Residential pizza ovens are now as easy to buy and install as garden furniture or a BBQ so we can all cook authentic Neapolitan-style pizza at home. These pizza ovens reach temperatures well above your standard kitchen oven. And it’s this intense heat that gives Italian stone-baked pizza its airy, moist base and crisp, charred crust.
There are dozens of affordable, efficient and beautifully-designed residential pizza ovens on the market. Here are a few questions to help you choose the perfect pizza oven for your home.
1) Do You Want to Cook Pizza Inside or Outside?
The most important question to ask yourself when choosing a pizza oven is “inside or outside?” Do you want to cook delicious pizzas in the comfort of your kitchen or do you want the freedom of cooking with fire in your backyard?
Installing a wood-burning pizza oven in your kitchen means you can use it all year round, even in the dead of winter. But indoor pizza ovens often have to be custom built to fit the space in your home. This makes them an expensive option. You also have to ensure your oven is properly ventilated, another big space stealer. You can go for a gas or electric oven, of course. But where’s the fun in that!
Outdoor pizza ovens are easier to install and can be purchased as modular kits. Providing you’re able to do some basic building work (or know someone who is!) you can build the oven yourself. This cuts out the need for a contractor which will save you a lot of money.
The Best Outdoor Pizza Ovens
The best outdoor pizza ovens are undoubtedly Neapolitan-style brick ovens. These dome-shaped ovens were first introduced by the Ancient Greeks to bake bread. Ancient civilizations recognized the most efficient way to cook food was using a clay or brick oven, heated by a wood fire. The fire heated the dome of the oven to such a high temperature that the oven walls became its own heat source. Using radiant heat, traditional ovens are efficient, retain heat for a long time and can cook a pizza in 90 seconds!
2) What Sort of Fuel Do You Prefer?
Residential pizza ovens are fuelled by electricity, gas or wood. The kind of fuel you choose will affect your oven’s efficiency, design, and impact on the environment. And let’s not forget taste!
An electric pizza oven is a safe choice for indoors. Electric convection ovens feature a fan that circulates hot air around your oven. A good quality electric oven will heat up quickly but does not retain heat once switched off.
Gas ovens can reach cooking temperature even faster than electric ones but again, will not retain heat. Neither gas nor electric ovens have any impact on flavor.
Wood-fired ovens take a long time to heat up but do retain heat. They also offer superior flavor. For a true Italian style pizza with a crisp base and charred crust, there is no alternative to a wood-fired oven.
Wood-fired ovens infuse your food with a smoky taste that cannot be replicated in a gas or electric model. And because these ovens don’t require access to gas or electricity, you can install one anywhere you like!
The Most Environmentally-Friendly Pizza Ovens
Cooking accounts for only 4.5 percent of household energy use in the U.S. But when the aim is to reduce our carbon footprint, every little bit helps.
Wood-burning ovens can have a greater impact on the environment than gas or electric ovens. The issue is the smoke.
A 2016 study conducted in São Paolo, Brazil found that the city’s love of wood-fired pizza and meat was contributing to alarming levels of deforestation and air pollution. However, most modern wood-burning ovens are fitted with particle filters that stop the most harmful emissions polluting the air.
You can also choose to purchase energy-efficient and eco-friendly wood. Wood-burning ovens are fuelled by a renewable energy source.
Both electric and gas ovens rely on fossil fuels. Gas ovens are the most efficient as they provide instant heat, unlike electric ovens that can take a long time to heat up. As a result, the most environmentally-friendly pizza ovens are those that use a combination of gas and wood. These dual fuel source ovens use less wood and create less smoke but still gives the pizza a smoky taste and crisp yet light texture.
3) How Much Space do you Have for a Residential Pizza Oven?
Size and space are two major considerations when choosing a residential pizza oven. The amount of food you intend you cook will determine the size of oven you need.
If you will mostly be cooking for yourself and one other person, the smallest sized oven will suffice. If you have huge backyard pizza parties in mind, the bigger your pizza oven, the better! A residential pizza oven is a long-term investment so consider how your needs might change over the next decade or so.
If you’ve chosen to buy an indoor pizza oven, you need to consider the space you have available. The oven has to fit comfortably with room to move around it and there must be enough space to install a chimney.
If you’ve chosen an outdoor pizza oven, space isn’t as much of an issue. Providing you can easily access your oven from your kitchen and your dining area, you can put an outdoor oven wherever you like! Patios and decks are great for pizza ovens as they offer a solid, flat foundation close to the house.
The Best Small Wood-Fired Pizza Ovens
Pizza baked in a small wood-fired pizza oven will taste far superior to anything baked in a gas or electric equivalent. These small ovens can accommodate one pizza at a time. When you consider it takes only 1.5 to 3 minutes to cook a pizza, that doesn’t seem so bad!
Small wood-fired pizza ovens come in a huge variety of shapes and materials. Stainless steel ovens with a stone floor are popular and often fuelled by a mixture of propane gas and wood. These ovens are largely portable and can be purchased for less than $1,000. This article from Serious Eats outlines three of the best.
For our money, there’s only one style of wood-fired pizza oven worth investing in, a traditional Neapolitan oven. These dome-shaped brick ovens use a design that’s been tried and tested over centuries. Available already-assembled or as oven kits you can build yourself, Neapolitan pizza ovens are as attractive as they are efficient. A small oven may set you back around $1,500 but could last you a lifetime with no maintenance needed.
The perfect residential pizza oven is the one that suits your needs best. Authentic Italian pizza baked at home is only one delivery away!