SAN ANTONIO – Can you get that great wood-fired pizza taste at home without spending thousands on a high-end pizza oven? With so many new portable tabletop pizza ovens on the market, Consumer Reports checked some out to find out if it’s possible to bring a pizzeria to your own backyard.
Paul Hope, Consumer Reports’ resident chef and pizza lover, said it’s all about heating to a super-high temperature.
“Portable pizza ovens are everywhere, and their manufacturers claim they get to really high temperatures that you could never reach in an oven or even with most grills,” he said.
Outside of the labs and in his backyard, Hope tried several tabletop pizza ovens designed to bake a 12- to 13-inch pizza. Some were powered by propane gas while others used charcoal, wood, or wood pellets.
To keep it consistent, each pizza was made with store-bought dough, sauce, and shredded mozzarella cheese.
All of the ovens turned out tasty pizzas. So, what it really comes down to is how easy an oven is to use and whether you prefer gas or charcoal cooking.
“But if you want that wood-fire flavor you get from a great pizzeria, you want one that uses charcoal,” Hope said.
Testers found the Ooni Karu 12 Pizza Oven to be convenient, simple, and sturdy. It also offers a chimney damper for regulating airflow, something that’s important when you’re cooking at high heat. But at $350, it’s the priciest oven of the bunch.
To spend less and still get good results, Consumer Reports says consider the wood- and charcoal-burning WPPO Le Peppe Portable Wood-Fired Pizza Oven for $229. It comes with a pizza peel and has a peephole in the door so you can check on your pies.
If you prefer the convenience of gas-powered cooking, Consumer Reports says consider the Bakerstone Original Gas Pizza Oven for $250.
Hope found there’s definitely a learning curve with pizza ovens and some skill required, so make sure you practice a lot before you have people over.
Consumer Reports says making pizza with these ovens is a very hands-on experience. Each pizza took about 4 to 8 minutes to bake, depending on the oven. And you’ll need to stand by to rotate the pizza to get that evenly charred and crispy crust.