Nothing crushes one’s pizza-making enthusiasm, hopes, and plans like a soggy, bland-tasting pizza.
I tried several hacks online to convert my regular kitchen oven to a full-fledged 1000-degree F pizza oven. But after a series of only-God-knows-what results, I quickly discovered there’s no way around this.
I need a wood-fired pizza oven if I’m to make mouthwatering, wood-flavored pizzas with charred bits and extra crunchy crust.
And the good news is I did not have to build the budget-scary brick pizza oven in my backyard. Modern options offer all the hallmarks of this traditional model with the utmost convenience.
In this post, I’ll reveal my favorite outdoor pizza oven that helped me level up my pizza-baking skills and results. Even better, I’ll share THREE more wood-fired pizza ovens to ensure you find your OWN game-changer.
Now, you can start making mouthwatering batches of wood-savory pizzas like a top chef!
How do Wood-fired Pizza Ovens Work?
Understanding how a wood-burning pizza oven works involves familiarizing yourself with its essential components. Also, it helps make the most out of the device.
Essentially, these BBQ-style pizza ovens have five basic parts:
- Dome – has a hemispherical shape that helps speed up the preheating process. Not only that, it helps maintain the optimally-created cooking temperature throughout the process.
- Hearth – features refractory material to absorb heat and withstand extreme temperatures. It helps bake your dough’s crust for a crispy result.
- Door – another vital part of a pizza oven to trap heat. The entrance plays an integral role in the combustion process and in maintaining the heat inside the dome.
- Flue – is usually located externally at the dome’s top. It serves as a conduit for smoke to escape from you and others.
- Pyrometer – the temperature is critical in making a perfect pizzeria-quality pizza. Also, most pizza ovens come with a thermometer on the side wall. This is a much easier and safer way to track the cooking chamber’s temperature for a hassle-free way of monitoring the
Now that you are aware of the crucial components, let’s dive into the natural phenomena it employs to deliver unrivaled cooking performance:
- Conduction: the hearth is usually the hottest part of the oven. The heat from the flame heats the floor of the cooking chamber by conduction. When it’s hot enough, it cooks anything that comes into direct contact. In this case, the pizza dough gets baked to taste – fluffy and crispy.
- Convection: the fire flame creates hot air within the dome.
- Radiation: the conventionally heated air cooks the toppings on your pizza. This way, you can have a soft but crunchy pizza.
Wood-fired pizza ovens have been the go-to for many years. However, their shape and mode of operation have remained the same.
The dome’s shape supports efficient air distribution needed for better combustion and high heat generation. Nonetheless, these devices have been significantly improved in recent years, especially their build construction.
🎭Wood-Fired Pizza Oven Vs. Gas Pizza Oven
Is a wood-fired or gas pizza oven right for you? There’s no straight answer per se. It always boils down to your unique cooking needs and preferences.
With that out of the way;
For either gas or wood, you should expect the same result. I’m referring to the taste, flavor, and experience.
So, before making that choice, it’s imperative that you understand the perks of each type of pizza oven. Cooking with the wrong choice can be notoriously tiring and discouraging.
Gas-fired pizza ovens are the cleanest and most straightforward option. There is no overwhelming heap of ash to clean after a long, exhausting cooking session. Also, it means you cook without getting ash stains and looking too dirty.
Unlike wood-burning pizza ovens, this option heats up incredibly fast. Thus halving the boring waiting time. In addition, they feature a dial offering a more efficient way of controlling the heat. The level of precision it offers is second to none. It’s a cheat code for people enthused about making their first pizza.
However, they run on gas – natural gas or propane. If you own a gas tank, you don’t have to worry about the additional cost of owning this pizza oven.
Wood-fired pizza ovens offer something you can’t get with their gas-fired counterpart – authentic woody flavor. It imparts your food with that sweet, smokey flavor and salivating aroma. Yes, it’s your only choice if you want to create pizzeria-quality pizzas.
In addition to that, there’s no substantial upfront cost. You don’t need a gas canister. Some wood pellets from an online store or supermarket will do just fine.
But there’s a minus;
Wood-fired pizza ovens are not the best thing for beginners. You should expect some learning curve, mainly controlling the cooking temperature.
🔠Type Of Wood Fire Pizza Oven
There are four basic types of wood ovens out there. The right one for your backyard or patio depends on your cooking needs and preferred installation method.
These models are the go-to for ease of use and convenience. You can easily lug this type of pizza oven to your neighbor’s or friend’s house to whip up delicious baked goods.
If you are looking for highly portable models, you probably want to avoid being in the pro league. If you wish to make grand wood-flavored pizza or bake like a top chef, you should expect the oven to be slightly heavier and bulkier.
Nonetheless, Portable wood-fired pizza ovens come in the right size and weight to allow users to fit in their hatchbacks for convenient transportation.
Making your own pizza oven is an excellent idea if you are a DIYer. It allows you to stretch your creativity and create a fantastic multi-tool to meet your cooking needs.
Aside from its intriguing flexibility, you can meet with manufacturers for a patented oven design. This way, you have a much faster, more efficient, and unique oven. On top of all that, it’s backed by a decent warranty to protect your investment and offers peace of mind. If anything goes wrong, you don’t have to hold yourself responsible.
Countertop wood-fired pizza oven.
This type of oven is common, and there’s a high chance your neighbor or friends own one. They are ready-made and effortless to set up on your outdoor kitchen countertop. Well, that explains its name.
They are a great buy for you if you find their looks stunning and build quality rugged enough for you. Keep in mind that these ovens come almost assembled. This means little to no room for modification if you can get through narrow spaces.
If this isn’t the case, you should be fine with setting it up on its final destination and be ready to use.
Not everyone wants to fit their oven into a place permanently. Freestanding, otherwise known as mobile wood ovens, are a decent option. They are robust and portable enough to maneuver in your backyard or garden.
This option is basically a countertop wood oven on high-quality caster wheels. They can weigh anywhere between 400 to 600 lbs. Thus, the cart is made of sturdy metal to support the heavyweight. As such, you can push out your pizza oven for a great weekend party and tuck it out of sight afterward.
Like countertop pizza ovens, they come assembled. Getting these devices through tight corners or doorways might be challenging.
🔍How To Choose The Best Wood-Fired Outdoor Pizza Oven?
Wood-fired ovens are no longer a prerogative to fancy restaurants or country houses. There are tons of options available. This means slim odds of making the right choice, especially if you don’t know what to look for in a wood-fired pizza oven.
Pizza ovens are available in different types of styles and shapes. You have various options, from contemporary minimalistic style to antediluvian looks. So, it’s vital that you consider the right one to match your backyard setup.
Also, you can choose a freestanding model to offer more flexibility with its location. Plus, you can fit one permanently on your patio kitchen. These devices can be more than just a fantastic Italian pizza-making machine. They can add stunning visuals to the patio or garden setup to create the perfect alfresco ambiance.
Next, the inner chamber of the wood ovens. It’s vital that it offers enough space to accommodate and handle your pizzas without ruining them.
The rule of thumb here is to go for a large cooking area, provided you have ample space to fit it. The larger the inner chamber, the more versatile the wood oven is. You can cook more and different dishes at once.
The right cooking surface depends on three factors:
- The number of mouths you intend to feed
- The size of pizza you want to make
- The variety of dishes to cook at the same time.
For reference, a small pizza is about 8 inches wide, while a large one is more than 12 inches. So, purchasing a model with 3.3 square feet of cooking space offers plenty of room to cook several small-sized pizzas at once or one extra-large pizza.
How fast a wood oven gets hot enough to start cooking depends on the type. Portable models have relatively insane heating time. Some models take less than 15 minutes to heat up. However, modular or brick ovens come behind while the masonry models take annoying hours.
Before you settle for portable models, masonry or brick ovens have some attractive advantages. They are ideal for hosting a weekend party with friends and family. But if that’s not your thing, you might be better off with portable models.
Heat retention and insulation
It’s hard to argue the advantages of a poorly insulated wood oven. They don’t hold temperature, causing them to be irritatingly slow and inefficient.
Imagine struggling to get the temperature to 400 degrees C only to drop drastically to 140 degrees C almost immediately. Painfully right? That’s the annoying thing with a device with poor heat retention.
Their inefficiency guarantees consistent soggy, good-for-nothing pizza – if it’s ever a pizza. Avoid this spirit-breaking ordeal and get yourself a model with superior insulation.
In terms of insulation, the clay models are your best bet. They hold temperatures longer than their stainless counterparts. However, the latter features high-quality insulation to maintain the temperature for 2 – 4 hours.
Set up and ease of use.
Different types of wood ovens are based on construction, from masonry to stainless steel. The stainless steel wood ovens are the easiest to assemble. It takes roughly 30 minutes with no sweat. Besides, you can start making your pizza with your favorite toppings immediately.
Unlike its clay counterpart requiring hours of curing, a stainless steel wood-fired pizza allows it to start baking instantly.
While you can purchase a ready-made clay wood oven, they are primarily DIY projects lasting weeks. The size and style depend on your imagination. The best part is you can be as creative as you want.
Wood-fired pizza ovens are not created equal. Some models come with doors; others are open cooking chambers. I’d recommend investing your money in a model with a door- why? It helps improve the device’s overall heat retention ability.
While it’s best to have an IR thermometer for better precision, a model with internal temperature has an exciting plus.
Aside from the extra cost of purchasing an aftermath thermometer, a built-in thermometer reduces the door opening frequency. It takes the hassle of tracking the internal temperature. Plus, you don’t have to second-guess when to add more wood.
⭐Best Wood-Fired Pizza Oven Review
1. Ooni Fyra 12 Wood Fired Outdoor Pizza Oven
The Ooni Fyra 12 is the best wood-fired pizza oven for you if you value portability, quick start-up, and savory woody taste. This model is the newest and improved version of the world’s first portable pizza oven – Ooni 3 models.
This model retains its predecessor’s portability and comes with a solution for the Ooni pizza oven not getting hot enough. The manufacturer is a genius with the best-in-class automatic pellet hopper system. This hard-to-miss tall hopper at the back relies on gravity to feed the flame for a hotter cooking chamber. Now, you can focus on the pie instead of the flame for a crispy-not-burnt result.
If you are not a wood-cooking purist like me, then you would appreciate the manufacturer’s favor of wood pellets over logs. Pellets are economical, eco-friendly, and burn cleaner than their counterparts. This means less angst cleaning to do and more fun with your guests.
That’s not all;
The pellet burners deliver intense heat to crank the temperature up to 950 degrees F in less than 15 minutes. While the manufacturer does not include a built-in thermometer, this flagship gets ready in no time.
Unlike regular subpar ovens, this unit knocks out a Neapolitan-style pizza in less than 90 seconds. And according to most Italian pizza masters, this is the right cooking time and temperature for an authentic wood-fired pizza.
One plus of its integrated pellet hopper system is better temperature control using the adapter. The chimney comes with a damper to control the airflow and, by extension, the cooking temperature. This is an exclusive feature you won’t find on most products.
Ooni Fyra 12 is surprisingly portable for a high-tech wood-fired pizza oven. The manufacturer’s beautiful emphasis on finish, insulation, and fit makes it a worthy contender for an on-the-go cooking experience. The three short but sturdy legs hold the pizza oven steadily but fold away for a convenient carrying experience.
In addition to its carrying experience,
This flagship oven features the famous double-insulated, powder-coated carbon steel for a more even cooking temperature in the chamber. While it gets too hot and unsafe to touch when cooking, it cools off just as quickly to pack up after cooking. ZERO delays.
The ultra-portable Ooni Fyra 12 has a downside.
Yes, it’s portable and easy to set up without taking up any extra space. However, it limits the amount of cooking space you can maximize. I only had great success with a 12-inch pizza. The taste, flavor, and crispness were unmatched by any product in its price range. I wish I could make large pies.
Many affordable portable pizza ovens are a miss. On top of that, the brands are not trustworthy with shady warranty promises. So why waste your patience on them? Ooni says it will return your hard-earned money if you are not pleased with the oven. Sounds risk-free to me, what about you?
2. PIZZELLO WOOD-FIRED PIZZA OVEN
Discover the versatile 4-in-1 Pizza Oven, doubling as a fire pit, BBQ grill, and pizza baking oven. Easily transform your grill into a professional pizza oven and enjoy perfect crusts and various dishes with its practical design, portability, and included accessories.
4-in-1 multifunctionality, an assortment of pizza accessories, and eye-catching stainless steel construction make this unit the most promising new wood-fired pizza oven. Oh, I forgot, unbelievably low price point – about half the Ooni Fyra with even more functions!
Released in 2021, this model is fast making its way into most homeowners’ backyards. This model has premium features and a revolutionary design without asking to break your piggy bank.
On the upside;
The PIZZELLO X50004BK is a clear winner when it comes to versatility. My dear Ooni Fyra does not come close, except for its Ooni Karu 12. This model has multiple fuel options: Wood, Pellet, and Natural Gas. You can quickly whip up breakfast with the gas option or fuel it with wood for a long baking session.
Furthermore, this product features a two-tier removable design, allowing you to take the device apart and use two functions simultaneously. Now, you can make other side dishes alongside heart-poured sumptuous pizza.
You can use this low-priced outdoor pizza oven as a BBQ grill, stand-alone fire pit, and pizza oven. It’s just smart to purchase one device that does it all, especially if space is premium.
This value-packed device has a built-in thermometer and a pizza peel, missing on the more expensive Ooni Fyra. With NO extra cost, you can keep track of its competitive cooking performance and safely retrieve your perfectly baked goods.
PIZZELLO X50004BK has unparalleled cooking performance – at least at its price range. However, it comes with cordierite pizza stone to deliver a higher heat and absorb moisture from your pizza dough. Consequently, there are fewer cold spots, which means less pizza handling. Thus reducing your chances of ruining your perfect topped pizza.
Sadly, I find it lacking compared to other products on this list. It takes longer to knock out an authentic, wood-flavored pizza. The result is mind-blowing, but patience has to be one of your virtues.
This versatile product nods to a portable and on-the-go cooking experience. The pizza oven has an easy-carry anti-slip handle for safe and convenient transportation. Also, the manufacturer includes a waterproof carry bag to allow you to use it just about anywhere – garden or beach.
If you want to upgrade your culinary skills without spending your entire savings, the PIZZELLO X50004BK is your budget ally. It’s relatively new, and now is the best time to purchase this product. The manufacturer is still customer-centric and has yet to look to scale up on profit.
3. BIG HORN OUTDOORS PIZZA OVEN
Experience the convenience of a high-quality stainless steel pellet pizza oven, perfect for Neapolitan pizza and more. Its ultra-portable design with easy assembly and even cooking results makes it ideal for outdoor cooking events. Transform your backyard culinary adventures with this compact and versatile oven.
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