If you keep up with the news, then the chances are good that you have seen one of the more prominent human interest stories to make headlines this year – the one that claims most millennials would rather add a wood fire pizza oven to their homes than an inground swimming pool.
That millennials tend to value experiences over material possessions is well known. In fact, it’s not uncommon for them to forfeit home ownership altogether, in order to travel and experience other cultures. Thus, it’s really no great surprise to discover the degree to which they value the companionship of their friends and neighbors. It’s easy to picture them, scattered across the land on summer evenings, eating pizza cooked in a wood fire oven, with music and laughter floating on the air.
Some folks, however, young or not, are yet to be initiated. They’re the ones who say things like, “What makes a wood-fired oven so all-fired special? People talk about having one like it was the Holy Grail! An oven is an oven, right? You bake with it. In the yard.”
Those in the know snicker quietly to themselves. They are aware beyond the shadow of a doubt that all it takes is one bite … one bite! … of an otherwise perfectly ordinary pizza baked in a brick wood-fired oven to make believers for life. They know, because that’s all it took for them. One bite of extraordinary cheesy goodness on a crust that’s over the moon: crispy on the outside with a soft and tender interior, permeated throughout with the faintest hint of smoky earthiness. You’ve hooked ‘em.
When you mention it only took 90 seconds to bake (okay, depending upon your particular pizza oven, perhaps as long as three minutes) the expression on their faces tells you it’s time to reel them in. It’s easy to do, because nothing in the known world matches the light, crunchy texture or unsurpassable flavor of pizza cooked in a wood fired oven.
Exactly what is a Wood Fire Pizza Oven?
A wood-fired pizza oven is possibly the oldest conceptual oven in existence. It predates pizza (as we know it today) by several thousand years. It has a low-tech, intuitive design that consists of a floor, a flue, and a dome-shaped cavity. It is traditionally crafted from fire-proof materials such as brick, stone, clay or adobe, and can achieve interior temperatures as high as 1000° while the exterior remains cool to the touch.
A variety of kiln-dried woods, such as hickory, fruitwoods, maple, mesquite, oak, walnut and others are used as fuel, and each variety of wood lends its own subtle flavoring. Food such as bread, meat, vegetables, desserts and, of course, pizza, is cooked inside the dome, either beside the fire, on top of its scattered coals, or following the fire, via stored heat.
It takes about one and a half to two hours on average from starting a fire within the stove for it to absorb enough heat to be ready to cook. Pizza ovens typically retain enough heat for cooking for up to 24 hours. Many such ovens literally last for centuries. When the meal is cooked and the fire out, the oven’s residual heat may be used as a kiln to dry wood for future use.
Wood-fired Pizza Oven Buying Guide
It’s so predictable that it’s almost funny. Once someone new has been initiated into the wood-fired pizza fraternity, the first thing they want to know is where to get one of their own. Wood-fired ovens are not known for being cheap, and it is a testament to the quality of what the food they produce that so many people have stepped up to the plate and either bought one anyway, or made their own. As with most things, there are a number of ways to go about acquiring a pizza oven. The first thing that someone shopping for a pizza oven must do is to answer the following questions:
What size pizza oven do I need?
The size of one’s pizza oven depends largely upon the number of people it will typically feed, or in other words, the number of pizzas one might expect to cook per meal. In smaller ovens, cooking one pizza will lower the temperature slightly, whereas in larger ovens, two or more pizzas can be cooked simultaneously without any significant change in temperature. The larger the oven, the more wood it will burn.
Another parameter to consider when determining size is the space where the oven will be situated. Is it large enough? Budget is another consideration, as is style. The cost will differ depending upon whether a person buys a custom-made oven, makes his own, or purchases a portable wood fired pizza oven. Those who construct their own can match their design to their space and budget. Most manufacturers offer between three and five sizes on their pre-made models, and if you’re paying a contractor to have one custom-made, the sky’s the limit.
Are steel pizza ovens any good?
Steel pizza ovens are a practical alternative to a custom-made brick oven for all but the most discriminating of connoisseurs. In fact, the chances are great that the average person is likely to be unable to distinguish one from the other in a blind taste test. A steel pizza oven is, after all, still a wood fired pizza oven.
Furthermore, many steel ovens have the advantage of being a mobile pizza oven, which makes them an excellent option for those who don’t want to spend their child’s college fund having an oven built, who are renting or who plan to sell their home in the near future and want to take their oven with them when they go. Many experts will attest to their belief that a mobile wood fired pizza oven made of steel is the best value on the market.
Why are pizza ovens dome shaped?
The best pizza ovens are dome-shaped. There are those who will argue the merits of other shapes, particularly the barrel shape, but when it comes to capturing and radiating a fire’s heat evenly across the oven’s floor, nothing beats a dome. The key here is the word “evenly.” Other designs simply are not as good. Does that matter? It depends. It depends upon how discriminating the oven’s owner is about their pizza. It depends upon how much the non-dome oven’s performance varies from that of a dome’s. While some ovens with barrel-shaped vaults arguably offer more room for the money, ultimately, the consumer must decide what matters most to him, space, or quality.
Four Highly-rated Wood Fired Pizza Ovens That Won’t Break the Bank
ilFornino Basic Wood Fired Pizza Oven- High Grade Stainless Steel
The oven floor is made of 1” medium density firebricks, designed to hold the heat and largely responsible for the oven’s ability to easily reach temperatures in excess of 900°. Cooks can easily read the oven’s temperature via the built-in thermometer. A tray at the rear of the dome helps with ash removal. Weighing in at 270 pounds, this is a serious and functional wood-fired pizza oven (comments from past purchasers say it is built like a tank), but it comes on wheels and can be moved if desired.
EcoQue ECO-71008 Wood Fired Pizza Oven and Smoker with Cover
Both ovens are lined with heavy-duty stainless steel to provide even heat refraction. The upper (smoker) oven circulates the smoke as it roasts, preventing the need to purchase a separate smoking unit. The lower (pizza) oven has a brick hearth and is sealed to prevent the circulation of excess smoke or ashes. If these twin ovens alone weren’t reason enough to celebrate, fire making is a breeze in the unit’s slide out firebox. Simply pull it out, make a fire and push it in!
Once inserted, the firebox is airtight, providing even, economical heating. There are luminous thermometers provided for each oven so the cook can monitor both at once. The EcoQue comes on large and sturdy wheels, and has retractable handles to help move the unit from location to location. Included is a custom-fitted cover to protect it from the elements when not in use. It weighs 357 pounds.
Mobile/Portable Wood Fired Pizza Oven “Maximus”
The oven’s inner lining is of stainless steel, which provides even heat distribution, and the outer wall is aluminum. Between them is a layer of ceramic insulation. Not only does its unique construction make the Maximus light in weight, but it also enables it to reach ideal cooking temperatures in half an hour, compared to three to four times that long for brick and stone models. Anyone cooking with this oven can make more than 30 12” pizzas per hour.
Outdoor Pizza Oven, Wood Fired, Insulated, w/ Brick Arch & Chimney
Enclose it with stone, and it is doubtful anyone would ever know it wasn’t a custom creation. The oven is well-insulated and has a stainless steel chimney for the homeowner’s peace of mind and the ultimate in fire safety. The oven’s core is crafted from terracotta clay that was fired at temps far beyond its maximum recommended 950°, ensuring its long and productive life. There is also an included temperature gauge.
Our Pizza Oven Recommendations
So, there you have it, four of the best wood-fired pizza ovens on Amazon.com. Which one should you buy? That’s a tough question, for all are worthy competitors. The ilFornino Basic Wood Fired Pizza Oven gets high marks for construction and ease of use. It readily achieves cooking temperatures and is portable. Click Here To Check This One Out
The EcoQue ECO-71008 Wood Fired Pizza Oven and Smoker with Cover is a fantastic deal because it is essentially two appliances in one: a wood-fired pizza oven and smoker, too.
The clear benefit of the Mobile/Portable Wood Fired Pizza Oven “Maximus” is its ease of portability and the speed at which it heats up and cools down. If you wanted a pizza oven to take camping, or the lake for the weekend, this might be the one.
Finally, for an enduring, elegant and permanent addition to your home, one that performs as well as it looks, you need search no further than the Outdoor Pizza Oven, Wood Fired, Insulated, w/ Brick Arch & Chimney. It’s got you (and your pizza) covered.