We Tested The Best Outdoor Pizza Ovens For Cooking The Perfect Pie
An open flame is still the best way to cook a pizza. Here are the ovens that’ll cook your pie to perfection.
The best way to cook pizza at home is still in an outdoor oven. That is a matter of settled business. But still up for debate is which outdoor pizza oven is best for your purposes. Not only are more companies making ovens optimized for cooking a pizza in under four minutes with crusts that have that perfect outer char and slightly chewy interior, but most manufacturers have also developed accessories that let you cook pretty great pizza on a multi-use grill or smoker.
The most important feature in any pizza cooker? Heat, and lots of it. And the ability to distribute it simultaneously to the top and bottom of the pie. Dedicated pizza ovens can push 900 degrees, which might seem excessive. But 700 to 900 degrees is a prime cooking range that results in ultrafast cook times for a pie. Those high temperatures also get the baking stone hot enough to puff the crust when you slide a pizza on by hitting it with a blast of initial heat.
Gas and pellet grills do well to push above 600dgrees F, which can still make for a lovely crust and even cook when used with a quality pizza stone. A standalone stone does nicely, though some manufacturers make custom ones that fit perfectly in the grill body. Gas grills with larger surface area tend to perform better than more compact models, since they allow you to crank the burners on the opposite end from the stone and get more of a hot indirect cook. While pizza snobs might turn their noses up at the lack of precision a gas grill offers compared to a dedicated pizza oven, they provide quality results and peak convenience for those who want to cook a range of foods on a single apparatus.
That said, it’s a blast throwing a pizza party in your backyard and, while there are certainly differences, any of the below apparatuses do a wonderful job churning out delicious pies. Here are some of our favorite outdoor pizza ovens and accessories for families.
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Best Professional-Grade Outdoor Pizza Oven
Want a spare-no-expense, pro-level pizza oven for your backyard? The Gozney, which can fire a pie in 90 seconds at its highest temperature, is a great choice. Now, this thing is big — it weighs 128 pounds and stands 5 feet high and nearly 4-and-a-half feet wide when on its stand — but if you have the space, it’s well worth the investment. Whereas the heat source for most pizza ovens is located at the rear of the chamber, the Gozney Dome fires from the side. This makes it much easier to get a peel underneath your pizza without pushing it into the fire. It’s incredibly efficient when used in wood-burning mode, and the propane burner easily throws flame across the length of the dome’s ceiling for even cooking. And the dome is meant for far more than pizzas up to 16 inches. It takes elements of a traditional Italian-style outdoor oven and then gears them up with modern materials and design elements. As a result, it has more range than most residential ovens. At lower temperatures, it can handle slow roasting, baking, smoking, and steaming. Crank it up for dishes that require searing or pan frying. It’s an all-purpose oven that’s a true backyard standout.
Best Authentic Neopolitan Pizza Oven
The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana is the international authority on true Neapolitan pizza, and the Ooni Karu 16 is the first and only pizza oven to earn its “Recommended for Domestic Use” designation. The small footprint oven can hit 950 degrees F in just 15 minutes and has best-in-class fuel efficiency partially thanks to the best door design available on a residential pizza oven.Most ovens are either doorless or have a metal mouth covering, but the Karu has a hinged door with glass front that provides insulating qualities while maintaining visibility while cooking up to 16-inch pizzas. It’s also fun to stare at: Fire flow in pizza ovens is absolutely mesmerizing, making the ability to enjoy the show in a contained environment a huge bonus for Karu owners.
Best Modular Pizza Oven
Camp Chef’s Artisan Outdoor Pizza Oven is a great option for the pizza curious who already have a Camp Chef stove or Sidekick pellet smoker accessory. It’s ultra-portable and has a purchase price far lower than most other ovens, but it still yields a solid crust, reaches temps of 700 degrees, and can cook pizzas up to 12 inches. Start-up is a snap when connected to a propane tank, though there are some tradeoffs in the form of maximum pizza size and temperature range. All that being said, we have been trying to cook pizza while camping for a few years, and the Camp Chef gave us the best results of anything else we have tried. It’s light and easy to pack in a car, earning a permanent spot in our camping meal rotation. While the Artisan’s only fuel source is propane — and travels well because of that — it can physically connect it to the Woodwind Pellet Grill to make a single unit.
Best Smoker For Cooking Pizza Outdoors
As the largest Kamado-style ceramic cooker on the market, the Big Joe Series III can handle cooks for even the largest families. But in addition to slow cooking multiple pork butts or grilling burgers at high heat for the whole crew, the Big Joe can also function well as a pizza oven. Because it operates best in the 400 to 700 degrees F range, pizza will cook a bit slower than in a dedicated pizza oven. But the Big Joe’s design has great airflow and heat retention, so at the higher end of its temperature range, pizzas come out with rustic-looking crusts and fully cooked toppings.While using a baking stone in a Big Joe III is a perfectly acceptable option, the DōJoe insert ups the cooker’s pizza game. Its wedge shape provides a visual path into the cooking chamber while helping maintain steady temperatures while cast aluminum deflectors work in conjunction with a ceramic pizza stone to absorb moisture from the crust and distribute heat for a crispy product. And the mouth of the DōJoe can accommodate a 16-inch pizza peel, which adds some romance to the cooking process and prevents the need to open and close the entire lid when it’s time to check on crusts or switch them out.