The best outdoor wood-fired oven: a guide for the right choice
Choosing the best outdoor wood-fired oven is key for the amateur pizza chef who wants to take his pizza-making skills to the next level.
Such a cooking appliance not only helps you churn out better pizzas baked at a high temperature, exuding the pungent flavour of wood, but also allows you to make the most of your outdoor space, be it a terrace or a garden.
You can choose from many types of outdoor wood-burning models to satisfy your every need. The main factors relate directly to the size (when space is in short supply) and the ease of movement in the case of mobile ovens.
Another thing to take into account is the idea you have of your outdoor kitchen and what an oven can bring to it: a traditional model in refractory materials for a rustic setting or rather a stainless-steel one for more modern and functional al fresco cooking.
In this article, we want to guide you in the choice of an outdoor wood-fired oven by looking at the various factors that can influence it and focusing on the main aspects to find the solution that best suits your needs.
First of all, we will go over the advantages of outdoor cooking by examining the limits due to the lack of kitchen space and the problems associated with the installation of an oven that can also be used as a tool for staging a baking show in your garden.
Then, we will list the main things to consider when buying an outdoor wood-burning oven, such as the performance, ease of use, size, design, and last but not least, price.
We will conclude by giving you some useful tips on how to exploit the full potential of your open-air space with Alfa wood-fired ovens, high-performance appliances that will turn your outdoor kitchen into a mini pizzeria.
The benefits of an outdoor wood-burning oven
Let us now look at the advantages of baking outdoor. In our blog we have talked about the benefits of cooking al fresco, in particular by listing ten reasons to purchase an outdoor wood-burning oven.
Here’s what an outdoor kitchen should have:
- Expand your available space.
- Fewer installation constraints.
- Stage cooking shows to entertain guests.
Let us check these three benefits.
Expand your available space
Baking outdoors allows you to use more space than is available in a normal home kitchen. Even country houses with their kitchen wood-fired oven often have an outdoor model installed in the garden. The traditional wood-fired oven is usually a permanent fixture but for greater flexibility you can opt for a mobile model on wheels.
Alfa mobile outdoor ovens are built by using ForninoxTM technology that makes it possible to combine a stainless-steel dome with a refractory cooking floor. This maximises oven heat efficiency while reducing weight, making the appliances more versatile and easier to move.
So, place your mobile oven wherever you want to arrange chairs, tables and worktops to give maximum comfort to guests and pizza chefs.
Choose a mobile outdoor wood-burning oven with wheels to make better use of your outdoor space and turn out delicious pizzas like in a pizzeria.
Fewer installation constraints
Open-air cooking greatly reduces the impediment to installing an indoor wood-burning oven.
Building a refractory model needs major masonry work and a lot of space. To say nothing of the major impact of the oven structure and the chimney on its construction, which is why it is less and less present in the kitchens of newly built homes.
These limitations can be partly overcome by building the oven outside: all that you need is a solid base that carries the weight of the oven, and then choose whether to build it on the house wall or create a separate, cosy cooking space by throwing in a plancha or a barbecue for good measure. A small chimney will do just fine to direct smoke upwards. All these benefits are furtherly increased by a mobile wood-burning oven, equipped with castors and a compartment to organise logs.
Using such an oven to entertain guests and let them enjoy scrumptious pizzas during nice evenings with friends is a major asset. Outdoor spaces allow greater freedom to throw terrific garden parties, staging amazing cooking shows which will be all the more engaging if supported by an oven that works great.
A wood-fired oven that is easy to move, hits high temperatures and whose design perfectly enhances your outdoor living space. The pizza maker and the oven will take centre stage and will be totally involved in the festive atmosphere, surrounded by curious guests that will be able to watch the chef’s work, ask questions and, en passant, learn his tricks.
Let us now see how to pick the best outdoor wood-burning oven.
How to choose the best outdoor wood-fired oven
There are all kinds of outdoor wood-burning ovens on the market and selecting the right one for your needs can be more difficult than you expect, especially if it must fit into a fully equipped outdoor kitchen.
You will need to analyse the space available where you can install it and take into account the amount of money to budget for its purchase. In our blog, we have already covered this topic by offering you five unmissable ideas to design your outdoor kitchen.
We have rounded up five key factors to consider when choosing your oven and all of them, but the first one, have varying degrees of importance depending on different needs.
- Thermal efficiency
Let us have a look at them:
Heat performance is the crucial element in determining the quality of cooking of the oven. In short, it means the ability of the oven to hit high temperatures and maintain them constant for a long time.
Wood-burning ovens have quite precisely this property thanks to the refractories with which they are built. The downside is that in order to reach these temperatures, they need to burn a lot of wood for at least two hours.
Our stainless-steel wood-burning ovens have a superior thermal efficiency as they attain high temperatures by burning less firewood and heating up much faster than their refractory counterparts. On the other hand, once they have been turned off, they will lose their accumulated heat as quickly as they got it.
With a traditional wood-fired oven and its retained heat, you can in fact continue to bake a wide range of dishes for a few hours as the temperature drops.
All in all, we can say that an efficient wood-burning oven allows for better heat management and therefore greatly helps pizza chef’s work, while an inefficient one will be more likely to cause problems in reaching and maintaining the optimum temp and will need more work and fuel.
Obviously, the size of the oven depends on the type of use you want to make of it as well as the space available on your terrace or garden.
There is a great variety of home wood-fired ovens suitable for baking up to 6-7 pizzas at a time. If you are a novice pizza maker, we would recommend not buying a model too large, as it requires a lot of wood and a little experience in handling the fire.
Big ovens hit superior temperatures more easily and offer better overall cooking performance and that’s why they command a higher price. They also need much space to fully exploit their potential.
However, if you want an oven that fits into a small space, don’t despair! You can continue to cook with a compact, high-performing, wood-fired oven like the Alfa One, that can bake pizzas at 500 °C even on a small city balcony.
Usually, unless you want to create a country-style kitchen with a traditional, refractory, brick oven, for reasons of convenience and ease of use the choice falls on a mobile wood-burning oven.
With such an appliance, you can choose a different baking location each time and you can also shelter it during the long, cold season as a means of increasing its lifespan.
Another good option can be hybrid ovens that run on wood or gas. Their technology is based on the Kit Hybrid, an accessory for Alfa gas-fired ovens that consists of a cover protecting the gas burner when the appliance burns wood.
The outdoor hybrid oven is very versatile because it allows you to select the most suitable energy source (wood or gas cylinder) and to taste the differences in the same dishes cooked with different fuels.
The design of this oven concentrates on two important aspects to attract people’s attention, namely the way you manage the fire and the way you prepare food. Anthropology and psychology associate fire with ancestral instincts dating back to the dawn of our civilisation and explains why we as a species are drawn to these two foundational things.
The oven design is key to give a bit of character to your outdoor space, whether it is rustic style with a brick, traditional, wood-burning oven or contemporary with a stainless-steel model. To learn more about this topic, read our blog article on how to decorate outdoor spaces around Alfa ovens.
Prices for wood-fired ovens vary greatly depending on the type and size you are looking for. Let us now try to pinpoint some price ranges. As far as steel outdoor wood-burning ovens are concerned, there are many models with good value for money, although the purchase price should still be around 1 000 €.
As a rule, larger, high-performing models cost more because they have superior quality standards and a longer average lifespan. Within the 1 200 to 2 000 € price category, are appliances that come with great heat efficiency, quality design and constant performances.
High-end ovens are often integrated into fully equipped outdoor kitchens and work just as well as commercial models with a more sophisticated design to give more cachet to your outdoor space.
As for traditional, refractory ovens, you need to budget for a tidy sum of money for the costs of materials and construction, but they can ultimately help to increase the value of your home.
The five factors that we have seen above are the most important ones to guide you through the choice of your outdoor wood-fired oven. By evaluating them, you will have all the tools you need to make an informed decision.
Make the most of your outdoor space with the Alfa wood-fired oven
In this brief article, we have looked at the key factors to consider when selecting the best outdoor wood-fired oven, trying to figure out their individual influence in specific contexts.
We have broadly mentioned the advantages of outdoor use for these types of ovens, which are particularly suitable for large spaces, not subject to building constraints and perfect for making any of your parties with friends and family a showstopper.
We have then listed the five things to deal with when buying an oven: thermal efficiency, capacity and its consequences on wood consumption and heat management, convenience, design and how much you should spend on it.
Alfa’s range of home ovens meets all criteria. In addition to the three traditional, high-quality, refractory ovens, we offer eight different stainless-steel models to bake from one (One) up to five pizzas at once (Allegro).
All our models are available in a mobile version. Four are wood-fired, three are gas-fired but can be turned into hybrids, and the One is powered by wood or gas. We hope this item has helped you find the outdoor wood-burning oven that best suits your needs.