We’ve tested wood-fired and gas pizza ovens from Ooni, Gozney, Aldi and more to help you cook the tastiest pizza at home

MAIN fresh coocked pizza from outdoor pizza oven

 

Takeaway pizza is all well and good, but nothing really compares to the smoky taste and perfect texture a flaming hot pizza oven will give you.  Restaurant-quality pizza is possible with the best pizza ovens and we’ve been testing them since 2020, munching our way through pizza cooked by 15 of the UK’s most popular pizza ovens. We’ve put brands such as Ooni, Aldi, Gozney, La Hacienda, Sage, Burnhard, Dellonda and Igneus through tough tests find out which ones will take your home pizza cooking to the next level.

Our most recent tests were done in April 2022. The pizza oven you choose makes all the difference. You want it to reach the right temperature, maintain the flames, be easy to clean afterwards and, of course, create delicious pizza.

Pizza ovens can cost less than £100 or more than £1,000. Picking the right oven is important if you’re considering parting with a lot of money, and we’ve found you generally do need to pay a bit more to get the best pizza oven.  Along with our full test results below, we’ve rounded up expert advice on buying a pizza oven to help you on your journey to becoming a pizzaiolo at home. Read our guide to find out which pizza ovens we recommend, and important things to bear in mind if you decide to shop for the best pizza ovens.

The best pizza ovens

Best Buy: Gozney Roccbox

 

 

Cheapest price: £399 available at Amazon, Gozney.

Date tested: August 2021

Type: Multi-fuel Fuel(s): Gas, wood logs (requires Roccbox Wood Burner 2.0, £100, available at Gozney)

Size and weight: 47 x 41 x 53cm (HxWxD), 20kg Maximum pizza size: 12 inches

Other key features: 12-inch perforated aluminium pizza peel, 31.5 x 34cm cordierite pizza stone, detachable gas burner, hose and regulator, bottle opener, carry strap, integrated thermometer

Pros: Cooks fantastic pizza, easy to use, useful features

Cons: Heavy to carry, pizza stone can’t be removed for cleaning

Our verdict: Top of those we’ve tested. We were blown away by the taste and texture of the pizzas we cooked in the Gozney Roccbox. The crust and base were beautifully browned. Pizzas had a thin, crispy layer outside and a soft, puffy inside with plenty of air pockets. We tested it using the supplied propane gas burner and the Roccbox Wood Burner 2.0 (available to buy separately from Gozney for £100) and were delighted with both. The wood-fired option produced better-tasting pizza thanks to the rich flavours the wood smoke infused into the crust. Those extra flavours were absent when we tested it with the standard gas burner attached, but the pizza was still mouthwatering. The Roccbox is well-designed and packed with thoughtful features. The sturdy legs have two height settings to suit the surface you’re cooking on, the oven is covered in a heatproof shell to reduce the chances of burning yourself if you touch it during use, and it has a wide opening so it’s easy to turn your pizza and keep an eye on it while it cooks. There’s also a thermometer built into the pizza stone, which we think is an excellent spot for it to be located. Most pizza ovens have thermometers in the shell or the door to tell you what the ambient temperature is inside the oven, but arguably the most important thing is to get the pizza stone to the right temperature to ensure a crisp, well-textured base. We also think it’s a masterstroke to have the gas and wood-fired burners as separate attachments, especially the wood burner, as it keeps the fuel and ash in a separate area from the oven chamber. This makes cleaning much more straightforward and prevents ash from getting on to your pizzas when the wind picks up.

Pizzas we cooked using the Gozney Roccbox

caption

 

 

It took us 19 minutes to get the Roccbox up to the right temperature when we used the gas burner, and 30 minutes when we used the Wood Burner 2.0. This is a tad slower than some Ooni pizza ovens we tested, but the pizza is well worth the wait. The pizzas cook in just a few minutes, requiring regular turning to ensure even cooking. You can’t remove the pizza stone for cleaning, but you shouldn’t have to. Pizza stones inevitably pick up stains and scars; a standard clean of this oven will just require you to sweep down the stone with a hard bristle brush and use soapy water on the frame to get rid of any soot. The only real downsides we could find with the Roccbox are its weight and size. It’s described as a portable oven and you can take it out and about with the supplied carry strap, but it’s quite bulky and heavy. If you’ve got a long walk from your car to wherever you plan to cook, you might find it cumbersome. If portability is a priority, you might want to consider one of the smaller Ooni Best Buy pizza ovens. The weight didn’t put us off this though. This pizza ovens strikes the perfect balance between convenience and cooking delicious pizza.

Best Buy: Ooni Karu 16

Ooni Karu 16 pizza oven

Cheapest price: £699 available at Amazon, John Lewis, Lakeland, Ooni.

Date tested: April 2022

Type: Multi-fuel Fuel(s): Wood logs, charcoal or gas (requires Ooni Gas Burner, £79.99, available at Ooni)

Size and weight: 83.7 x 19.6 x 81.5cm (HxWxD), 28.4kg

Maximum pizza size: 16 inches

Other key features: 43 x 43cm cordierite pizza stone, digital thermometer

Pros: Cooks fantastic pizza, easy to use, useful features

Cons: Not easily moved, soot can obscure view through window during wood-fired cooking

Our verdict: Pricey but fantastic We were blown away by the Ooni Karu 16. It is expensive, but we think it’s worth every penny. As the Karu 16 is a multi-fuel pizza oven, you can choose to cook with wood logs, propane gas or even charcoal. It’s worth giving each a go to see which you’d prefer. To use it with gas, you’ll need to buy the Ooni Gas Burner (£79.99) separately. You’ll have a cleaner and more convenient cooking experience, much like the gas-only Ooni Koda 12 and Koda 16 reviewed below, but as with most gas-fired pizza ovens you might find the flavours slightly more limited. Wood-fired and charcoal pizzas have unbeatable taste and give you the chance to make restaurant-quality pizza. We’d avoid going for purely charcoal, though, as you’ll have very little control over the heat and won’t get the bigger flames that wood and gas will give you. At the very least if you’re using charcoal, we’d recommend a mixture of charcoal and wood logs. The Karu 16 has a sleek modern design, with a digital thermometer attachment that tells you how hot the oven is and a glass door that lets you easily keep an eye on what’s going on inside. We did find that wood-fired cooking led to a build-up of soot on the window, though, which does eventually restrict visibility. It’s a good idea to wipe the window down between uses. The oven also has a useful detachable lid at the back which lets you pop in extra logs when they need topping up. Be careful when you’re taking the lid off because flames can leap out as you detach it.

Pizzas we cooked using the Ooni Karu 16

We were impressed at how speedily the Karu 16 got up to cooking temperature in our tests, taking a rapid 15 minutes using wood logs and 19 minutes using gas. The pizzas cook rapidly, needing turning every 20 to 30 seconds to ensure an even cook. It only takes a couple of minutes for each pizza to cook. The wood-fired pizza was to die for, with sizzling toppings, crispy crusts and bags of smoky flavour. The gas-fired pizza was also superb, but slightly inferior to the wood-fired. When using wood, the source of heat is the fuel grate at the back of the oven, but the gas burner mostly burned above. This meant that, although the pizzas cooked with gas needed rotating less often, the tops of the pizza also cooked much more quickly. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just useful to know. We found both experiences equally easy to control. The large opening and wide cooking area make it straightforward to launch, rotate and remove pizzas. As the oven chamber is quite tall and wide, you can also try your hand at roasting vegetables or joints of meat in there, too. If you’re after a portable pizza oven we’d recommend the smaller Ooni Karu 12, as the Karu 16 is too big and heavy for straightforward transportation. The Karu 12 can’t cook pizzas as big as the 16 can and is missing one or two features, but it’s still fantastic and is also a Best Buy.

Best Buy: Ooni Karu 12

 

Cheapest price: £299 available at Amazon, John Lewis, Lakeland, Ooni.

Date tested: August 2021

Type: Multi-fuel Fuel(s): Wood logs, charcoal or gas (requires Ooni Gas Burner, £79.99, available at Ooni)

Size and weight: 77 x 40 x 85cm (HxWxD), 12kg

Maximum pizza size: 12 inches

Other key features: 33 x 33cm cordierite pizza stone

Pros: Cooks fantastic pizza, easy to use, useful features

Cons: Door restricts view of flames during heating

Our verdict: Tough to beat There are several fuel options to choose from with this pizza oven, so if you aren’t sure which you like best or want to switch it up every now and again, you have that freedom. The wood-fired pizza we cooked in the Karu 12 was easily the tastiest, but if you’re happy to invest in the gas burner attachment (£79.99) you’ll have a cleaner and more convenient cooking experience, similar to the Ooni Koda 12 and Koda 16. Although charcoal gives you pizza that’s equally delicious to pizza cooked using wood, we’d recommend mixing the charcoal with wood to give you more consistent flames and greater control over the heat. Charcoal alone won’t keep the heat high or consistent enough to cook more than a couple of pizzas. The Karu 12 is well-designed, with a wide opening for visibility of your pizza and a handy detachable lid at the back for topping up your wood logs. Take care when you’re taking the lid off during use, though as, if the fire is really high, flames could leap out as you remove it.

Pizzas we cooked using the Ooni Karu 12

Ooni Karu 12 - Vegetarian pizza

 

It took us a reasonable 21 minutes to get it up to temperature when cooking with wood logs, and 19 minutes with gas. The pizzas take as little as two or three minutes to cook. We found the wood-fired pizza and the overall cooking experience delightful. The crust and toppings were evenly cooked and lightly charred, with the crust puffy on the inside and crispy on the outside. The gas-fired pizza was great, too, but just not as tasty as the smoky wood-fired pizza. Taking pizzas in and out, watching the crusts puffing up during cooking and turning the pizza was a breeze. You’ll need to keep the door on during heating, which can prove frustrating as there’s no peep hole to see how the flames are doing. But once it’s up to temperature you can leave the door off during cooking and pop it back on when you’re prepping your next pizza to ensure the pizza stone stays hot. Even though it’s much smaller than the Karu 16, the Karu 12 will take up a decent amount of space in your car and could become tiresome to carry after a while. The Carry Cover (£39.99) might be helpful if you plan to go out and about with it. We were impressed by the Ooni Karu 12. Ooni pizza ovens are very popular right now, and this is one of the best.

Best Buy: Ooni Koda 16

 

 

 

Cheapest price: £499 available at Amazon, John Lewis, Lakeland, Ooni.

Date tested: April 2022 Type: Gas Fuel(s): Gas (propane)

Size and weight: 37.2 x 52 x 63.4cm (HxWxD), 18.2kg

Maximum pizza size: 16 inches

Other key features: 43 x 43cm cordierite pizza stone, gas hose and regulator

Pros: Cooks tasty pizza, easy to use

Cons: Not easily moved, pizzas lack wood-fired flavour

Our verdict: Convenient, consistent and cracking pizza oven A larger version of the Ooni Koda 12, reviewed below, the Ooni Koda 16 is easy to set up and ready to cook with out of the box. You’ll need a propane or patio gas canister at the ready, and the supplied gas regulator is a clip-on one you simply press onto the top of your gas canister valve. Piezo ignition on the side clicks the flames into life and the dial controls how hot the oven burns, much like a gas stove. The burner runs all the way along the back and left side of the oven so you get consistent heat from two sides of the oven during cooking. The Koda 16 and 12 have no doors to fiddle with as the heat is so consistent, which gives you brilliant visibility of your pizza during cooking. The opening on the smaller Koda 12 is a little trickier to see into, but this larger version gives you a delightfully clear and easy view. This oven took just 16 minutes to reach cooking temperature, which is among the fastest we tested. The pizzas also take just two or three minutes to cook in the oven.

Pizzas we cooked using the Ooni Koda 16

 

 

caption

 

Despite missing out on the smoky flavours of wood-fired ovens, we were delighted with the pizzas we cooked using the Koda 16. Their appearance, texture and consistency were just as good as those from wood-fired competitors, and the flavours were still excellent. As it’s one of Ooni’s larger pizza ovens we don’t think it’s especially portable. It is lighter than the Karu 16 and doesn’t have a door or chimney, so it is lighter to carry and has fewer extra bits. If you want to take your oven out and about but still want big 16-inch pizzas, this is the one we’d recommend. The Koda 16 is also a doddle to clean as there’s no ash or embers to deal with. Simply brush down the pizza stone with a hard bristle brush and disconnect the gas. Gas pizza ovens aren’t for everyone, but if convenience is your priority you should think about buying the Koda 16. It doesn’t fall too far behind the best wood-fired ovens in quality and we found it a joy to use.

How the rest of the pizza ovens fared

Here’s what we thought of the other pizza ovens we tested, listed alphabetically.

Aldi Gardenline Table Top Pizza Oven

 

 

Only available at Aldi: £129.99 (out of stock).

Date tested: August 2021

Type: Wood-fired Fuel(s): Wood pellets

Size and weight: 78 x 35 x 74cm (HxWxD), 8.5kg

Maximum pizza size: 10.5 inches

Other key features: 28 x 28cm cordierite pizza stone

Pros: Light to carry, easy to clean

Cons: Fails to reach cooking temperature, design flaws make it difficult to use

Our verdict: A letdown Aldi’s pizza oven let itself down in several key tests, but principally we were unimpressed by its temperature limitations. It’s important for the pizza oven to reach a minimum of 350°C before you start cooking and aim for 400°C, otherwise you risk the base and crust being undercooked. We kept the wood pellets burning in Aldi’s pizza oven for an hour before giving up, and we still didn’t manage to get it hotter than 320°C. It’s a small pizza oven that fits pizzas no bigger than 10 inches, so you must ensure your pizza peel is thin enough to fit through the door or you’ll have real trouble getting pizzas in and out. It also has a door at the front that must be kept on to prevent heat escaping, but there’s no peephole or other way to keep an eye on the flames while they burn, so there’s a fair amount of guesswork involved. The door was also prone to falling off the oven of its own accord during testing. You’ll have to regularly top up the wood pellets, as we found a full grate burns through in roughly 15 minutes. This is neither enough time for the oven to heat properly nor to prepare and cook more than a couple of pizzas. There’s no hopper or chute to top up the pellets, either, so you’ll have to remove the burning grate to top up the fuel.

Pizzas we cooked using the Aldi Gardenline Table Top Pizza Oven

caption

 

 

 

Although the crust was browned and the toppings melted, as expected we found the base and inside of the pizza crust undercooked and doughy, despite cooking the pizza for more than 10 minutes – much longer than most pizzas took to cook in our tests. Once the oven has fully cooled down, we found it easy to take apart and clean. However, the instructions suggest you clean the pizza stone with detergent, and we strongly advise against this. Pizza stones absorb liquids, so unless you want your pizza tasting of soap, you should only ever use water to clean them. We were disappointed with Aldi’s pizza oven. We spotted a long list of one-star reviews for it on Aldi’s website, and after testing it we can see why.

Burnhard Nero

 

Burnhard Nero Stainless Steel Outdoor Pizza Oven

 

 

Only available at Amazon: £195 (out of stock).

Date tested: August 2021

Type: Multi-fuel Fuel(s): Wood pellets, wood logs, charcoal

Size and weight: 83 x 41 x 81cm (HxWxD), 15kg

Maximum pizza size: 12 inches

Other key features: 10-inch aluminium pizza peel, 36 x 32cm cordierite pizza stone, integrated thermometer

Pros: Cooks tasty wood-fired pizza, useful features, easy to clean

Cons: Can’t reach the right temperature using charcoal, not portable, some ease-of-use issues

Our verdict: Good, with a couple of quibbles. Overall, we think you’d be pleased with the Burnhard Nero, but there are one or two small issues that might make you think twice before buying one. It can take a variety of fuels: wood pellets, wood logs and charcoal. We tested it using wood logs and charcoal briquettes. It took 31 minutes to reach cooking temperature with wood logs, but failed to get hot enough for cooking when using briquettes alone.  It takes a bit of assembly, with plenty of screws and handles to fit. It didn’t take us long to build it, but most other pizza ovens we tested were good to go straight out of the box. This also means it’s not well-suited to being taken out and about, as you’d need to collapse and rebuild it fully each time before moving it. It’s well-designed, with plenty of features that help to make the cooking experience stress-free. It has a detachable door with a peephole so you can watch how the flames are doing without letting too much heat escape, and a built-in thermometer to help you keep tabs on the internal temperature. The grate at the back has an external handle to make it easy to remove, but you won’t need to take it out when it’s burning thanks to the handy fuel chute that sits above. We found the chute useful, although we sometimes had to use a stoker to prod the wood logs and charcoal briquettes in, as they sometimes stopped shy of the flames. The oven’s wide opening made it easy for us to take pizzas in and out, and to turn them during cooking. This pizza oven comes with a 10-inch peel included and you can use 12-inch peels with it too.

Pizzas we cooked using the Burnhard Nero

caption

 

 

Patience is a virtue with this pizza oven. It took roughly half an hour to get up to cooking temperature, which is half as fast as some other pizza ovens we tested. Once at temperature it cooked pizzas quickly – around three or four minutes. The pizza we cooked in the Nero was tasty, with plenty of browning and blackening on the crust and base. The crust also benefited from smoky flavour, but wasn’t as puffy as we’d like. We weren’t able to cook pizzas properly when we used charcoal briquettes as the heat wasn’t consistent enough to keep the oven at the right temperature. Mixing wood logs with the charcoal will help you get hotter, more consistent flames. There’s a small gap underneath the pizza stone that lets air flow through, which annoyingly can cause small bits of ash to drift up and land on your pizza if a breeze picks up during cooking. We found it easy to clean after use.

Dellonda DG10

Dellonda DG10 pizza oven

Cheapest price: £169.98 available at Amazon, Dellonda.

Date tested: April 2022

Type: Wood-fired Fuel(s): Wood pellets, wood logs

Size and weight: 82 x 44.2 x 74.5cm (HxWxD), 14kg

Maximum pizza size: 12 inches

Other key features: 11-inch pizza peel, 33 x 33cm cordierite pizza stone, integrated thermometer

Pros: Light to carry

Cons: Design flaws make it difficult to use, cooks unevenly, poor build quality

Our verdict: Steer clear The pizzas we made cooked in around five minutes and looked good from above, but the base was undercooked and doughy. This is because we couldn’t get the pizza stone to stay consistently hot.  We also had problems with the fuel grate. It’s shallow and small so there isn’t much room for fuel and, despite following the recommendation of using a mixture of wood pellets and wood logs, you have to use the smallest logs you can find. If they’re too big, the fuel grate won’t fit back into the oven. Because the fuel grate is so small, it burns through what fuel you put in there very quickly, which means it needs almost constant topping up. In the time it takes you to prep a pizza to go in, you’ll likely find the flames have died right down to embers. To make matters worse, we also noticed during testing that the wooden handle that attaches to the back of the fuel grate had burned and snapped off, and small gaps at the foot of the chimney and back of the oven let smoke come out of several places at once.

What’s the difference between charcoal, gas and wood-fired pizza ovens?

Freestanding pizza oven

 

 

Gas pizza ovens

Just like with barbecues, gas pizza ovens are for those who value convenience over authenticity. Gas pizza ovens heat up quickly and are mess-free thanks to there being no ash or leftover fuel, but the smokeless flames can leave your pizzas without the complex flavours you’d get with a wood-fired oven. Propane burns hotter than butane, and is therefore the preferred gas for use with pizza ovens.

Wood-fired pizza ovens

The traditional and most popular type. They require the most patience and skill, as they take longer to reach cooking temperature than gas, and need constant attention to get the flames to the right size and consistency. They do, however, usually produce the tastiest pizza, as the wood smoke infuses additional flavours into the crust and base. The dryer the wood you use, the better. Avoiding moisture and sap will help your wood to burn cleanly, and prevent the smoke from being too thick and pale. Offcuts of silver birch or similar hardwoods are ideal, and you’ll want logs six or seven inches long for smaller pizza ovens. Sustainably sourced wood logs are available, and where possible we’d suggest buying these as they will have a reduced impact on the planet.

Charcoal pizza ovens

Charcoal pizza ovens have a similar process to charcoal barbecues. Some pizza ovens only take fast-burning charcoal briquettes, whereas others can take lump charcoal too. You’ll need to load up the grate and let the coals burn white to get the oven ready for cooking. Pizza ovens with larger grates are best for charcoal, as smaller grates will struggle to produce enough heat to get the oven up to temperature. Cooking with charcoal can be frustrating, as there’s no guarantee the coals will get the oven consistently hot enough. Topping up the coals will effectively restart the heating process. We’d recommend mixing wood logs in with the charcoal to help it burn at a hotter, more consistent temperature.

What tools do you need to use a pizza oven?

Pizza and pizza oven on a table outside

 

 

Temperature gun or built-in thermometer

It’s key for you to be able to keep track of how hot your pizza oven is, to ensure it stays at the right temperature. Between 400°C and 500°C is ideal, so a temperature gun or a built-in thermometer (if your oven has one) is essential for knowing when your pizza oven is ready to cook. Using both is best, as temperature guns tell you how hot the pizza stone is, which built-in thermometers don’t. A hot pizza stone is essential for a crispy base.

Pizza peel

You’ll need a paddle to take your pizza in and out of the oven safely. You can get aluminium or wood pizza peels, and while the aluminium ones are easier to clean and maintain, they’re more prone to sticking. Dusting the peel with flour or semolina will help to prevent your pizza sticking to the peel.

Turning peel

This smaller paddle has a rounded edge to help you slide it under one side of the pizza and turn it while it’s cooking, without the need to take it out. This peel is a handy tool, but it’s not essential like the standard pizza peel.

Pizza stone

These are the cooking surface, and are usually made from moisture-absorbent cordierite. They’re fantastic for retaining heat and are key for crisping up the base of your pizza. Most pizza ovens come with a pizza stone included.

Pizza cutter

A good pizza cutter is key for slicing up and serving your pizza. The larger the circular blade, the better. This prevents the pizza cutter from moving your toppings around, and makes it easier to cut through extra-puffy pizza crusts. See the best pizza cutters.

Bristle brush

Especially useful for wood-fired ovens where ash is likely, a tough bristle brush is handy for removing ash from the pizza stone ready for cooking, as well as for cleaning out your oven after use.

Six tips for cooking with a pizza oven

Keep a consistent temperature 400-500°C is ideal for cooking pizza, but some ovens can get up to 800°C or more. A consistent heat will cook your pizzas evenly and keep them from burning unexpectedly.

Dust your peel with flour Pizza dough sticks very easily, so dusting your peel with flour will help it to slide on and off. Be careful not to overdo it, though, as too much flour underneath will burn and taste bitter.

Assemble your pizza on the peel Save yourself the stress of trying to slide the peel underneath the squishy dough and avoid ruining the shape of your pizza. The peel is the perfect assembly station as long as you dust it first and remember to give it a shake every 30 seconds to stop the pizza sticking.

Rotate it regularly Especially in gas and wood-fired pizza ovens, the strongest heat comes from one direction. You’ll want to rotate your pizza a few times during cooking to make sure it cooks evenly. Once every 30 seconds is a good rule of thumb to follow.

Try other dishes too Pizza isn’t the only thing a pizza oven is good for. If you have cookware that can handle the heat, there are endless possibilities – try roasting a joint of beef or even steaming a pot of mussels.

Don’t overdo it with toppings Less is definitely more when cooking with a pizza oven. Too many toppings will leave you with a soggy base and watery top. The crust cooks and burns very quickly during cooking, so be minimal with your toppings to ensure they cook just as fast.