Wood-Fired Pizza Oven Buying Guide
Considering a new pizza oven? You've come to the right place! Wood-fired pizza ovens are all the rage for summer, but with so many options on the market, choosing the right one for your garden can feel like navigating a minefield.
Here at Direct Stoves, we're all about making it easy, so we’ve put together our top tips and things to consider. In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know before buying a wood-fired pizza oven, giving you all the details you need to make an informed decision. Whether you're dreaming about a cosy patio with a portable pizza oven that you can pack up and take to the beach occasionally or an impressive outdoor kitchen with a traditional brick oven, we have all the insights you need.
Purchasing a pizza oven is a significant decision, with plenty of factors to consider. Each type of oven has distinctive pros and cons, so selecting one that matches your preferences and circumstances is crucial. So, let's get started!
What are the benefits of wood-fired pizza ovens?
What do you get out of having a wood-fired pizza oven? Well, there are plenty of delicious benefits. Here are some incredible advantages that make wood-fired pizza ovens a must-have for every pizza lover:
Wood-fired ovens create a unique, irresistible smoky flavour that's hard – if not impossible – to replicate by other cooking methods. The combination of high heat and wood combustion infuses the pizza with a distinct taste and aroma that will transport you to the streets of Naples.
Quick and even cooking
One of the most significant advantages of wood-fired pizza ovens is their ability to reach super-high temperatures quickly. These ovens can often reach 400 degrees and more, allowing pizzas to cook in just a few minutes.
This intense heat ensures a crispy yet tender crust, while the even heat distribution means you're guaranteed perfectly cooked toppings. Yum!
Versatility in cooking
While wood-fired pizza ovens are renowned for their pizza-making prowess, many models offer much more than that. Some versatile ovens can bake bread, grill meats, roast vegetables, and even prepare desserts.
The high temperatures and radiant heat create the perfect environment for all your culinary adventures, expanding your cooking possibilities.
Compared to conventional ovens, wood-fired pizza ovens are super energy efficient. The intense heat from burning wood allows for shorter cooking times, reducing energy consumption.
Plus, the insulation properties of quality wood-fired ovens help to retain heat. This will boost energy efficiency even more.
Wood-fired pizza ovens are more than just functional cooking appliances. They also make fantastic focal points for outdoor entertainment.
Whether you're hosting a family gathering, a backyard party, or a cosy dinner with friends, the wood-fired oven will add a touch of warmth, charm, and interactive cooking experience to any occasion.
How do pizza ovens work?
A pizza oven, especially a wood-fired one, works through the combination of several types of heat transfer: conduction, convection, and radiation. But how does it actually work? It's all about creating the perfect harmony of heat. Here's how:
- Conduction: Do you know that sizzle when you touch a warm surface? That's conduction. In your pizza oven, this happens when your carefully crafted pizza dough hits the hot oven floor. The heat leaps up to meet the dough, giving your crust that irresistible crunch.
- Convection: Think of a soft, warm summer breeze. That's similar to convection, but it's more of a tropical wind in your pizza oven! As the fire burns, it warms up the air inside the oven. This hot air moves around your pizza, ensuring everything from your savoury toppings to your melty cheese is perfectly cooked.
- Radiant heat: Radiant heat is like the sun's warmth on your face. This heat radiates from the burning fire and the walls inside a pizza oven. It dances over the top and sides of your pizza, creating a beautifully crisp and slightly charred finish that is the signature of a truly great pizza.
Putting it all together
In a well-built pizza oven, these three heating methods combine in a beautiful symphony of heat that cooks your pizza quickly and evenly. The heat from below, around, and above the pizza works in tandem, creating that authentic, mouth-watering wood-fired pizza taste in just a few minutes.
It's worth noting that the fire burns directly in the oven, heating it up before your pizza makes its grand entrance. Once your oven reaches the perfect pizza-cooking temperature, the fire is moved aside or removed entirely to allow your pizza to cook on the oven floor.
And the magic doesn't stop there! The wood you burn can also add a special touch to your pizza. The smoke from the burning wood can subtly flavour your pizza, giving it a unique, slightly smoky taste you can't get from a regular kitchen oven. This unique flavour – and the fun of making your own pizza – makes a pizza oven a delightful addition to your home.
What makes a good wood-fired pizza oven?
Choosing a suitable wood-fired pizza oven can be a bit of an art. Several key factors determine an oven's quality. Let's break them down:
Quality of materials and build
The oven should be made of high-quality, durable materials that withstand high temperatures. These include refractory bricks, cast iron, or thick gauge stainless steel. The materials used in construction directly influence the oven's ability to retain heat and withstand weather conditions if it's outdoors.
Good insulation is crucial for heat retention and efficiency. A well-insulated oven will heat up quickly, stay hot longer, and provide more consistent cooking. This can often be found in the form of ceramic fibre or a similar type of insulating layer.
The size of the oven matters, both in terms of the cooking area and the overall size. You want to cook a decent pizza, but the oven must also fit in your designated space. Remember, larger ovens will also take longer to heat.
A good oven should retain heat well. This is important because the heat enclosed by the oven's floor, walls, and dome is what cooks the pizza. Look for thick, high-quality walls and a domed design to help distribute the heat evenly.
The design of a pizza oven can significantly influence its performance. A high dome can help with heat distribution, while a low, wide door can make it easier to access the pizza. Ventilation is also crucial for controlling temperature and smoke.
Usability and maintenance
A good oven should be easy to use and maintain. Check if the oven requires assembly and how easy it is to clean. Some modern pizza ovens also come with additional features like temperature gauges, making them easier to use.
Depending on your needs, you might want a portable oven. Some models come with wheels or are light enough to move around.
Finally, a good pizza oven should give you value for your money. More expensive doesn't always mean better. Compare features and quality before deciding.
Questions to ask yourself when buying a pizza oven
Asking the right questions before you invest in a pizza oven can help guide your decision and ensure that the oven you choose fits your needs perfectly. Here are some key questions to consider:
What will you cook in your pizza oven?
Of course, pizza is the first thing that comes to mind. But as we mentioned earlier, some pizza ovens can cook other delicious dishes too. You can bake bread, roast chicken, grill veggies, and even make desserts in certain wood-fired pizza ovens. So, think about all the things you want to cook. This will help you decide what kind of oven you should get.
Knowing the various kinds of pizza ovens available can significantly influence your decision based on what you plan to cook. Any good oven can whip up a great pizza, but its design and materials can affect the cooking process and results. Let's explore further:
Brick pizza ovens, or stone ovens, are iconic and traditional. They're built with refractory bricks, and their classic domed design isn't just aesthetic- it also helps to retain and evenly distribute the heat. The result? A high-quality pizza with a crisp base and a perfectly melted topping.
But pizza isn't the only thing you can cook in a brick oven. Thanks to their fantastic heat retention properties, many brick wood-fired pizza ovens are an excellent choice for slow cooking. This means they're ideal for dishes that need a long cook time at a steady temperature, like slow-cooked stews, roasts, and baking bread. After heating to the desired temperature, these ovens can hold the heat for a long time, providing a consistent radiant heat source ideal for these dishes.
However, one thing to note if you're considering getting a brick pizza oven is that they take longer to heat up. This is because the bricks will absorb the heat. Typically, you'll need around 45 minutes to 1.5 hours to reach optimal cooking temperature. On the bright side, that gives you plenty of time to prep your food and relax with a drink while the fire warms up!
Non-brick pizza ovens
Non-brick pizza ovens, often made from stainless steel, aluminium, cast iron, or ceramic materials, are a quicker option for those spontaneous cravings for pizza. They heat up much faster than their brick counterparts, so you can start cooking sooner. This makes them a convenient choice for quick cooking dishes or when you can't wait to tuck into that delicious pizza!
Many stainless steel and cast-iron wood-fired pizza ovens can handle a variety of cooking styles, from grilling to roasting. However, they don't retain heat as well as brick ovens. If you plan to do a lot of slow cooking, like baking loaves of bread or roasting a chicken, you might have to keep the fire going to maintain the right temperature.
Choosing between a brick or non-brick wood-fired pizza oven largely depends on your food, cooking style, and patience. Both types can be ideal for your outdoor kitchen, offering unique benefits.
How much will you cook?
Are you planning big garden parties with loads of guests? Or will you make a pizza or two for your family on the weekend? The amount of food you plan to cook simultaneously can help you choose the right size for your pizza oven.
If you are an occasional cook who envisions firing up the oven now and again for a fun family meal or a small gathering, a less expensive model, such as the ACR Bravo Pizza Oven, could be an excellent choice. You can get a great budget oven with necessary features like temperature gauges, providing all you need for a successful outdoor cooking experience without breaking the bank.
Size-wise, a smaller oven might be ideal for you. For example, you don't need a giant cooking area if you only cook Neapolitan-style pizzas one at a time. Metal, steel, fibreglass or cast iron ovens like the ACR Vita Pizza Oven, Morsø Forno Outdoor Oven, or the DeliVita Outdoor Oven, with their quicker heating times, can handle one or two pizzas at a time, fitting your needs perfectly.
Smaller brick ovens like the Xclusive Décor 700mm-700mm Outdoor Wood Fired Pizza Oven offer a modern exterior with a traditional brick interior – perfect if you value slower heating and longer heat retention.
Frequent use and large gatherings
On the other hand, investing in a higher-end, larger model could pay dividends if you are an avid entertainer or have a big family. These ovens maintain cooking time and quality, providing more cooking space to prepare multiple dishes or larger pizza volumes simultaneously.
Brick ovens like the Royal MAX Wood Fired Pizza Oven and the Premier Wood Fired Pizza Oven with Stone Stand are popular options for this category. They have larger cooking areas, so they can handle more food and offer the benefit of long-lasting heat retention for prolonged cooking. If you prefer metal or stainless steel ovens, the larger Fontana Mangiafuoco Wood Fired Pizza Oven gives you the space you need without sacrificing speed.
When choosing your oven, consider the pizzas you can cook and the size and variety of other dishes you plan to prepare. After all, your pizza oven is likely to become a centrepiece for outdoor gatherings, so it must fit your cooking and entertaining style.
Where will you be putting your oven?
Take a look around your outdoor space. Do you have a big garden where you can put a large pizza oven? Or do you have a small patio that can only fit a small portable oven? Remember that the oven must be in a safe place with good ventilation.
Most pizza ovens are designed for outdoor use, making them perfect additions to back gardens and outdoor kitchens. These ovens are built to become the star of your outdoor entertainment and al fresco dining.
While planning for an outdoor oven, consider where you'll install it. Is it going to be under a canopy or roof? If so, ensure the structure is high enough to accommodate the oven's chimney. Alternatively, consider venting the flue or angling it outside the covering to prevent smoke build-up.
Plus, consider the weight and size of the oven, especially if you are looking at heavier brick ovens. Will a forklift have access to your chosen location? If not, you should select a more lightweight oven or a pizza oven kit to assemble on-site.
Maybe you're a big party planner or simply want the convenience of an oven that can easily be relocated as needed. Enter the world of portable pizza ovens, most of which are made of lightweight materials like stainless steel but also available in brick versions that come on stands or trolleys.
For instance, the Fontana Riviera Wood Fired Pizza Oven is a highly portable ceramic oven that ensures you don't compromise on authentic wood-fired flavour. If you prefer a slightly larger, traditional-looking oven, the Royal Mobile Wood Fired Pizza Oven could be just what you're looking for.
Find your perfect pizza oven at Direct Stoves
Buying a wood-fired pizza oven is an investment that goes beyond delicious, crispy pizzas. It's about creating unforgettable experiences with family and friends. Plus, it allows you to practice your culinary skills and add a stylish feature to your back garden.
Whether you want a traditional big brick oven or a convenient portable wood-fired pizza oven, Direct Stoves has got you covered. Our range of wood-fired pizza ovens is handpicked for their quality, performance, and aesthetics. It's never been easier to find the perfect match for your needs.
So why wait? Explore our extensive collection of top-notch pizza ovens at Direct Stoves today, and take the first step towards transforming your outdoor cooking experience.
Need more advice? Our friendly team are available on the phone or via email. Call 0161 376 4194 or drop a message to [email protected]; we'd love to help. [related_products]