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12 Aug 2020

Five things to know before buying a pizza oven

Thinking of becoming a pizza aficionado? Our expert advice can help

Pizza ovens are all the rage this summer and we've been trying out some of the most popular pizza oven models to find out which ones are worth buying.

Shopping for a pizza oven isn't an easy task as there's a lot to take into account. As well as price, you've got to think about types, comparing brands and accessories, and not to mention the potentially daunting prospect of making your own pizza dough.

We've rounded up five key things to bear in mind if you're thinking of buying a pizza oven to help you work out if this is the perfect outdoor cooking experience for you. Read on to find out our expert advice.

Our head straight to our pizza oven reviews to find out which ones we liked best after trying them out.

There are several pizza oven types to choose from

Unfortunately, there's no such thing as 'just a pizza oven' - there are many different types to choose from and which one is right for you depends mostly on your personal preference.

The basic options are:

  • Portable pizza ovens The most popular pizza oven type, with top brands including Ooni, Gozney and Firepod. They can be used in your garden or out and about, and often come with a carry-case included. Gas, charcoal and wood-fired options are all available, and they can cook pizza in as quickly as two minutes.
  • Barbecue-top pizza ovens These simple little ovens sit on top of your barbecue and use the heat from underneath to heat up. You'll need to check the dimensions and make sure your grill is wide enough to fit one, and they often take a little longer to cook pizzas than the other types.
  • Freestanding pizza ovens If you're a real enthusiast who's happy for a pizza oven to command a large space in the garden, this could be the type for you. Most are wood fired or charcoal fuelled, so patience and skill is required to reach and maintain a consistent cooking temperature. You can buy pre-made models or buy a set for building your own.

Our how to buy the best pizza oven guide rounds up all the important pros and cons of each type so you choose the right type for you.

Pizza oven prices vary significantly

Prices for pizza ovens vary widel, depending on what type and size you go for - from less than £50 up to several thousand pounds.

You'll find that most portable pizza ovens cost around £200 to £300, so you'll need to be sure it's right for you before you buy.

Ooni pizza ovens are generally available for around £250, including both the Ooni Karu wood-fired pizza oven and the Ooni Koda gas pizza oven.

Barbecue-top pizza ovens are often the cheapest - La Hacienda have options for less than £100, and Aldi and Lidl usually sell them seasonally for as little at £39.99. We recently tried out Lidl's barbecue-top pizza oven to find out how much of a bargain it is.

The priciest pizza ovens are usually freestanding brick pizza ovens. These are often custom made to fit your garden, and provide the perfect amount of insulation, ventilation and cooking space. Gozney's largest Stone Core home pizza oven kit, for example, costs a whopping £5,999.

Some pizza ovens get very hot on the outside

Most small pizza ovens are made of metal, meaning that unless there's some sort of heat-resistant coating in place, the body of the oven can get extremely hot on the outside as well as inside.

This is something to be aware of if there will be children or pets around during cooking, so it's worth looking out for pizza ovens that have a heat-resistant body.

The Gozney Roccbox, for example, has a silicone casing that keeps it cool to the touch even when the oven is at peak temperature.

You need a pizza stone and a pizza peel

There are two essential accessories that you won't be able to use your pizza oven without - a pizza stone and a pizza peel.

  • Pizza stone An often removable platform that you place the pizza on to cook. Most pizza ovens come with one included or integrated, but if yours doesn't, make sure to check the cooking area dimensions before you buy so you're sure it will fit comfortably inside.
  • Pizza peel These paddles are often made of wood or metal, and are for placing the pizza in the oven and removing them from a safe distance, as well as rotating them during cooking. Perforated or non-stick ones are the best, as the pizza dough can easily stick to the paddle.

It's definitely worth checking whether the pizza oven you're looking at comes with these accessories (especially the paddle) included, as many don't and are instead sold separately, sometimes at high prices.

Some might say wine is another essential accessory to homemade pizza. Our pick of the best red wines can make sure your tipple matches your pizza.

Less is more with homemade pizza

Slightly scorched, bubbling Neapolitan-style pizzas are the name of the game with pizza ovens, and for these to cook perfectly you need to be conservative with your toppings.

If you like ultra-thick, fully loaded pizzas with tons of toppings, this may not be the cooking experience you're looking for. Less is often more with pizza ovens, as overloaded pizzas will likely come out soggy in the middle and burned on top.

A tomato base, slices of mozzarella, a few basil leaves, some garlic and a drizzling of olive oil will make for an ideal homemade pizza, for example.

If making the dough yourself sounds intimidating, you can always buy ready-made pizza dough from the supermarket - but the homemade stuff does taste better.

Our how to buy the best pizza oven guide has a step-by-step guide on how to easily make easy pizza dough.

If all this sounds like too much effort, we've rounded up the best supermarket frozen pizzas so you can pick the tastiest one to stick in your oven when you're not in the mood to cook.