What to Know About Outdoor Pizza Ovens

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Fun and easy to use, an outdoor pizza oven can be a great addition to your backyard cooking area. Here's what you should know before investing.

A showpiece in an outdoor kitchen or patio, an outdoor pizza oven is a great way to bring family and friends together for a fun afternoon or evening of making and cooking pizzas — as well as bread, roasts, even whole turkeys.

What Is an Outdoor Pizza Oven?

An outdoor pizza oven is a built-in or freestanding oven powered by wood, gas or charcoal. Outdoor pizza ovens can be built with a variety of materials, including brick and cement but can also be made of various metals.

How Does and Outdoor Pizza Oven Work?

Its cooking chamber, typically dome-shaped, can reach extremely high temperatures — 800 degrees F (427 degrees C) or more. The high temperatures give pizzas their pizzeria-style crisp crust. Outdoor pizza ovens usually have a ceramic, brick or stone cooking surface, which pulls moisture from the pizza dough to obtain that crispness.

Gas and Charcoal Outdoor Pizza Oven

The popularity of outdoor pizza ovens means more and more types are available, in a range of sizes and price points, and with different fueling methods. Gas and charcoal pizza ovens are generally smaller and less expensive. They vary from tabletop models to types that sit directly over a gas or charcoal grill and draw their heat from the grill. There are also portable, convertible models that can be heated with charcoal, gas, wood pellets or wood chips.

There are some electric models on the market, but they can’t produce the high temperatures gas and charcoal can.

Wood-Fired Outdoor Pizza Oven

Wood-fired pizza ovens are more akin to what you might find in a real pizzeria. This type of oven is heated by building a wood fire over the cooking surface until it reaches the desired temperature. The wood and embers are then pushed out of the way and the pizza cooks on the hot surface. Pizzas cooked in wood-fired ovens acquire a smoky taste that can’t be achieved with gas or charcoal briquettes.

Wood-fired pizza ovens are generally larger and more expensive than gas or charcoal models. They may be hefty, yet portable, or heavy-duty countertop models that might be difficult to move once they’re set up.

For an ambitious DIY project and to really make an outdoor pizza oven the focal point of a backyard cooking area, you can order a pizza oven kit, designing and building the brick and stone oven yourself. There are also ready-made oven interiors that can be assembled and faced in stone and brick. See how one reader built a patio in front of their DIY pizza oven.

How Much Does an Outdoor Pizza Oven Cost?

Depending on the model and fuel method you choose, outdoor pizza ovens can range from less than $200 to several thousand. If you’re building a masonry pizza oven, consider the cost of materials, including rebar and cement block for the base and stone and brick for facing.

Accessories for an Outdoor Pizza Oven

You’ll need a few tools to get the most from your outdoor pizza oven. Heavy-duty oven gloves protect against burns. A large, long-handled spatula called a pizza peel is essential for sliding pizzas in and out of the oven.

Maintenance of an Outdoor Pizza Oven

Maintenance of wood-fired pizza ovens is generally minimal; a wire brush for cleaning up spills is about all you need. For stainless steel outdoor pizza ovens, a damp, soft cloth usually does the trick.

Elizabeth Heath
Elizabeth Heath is a travel, culinary and lifestyle writer based in rural Umbria, Italy. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, HuffPost, Frommers.com, TripSavvy and many other publications. Her guidebook, An Architecture Lover's Guide to Rome, was released in 2019. Liz's husband is a stonemason and together they are passionate about the great outdoors, endless home improvement projects, dogs, their unruly garden and their slightly less unruly eight-year-old.