Outdoor Pizza Ovens: 5 Factors to Consider
Pizza ovens are one of the hottest outdoor cooking trends. They’re ideal for family meals and entertaining and can be used to prepare dishes ranging from pizza, breads, pies and bruschetta to meat, poultry and more.
You can choose a prefabricated or custom-built configuration. To select the right unit and approach for you, consider five key variables.
Invest in the largest oven you can afford that fits the space available. Choose a unit that offers enough flexibility for day-to-day meal preparation now and full-scale entertainment as you master its capabilities. Small units handle pizzas and other dishes for up to four people. Medium ones hold multiple dishes, so you can cook an entire meal or feed a small group. Large ones hold multiple dishes and cook enough food to feed groups of 50 or more. To accommodate large crowds, choose an oven hearth with a 10- to 12-square-foot cooking surface.
- Heat Source
There are four basic heat sources: gas, electric, wood-fired and mixed. Gas and electric versions feature advanced materials and controls similar to kitchen ovens, so they’re easy to use. Wood-fired ovens offer the timeless appeal, distinctive flavor and delectable crunch that come from cooking with flames and glowing embers. Mixed ovens offer gas-fueled starters coupled with wood-based cooking or full duel-source capabilities. In general, wood tends to offer higher cooking temperatures to produce breads and pizza crusts that are tender inside and crispy outside.
The surge in pizza oven popularity means models are available in almost every conceivable material. Gas and electric models resemble conventional ovens and are usually made of stainless steel. Gas and wood-fired versions often feature masonry materials such as white clay, terra cotta, firebrick or cold-cast concrete. Each type has different thermal properties, warmup times and cooking efficiencies, so it’s important to choose materials that deliver the performance traits you value most.
The issue of shape deals not with cosmetics but focuses instead on the oven core. Determine whether a traditional dome or more modern box shape suits your cooking style, needs and preferences. Each offers advantages and disadvantages, so evaluate these dynamics and use them to guide your choice.
Consider where your oven will be installed and how it will be configured. Some models are self-contained units with plug-and-bake convenience, while others are designed to be enclosed in a brick or concrete surround. In every instance, proper placement and installation is essential for air flow, smoke ventilation and fire safety.
These factors will help pinpoint your priorities and preferences, which in turn will help you establish a budget. Experienced owners recommend investing in the best unit and installation you can afford, so your pizza oven functions well today and continues to deliver enjoyment for years to come.