Have you ever wondered how your favorite wood-fired pizza restaurant can make its crust so light and crunchy while keeping the cheese and toppings cooked to perfection? Or why can’t you replicate that perfect pizza in your own oven? And why is your pizza delivery guy’s pie so greasy and flimsy?
The difference you taste mainly comes from the temperature of the ovens. Most pizza restaurants or home baked pizzas are cooked between 350°-500°F for 7-15 minutes. Can you believe wood fire oven temperatures usually range between 700°-1000°F and the pizzas are cooked in as little as 2 minutes?!
It IS possible to get a wood fired pizza experience at home. We install three primary types of outdoor pizza ovens: traditional clay, concrete hybrid, and metal. Most models require a hardwood fuel such as oak when cooking, but some models new to the market offer a gas burner inside for convenience. Below are the three common variations of ovens we recommend for the passionate wood fired pizza lover.
Traditional Clay Oven
+ Hand made
- Hefty 1,200+ lbs
+ Retains heat for several hours, allowing you the option to bake inside the oven.
- Sensitive to moisture and temperature fluctuations
- Needs to be cured before every use
Clay ovens have been around for centuries, and to this day there are still manufacturers that hand make these clay oven shells which can be set in a stone structure or metal enclosures. If you do not properly maintain these ovens, they will crack and become useless. Manufacturers recommend a roof enclosure to be built above the oven and a secure cover when not in use to prevent water from reaching the shell.
You must gradually warm the clay oven to prevent extreme temperature changes from cracking the clay. It is standard practice to start a very small fire in the oven for a few hours to cure the oven before each use. You can also place a heat lamp inside for 16-24 hours before using to achieve the gradual warming effect. Both these methods help evaporate any water trapped inside and safely heat the oven.
Once you have gradually heated the shell to around 400°F it is safe to start your cooking fire. For the best pizza, the cooking fire should warm your oven to around 800°F. You will need to move some of the fire/coals to one side of the oven to even the heat and create air movement. Continue moving the fire all around the shell for hours to evenly heat the oven and ready it for baking other foods like bread or a turkey.
Concrete Hybrid Pizza OveN
+/- Weighs 300-600 lbs
+ Retains heat for several hours, allowing you the option to bake inside the oven
+/- Only have to cure periodically, depending on the frequency of use and outdoor temperature.
+ All the benefits of a clay oven without all the headache
+ Ability to bake inside
Hybrid pizza ovens look and cook like a clay oven, but are more forgiving when it comes to moisture and temperature changes. Like clay ovens, these concrete hybrids can sit inside a powder coated steel enclosure or stone structure. You will still have to heat the inside (cure the masonry) from time to time to evaporate any moisture trapped inside of the oven before cooking—but if used on a regular basis you will not need to cure the interior as often.
Even though it is more forgiving than clay, the hybrid oven is still susceptible to extreme cold/hot temperature changes in a short amount of time, which can cause cracks.
These ovens can cook a pizza at 700°-1,000°F, but also allows you to bake just like a traditional clay oven.
Metal Pizza Oven
+ Light weight 200-300 lbs
+ Exterior is cool to the touch
+ Most inexpensive of the types
- Cannot be set in stone, usually placed on top of the counter or on a cart
- Cools off quickly, can't bake inside this oven
These ovens are a good option if you want low maintenance and a good quick pizza. Since these models are primarily constructed from metal they are rigid which means not much curing is necessary. These ovens are ready to go at any moment, and they heat up relatively fast. Their shell comes insulated, so the exterior is cool to the touch when a fire is started.
Because this oven is metal it doesn’t retain heat as well and once the heat source is removed it quickly cools down—which makes baking inside this oven out of the question.
Depending on how fast you are at making a fire you can cook your pizza at temperatures of 700°-1000°F in minutes. These ovens are good if you are looking for an extra piece of equipment to add to your outdoor arsenal of cooking toys. Another benefit of this unit is the ability to quickly sear a steak at 800°F, which will add a nice crust to the steak while retaining a juicy, tender center.
Regardless of what pizza oven you choose, Mom’s would love to help you incorporate it into your outdoor kitchen!