Love artisan pizza but hate the cost? If you’re an outdoor cooking enthusiast, as well as a pizza lover, you’re going to find this article right up your alley.
While a lot of outdoor cookers dream of the authentic and traditional brick or clay cooking oven, for a lot of us the cost of having those custom-made is a little out of our budget.
But after looking around, we found that there are many less expensive and very suitable options. They use different methods of fueling the fire and come in different sizes to fit your budget or lifestyle.
In this top-five review, we’re going to cover several different fuel types as well as some portable and not so portable units.
What type of pizza oven should you get?
First, let’s cover the different types of outdoor pizza ovens that are available to you in terms of fuel type. Then, we’ll follow up with some important questions that you need to ask when you’re trying to decide which unit you want to buy.
Electric Pizza Oven
The electric pizza oven is available in several styles. They’re relatively cheap on the low-end and can jump up in price quickly to well over $20,000. The upper end models have a brick or clay lining that mimics a traditional pizza oven. This helps keep temperatures high and results in nice, even cooking
On the lower end, they use the typical filament heating elements. One issue with the cheaper electrics is that they don’t get to the very high cooking temperatures desired for pizza. With temperatures of 600° and lower, your cooking times are longer. Another problem is that the cooking is sometimes uneven due to the placement of the filaments.
It’s a good option if you are on a budget or if you don’t plan to use it too often.
Gas Pizza Oven
Gas pizza ovens in the portable range run on propane. The gas ovens draw the flame and heated air up to the top of the oven via a front vent or chimney. These also come in a few style variations. Some models use an upper and lower ceramic tile, heated by the flame and hot air, for even cooking of the pie.
Other models directly draw the flame and heated air over the top of the pizza. This helps cook the toppings as well as the top of the crust. And you’ll get the artisanal burning of the top crust so many of us desire.
An advantage of a gas oven is easier heat regulation than the wood burning style.
It’s a good option if you don’t want to deal with the smoke and the heat regulation of wood burning.
Wood Pizza Oven
The wood burning style ovens are the most desirable to those who want to experience the smoky flavor that the burning wood can give the pie. The wood-burners can get the temperatures up into the 900° plus range which can rapidly cook a pizza – sometimes in less than a minute.
These ovens also draw the flame and heated air up to the top of the ceiling via a front vent or chimney. The heated air is reflected down to cook the top of the pizza.
It’s the most expansive option, but fortunately, they now make portable wood-fired oven which are affordable.
It’s the best option if budget is not an issue or if you want the best culinary experience.
What else should you know before you buy?
Before you buy any type of outdoor pizza oven, here are a few questions that you’re going to want to ask before you do purchase a unit.
Why Is a Brick Pizza Oven Thought to be Better?
The brick pizza oven or wood fired pizza oven is able to get the temperatures up quite a bit higher than you can with an electric model. These higher temperatures achieve a couple of things.
1. They cook the pizza faster because they can get to 900°+.
2. With the convection cooking that you get in a brick or wood fired oven, you get more even cooking. The electric models, unless they have an upper brick tile in the ceiling, use heating elements that don’t cook quite as evenly.
3. You get the wood smoke from the burning wood that helps add flavor and aroma to the pizza.
So then, you might ask if electric style ovens are any good. They are, if all you’re looking for is to cook the pizza and time isn’t a real question.
And also if you’re not really looking for the other advantage of getting the smoky flavor infused into the pizza. If you’re just looking to cook a pizza, an electric model would do just fine.
Are Outdoor Pizza Ovens Safe?
Yes, as long as you’re following all the safety requirements of the manufacturer and keeping in mind local regulations and fire safety standards. Remember that you’re cooking with flame just like a barbecue. So you want to follow the same safety precautions.
- Have a fire extinguisher handy.
- Make sure you’re aware of how to put a fire out.
- Pay attention to the kind of fuel that you’re using if you’re using logs.
- Be aware of any fire danger or hazards if you’re in an area that’s prone to fires or is extremely dry.
With that, let’s dive into the reviews…
Gas with Electric Ignition
APO Hand Made
How to use a wood fired pizza oven?
#1: The Camp Chef Italia Artisan Pizza Oven
The Camp Chef Italia Artisan Pizza Oven, coming in at 47 pounds, is a very portable unit. You can place this on a tabletop, cart or benchtop, attach the fuel source and easily get the unit fired up and going.
There is a little bit of assembly required when you first get it but it only entails installing the door and the pizza stone. This shouldn’t take more than 10 or 15 minutes to be up and running.
The Camp Chef runs on propane and you can use disposable one-pound bottles for portability. Or use the included 5 foot hose with regulator and connect to a bulk source of propane.
Just a note, some users have suggested that the oven temperature is lower when you’re using the disposable bottles.
It has an electronic ignition and runs at 17,500 BTU. This means you’ll be ready to cook in about 15 minutes. The unit can cook up to a 13 inch pizza in around 3 to 7 minutes at 600 to 700°.
The heat source is at the base of the oven and is controlled via micro adjust valves to let you fine tune the temperature.
The unit is made of stainless steel with a double wall insulated ceiling. This helps the Camp Chef better mimic a brick oven for good, even heat distribution.
It does not come with any accessories.
#1: Camp Chef
The Camp Chef Italia Artisan Pizza Oven is our number one choice because it’s the best value for money. We also love the portability and ease of use.
#2: Uuni 3 Portable Wood Pellet Pizza Oven
The Uuni 3 Wood Pellet Pizza Oven is a very portable oven weighing 28 pounds. With its 3 attached legs, it’s meant for tabletop, benchtop or countertop use.
It does require a fair amount of assembly, so spend some time reading the manual before you start to work on it. Most assembly can be done with a screwdriver.
The Uuni 3 uses wood pellets and when the pellet chute is full, you can cook for 20 to 30 minutes. One very important note, according to Uuni: use only 100% natural hardwood cooking grade pellets. Don’t use any other kind of cheap wood pellet because of the different chemicals and binders that are used in them.
To get the pellets burning, the manufacturer suggests using starter gel. One user likes to use a torch or a starter cube as he is able to get them burning faster.
Once you get the pellets burning, load the chute up and you’ll be ready to cook in about 20 to 25 minutes. Then, burning at approximately 20,000 BTU, the 3 can cook a 13 inch pizza in about a minute at 900°.
Bear in mind, because that’s so hot, it requires some speed and dexterity when working with it. But most users say they found that to be very acceptable once you get some practice in.
In this unit, the heat source is in the back of the oven. The smoke, fire, and air are drawn forward by the chimney that’s attached to the top front of the roof.
This allows the heat and hot air to be drawn across the top of the roof and then reflected down via convection to cook the pizza toppings and the top crust.
The Uuni 3 is made of stainless steel and has a 13” pizza stone inside. The Uuni 3 doesn’t come with a bag of pellets or a pizza peel. You’ll need to buy those separately. A carry case is also available.
It gets a rating of 4.4 stars out of 5 for its ease of use and portability.
#2: Uuni 3
The Uuni 3 comes second because we love the portability, the quality and the price.
It also has a very cool design which is sure to impress your guests!
#3: The IlFornino Basic Wood-Fired Pizza Oven
The IlFornino Basic Wood-Fired Pizza Oven weighs in at 270 pounds. So, not very portable if you plan on taking it somewhere, but it does come with a cart.
The oven comes mostly assembled. You’ll need to attach the chimney to the oven and the legs to the cart base to complete the included wheeled cart. Then, just put the oven on top of the cart and roll it to the desired location.
Before you move or lift the oven, users and the vendors suggest taking the brick cooking base out to make it lighter.
The IlFornino Basic is made of stainless steel and has a double-walled and insulated ceiling. It’s wood fired and can get the temperatures up to 700° to 800°. This cooks a 10 to 13 inch pizza on the 6 piece tiled firebrick cooking base in about 90 seconds at 800°.
Once your wood is properly burning and pushed either to the side or the rear, the Basic is ready to use in about 25 to 35 minutes. It can maintain the heat at about 700° when the door is open.
In order to get the heat back up to cooking temperature, just shut the door. The IlFornino Basic has a view hole on the front so that you can watch as your pizza is cooking. But, at these higher temperatures, you’re going to want to make sure that you rotate the pizza regularly to keep it from burning.
The Basic is a wood burning style pizza oven and comes with the above mentioned cart, one peel and a brush/scraper.
Be aware, because of the weight, it will be delivered via freight delivery. You’ll want to check the charges for freight as this won’t qualify for Amazon’s free shipping. One of the estimates of freight was approximately $360.
The IlFornino Basic Wood-Fired Pizza Oven gets a 4.2 out of 5 star rating. Many users find the cart portability to be a big plus as it helps to conserve patio space because you can roll it out of the way.
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IlFornino is the best portable wood fired pizza oven. The price is a bit steep but it’s a great option if you don’t want a permanent feature.
We love the modern design that can fit in any backyard.
#4: The Blackstone Outdoor Pizza Oven
The Blackstone Outdoor Pizza Oven is another portable unit though it’s a little heavier at 103 pounds. Fueled by propane using an electronic ignition system, the Blackstone runs at 60,000 BTU.
This gets the oven up to cooking temperature in about 15 minutes. Once at temperature, it will cook a 16 inch pizza in a little under 3 minutes.
The unit is made of stainless steel and has a cooking stone mounted in the ceiling as well as in the base. The flame comes up from behind the food and is vented forward. This then heats the stone above for even convection cooking.
The Blackstone also comes with a cart that has a shelf for mounting your propane canister. The unit can be used either on a tabletop or the cart. The oven doesn’t require any assembly but the cart has some pieces that need to be attached.
A very nice feature is that it uses a barbecue rotisserie motor mounted underneath that is attached to the ceramic cooking base. The benefit is that it rotates the base so that you don’t have to constantly monitor the pie to make sure that it’s cooking evenly. It also helps maintain the cooking temperature by keeping the door closed.
The Blackstone gets 4.3 out of 5 stars and it does not come with any accessories or batteries for the motor.
A good alternative to a wood fired oven if you don’t want the hassle of the logs.
You’ll get a decent pizza in a fraction of the time.
Also a good option a for a smaller budget.
#5: Brick Pizza Oven, Wood Fired
This oven by Authentic Pizza Oven is made in the traditional model of wood fired pizza ovens and would add quite a decorative touch to your patio. It’s handmade in Portugal out of refractory (fire) brick, a ceramic material in the oven lining is used. It’s definitely not portable at 1200 pounds. On the plus side, there is no assembly required, but it does require a base.
It can reach temperatures in excess of 900° to rapidly cook your pizza. The times that have been recorded have been as short as a minute. You’ll really need to keep an eye on the pie as it can burn within a few seconds of overcooking.
With practice you can fine tune the wood burning process to get a more easily controlled temperature of 700° to 800°. Giving you plenty of time to rotate the pie for even cooking.
This oven is ideal for wood fire pizzas but it can also be used for cooking fish, vegetables, baking bread, soups, stews, roasts and meats. It also has the capabilities for spit- fire roasting. Ovens are rotisserie capable.
The oven doesn’t come with any accessories.
It gets a rating of 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon with the users who have bought it being very happy with the resulting installation, manufacture and cooking results.
#5: Handmade Brick Outdoor Pizza Oven
This handmade outdoor pizza oven is the best quality and will make the best pizzas.
It comes lasts in our selection because the price is a bit high for the average budget.
If you are serious about your pizzas and want the real stuff, that’s the one you should go for.
Also the best option for a permanent structure, like an outdoor kitchen.
So there you have it. Our choice of the five best pizza ovens on the market in 2017.
Additional Tricks, Tips and Recommendations
Keep the pie turning to allow even cooking. In some units, at the last minute or so, you can hold the pie near the ceiling of the oven to melt the cheese and brown the top crust.
Go easy on the toppings to allow the crust to cook at the same time as the toppings. Too many toppings and the heat won’t make it through to the crust.
Some pizza ovens do have temperature gauges on them, but they measure the temperature in the wrong spot. Some are mounted to the door while others are mounted to the top.
We recommend purchasing an infrared thermometer. These can be found on Amazon for around $20. These will help you keep the temperature where you want it by reading the temperature at the spot where the food is.
How to Clean a Pizza Oven?
Clean ash and food pieces off the stone with a scraper. Use water to clean off any food residue. Be careful of porous materials in the cooking base as they can absorb cleaners like soap.
Why Are Pizza Ovens Dome Shaped?
This is old time convection cooking. The shape helps cook the top of the pizza. The flame, air and smoke are drawn to a chimney or vent at the front of the oven.
Depending on the unit, this will either heat the top of the oven and the air so that it is projected down evenly on the food or the flame and hot air travels across the top of the food and cooks it.
Where Can I Buy One of the Pizza Ovens?
Most of the ovens reviewed here are available at larger camping and outdoor cooking stores. You can find the five models reviewed here at Amazon where you can take advantage of free shipping on some models and get Amazon’s great customer service.
Are Pizza Ovens Worth It?
It depends on how often you eat pizza and whether you like eating outdoors. If you’re a regular griller/BBQ’er, then these will fit right into you lifestyle. They all appear to do a good job of cooking the pies and most users find they can use the ovens for other foods as well.
Cooking times and temperatures vary on model and size. Most will cook at 600°-700° and take 3-7 minutes. Two models listed here can cook in as little as 60 seconds at 900°.
Which Pizza Oven Should I Buy?
Take into account your own lifestyle. Remember these ovens are for outdoor use. If you plan on using them on you patio, is it something you need to move around or can it stay in one place? If you like to camp, do you have any plans on taking an oven with you? Many people pack these with them as some are quite portable.
Also take into consideration the size and type of pizza that you like to make. For portability, these units are going to be a limited in size, usually to 13”.
Three of the five we’ve reviewed will allow you to make a pie up to 13 inches. One unit will go up 24 inches, but it’s not portable. Generally, most other users have said not to go any higher than 16 inches. Because you have to turn the pizza to cook evenly, anything larger than 16 inches can be difficult to maneuver.
- A long handed peel – one each in steel and wood – steel for initially putting the pizza in the oven and turning it. Wood for pulling it out
- A pizza oven brush
- An infrared thermometer
- Gloves for handling anything hot