Any pizza making expert can tell you: for the best restaurant-style pizza, you need a dedicated pizza oven. Here’s the biggest reason why: the only way to get that authentic pizza crust (crispy and brown on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside) is super high temperature. We’re talking way hotter than your oven can go — most pizza ovens, including high-quality backyard pizza ovens — get upwards of 900 degrees Fahrenheit (around 480 C), if not hotter.
But max temperature is just the first consideration when searching for the best outdoor pizza oven. In this blog, we’ll talk about the most important characteristics to look for when buying an outdoor oven and even make a few suggestions to fit every budget.
What to Look For
As mentioned above, if you’re buying a pizza oven, look for one that can hit or exceed 900 degrees Fahrenheit (480 C).
Aside from allowing you to make out-of-this-world, restaurant quality pizza, these temperatures reduce cooking times to a few minutes. Some high temp pizza ovens can finish cooking a pizza in 60-90 seconds.
Some pizza ovens on the market top out at around 700 F. That may be significantly hotter than your conventional oven, but unfortunately you won’t end up with a much better pizza than the one you can make in your kitchen.
Now, if you’re just looking for something portable that you can use outdoors, maybe a lower-temperature pizza oven is acceptable. But there are enough portable pizza ovens that get to 900 degrees or above (including many that won’t break the bank) that we think it’s worth investing in an oven that can replicate authentic, restaurant quality wood fired pizza.
Of course the extreme high temperature also means you need a decent amount of space (or in some cases a specialized stand). You’ll also need to keep an eye on children and pets while the oven is at full blast.
External Materials & Insulation
Internal and external insulation can both make a difference in terms of safety and performance.
Not surprisingly, the more expensive the oven, the higher quality the insulation, which of course aids in reaching the super-high internal temperatures needed for authentic Neapolitan style pizza.
The Gozney Roccbox takes it a step further and encases the oven with a silicone outer coating to keep the external surface from getting too hot. This may be something to consider if you’ll have kids or pets running around while the oven is at full blast.
Size & Weight
Backyard pizza ovens range from small, portable models that can be easily moved into the garage when you’re done (after they’ve cooled down, of course) to massive permanent fixtures that need to be professionally delivered and installed.
Interior dimensions are also worth considering. Smaller ovens can often accommodate only one small to medium size pizza, while larger ovens (especially the high-end permanent kind) can often cook a few pizzas at a time.
Remember, however, that cooking times with pizza ovens are often a few minutes or less. So even with an oven that can only accommodate one pizza at a time, you can still feed a relatively large crowd in short order.
Pizza ovens typically run on one of two fuel sources: wood and gas. Some are built to use both.
Gas is typically easier to work with, and unless you plan on chopping your own wood it’s probably easier to stock up on as well.
Not to say that wood doesn’t have its own advantages. There’s something satisfying about cooking with wood (or even charcoal, which some ovens accommodate) instead of gas. It’s also, technically speaking, the only authentic way to make a Neapolitan style pizza.
Then there’s the issue of taste: some people swear by the taste of a wood-fired pizza, while others will tell you that the cooking time isn’t long enough for the wood to impart any significant taste difference.
Bottom line: if ease of use and convenience are your priorities, gas is probably the better choice. If you’re a traditionalist or a romantic, you probably can’t beat a wood-fired oven.
Aesthetics will matter to some people more than others. But it’s worth noting that this element varies greatly between brands.
The smaller, more affordable pizza ovens tend to go for a modern, utilitarian look. But for some who wants a high-end, classic, traditional looking oven (and who has the budget to match), there are some larger backyard pizza ovens (including those from small, boutique makers like Fiorno Piombo) that are genuine works of art.
Based on the above factors, here are our suggestions for the best backyard pizza ovens, from budget to ultra-high end.
The rundown: All-around performer at a great price.
Sturdy build quality
Users report temps well above 900 degrees
Works with both charcoal and wood pellets out of the box
Somewhat heavy (32 lbs)
Gas burner attachment sold separately
Ooni Koda 12
The rundown: One of the most popular portable ovens on the market, with excellent reviews. For many people, the lighter weight and gas power make it worth the extra price vs the Napoli.
Light & portable (20 lbs)
No wood burning capability (Ooni also sells wood & multi-fuel models)
Some users comment on the small-ish cooking area (Koda 16 offers larger interior)
The rundown: Superior construction, consistent performance and a silicone outer coating that keeps the exterior from getting too hot justify the higher price.
Silicone outer coating
Impressive construction & craftsmanship
Folding legs for easy storage
Users report consistent performance/results
Heavy for a portable (44 lbs)
Smaller cooking area (accommodates one 10”-11” pizza)
Wood burner accessory sold separately
Fontana Outdoor Ovens
Price: $2,299 +
The rundown: High-end, commercial quality wood fired and gas fired ovens made in Italy, from the company that pioneered metal wood fired pizza ovens over 40 years ago.
Precision engineering for consistent performance
Durable construction backed by one of the industry’s biggest names
Restaurant quality results at home
Mounted (non-countertop) models can be wheeled around for easier maneuverability/storage
Much larger than portable options
Price: $9,500 +
The rundown: Handmade artisan wood fired pizza ovens built one-at-a-time by father/son team. Arguably the best looking pizza ovens you’ll find.
High end artisan craftsmanship
Each oven is one-of-a-kind
Makes authentic Neapolitan style pizza
Doubles as a backyard art piece
Every person who sees it will be jealous
Very large (over 8’ tall with stand)
Not easily movable
May cost more than your car