As more and more of us become budding master chefs, the popularity of outdoor ovens has been soaring over the summer months! From chargrilled steaks to crispy pizzas and gourmet burgers, our appetite for al fresco cooking has never been bigger.
But, with this new enthusiasm comes a whole new array of kit. While we used to be happy with a simple barbecue, you can now choose from a range of outdoor ovens – which may be leaving you wondering which one is best to buy.
In this blog, we help you weigh up your options when it comes to choosing between a pizza oven, charcoal grill or gas BBQ, answering questions such as…
- What is the difference between a pizza oven and a BBQ?
- Can you BBQ in an oven – or cook a pizza in a BBQ?
- What type of ovens are available?
- How do you choose between an oven and a grill?
Keep reading to find out more!
What is the Difference Between a Wood Fired Pizza Oven and a BBQ?
Both wood fired pizza ovens and BBQs use wood or coal to burn a fire for cooking on. They can also cook similar foods, albeit in a slightly different way.
So, what exactly makes a wood fired oven different to a barbecue grill?
The main factor that separates the two is wood fired ovens are designed to reach much hotter temperatures and can retain that heat for longer periods of time – a good wood fired oven can reach up to 400°C or higher, with some types staying hot throughout the day. From quick 3 minute pizzas, to slow-cooked meats roasting for a few hours, outdoor ovens can do it all!
However, some barbecues do also have lids and doors which allow you to roast, bake and smoke in a similar way to an oven. However, as they aren’t as insulated as most outdoor ovens, the time you can spend cooking isn’t as long.
Can You Use a Pizza Oven as a BBQ?
One of the biggest benefits of a pizza oven is that you can also use it as a barbecue grill and a smoker. However, if all you want to do is grill some burgers, you probably wouldn’t want to have to wait for a big pizza oven to heat up! Consider what you will mostly be cooking and how often when choosing between a pizza oven and barbecue.
Find out more: What Can You Cook in a Wood Fired Pizza Oven Besides Pizza
Can you cook pizza on a BBQ?
If you want to dabble in cooking pizzas, you can also try it on a traditional barbecue, so long as it has a lid. You will need to heat your barbecue to as high a temperature as you can safely do. Then, place your fresh pizza onto a pizza stone and place inside for a couple of minutes. The result should be a deliciously crisp barbecued pizza!
What are the Different Types of Pizza Oven and BBQ?
When choosing between a wood fired oven and a BBQ grill, there are a number of options to choose from. If you want to be sure your investment is worth it, research which type is best for your needs…
Outdoor Pizza Ovens…
Brick Wood Fired Pizza Ovens
Pictured: 900mm Outdoor Wood Fired Pizza Oven
Brick wood fired pizza ovens are the classic and most authentic pizza ovens you can buy. They feature a highly insulated brick dome that is ideal for reaching high temperatures over long periods, so is perfect if you really want to flex your cooking skills.
The only possible downside to them is that they are very heavy and can’t be moved easily, as well as requiring a strong base to support them. They can also take some time to heat up, plus take some getting used to the various temperatures you need to cook different foods.
Find out more: How to Light a Wood Fired Pizza Oven
Portable Pizza Ovens
Pictured: Fontana Ischia Wood Fired Pizza Oven
If you don’t want to fully commit your garden to a huge wood pizza oven, a portable style is a great alternative. You can wheel them to the sunny side of your garden whenever you like, or take them to a more sheltered spot if you have trouble with the flue on a breezy day.
The trade off for those benefits though is size – they are often smaller than traditional brick ovens, and might not retain heat for as long. On the flip side, this does mean they can heat up much quicker.
Table Top Pizza Ovens
Pictured: DeliVita Outdoor Oven
Modern living often doesn’t afford the space required for a full sized brick pizza oven. Luckily, there are a number of table top wood fired pizza ovens available that are insulated and lightweight enough to be placed on any non-flammable surface, such as the DeliVita oven pictured above. These stylish and compact pizza ovens are perfect for gardens and apartment balconies and are ready to cook in just 25 minutes!
Gas Pizza Ovens
Pictured: Fontana Margherita Gas Fired Pizza Oven
Wood fired might be the classic style of pizza oven, but did you know you can also find gas powered options? If you aren’t a fan of building a wood fire and want to have better control over the heat, a gas pizza oven could be just what you ordered!
They still feature high performing insulation, but as they don’t produce smoke, you won’t be able to use them as a smoker. However, many people prefer the ‘cleaner’ taste and smell of gas pizza ovens, allowing the natural flavour of the food to come through.
BBQs and Grills…
Stone and Masonry BBQs
Pictured: Florida Masonry Brick Barbecue
For serious barbecue lovers, stone and masonry BBQs are the ultimate outdoor cooking appliance! Not only can they take pride of place in your garden, but they are also highly durable, often lasting many years, as well as offering a large cooking space for everyone at your party.
As many of them include a chimney, the smoke is also drawn away from the food more efficiently. Another added benefit is the level of heat they give out from the stone can provide heat for your patio even after you have finished cooking – you could even light a small fire just to take the chill off as you relax into the evening.
One of the hottest debates when it comes to choosing a barbecue is whether to choose charcoal or gas. For charcoal lovers, nothing can replace the authenticity of burning real solid fuel, from searing steaks and slow cooking ribs, to smoking meat on hot wood chips or simply grilling burgers in a good old fashioned way.
The downsides are getting the fire going, which some people find too time consuming, and the reduced ability to control the heat.
Pictured: Lifestyle St Vincent Gas Barbecue
The alternative to a charcoal grill is a gas barbecue. For those who want to be able to fire up their BBQ in an instant and cook over an even temperature with no smoke, this is the choice to make. Many gas barbecues come with a hood so you can roast inside it, though remember you won’t be able to smoke any foods.
The only other possible downside to consider is that gas grills don’t create the same level of radiant heat as charcoal grills and don’t burn as hot. This means you won’t get the same crispy, charred or scorched effect as you would with solid fuel.
Our final outdoor cooking option is a fire pit. While they are often only considered by people looking for a patio heater, you can actually cook with them too. Some fire pits come with a grill rack you can place over them, while others, like the Bushbeck fire pit pictured above, embrace the Spanish a la plancha style of cooking. While the fire burns in the middle, you can sear food on the metal plate around the edge.
Whether you want to cook, warm up your patio or just have a decorative piece in the garden, a fire pit could be a perfect option for you.
How to Choose: Wood Fired Pizza Oven or BBQ?
As you can see, there are a lot of options to choose from when considering an outdoor oven or grill! There are some pros and cons to all of them, but here are some things to bear in mind…
- What will you cook? – if you want to try out smoking food and creating some charred edges, go for a charcoal grill or oven. If you don’t like smoky flavours, gas might be best
- How many people will you cook for? – for big garden parties that last all day, a brick pizza oven will keep the heat going as long as you need it. If it’s just a few of you a smaller oven or grill will be just fine
- Do you want heat for your patio? – remember the added benefit of charcoal BBQs is some also give off heat. Check out Chesneys’ garden stoves for some of the best options
- How much space do you have? – bigger doesn’t always mean better, especially if you only have a small outdoor area. If you only have a little patio, you won’t want a large oven that fills it with smoke when a smaller BBQ with a pizza stone could do the same job
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