Is the Best Commercial Pizza Oven Wood-Fired or Convection? icon-account icon-glass
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Is the Best Commercial Pizza Oven Wood-Fired or Convection?

Posted by Benny Traub on

Whether you own a cafe, restaurant, bakery or want to break into the street food scene, a commercial pizza oven is a great way to boost your business.

Pizza is one of America’s favorite foods and the demand for authentic, delicious Italian-style pizza is growing. Today’s discerning diners expect every pizza they eat to be better than the one before. The key to a superior pizza is a superior pizza oven.

There are many types of commercial pizza ovens available, wood-fired, convection, deck, and conveyor. Today we’re going to go through a few key questions and help you figure out which commercial pizza oven is the best choice for you.

What Style of Pizza Do You want to Make?

a variety of pizzas laid out on a table

What style of pizza do you intend to serve your customers? Deep-dish, calzone, Neapolitan or New York-style slices? There are many different types of pizza and each one is suited to a different type of oven.

Thicker pizzas are better suited to an ordinary commercial electric convection oven. Convection ovens feature a fan that circulates hot air around the cooking chamber so it reaches all sides of the pizza at the same time.

Convection ovens have racks so you can cook multiple pizzas at the same time. However, pizza cooks relatively slowly in a convection oven. These ovens aren't capable of reaching temperatures high enough to cook authentic Neapolitan style pizza.

If you want to offer a fast, casual dining experience, like New York-style pizzerias, a gas oven with a rotating deck is a good option. These ovens are capable of cooking 100 or so pizzas in an hour. As the deck rotates, you can be sure your all your pizzas will get an even bake.

A wood-fired pizza oven is the only way to achieve the iconic crisp base and bubbly, charred crust of a Neapolitan pizza. You can’t fake the smoky taste achieved when cooking with fire. It takes more work to get a wood-fired oven up to optimum temperature but you can fire several pizzas at once for around 90 seconds each.

How Much Space Do You Have?

The shape and layout of your kitchen have a huge impact on its efficiency. Only a kitchen that runs smoothly can keep up with the demands of a lunch-hour rush. Your oven should work with your kitchen’s layout without causing too much disruption to your kitchen staff’s routine.

If you have a small space available you may be limited to a convection oven. Small convection ovens can sit on top of a counter. If you have a tall but narrow space available, consider a deck oven but ensure you have enough height clearance.

If you have a large space to play with, you can choose between a conveyor or brick pizza oven. Conveyor ovens are usually gas-powered and feature a motorized conveyor belt. Uncooked food goes in one end of the oven and comes out the other cooked.

These ovens don’t reach temperatures as high as brick ovens and cook food more slowly. They also lack versatility. With a conveyor oven set at one temperature, you can only cook one type of dish at a time.

Wood-fired brick ovens are available in a huge range of sizes. The largest brick ovens can reach from floor to ceiling and take up a great deal of space. But brick ovens can reach incredibly high temperatures.

Thanks to their ancient dome-design, brick ovens cook food through radiant heat. Heat is generated by a wood fire but absorbed by the oven itself. Food cooks from all sides at once and different parts of the oven can maintain different temperatures. This means its possible to cook many dishes at the same time.

A few more things to consider regarding your oven’s size and shape:

  • Can the floor of your building hold the weight of your oven?
  • Are wood-burning ovens allowed in your building?
  • If so, can you store wood on site?
  • Do you want your oven to be a focal point?
  • Do you have the proper ventilation for a wood-burning oven?

How Much Do You Want to Spend?

smiling chef standing in restaurant kitchen

Convection Ovens

A convection oven is the most affordable choice. You can purchase a commercial convection oven, suitable for cooking pizza, for between $1,000 and $10,000. The larger the oven, the greater the cost. Gas convection ovens are usually cheaper than electric ones but are not as efficient and can only operate at one temperature

Deck Ovens

Deck ovens are a little more expensive than convection ovens. Prices range from around $5,000 to $30,000. Deck ovens have racks and it’s possible to control the temperature in different parts of the oven. This means you can cook multiple dishes at the same time. You can add more racks as your business grows as deck ovens have a long lifespan.

Conveyor Ovens

Conveyor ovens cost around the same as deck ovens. These ovens operate at one temperature and cook food relatively slowly. They also have a lot of moving parts which means they’re prone to mechanical issues.

Brick Ovens

Custom-built brick pizza ovens can be very expensive. The price will depend on the size and the contractor. There are many companies offering custom brick pizza ovens in a range of styles and finishes. All with hefty price tags. But there is an affordable way to make authentic Neapolitan pizza.

Forward-thinking companies now offer wood-fired pizza oven kits for commercial use. These kits are available from as little as $3,100 and can even be fitted into a trailer for a mobile pizza business.

The Benefits of a Wood Fired Pizza Oven Kit

large brick wood-fired pizza oven

The only way to cook authentic Neapolitan pizza is with a wood-fired oven. Besides supreme taste, there are many benefits to purchasing a wood-fired pizza oven kit.

  • The heating element of a brick oven is the oven itself. Once the oven is hot it will remain so for a very long time, saving on fuel.
  • Operating a wood-fired oven takes a lot more skill than operating an electric oven. Cooking with fire is an art and your staff will become better, more intuitive chefs as a result!
  • Pizza cooks very quickly in a wood-fired oven. You can cook many pizzas in a short span of time.
  • Build-it-yourself pizza oven kits are surprisingly affordable. These kits can be built into a trailer that can be turned into a mobile pizza business. A wood-fired pizza oven doesn’t need a power source!

So is the best commercial pizza oven wood-fired or convection? We’ve made our preference clear but the best oven for you is the one that best suits your needs. Shop around, ask a lot of questions and prepare to launch your own successful pizzeria!

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