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Using an outdoor pizza oven involves the following steps – preparing all required ingredients beforehand, lighting the oven, waiting for it to reach proper temperature, placing the pizza inside the oven, and waiting for it to cook.
Outdoor pizza ovens are a great addition to any backyard and can be used for a wide variety of other purposes besides making pizzas such as X,Y,Z. If you would like to know more about how to work an outdoor pizza oven, refer to our detailed outdoor pizza oven use guide below.
1. Prep Pizza
While pizza isn’t the only thing you can make in your outdoor oven, it’s no doubt the most common. Before firing up the oven, it’s a good idea to have all your basic ingredients ready to go.
The pizza should be fully prepared with all desired ingredients so it’s ready to go when the time comes.
2. Fire Up The Oven
How you go about heating your outdoor pizza oven depends upon what type you have. Traditional outdoor pizza ovens use wood or coal to heat the surface while some newer models use gas.
Wood and coal pizza ovens take considerably longer to heat up than their gas-powered counterparts. Depending on what the outside temperature is, a wood/coal outdoor pizza oven can take up to an hour to reach the ideal temperature.
To fire up the oven, start by placing 3-5 large logs of wood towards the back of the dome. Once lit and you have a strong fire going, move all logs to one side of the oven. Ideally, you want to see flames rolling along the side and top of the dome.
When the top of the dome starts to turn white from heat, you know it’s time to move the pile of burning firewood to the other side of the oven. In a standard 24 inch (60 cm) dome, this process can take up to 40 minutes to complete. Once moved, scrape off all ash/burnt wood using the brush.
After roughly 20 minutes, your outdoor pizza oven should be ready for use.
As mentioned earlier, gas (most commonly propane) outdoor pizza ovens also exist. These small devices are a convenient alternative to traditional clay outdoor pizza ovens and have been growing in popularity. Not only do they reach ideal cooking temperatures much faster, but they take up much less space and are portable.
To use a propane outdoor pizza oven, connect the propane tank, open the valve, press the ignition button, and adjust the temperature. Most propane-powered outdoor pizza ovens can reach a max temperature of between 700 and 950 F, meaning they can cook a pizza in roughly 5 minutes.
3. Place Pizza In Oven
Now that the pizza oven has been sufficiently preheated, it’s time to slide the pizza inside. With traditional clay pizza ovens, the pizza should be placed towards the back on the opposite side of the burning wood pile.
The average propane-powered pizza oven has enough space to cook one 16 inch pizza. Some luxury models come with double the capacity, but these are both rare and expensive.
Once the pizza is in the oven, keep a close eye on it. Because the temperatures are so high, leaving the pizza in for even just a few minutes extra can overcook the dough, causing the pizza to come out hard and very crispy.
Regardless of what type of pizza oven you use, most pizzas should finish cooking within 5 minutes.
4. Clean Up
Luckily, outdoor pizza ovens require very minimal cleaning, and most leftover food material is burnt off during the cooking process. With a traditional clay pizza oven, use the ash rake to scrape any hard or stuck-on food material loose. You may also decide to remove the leftover wood at this point.
Once again, use the ash rack to pull all ash and burnt wood towards the front. Once disposed of, use the broom tool to give the surface a final clean. Never use soap and water to clean your pizza oven. Not only is this unnecessary, but it could cause damage to the surface.
With a propane-powered pizza oven, leave the unit running for a few minutes once the pizza has been removed. Give it a scrape with a suitable scraping tool to help dislodge and baked-on food material.
Some propane-powered pizza ovens use a flat surface while others use a rack surface. For flat-surfaced models, use a small brush to remove any remaining scraps.
What Should You Know Before Using An Outdoor Pizza Oven?
What is an outdoor pizza oven? An outdoor pizza oven is a backyard cooking appliance that can reach temperatures of up to 950 F and cook a full 16” pizza in 5 minutes. There are three main types of outdoor pizza ovens, traditional clay/brick ovens, propane-powered pizza ovens, and portable wood pizza ovens.
- Traditional Clay Ovens – Traditional clay pizza ovens are hollow, dome-shaped structures with a flat surface on the inside. These units use wood logs or coal to create heat.
- Propane Powered Pizza Ovens – As the name implies, propane-powered pizza ovens use propane gas to produce heat. Unlike clay ovens, these appliances are portable and are not built in place. Most units can manage one 16” pizza at a time, although larger models do exist.
- Portable Wood Oven – Instead of being built in place like a traditional clay pizza oven, portable wood ovens can be moved around. These units are typically smaller and a wood fire is lit from the bottom of the unit and not inside the dome. These portable wood models are not overly common but can be a good fit for those looking for something between a traditional clay oven and a portable propane model.
To use a traditional clay pizza oven, there are several tools you must own, including an ash rack, pizza peel, oven brush, bubble popper, and ashcan.
- Ash Rack – Ash racks are used to scrap ash and stuck-on food matter off the cooking surface.
- Pizza Peel – A pizza peel is a long stick with a flat surface attached to the end. The peel is used for placing and removing pizza from the oven.
- Oven Brush – For giving the cooking surface a good clean, you need a thick bristled oven brush.
- Bubble Popper – When cooking pizza in an outdoor pizza oven, air bubbles often form in the dough. To pop them, most professional pizza chefs use a bubble popper. These items are typically metal sticks with a small point or hook on the end.
- Ash Can – When removing ash and burnt embers from the pizza oven, it’s helpful to have a dedicated ash can handy.
What Are The Stages Of Using An Outdoor Pizza Oven?
Using an outdoor pizza oven can be broken down into three main stages:
- Bring the oven to the appropriate temperature
- Place pizza inside for roughly 5 minutes
- Remove pizza and scrape/brush the cooking surface.
Does The Outdoor Pizza Oven Types Affect The Usage Stages?
Yes, the type of outdoor pizza oven does affect the usage stages. With propane powered pizza ovens, there is no need to place burning wood logs inside the oven for heat. Although this makes for a much faster cooking experience, the best outdoor pizza ovens are no doubt traditional clay/brick ovens.
Is Using An Outdoor Pizza Oven For Making Bread Better Than Using An Indoor Kitchen Oven?
No, an outdoor pizza oven is not better than an indoor kitchen oven for making bread. The reason for this is simple, outdoor pizza ovens are built to operate at temperatures much higher than what normal bread is baked at.
By contrast, kitchen ovens provide better temperature control and are better for cooking at low temperatures. Because of this, they are more suited for cooking bread.
When it comes to the question of outdoor pizza oven vs. indoor kitchen oven for baking bread, the indoor kitchen oven is the clear winner.
Is Using An Outdoor Pizza Oven For Steak Better Than Using A Gas Grill?
No, using an outdoor pizza oven for cooking steak is not better than using a gas grill. That said, outdoor pizza ovens can be used to quickly grill/sear steak, although this is not a common application of an outdoor pizza oven.
Most steak enthusiasts would agree that a grill surface is superior for steak compared to a flat clay surface. With a gas grill, the steak comes into direct contact with the flame, creating that grilled texture that most people look for. Moreover, it’s easier to handle steak on a gas grill than inside a pizza oven.
Is A Portable Outdoor Pizza Oven Better Than A Brick Outdoor Pizza Oven For Making Sicilian Pizza?
No, a portable outdoor pizza oven is not better than a brick outdoor pizza oven for making Sicilian pizza. Of all types of outdoor pizza ovens, the traditional clay/brick ovens are the most superior.
However, not everyone wants to build a permanent structure in their backyard and many simply don’t have the space. In this scenario, a portable gas powered outdoor pizza cooker is the better option.
How To Use An Outdoor Pizza Oven For Other Uses Besides Cooking Food
Outdoor pizza ovens have a limited number of applications and are typically used solely for cooking pizzas. If you would like to learn more about the different uses of outdoor pizza ovens, refer to the sections below.
How To Use An Outdoor Pizza As A Pizza Oven
To use an outdoor pizza oven as a pizza oven, follow these steps:.
- Start by heating up the pizza oven. If you have a traditional clay/brick pizza oven, this can be done by lighting a wood fire inside the cooking dome. If you have a propane powered oven, connect the gas tank, open the valve, and press start.
- Place the raw pizza with all ingredients into the oven. If you have a clay/brick oven, use the pizza peel.
- Once the pizza has finished cooking, remove it from the oven. Use the ash rake and brush to clean off the cooking surface.
How To Use An Outdoor Pizza Oven As A Smoker
To use an outdoor pizza oven as a smoker, follow these steps:
- Heat pizza oven up and let it cool down to roughly 260 F.
- Prepare meat with the desired rubs, spices, and herbs.
- Place meat onto a heat resistant cooking dish or grill rack.
- Soak wood chips for 30 – 45 minutes and place them on the embers inside the pizza oven.
- When the wood chips begin to smoke, use the ash rake to push them to the back of the oven and place your meat and dish inside.
- Close the door and shut the air vents 90% of the way closed. Doing this will trap the smoke inside the oven.
It’s important to keep in mind that this only works with large clay/brick ovens and shouldn’t be attempted with small gas-powered pizza ovens.
How To Use An Outdoor Pizza Oven As A Fire Pit
Most outdoor pizza ovens can’t be used as a fire pit. The reason for this is simple, outdoor pizza ovens produce heat from the inside, meaning no open flames will be produced. Some portable wood-burning pizza ovens can double as a fire pit, but these models are rare.