If you're trying to choose between a pizza oven vs pizza stone, it pays to know the benefits and the downsides of each when it comes to feeding friends and family in the backyard.
Choosing between them means knowing how to go about cooking pizzas using each of these two options, and the features that bring tasty results. It also pays to understand the possible disadvantages with each method so you can make the best selection for your yard.
To help you come to the right decision between using a pizza oven or a pizza stone on a BBQ for dishing up slices of pizza pie to friends and family, we’ve put the two options head to head and these are the results.
The benefits of a pizza oven vs pizza stone
You may not have considered cooking pizza on your barbecue before but, once tried, you might be a fan like Weber (opens in new tab) head grill master Dan Cooper. ‘I love cooking pizza on a barbecue, it’s definitely a staple for me,’ he says. But how does it compare to adding a pizza oven to the yard in terms of ease of use, results, and the flexibility to prepare other foods outside? This is what you need to know about pizza oven vs pizza stone.
Pros and cons of pizza ovens
Wondering whether pizza ovens are worth it rather than opting for a cheaper pizza stone for your grill? Here's what the experts say.
Benefits of using a pizza oven
Pizza ovens are typically easy to use, but you’re likely to find that practice is required. ‘Like most outdoor BBQs/cooking gadgets, there’s a knack to baking the perfect pizza,’ says Dan Hart, founder of Home Pizza Ovens (opens in new tab).
However, you should find results come quickly. ‘With each bake, the process becomes easier,’ Dan says. ‘Early efforts will undoubtedly result in under or over-cooked pizzas, created in odd shapes and sizes. Over time, the pizzas will improve as will the joy of baking a delicious, Italian-inspired dish.’
What does make the process of achieving the perfect pizza oven temperature easier is using a pizza oven with a thermometer – which can be found in smaller pizza ovens like the portable Roccbox from Gozney (opens in new tab). ‘To make the cooking experience as simple and stress free as possible portable pizza oven Roccbox includes a built-in thermometer,’ says Tom Gozney, founder of Gozney.
‘Our latest pizza oven, the Gozney Dome, goes one step further in terms of size, versatility and ease of use with a built-in dual-fuel burner system, digital thermometer with two linked temperature probes, an extra wide oven mouth and an accessory port,’ Tom adds.
For a pizza oven without a temperature gauge, our head of reviews, Millie Fender, recommends investing in an infrared thermometer for accurate measurement. This infrared thermometer from Ooni (opens in new tab) is a favorite with pizza oven fans.
And the reason a thermometer is highly recommended? Because it’s important to heat a pizza oven to the right temperature first. ‘To cook a traditional Neapolitan pizza you need a minimum oven temperature of over 850˚F (over 450˚C),’ says Tom. ‘Without the required high temperatures, you simply won’t achieve the right bake – your crust won’t rise properly, and you won’t end up with that signature leopard spotted crust we all know and love.’
A good pizza also needs attention, advises Dan Hart. ‘The pizza must be turned 90 degrees every 15 to 20 seconds using a small headed turning peel.’
As well as being able to produce sufficient heat, a pizza oven also has the benefit of distributing heat for optimum results. ‘Heat must come from the floor as well as above,’ explains Dan.
Tom Gozney agrees this is essential. ‘The beauty of pizza ovens like our Gozney Dome is that thanks to their shape, build materials and thick layers of insulation, they provide a full 360º heat hold meaning your pizza will cook evenly and you won’t be left with a burnt base and uncooked toppings,’ he explains.
Dan Hart identifies a further possible taste advantage. ‘When using a wood-fired pizza oven, the smoky taste is hard to beat – this applies to pizzas and other food you can cook in a pizza oven,’ he says.
A further plus point for pizza ovens in the pizza oven vs pizza stone head to head is their speed. Although there are exceptions, typically, most types of pizza ovens are super quick to cook pizzas once preheated. ‘With one of our pizza ovens you can cook a traditional Neapolitan pizza in just 60 to 90 seconds meaning you can quickly churn out enough pizzas for the whole family to enjoy and you won’t be stuck manning the BBQ the whole evening,’ says Tom Gozney.
An additional upside to pizza ovens that you might not expect is that they‘re great for cooking a whole lot more foods than pizza. Which ones? ‘Bread, spatchcock chicken, côte de boeuf, ribs, fish, veggie dishes – everything and more that you can cook on a BBQ,’ says Dan Hart. ‘And the wood-infused taste is amazing – lamb cutlets with garlic, oregano, thyme, lemon zest and olive oil is our favorite – the aroma recreates those fantastic holiday dishes enjoyed in Greece.’
And Tom Gozney suggests, ‘If you simply pop in a skillet pan in either Roccbox or Dome you can cook meat, eggs, roast potatoes, shakshuka, veggies, baked camembert and even desserts or you can explore baking bread in a pizza oven by cooking a flatbread, tear and share or sourdough. If you are using charcoal or wood you can also experiment with low and slow pizza oven recipes just like you would with a BBQ,’ he adds.
Drawbacks of pizza ovens
While pizza ovens are champions on many counts, there are a couple of aspects you might consider to be disadvantages, however. The first is cost. A pizza oven is an additional investment buy for your yard, so factor in purchase price for your preferred model when deciding.
It might also be a downside that, as most of us don’t want to go without a grill, you’ll have two cooking appliances in your yard. For most people that likely won’t matter, but it could if your BBQ area is small and you don't have space for things like a pizza oven table.
Shop pizza ovens:
One of Gardeningetc's favorite portable pizza ovens, this wood-fired design heats up to 950˚F (500˚C) in just 15 minutes, ready for cooking delicious 12in pizzas. It also takes just 60 seconds to cook your pizza. It's so good we rated it 5 stars in our Ooni Fyra review.
The safe-touch wooden carrying handle, detachable chimney and fold-up legs make this wood-fired oven super easy to move around. A pizza peel, 12in baking stone, laser temperature gun, fire starter, and blower are all included.
Pros and cons of pizza stones
If you love the idea of pizza cooked outside, using a pizza stone on a grill is a simple way to prepare some slices once you’re set up.
Benefits of using a pizza stone
‘First, make sure you have the right tools for the job,’ says Weber’s Dan Cooper. ‘At Weber we have a range of pizza stones that have been specifically designed to create perfectly crispy and tasty pizzas.’ Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for other grill brands.
Bear in mind that gas BBQs have the advantage when using a pizza stone. ‘Using a pizza stone on a gas grill is very easy because you can keep the grill at a constant high temperature without problems,’ explains Joonas Jokiniemi, founder of Grill Smoke Love (opens in new tab). ‘If you are using a pizza stone on a charcoal grill, it gets a bit more tricky since you have to maintain a steady high temperature the whole time you are baking pizzas.’
As with cooking in a pizza oven, temperature is crucial. ‘Ensure the BBQ is kept at the correct temperature, which is between 450 and 475˚C (230 and 245˚C),’ says Dan. ‘If you’re using a charcoal barbecue, make sure the charcoal is spread evenly underneath your pizza stone.'
On the list of plus points, though, is the fact that you can prepare other foods using a pizza stone. ‘You can cook quesadillas or flatbread (eg pita bread) on a pizza stone,’ suggests Joonas.
Think meat, too. ‘You could use a pizza stone on a BBQ to sear steaks and chops,’ says Dan Hart. ‘You’ll need to get the stone super hot though, most likely leaving it to heat for at least 30 minutes prior to using.’ And, of course, the barbecue itself can be used for cooking a whole host of favorite meats, fish, and veggies.
Another benefit of using a pizza stone is that – compared to buying a pizza oven – it involves very little outlay if you have already invested in one of the best BBQs. There’s another pro, too. ‘The key advantage is having one cooking source in the garden as opposed to having a pizza oven as well,’ says Dan Hart.
‘Most homeowners already own a barbecue, so purchasing a cheap pizza stone is a great way to get into making homemade pizza without purchasing another large outdoor cooking appliance,’ agrees Derek Gaughan, owner of Pala Pizza (opens in new tab). ‘With that said, if pizza making becomes a hobby for you, an outdoor pizza oven definitely will outperform a pizza stone on a barbecue.’
Downsides of using a pizza stone
In order to cook on a pizza stone, preheating it is vital, and it can take longer to get a pizza stone up to temperature than it does a pizza oven. ‘Preheat the pizza stone over direct heat for 30 minutes,’ recommends Dan Cooper. ‘This is very important as, if the stone isn’t preheated properly, the pizza dough can get stuck to it, and the crust won’t get crispy.’
As for how long it takes to cook with a pizza stone, it does need extra minutes compared to a pizza oven. ‘I try to aim for around seven to 10 minutes of grilling time when using a pizza stone,’ says Dan.
As you’ll have noted, this is longer than with a typical pizza oven, making it a downside of this cooking method, as Dan Hart of Home Pizza Ovens points out. ‘Pizzas will take longer to bake,’ he says. And another con is that cooking is trickier, he notes. ‘The direct heat source below the stone is harder to control.’
Be mindful too that heat is lost when opening the grill. ‘When it comes time to launch a pizza onto the stone, you want to be as fast as possible and quickly close the lid afterwards,’ advises Derek. ‘That way, the top of the pizza will cook at the same speed as the bottom – which will be in direct contact with the hot pizza stone.’
Shop pizza stones:
Suitable for use on a number of Weber charcoal, wood pellet and gas grills, this cordierite stone allows you to cook pizza on your existing grill. The handy metal carry racks makes it easy to transport your cooked pizza to the table.
Measuring 12x15in, this rectangular design will offer plenty of space for cooking pizzas on your grill. It can withstand temperatures of up to 1400˚F, while the built-in handles make it easy to move on and off your grill. Can also be used indoors in an oven.
Ideal for cooking 16in pizzas, this round stone is made of heavy-duty cordierite and will withstand temperatures of 550˚F. It has an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 on Amazon, with reviewers commenting on the great results it achieves on a grill and in an oven.
Pizza oven vs pizza stone: which is better?
When you’re considering pizza oven vs pizza stone, it’s important to think about your budget, how often you plan to make pizza outside, as well as consider the setup you prefer for cooking in the yard.
Both are easy ways to make pizza, although you will need a little experience to get the best out of either method. If you’re a pizza aficionado, a pizza oven has the edge because of the high heat it can deliver and the heat distribution. You can also feed a crowd at your pizza party with ease because of the speed of cooking. But if you’re only going to cook pizza in the backyard occasionally and especially if you already own a barbecue, a pizza stone is a budget way to elevate your outdoor kitchen and take pizza cooking outside.
Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes and gardens and loves investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper.
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