It shouldn’t be a surprise that home-made meals are having a true renaissance lately. Backyard grills or ovens are quite a common sight and outdoor cooking is even more popular than you might think. One of the best ways to enjoy tasty home-made dishes is owning an outdoor pizza oven – it’s a very versatile cooking tool that enables you to prepare a vast variety of meals in the comfort of your own garden. Although owning one is great, there are also some disadvantages to them. What are they and why does it matter? Let’s find out below.
Why own a pizza oven?
The answer is quite simple – it’s a very versatile cooking tool great for parties and day-to-day use. So don’t let the ‘pizza’ in its name fool – crispy pizzas are just a sample of many foods that can be prepared in it. Pizza ovens can be used to prepare anything that can be cooked, grilled, baked or roasted. This means that you can easily prepare with it, for example, steaks, barbecued meat, grilled seafood, roasted fish, grilled cheese, pies and bread.
What does the pizza oven look like? It has a flat floored and domed cooking chamber commonly made from ceramics, bricks or thick layers of clay. The construction and shape allows it to accumulate and retain heat (the cooking temperature can easily go above 500 °C). The accumulated heat is then slowly radiated for a long period of time, which makes the oven a great tool for slow cooking even after the main dish is done. Pizza dough or any other dish should be placed directly in the centre of the oven floor to ensure even cooking from all sides. Properly set up ovens can also provide means to cook low-temperature dishes for a long time while the oven is still cooling down.
This type of ovens can be wood, charcoal or gas fired, depending on the model or builder’s plan. Wood-fired outdoor bread and pizza ovens are the most popular choice due to the specific taste of dishes prepared by wood burning. Just remember not to use softwood as its resin can greatly alter the taste and produce a lot of soot.
Types of outdoor pizza ovens
A pizza oven can be built from scratch (which is very time-consuming but can bring a lot of satisfaction to any DIY enthusiast), assembled from a special oven kit (which includes pre-made modules that are easy to put together) or bought whole. The last option is the most convenient but also the most expensive.
When it comes to placement, we have three different types of ovens:
- Portable – portable pizza ovens can be moved around freely and set up almost anywhere. Those models are easily manoeuvrable but also quite limited in sizes – most of the time, they allow you to prepare max 1-2 pizzas at a time.
- Build-in – oven made for pizza can be rather easily integrated into already existing garden structures, e.g. brick outdoor grills. Their size may vary, depending on the base structure, but in general there’s quite a lot of freedom when it comes to it.
- Freestanding – those can even get huge, depending on the available space and user’s preferences. A solid, freestanding brick pizza oven can be a real sight to behold. Building one by yourself can be a great boost for morale. Just make sure that everything is properly insulated.
Advantages and disadvantages of outdoor pizza ovens
As we mentioned at the beginning, any pizza oven has its positives and negatives, although the former outnumber the latter. Here’s a quick summary of all those traits.
The main pro of an outdoor wood-fired pizza oven is its versatility. To make the rest more clear, let’s divide those between portable, modular (made from kit) and masonry ovens:
- Can be set up and used practically anywhere.
- Ability to move around.
- Short heat up time and low fuel consumption (you can cook pizza in just a few minutes).
- Delivered almost ready to use.
- Models with dual chambers provide means for effortless temperature controls (which makes long-term cooking easier) and are very versatile.
- Can be placed on limited access paces.
- Relatively quick to install (compared to masonry pizza oven).
- Many options for exterior finishes.
- Great balance between temp stability and heat-up period.
- Shorter heat-up and lower fuel consumption (compared to traditional brick ovens).
- Can reach very high temperatures (about 485 °C and up).
- Practically unlimited design possibilities.
- Can provide a huge cooking space (depending on available space).
- Can be set up in places with limited access.
- Able to reach temperatures surpassing 500 °C.
- Perfect for low-temperature and slower cooking.
- DIY versions can be cheaper, depending on the materials used.
- Building an oven by yourself gives a lot of satisfaction.
When it comes to cons, every type of outdoor pizza oven has its own (in some cases very short) list and there’s not really a universal one… maybe except quite high costs of buying it (especially if we choose an already assembled one). Again, let’s use the same division as above:
- Control of the temperature in single chambered models is quite demanding.
- Chambers are rather small in size.
- Single chambered models can’t cook in low heat quite well.
- Dual chambered models can’t heat up as much as other ovens (max 430 °C), so you can’t make traditional Neapolitan pizzas with them (and other pizzas can’t get really crispy).
- Can’t be moved after installation.
- Depending on skills, DIY made versions can be quite risky.
- Requires quite some space.
- Takes relatively long to heat up.
- Depending on the size and desired temperature, it might need a lot of fuel (especially wood-fired ovens).
- Takes quite long to build (you’ll need at least a month before starting your first fire, depending on materials used and actual weather).
- Building a DIY version requires some skill and can be risky.
- Can’t be moved after being built.
Outdoor pizza oven – the best way for home-cooking
Although being quite costly, a wood-fired pizza oven is a great addition to any backyard, especially if you like very much home-cooking. Wood-fired oven is also great for commercial uses, so if you’re planning on opening your own restaurant, a brick oven for making pizza and other dishes is a great investment. So get your own wood-fired pizza today and use it to cook the best pizza you’ll ever eat!