At just £99.99, the Gardenline outdoor pizza oven from Aldi is a cheap way to get into cooking pizza al fresco. Find out what we thought when we took it home and tried it out in a first look review.
Unlike the traditional brick pizza ovens, this one is black-painted stainless steel with some stainless steel parts. It comes in a box in several pieces and requires home assembly.
It’s a wood-fired pizza oven, and its instructions state that, as well as cooking pizza, it can also be used for barbecuing, smoking, roasting and baking.
Check out the best barbecues for cooking outdoors.
Assembling the Aldi pizza oven
If you’re competent at reading a set of instructions, it should only take you 10 minutes to get this Aldi pizza oven built ready for baking. But keep an eye out, as a couple of the parts (the brackets that the hinge bars slot through for the two front doors) on the model we looked at had bent out of shape in transit and needed straightening. This was fairly easy to do, but a bit disappointing. Also taking some of the shine off our £100 purchase was the fact that the black finish had worn off some of the parts, so it already looked a bit shabby before we’d even lit it for the first time.
That bits can get bent out of shape before you’ve even put this pizza oven together illustrates that it’s not the sturdiest of designs. If you anticipate the build quality of a cheap barbecue, you won’t be setting yourself up for disappointment. If you’ve been tempted into buying a pizza oven by sexier-looking models, such as the Jamie Oliver Pizza Oven, then you’ll need to lower your expectations slightly. But then you’ll also only be paying £100 for this Aldi Pizza Oven, whereas one of Jamie Oliver’s will cost you upwards of a grand.
Cooking with the Aldi pizza oven
Of course, build quality won’t matter a bit if this pizza oven makes marvellous pizza. To prepare, you first need to light a fire with wood in the lower chamber. Pop the pizza stone (one is provided) into the top oven and then wait for the dial to hit the optimum temperature for cooking pizza – the instructions say this is 300°C – then carefully slide in your pizza on top of the pizza stone.
You can play around with the flue damper and the lower chamber door vents to help you reach optimum temperature. The instructions that come with the pizza oven give recommendations to help you out with this.
One thing that happened on our model – and doesn’t help with keeping the doors sealed to get the temperature up – is that the door to the lower chamber (where you’re burning the wood) started to warp away from the pizza oven’s body as the heat grew. It did go back into its correct position once the pizza oven had cooled down again. But this again highlights the kind of build quality you’re getting. You can see how this happened and see the pizza oven in action in our video below.
How was it at cooking pizza?
So how did this Aldi Pizza Oven cook? Well the first pizza we made was smashing – crispy and light – everything a pizza should be, and ready in just a couple of minutes. We weren’t so lucky with our second one. It looked perfect on the top, but the bottom was absolutely charred – and we hadn’t cooked it for any longer. But pizzas three and four were again cooked to perfection, so it’s a bit hit and miss.
If you’re cooking for a large gathering, it’s worth bearing in mind that you can only get one full-sized pizza at a time into the oven, so you’ll have hungry diners waiting around salivating while others are eating.
Which? first look verdict
If you’re looking for an entry-level pizza oven that you’re going to use every now and then, then this is a decent buy that will (mostly) cook up decent pizza.
Aldi pizza oven specs
Colour: Stainless Steel with Black Finish
Dimensions HxWxD: 157x51x38cm (approx)
Material: Body, legs, flue & shelf – steel; Doors & flue cap – stainless steel; Door handles & flue handles – Bakelite; Pizza stone – Cordierite
Available from: 25 May 2017.