy wasted and protecting the chef from the oven’s intense temperature.
Other styles of outdoor pizza oven are available, including rotatable and detachable pizza oven ‘kits’ for regular kettle barbecue grills, but they all work using this same mechanism. The shape of the oven, the materials used in its construction, and the quality of the workmanship will all affect how efficient and effective a given oven is in practice.
Besides the shape, there are two big decisions to weigh up before examining individual outdoor pizza ovens. The first of these is whether you would prefer a portable or a static oven.
In general, static ovens will provide superior results, reaching higher temperatures and retaining heat longer, ensuring consistent quality no matter how long the oven is used for.
There are real costs associated with the static option, however. The most obvious of these is the lack of mobility: a portable oven can be moved from place to place, whereas anyone wanting to show off their static oven has little choice but to host a cookout.
The second major drawback to static outdoor pizza ovens might be more off-putting: this is the price. Outdoor pizza ovens range in price from a few hundred dollars (less for the oven kits) up to a few thousand, with artisanal models costing considerably more. Most of the expensive outdoor pizza ovens are the larger models, which are either static or have limited mobility: they’re huge, heavy and powerful, and their price tags reflect as much.
The second big decision when it comes to outdoor pizza ovens is fuel type: almost of all of the larger, static ovens will be wood-burning, while their smaller portable cousins are more likely to use gas burners to raise the temperature.
Gas is more convenient, easier and cleaner than wood, and refilling a gas cylinder is less time-consuming than procuring the right kind of hardwood for your wood-burning oven.
On the other hand, wood tends to be easier to find in a pinch than propane, and it’s cheaper. More importantly, if you want your pizza to taste as good as it possibly can, the smoky flavor imparted by a wood-burning oven simply can’t be recreated elsewhere.
It’s worth noting that some outdoor pizza ovens, particularly the larger models, may need some amount of additional preparation or assembly before use. Make sure you know what work you’ll need to do to get the oven ready to use before you buy: some outdoor pizza ovens will need a sturdy base constructing, for example, which might be a strong reason to opt for a portable model if you don’t have the time or the space for base-building.
Outdoor pizza ovens aren’t for everyone: some people simply won’t get enough use out of one to be worth the cost and the effort involved. The fact that prices are lower than they’ve ever been, however, means they’re a lot more accessible than they used to be; and if you like pizza, they’re worth considering as an investment for that reason alone. Here are some reasons why an outdoor pizza oven should be your next big purchase.
If you’ve decided an outdoor pizza oven is for you, there are a number of things to consider when it comes to comparing different models on the market.
As with any oven or kitchen appliance, outdoor pizza ovens are serious bits of kit which should be treated with the appropriate respect. There are some general principles to keep in mind which will make using your outdoor pizza oven a safer, smoother experience.