Pizza Ovens FAQ

Pizza ovens are some of our favorite machines at BBQGuys, because they are the easiest way to turn a handful of meat and veggies into the culinary perfection that is pizza! Pizza ovens come in all shapes, sizes and fuel types, so our experts put together this list of commonly asked questions to make researching easier. Anything you want to know more about? Pizza oven experts are waiting to answer your call — give them a ring at 1-877-743-2269!

Can I use an outdoor pizza oven indoors?


No. “Outdoor” is in the name for a good reason: ventilation. These can never be used in enclosed areas. Wood, charcoal, and pellet fires emit carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas that can be fatal. Always refer to, and never defy, your owner’s manual. Trust us, you don’t want to smoke up your house or risk anyone’s health.

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How often should I clean my pizza oven?


Between every bake. You’re not wiping down a grill here, so set aside all the horrid flashbacks to those greasy splatters. Prior to use, just brush out the ash from the oven’s stone floor. Build your fire, then give it another brisk brushing for good measure. Prevent sticking dough by re-seasoning the floor with cornmeal. When you’re done, simply let it cool down! Note that gas doesn’t produce ash, so the brushing’s even easier on gas ovens.

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What else can you cook in a pizza oven?


Basically, anything oven-friendly that can fit. Buying a wood fire model? Even better: those have a wider temperature range than your regular oven and are held back only by how small or large you choose to build that fire. Furthermore, wood-fired ovens produce infrared heat — perfect for meat! They also encourage reverse searing and the cast-iron cooking of proteins and vegetables. While a pizza oven is spectacular for roasts, casseroles, pastries, and desserts, bear in mind that gas models are limited by the temperature ranges of gas burners.

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Do I need to “burn in” or “cure” my pizza oven before I cook pizza?


That’ll depend on the oven; consult your owner’s manual. (You know what? Just build that habit with anything you ever buy.) Be aware that if you’re supposed to cure it first, revving up that pizza oven without doing so will turn your aunt’s prized casserole recipe into a thrilling recipe for disaster. Gas pizza ovens are generally feistier about requiring this process.

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How do you start a fire in a wood-burning pizza oven?


Firstly, build it big enough upfront; it’s easier to subtract wood than trying to add it to raise the heat too late. Give the fire enough oxygen with that door and chimney flue wide open; it doesn’t hurt to go “log cabin” style (think “Jenga”). Use a fire starter, such as a quick light or slow-burn starter, and let everything catch and burn until the smoke thins out (billowing smoke, bad). Build the flames where you want them, or center them before moving the burning wood and coals to the side once lit. Lastly, only ever use hardwood— if someone suggests softwood, consider cutting them out of your life before they succeed in crippling your health.

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Do you need to assemble pizza ovens, or do they arrive complete? How much setup is required?


Most arrive fairly finished and take minimal setup (countertop ovens, for instance, are ready to go straight out of the box). Generally speaking, the issue is less “assembly” and more “Good Lord, it weighs nearly 600 lbs!” Naturally, DIY kits, ready-to-finish builds, and built-in models are pretty heavy on the installation.

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How can I tell when my pizza oven is hot enough?


Same you do with anything else — a thermometer! For a fun trick, once the thermometer reads about 500 degrees Fahrenheit, throw a handful of cornmeal onto the oven floor. It should instantly brown and roast; bursting into flames falls under the “oops” column. If that happens, break up your fire a bit, give it 30 minutes to drop the heat, then try again. You’ll have to follow the same procedure (this time, instead adding wood or increasing airflow) if you don’t get that instant browning or roasting effect.

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Which is better: gas or wood pizza ovens?


The major difference is convenience versus authenticity. Is the flavor worth the work? That’s up to you. Wood pizza ovens require you to build and maintain a fire, which isn’t as hard as it sounds. But it does take time and effort, and clean-up becomes harder. The payoff is hotter fire, which means much crispier pizza. Conversely, gas pizza ovens ignite immediately, preheat quickly, and scoff at ash. But that sheer convenience will cost you slight versatility and somewhat lesser heat. For more info, check out our Pizza Oven Buying Guide.

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How long does it take to preheat a pizza oven?


Generally, 30–45 minutes (for pellet pizza ovens, walk that back to about 15 minutes). This will be longer for models that separate the fire and pizza to different compartments or, spoiler alert, for the biggest ovens. Live fire takes time to build and light (which factors into the preheat), but wood fire burns hot and heats very quickly — and this is even faster if the fire is within the actual oven chamber.

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What kinds of wood should you use in a pizza oven?


Hardwoods, full stop. Aim for hardwoods that feature less intense flavors. Oak is conventional — easy on the wallet, easy to find, and burns slowly thanks to its density (honorable mentions: hickory and pecan). However, the flavor profile isn’t that big a deal; pizza doesn’t cook long enough to absorb much smoke flavor, so pick whatever wood is easiest. And by that, again, never soft wood (especially pine). Softwood is filled with resinous sap containing chemicals that, well… have you ever seen what fire does to paper? That’s what inhaling this stuff does to your respiratory system. Do not burn this stuff. Ever.

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Can you add wood chips to a gas pizza oven?


Sure! But the effect is subtle. Pizza cooks too quickly to absorb much smoke… however, who said you can only cook pizza? Smoking wood chips absolutely bring delicious charm to roasts and casseroles. We recommend a good smoker box for this, right by the gas burner — this keeps the cleanup easy, as you don’t want ash in your gas oven. Nix the wood logs and wood chunks, and stick with wood chips. Chips are your happy place.

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Do you need a pizza stone, or can you cook on the oven surface?


Looking at the floor of a pizza oven — generally, they’re refractory cement or tile — you’ve basically got a pizza stone right there. What might sell you on pizza stones is this beautiful little phrase: “easier cleanup.” Using one doesn’t hurt anything and, especially with a mound of ingredients gunning for Mount Etna, it’s far less of a hassle to clean off a removable stone than the oven floor.

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Where can I find pizza recipes?


You’re already in the right place! Check out our best pizza recipes for, well, our best pizza recipes (with both a tenured chef and a talented grill master on the staff, we’re confident in throwing the word “best” around a lot in this sentence). Looking for a change in scenery?

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What’s the largest pizza you can cook in a pizza oven?


Our smallest pizza ovens can fit a single petite 12-inch pizza, while many of our biggest boys can fit 6 of those 12-inch pizzas at once. The largest pizza ovens on the market can bake mind-bogglingly massive pies. Your only limitations are your human strength and dexterity and your confidence! And, we suppose, the size of your pizza peel on hand to maneuver the delicious pie. Here’s an idea: if enough of you call in asking about it, we just might track down a pizza oar.

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Can you use charcoal in a pizza oven?


You sure can, as long as it’s natural lump charcoal. The chemical additives in charcoal briquettes can seep into the oven materials and leave a permanent taste and smell in everything you cook. When it comes to actually cooking with lump charcoal in a pizza oven, treat it like you would traditional wood logs.

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Is a brick oven better than a metal oven?


Neither material is truly “better” than the other in terms of cooking performance. It’s worth noting, however, that brick is much heavier than metal and won’t be easy to move around the yard if you want a freestanding pizza oven.

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Why does brick oven pizza taste better?


The secret is the oven material, be it true brick, ceramic, or cordierite stone. Each is tremendous at absorbing and then radiating huge amounts of heat, allowing your pizza to get blasted with fire from all sides for an even cook.

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Do you have to close the door on a pizza oven?


You should always consult your owner’s manual or contact your manufacturer for specific directions, but generally speaking, it’s best to leave the door open when making pizza so the fire has enough oxygen to stay roaring. If you’re baking something like bread or casserole at lower temperatures, then it’s best to close the door so the heat can stay trapped within the insulated oven.

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How do I keep my pizza oven from smoking?


The solution depends on the color of smoke you’re seeing. White smoke is a sign that there’s too much moisture in the oven; preheating for roughly half an hour — or however long your manufacturer recommends — should drive out all the moisture before you even get started. Otherwise, the wood will eventually burn it all off. If the smoke is black, then that’s generally a sign of a grease fire and is much more serious. For safety, you should close the door to the oven to deprive the fire of oxygen and let it burn out on its own. Your pizza oven should produce only thin and pale smoke, if any.

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Why is my pizza oven not getting hot enough?


This sounds simple, but your oven may just need more time to heat up. We recommend preheating any pizza oven for about 30 minutes, though it’s always wise to see what your owner’s manual says about the subject. The fact is refractory brick or stone is an extremely dense material and will take a while to reach 400°F and higher. To speed up the process, leave the oven door open and ensure the flue isn’t blocked in any way — this will provide as much airflow as possible to stoke the flames.

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How do you put out the fire in a pizza oven?


This one’s simple: just smother it! Shut the oven door to deprive the fire of oxygen, and from there it’ll burn out by itself. Just keep in mind that this will take time, so be patient.

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