The Best Backyard Pizza Ovens

[Photographs and video: J. Kenji López-Alt]

I've always contended that pizza is the one food I could never get sick of, and if you've been following my Instagram feed, you'll know that I've recently been putting that claim to the test. I've had pizza coming out of my ears. There were days when I cooked over two dozen pizzas, and tasted at least a bite of each one. You'd think that being that guy who always has pizza to give away would make you really popular with the neighbors, but I've had people turn down free pizza after I'd offered it to them too many times.

I never got sick of pizza, though I can't say the same for my wife, Adri.

All this because, for the last few months, I've been testing outdoor pizza ovens. Why outdoor? Well, an indoor oven typically maxes out at around 550°F (290°C). Even with the help of a Baking Steel, that's still not hot enough to get true Neapolitan-style pizza. Only with temperatures arcing up to and over the 900°F (480°C) mark can you get that incredible contrast between crisp, leopard-spotted exterior and poofy, moist, and stretchy interior that is the hallmark of a really great pizza crust.

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Pizza baked in a sufficiently hot oven will come out charred and crisp, but with a moist, chewy, tender crumb.

Enter the outdoor pizza oven. Outdoor cooking equipment, whether fired with gas, wood, or charcoal, regularly reaches temperatures well above what a home oven can safely hit, and in recent years, dozens of manufacturers and start-ups have taken advantage of this to produce ovens that promise true Neapolitan-style pizza in your backyard, eliminating the need to build your own full-blown stone oven.

The best of these new ovens are compact, reliable, and relatively inexpensive, and they've been responsible for the best pizzas I've ever made at home. Here are my picks for the very best outdoor pizza ovens, both stand-alone units and those designed to sit atop your gas grill.

One note: A number of years back, I had a minor role in the design and release of the Serious Eats Edition Baking Steel/KettlePizza Pizza Oven Kit. Serious Eats has no financial partnership with KettlePizza—100% of any profits Serious Eats makes from the sale of these oven kits is donated directly to Feeding America. Still, in the interest of fairness, I excluded the KettlePizza kit and similar Weber Kettle conversion kits from this lineup. Please read the original announcement article for more information on it.

Here's a quick summary of my three favorites, plus a full breakdown below.

My 3 Favorite Stand-Alone Pizza Ovens, at a Glance

Roccbox Uuni 3 Blackstone
Fuel type Gas, hardwood kindling, or charcoal briquettes Pellets, with a propane tank conversion kit coming this summer Gas
Max floor temp Over 900°F (480°C) Over 750°F (400°C) Over 900°F (480°C)
Max dome temp Over 900°F (480°C) Over 900°F (480°C) Over 900°F (480°C)
Fastest cook time 75 seconds 75 seconds 70 seconds
Preheat time 30 minutes 15 to 20 minutes 15 minutes
Recovery time between pizzas 5 minutes 4 to 5 minutes, if you keep the hopper full Moments
Largest pizza possible 11 inches 12 inches 16 inches
Good for other foods? Yes Yes, provided they fit in the oven with the door closed It's okay, but you cannot use handled pans in it
Portable? Yes, though heavy Yes No
Fuel consumption A standard 15-pound propane tank will last about 20 hours at full blast. About 3 cups of pellets to get started, plus a full cup of pellets per pizza thereafter. A 20-pound bag of pellets will cook about 50 pizzas. A standard 15-pound propane tank will last about 15 hours at full blast.
Cost at time of writing $599, plus $49 shipping to the United States, directly from Roccbox $299 from Amazon $285 from Amazon

The Testing

I tested nearly a dozen different stand-alone and grill-top pizza ovens over a three-month period. To narrow down the very wide field, I tested only ovens designed to be ready to use in your backyard. If you had to install it on a permanent or semipermanent stand or base, I did not include it. All of the ovens I tested are either tabletop units, freestanding units with wheels, or units designed to work in conjunction with your existing gas grill. I also set a price cap of $1,000—so, for instance, the $7,000 Kalamazoo pizza oven I tested last summer did not qualify.*

* For the curious: I was not able to do side-by-side tests, but based on my notes from last year, I'd say the Kalamazoo would have been on par with the winning ovens in terms of performance, with a definite advantage in the good-looks department.

For the testing, I cooked dozens of Neapolitan, New York, and other styles of pizza, using both homemade and store-bought dough. I cooked pizzas with toppings and without. I cooked pizza stretched by hand, and rolled out with a rolling pin.

I also invited two world-class Bay Area pizzaioli to come over and try the ovens out for a day: Keith Freilich of Emilia's Pizzeria in Berkeley, and Jeff Krupman of PizzaHacker in Bernal Heights. You can catch a Facebook Live video of part of the action, if you're interested in seeing two dudes who know pizza make pizza. We made over a dozen pizzas that day, using Jeff's sourdough pizza dough.

While testing, I paid attention to a number of factors:

  • The temperature of the base and of the air in the dome above is generally a good indicator of how rapidly a pizza can cook, though it's not a perfect measure and should be taken with a grain of salt. The relative conductivity and heat capacity of different materials can mean that two different surfaces at the exact same temperature can produce wildly different results in the base of a pizza, while different air currents and the relative emissivity of the top of a pizza oven can produce different results in the top of a pizza, even with the same temperature as measured on a thermometer. (This effect is similar to the way direct sunlight or wind speed can change how hot or cold it feels outside, even given the same air temperature.)
  • Timing was important, and I measured it in three ways: the time it takes to properly preheat a given oven before you can cook your first pizza, the time it takes to actually cook a single pizza, and the time it takes before the oven is ready to cook a subsequent pizza. Obviously, faster preheat and recovery times are better. Faster cook times are better if you're after that true crisp-tender texture of a Neapolitan crust, though less important if you prefer a drier, extra-crispy crust.
  • Ease of use. Using some of these ovens is literally as simple as turning them on. Others require a little more finagling and monitoring to ensure that they're operating at optimal efficiency and heating properly.
  • Robustness and looks. Is the oven sturdy and reliable? Does it have many moving parts that are likely to fail at some point? And, while I'm generally in the performance-over-looks camp, given that most of these ovens require investments of at least several hundred dollars, I want them to look good in my backyard as well.
  • Cooking other foods. In addition to cooking pizzas, I tested a number of other foods in these ovens: roasted vegetables, broiled fish, seared steaks, and more.

By the way, if you'd like to use your ovens for cooking things other than pizza, I'd recommend picking up this square cast iron pan and a couple of aluminum quarter sheet pans. Both of these fit inside the Roccbox and the Uuni ovens.

Stand-Alone Versus Grill Conversion

There's no question that all of my recommended stand-alone pizza ovens perform better than in-grill conversion kits, and I would not hesitate to recommend any of them over the grill converters. The only buyers to whom I'd recommend a grill-top converter are folks who plan to make pizza only very occasionally and would rather not use up their outdoor space for an extra oven.

The Best Stand-Alone Outdoor Pizza Ovens

The Sleek and Reliable Workhorse: The Roccbox

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  • Fuel type: Gas, hardwood kindling, or charcoal briquettes
  • Max floor temp: Over 900°F (480°C)
  • Max air temp: Over 900°F (480°C)
  • Fastest cook time: 75 seconds
  • Preheat time: 30 minutes
  • Recovery time between pizzas: 5 minutes
  • Largest pizza: 11 inches
  • Good for other foods? Yes
  • Portable? Yes, though heavy
  • Fuel consumption: A standard 15-pound propane tank will last about 20 hours at full blast.
  • Cost at time of writing: $599, plus $49 shipping to the United States
  • Where to buy: Order directly from Roccbox

The Bottom Line:

This is an incredible little oven with simple, reliable operation, whether you're using gas, wood, or charcoal to fire it. It consistently hits wood-fired-oven temperatures and maintains them for as long as you are cooking, with no fussing or babysitting, which means you can spend more time enjoying pizza with your friends and family and less time coddling a temperamental flame. It's attractive, solidly built, weatherproof, and portable.

How It Works:

The Roccbox is a heavily insulated, stainless-steel-and-stone box with a rubberized exterior. You can place it on any surface, including wood or plastic, and it stands up on three heavy-duty folding legs. There are two burner attachments, depending on the fuel source you want to use. The burner box is a rocket stove–style combustion chamber that allows you to feed the flame with hardwood kindling or charcoal briquettes, while the gas burner allows you to heat the Roccbox with a standard propane tank.

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An impressive gas flame in the back of the Roccbox.

Once it's fired up, the flame rises up the back of the chamber and gets directed across the top of the oven. The stone floor heats indirectly via hot air and radiation from above. After a half hour or so, both the dome and the floor of the oven can hit temperatures above 900°F, allowing you to cook pizzas in under 90 seconds.

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A Neapolitan-style dough baked in under 90 seconds.

The Best Bits:

Where to start? Let's begin with unpacking. The Roccbox comes fully assembled and ready to go, which is great, because the assembly is far more robust and heavy-duty than the folded-sheet-metal-with-screws construction of nearly every other oven I tested. It's solidly built with heavy-gauge stainless steel and stone. The rubberized finish on the exterior comes in gray or green, and the styling is polished and designed to look great in your backyard.

Everything you need comes in the box, including both the gas and live-fire burner attachments, a detailed instruction and recipe manual in multiple languages, and a top-of-the-line, custom-designed pizza peel. That peel, made of nonstick perforated and ridged aluminum, has actually gone on to become the favorite peel in my large arsenal. Raw pizzas slide off it easily, while the perforations ensure that excess flour falls away from the pizza instead of burning on the bottom of the oven. Its tapered head makes it easy to slip under cooked pizzas, too. If Roccbox sold that peel separately, I would not hesitate to recommend it as my top choice.

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A New York–style dough baked in about three minutes.

I was a little skeptical at first that a gas flame could produce wood-fired results (we've all had mediocre pies from those gas-assist Wood Stone ovens that seem popular with chefs these days, right?), but I couldn't be happier with its performance. The flame is large, it burns efficiently and reliably, and it keeps the oven hot for pizza after pizza, with only a few minutes of recovery time. (If you try to launch a new pizza in immediately after taking out the previous one, the base will undercook a little, as shown below.)

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Cooking two pies in a row without waiting can lead to slightly undercooked bases, like this one.

With wood or charcoal, it's equally easy to use. The live-fuel burner box is a rocket stove–style burner that very efficiently draws oxygen across the flames and pulls them up into the oven. I've successfully cooked pizzas with it using hardwood kindling, charcoal briquettes, and even scraps of cherrywood molding from my kitchen closet.

If you use the gas burner, the heat level is also easily adjustable. Crank it up all the way for 90-second Neapolitan pies, or turn it down for three- to five-minute New York–style pizzas. Go even lower, and you can roast a small spatchcocked chicken, crispy skin and all.

The Roccbox's always-open mouth design makes it great for cooking foods other than pizza. Pop the food in a cast iron skillet, and slide it in the opening with the handle hanging out. I've made fantastic charred asparagus and broccoli, crispy potato chunks (after parboiling), fish, chicken, and beef in there. If you can sear it in a cast iron pan on the stovetop or brown it under a broiler, it's a good candidate for outdoor cooking in this oven.

Unlike any other oven I tested, the Roccbox also stays cool enough to touch on the exterior. It gets hot for sure, but accidentally brushing up against it won't leave you with any lasting marks. It's also weatherproof—no need for an extra cover. I've even cooked with it during a light drizzle (with an umbrella for the pizza) and observed no dips in quality.

The Minor Problems:

They claim the oven is easily portable. This is a stretch. It comes with a sleek carrying strap that Velcros itself around the oven, but the oven weighs almost 45 pounds. It's easy enough to move from one side of your yard to the other, or from the back of a car to a picnic table, but the idea of, say, lugging it down to the beachfront is not appealing to me.

The width of the Roccbox is also the smallest of all the ovens I recommend here. It's exactly 12 inches wide, meaning the largest pizza you can realistically cook is about 11 inches. I typically don't cook pizzas any larger than 10 inches, so this is not a problem for me.

The Major Problems:

The cost. If you include shipping, this oven costs twice as much as the closest competitor on this list. That's no small chunk of change, but its versatility and ease of use put it miles ahead.

Order the Roccbox from Roccbox »

Best For Live-Fire Lovers: The Uuni 3

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  • Fuel type: Pellets, with a propane tank conversion kit coming this summer
  • Max floor temp: Over 750°F (400°C)
  • Max air temp: Over 900°F (480°C)
  • Fastest cook time: 75 seconds
  • Preheat time: 15 to 20 minutes
  • Recovery time between pizzas: Four to five minutes, if you keep the hopper full
  • Largest pizza: 12 inches
  • Good for other foods? Yes, provided they fit in the oven with the door closed
  • Portable? Yes
  • Fuel consumption: About three cups of pellets to get started, plus a full cup of pellets per pizza thereafter. A 20-pound bag of pellets will cook about 50 pizzas.
  • Cost at time of writing: $299
  • Where to buy: Order from Amazon

The Bottom Line:

Backyard-pizza enthusiasts who enjoy working with live fire, including all the joys and headaches involved, will be rewarded with truly wood-fired Neapolitan pizza.

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How It Works:

The Uuni is a compact oven that, I believe, was the first of its kind on the market several years ago, pairing portability and compactness with some serious heat output. The stainless steel box houses a heat deflector and a stone floor. You light up a pile of wood pellets in a little tray in the back of the unit, then load more wood pellets into a metal hopper, which continuously feeds them into the fire via gravity. As the pellets burn, the flame is drawn over the stone, across the top of the oven, and out a tall chimney in the front.

With a good fire in there, you can preheat that stone to over 750°F in just about 15 minutes, with air temperatures rising above 900°F.

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When you're ready to cook, you open the door, slide the pizza in, and close the door. Every 15 to 20 seconds or so, open that door, give the pizza a spin, and keep cooking. In 90 seconds or less, your pizza is done. Crisp, charred, and puffy.

I've used two different iterations of this oven—the Uuni 2S and the Uuni 3—and both have performed extremely well under the right conditions (more on that in the "problems" section below). The upgrades on the Uuni 3 include a more solidly mounted front heat deflector (which would frustratingly fall and burn your arm when you reached into the Uuni 2S), a rear heat deflector (which has taken on the role of "part that inexplicably falls over and causes you to burn yourself when fixing"), and a more robust pellet-holder setup.

20170411-pizza-oven-testing-uuni-top.jpg

The Best Bits:

The unit is attractive and can safely be used on any surface, including wood or plastic. Just be wary of stray burning pellets accidentally falling out the back.

I really like the use of wood pellets for the fire here. It doesn't have quite the romance of actual pieces of hardwood, but pellets are cheap (about 50 cents a pound at your local home goods store), they burn reliably, and they're easy to get going. A 30-second zap with my Iwatani butane torch, and it's good to go. Even more attractive is the gas converter that should be coming out for the Uuni this summer, or the larger, multi-fuel-source Uuni Pro, currently in the crowd-funding stage. I have not had a chance to test either of these, so cannot offer any reliable insight about their performance.

Putting the Uuni 2S or the Uuni 3 together for the first time requires a few basic tools and maybe 45 minutes of your time, though you may have a few head-scratching moments (again, more on that below).

The oven space inside the Uuni is large enough to accommodate some other foods. I've broiled enough black cod fillets in it to feed a half dozen people at once. I've cooked mussels, seared steaks, and grilled oysters in it as well, all without a hitch. The oven door needs to stay closed while cooking, so you'll need to find a vessel that fits completely inside it. The quarter sheet pan I recommended will fit inside, as will an eight-inch cast iron skillet. Some larger skillets may fit, but it depends on the length of their handles.

If you order a weather cover for your oven, you've also just ordered a carrying case. It holds the fully assembled unit upside down so you can lug it to the beach or campsite. Though be aware that, once assembled, the Uuni 3 weighs about 25 pounds, so you're gonna want to use it pretty close to your car.

The Minor Problems:

Let's start with assembling and firing the thing up. The manual is written in the style of IKEA furniture assembly manuals, with no words, only pictures. This can be annoying, as the pictures don't do a very good job of explaining how to actually use the device. I tried using both my Uuni 2S and my Uuni 3 straight out of the box with only the manual for guidance, and was met with frustration. Only after watching a few videos from Uuni's YouTube channel, and getting more detailed instructions from them via email, could I get the things working. I've been told that newer instruction manuals will come with more complete explanations and troubleshooting guides.

The Uuni comes with a pizza peel of sorts. It's really just a piece of sheet metal that fits the mouth of the oven. I found the flat metal to be difficult to launch pizzas with, so I use my own wooden or aluminum peels instead. Note that 12 inches wide is the maximum peel size you can use in the Uuni.

One other thing to note: Even in a wood-fired oven, the wood itself lends very little flavor to the pizza. When the pie is properly and rapidly cooked, there's no real, detectable difference in flavor between a pizza that's cooked with wood and one that's cooked with an equivalent gas or coal fire.

The Major Problems:

Even once the thing is properly assembled and fired up, there are some issues. The biggest is consistency. Working with live fire is never a set-it-and-forget-it situation, but the small pellet burner in the back of the Uuni seems to have more quirks than most live fires I've worked with. The airflow needs to be exactly right in order for it to burn efficiently—I've found that I have to reposition my oven frequently to keep even a small breeze from disrupting the flow of oxygen to the pellets. Even having the back of the oven a couple feet away from a fence seems to affect how efficiently it burns.

In some cases, this led to disastrous pizzas that had to be discarded. If the pellets aren't burning efficiently, they end up smoldering instead, producing plumes of thick, dark smoke, which coats your pizza in soot and makes it completely unpalatable. More than once, I caught the chimney belching out thick smoke and opened the door of the oven to see what was going on, only to then have my eyebrows singed as the sudden inflow of oxygen turned the vapor-filled box into a miniature blast furnace.

Keeping the pellet tray ever so slightly cracked open at the back seemed to help with some of the airflow issues, though even that was not 100% reliable.

The other issue is the design of the hopper. The idea is that you fill a metal tube to the brim with pellets, and they feed themselves down into the fire as the ones below them burn up. In reality, the pellets get caught in the tube, requiring you to manually jostle and push them down from time to time. This sometimes causes one of the metal flaps inside the hopper to loosen itself. If this happens, you need to somehow get a searing-hot piece of metal, inside a searing-hot metal tube, back into position. You will burn yourself doing this; there is no question.

Order the Uuni 3 from Amazon »

The Rapid-Fire Beast: The Blackstone Pizza Oven

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  • Fuel type: Gas
  • Max floor temp: Over 900°F (480°C)
  • Max air temp: Over 900°F (480°C)
  • Fastest cook time: 70 seconds
  • Preheat time: 15 minutes
  • Recovery time between pizzas: Moments
  • Largest pizza: 16 inches
  • Good for other foods? It's okay, but you cannot use handled pans in it.
  • Portable? No
  • Fuel consumption: A standard 15-pound propane tank will last about 15 hours at full blast.
  • Cost at time of writing: $285
  • Where to buy: Order from Amazon

The Bottom Line:

The Blackstone is the oven of choice for high-output, rapid cooking, as it takes very little time to preheat and recover, pumping out pie after pie at a nonstop clip. Users who are comfortable making frequent mechanical repairs and adjustments, and who care more about speed than about versatility and aesthetics, will be happy with this one.

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How It Works:

The Blackstone pizza oven has a unique design. Rather than trying to heat an entire chamber, it instead has a single, extremely large gas flame that heats up a rotating turntable holding a pizza stone. Half of the flame hits the underside of the turntable to heat the base, while the other half of the flame is deflected up and over the top of the turntable to cook the top of the pizza. The turntable is rotated with a motor that runs on a couple of batteries or an adapter.

The oven sits on top of a large wheeled cart, and, unless you're willing to build a custom base for it, that's where it's gonna stay. It cannot be placed on a tabletop.

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The Best Bits:

The first time you fire this one up, get ready, because it looks and sounds like a jet engine. The flame is big, and within 15 minutes or so, the stone is heated hot enough to crisp up the bottom of a pizza in under 90 seconds. The flame arcing over the top produces gorgeous leopard-spotting and a crisp, poofy crust. In most pizza ovens, the stone is heated indirectly from the hot air above it. The Blackstone, on the other hand, directly heats the stone from underneath, which means that, of all the ovens I tested, it had by far the fastest recovery time. You can cook pizzas one after the other, with virtually no wait in between.

The Minor Problems:

I have a few little issues with the Blackstone. The first is aesthetic. This thing is not attractive, and, unless your backyard is decorated to look like the cheap-grill display in the parking lot of a Home Depot, it's gonna stick out. The large stickers placed on the front of the unit before shipping also leave huge marks on the brushed metal. Performance should trump good looks, but I sure wish they could have made it look just a little bit better.

The second is that it's not great for cooking other foods. Sure, the opening is large enough that you can fit some fillets of fish or a bunch of vegetables, but because the stone rotates, you can't use any pan with a handle. This is a big inconvenience for someone like me, who likes to use their cast iron pans with their outdoor tools.

Flame management can be a little bit tricky. In many cases, I found that the bottoms of the pizzas cooked almost too fast, turning dark and burnt in spots by the time the tops were done. I resorted to using a pizza screen, placing the pizza on it halfway through cooking to keep it from coming in direct contact with the pan.

It's difficult to adjust this thing to anything other than blazingly hot, which is okay for Neapolitan-style pizza, but bad news if you want to cook a style that takes a bit more time, like a New York or Midwest thin-crust. Turning the adjustment knob down lowers the flame, but, since it heats from below, a low flame means you end up with plenty of heat still hammering the bottom of the pizza and almost none cooking the top.

The Major Problems:

The biggest downside? Durability. The Blackstone pizza oven is built from folded sheet metal, with an inexpensive burner and a cheap motor. In fact, during the couple months of my testing, three separate parts failed. The weak motor that runs the turntable started skipping the second time I fired it up, requiring me to coat everything in a layer of WD-40. By the fourth session, it had stopped turning altogether, resulting in the flame overheating one side of the turntable and warping it so that it no longer spun around steadily. I had to manually turn the hot wheel to finish up a pizza that was in the oven.

To solve this problem, I straightened out the turntable, then replaced the cheap motor with the rotisserie motor from my Coyote Outdoor Living grill. It's running smoothly now. Luckily, the motor is a standard three-inch motor mount, with a 5/16-inch square drive. This looks to be the exact motor assembly I used.

Online reports show that this is not an isolated incident, and many users resort to installing after-market thrust bearings to fix the problem, though, when I tried to do the same, I found that the axle on the turntable could no longer reach the motor assembly. Apparently, the new Blackstone models no longer work with the thrust bearing modifications. Jeff Krupman has been using Blackstones for catering jobs for a number of years, but, as he confirmed, he always carries a few spare motors with him, just in case one conks out in the middle of service.

Aside from the crummy motor, the stone the oven came with cracked neatly in two after about a half dozen uses (not a huge deal, as the stone continues to work, but still), and the "heatproof" paint on the interior of the oven is flaking and chipping as well.

The Blackstone does a great job of making quick pizzas with minimal fuss, but if the price seems too good to be true, it's because it is. You're going to need to do some work on it yourself and order some upgraded parts to get it in prime working condition. Adding a better motor to your order is a good start.

Order the Blackstone from Amazon »

The Budget Option: The Pizzacraft Pizzeria Pronto

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  • Fuel type: Gas
  • Max floor temp: Around 550°F (290°C)
  • Max air temp: Around 700°F (370°C)
  • Fastest cook time: 5 minutes
  • Preheat time: 30 minutes
  • Recovery time between pizzas: Moments
  • Largest pizza: 16 inches
  • Good for other foods? It works okay, though it doesn't get hot enough to really sear or char meat or vegetables.
  • Fuel consumption: A standard 15-pound propane tank will last more than a day.
  • Cost at time of writing: $206
  • Where to buy: Order from Amazon

The Bottom Line:

The Pizzacraft Pizzeria Pronto won't produce pizza much faster or better than your indoor oven, but it's a solid choice for those who want to bring the baking experience outdoors in an easy-to-operate setup.

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How It Works:

A ring-shaped gas burner heats up a double layer of pizza stones from underneath. The two stones are designed to eliminate hot and cool spots for a more even bake, though I've found that using just a single stone preheats better and doesn't hurt performance much. Space all around the stones allows the heat to rise and curl over the tops of the pizzas via a perforated metal reflector.

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The Best Bits:

The oven is designed to be easy to use, and on that front, it delivers. There are no frills—just put it together, hook it up to your gas tank, turn it on, and it's ready to cook within half an hour or so. It's weatherproof, so you don't need any extra covering for it.

The Problems:

There are no real problems with this oven; they're more like restrictions. It doesn't have a lot of juice, so the pizzas you make in it will be limited to the extra-crispy variety. Neapolitan and true New York–style pizzas simply won't work. But that's not to say you can't come up with some delicious results. Jeff of PizzaHacker was especially enamored by the cracker-y crusts it produced.

The door of the oven is wide, but not very tall, so maneuvering pizzas in and out of it can be a little bit tricky if you aren't very experienced in handling a pizza peel. Looks-wise, it's not the prettiest date at the prom, but it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb, either. It sits squat and sturdy on three metal legs, and is safe to use on any surface.

Order the Pizzacraft Pizzeria Pronto from Amazon »

The Best Grill-Top Pizza Ovens

During my testing of stand-alone pizza ovens, I also tested a number of units designed to sit atop your existing gas grill. They rely on the heat put out by your grill, so performance can vary drastically depending on your specific grill model. I tested them on a Broil King Baron, a run-of-the-mill mid-range grill you can pick up at your home goods store, as well as a top-of-the-line Coyote Outdoor C-Series grill. Even on the best grill, none of these units function nearly as well as the best stand-alone pizza ovens, and none of them produce pizza much better than you can make in your indoor oven, but the appeal of outdoor cooking—not to mention not having to heat up your house with an oven in the summer—can't be denied.

My two favorites are the BakerStone Pizza Oven Box and the KettlePizza Gas Pro Kit.

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The BakerStone Box is a stone box encased in a metal housing. There are two models: a standard version and a stainless steel "pro" version. The only real difference between them came down to size; they performed comparably. You place the box on top of your grill and fire it up. The grill directly heats the stone on the base, while a gap in the back of the box allows hot air to rise into the box and flow out the front, cooking the top of your pizza. It cooks up a decent pie in about four to five minutes, though, as with every other grill-top oven on the market, the bottom ends up cooking much faster than the top, requiring you to "dome" your pizzas—that is, lift them up toward the ceiling of the oven near the end of cooking, in order to get the top to brown without overcooking the bottom.

The BakerStone is sleek and attractive, and can be stored directly in your grill or in the compartment underneath. Be sure to check the sizing recommendations to ensure that it will fit on your grill.

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The KettlePizza Gas Pro Kit is about as simple as pizza ovens come. It's a single slab of heavy stainless steel that's been curved in order to control the flow of heat in your grill. Place the metal cover on your grill, and slide a stone underneath, then let it preheat. When you're ready to cook, slide the pizza onto the stone, and the stored heat in the metal cover will cook the top while the bottom crisps up. The nice thing about this setup, aside from durability, is that, so long as you have a good pair of heatproof gloves, you can actually just lift up the unit in order to completely expose the stone underneath when launching a pizza. This makes it a lot easier for beginners, and even experienced pizza-makers, to successfully launch a pizza into the center of the stone.

As with the BakerStone, pizzas cooked with this setup will cook a little faster on the bottom than on the top. This kit produces crispy pizzas in four to five minutes.