Everybody loves pizza. This is why outdoor pizza ovens have become extremely popular nowadays. Choosing the best variation of a pizza oven is not that easy. There are several factors homeowners should take into account, but most importantly, you should choose the best fuel option, between gas and wood. We break down the benefits of a gas-fired vs wood-fired outdoor pizza ovens to help you make the right choice.
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Wood-Fired Pizza Ovens
A wood-fired oven like the Bertello Pizza Oven is powered by wood and sometimes they can even accept charcoal.
The type of wood you choose can make a big difference; in most cases, hardwoods, including:
- apple are the best.
In order to choose the ideal type of wood, you should focus on the aroma they give off and the amount of heat per kilogram of fuel. For example, olive and oak woods are more fragrant but more expensive. Before baking your pizza, the fire needs to be burning at a specific temperature, which will normally require about 20 minutes or more. A vent is placed just above the front opening to funnel the smoke through the chimney. The use of hardwoods means that the cooking environment is hot enough to allow the smoke to become infused in your pizza, providing authentic flavors.
In fact, when outdoor pizza ovens were first released, people loved the smoked pizza flavor of a wood-fired oven. That made this type of oven really popular back then. Nowadays, however, many homeowners get tired of the wait and work that’s related to wood-fired ovens and have turned to gas-burning outdoor pizza ovens.
How Do They Work?
Wood-fire ovens are based on the lighting of a fire. Once the fire is established, and embers are formed, the wood is moved so as to cover the entire floor of the burner box. It is important to build the fire towards the wall of the oven and allow some time to heat up the inner dome and hearth area while reaching the ideal cooking temperature. The larger the oven, the longer it will take to heat. The oven can retain heat to create the ideal temperature environment, long after the flame is exhausted.
Gas-Burning Pizza Ovens
Gas-burning pizza ovens like the Ooni Koda 16 can be powered by natural gas or propane. They are efficient, easy to use, and most importantly, they can heat up to over 800 degrees in just 20 minutes. Like every conventional oven, you turn it on, allow the oven to reach the ideal temperature, and have your pizza cooked in a short amount of time. Unlike the wood-fired oven, your pizza will not have that romantic, wooden flavor, but you will be able to cook without the need to search for the ideal type of wood, as well as avoid the production of ashes.
How Do They Work?
Gas-fired outdoor pizza ovens work quite simple. A burner generates heat that’s evenly distributed. Radiation of heat is the means to pizza cooking. Nowadays, there are some gas-burning ovens with a refractory floor that try to mimic the cooking conditions of a wood-fired pizza oven as much as possible. You can choose from a variety of sizes the one that suits your needs best. For example, some models can cook up to two or three pizzas at once, whereas some smaller ovens are suitable for those wishing to cook their favorite pizza every once in a while.
Wood vs Gas-Fired Pizza Ovens
Both types of pizza ovens have their benefits. When comparing the two of them, it is important to take into account the following factors: temperature, space, weight, cooking time, maintenance, and cleaning.
A wood-fired oven will normally reach higher temperatures compared to a gas-burning one. Since the heat is generated by the fire, and thanks to the refractory materials of the oven, a wood-fired oven can reach up to 1000 C. However, the best temperature for baking a pizza is around 450-500 C. On the other hand, when using a gas-burning oven, all there is to do is set the temperature at the preferred degrees (in most cases gas ovens can reach a temperature of 400-450 C) and maintain it while cooking.
Since firing and storing wood requires some extra space, wood-fired ovens typically require more space in your backyard. On the other hand, gas-burning ovens require no further arrangements and they can easily fit even in narrower outdoor spaces.
In most cases, the weight won’t be a problem in modern ovens, whether you choose a wood or gas-burning. They can be built on trolleys and moved around your yard. However, older, larger wood-fired pizza ovens without a cart of some sort are quite difficult to move.
- Cooking time
As mentioned before, a wood-fired oven takes more time to heat since you need to set up the fire first. However, once heated, and because the fire is built directly on the floor, the average cooking time is lower, compared to a gas-burning oven. In fact, once a wooden-fired oven has reached a temperature of 500 C, your pizza will be ready to savor in just a few minutes. Gas ovens are based on radiant heat in order to heat the floor and that can add some time to the total cooking period.
- Maintenance and cleaning
Gas-burning ovens typically require minimum maintenance. All you need to do is keep the pizza stone clean. Wood-burning pizza ovens need periodic cleaning, particularly in the chimney in order to remove creosote buildup. Moreover, the ashes and log remains need to be removed every time you cook, which is left from the burnt wood.
Pros of Wood-Fired Pizza Ovens
- Authentic smoky flavor, with enhanced notes of cheese, meat, vegetables, or any other pizza ingredient
- Traditional designs, are perfect as a decorative feature in the yard and ideal for a breezy winter night where you can stand around the fire with your friends and family
- They can cook other types of food, including roast meat, bread, and vegetables
- Energy efficiency-Since wood ovens require no electricity or gas, they can help conserve energy and the cost of using
Cons of Wood-Fired Ovens
- Wood fires, particularly outdoors are not always in certain communities
- Wood ash needs to be cleaned every time after cooking
- The oven needs to have reached the correct heating temperature- it is a time-consuming process
- Need to have sufficient space, not only for the oven itself but for the storage of firewood, as well.
- Need to chop up, carry, or order logs and timber on a regular basis
Pros of Gas-Burning Pizza Ovens
- Easy to use, you just need to turn it on and off accordingly
- Lower maintenance cost and easy to clean
- Gas supply is easy to find and store. You can refill from your local supplier or convenience store. In most cases, gas-burning pizza ovens can be plumped into your house’s gas supply with the help of a qualified plumber.
- They take up less space, mainly due to the absence of firewood storage space.
- You have complete control of temperature, you just set the temperature where you wish to have it and then forget all about it
Cons of Gas-Burning Ovens
- Increased cooking time. Since gas-burning ovens operate at lower temperatures, the average cooking time is considerably increased compared to wood-fired ovens
- More expensive. In most cases, purchasing a modern, gas-burning oven is more expensive than a traditional wood-fired one
- Need professional installation. Since those ovens use gas as fuel, you will need to hire a professional to make the initial connection for safety reasons. Moreover, most gas-burning pizza ovens come as LPG ready but need a natural gas conversion kit. If it is not included in your oven, it will be an additional cost.
What about the hybrid pizza oven?
Nowadays, technological development has created the hybrid pizza oven which allows gas-burning ovens to operate by burning woods, as well like the Ooni Pro 16. This duel-fuel function may increase the cost of the initial purchase considerably, but offers the highest flexibility and allows users to bring different cooking styles into their life.
Related: Ooni vs Roccbox Outdoor Pizza Ovens
How Do You Decide?
The choice mostly depends on whether efficiency, convenience, and cleanliness are important to you. If that sounds like you, then you should probably opt for a gas-burning outdoor oven. On the other hand, if you are a fan of that authentic, charred pizza flavor, with a fire that makes your backyard cozy and romantic, then a wooden-fired oven is the best solution. The wholesome quality of a wood fire will never disappoint. The final choice should also, be determined according to your living environment. If you have a large, busy family and wish to provide some fast and convenient pizza meals, then a gas-burning oven is probably the right choice. If you can handle a more traditional experience and wish to experiment with different flavors, then you will probably be happier with a wood-fired oven. There is also, the option of hybrid pizza ovens with a dual fuel option, but they are more expensive, difficult to use, and thus, they are not much preferred among pizza lovers.