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Wood Fired Pizza Oven FAQ - The Grilling Life

In this ultimate wood fired pizza oven FAQ guide, I’m going to be giving you the answers to your most frequently asked wood fired pizza oven questions. Learn more with the Grilling Life pizza oven Q&A.

If you’re a true pizza enthusiast, your outdoor kitchen isn’t complete without a wood-fired pizza oven.

No other piece of equipment can give you the bubbly crust, delicious char, and piping-hot toppings quite like a wood-fired oven can. Natural gas-powered ovens can try, but for authentic pizza purists, it’s just not quite the same.

But a quality wood-fired pizza oven isn’t an appliance you can go pick up from your local department store (unless you live by a really cool department store). These ovens are investments that may require tweaks to your outdoor kitchen and even some heavy machinery to install.

If you’re just beginning to consider buying one of your own, our wood-fired pizza oven FAQ guide will give you all of the information you need about the ovens themselves, how they work, what kind to purchase, how to install them, which accessories to buy, and more.

At the end of our wood-fired pizza oven FAQ list, we’ll give you a few parting thoughts so you can make your own decisions about the oven that will work best for your lifestyle.

Check back often as we add questions and update the answers with new articles!

In This Article, We’ll Explore:

Click a topic below to be taken directly to that section.

Which is Better: Gas or Wood Pizza Ovens?

There truly isn’t a “right” answer here, it just comes down to the style of cooking you prefer. If you enjoy a rustic and authentic cooking experience and don’t mind the work and attention it takes to heat and maintain your oven, it’ll reward you with bubbly, flavorful pizzas.

But that unmistakable flavor isn’t always worth the effort for some people — if you’re looking for a reliable, fast, and simple option for your pizza nights, look into your gas pizza oven options.

What is a Wood Burning Pizza Oven?

A wood-burning pizza oven is a specialty oven designed to cook foods at extremely high temperatures and retain heat for prolonged periods. These ovens are typically made from brick or concrete and can be purchased in a variety of sizes and styles.

How do Wood-Fired Pizza Ovens Work?

A wood-fired pizza oven is heated by a wood fire. That heat is then trapped by the tiles, bricks, and insulation that form the oven’s dome and base, and in turn, cooks the food.

Because of the oven’s size and heat retention, it can remain hot for hours and even days after cooking.

Why do Foods Taste Better when Cooked in a Wood-Fired Oven?

The primary reason food seems to taste better when it’s cooked with wood fire is the unique flavors the different types of wood can impart. Wood-fired ovens also offer more even cooking and higher cooking temperatures that give foods a better flavor compared to other cooking methods.

What is the Difference Between a Bread Oven & a Pizza Oven?

While you can cook bread in a pizza oven, the opposite isn’t as easily done. That’s because bread ovens are designed to bake multiple loaves at low heat and can’t reach and maintain the temperatures needed to cook pizzas.

Pizza ovens, on the other hand, can heat up and maintain the correct temperature for baking bread in addition to pizza.

Is it Easy to Make Pizza with Wood-Fired Ovens?

As with any new appliance, there is a bit of a learning curve with a wood-fired pizza oven. But once you’ve made a few pies, getting the fire started, sliding your pizza in, rotating it, and removing it will become as almost as easy as tossing a frozen pizza into your regular oven (and about a thousand times tastier).

How Long does it Take to Cook a Pizza in a Wood Fired Oven?

Due to its incredibly high temperatures, you can cook a pizza in your wood-fired pizza oven in as little as 90 seconds if you prefer a thinner, crispier pie. Standard pizzas will take around three to five minutes to cook.

How should I Decide which Size Pizza Oven to Buy?

Consider the space where you’ll be putting your wood-fired pizza oven and determine how large of an oven that space can hold.

We recommend opting for as large of a model as your space can manage — while it will cost a bit more and require more fuel, you’ll have more flexibility and cooking space to work and grow into in the long run.

Can I Build a Pizza Oven into an Outdoor Kitchen?

Absolutely! You can build your pizza oven above a fireplace, built into a countertop, or even under the counter like a traditional oven. There are endless ways to customize your wood-fired pizza oven to make it seamlessly fit into the design and layout of your outdoor kitchen.

Can I Use an Outdoor Pizza Oven Indoors?

No. Wood-fired pizza ovens require plenty of ventilation to air out the carbon monoxide that wood and charcoal fires can produce. Carbon monoxide can be fatal, and ovens that are designed to be used outdoors just don’t offer enough ventilation options to be safely used inside.

What Kinds of Wood Should you Use in a Pizza Oven?

The best kind of wood for your pizza oven is hardwood, preferably one that’s dry and aged like oak, pecan, or hickory. Don’t use any woods that contain resin, as the smoke they produce can be dangerous for your health.

How do you Start a Fire in a Wood-Burning Pizza Oven?

To light your pizza oven, open the door to your oven and chimney flue, build a sizable pile of logs and kindling, then light it with a match or fire starter. Let that burn and watch for the inside of your oven’s dome to turn black, and then white.

Continue adding wood to your fire and spreading it out across the floor of the oven to bring up the temperature, then close the flue, move the embers to the side, and you’re ready to cook!

In Which Part of the Pizza Oven Should I Light the Fire?

You’ll start your fire near the mouth of your oven, then move it to the back or side of the oven once you’ve built it up a bit. This will allow the fire to grow, and the oven to heat quickly and thoroughly.

How do I Shut Down my Wood Burning Pizza Oven?

To shut down your oven after cooking, let the flames die down and then close the oven door. The oven will cool down over the course of several hours.

How Long does it Take to Preheat a Wood Fired Pizza Oven?

Most wood-fired pizza ovens will take around 25-45 minutes to preheat, although larger ovens or ovens where the fire and cooking space are separated into different compartments will take longer.

How can I Tell when my Pizza Oven is Hot Enough for Cooking?

The most surefire way to tell that your pizza oven is ready is by testing it with an Infrared Thermometer.

You can also test it out visually by looking for the fire to begin to slow down and for the dome to become a clear or white color, or even by tossing a handful of cornmeal onto the oven floor and watching for it to immediately brown and roast but not burn.

How Hot does a Wood-Fired Pizza Oven Get?

Pizza ovens can range in temperature from 400°F to 900°F, although the ideal spot for quickly cooking a perfect, crisp pizza is between 650°F and 750°F.

Why does a Pizza Oven Need to Get so Hot?

The high heat of a pizza oven is necessary for evaporating the water inside of the dough quickly, which results in those trademark bubbles in the crust. High heat is also responsible for giving you both cheese that is melted evenly, and the flavorful charred spots that pizza oven enthusiasts look for.

Is a Pizza Oven Safe Around Children?

Because of the fire and how hot it gets; your pizza oven will inherently pose some risk to children. How much risk depends on how hot the outside of your oven gets, which will depend on its design and how it’s installed in your yard.

A properly installed oven won’t be any more dangerous to have kids around than a standard grill, but you’ll still want to watch them closely.

Does a Wood Burning Pizza Oven Need a Chimney?

Yes. A chimney is an essential part of a wood-fired pizza oven because it helps regulate airflow and the temperature within your oven. It also helps direct smoke, hot air, and ash out of the oven that would otherwise come out of the door and wreck your awesome pizza.

Can I Add a Longer Chimney to my Pizza Oven?

There are extensions you can purchase if you need to add a longer chimney to properly vent your pizza oven; just be sure to check your local building codes to be sure you’re in the clear.

What is the Difference Between a Single-Walled & Double Walled Chimney Pipe?

Single-walled chimney pipes are basic and cost-effective and can withstand the outdoor elements due to their high-grade stainless-steel construction.

Double-wall chimney pipes are rated for both indoor and outdoor use and come in a variety of lengths and angles for more complex installations.

Do you Need to Use a Pizza Stone, or can you Cook on the Oven Surface?

While you can bake your pizza directly on the floor of the oven, using a pizza stone will give you the same results and make for way easier cleanup.

What’s the Largest Pizza you can Cook in a Wood Pizza Oven?

Most pizza oven manufacturers will describe an oven’s size in how many standard pizzas it can fit. But if you really want to go all-out, the only limit to the size of your pizza is the size of your oven, door, and pizza peel, and how confident you are in your ability to maneuver it. Good luck!

What Else can you Cook in a Wood Fired Pizza Oven?

You aren’t limited to cooking just pizza in your wood-fired pizza oven. You can cook pretty much anything in your oven thank to its incredible temperature range, including meats, bread, vegetables, soups, side dishes, and even pastries and desserts!

Can a Wood-Fired Oven Also Work as a Barbecue?

Yes! Wood-fired pizza ovens work great for grilling because of their awesome heat retention.

What is Curing & do I Need to do this Before I Cook in my Pizza Oven?

Curing is the process of removing the moisture in the mortar of your oven with small fires for a few hours each day over the course of a week.

This helps protect your oven’s cooking ability and extend its lifespan, but it won’t be necessary for every type of oven and some come pre-cured.

Check your oven’s manual when you install it (and well before you plan to cook!) to see if it requires curing.

How Often should I Clean my Pizza Oven?

Plan on cleaning your pizza oven every time you use it, right before you build a new fire.

How do I Clean my Wood-Fired Pizza Oven?

All you need to do is brush or vacuum out the ash from your previous cook before you build your next fire.

If any food falls on the floor while you’re cooking, let it burn off before you let the fire die down. If it doesn’t burn off, you can use a brush to remove it or let it burn the next time you use your oven.

How do I Maintain my Wood-Fired Pizza Oven?

How you clean and maintain your oven will depend on what it’s made of, so be sure to follow all of the instructions that came with it when you purchased it.

Keep rain and snow out of the chimney and interior of the oven by closing the flue and door when not in use. You should also inspect your oven twice a year for creosote build-up, which needs to be removed to reduce the risk of a fire.

What Surface is Safe to Put my Wood Fired Pizza Oven on?

Most ovens can be placed on an outdoor counter, preferably one made from stainless steel, concrete slab, or granite with a ceramic board placed under the oven. Your oven should not be placed on a wooden surface.

Can you Put Masonry Stone or Brick on the Outside of a Pizza Oven?

Yes! You can use masonry stone or brick on the outside of your oven to give it your own unique design. If you’re doing this on your own, be sure to use high-temperature cement to keep your bricks in place.

Will Stainless Steel Pizza Ovens Warp Over Time with the High Heat?

It’s unlikely that your stainless-steel wood-fired pizza oven will warp over time.

Can I Use my Oven in the Winter or a Cold Climate?

Yes! The core of your oven is made to withstand extreme temperatures, and cold is no different. The insulation will also help keep heat in, so how cold it is outside won’t have too much of an impact on how your pizza cooks inside.

It just might take a bit longer for your oven to heat up, depending on the temperature and how windy it is (plus you’ll want to bundle up until your oven gets hot enough to keep you warm!).

Do you Need to Assemble Pizza Ovens, or do they Arrive Ready to Go?

The majority of ovens will come fully assembled (such as counter-top ovens), with most of the work related to getting such a heavy object transported back into your yard. If you opt for a DIY, ready-to-finish, or built-in model oven, there will be more assembly required.

I Only have the Budget & Space for a Portable Pizza Oven. Is it Worth it?

Definitely! You’ll still be able to cook one delicious pizza at a time, and even experiment with baking bread, roasting meats, and cooking side dishes.

What Accessories do I Need for a Pizza Oven?

We recommend you invest in a pizza peel to make maneuvering your pizza in, around, and out of the oven easier. You’ll also want a brush to clean out your oven, an ash stick to move the fire and embers around, and an infrared thermometer to check the temperature of your oven from a safe distance.

Is Wood or Metal Pizza Peel Better?

This is a matter of personal preference, but metal pizza peels are typically easier to use in a hot oven. There’s less of a risk of sticking and no chance of it drying out and leaving a splinter in your pizza (we love a crunchy crust, but not that kind of crunchy!).

While wood peels work just fine, you’ll want to coat them with oil every once in a while to make sure they don’t dry out.

Do I Need Special Utensils, Different Pots, or Pans?

Nope, the pots and pans that you use in your regular oven will do just fine as long as you keep them away from the flame.

Where can I Find Pizza Recipes?

There’s no shortage of pizza recipes on the internet, but to help narrow down your search we suggest Starting With This Guide.

Final Thoughts on our Wood Fired Pizza Oven FAQ

We hope this wood-fired pizza oven FAQ guide has helped answer some of your burning questions and given you a solid foundation for your own pizza oven buying journey.

A wood-fired outdoor pizza oven is your ticket to so much more than just baking pizzas — it’s your opportunity to learn how to build and work with a fire, and cook amazing wood-fired dishes in your own backyard.

If our wood-fired pizza oven FAQ guide missed any questions you still have, or you’re interested in us adding more topics to it, let us know by leaving a comment below or sending an email!

The goal of our wood-fired pizza oven FAQ list is to keep it updated and ever-growing with the information you need to choose your own pizza oven and get cooking!

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Patrick Ginise

A backyard warrior, certified carnivore, lover of good whiskey, grill master and I’m Living The Grilling Life!

I have a passion for cooking with live fire and smoke, no matter the weather. I’m a real person just like you, who loves outdoor cooking and BBQ. Food, fun, and time spent with family and friends are what it’s all about! It is my mission to take my passion and knowledge for outdoor cooking and all things BBQ and share this expertise in techniques and grilling equipment with you. In other words, Living The Grilling Life!

I have personally tested over 150+ Grills and Smokers and hundreds of grilling thermometers, temperature controllers, grill brushes, grilling tools, fire starters, and other BBQ products.