Best Outdoor Pizza Oven – Portable, Cheap, Wood Fired and Gas
It’s amazing the number of times people ask me what’s the best product to complete a task. And what’s the best outdoor pizza oven is one of the more popular questions. But they don’t want me to answer that question, what they want to know is ‘what’s the best outdoor pizza oven to fit their needs?’ Surprisingly, the answer is often not a pizza oven but a BBQ or an attachment for a BBQ.
There are many questions that need answering before advice can be given on what’s the best pizza oven. Knowing your budget is probably the most important factor, there are cheap options and ovens that cost several thousand. What BBQing equipment to you already own? Your BBQ might already be good enough to make a pizza, and all you need is a pizza stone or another add-on to make great pizza. What other foods do you intend on cooking? This will dictate what size oven (or BBQ) you’ll need to buy. And by size, I also mean oven height and not just floor space if you intend to bake loafs of bread. Do you plan on taking it camping, picnics or festivals? In which case you’ll be looking for a light portable pizza oven.
These are just some of the most obvious questions you’ll need to answer. You know better than anybody what you need, so it’ll pay off in the long run if you have a good think about what will make the best outdoor pizza oven for your needs before jumping in and making a purchase.
Best Overall Pizza Oven
The million dollar question for most of you visiting this page. What’s the best overall outdoor pizza oven? Let’s not drag this out. I believe it’s the Roccbox oven. The founder of Roccbox, Tom Gozney, was already a major player in the commercial pizza oven marketplace when he decided to pursue his long-term dream of making quality wood-fired, stone baked pizza ovens available to the masses.
This meant making a small, portable oven that could achieve high temperatures, made from commercial grade materials and at a price the average outdoor cooking enthusiast could afford. These were lofty goals yet surprisingly these goals weren’t just met but surpassed. How were they surpassed you ask? Well, not only does the Roccbox offer you the ability to cook authentic wood fired pizza’s but for days when you’re feeling a little lazy, you can switch to the gas burners instead. All Roccbox’s come with both options available.
Were the rest of Tom Gozney’s goals met? The Roccbox can get to temperatures of 930°F (500°C) in 15 minutes, allowing you to cook a pizza in one and a half minutes. Its beautiful design is both compact and light, weighing in at 44.1lb (20kg), which shouldn’t be a struggle for the average person to carry. Being made of the highest commercial grade materials means it’s very durable. And the cost! Well at the time of writing this article the Roccbox unit could be bought for just under $600. While this isn’t chump change, compared to the cost of other models and the quality of this pizza oven, it’s an absolute bargain.
So were all the goals met? Yes, yes, yes and yes! But that’s not all the plus points in buying a Roccbox pizza oven. If you’ve ever cooked on a BBQ before you’ll know the equipment can get extremely hot. To counter this, the Roccbox has been designed with a high heat silicone jacket. And a lovely little bonus is the Roccbox pizza peel. Just like the oven, you can tell the peel has been made by someone that knows the pizza industry inside out and has put all this knowledge into the design. The peel is made of pressed aluminum, which makes it very light. The edges are tapered (reduces in thickness at the edges) which allow you to easily move the pizza from preparation area to the oven. The final touch for this pizza peel is the grate like hole that allows any excess flour to fall off before being placed in the oven (burnt flour doesn’t taste the best).
Negatives! There have to be some negatives, right? Yes, nothing is perfect, we must always strive for improvements. The major issue with Roccbox has nothing to do with the pizza oven itself, but the companies distribution network. For a relatively new company and product, this isn’t surprising. Roccbox is made by a UK company and sells their amazing oven via their website. This means you’ll have to get it shipped to the US (Roccbox ships to the US and EU countries) which comes with a $50 charge. This extra cost should by no means be a deal-breaker, but it does mean you can’t get your new pizza oven as quickly as you might have liked.
Size? Is this a negative? For some people, the small size of the Roccbox is an issue. For me, it’s one of the points that makes it stand out in the marketplace. It’s great to have an oven you know you can pack for day trips and is easy to store away after use. But if you want to bake bread or have a couple of pizzas on the go at the same time (remember the Roccbox can chuck out a pizza in 90 seconds, so doing lots of pizzas shouldn’t be a problem) then this isn’t the oven for you. For everyone else, this is the best choice.
Best Portable Pizza Oven
The Uuni 3 portable pizza oven. Built especially for one thing – making great pizzas anywhere you go. This unique looking, yet stylish pizza oven is remarkably light, weighing just 29.5lb (13.4kg) and is therefore ideal to take camping, to festivals or on picnics. The fuel used is wood pellets and can reach temperatures of 500 degrees Celcius (932 Fahrenheit) in 10 minutes. This fast heating time is mainly due to the new insulated hood that comes with the Uuni 3.
Having a big chimney helps with heating a pizza oven, but surely isn’t great for portability. It doesn’t matter how light the unit is if it’s awkward to carry. Well Uuni has already thought of this and the chimney easily comes off with a simple clip mechanism. Uuni has three legs which makes it more stable on uneven surfaces. Yes, you’ll have to remember your math class for 3 legs being more stable than 4 legs to make sense. Basically, three points can fit any plane, whereas four can’t, meaning you’ll often have one leg that needs propping up with a bit of folded paper. So getting to the point, three legs is a better option for portable pizza ovens.
The Uuni 3 is also the best value for money of all pizza ovens, normally costing less than $300. And because of everything great with the Uuni 3, it was a very close call between it and the Roccbox for the prize of the best outdoor pizza oven. So if money is an issue, or you simply like the unique look of the Uuni 3, then buy this one. With either choice, you’ll not be disappointed.
Best Outdoor Gas Pizza Oven
Firstly, let me say that I think wood-fired pizza ovens give a much better tasting pizza and I would try to talk you into getting one of these first. Having said that I know a lot of people are just much more comfortable cooking with gas as you do get much better control of temperatures. So if gas is your thing then have a look at the Camp Chef outdoor gas pizza oven.
Weighing in at 47lb it’s almost getting to the weight where it’s no longer portable for most people, but not quite. I’d still class this oven as a portable pizza oven. Like the majority of outdoor gas products, the Camp Chef runs off a 1lb disposable propane tank that’s super easy to attach and gives roughly two hours of cooking time. A close second was the Pizzeria Pronto oven, both great little gas ovens. More details on Camp Chef
Overall Best 10 outdoor pizza oven
Normally I’d recommend buying stuff from amazon (due to the convenience and the fast delivery times), but as many of these pizza ovens are really expensive, I’ve put the shop where I think you can get the best deal – Along with a link to the page of the item.
- Roccbox – Buy from roccbox.com
- Uuni 3 – Buy from bbqguys.com
- Alfa Forno 4 – Buy from bbqguys.com
- Alfa Forno 5 Minuti – Buy from bbqguys.com
- Pizza Party 70×70 – Buy from amazon.com
- Fontana Forni Gusto – Buy from bbqguys.com
- Chicago Brick Oven CBO-500 Buy from bbqguys.com
- Fornetto – Buy from bbqguys.com
- Camp Chef – Buy from amazon.com
- Pizzeria Pronto – Buy from amazon.com
Remember, this list is based on which pizza ovens best meet several critira – portability and cost for example. These might not be considerations for you, and therefore your top ten will be different. All ten of the pizza ovens in this list are excellent quality and you can’t go wrong with whichever one you buy.
Alfa Forno Pizza Oven Range
If outdoor space, money, and portability isn’t an issue for you, then getting an Alfa pizza oven is the way forward. These ovens will be top of all outdoor cooking enthusiasts wish list. Unfortunately this sort of quality comes with a hefty price tag. If you buy any Alfa Forno pizza oven you’ll be getting a quality bit of kit. I’ve recommended the Alfa Forno 4 as the best of the bunch and the Alfa Forno 5 Minuti second. The Alfa 4 is a bigger oven, with the vertical space to bake loafs of bread, it’s why I have given this oven the edge over the 5 Minuti. That luxury comes a premium, so if you’re not planning to bake loafs you might be better off with the 5 Minuti. More details here
Best Alternatives to a Dedicated Pizza Oven
If you’ve read this far you’ll know pizza ovens are great. They come in an array of price ranges, styles and sizes and you can cook many different types of food in them, not just pizza. But in the same way you don’t have to cook pizza in a pizza oven, you don’t need a pizza oven to cook good quality pizza. There are many different options and below I’ll outline the most popular.
Kamado Grills – Kamado grills are very popular among the “low and slow” backyard pitmasters. But kamados can also reach very high temperatures, making them ideal for making pizza. So if you have a kamado or are looking for a piece of kit that can cook in more than one style, then a kamado is probably a better option than a pizza oven. Kamados are the most versatile bit of equipment I’ve ever used, from low and slow to hot and fast and everything in between. If this interests you read our best kamado grill article, all you’ll need other than a Kamado is a good pizza stone.
Traeger Timberline – Fast becoming the number one item on every BBQing enthusiasts wish list is the Traeger Timberline. This is good for smoking, grilling, searing, roasting, braising and of course, baking. So it’s therefore perfect for cooking pizza, you just need a pizza stone to go along with it.
Weber Kettle – The Weber kettle grill is the number one BBQ you’ll find in people’s backyards across America. It has an entry-level price tag, comes from a brand you can trust and is still a favorite amongst seasoned grill masters. And yes, you can bake a pizza on it. You can simply make pizza with the kettle and a pizza stone, or you can “pimp” the grill with a kettle pizza attachment kit. This kit gives your standard BBQ the look of a specially made pizza oven. The kettle option is probably the cheapest of all options (for quality pizza), you can buy the original Weber kettle for around $100 but if you can afford it, I’d recommend getting the Weber Master Touch.
Camp Chef Italia Artisan Pizza Oven Accessory – If you already own a gas BBQ, you might want to consider getting the Camp Chef oven accessory. You just sit this accessory on top of your burners and you’ve turned a standard gas BBQ into a nice little pizza oven
How Pizza Ovens Work
How pizza ovens work isn’t rocket science, you simply need a heat that’s hot enough to bake the pizza base. But working with such high temperatures can be tricky and that’s where having a better-designed pizza oven will greatly improve the taste. A well-designed oven will maximize the use of three different heat sources – radiant, convection, and conduction.
Radiant Heat – A heat from a direct heat source. This will be the heat given off by wood, gas or coals that are often at the back of the pizza oven.
Convection Heat – The heated air that circulates the oven. This is necessary for great pizza as you need the top of the pizza cooked as much as you need the bottom cooked. This is why most pizza ovens are made in a dome-like shape and have a chimney or other means for hot air to escape allowing cooler air to be sucked in via the oven opening – creating convection heat.
Conduction Heat – When heat is passed from one object to another. For great pizza making, this will be when heat is passed from the oven’s base (often called the hearth) to the bottom of the pizza base. This is also why it’s important to get a good pizza stone if cooking pizza with a BBQ.
Pizza Oven Fuel Sources
The majority of pizza ovens, and the type I’d recommend, are wood-fired pizza ovens. And for good reason. The obvious reason is woods ability to achieve high temperatures that will give a fast pizza with a crisp, slightly charred crust. But the main reason is wood passes on a nice smokey flavor to the pizza. Adding hardwoods such as oak, maple, birch, ash, cherry or apple give a deep smokey flavor. And being hardwood, they also have a nice long burn time. Softwoods such as pine or cedar can be used to give you a slightly less smokey flavor and are great for smaller ovens.
Gas ovens are also popular. The reason some people prefer gas is because it’s a lot easier to cook with. You can change temperature, either up or down, relatively quickly. And once you have the desired temp, you can leave the oven to look after itself. You’ll not get any great fluctuations and the heat will hold nice and steady.
If you’re using a BBQ to make pizza you’ll normally have the same options as you’d use to grill your food. You can use charcoal or pellets as well as wood or gas like most dedicated pizza ovens.
Outdoor Pizza Oven Kit
Another option for having a quality outdoor pizza oven is to make one yourself. And for this, there are several pizza oven kit suppliers to give you a helping hand. I’ve personally never gone down this road as I’m more than happy with the ready-made options available, so can only recommend companies I’ve heard good things about (not ones I’ve experience with). Such as Forno Bravo and Brick Wood Ovens
Outdoor Pizza Oven Tools
Just for completeness, I’ll add all pizza tools you’ll need for the entire journey of your pizza, from raw ingredients to hungry guests plates. These aren’t solely pizza oven tools, but a list of pizza making tools.
Pizza Peel – The most important of all the pizza making tools. You don’t want to risk burning yourself putting your hands in a baking hot oven, so a pizza peel is a must. And I’d say get the best one you can get. The amount of pizza I’ve seen wasted due to having a poorly made pizza peel is crazy. Seeing a grown man with the face of a child that’s dropped their ice cream is mildly amusing, but it does mean you’re not going to be eating for a while. The main problems are the pizza not sliding off the peel into the oven, or once in the oven the peel not going under the pizza and just pushing it into the flames. Read our best pizza peel article.
Pizza Stone – A must if you are cooking pizza on a BBQ. A good pizza stone will be needed to supply the conduction heat that will cook the pizza base.
Infrared Thermometer – The safest way to measure temperatures in an oven without having to come into contact with it is to use an infrared thermometer. Most ovens will have a temperature gauge, but if you want to get pinpoint readings of any hot spots you might have, you’ll need an infrared thermometer.
Ash Shovel – A long handle shovel is used simply to help keep your oven clean. Obviously if you’re cooking on gas you’ll not need one of these.
Brass-bristled Brush – The best practice is to clean your oven floor after use, while the floor is still warm. A brass-bristled brush makes this job so much easier. Look to get a duel-sided brush, with bristles on one side to remove small particles and a scraper on the reverse side for more stubborn stains.
Turning Peel – Turning pizza is essential in a small oven, due to one side of the pizza being really close to the heat source. So in order to get a nice evenly cooked pizza, you’ll need to rotate it while cooking. This is where a turning pizza peel comes in handy. GI Metal make a nice turning pizza peel.
Dough Cutter – A great tool for portioning your dough. Using a dough cutter makes it easy to cut and scrape dough on your work surface resulting in less waste.
Cleaning Scraper – Used for cleaning, yes. But also good for scraping those crusted bits of food that contain loads of great flavor that are stuck to your cooking equipment.
Pizza Cutting Wheel – You could use a knife to cut your pizza, but this often makes a bit of a mess. So get perfectly cut pizza every time with a pizza cutting wheel.
Dough Trays – This might not seem very important, but to make great pizza you should learn to make your own dough. And this process requires you to let the dough rest and rise. Getting a nice set of dough trays makes this so much easier to manage.
Outdoor Pizza Ovens aren’t Just Pizza Ovens
All these great ovens are marketed as outdoor pizza ovens, and when you first buy one of course the first thing you’re going to cook with them is your favorite pizza. But these pizza ovens are ovens and you can therefore bake anything you would in a conventional oven. The general second step once you’re all pizza’d out is to move on to making your own bread, normally buns or baguettes for your burgers and hot dogs. But you can easily cook fish, pies, chicken, the list goes on and on.