Aldi is selling a woodfire pizza oven as a Special Buy on Wednesday 10 May for $199. CHOICE experts have put the Aldi pizza oven through its paces in our kitchen labs, but they were not impressed with the quality of this product, flagging safety concerns as well as noting its issues with maintaining a consistent temperature and poor ease of use. Pizza ovens can be expensive, but this is generally not an appliance you want to cut corners on. CHOICE experts also tested a range of pizza ovens from brands such as Gozney, Breville, Ooni, Gasmate and more.
If you like the idea of whipping out freshly made pizzas in your own backyard, you may be considering investing in a pizza oven. And with some costing around $800 or more, Aldi's latest Special Buy offer – a woodfire pizza oven for just $199 – is a tempting offer for budding pizza chefs on a budget.
But before you rush in, there are a few things to consider. CHOICE's chief pizzaiola and kitchen expert Fiona Mair has put a range of pizza ovens through a series of tests in our kitchen lab, including the pizza oven from Aldi (purchased in 2022) which was for sale under the brand Coolabah. The pizza oven on sale next week looks to be the same model, which is a combined woodfire pizza oven and charcoal barbecue.
You need intense heat of at least 400°C, which means safety should really be a priority when you're choosing a pizza ovenCHOICE kitchen expert Fiona Mair
"Although this is a very cheap pizza oven that performed adequately in our cooking performance tests, I wouldn't recommend anyone purchase it due to the fact it can be a safety hazard. The unit is flimsy and becomes dangerously hot, and it's just not great to use," says Fiona.
"To get a perfectly cooked, slightly charred, crisp and browned pizza base, you need intense heat of at least 400°C," she says. "Which means that safety should really be a priority when you're choosing a pizza oven. It's also important that the oven can maintain a consistent temperature."
The Aldi pizza oven failed on both counts.
'Flimsy and dangerously hot'
Our testers found that it was very difficult to control the temperature, it came with limited instructions on how to use it (as well as limited instructions on how to assemble), and there were many issues with how safe it was to use.
"This unit is flimsy and becomes dangerously hot. It is difficult to control the temperature and flames can lick up and out of the door melting the paintwork, causing a toxic smell and black smoke," says Fiona.
"Although it does have a temperature gauge, it was difficult to read and wasn't found to be consistently accurate, and there were no hot surface warnings on the exterior which you would typically expect to see on a product like this."
Plus, Fiona says, using a pizza oven can take practise, with a lot of trial and error, which means that detailed instructions are vital to help you get the best results. So don't expect to pick up this oven from the store and be churning out perfect thin 'n' crispies come nightfall.
CHOICE members have exclusive access to our full review of the Aldi Coolabah pizza oven.
The temperature gauge and viewing window on the Aldi pizza oven we tested in CHOICE kitchen labs. After use it was very hard to view the temperature and, as the viewing window is small and becomes blackened easily from the smoke, it's difficult to see inside to monitor your pizzas.
Features of the Aldi Coolabah pizza oven
- Removable ashtray
- Built-in temperature gauge and damper to chimney
- Includes pizza stone, cooking grill and charcoal grate
- Weight: 28.3kg (you'll likely need someone to help you if you want to pick one up)
- Dimensions: 64.5cm x 51cm x 177cm
- One-year warranty (as a comparison to other models we tested, Breville and Matador pizza ovens have a two-year warranty; Gasmate and Ooni have a three-year warranty; and the Gozney Roccbox has a five-year warranty. The Masterpro also has a one-year warranty.)
More than just pizza?
An advantage of choosing a larger woodfired pizza oven is that you can cook other things beside pizza in it, including things such as whole roast chicken, pork loins, and beef or lamb joints. However, don't expect the Aldi oven to come to the party here. Our kitchen testers tried to cook a roast chicken but found it wasn't suitable for this purpose, due to constant heat loss and its difficulty maintaining the consistent heat required to cook meat through without burning.
The last word
Pizza ovens are great if you want to be able to make excellent quality pizzas in just a few minutes, and they can be really fun to use – imagine all those great pizza parties in the backyard! But if you choose the wrong model, they can also be difficult to use and cause safety issues. CHOICE experts recommend checking out our pizza oven reviews and doing your research before you buy.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.