Pizza oven ideas: 12 ways to cook delicious pizza outdoors
From brick-built domes to tabletop models, these pizza oven ideas will help you grab a slice of the action in your backyard
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If you're looking for the latest pizza oven ideas to up your alfresco cooking game, you've come to the right place.
Delicious, quick and easy to make, customisable, ideal for sharing, suitable for both vegetarians and meat-eaters… oh, and great fun too, pizzas have got to rate as one of the best foodstuffs going. Dare we say, that they've perhaps even just edged BBQs out of the top spot for outdoor dining?
In the past, however, pizza ovens were limited to those with large yards, willing to build huge, expensive, permanent brick and clay ovens to cook pizza outdoors. Now, with a huge range of smaller wood, charcoal and gas-fired models that can be built-in, freestanding or even placed on a tabletop, there’s a pizza oven to suit you and your budget, whether you have a bumper backyard or a bijou balcony.
So, if you’re looking for an enjoyable family meal alfresco, or holding a pizza party for friends this summer, we’ve got great ideas for the best pizza ovens that are well worth your dough…
Get creative this summer with our top pizza oven ideas
Delicious, authentic pizzas are fast becoming a backyard delicacy. If you're still considering are pizza ovens worth it for you, then be sure you know the various options and ideas available.
1. Go for a traditional brick design
If you’ve got the space – and time – a brick-built domed pizza oven will give you the same, authentic wood-fired Neapolitan pizza taste and slightly charred edge you get in restaurants – all without leaving the comfort of your own backyard.
‘The dome shape helps to absorb the heat from the wood fire inside, reflecting it back down evenly to the cooking surface below,’ explains garden designer Jo Connolly, from Decorbuddi (opens in new tab). ‘It’s not a quick process – you’ll need to light your wood hours in advance to get the oven up to a high enough heat, but once you do, it will stay hot for hours.
'They’re great for those with large families or who are serious about cooking and entertaining – not only can you bake more than one pizza at a time in an oven like this, but there are a vast amount of pizza oven recipes you can try. Anything from meat and fish to potatoes in there too.’
As a permanent structure, they tend to suit bigger gardens and can make a stunning focal point in a BBQ area. ‘You can build them yourself from a kit or from scratch, or there are companies who will build them for you,’ explains Jo. ‘While they take a bit of effort to master, once you have, you’ll never want to eat a shop-bought pizza again!’
2. Light up a ready-made wood-fired oven
Not every backyard has room for a full-size handmade brick-built pizza oven; so, if you still want an authentic crust and taste, a smaller, ready-made wood-fired oven is a great alternative and is still capable of achieving the right pizza oven temperature needed.
Available in a range of designs, including those with sleek steel bodies, curvy fibreglass domes or traditional-style clay interiors, and as both freestanding and tabletop models, the beauty of buying something off-the-shelf is that the hard work is done for you. All you need is a supply of firewood and you’re ready to start cooking!
'The great thing about these ovens is that aside from cooking pizzas, if you go for a slightly larger model, you can cook a huge variety of other foods, such as spatchcock chicken or a shoulder of lamb, in them too. Choose one with a domed top that gives you a greater circulation of hot air around the oven, and you'll get a lovely aromatic wood smoked flavor running through the food – even better in many cases than a conventional BBQ,' says Dan Hart, Founder of Home Pizza Ovens (opens in new tab).
3. Keep things simple with a wood pellet pizza oven
New to learning how to use a pizza oven at home? A small pizza oven that runs on wood pellets could be your best bet. Made with upcycled leftover wood products, pellets are cheap, natural, eco-friendly, and burn efficiently at extremely high temperatures – perfect for baking pizzas – while producing very little ash.
'A small, wood-fired pizza oven is a really versatile addition to any backyard,' says Gardeningetc's editor Beth Murton. 'They take up limited space and you can simply place them on top of an outdoor table before firing them up.'
‘A wood pellet oven is a great fuss-free option,’ explains Jo. ‘Portable and compact enough to place on the table even if you only have a small garden or balcony, it will cook a pizza in minutes. Just fill up the oven’s hopper with pellets, fire it up, and once it’s reached the right heat, you’re ready to go, taking just minutes to cook a delicious pizza.’
Bags of pellets are easier and less messy to store than logs or charcoal, too, ‘ Choose from softwood or hardwood pellets, which tend to burn longer than those made from softwood,’ says Jo.
Our Ooni Fyra pizza oven review reveals why this wood pellet oven gets top marks from the Gardeningetc team.
4. Enjoy instant heat with a gas pizza oven
Gas-fired pizza ovens can be ready for your pizzas after as little as 15 minutes. And the list of what you can cook in a pizza oven powered by gas is just as long as any other fuel types.
‘Attach them to a gas canister and some can reach an incredible pizza-sizzling temperature of around 900˚F (480˚C) very quickly,’ says Jo.
‘What’s more, it’s a very even, stable heat, which is less likely to go out than a wood-fired oven – and there’s no ash or mess to clear up afterwards.’
Available in a range of sizes to suit your garden, they’re a quick, easy solution for your pizza oven ideas.
5. Choose a multi-fuel design for versatility
Purists could argue for days about the benefits of gas vs charcoal grills, and the same can be said when deciding on a fuel for pizza ovens. But as with most things in life, different fuels all have their pros and cons, especially if you're considering how much it costs to run a pizza oven. So, why not go for a pizza oven that gives you the best of all worlds and uses gas, charcoal or wood?
Some models can now be loaded with wood or charcoal to give pizzas an authentic wood-fired flavor; but then converted to gas power for fast, low-maintenance cooking and better temperature control by attaching a pizza oven accessory known as a burner and connecting it to a propane gas canister.
‘If you’re not sure which fuel to go for – or want the ability to switch types, depending on how much time you have available or what flavor you’re going for – multi-fuel ovens, such as the Ooni Karu, are a fantastic idea,’ says Jo. ‘They may be slightly more expensive than single-fuel ovens but having options like this could mean you end up cooking pizzas more often, making it worth the extra investment.’
Our Ooni Karu pizza oven review will give you the lowdown on this practical, portable buy.
6. Cook and serve pizzas at the table
‘Just as you may not want to cook on the barbecue every day, making pizzas is often an occasional activity – and that’s where a tabletop oven is ideal,’ suggests Jo.
Lightweight, compact and portable – often weighing less than 30lb (13kg) – many have fold-down legs, removable chimneys or cooking stones, and can be stored in a shed, garage or even a cupboard when not in use.
‘When having a pizza party, you want to have your toppings to hand, and a tabletop oven allows you to create a pizza preparation station for everyone to assemble and cook their own meal in a relatively small space.’
Keeping tabletop pizza ovens looking smart and clean is easy too, especially when you learn how to clean a pizza stone and you realise that they only require a light cleaning most of the time.
7. Fire up your fire pit
You may already know how to cook on a fire pit, but did you know that they can also make a great addition to your pizza oven ideas?
‘While traditional fire pits can be used for cooking meat, fish and veg, most are not as good as cooking pizzas as they don’t get hot enough,’ says Jo. However, some models have a more enclosed oven space underneath the flames, which can reach an adequate cooking temperature for small pizzas.
To get the best results, follow the correct method for how to light a fire pit, making sure you light it at least 60 to 90 minutes before you need it; leaving the oven door closed until you’re ready to slide your pizza in. You can warm up your patio and toast marshmallows on the open flames while your main course is cooking below. Perfect!
8. Take your pizza oven to the beach
If you're a fan of camping or beach days, portable pizza oven ideas are a must. This way you can enjoy a pizza party even when you’re in the middle of a field, at the beach or up a mountain.
Fuelled by wood, charcoal or firelighters, this clever portable camping stove oven can reach heats of 570˚F (300˚C) with a non-stick cordierite stone inside helping to cook your dough evenly.
The top can be used to fry, while the grills can warm or toast, and the enclosed design means it can be used inside as well as outside, keeping your tent cozy. Lightweight and portable, the wings can be folded up to carry it to your car when it’s time to pack up and leave.
9. Bake pizzas in style with a kamado grill
The best Kamado grills are a firm favorite with serious cooking fans, but did you know they can be used to cook pizzas too?
The oval egg shape and ceramic lining both insulates and reflects heat, creating a current of hot air inside, which circulates around your food, cooking it evenly – exactly what you want when making pizza.
The process is fairly simple; just fill the egg with slightly less charcoal than you would for barbecuing and get a nice heat going before inserting the egg’s convector plate and a pizza stone on top. Close the lid and wait until the temperature gauge reaches around 600˚F (315˚C), then add your pizza, before closing the lid again. Your pizza should be ready to serve in under 10 minutes. Easy!
10. Go for a mobile pizza oven for maximum flexibility
‘The problem with cooking gadgets is that while we tend to use them non-stop at first, they can lose their novelty factor and only get used a few times a year,’ says Jo. ‘So, unless you’re a die-hard pizza addict, it’s likely you won’t be using your pizza oven every day, or even every couple of weeks. If that’s the case, a mobile pizza oven with wheels can be a part of your outdoor grill station ideas, that you can move to the side of your garden or patio or down the side of your house, out of the way.’
It’s possible to buy ovens with castors already attached to the legs, or you can place a tabletop pizza oven on a separate wheeled stand. ‘Mobile ovens tend to be slightly smaller than their permanent brick-built cousins, but you’ll still get an authentic flavor to your pizzas, and can often cook other foods in them too,’ explains Jo.
11. Add a pizza oven to an outdoor kitchen
Outdoor kitchens – with ovens or barbecues, worktops and even sinks – are becoming increasingly popular, and your pizza oven ideas could be part of such a set-up. Super stylish outdoor ovens, which wouldn’t look out of place in an indoor kitchen, can help to make your garden or outdoor space feel like an extra ‘room’ or extension of your home.
With doors that seal shut, many work as barbecue smokers and outdoor grills at the same time, so you can cook a wide range of foods as well as pizzas; and some even come in bright shades to suit your color scheme. Unlike indoor ovens, however, they will take a beating from the elements, so make sure you choose one with a weatherproof exterior and an ash catcher tray for easy cleaning.
12. Build your own bargain pizza oven with pavers
Huge brick-built pizza ovens cook a mean pizza but take up a lot of space in your garden; and shop-bought versions can be costly, so if you’re on a tight budget, believe it or not, it is possible to build your own using just bricks and paving stones – no mortar or even tools required.
There are plenty of DIY tutorials online, such as this one from City Girl Meets Farm Boy (opens in new tab). ‘Building your own oven this way can be really inexpensive – there’s a void for a fire, and a paving stone acts as a pizza stone suspended above it,’ explains Jo. ‘Just make sure you use plain stone and concrete pavers that haven’t been treated with any chemicals that could transfer to your food.’
What material makes the best pizza oven?
Bricks, clay, ceramic, concrete, stone, cast iron and steel – pizza ovens can be made from a huge range of materials. The best type to go for is whatever suits your cooking style, and your outdoor space, the best.
Brick, clay and stone ovens take up more room, and take a lot longer to reach heat than those made from metal and ceramic materials, however they will stay hot for longer, making them ideal for a big garden party, those wanting to cook a lot of pizzas, or anyone cooking other foods at the same time.
Metal and ceramic ovens tend to be smaller and more lightweight, meaning they’re more portable, and often better suited to regular-sized gardens.
Growing up with a botanist father, Jenny had a love of all things green from an early age. Now the proud owner of her own plot, she tries to follow her dad’s advice and grow at least one new, interesting plant each season. She writes about gardens for national newspapers and magazines such as the Daily Mail and Good Homes.
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