While you may be over the sourdough and tired of pasta making, pizza doesn’t really fall into that category. (Seriously, who can get tired of pizza?) With the amount of options for crust style and toppings, the dish is a unique experience almost every time.
“There are so many avenues to explore with pizza-making — you can up your hydration for lighter crusts, experiment with different starters like sourdough, not to mention the hundreds of pizza styles from Sicilian to New York. It’s truly a life time craft where you can keep building your knowledge,” says Caroline Reed, communications manager at Ooni.
A pizza pan or stone in the oven may be just fine, but with so many great (and affordable!) options on the market that will definitely up your pizza game, it may be time to make an investment. But which type of pizza oven is right for you?
“It’s really about how the consumer is going to use the oven. Do they want something more portable to take camping or to a friends backyard for pizza night? Or do they want something a bit larger and handle bigger pizzas that can stay put in their backyard?” asks Reed.
However, says Samuel Curran, marketing manager at Union Square Group, which owns the PizzaCraft and Pizzeria Pronto brands, there are a few more factors that need to be taken into account when deciding to purchase a pizza oven.
“Shopping for a portable outdoor pizza oven [can] boil down to three main factors — budget, space and cooking needs. Budget is a priority for everyone, the price on a portable outdoor pizza oven can really range some costing as much as thousands of dollars. Second, you want to make sure it fits into your outdoor space and you have room to work with it. Lastly, what are you looking to create?” notes Curran.
From there, it’s time to sort through what attributes you’re looking for and what cooking style fits your needs. Reed says that, like grills, there are many different types of pizza ovens including electric, gas, wood and pellet. Each offers its own type of convenience and cooking style.
“The gas-powered ovens are the most convenient to use, just hook it up to gas and you’re good to go. For people who love barbecuing and grilling, the wood, charcoal or pellet-powered ovens might be more appealing,” she says.
Curran explains that gas or propane ovens are a bit easier and less maintenance, but you won’t be missing that delicious crust in the process. Gas pizza ovens burn at very high temperatures creating an optimal environment for bubbly crust, he says. Wood stoves, note Curran, can reach higher temperatures and make for a great crust but gas allows you to avoid having any ash or soot cleanup. Wood ovens require specific wood and much more attention than a gas powered pizza oven.
Then, after you’ve settled on your pizza oven, making drool-worthy pizza is all about the process. Curran says there are a few more steps to making sure your pie is as delicious as possible. The first, he says, is never taking your eye off the pizza, as it has the tendency to go from crispy to burned in only a few moments.
“For first timers, I would say do your research, watch a couple YouTube videos and read some articles about the process. In no time, you will perfect your craft and be a master pizza chef,” he says.
Other advice? Pay attention to every detail from the dough to the toppings. But, don’t be afraid to try out new techniques and styles, especially with your crust dough.
“Pizza crusts are made outside of the oven. The thickness of your dough will have the greatest effect on your crust,” he says, noting that he likes to experiment with the thickness of his crust until it’s exactly right.
And, says Reed, thinking outside of the (pizza) box will ensure that your pie making and eating experience will always leave you feeling satisfied.
“Pizza is deep rooted in tradition but is also the perfect medium for creativity — it’s about what you enjoy. [Like] pepperoni with hot honey, and sweet and hot candied jalapeños. It can be really nice to finish your pizza with cold toppings, too — a cool, creamy burrata post-cooking is amazing, as are fresh soft herbs and arugula. Sweet pizzas are really popular — chocolate spread, marshmallows and crumbled cookies makes a great s’mores pizza. Although, put those sugary toppings on after baking for best results,” she says.
(Need inspiration? Ooni’s Instagram page will leave your mouth watering.)
But before you get to tossing your pie, don’t forget about the accessories. Pizza peels and pizza tools (like a pizza cutter!) should be arm’s length away. Want to get crazy? Invest in a few deep dish pans for Chicago style pizza or go square for Detroit style.