What Outdoor Pizza Oven is Right For You?

Outdoor pizza ovens have gotten increasingly popular over the past few years — and for good reason. Pretty much everyone loves pizza, and adding the versatility of baking to your outdoor kitchen repertoire is fun and, of course, delicious.

Baking excellent homemade pizzas in an outdoor pizza oven is much faster and more efficient — not to mention more authentic — than using a regular indoor kitchen oven to bake pizza. And while they are called pizza ovens, you’ll love experimenting with the variety of other sorts of foods you can make in your outdoor pizza oven.

There are outdoor pizza ovens perfect for any outdoor space ranging from small patios to vast luxury built-in outdoor kitchens. There are portable, countertop, built-in, wood fired, gas powered, and gas-powered outdoor pizza ovens with built-in smokers.

With so many options, how do you know what outdoor pizza oven is right for you?

We’ve been experts in outdoor kitchens for more than fifty years so look no further. We’ve got the answer to all of your outdoor pizza oven questions right here in one easy to navigate post.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

How Do Pizza Ovens Work: The Basics

Everything You Need to Consider to Find the Right Outdoor Pizza Oven For You:

  • Pizza Oven Size: Cooking Space & Outdoor Kitchen Space
  • Fuel Source: Wood Fire, Gas, or Hybrid
  • Construction & Materials: Exterior, Interior, & Overall Design
  • Performance: Heat Output, Heat Up Time, & Cooking Time

How Do Pizza Ovens Work: The Basics

The reason why outdoor pizza ovens are so amazing for making pizza is because they get incredibly hot and are built for powerful heat retention. You add or turn on your fuel in the form of wood, gas, or wood pellets which will heat up the cooking surface and interior of your pizza oven.

The insulation of high-quality pizza ovens are exactly what will keep them scorching hot all day long with much less fuel input than you might expect. You can bake pizza after pizza with the same consistent heat for hours. Well-built outdoor pizza ovens make for incredibly fast and efficient cooking.

This insulation as well as other components of an outdoor pizza oven, such as the cooking surface, pizza stone, domed shape of the oven, airflow, and the oven’s ceiling material will contribute to the radiation of extremely high temperatures ranging from 400°, 800°, and on up to 1,000° — even 1,700° F — evenly across your pizza. High heat, heat retention, good airflow, and even heat distribution will give you an incredibly crisp pizza crust that’s impossible to recreate in a standard indoor kitchen.

Everything You Need to Consider to Find the Right Outdoor Pizza Oven For You

Pizza Oven Size: Cooking Space & Outdoor Kitchen Space

Let’s get down to the business of figuring out exactly what outdoor pizza oven is right for you starting first with size. How much cooking space do you need, i.e. do you want to cook one or more pizzas at once and how big do you want those pizzas to be?

It’s also important to consider the size of the space where your outdoor pizza oven will reside. Do you need a compact portable or countertop pizza oven which can be easily brought out and put away after use? Or are you looking for a built-in pizza oven that will be the stunning focal point of your outdoor kitchen?

When you’re considering the size of the pizza oven you want, be realistic about how much food you actually need and what will suit your space best. If you’re going to be baking many pizzas for a lot of people on a regular basis and you have the space, you’ll want to get a larger oven that allows you to crank out a lot of food. However, if you don’t have much space and you know you’re going to need to move your pizza oven around frequently, go with a smaller, portable oven or you’ll regret the added hassle of a larger model.

A small countertop pizza oven like the Twin Eagles 24" Salamangrill Outdoor Oven can cook a single 13” pizza in 4 minutes. Meanwhile, an Alfresco AXE Built-in Pizza Oven has 456 square inches of cooking space allowing you to bake 4 12” pizzas all at once.

*Note about portable and countertop pizza ovens: While portable and countertop outdoor pizza ovens may be small and easy enough to bring inside, keep in mind that these are not suitable for indoor use.

Unlike your regular kitchen oven, outdoor pizza ovens are specifically designed to reach incredibly high temperatures. Even if they can technically fit on your indoor countertops, they would be incredibly dangerous to use in a typical household kitchen potentially causing damage to you, your walls, your counters, or even causing a fire.

Finally, don’t forget to think about the future when investing in an outdoor pizza oven. How many people will you be cooking for in a few years’ time? When you add a high-quality pizza oven to your outdoor kitchen space, you’ll have that equipment for many years to come. Be thoughtful about how you’re going to be using it this year and in the future.

Fuel Source: Wood Fired or Gas

When most people think of outdoor pizza ovens, they automatically picture large wood fired pizza ovens. Wood fired ovens are wonderful and can give you that authentic, smokey flavor, but they do take longer to preheat and more work while cooking and cleaning up. With wood fired pizza ovens, you have to continue adding wood while cooking and nurture the fire as well as clean up the ash afterwards. Natural gas and propane pizza ovens can heat up very quickly, some heating to 1700° F in under 90 seconds. Gas ovens are also very easy to clean and maintain.

Choosing between a wood fired pizza oven and gas model comes down mostly to the cooking experience you’re looking for.

If you want a totally authentic experience spending hours outside enjoying tending the flames, then a wood fired outdoor pizza oven may be right for you. If you’re newer to the outdoor cooking world or are simply looking for something less labor intensive, then go with a gas fueled model.

*Note about propane (LP) or natural gas outdoor pizza ovens: Most gas powered pizza ovens can be fueled by either propane or natural gas. Many times gas pizza ovens come outfitted with both options or a specific attachment may need to be purchased for conversion to your preferred fuel type.

There are also more budget friendly pizza ovens out there. Not all are created equal. The Summerset SS-OVBI Outdoor Pizza Oven is a great versatile oven that you can not only make mouth watering pizzas but, you can also bake cookies and use it like a traditional oven. It does not have the ceramic dome like traditional pizza ovens. It is also not Made in the USA. 

Artisan by Alfresco Pizza Oven

Although it is almost quadruple the price of Summerset, Artisan Outdoor Pizza Oven is Made in the USA and can also be used as an outdoor oven.

Construction & Materials: Exterior, Interior, & Overall Design

Pizza Oven Exteriors

Alfresco Pizza Oven

Quality outdoor pizza ovens are similar to grills in that their exteriors are often constructed with stainless steel because of its durability, style, heat retaining capabilities, and because it’s so easy to clean. Some wood fired pizza ovens are constructed with brick designed specifically for withstanding and retaining heat. You can also get that traditional wood fired oven look with built-in gas pizza ovens which can be installed into an authentic looking brick structure as seen with this Alfresco AXE Built-in Pizza Oven.

Stainless steel and brick are both very aesthetically pleasing as well as great heat insulators. The insulation of your outdoor pizza oven is one the most important aspects of its design. Look for stainless steel, rock-spun wool, and ceramic fiber in outdoor pizza ovens for their amazing insulator capabilities as well as their resistance to corrosion or damage from heat, water, mildew or mold, and the elements.

Pizza Oven Interiors

Outdoor pizza oven interiors have a bit more variation. The cooking surface itself can be a cooking grate, stainless steel surface, ceramic slab hearth, or food safe pizza stones.

Pizza ovens with a cooking grate will often come with a pizza stone that can be taken in and out if you’d like to cook something besides pizza. This provides a lot of versatility even in small countertop pizza oven models.

Thick ceramic slab hearths and ceilings are common in high-quality outdoor pizza ovens because of their capacity to evenly maintain and radiate intense heat. You can get gas ovens with ceramic cooking surfaces to bring that more traditional brick-oven flavor and bake to your pizza. A ceramic cooking surface and a ceramic ceiling of your pizza oven are top of the line because they bring authenticity to your pizza bake as well as versatility.

In a pizza oven with a ceramic cooking surface, you can roast, bake, and get amazing iron-skillet sears. In addition to pizza, they’re great for baking any of your favorite foods including breads, meat and seafood, casseroles, and your favorite desserts. 

Lynx Napoli Pizza Oven

Made in the USA, the Lynx Napoli Oven can bake at 700°F utilizing their trident infrared burner and features an authentic refractory mortar dome.

The Overall Design & Shape of Pizza Ovens

Quality pizza ovens will be designed in a dome-shape internally and/or externally. This domed shape allows for hot air to continuously flow above, over, and under your pizza while it’s cooking. Outdoor pizza ovens, wood fired and gas, will also come with a chimney or another form of escape for air to add to the airflow capacity.

It is precisely the highly insulated exterior and interior in combination with the design for airflow that will get you an incredibly crispy and delicious bake on your pizza.

Performance: Heat Output, Heat Up Time, & Cooking Time

Pizza ovens are designed for outdoor use because they’re built to get extremely hot. The higher heat capacity of your oven, the faster your pizza will cook and the crispier the crust will get. Higher heat capacity pizza ovens are also going to give you amazing results when you use them to get an iron-skillet sear or to get a wonderfully crispy skin on a whole roasted chicken.

If you’re looking for quality, look for a pizza oven that can reach at least 700° F. You can also reach temperatures all the way up to 1700° F with some outdoor pizza ovens, but you definitely want at least 700° F.

Wood fired pizza ovens take longer to heat up, sometimes 45 minutes or more, while gas outdoor pizza ovens can reach temperatures of 1000° F in a matter of minutes. Heat up time and cooking time are basically one and the same. The faster your oven heats up, the faster your pizza will be cooked and ready to eat.

Again, it comes down to your personal preference when deciding whether you choose to opt for a fast preheat and fast cooking time with a gas powered pizza oven or you prefer the process of building and stoking a fire with an authentic wood fired model. And don’t forget you can get the fast and easy experience a gas model provides and the authentic smokey flavor by opting for an outdoor pizza oven with a built-in smoker.

That’s it! You’ve just learned everything there is to know about choosing the right outdoor pizza oven for your needs. Now you can make an informed decision about what you actually want and need in a pizza oven so you can get cooking. Whatever your preference, we know you’re going to love experiencing homemade pizza like never before.

Need Help Installing Your Outdoor Pizza Oven?

Check out our variety of top of the line outdoor pizza ovens for sale which are all crafted with the highest quality from brands we love and trust. If you need any help with installation, get in touch with our outdoor kitchen experts. Give us a call at 1-877-983-0451.

by Tracy Hollander on 7th Aug 2020
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