CONSUMER REPORTS — There’s nothing like wood-fired pizza. Portable outdoor pizza ovens promise a pie that rivals your favorite pizza shop. Consumer Reports Home Editor and pizza-lover Paul Hope says it’s all about heating to a super-high temperature.
“Portable pizza ovens are everywhere and they claim to get to really high temperatures that you could never reach in an oven or even most grills so naturally we had to take a look,” Hope said.
Outside of the labs and in his backyard, Paul took a look at several tabletop pizza ovens designed to bake one 12-to-13 inch pizza. Some are propane gas powered while others use charcoal, wood or wood pellets.
To keep it consistent, Paul made each pizza with store-bought dough, halved and weighed, sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese. Paul found all of the ovens turned out tasty pizzas, but what it really comes down to is how easy an oven is to use and whether you prefer gas or charcoal cooking.
“If you want that wood-fire flavor like you get from a great pizzeria, you really want one that uses charcoal,” said Hope.
Paul found this Ooni Karu to be convenient, simple and sturdy. It also offers a chimney damper for regulating air flow, something that’s important when you’re cooking at high heat. However, at $350, it’s the priciest oven of the bunch.
To spend less and still get good results, consider this wood and charcoal burning WPPO Le Peppe. An added bonus: it comes with a pizza peel and has a little peep hole in the oven door to check on your pies. Because as Paul found – they bake fast!
If you prefer the convenience of gas powered cooking, consider this Bakerstone Original Gas Pizza Oven.
And one last tip, practice makes perfect.
“There is definitely a learning curve with pizza ovens and some skill required so make sure you practice a lot before you have people over,” said Hope.