Are pizza ovens worth it?

Are pizza ovens any good?

In short, pizza ovens can be fantastic, but not all pizza ovens are made equal. The best ones cook pizza at extremely high temperatures, around 450C/900F!

Authentic Neapolitan Pizza
Here’s one I made earlier – in my Ooni pizza oven

This high temperature creates the amazing taste and texture of an authentic Italian style pizza. What’s more, pizza ovens can also cook pizza in just 60 seconds!

It’s true that good pizza can be made in a regular oven. But traditional Neapolitan style pizza can only be made in a pizza oven. Traditioanlly, a large brick wood fired oven would be used.

Wood fired oven for Neapolitan pizza
A traditional wood fired pizza oven

Extreme heat and open flames help to produce the unique flavour and texture of a Neapolitan pizza. For anyone looking to replicate this style of pizza, then a pizza oven is more than good. It’s a necessity!

Luckily, there are a wide range of more affordable pizza ovens available today, such as the Ooni pizza ovens. You no longer need the space, time, and money to construct a huge, traditional brick wood fired oven.

Are pizza ovens any good?
The Ooni Fyra – a portable woodfired oven

The one disclaimer I feel I should make here is that you really need to make your own dough. Store bought bases cannot be cooked in a pizza oven. They are designed to be cooked in a regular oven, at lower temperatures. Cooking them in a pizza oven would lead to a crispy burnt mess!

Making dough for a pizza oven
Making your own dough is probably easier than you think – and it’s very rewarding!

Whilst you can use store bought dough, I would highly recommend making your own dough. It really isn’t that difficult and you don’t need any special equipment. It’s much easier than most people think!

Fresh pizza dough made to a Neapolitan recipe generally gets the best results in a pizza oven.

Shaping Dough Ball for pizza oven
A dough ball I made in my Neapolitan pizza school series

Check out my pizza school series here to learn everything you need to know about making Neapolitan pizza dough for the first time. As well as a clear written recipe with instructions, I have also provided detailed videos about every step.

Why are pizza ovens better?

Generally speaking, pizza ovens are better because they can replicate an authentic Italian Neapolitan pizza. This is the style of pizza you probably think of when you think of Italy.

Pizza fresh from pizza oven
Here’s a pizza I cooked in my Ooni pizza oven – I got pizza boxes to impress the guests (and to save washing up!)

This style of pizza would traditionally be cooked in a huge brick wood fired oven. They cook pizza at around 450C/900F in as little as 60 seconds!

The high temperature they produce, along with the open flames, provide the perfect environment for cooking pizza. A Neapolitan pizza is delicate. It’s soft yet crispy at the same time. This is largely because it cooks so quickly.

Why are pizza ovens better?
Inside my Ooni pizza oven

The extreme heat also provides a lot of “oven spring” in the dough. This is what produces the light and airy, bubbly crusts that rise up around the outside of the pizza. A Neapolitan pizza really is a delight to the senses.

Neapolitan pizza crust
Exceptionally airy crusts on a pizza I cooked in my Ooni

The fact that the pizza cooks in just 60-90 seconds is also a bonus. It makes pizza parties much easier!

At the end of the day, pizza ovens are not neccessarily better at making pizza, that comes down to personal preference. But, they are better at making Neapolitan style pizza.

Neapolitan style pizza out of the pizza oven
True Neapolitan style pizza can only be made in a pizza oven

In fact, they are the only way to make Neapolitan style pizza, as a regular oven does not produce open flames and cannot reach the same tempertures.

Luckily, there are plenty of more affordable pizza ovens on the market today. The Ooni pizza ovens are a great example. Although they are much smaller than a traditional wood fired oven, they cook pizza in much the same way.

How long do you cook a pizza in a pizza oven?

In a pizza oven, pizza cooks in as little as 60 seconds! That’s right, just a minute! All the best pizza ovens are capable of cooking Neapolitan style pizza in just 60-90 seconds.

Cooking Neapolitan pizza in wood fired oven
Inside my Ooni pizza oven – open flames and an extremely hot stone, allows pizza to be cooked in as little as 60 seconds!

60-90 seconds is the recommended time taken to cook a Neapolitan pizza. Many people think this is because the goal is to make pizza as quick as possible. Whilst this may be a nice benefit, it’s not the only reason that Neapolitan pizza is cooked so quickly.

When a pizza is cooked at these high temperatures for such a short time, it achieves a couple of things. Firstly, the extreme heat along with the open flames creates a delicate (puffy and airy) and well-risen crust with some light charring on it. This leads to a wonderful taste and texture.

Secondly, because the pizza is cooked so quickly, it doesn’t allow enough time for the base to burn or to go crispy. Contrary to what many people beleive, a Neapolitan pizza shouldn’t have a crispy base. It should have crispy crusts but with a soft and floppy base.

Neapolitan pizza slice being folded
This picture shows how soft Neapolitan pizza can be – cooked in my Ooni pizza oven

It is this combination of being both crispy and soft at the same time which is unique to the Neapolitan pizza. It makes for a wonderfully light pizza that is very easy to eat. But at the same time it still retains the crispy texture and slightly smokey flavour in the crusts.

And that’s why a good pizza oven cooks pizza in just 60-90 seconds!

The pizza oven I use

I use a pizza oven from a company called Ooni. They offer a wide range of pizza ovens for different needs. But crucially, all of them are designed to cook authentic Neapolitan style pizza. They reach temperatures of 450C/900F and can cook pizza in as little as 60 seconds!

I think it’s worth mentioning that I do receive comission from Ooni on the sales from this website. But, I wouldn’t recommend them if I didn’t believe in their products. Almost every pizza I’ve made on this website was cooked in my own Ooni pizza oven that I bought with my own money. What’s more, any money I make from sales helps me to keep this site going.

Shaped and stretched Neapolitan pizza
I think the pizzas cooked in the Ooni pizza ovens speak for themselves

Every Ooni pizza oven is a standalone oven which has been designed from the ground up to cook pizza. Most of them are also portable, allowing you to make pizza anywhere! They also offer gas models which make the cooking even easier.

Large gas pizza oven
The Koda 16, a large gas powered Ooni pizza oven

There are of course other brands of pizza oven out there, and I’m sure many of them are excellent. However, there are also some bad ones out there too.

Ooni has been making pizza ovens for quite a while now and I’ve used them since the beginning. I actually still have one of their early models and it still works great after all these years. And thousands of pizzas later!

Flames cleaning pizza stone
My old Ooni pizza oven that still works great!

But what I like about the company is that they’ve stuck to their ethos of making high quality, affordable pizza ovens. With each new pizza oven they bring out, they are making incremental improvements on the last. They listen to feedback from their customers and they continue to improve and innovate.

Which type of oven is best for pizza?

A pizza oven is undoubtably the best oven for pizza if you’re looking to make authentic Italian Neapolitan style pizza.

There are 2 basic types of pizza oven:

Solid fuel vs gas pizza ovens

The best one for you will depend on what you want from your pizza oven. For the most authentic option, solid fuel is the way to go. But for ease of use, gas is probably the best option for you.

Gas powered pizza oven
The gas powered Ooni Koda is a great option for ease of use

When it comes down to the cost, solid fuel options tend to fare better here. Gas models tend to be more expensive. In addition, you’ll need to buy a gas cylinder to go with it.

Gas cylinder for pizza oven
With a gas pizza oven you’ll need to get a gas cylinder – though they’re fairly easy to get hold of

Of course, with solid fuel you still need to buy the wood, pellets, or charcoal though these tend to be quite good value.

Portability is the other factor that is worth considering. The solid fuel models tend to be more portable since you don’t have a huge cyclinder to transport.

Ooni Karu multi-fuel pizza oven
The Ooni Karu – this solid fuel pizza oven is a winner when it comes to authenticity and portability

If your pizza oven is just staying in your garden then portability probably isn’t a big deal. But if you intend on taking it to parties or going camping with it then it’s a deal breaker!

Why are pizza ovens so expensive?

Pizza ovens are quite expensive, in part, because they have to be made from materials that can withstand extreme heat. Also, the design has to be very carefully considered to ensure proper cooking of the pizza.

A traditional wood fired oven is made from bricks, clay, and stone. They are very heavy and they take a long time to construct. Although they are excellent at cooking pizza, they are not practical or affordable for most people.

Neapolitan pizza being loaded into large wood fired oven
Traditional wood fired ovens are huge and expensive to construct

Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable options on the market today. The cost can be compared to that of a decent barbeque. Although the two are very different.

A pizza oven tends to have a more complex design when compared to a basic barbeque. Pizza ovens that use solid fuel (wood or charcoal), need a hopper at the back for the fuel and a chimney at the front for the flames.

Pizza cooking in pizza oven
The careful design of a pizza oven produced flames that lick over the pizza

This chimney helps to create the draw, producing extremely high temperatures (500C/950F), and directs the flames across the pizza.

Additionally, a pizza oven has a stone on which the pizza cooks. These stones are usually made of ceramic and are capable of comfortably reaching temperatures of over 500C/950F!

Pizza being removed from pizza oven
The stone inside an Ooni pizza oven gets extremely hot – just like in a traditional brick oven

Many of these wood fired pizza ovens are also designed to be very portable. Usually the chimney can be removed and the legs can be folded away. Design elements like this make them more expensive but much more practical.

In terms of durability, the best pizza ovens can last years, if not decades! I’ve still got one of the first Ooni pizza ovens ever made (back when they were called Unni) and it still works like a charm!

Unni pizza oven
This is my old Ooni (Unni) pizza oven which is still going strong!

After many years and thousands of pizzas later, I can certainly vouch for the value for money that a good quality pizza oven offers.

How much does a good pizza oven cost?

For a great pizza oven to use at home, prices start at around $300. At this price you’re getting an oven that will replicate the very best authentic Italian, Neapolitan style pizza. They will allow you to cook pizza in as little as 60 seconds and should last years, if not decades.

Pesto pizza slice
Neapolitan style pizza takes some beating!

The two pizza ovens that I recommend from the Ooni range the most are either the Ooni Fyra or the Ooni Koda. The Fyra is the perfect option for those that are looking for the most authentic option as it uses wood as fuel. It’s also the most affordable model.

Pizza oven cost
The Ooni Fyra – an affordable, authentic, and portable pizza oven

The Ooni Fyra actually uses wood pellets which are so easy to use, relatively inexpensive, and easy to get hold of. Another benefit of the Fyra is that it is very portable. It folds down and can be carried anywhere.

For those that are looking for the most ease of use, the Koda is an excellent option. Like a gas barbeque, it connects to a large gas cylinder. This offers perfect and consistent temperature control.

The Ooni Koda gas pizza oven
The Koda pizza oven – it connects to a gas cyclinder, offering great ease of use

As well as making the cooking as easy as possible, it also makes pizza parties much more of a breeze. Not having to worry about the fire means you can keep cooking pizza all night long! Or until you run out of dough!

The Ooni Koda also comes in 2 different sizes. There’s the regular sized Koda 12 (since it’s 12 inches in size), which is perfect for cooking 10-11 inch pizzas. Then there’s the Koda 16 (16 inches in size), which can cook any size up to a 16 inch pizza.

Ooni Koda pizza oven
The Ooni Koda 16 – it’s quite a large pizza oven but it’s lightweight

There are other Ooni pizza ovens too, such as the multi-fuel Karu. If you’re looking to be able to use small pieces of wood or even charcoal in the oven then the Ooni Karu is the best option. It offers great flexibilty and room for experimentation.

Ooni Karu pizza oven
The Ooni Karu – it’s an extremely versatile pizza oven

There are other brands out there as well which offer similar pizza ovens at similar price points. Having never used any others, I can’t vouch for their quality. Though I’m sure many of them are also great.

I would also steer clear of pizza ovens that are very cheap. There are some poor designs out there which either don’t last or don’t cook pizza well. Or both!

Are BBQ pizza ovens any good?

Many people looking for cheaper options to pizza ovens stumble across the BBQ top pizza ovens. I know I did. But I wouldn’t recommend them, and here’s why.

Are bbq pizza ovens any good?
The pizza ovens which sit on BBQs may be cheap but I wouldn’t recommend them

The BBQ models do not encourage flames to travel over the top of the pizza, as they wood in a traditional pizza oven. Generally, the stone also doesn’t get anywhere near hot enough. After all, they are designed to be used on BBQs and not pizza ovens which reach 500C/950F!

The problem this causes is that the top of the pizza cooks quicker than the base. So if you remove the pizza when the top is cooked, the dough will probably be raw!

BBQ pizza oven
Here you can see how much quicker the top is cooking than the base

Additionally, the pizza takes much longer to cook. It cannot cook in 60-90 seconds as with a traditional pizza oven. As well as the inconvenience, this also means that the base will be much crispier and drier than a Neapolitan base.

I have also ended up with pizza that looks good until you turn it over. Then the base is completely black. Even the dough that isn’t burnt can taste like soot. Not nice.

Essentially, it will produce pizza that is vastly different to traditional Italian style pizza. So don’t think of this as a replacement to a pizza oven, because it isn’t. It doesn’t come close.

Gas pizza oven
A BBQ topped is no replacement for a pizza oven that produces huge flames to cook the pizza

What these ovens doprovide is a way to cook pizza on a BBQ, and that’s it. That’s not to say they can’t make nice pizza but in my opinion they are much more trouble than they’re worth.

If you find the pizza ovens are too expensive then I would just use a regular home oven. You can still make great pizza in a normal oven, it just won’t be Neapolitan. But that’s fine, not all pizza has to be Neapolitan!

Pizza cooked in a domestic oven
This was a pizza I made in a regular domestic oven – it’s not Neapolitan but it was still delicious!

This is how I started out, making pizza in a normal oven. After some practice, I was making some really great pizzas! But that was before I tried a pizza made in my friends Ooni pizza oven. Then I just had to have one!

Final thoughts on whether pizza ovens are worth it…

In my opinion, yes! Pizza ovens are absiolutely worth the cost and effort. Like most people I love great food and for me, Neapolitan style pizza made in a pizza oven is one of the best taste and texture sensations there is!

Pizza made in a pizza oven
A pizza made in my Ooni pizza oven – it takes some beating!

You don’t need to find someone to build you an expensive brick oven (unless you want to of course). You can buy one of the more affordable pizza ovens such as the Ooni models. They work incredibly well. I’ve had many people tell me that my pizza was better than the pizza they had in Italy!

Pizza parties are also great fun. Being able to cook pizzas in just 90 seconds means you can feed a decent number of people in a relatively short time. And everyone gets to enjoy your pizza with you. (Although sharing can be a challenge.)

It’s like a BBQ but everyone eats delicious homemade pizza. What’s not to love about that?!

Pizza party with pizza oven
Me doing a pizza party!

If you’re still unsure whether it’s worth it then there’s nothing wrong with cooking homemade pizza in a regular oven. Keep practicing and your pizzas will get better and better. Then one day you may decide to take the plunge!

Now I’m off to try some delicious pizza!

Tom Rothwell from My Pizza Corner eating homemade pizza

About Me

I’m Tom Rothwell and I’m super passionate about all kinds of homemade pizza! In the last few years I've been on a quest to find the perfect pizza. Now I'm sharing what I've found out with the world!

Ooni Pizza Ovens
Tom Rothwell's Ooni pizza oven

My Pizza Oven

I often get asked what type of oven I use for my pizzas. Well, I use a pizza oven made by a company called Ooni.

The range of pizza ovens that Ooni offers is just brilliant. They cover all bases, and all price points. There's affordable and portable models such as the Fyra 12 Pizza Oven and then there's state-of-the-art models such as the Karu 16 Pizza Oven pictured below.

In all honesty, I would say that the oven makes a huge difference. If you're looking to make authentic Italian pizza, a pizza oven is a must.

Pizza cooked in Ooni pizza oven

By clicking the link below and purchasing from Ooni, you would be supporting this website. I've been using their ovens for a long time now and I wouldn't recommend them if I didn't believe in their products.

Time to make some amazing pizza!

K16 - US
Ooni Koda 16