Which Class of Pizza Ovens is Right for You?
As their name suggests, pizza ovens serve a primary function: creating the high-heat conditions needed for perfect pizza. How perfect, you ask? Well, that depends on the refractory materials they use (like ceramics, stone, or cement) and the distinct thermodynamics of each model. It’s also worth noting that quality isn’t determined by materials alone. Sure, stainless steel sounds great, but it’s actually the grade and gauge that reveal whether the metal is truly high-quality or not. The way an oven is designed tells us even more about its quality and performance, two factors that are more closely tied together in pizza ovens than other types of outdoor appliances. Simply put — the higher the quality, the better the pizza. And when you throw the right design and features into the mix, you possess the versatility to cook more than just the perfect pie.
Our experts kept all that in mind when sorting our huge selection of pizza ovens into Luxury, Premium, Practical, and Economy classifications. Though this is a fairly unique product category, we stand by our belief that evaluating quality, performance, and features is the best way to compare any two models. Now let’s get cooking!
Luxury Pizza Ovens
- A perfect marriage of form and function for the ultimate outdoor experience
- Well-built and expertly designed ovens produce deliciously crispy pizza
- Stunning craftsmanship creates centerpieces and gathering places for outdoor events
- Quality materials easily hold up against the elements and look great for years
- Lifetime warranties from brands like Lynx and Alfresco give you peace of mind
- Refractory interior domes and smart chimneys provide excellent heat retention
- Interior lights, split glass doors, and other thoughtful features give you the whole package
Luxury pizza ovens don’t just make great pizza — they look great doing it. Models in this class elevate the spaces around them with beautiful construction and striking appearances, leading to jaws on the floor at every outdoor dinner party. Yet all that glitz and glam belies the rock-solid sturdiness of thick, 304-grade stainless steel and dense layers of insulation or fully refractory cement domes (in short, the best materials money can buy). These pizza ovens are backed by the best customer service and warranties, too, specifically the lifetime coverage from industry-leading brands like Alfresco and Lynx.
If pizza-making is an art, then Luxury ovens are the ideal canvas for every masterpiece. Their refractory domes and solid construction generate outstanding heat retention, which is the actual secret ingredient for perfect pizza. Adventurous backyard chefs will also delight in their versatility — despite the name, Luxury pizza ovens are capable of preparing a wide variety of dishes. No matter what you’re cooking, the mouthwatering aroma and allure of dancing flames will be too much for guests to resist. An authentic cooker that also serves as a natural centerpiece of your space? Now that’s what we call luxury.
A little extra wow factor never hurt. That’s exactly what Luxury pizza ovens provide, and then some. Case in point: interior lights and split glass doors are practical while also aiding in the stunning aesthetic common to models in this class. Of course, these ovens have no shortage of thoughtful details, like the Alfresco Pizza Oven’s ceramic gas log that fills in for the usual heating element. With the gas log in place, you can harness the convenience of gas without sacrificing the authentic feeling of wood-fired pizza. Hidden wood storage is another helpful feature, depending on the configuration.
Top Luxury Pizza Oven Brands
Practical Pizza Ovens
- Budget-friendly options that help thrifty spenders realize their outdoor pizza dreams
- Varied materials include untreated, painted, porcelain-coated, or stainless steel
- Warranties start to slim down, with the best lasting only 4 years max
- Less insulation and thinner materials than in the higher classes, but still capable of high heat
- Typically use mineral wool or ceramic fiber insulation instead of a refractory cement dome
- Offsets fire boxes give easy access to the heat source for simple temperature maintenance
- Lack the features and included accessories generally found in higher classes
Quality becomes a mixed bag with Practical pizza ovens, which swap out solid refractory cement domes for a range of construction and insulation techniques. Their exteriors are made from a variety of steels and usually include an insulative layer of mineral wool or ceramic fiber, while double-walled designs with air gaps are also common. Tuscan Chef pizza ovens are notable for their extremely thick steel walls measuring 7 millimeters, and WPPO pizza ovens stand out with 304-grade stainless steel construction plus ceramic fiber insulation. Though Practical warranties typically top out at 2 years, the Sole Gourmet Italia Series comes with 4 years of coverage.
Because Practical models lack refractory cement domes that rapidly retain and radiate heat, their performance isn’t quite up to snuff with higher-class pizza ovens. Yet most can still achieve worthwhile results thanks to the layers of insulation sandwiched between walls of steel. Even pizza ovens that use only steel as insulation — whether arranged in layers with air gaps or just thick walls — are capable of reaching high temperatures and making great pizza (tall and roomy cooking chambers don’t hurt, either). All that being said, Practical pizza ovens don’t offer much versatility because they often struggle to produce lower, gentler heat via refraction.
While Practical pizza ovens have less to offer than their Luxury and Premium counterparts in terms of features, they still include some thoughtful touches that enhance your cooking experience. Radiant stone and refractory tile floors, for instance, quickly absorb heat from the fire to puff up your crust the second it hits the cooking chamber. But our favorite feature might actually be offset fire boxes, which smooth along the highly involved process of maintaining a wood fire. A few other details of note: stainless steel cooking racks, built-in thermometers (though their accuracy may vary), and a loaded accessory bundle included with Nuke Outdoor Ovens.
Top Practical Pizza Oven Brands
Economy Pizza Ovens
- Portable pizza ovens light enough to take anywhere
- Wallet-friendly models perfect for any backyard setting
- Constructed from various grades of stainless steel and powder-coated steel
- Warranties come as short as 90 days, but most last only 1 year
- Smaller cooking chambers can fit no more than 1 pizza at a time
- Usually have a ceramic floor insert to retain heat and puff up crust for desirable pizza
- Fewest features of any class, though some manufacturers offer miniature pizza accessories
Want to cook the occasional pizza at home without breaking the bank? Economy ovens are your best bet. Construction materials cover a wide spectrum of powder-coated and stainless steel, often backed up by a thin layer of ceramic fiber to help trap heat. Certain models may instead rely on double-walled stainless steel layers surrounding an insulative air gap. Regardless of design, quality in this class is highly varied and most warranties end after just 1 year. It’s worth noting that most Economy pizza ovens are portable or tabletop models, giving you ultimate freedom of placement and storage while allowing for easy transportation to tailgates or campsites.
Economy models have no problem cooking pizza and baking bread, but don’t expect a roaring, wood-fired pizza experience. You’ll generally have a tough time getting these ovens as hot as models in higher classes, and versatility is also fairly difficult to come by in this group. Still, they fulfill their main task of cranking out pizza on the fly for small family dinners, and WPPO pizza ovens in particular are notable in the Economy class for their heat-retaining ceramic fiber insulation. The real benefit of Economy pizza oven performance, though, is the ability to cook personal pies anywhere, be it at the fishing camp or on a road trip with your friends.
By designing pizza ovens specifically to meet a low price point, Economy brands made the decision to sacrifice many of the unique and interesting features found on more expensive models. The standard feature among these ovens is a removable ceramic pizza stone insert — they make it easy to build a pizza then slide the entire stone into the oven, and to remove after your cook for simple cleaning. You can also leave them in the cooking chamber to soak up heat as your fire grows, which results in your pizza crust instantly achieving perfect puffiness. Additionally, several manufacturers offer covers or cases to protect the unit when in transit or not in use.
Top Economy Pizza Oven Brands
View on BBQGuys.com