There's nothing quite like a homemade pizza with a crisp base and perfectly cooked toppings. It's a reliable crowd pleaser and an excellent option if you're entertaining and want to impress your guests.
If you have the space in your alfresco dining area, you may be tempted to buy a pizza oven to whip up your signature creations in your backyard. But is an outdoor pizza oven worth the expense?
Our home economist Fiona Mair put two gas pizza ovens and a pizza oven box to the test to see how easy they are to use, and if they can create an authentic pizza.
BakerStone Pizza Oven Box ($149)
BakerStone Pizza Oven Box ($149)
The BakerStone is a compact and portable box that is placed on the grill plates of a preheated three- or four-burner barbecue. The box has a small opening to slide the pizzas in and out, and the barbecue needs to be away from drafts. The preheat time will depend on your barbecue, including the distance from the burners to the grill plate and the size of the barbecue. The thermostat control only displays diagrams (not temperatures) so a fair amount of trial and error was needed before it cooked the pizza perfectly. You'll need to use a pizza peel (one of those flat pizza oven shovels) to rotate the pizza while cooking. The exterior surface becomes dangerously hot and you'll need to let it cool for about 90 minutes before you can touch it. The BakerStone box is easy to assemble and the enamel surface makes it easy to clean.
Gasmate Gas Deluxe Pizza Oven ($699) and Jumbuck Outdoor Pizza Oven ($298)
The Gasmate and Jumbuck pizza ovens performed similarly: preheating is quicker if the pizza stone is removed but the thermometers inside the hood are inaccurate and it's difficult to control the temperature. The instructions supplied are limited, and once again trial and error is required to get the perfect result.
Gasmate Gas Deluxe Pizza Oven
When using the pizza stone on the bottom shelf the pizza bases started to burn quickly and the toppings were unevenly cooked. The Gasmate cooked the pizza perfectly using a pizza tray and when using the pizza stone on the middle shelf. The Jumbuck cooked the pizza very well with a pizza tray and when using the stone on the middle shelf. These are also suitable for roasting, so Fiona conducted a roast chicken test in each; both were very good.
Jumbuck Outdoor Pizza Oven
Excess smoke is released through the chimney and the flame is protected from drafts. They have three shelf positions with good spacing and a large surface area. Their viewing windows are large and the door opens wide, but ignition batteries are not supplied. The Gasmate is portable and sits on a bench or stand with a trolley stand that can be purchased separately. The Jumbuck sits on a trolley that can store the gas bottle.
To perfect your homemade pizzas, you'll first need to perfect the cooking temperatures. A pizza oven may look impressive, but there are other options available and it may not be worth the extra money for yet another appliance. If your kitchen oven has a bottom element, you'll be able to achieve the same result with minimal fuss.
Alternatively, you can invest in a good hooded BBQ and a couple of inexpensive pizza stones. You'll still need to experiment with the temperatures and pre-heat times but you'll get the benefits of a gas pizza oven and a barbecue in one.
If you'd like a barbecue that can also do pizzas, consider buying a hooded BBQ – take a look at the results in our barbecue reviews – and use it with a pizza stone.