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10 best outdoor pizza ovens that are definitely worth your dough

With a summer of staycations on the horizon, bring the taste of Italy to your garden

Jon Axworthy
Tuesday 03 August 2021 15:45
<p>From Ooni to Ofyr, we’ve rounded up the appliances worth having on your radar</p>

From Ooni to Ofyr, we’ve rounded up the appliances worth having on your radar

There’s a kind of alchemy involved in making pizza at home using one of the many outdoor pizza ovens that are currently available.

Watching the raw ingredients turn into mouth-watering, smoky slices is a culinary delight, so you need a product that you can guarantee will make the most of all your hard work in the kitchen every time you fire it up.

Crucially, heat is everything when it comes to good pizza and the oven needs to hit the high temperatures needed to cook the dough (usually around 500C) without taking too long to warm up.

The oven should also cook the base and toppings quickly so you can make the most of the temperature in the oven and keep the pizzas coming until everyone’s satisfied.

We went to our tried and trusted Neapolitan recipe to see how well a range of market-leading pizza ovens could cook the classic – crisping the base while keeping a slightly chewy texture to the crust, while imparting the sauce and cheese with the definitive smoky flavour that you would get from a trattoria’s oven in Naples.

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The best outdoor pizza ovens for 2021 are:

  • Best overall DeliVita pizza oven: £1,295, Delivita.com
  • Best for ambitious piazzolos Ooni karu 16: £699, Ooni.com
  • Best for no-hassle pizza – Ooni frya 12: £249, Ooni.com
  • Best portable pizza oven Gozney Roccbox: £399, Gozney.com
  • Best for making a statement Stadler made outdoor oven: £555.32, Stadlermade.com
  • Best for the camp site Vango camp chef pizza oven: £158, Vango.co.uk
  • Best for hungry hordes Igneus classico pizza oven: £730, Thepizzaovenshop.com
  • Best for serious pizza makers – Gozney core pizza oven: £2,950, Gozney.com
  • Best for BBQ-ers Bar Be Quick charcoal kettle pizza oven: £149, Barbequick.com
  • Best for design OFYR pizza oven 85: £360, Ofyr.co.uk

DeliVita pizza oven

Best: Overall

  • Temperature range: Up to 500C
  • Fuel: Wood
  • Max pizza size: 12in

With it’s artisanal styling, the DeliVita is a Roman-style oven with a polished fibreglass shell, which comes in a range of colours (Orange Blaze is new for the summer) to suit any alfresco eating area. If you can’t find a suitable match, you can also have your oven in a bespoke colour for an extra £200 and because of the fibreglass shellit’s surprisingly lightweight, just under 30kg, and so can easily be moved around a garden.

Thankfully, the DeliVita cooks as good as it looks and is wood-fired and roomy enough to cook 12–inch pizzas, with the traditional clay base ensuring that it reaches the ideal cooking temperature in just under 30 minutes while staying safe to touch on the outside. There was a wonderfully wood-fired flavour to the bases, which can be rotated easily inside the 50cm oven, so you can adjust whether you want them crispy or doughy. Our Neapolitan was ready to go in 90 seconds with the oven producing a base and crust with a lovely bite and aromatic, evenly melted mozzarella, time and time again.

Ooni karu 16

Best: For ambitious piazzolos

  • Temperature range: Up to 500C
  • Fuel: Wood and/or charcoal, or gas
  • Max pizza size: 16in

The homegrown manufacturer has become synonymous with the pizza oven revolution, bringing their innovative spin to the traditional Italian outdoor ovens. The Karu 16 is the new flagship in the Ooni range and comes at a premium price cooking 16in pizzas fired by wood, charcoal or by using the optional gas burner attachment.

One of the big differences from its predecessors is that the Karu 16 comes with a digital thermometer that’s front-mounted and will show you that the oven, as with most Ooni ovens, is ready to receive your dough in 15 minutes – in fact, using wood, we found it was just a shade under at 14 minutes.

The design differences continue with the full glass door, which has been re-engineered by the company to give you a real window on how your culinary creation is doing in the heat. This was a real bonus, as one of the biggest tips for cooking perfect pizza that we could give anyone is to not take your eye off it as soon as it hits the hot stone. Sixty seconds is all you’ll need before the pizza’s done and the 17in cooking area makes the base so much easier to turn to avoid burning. Our Neapolitan base was delightfully light and crispy every time with puffed cheese and well-cooked toppings.

Ooni frya 12

Best: For no-hassle pizza

  • Temperature range: Up to 500C
  • Fuel: Hardwood pellets
  • Max pizza size: 12in

What puts a lot of people off attempting their own authentic wood-fired pizza is getting the fire started in the oven in the first place and then keeping it stoked. However, this pellet-fed Ooni simplifies the whole process while still producing a delicious, fired-cooked dough that is both light and crispy.

Within 15 minutes of igniting the pellets in the hopper, we were ready to cook and we found that a 3kg bag was enough to fuel the oven for around two and a half hours of cooking, plenty of time to feed a large party, especially as the 12in pizzas are ready in just over sixty seconds with a couple of turns. As with traditional wood, we just had to keep the hopper topped up to ensure the temperature remained high and when it came to the pizzas themselves, they were mouth-wateringly smoky. The Frya 12 also has the advantage of portability as the oven weighs in at just 10kg and there’s the option to purchase a Carry Cover (£39.99, Ooni.com) so you can take your dough on the road.

Gozney Roccbox

Best: Portable pizza oven

  • Temperature range: Up to 500C
  • Fuel: Gas or wood
  • Max pizza size: 11in

Engineered with portability in mind the Roccbox has been around for a while now but is still one of the best portable ovens on the market with easily retractable legs and a detachable external gas or wood burner so you can choose your cooking fuel, according to your preference. With wood, we were up and running in about 20 minutes, while the gas got us going much quicker.

The Roccbox cooks 11in pizzas with no need for turning because the heat from the impressive overhead flame spreads evenly in the chamber so that you can have a crispy base in around two minutes and a slightly doughier one in 90 seconds. The silicone outer layer means that the oven stays cool to the touch and at only 20kgs; it’s a truly portable pizza experience.

Stadler made outdoor oven

Best: For making a statement

  • Temperature range: Up to 400C
  • Fuel: Wood
  • Max pizza size: 11in

This handcrafted oven has featured in our last two round-ups, and is still a firm favourite because it’s engineered so well that once you put it together you can guarantee even heat across the cordierite baking stones. This means that the oven delivers a crispy 11in base in around four to five minutes without you having to constantly fiddle with the dough, which can lead to sticking and tearing.

We mentioned that you do need to put the oven together because its corten steel parts are delivered flat-packed, but you don’t need to be super practical to get it up and running, such is the well thought out design. Once the fire is going, you’ll need to wait just over half an hour before you can start cooking, but the pizza quality is consistently delicious with smoky, flavourful dough, bubbles of cheese and well-cooked toppings.

Vango camp chef pizza oven

Best: For the camp site

  • Temperature range: Up to 370C
  • Fuel: Wood
  • Max pizza size: 12.5in

Designed to be used with the manufacturer’s camp chef cooking system this is a great way of repurposing a traditional camping cooker to produce something a little more exotic. The oven sits on top of the gas burners and uses them as the heat source to get the ceramic pizza stone up to temperature.

It took around ten minutes to get the stone hot enough and we found that a handheld infrared thermometer was handy to tell us when the stone was ready to cook. When it was, the oven produced tasty ten inch pizzas with the stone drawing out the moisture from the dough to give a nice crisp base and chewy crust.

Igneus classico pizza oven

Best: For hungry hordes

  • Temperature range: Up to 500C
  • Fuel: Wood
  • Max pizza size: 23in

This wood-fired oven, hand-made in Portugal, will have you feeling like a proper Piazzolla with its traditional wood-fired opening that is big enough to cook two ten-inch pizzas at one time, with a cooking surface of 23in by 23in.

The classico took just 13 minutes to get up to the required 500C and produced crisp and light pizzas, without too much turning with the design imparting a truly authentic woody flavour throughout the whole pizza. Just be advised that the oven does get hot to the touch and takes a couple of hours to cool completely.

Gozney core pizza oven

Best: For serious pizza makers

  • Temperature range: Up to 500C
  • Fuel: Dual (wood or gas)
  • Max pizza size: 12in

If you’ve got a professional attitude to your pizza making then how about this kit oven as an investment? As the name suggests, the core is designed to act as the internal oven for any external design that you might have in mind. The modular kit is delivered in one box; all you have to provide are the base and the external finish.

We tested an oven that had been recently built and found that it took an impressive 30 minutes to heat up, considering the size of the oven, which can cook 12in pizzas at a time. The heat regulation and retention were superb and the pizzas had a wonderful smoky taste to the dough and it took minimal management to lightly char the crust and crisp up the toppings.

Bar Be Quick charcoal kettle pizza oven

Best: For BBQ-ers

  • Temperature range: N/A
  • Fuel: Charcoal
  • Max pizza size: 14in

This barbecue ships with an aluminium ring and a 14in pizza stone, which converts the kettle, so that you can use a peel to insert your pizza into the opening that sits above the charcoal in the base. Keeping an eye on the accurate thermometer inset into the top of the oven, we were up to temperature in just 15 minutes and after two or three turns we were rewarded with a crispy base in around two minutes and a slightly doughier one in 90 seconds, depending on your preference.

OFYR pizza oven 85

Best: For design

  • Temperature range: N/A
  • Fuel: Wood
  • Max pizza size: 10in

If you’re lucky enough to own one of OFYR’s sculptured and stylish fires then you can also purchase this add on, which sits on top the natural wood fire opening and cooks 10in pizzas. The stone is inlaid on a double-sided cast iron plate and the closures ingeniously revolve around one another to reveal an ample opening that makes it easy to get your pizza on the stone and then close to keep the temperature up for cooking. It requires a little bit of guesswork, as you can’t always keep an eye on the pizza, but after allowing 25 minutes for the stone to heat up you will get your pizza in just under two minutes. This one is not expected to be delivered until October 2021.

Outdoor pizza ovens FAQs

Types of pizza oven

You’ll have a choice between wood-fired, gas and multi-fuel pizza ovens – the latter gives the option of wooden pellets, charcoal and gas attachments for optimum temperature control.

Care and maintenance

You won’t need to worry about cleaning the inside part of your wood-fired oven, as the temperatures inside get so high that bacteria won’t be able to survive.

Even just using water can damage the oven, so this is best avoided. Any bits of food or spillages will be burnt to ash anyway, which you can then sweep away with a brush or remove with a vacuum. Make sure to do this after each use, as built up ash will make your food more likely to burn. If you go for an oven with a chimney, it’s also a good idea to sweep this out at least once a year.

To clean the pizza stone, gently scrape off any food before using a minimal amount of hot water and a brush to get rid of any remaining stains. Again, cleaning chemicals should be avoided here, as they may soak into the stone and transfer into your food while cooking.

To keep the outside of the oven looking its best, smudges and fingerprints can be removed from stainless steel with a damp cloth, before being polished with a microfiber cloth. To reduce the likelihood of cracks in a stone or brick oven, you should heat it up for a few hours before using it. Finally, it’s recommended that you invest in a pizza oven cover to protect it from the good old British weather and keep upkeep to a minimum.

What to look for in a pizza oven

The most important thing is heat – can it reach the correct temperature (usually around 500C) fast enough? It may seem obvious, but you will also need to make sure it’s the right size; will it fit through the doorway; do the dimensions work with the outside space you have available? Finally, go for a metal oven if you’re planning on doing more speedy cooking over a shorter period, as although they tend to heat up more quickly, they are less effective at retaining heat. 

Types of pizza oven accessories

While accessories aren’t always necessary, there are a number of different gadgets you can buy to improve your pizza oven experience including a pizza peel, shovel-like tool you use to take your dough in and out of the oven. Other accessories you might like to invest in are BBQ oven gloves to prevent burns, an electric fire starter, which allows you to easily light your charcoal or wood, and a thermometer gun, which measures the radiating temperature inside the pizza oven.

What else can you cook in a pizza oven?

Pizza ovens are great multitaskers. Aside from your usual margherita, you’ll be able to rustle up roasted vegetables, baked or grilled fish, steak, jacket potatoes, smoked and barbecued meats and even freshly made bread.

The verdict: Pizza ovens

The DeliVita pizza oven has been a feature in many of our round ups but it’s worthy of taking the apron thanks to an ever-expanding colour palette and the consistent cooking, which turns it into a real powerhouse. The DeliVita retains the cooking heat so efficiently that you can just concentrate on your pizza without fussing with the fuel. The perfect combination of food and fire.

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