How to buy the best pizza oven
Grilling burgers and sausages on a barbecue is all well and good, but nothing takes outdoor cooking to the next level quite like a sizzling pizza oven.
Freshly made pizza is a simple and delicious way to wow your friends and family, and our helpful buyer's guide will help start you off on a flavour journey you simply can’t get from your kitchen.
Types of pizza oven
Portable pizza ovens are very popular at the moment, but there are also ovens that simply pop on top of your barbecue grill, or you can build a freestanding pizza oven for your garden yourself. Read on to find out what you get with each type and to work out which is best suited to your needs.
Portable pizza ovens
Either gas or wood-fired, these pizza ovens are very trendy at the moment.
- Not cheap - they cost upwards of £200, so you definitely have to be keen on pizza to make the investment. Popular brands include Gozney and Ooni.
- Use at home or away - this type is able to be used in the garden or packed up and taken out and about.
- Quick to cook - warming up in around 20 minutes, portable pizza ovens cook at very high temperatures to give your pizza crispy bases and gooey cheese toppings in just a couple of minutes.
- Gas is easiest - in our experience, gas-fired ovens are easier to control than wood-fired ones, and there’s little difference in flavour as the pizzas are cooked so quickly.
Barbecue-top pizza ovens
These are often made up of a simple metal box with a pizza stone inside. They sit on top of a barbecue and are heated from below using the grill.
- Check before you buy - your barbecue grill area needs to be large enough to accommodate the pizza oven you’re interested in buying. Make sure to measure it up.
- Slower to cook - there’s no overhead heat like there is with a portable pizza oven, so they cook more slowly - but you’ll still need to keep an eye on them to avoid them burning.
- Gas is easiest - in our experience, they’re easier to use with a gas barbecue as it’s straightforward to maintain a consistent temperature.
Freestanding pizza ovens
If you’re really into pizza, you might want to invest in a freestanding pizza oven as a feature for your garden.
Wood-fired - most models are wood-fired, using charcoal or logs, so they take a bit of skill in handling the cooking temperature to get the best from them.
How much do I need to pay for a pizza oven?
Barbecue-top pizza ovens are the cheapest option. Discount supermarkets sell them for as little as £40, but you need to move quickly as they often sell out fast. Name-brand models are usually around £100.
Portable pizza ovens range from £200 to £500, so you need to be a keen pizza maker to invest in one.
Freestanding pizza ovens range from £250 to more than £5,000, so again you need to be quite the enthusiast to justify buying one.
With all pizza ovens, you can also use them to cook other foods if you place the food in heat-resistant kitchenware such as a cast-iron pan, so they’re much more versatile products than might first appear.
Pizza oven brands
There’s a huge variety of big and small pizza oven brands to choose from. Below are some of the key players in both premium and cheap pizza ovens, and the types they sell:
- Types available: Portable gas, portable wood fired, portable charcoal
- Price range: £229 - £500
- Available at: , ,
- Read our reviews:, ,
- Types available: Portable gas, wood fired
- Price range: £400 - £5,350
- Available at: ,
- Read our reviews:
- Types available: Barbecue-top, freestanding
- Price range: £90 - £140
- Available at: , , ,
- Read our reviews:
Aldi and Lidl sell pizza ovens for as a cheap as £40 seasonally, though they never stay in stock for long. You'll need to act fast if you want to get your hands on one.
Pizza oven features and accessories
- Chimney - you're only likely to find these on wood-fired and charcoal pizza ovens. The chimney funnels the smoke out above the oven to stop it filling the oven and coming out of the door. This helps with visibility during cooking.
- Temperature gauge - some portable pizza ovens and barbecue-top models have a temperature gauge to help you check if the oven is at ideal cooking temperature. Some give the temperature in Celsius, while others just say ‘warm’, ‘ideal’ or ‘hot’.
- Pizza peel - this paddle is essential for putting the pizza in and out of the oven safely. We find the perforated, non-stick versions easier to use as the pizza is less likely to get stuck.
- Pizza stone - pizza stones are removable cooking surfaces that are usually made from moisture-absorbent cordierite. They also retain heat and help the pizza crisp and cook evenly.
- Pizza cutter - a good pizza cutter is key for slicing up and serving your pizza. The larger the circular blade, the better. This prevents the pizza cutter from moving your toppings around and makes it easier to cut through extra-puffy pizza crusts.
- External temperature - Watch out - many pizza ovens get incredibly hot on the outside while cooking so it’s all too easy to burn yourself. Make sure children and pets can’t touch them by mistake. Some models, such as the , have addressed this by having a silicone cover to keep them cool.
- In a mixing bowl, sieve the flour and mix in the salt and easy-bake yeast.
- Make a well in the middle of the bowl, and add a dash of olive oil around the outside of the well.
- Gently pour the water into the well and mix well, until all the water has been soaked up by the dough and there’s no dry flour left.
- Once combined, dust a flat surface with a sprinkling of flour and knead the dough by pushing it away from you with the heels of your palms, rotating it and lifting it regularly to stop it sticking to the surface. If it does start to stick, sprinkle a little more flour on the surface before continuing.
- Once the dough is smooth and stretchy, it’s ready to proof (or prove). You’ll want to cover it and leave it for at least an hour (ideally three or four hours) to let it settle and expand.
- Dust your surface again to avoid sticking, then using your hands (or a rolling pin if you prefer) flatten out and shape your dough into a pizza shape. For the crusts you can either pinch the edges, fold the edges in slightly (which is also a great way to make stuffed crust) or leave them alone entirely. Then your pizza dough will be ready for sauce and toppings.
For one large pizza, you'll need:
- Approx. 200g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting surfaces
- One sachet (approx. 7g) easy-bake yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 125ml warm (but not boiling) water
- Dash of olive oil
There’s endless styles and types of pizza dough, but it’s always made up of a basic combination of flour, water, yeast and salt. The amounts of each always varies depending on what sort of thickness, moisture-level and crispness you prefer. Experimentation is recommended.
Depending on how you like to flavour or style your dough, you may want to add extras such as sugar or olive oil, or choose specialist flour types like 00 flour to aim for a really professional Neapolitan-looking base.
Need some fresh ingredients? Our can point you to the best the supermarkets have to offer, or if you'd rather let technology take care of making the pizza dough, head to our to find the best ones for making pizza dough.
Cooking with a pizza oven tips
- Keep a consistent temperature 450°C - 500°C is ideal for cooking pizza, but some ovens can get up to 800C or more. A consistent heat will cook your pizzas evenly and keep them from burning.
- Dust your peeler with flour Pizza dough can get sticky, so dusting your peeler with semolina flour will help it slide on and off easily. Careful not to overdo it though, as too much flour underneath will burn and taste bitter.
- Assemble your pizza on the peel Save yourself the stress of trying to slide the peeler underneath the squishy dough and avoid ruining the shape of your pizza. The peel is the perfect assembly station.
- Rotate it regularly Especially in gas and wood fired pizza ovens, the strongest heat comes from one direction. Rotate it once or twice during cooking to make sure it cooks evenly.
- Cook other food too Pizza isn't the only thing a pizza oven is good for. If you have cookware that can handle the heat there are endless possibilities - try roasting a joint of beef or even steaming a pot of mussels.
- Don't overdo it with toppings Less is definitely more when cooking with a pizza oven. Too many toppings will leave you with a soggy base, and the toppings may burn.