So you’ve decided to build your own pizza oven with one of the many outdoor pizza oven kits?
Then your next question is likely “where do I begin?”, well we’ve put this very sharp and informative guide together, to arm you with all the necessary information to get started.
Before we do, you’ve got to ask yourself, “Why do I want an outdoor pizza oven?”.
If you want better, more authentic pizzas, with gooey cheese and just the right crispness then you definitely need an outdoor pizza oven. If however, you just want a garden ornament, a nice focal point, you’re in the wrong place. (jump to instructions)
Gas VS Outdoor Wood Burning Pizza Ovens
A gas oven is very easy to maintain and use, with the flick of a button you can begin cooking your pizza in minutes. The temperatures rise incredibly fast and the on board microchip will help maintain a nice steady temperature. This means it’s going to be easy to operate in a restaurant environment.
With a wood outdoor pizza oven kit, you’re going to be looking after the fire at all times. You will have thoughts rushing through your head such as “Is it the right temperature?”, “Have I added too much wood”, “will this wood make my oven too hot”. It’s easy to see the the attractiveness of picking a gas oven over a pizza oven, it works out cheaper to run as well.
Having said that, if you’re by no way producing 100s of pizzas a day and just want an oven for that “authenticity”, then wood becomes a lot more attractive.
The crackling as the wood splits and releases embers, the glare of the fire as you poke it to make it hotter and the warm smell of smoke that lightly flavours the pizza. Nothing compares to that experience and the flavour it produces is godlike.
With a wooden oven you can choose where you want your oven. And there’s no fiddling about with gas, you just chop up some wood, or even better buy pre chopped wood.
What Makes a Good Outdoor Pizza Oven Kit?
To answer this question we need to understand how to make the best Pizza, this is only natural as this is the reason you’d be buying an outdoor pizza oven kit.Shocker – Temperature is not the most important thing.
Ok we get it, the hotter the Oven the better the results. However if the temperature leaks or doesn’t transfer to the pizza. Then you’re going to be really unhappy with the results of your pizza.
It’s all about the heat transfer rate.
To give you some reference, Traditional Vera Pizza Napoletana , requires a surface temperature of 430°C, with an oven temperature
reaching 485°C at a minimum.
This allows for some minor changes that are not achievable in “home ovens”, such as fast cooking (obviously), minor charring and a smoky flavour – this all alters the taste of your pizza.
So to create a tasty authentic pizza, you want to be focusing on the heat transfer rate.
This is what you want to design your whole pizza oven around. The domed shape of traditional pizza ovens allows for the heat to refract onto the base of the oven. This raises the floor temperature and creates a better heat transfer rate (it’s why you see pizzas on the floor of ovens and not on a shelf).
Steel can cook Pizza at a much lower temperature than Stone.
This is because, steel throws out more heat, faster than stone can – giving it a superior heat transfer rate.
It’s also dependent on the type of pizzas you’re wanting to make. If you prefer soft, fluffy dough, then your pizza needs to be cooked at a lower temperature for a longer time.
If fine, authentic and crisp is your choice, the hotter the oven the better.
The next important factor is shape, now we’ve already mentioned domed ovens being great at refracting heat, but you have two options.
Barrel Vs Domed Outdoor Pizza Oven Kits
Have you thought about baking bread? if so you’ll likely want to look into what a barrelled oven will do for you. You see with a domed oven you’re pretty much stuck with just baking pizzas. With a barrel you can do both.
However as you can imagine, a barrel shaped oven is far better at cooking bread than a dome, this is because of the tall rectangular shape that the oven carries. This allows for the heat to cook the dough by reflecting it off the walls, baking it nice and evenly. This is not needed for a pizza.
Again with a domed shape, you wouldn’t be able to bake a loaf of bread as it would be cooked unevenly, due to the circular shape of the oven.
You could build your own outdoor pizza oven, but it would take a considerable amount of time and effort in doing so. If you’re quite DIY savvy and can do basic brick laying, then get involved, if you’d prefer a no hassle outdoor pizza oven kit – we’ve suggest a few at the bottom.
To follow this tutorial you will need:
- Swiss Ball
- 4 x 20 kg of Concrete Mix
- 2 x Vermiculite
- Substituted Steel Frame for Bricks (roughly 150)
- Stainless Steel Chimney
- 1 x 60omm x 40mm Steel Sheet
- 1 x 400mm x 20mm Steel Sheet
- Pizza Paddle
- Heat Proof Screed
Before we begin, we won’t be following the exact method that is used in the video above. The same shape will be produced but we will be setting our dome on bricks instead of a Steel Frame.
You begin by securing your medicine ball so that it is immovable – you can use a plywood frame like the below image, or secure it between two chairs.
Create paper mashe mix with cement and newspaper. Follow instructions on cement bag to make the perfect mix, apply newspaper over the dome and add the concrete , smooth this all over the dome and repeat 5 times, until you’ve layered a lot of newspaper with the concrete.
It should look like this:
Note how the entrance has been propped up, don’t forget to create your entrance
Create the mix to apply to your Dome; 6 parts Vermiculite: 1 part cement : 2 parts water (slowly add – you don’t want too much just enough so it lumps together but it still crumbles)
Add 1 thick layer of this Vermiculite and concrete mix to the top of your concrete and paper layers. Allow this to set for up to 5 hours before continuing.
Remove the ball!
Now this should slide out with relative ease, due to this being plastic, there’s not much for the concrete mixture to grip onto (hence why we created a mache mix first).
Build the Structure,
(note you can skip this if you want to follow the conventional way of making an outdoor pizza oven)
Follow this tutorial on how to make an outdoor fire pit. Instead of placing a fire within it, use the structure to create a safe structure. Where they’ve left a hole in the ground for fire, replace with concrete as we don’t want heat escaping.
Use a small darby to smooth your concrete before adding the base in the next step.
Build the base.
This is where we differ, in the tutorials on Youtube, you’ll see people adding concrete and bricks. Now we know that steel cooks pizza a lot better. So this is what we’re going to focus on (you can choose to follow the conventional way).
You need to take into consideration that the diameter of your Swiss ball is 85cm, so when buying your Steel Sheet, aim for something that is 1m x 1m; or purchase 2 sheets that will allot to that amount (it doesn’t matter if it’s not one sheet as it’s being placed inside to be cooked on).
Place your sheet on top of your concrete table (fire pit made in step 6) and then place the dome on top of that sheet.
Make a chimney
Place your pipe on your dome, near the entrance and then draw around it.
You’ll need to use a title cutter or circular saw with a steel/diamond tip blade to cut away the shape you’ve just drawn. Don’t follow the line you’ve just drawn exactly. You need to leave about a 2mm gap (this is to create a snug fit).
Try and place your pipe in, if it doesn’t go in first time gradually sand/cut the original circle away. It should look similar to this potion:
Create the last cement and screed mixture. Mix 2 parts screed with : 1 part cement : 1 part water.
Apply this mixture all over your outdoor pizza oven and any steel that is showing outside of the pizza oven. This mixture will hold in more heat than the Vermiculite and concrete will.
You may also choose to smooth this over your entire brick work to give the impression that it’s all one piece. Here are some of our favourites:
What Are The Best Outdoor Pizza Oven Kits (Minimal DIY Involved)
Mixing concrete isn’t for everyone, but you still have your very own outdoor pizza oven with minimal setup. We’ve reviewed some of our favourites to get you started:
Vitcas is a pioneer in the creation of everything heat resistant and dating back to 1882.
So if you’re wanting a top end outdoor wood burning pizza oven, then look no further.
The item ships in 5 pieces making it an incredibly easy assemble, you do have to supply your own bricks to create the rest, which is a bit annoying.
The benefits of buying a Vitcas pizza oven is you know you’re getting top of the range materials, which will enable you to reach the high temperatures you need to create mouth watering pizzas.
It’s also incredibly safe, so if you have kids or outdoor party’s you will feel incredibly safe around your pizza oven.
Instead it displays a Mairo kart turtle shell blue (bet you’ve never heard of anything being described that way before).
This is also an outdoor wood burning pizza oven, using traditional clay on the inside (rather than concrete or man made materials).
This oven can reach very high temperatures very quickly, one of the benefits of a pizza oven kit is almost every single one of them comes with an Iron cast door.
This helps retain heat and also protects passers by from the fire inside.
The oven it’self is made out of 5 layers of Decoration, Brick, Cement, Insulation and Clay and also features a temperature gauge that works up to 500°C.
You get the most value for money with this pizza oven but could be waiting up to a month for delivery.
You could use a heat resistant paint if you’re unhappy with the bland colour this comes in and grab yourself a bargain.
This outdoor pizza oven uses 4 layers to create this dome: Concrete, Brick, Clay and Insulation.
Taking on average of 2 hours to reach the temperature you need to make mouth watering pizza.
A temperature gauge is affixed to the side and the fire will be safe locked behind a thick iron door.
We would advise maybe looking into a larger chimney (you’d have to create this). Experience tells us the flames can lap out of short shoots.
Now, we typically don’t like the barrel shaped pizza ovens (you cook more evenly in a dome) But the guys from Maximums, really kit you out with this oven set up.
They give you tons of help, pointers and tools to get you started. The oven itself is designed to cook a range of items, from mouth watering steaks, crispy pizzas to fresh seafood.
I’m sorry to say this, but you don’t get the bricks (you have to make that yourself!)
What it does come with though is the following :
- Fire Starter Grate
- Recipe CD
- Door With Vents
- 2 X Fire Bricks
- Temperature gauge
- Artisan Dish
- Pizza Peel
- Flame Guard
This is where the vent’s come in handy, the vent’s will allow you to reduce the heat when needed, so you can cook your food with keen precision.
This baby will reach a scorching hot temperature rapidly. We’re talking 10 minutes here.
Exceeding temperatures as close to 500°C – That’s prime VPN pizza baby.
And more importantly, what you see is what you get, so there’s no worrying about building a stand or being locked to one location.
The Oven comes with wheels attached to the base of the stands. Meaning that you can push it into a shed, or over to the side when it’s not in use.
The weight as well is a manageable 100kg – granted you will need someone to help you physically move this, but it is manageable (especially when you get the wheels affixed to the stand).
The Barrel shape will facilitate up to 2 pizzas at a time – which are then cooked to perfection on a real brick flooring. So you can still keep some of the authenticity of traditional pizza cooking.
This oven also comes jam packed with extras such as :
- Brass Bristle Oven Brush
- Steel Scraper
- Wood Fired Oven Cook Book – 70 Recipes
- Pizza Peel
- Oven Cover – Protect From Weathering
- Temperature Gauge
This pizza oven is currently discounted, and is probably the best all around package to get you started. No worrying about how to get it through your doors of your home. Or how you’re going to build/buy a base that fits the oven…. it’s all there, ready for you to use straight away.
Granted it is dome shaped, but some concessions have to be made for practicality at times. And if you’re aiming for practicality we’d recommend buying this pizza oven.
This outdoor pizza oven has been crafted by Castmaster, who are renown for their outdoor chimneys.
A Versace face is etched onto the solid iron cast body. Hiding behind it? A Pizza oven of course.
Now it’s not known the temperatures this oven can reach, but it won’t be as high as the others. The material it’s made out of is designed to throw heat out, not inwards.
So if you’re looking to make authentic VPN quality pizza, you’ll need something more insulated.
Having said that, their are many people on amazon, who have expressed their delight with the quality of pizzas this Mexican oven has produced. They haven’t stopped at pizzas either, experimenting with tasty sausages and other BBQ meats.
This doubles up as an outdoor heater, other pizza ovens will still radiate heat (a lot of it) but they won’t be able to make you as warm as this iron cast oven.
It’s not noted but this Mexican pizza oven comes with a free cover to help protect the iron from weathering, (trust us, this will rust if you don’t look after it).
Gardeco have produced a very “entry level” pizza oven, designed for those that want to “dip their toe in the water”. With a very entry level price affixed to it.
The size it’self will accommodate one medium sized pizza and a standard fire will allow you to devour up to 3 pizzas at a time.
The mold is made in the traditional fashion, using the best clay sources, and leaving it to set before applying a heat.
The colour is a natural clay (what you see is what you get), and as you can imagine is extremely heavy.
The only thing this oven is missing is a door. Unfortunately without a door, you could be waiting a long time for it to heat up. Making it incredibly hard to reach the temperatures you need to create an authentic crisp VPN Pizza.
The great thing about this oven is it comes with a 5 year warranty (most others come with 2). So if accidents happen (and they can) you’re covered.
But “alright” is as good as it gets. So you’re probably asking yourself “Why have we included it?”and you’d be right to question.
Well have you considered how heavy most pizza ovens are? some are as heavy as 500kg! That’s half a Ton! So if you have an awkward entrance to your back garden and you still want an outdoor pizza oven.
Give this one a shot.
Weighing in at 35kg and made from stainless steel. This makes this oven portable, so you can protect it from weathering, or you could take it to a friends?
The stainless steel refracts the heat really well and the larva rock flooring allows for your food to cook evenly. (yes that’s real stone made from naturally sourced larva).
Whether you decide to build your own or buy an outdoor pizza oven kit, we’d recommend you consider the following.
- How Much Time Do You have To “Build an Outdoor Pizza Oven”
- Where Will This Go?
- How Will You Get This Into Your Property?
- What Sort of Maintenance Is Involved?
If you can answer those questions honestly, then we’d recommend you go ahead with your outdoor pizza oven project. Just because the above questions may raise doubts in your mind, you can easily accomplish this with help from friends and family.
Because let’s face it, it’ll be them that you’ll end up cooking for with the tons of garden party’s you’ll have.