If you ask me what’s the coolest non-expensive thing I own, the answer would be my pizza topping station. If you are a regular follower of my blog, you must be aware that making, eating, and talking about pizzas is my personality trait. So, the moment the Ooni pizza topping station popped up on my Insta feed, I wanted one. And I got one.
A pizza topping station is like having your own personal sous chef in the kitchen. From organizing your toppings to streamlining the prep process, a pizza topping station can be a useful addition to the kitchen. Not to mention, it saves you from the agony of a messy kitchen and wasted toppings.
In this article, we’ll dive deep into the nitty gritty of pizza topping stations to help you decide whether you need to invest in one. So without any further ado, let’s jump straight to the point.
Legit Reasons to Buy a Pizza Topping Station
Picture yourself in the kitchen, surrounded by bowls of toppings, dough, and sauce. You have a hungry family waiting for you to deliver their perfect pizza. But as you frantically search for the right topping, you spill some and accidentally add too much of another. You end up with a less-than-perfect pizza and a messy kitchen.
That’s where a pizza topping station comes in. It can make your pizza-making process much more simple and more straightforward and can help you avoid mistakes and messes. Here are some of the top perks of having a pizza topping station:
For home cooks like Me:
- Helps you avoid clutter and save yourself some precious time. And with everything in one place, the pizza-making process becomes more efficient.
- Another benefit is that it helps keep your toppings organized. I used to keep my toppings in separate containers, but they would often get mixed up or misplaced. Not anymore!
- By minimizing the wastage of toppings, pizza topping containers significantly reduce clean-up time.
- With a variety of toppings at your fingertips, your pizza topping station can double up as a sandwich, burrito, or live pasta counter!
- Lastly, it would look super cool on your counter, so why not?
For pizzeria/cafe/restaurant owners:
If you are in the food business, you already know that consistency and quality are crucial aspects of any pizza-making business. Maintaining the same level of quality in every pizza you serve is not an easy feat.
But with a pizza topping station, pizzeria owners can ensure that the right amount of toppings is used every time. This will lead to consistent and high-quality pizzas. The station will help you measure out toppings accurately. This would ensure that each pizza is made with the same amount of ingredients.
And that’s how a simple investment can boost productivity in your kitchen.
Types of Pizza Toppings Stations and Which One Should You Choose (And Why)
Having a dedicated space for your toppings can make all the difference in the quality of your pizzas. There are chiefly two types of pizza topping stations available today. One is refrigerated, and the other is an ice-cooled pizza topping tray.
Refrigerated Pizza Topping Stations
This is the more common type of pizza topping station you will find in most commercial kitchens. Refrigerated pizza topping tables use the core mechanism of a regular refrigerator. It has a built-in compressor releasing the refrigerant.
This helps to prevent spoilage and maintain the freshness of the ingredients. Some high-end models even include fancy features like –
- Adjustable shelving
- built-in cutting boards
- Compartments for storing utensils and condiments.
Apart from keeping the toppings fresh and organized, I also find them super useful for storing leftovers. It keeps the topping at the ideal temperature, which delays spoilage. Since there’s no need to use or change the ice, refrigerated pizza topping stations are quite easy to work with.
Ice-Cooled Pizza Topping Stations
While I now prefer a refrigerated pizza topping station, I have used an ice-cooled one in the past. Ice-cooled pizza stations are perfect for outdoor events or for those who have limited kitchen space. They’re also portable, so you can take them with you wherever you go.
The design of this apparatus is quite straightforward. You just have to use ice below the pizza topping trays to keep the toppings fresh. While it’s much cheaper and more portable than the refrigerated variant, there are two downsides:
One, you have to change the ice frequently, especially if it’s hot outside. The cooling effect is not as long-lasting as that of a refrigerated topping table. That said, unless you need to make large batches of pizza almost, you will do just fine with an ice-cooled station.
6 Things to Keep in Mind While Choosing the Pizza Topping Station
So, you have finally decided to graduate to the next level of pizza making? Good for you! Below I have penned down the most important factors to keep in mind while traipsing through your options:
The materials used in pizza topping trays are important considerations for safety. Stainless steel is a popular choice for commercial pizza topping stations. It is durable, easy to clean, and food-safe.
However, it can be more expensive than other materials. Acrylic and plastic trays are more affordable options for home use. However, they aren’t nearly as durable as stainless steel trays and can wear out after a while.
Also, make sure to check that the materials used are food-safe. Some lower-quality materials may leach chemicals into your toppings, potentially causing health risks.
If you’re operating a commercial pizza restaurant, get a heavy-duty pizza topping station. A commercial pizza topping station has a larger footprint. It also has higher capacity and helpful features like a built-in sink and cutting boards.
For home use, a smaller and more affordable option will suffice. That said, if you are setting up a spacious outdoor kitchen and your budget is no bar, go ahead and get yourself a refrigerated pizza topping station!
Size and Capacity
Make sure to check the dimensions of the station and the size of the compartments. I initially started with a smaller, more basic pizza topping station for my home kitchen. The frequency of use will dictate the size and capacity of the pizza topping station that’s right for you.
Almost all pizza toppings are highly perishable items. You need to keep the cheese between 35–45°F to keep them from going bad. Using ice to keep the trays cool will do the trick for most people. But if you work in a commercial kitchen, frequently changing the ice may not be feasible. In that case, you need to invest in a heavy-duty refrigerated topping table.
If you plan on using the topping station for outdoor events, choose the portable option with wheels. From my experience, having a portable option comes in handy for outdoor events.
Lastly, of course, make sure to consider your budget when choosing a pizza topping station. There are a variety of options available at different price points. So you’re sure to find one that fits your needs and budget.
Ooni Pizza Station Review – My Experience So Far
I’ll be honest here. At first, I was hesitant to buy it, thinking it was just generic equipment with the Ooni name stamped on it. But after using it for a while, I would say that it lives up to the reputation of the brand!
I’ll start with the positives. The station is made of commercial-grade materials and looks well-constructed. The air-tight lids on the topping containers keep your ingredients fresh for longer. The containers themselves stack nicely in my fridge.
The station is also very functional, with plenty of space for up to six toppings.
However, there are some limitations you need to be aware of. Firstly, the containers scratch the stainless steel surface slightly. So you’ve got to handle them with care. The removable seals are great for cleaning.
I found that the lids tend to pop off when there is air trapped between the seal and lid. I also expected the containers to be dishwasher-safe. But sadly, they weren’t.
Ooni should also include an ice tray below the containers to keep the ingredients intact. My prep table is set up outside. So it gets hard to keep the cheese from melting when the mercury is through the roof.
I have to admit that the product is more aesthetic than functional. And you won’t need to take it out on days when you are just making one or two pizzas. But the product itself is built well and does what it’s supposed to.
How to Clean a Pizza Topping Station – A Step-by-step Guide?
While I’m no Monica Geller, I do my best to maintain optimal hygiene while preparing food. Pizza toppings trays can be a breeding ground for bacteria if you don’t clean them after each use.
If the containers are dishwasher and safe, just empty the containers. And toss them in the dishwasher. But if you have an Ooni station as I do, here’s what you need to do:
Step 1: Remove all the Toppings
Before you begin cleaning, make sure you remove all the toppings from the pizza station. Store them in airtight containers or trays to prevent them from getting contaminated.
Step 2: Wipe the Surfaces
Use a clean, damp cloth or sponge to wipe down all the surfaces of the pizza station. This includes the countertop, trays, and containers that hold the toppings. Feel free to use a mild detergent or soap to remove any stubborn stains or food residues.
Step 3: Sanitize the Surfaces
After wiping down the surfaces, it’s time to sanitize them to kill any remaining bacteria or germs. You can use a commercial disinfectant or a mixture of water and vinegar to sanitize the surfaces. Let the disinfectant sit for the recommended time.
Step 4: Dry the Surfaces
Once you’re done sanitizing, use a clean, dry cloth or paper towel to dry off the surfaces. Make sure you remove all the moisture to prevent the growth of mold or mildew.
And that’s pretty much it!
Parting Words of Wisdom
I’ll level with you. You can live without a pizza topping station. But you shouldn’t. It’s a small investment you will be making to keep your prep table clutter-free and clean. If you want to set up a live pizza station and have the space and money for it, I would unabashedly recommend getting one of these. We all deserve to show off a little! *wink*