Whether it's peak summer or the depth of winter, every day is pizza day. We don’t mean pre-made off-the-shelf guff you stick in your oven, here, either. We’re talking the real deal: the kind of pizzas you make and bake yourself using the best pizza ovens – like this quintet of fine contenders below.
Oh, and for guidance on how to use a pizza oven, let this guide to how to cook pizza at home hit your eye, like a big pizza pie. At the bottom of this guide we've also got information on the differences between wood and gas units.
Right here, though, we list the best pizza ovens on the market today, with everything from budget bargains to premium pizza makers included.
The best pizza ovens, in order
It comes to something when the best home pizza oven turns out to be electric and for indoor use (or outdoor use on a sunny day). But stay with me. I’ve been using this amazing piece of kit for the past several months and not once have I had a disaster – every pizza I’ve thrown into its maw has come out with miraculous results and I haven’t burned my hand once. Admittedly I have been using some top-quality pre-made dough balls – which you can read about in our How to cook pizza at home guide – but most of my successes have been down to this machine.
So what’s so great about it? The sage runs on electricity instead of charcoal, wood, pellets or gas. Now I’m the first to admit that the most authentic pizzas are baked in a wood-fired oven but I’m also the first to admit that in a blind test I might not be able to tell the difference. All I know is that the Sage Pizzaiolo delivers the goods every time, and with an evenly browned light-as-a-feather crust and perfectly cooked ingredients.
The Pizzaiolo has a number of automatic settings – 160˚C, defrost, pan, thick crust, thin & crispy, wood fired and 400˚C – but I just bung it on the howlingly hot wood fired setting which bakes the pizza to perfection every time. You don’t even need to turn the pizza halfway through because the simple circular oven rings above and below the pizza stone do a sterling job of ensuring the entire top and bottom get a thoroughly good seeing to.
Granted, £700 or thereabouts is quite a hefty load to splash about on an item you may only use 15 times a year, but if you love high-end pizza with all the right characteristics, then the Sage Pizzaiolo is a complete no brainer. Now, if you’ll excuse me I have another scrumptious Neapolitan to attend to.
To get even more information about this pizza oven read our Sage The Smart Oven Pizzaiolo review. And, to compare this top-rated pizza oven to another top competitor be sure to check out T3's Sage The Smart Oven Pizzaiolo vs Ooni Koda 12 comparison feature.
This cracking newcomer from market leader Ooni is hot off the shelf and quite unique in the pantheon of pizza ovens because a) it’s larger than the majority of home pizza ovens, and b) it can be used with three types of fuel – untreated kindling, charcoal or propane gas. It’s also the first home pizza oven to be recommended by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, the international authority on Neapolitan pizza.
The first thing you notice with the Karu 16 is how big it is. After all, not many home pizza ovens come with a 16-inch cordierite base. This is an especially good thing even if your pizzas are the average 12 inches in diameter because the key selling factor here is space, lots of space to accommodate any pizza up to 16 inches in diameter. It means that if, like me, you’re hopeless at gauging the size of the pizza base as you go though the stretching process and your bases sometimes exceed 12 inches, you won’t have to start all over again. For its size (81 x 50 x 83cm), the Karu 16 isn’t too heavy to carry. It also comes with three sturdy folding legs, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to store away when not in use.
Unlike previous Ooni models, this one comes with a hinged glass ViewFrame door which keeps the heat in while allowing you to see how the pizza’s going. However, wood smoke does tend to blacken the glass over time so use warm soapy water or a wood burner-specific glass cleaner from time to time.
The Karu 16 also features a new airflow system that allows the user to adjust temperatures for different types of pizza – simply slide the ceiling vent and fiddle with the chimney baffle. It’s also the first Ooni to ship with a built-in (or rather built on) thermometer.
Using the Karu 16 with lump wood charcoal is more straightforward than with wood simply because you don’t have to keep loading the hopper quite as frequently. If you wish to use the gas method, you’ll need to spend another £80 for the optional burner (£80). This writer performed a basic Neapolitan test using charcoal and it was a resounding success. Although the Karu 16 wasn’t as convenient to use as the winning Sage reviewed above, it nevertheless produced an excellent pizza with a tall, wide, airy crust, a dark crispy base and perfectly cooked toppings.
Ooni produces a wide range of great outdoor pizza ovens – plus a huge selection of pizza accessories – but this is the best model to choose if you like your pizzas on the large side. Granted, it’s not cheap – at £699 it’s the same price as the more practical Sage Pizzaiolo – but it’s exceedingly well made, relatively easy to use straight out of the box and it produces excellent results.
You can pre-order the Ooni Karu 16 direct from Ooni
Of all the outdoor pizza ovens in this roundup, this versatile little piggy turned out to be the most simple to use and the most consistently reliable. The Firepod runs on Patio gas so it’s quick to heat up and easy to control. Unlike the other models here, Firepod recommends baking pizzas at around 350˚C (50˚ less than the norm). We tried their method using the built in temperature gauge as a guide and the result was the crispiest base of the lot – so crispy and stiff we were able to hold a slice at the crust end without the tip collapsing.
Another great thing about this model is that it can also be used as a fully-fledged gas barbecue; simply replace the pizza stone with the optional double-sided Griddle (£99) and lob on a few sausages or whip up a Full English. And if you like steak-on-the-stone, you’ve come to the right place because Firepod is now selling a shiny smooth lava stone that you put in the Firepod for forty minutes or so before placing it in the supplied bamboo board and taking it to the table – while wearing gloves, obviously. We tried some prime filet strips on the stone and it worked a treat, sizzling the meat to crispy rare perfection.
We also received a pink Himalayan Salt Block which has just been added to the Firepod website. Cooking on a salt block is a whole new experience because a) it imparts a naturally light saltiness to food, b) it’s full of natural minerals and c) it’s a great conversation starter. Salt blocks hold their heat extremely well and can reach temperatures three times that of a pizza stone. On the downside, they need to be handled carefully, stored in a dry place and heated up slowly. They’re also tricky to clean.
This writer has eaten more pizzas this past month than a team of computer geeks and the Firepod is the model I kept going back to. It’s practical and light, and portable enough to carry a short distance. It also happens to make a stonking 10-inch pizza and superb steak-on-the-stone. Rather handily, it comes with a pizza peel, a pair of heavy-duty fire gloves and a rubbery table protector. Oh, and it’s available in four natty colours.
If you’re a total beginner at making pizzas, then this is the model to plump for – it’s more versatile than others, really easy to use and, because its lid can be removed, it’s a doddle to clean.
The Roccbox is a top choice for those who like the idea of being able to bake pizzas using either gas or wood kindling (Gozney provides two different clip-on assemblies). It’s a heavyweight beast, mind, so it’s not something you’d want to take on a picnic, despite the inclusion of a heavy-duty carrying strap.
This model is so well insulated you can place a whole hand on its rubberised outer surface and you won’t need to pay a visit to A&E; a handy innovation for those with inquisitive kids or cats that like to jump on things.
We tested it using both gas and wood and gas was definitely best because it allowed for easier temperature control and we didn’t have to keep filling the hopper with wood. That said, both methods produced excellent results even though we couldn’t taste any difference between the two power sources.
If you’re concerned about surface heat and fancy the choice of both gas and wood, then consider plonking this one on the patio table. Just don’t consider taking it on a picnic or your arm may fall off.
The smaller brother to the Ooni Karu 12 above, the Ooni Fyra 12 offers a single-fuel pizza oven that can reach 500 °C in just 15 minutes.
The Fyra is powered by a wood pellet system, with a hopper once filled with pellets automatically feeding the oven to maintain an optimal cooking temperature. At 500 °C the Fyra can cook a pizza in just 60 seconds.
The thing that many will like this pizza oven for is its light weight (just 10kg) and ease of storage and transport. The oven has folding legs, meaning that it is easy to put in the car for a trip to the beach, for example.
To see how this top pizza oven compares to our number one choice, then be sure to check out T3's Ooni Fyra 12 vs Sage the Smart Oven Pizzaiolo comparison feature.
This homegrown model isn’t cheap but it’s arguably the closest thing on this page to an authentic restaurant-style wood fired oven, the heinously expensive Alfa model below notwithstanding. Constructed from clay and fibreglass, the igloo-shaped DeliVita is surprisingly light for its size though not enough for easy portability.
As with any wood-fired model, there’s a certain level of hassle involved in lighting and maintaining the flame. You will also need to brush the cinders aside to clear space for the pizza or the base will be a bit too ashy. But put in the time and attendance and this oven will produce top-rank results time after time.
Got seven grand knocking about? How about this gargantuan but undeniably elegant wood-fired model from Italian pizza oven specialist Alfa? Clad in what looks like polished concrete, this gorgeous hand-made hunk of artistic pizza-baking splendour is constructed out of double-thick fireclay, swathes of heat-resistant stainless steel and sheets of iron, taking its combined weight of oven and optional stand to a mammoth 93kgs. Not something for the decking, then.
The Venere’s oven floor dimensions measure in at a substantial 120 x 70cm, and that means it’s cavernous enough to swallow up to six 10-12-inch pizzas in one go. Wood fired pizza ovens generally take longer to heat up than their gas-powered rivals and they’re a bit of a faff to light and maintain. Also, the cinders from the fire tend to end up all over the main cooking surface and that means constant brushing while setting your hand alight. Thankfully, this one comes with a fire grate to contain the cinders and prevent them from collapsing all over the main baking surface.
Perhaps you’d need to be a pizza-loving millionaire to opt for one of these but, hey, home-fired pizzas are the new cordon bleu banquets.
Why you need a proper pizza oven
Forget using your home oven because its maximum temperature is usually just 250˚C and you need between 350˚ and 500˚ to properly bake a pizza like the pros. All of the pizza ovens reviewed here are easily capable of reaching the magic 400˚C and they’re all equipped with cordierite baking stones, which not only retain and emit intense heat but also absorb the moisture from the dough, turning it perfectly crispy and with a nicely blackened bottom to boot.
Best pizza ovens: gas or wood?
Wood is arguably the best bet if you want an authentic restaurant-type pizza. The downside is that wood-fired ovens take longer to heat up (sometimes hours) and require constant nurturing to keep the fire going. For that reason, many domestic oven manufacturers are now erring towards the use of propane gas as a fuel.
Some people may not even be able to tell the difference between a pizza cooked in the best wood-fired pizza oven and one cooked in the best gas-fired pizza oven. However, as with barbecues, one thing is for certain: gas pizza ovens heat up way more quickly – usually within 30 minutes or so – and the heat they emit is much more easily controlled.