Homeowners and homebuyers increasingly want their backyards to be multi-functional extensions of their interior living spaces.
The modern backyard cooking experience has evolved well beyond using a basic grill to cook a few different types of food.
One of the best reasons to get an outdoor kitchen is the freedom it gives you to expand your home cooking options.
A popular design trend is having outdoor kitchens with lots of convenient amenities (like appliances) to replicate the functionality of our indoor kitchens.
Some homeowners are taking their outdoor living upgrades a step further to include a unique feature that can’t be used indoors.
Enter the outdoor pizza oven.
Why is the outdoor pizza oven so popular?
It’s no wonder outdoor pizza ovens can be found in an ever-increasing number of Ontario backyards. Pizza is one of the most popular foods in the world and can accommodate the diets of everyone from meat lovers to pescatarians to vegans.
A recent consumer trend report by food service research and consulting firm Technomic found that 81% of Canadians eat pizza at least once a month. Pizza’s popularity can be attributed primarily to the fact that anything going in our mouths that mixes gooey cheese, a crispy golden crust, tangy sauce, and an array of savoury toppings is (literally) going to go down well, naturally.
Another big reason we love pizza so much is the variety of ways available to get it. We can make it ourselves, have it delivered, pick up a slice or whole pie at the local pizzeria, or enjoy it at a restaurant.
Most store-bought fresh and frozen pizzas are mediocre at best. The quality of pizzeria and restaurant pizza varies and none of these options are the healthiest for you, even by pizza health standards.
Making pizza at home is a relatively quick and easy experience and, as is the case with most foods, there’s something more satisfying when you prepare it yourself. You also have more control over the healthiness of the ingredients.
Using an outdoor pizza oven is the best way to make homemade pizza that tastes even better than delivery, restaurant, and store-bought pizza.
Find out why you need an outdoor pizza oven
A recent Forbes article on outdoor kitchen trends includes insight from one home designer who says, “These spaces are about creating memories using elements you can’t easily add indoors, like pizza ovens and smokers, but with the same level of finishes, materials, style, entertainment options and the all-important comforts.”
An outdoor pizza oven doesn‘t just make great pizza. This useful, versatile appliance offers several more benefits that make it a smart and practical addition to any backyard.
Find out why an outdoor kitchen design isn’t complete unless it includes an outdoor pizza oven.
1. Choose your outdoor pizza oven style
Home pizza ovens come in many different styles and sizes. They typically generate heat using flames and are powered or fueled by one of the following methods:
- natural gas
- dual-fuels (hybrid fuel ovens typically use gas and wood)
Gas-fired outdoor ovens (fueled by natural gas or propane) like the Alfresco Pizza Oven Plus are typically made with stainless steel. This material is ideal for grills and outdoor kitchen appliances because of its ability to conduct and retain heat and its durability in outdoor environments.
Outdoor pizza ovens that run on natural gas or propane provide a more controlled burn than wood-fired ovens. They light instantly and also heat up and cool down much faster compared to wood-fired outdoor pizza ovens.
To see how a gas-fired outdoor pizza oven works, view this demonstration video for the Kalamazoo Artisan Fire Pizza Oven.
Wood-fired outdoor pizza ovens take an old-school approach with their design and how they cook pizza and other foods. They use wood logs or wood pellets to fuel their flames and are typically made with stones or refractory bricks (a ceramic material that can withstand high temperatures). Wood-fired ovens range in size from large standalone structures to smaller-sized ovens that are mounted on a stand.
This type of oven can be more challenging to use than gas-fired outdoor ovens and you do need to clean out the soot and ash after every use. However, some cooking enthusiasts prefer wood-fired ovens because of the smoky wood flavour you get from them.
2. Enjoy better-tasting homemade pizza
One of the keys to making great homemade pizza is getting the crust right. In that Technomic survey, 57% of Canadians said the crust is the most important part of a pizza.
Pizzeria and restaurant pizzas usually taste better than pizzas cooked in a regular home kitchen oven because they use very hot ovens. Commercial pizza ovens can reach up to 950°F, although pizzas are typically cooked at between 700-800°F. Traditional indoor ovens max out at around 550°F.
An outdoor pizza oven’s most unique feature is its ability to replicate the cooking functionality of commercial pizza ovens. Gas-fired ovens like the Kalamazoo Artisan Fire Pizza Oven and the Alfresco Pizza Oven Plus are capable of reaching temperatures above 1,000°F. Most wood-fired outdoor ovens produce temperatures in the 700-850°F range.
Baking pizza quickly at very high temperatures produces a tastier crust that’s simultaneously chewy and crisp. The quality of the dough being used and how it’s prepared are also big factors in how a pizza crust comes out, of course.
A quick cook at high heat also causes the caramelization process to occur. This subtle charring brings out the flavours of a pizza’s ingredients.
One selling point wood-fired outdoor oven manufacturers like to highlight is the appliance’s ability to produce pizza with a smoky flavour. This claim is fairly overstated because pizza gets cooked so quickly in a wood-fired outdoor pizza oven, so there’s no time for any smoky flavour to transfer to the pizza.
Foods cooked for longer periods (at least 30 minutes) at lower temperatures will develop the delicious smoky flavour that is unique to wood-fired cooking.
3. An outdoor pizza oven cooks food fast
We’ve talked about how quickly pizzas cook in an outdoor oven. Exactly how fast, you ask?
Most gas-fired outdoor pizza ovens can cook perfect Neapolitan pizzas in as little as two to three minutes. That’s why pizzerias make those “delivery in 30 minutes or less” promises.
A big reason many people don’t enjoy cooking is that it can take up so much time. With the right setup, making pizza at home is extremely time-efficient.
If you use pre-made dough, it only takes a few minutes to prepare a pizza with sauce, cheese, and toppings. Add in a few more minutes to cook it in an outdoor pizza oven and you’re looking at a mere 15 minutes or so from start to finish to serve up delicious, freshly-cooked pizza. Even if you want to make your pizza dough from scratch, the overall time required is still quite reasonable for a family meal.
Outdoor pizza ovens are also known for the even heat they produce, which results in better cooking results. Indoor ovens can distribute heat unevenly, resulting in food that comes out undercooked.
Take a look at how quickly chef Jamie Oliver can cook a pizza using a wood-fired outdoor pizza oven.
4. You can make a lot more than pizza
From thin-crust Neapolitan to Chicago-style deep dish, any type of pizza can be made with an outdoor oven. Although pizza may be the main attraction, an outdoor oven can be used to make much more than just the classic pie, however.
This versatile appliance opens up a world of culinary possibilities, some of which you can’t experience using a regular kitchen oven.
An outdoor pizza oven does everything an indoor kitchen oven can do. And in most cases, it’ll do it a lot faster because of the higher temperatures the appliance can reach. Some outdoor ovens can cook at lower temperatures for foods that need to be slow-cooked.
Here are just a few examples of the many types of food you can make with an outdoor pizza oven:
- roasted chicken and turkey
- roasted vegetables
With an outdoor pizza oven in your cooking arsenal, you can try more new recipes and expand your culinary horizons. Check out these outdoor pizza oven recipes for everything from grilled shrimp to s’mores!
5. Pizza-making becomes a fun, social activity
One reason outdoor kitchens have become so popular is because they provide the ideal space to entertain at home. Why stay indoors when the weather is nice if you can take the party outside?
Being outdoors in the summer brings a different vibe you can’t get inside the house, especially when an outdoor kitchen’s grill and appliances get fired up.
A pizza party provides a great reason to congregate with family and friends. Add in a comfortable backyard setting, a pizza oven, and the fun, interactive experience of everyone preparing their customized pizzas and you have a get-together that is guaranteed to be a winner.
Not only can you feed your guests some incredible food, but you’re also giving them a shared, authentic pizza-making experience they’ll appreciate and remember.
6. Outdoor pizza ovens are easy to use
Operating an appliance that cooks at extremely high temperatures may feel daunting. Fear not, because when it comes to cooking with an outdoor oven, nothing beats the ease of use of electric and gas-fired outdoor pizza ovens.
The appliances are a breeze to use and light easily with a match or, on higher-end models, the push of a button or turn of a knob (just like a good gas grill). Wood-fired outdoor pizza ovens, on the other hand, require more effort to get a fire started and to reach the desired cooking temperature.
You’ll need to develop some new cooking habits when you use an outdoor pizza oven because they work a little differently than traditional ovens. For starters, you need to pay closer attention to food while it’s cooking because things can burn much faster at such high temperatures.
To cook a pizza, simply place it in the oven using a pizza peel or paddle (the large spatula-like tool pizza-making pros use). The peel allows you to safely insert and remove a pizza from a hot oven and turn it occasionally so it cooks evenly and doesn’t burn on the side closest to the flames. In just a couple of minutes, you’ll be dining on delicious home-cooked pizza!
7. Make healthier pizza
Pizza might not exactly be at the top of anyone’s list of the most healthy foods. If you do want to enjoy some pizza every once in a while, however, why not make it as healthy as possible for yourself and your family?
When you order pizza from a pizzeria or restaurant, you only have a certain amount of freedom to choose healthy toppings. And you can also never be sure whether their ingredients are genuinely fresh, or just fresh after they’ve been already frozen.
Making your own pizzas gives you complete control over the quality and freshness of the ingredients that are used, which makes for healthier meals.
The quick cooking times in outdoor pizza ovens isn’t just convenient, it also helps vegetables retain more of their nutrients.
8. Add backyard aesthetic appeal
A premium grill is normally the centrepiece of an outdoor kitchen, but certain types of outdoor ovens can give the appliance a run for its money when it comes to drawing the attention of guests.
In particular, a large standalone stone pizza oven will really stand out with the elegant touch of old-world charm it adds to an outdoor living space. If you have a generous outdoor kitchen design budget to work with, you could even incorporate a built-in oven into a custom-made stone wall.
Frankly, any type of outdoor pizza oven is a conversation starter because so few backyards have one. That gives them instant novelty appeal.
Gas-fired outdoor ovens can be placed on a countertop, stand, or sturdy table that’s safe to use around flames and high temperatures.
If pizza-making is something you plan to do often, you can get a little more serious with your outdoor setup. Some companies make outdoor pizza oven accessories that allow you to create a mini outdoor pizzeria. Kalamazoo’s Artisan Fire Pizza Oven Station features drawers, open shelving, rack storage, ice-chilled bins for toppings, a ventilated cabinet for a propane tank, and enough countertop space for one of their ovens and to use as a pizza-making station.
9. Cook outside 365 days a year
Most high-quality outdoor kitchen appliances can be permanently kept outside because they’re built to withstand prolonged exposure to the elements.
Outdoor ovens are no different, as long as they’re made with resilient materials like marine-grade stainless steel and 304-grade stainless steel. It helps to cover them and if the oven is light enough, it can be brought inside for the winter.
If you don’t want to go without eating homemade pizza for half the year, an outdoor pizza oven can be used all year round. You’ll appreciate those fast heat-up and cooking times even more when it’s frigid outside!
Fire pits are great for adding warmth and a cozy feel to an outdoor living space. Outdoor ovens even provide these benefits, too.
Create a “slice” of heaven in your backyard!
A fully outfitted outdoor kitchen with amazing amenities like an outdoor pizza oven will make your backyard a valued home space for your family and a popular destination for guests.
Outeriors carries a variety of high-quality outdoor pizza oven models from Alfa, Kalamazoo, Lynx, and Alfresco, which are four of the most trusted names in outdoor appliance manufacturing.
Schedule a free consultation with Outeriors to begin planning how your outdoor kitchen design featuring a pizza oven will look.
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