Best pizza oven 2020: enjoy the crisp and crunch of a freshly-baked pizza with the best outdoor pizza ovens

Make your autumnal al fresco bash go just like mama used to make it

Best outdoor pizza ovens 2019
(Image credit: Gozney)

Despite the summer coming to a close, everyday is still pizza time – and we don’t mean pre-made off-the-shelf guff you stick in your oven. We’re talking the real deal, my dudes: the kind of pizzas you make and bake yourself using the best pizza oven – like this bunch of fine contenders. They're for use outdoors which might not feel terribly seasonal but don't worry – you can run straight back inside to eat them. Another bonus when buying an outdoor pizza oven in winter is that you're likely to find them going cheaper. Watch out for Cyber Monday deals that hit your eye, like a big pizza pie.

Best pizza ovens: the prep sequence

Before we divulge all the good things about home made pizza making, we should forewarn you that it’s quite an art and there’s a steep learning curve involved, not with the actual baking (that’s the easy part) but the preparation.

Firstly, you’ll need the right type of flour – Italian-type 00 is the one to go for – and some spring water. The next step is the kneading process (strictly no rolling pins here guys, so prepare to dig those knuckles in). Now you’ve managed to create a soft, pliable dough, it’s time to start the stretching process and we can’t stress how important this stage is. Words alone cannot illustrate the process of stretching so head over to YouTube and study the hands of the pros.

What you’re looking for is an almost gossamer thin centre and about quarter to half an inch of crust that hasn’t been pinched into a peak. Indeed, the crust needs to be nicely rounded or the resulting pizza will just look rank and make everyone go home disappointed. 

If we were you, we’d cut out the dough making malarky and opt for pre-made frozen pizza dough from the likes of Northern Dough or Fresh Range Pizza Dough. Yes, you’ll still need to stretch it yourself but you’ll be saving a lot of extra hassle (and mess) by cutting out the prepping part.

Now you’ve sorted the dough, it’s time to think about toppings. Every pizza requires a thin film of tomato passata and one of our faves is Pizza Express tinned Passata, which includes basil and cracked black pepper. Mozzarella is another crucial ingredient – we’d recommend fresh mozzarella broken off into thumb sized chunks and sprinkled sparingly over the base. What you bung on next is down to personal taste but capers, anchovies, jalapeño pepper, pepperoni and chorizo are all fine ingredients that give pizzas real zing.

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 400˚ 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. 

Most people may not tell the difference between a wood-fired pizza and a gas-fired one, but one thing’s for certain, gas pizza ovens heat up more quickly (usually within 30 minutes or so) and the heat they emit is much more easily controlled.

Keep your eye on the ball

The only caveat with baking pizzas using a dedicated oven is that you really need to keep a constant vigilance and turn the pizza frequently because it takes between 90 and 100 seconds to bake. Leave it for a few seconds longer and you’ll be pulling out a blackened mass that resembles a council drain cover.

Now you know the basic ins and outs of home pizza baking, why not dip in and take your pick from our lovingly curated list of top-quality domestic pizza ovens. Believe us, your friends will be rounding a jiffy.

Best outdoor pizza ovens, in order

best pizza oven 2019: Firepod

(Image credit: Firepod)

1. Firepod

The best all-round multi-function pizza oven

Fuel: Gas
Baking surface: 33 x 33cm
Maximum temp: 450˚C
Max pizza dimensions: 12 inches
Weight: 12kgs
Reasons to buy
+Makes the crispiest crust+Can also be used as a barbecue+Easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-Not especially cheap

• Buy the Firepod directly from Firepod

Of all the outdoor pizza ovens in this roundup, this 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 your pizzas at around 350˚C (50˚ less than the norm). We tried their method and the result was the crispiest base of the lot – so crispy and stiff we were able to hold a slice at the crust without the tip collapsing.

Another great thing about this model is that it can also be used as a fully-fledged gas barbecue; just slap on the optional Griddle Set (£99) and lob on a few sausages. According to Firepod, a lava stone and Himalayan salt stone for steak-on-the-stone nosh-ups are also on the horizon.

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, portable and it makes a stonking 10-inch pizza. What’s more, it also 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. Top choice.

best pizza oven 2019: Ooni Koda

(Image credit: Ooni)

2. Ooni Koda

The best budget choice for lightweight portability

Fuel: Gas
Baking surface: 33.6 x 34cm
Maximum temp: 500˚C
Max pizza dimensions: 12 inches
Weight: 9.25kgs
Reasons to buy
+Produces an exceptional pizza+Very easy to store+Light enough for a picnic
Reasons to avoid
-Crust will burn if you're not careful

• Buy Ooni Koda at Amazon

The gas-fired Ooni Koda wins a raft of points for design, low weight and portability. Simply unfold its three legs, stick it on a table, connect it to a standard propane gas bottle and – three, two, one, bake.

The Koda doesn’t come with a built-in thermometer so you may wish to purchase its optional Infrared Thermometer with integral laser beam for accurate stone temperature readings. Once the temperature has reached around 400˚C, it’s time to load the stone. However, you will need to turn the pizza a few times during its 90-second cooking sequence and keep an eye on the crust at the rear where the flame is at its hottest.

If you don’t fancy splashing out on a product you might use only a few times a year, then this is the one get. It makes exceptional pizzas with little fuss and is far and away the easiest model on this page to store away or take on holiday.

best pizza oven 2019: gozney roccbox

(Image credit: Gozney)

3. Gozney Roccbox

The best dual-fuel option

Fuel: Gas and wood
Baking surface: 31.5 x 34cm
Maximum temp: 500˚C
Max pizza dimensions: 12 inches
Weight: 20kgs
Reasons to buy
+Runs on gas or wood+Great performer+Excellent insulation
Reasons to avoid
-Very heavy-Not cheap

• Buy Gozney Roccbox directly from Gozney

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.

best pizza oven 2019: DeliVita

(Image credit: DeliVita)

4. DeliVita

Pro-style pizza oven for wood-fired fans

Fuel: Wood
Baking surface: 34 x 34cm
Maximum temp: 500˚C
Max pizza dimensions: 12 inches
Weight: 30kgs
Reasons to buy
+Authentic smoky flavour
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Requires constant fire tending

• Buy the DeliVita from The Pizza Oven Shop

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.

best pizza oven 2019: Alfa Venere

(Image credit: Alfa)

5. Alfa Venere

Best choice for the exceedingly well heeled

Fuel: Wood
Baking surface: 120 x 70cm
Maximum temp: 400˚C
Max pizza dimensions: 12 inches (up to six)
Weight: 93.4kgs
Reasons to buy
+Can bake six pizzas at a time+Stunning looks
Reasons to avoid
-Extraordinarily expensive-Huge and heavy

• Buy Alfa Venere from Luxury Outdoor Living

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.