PIZZA OVEN GUIDE 2024

In an ideal world we’d all have a wood fired pizza oven built into the garden with bespoke tiling and a fully pimped out pergola. Unfortunately, very few of us have the money, space or time for such an investment.
 
Enter the portable/personal pizza oven.
 
One thing people often forget is how long a large dome oven can take to get up to temperature for cooking pizzas (450°C). Even our moderately sized one on the van can take a good couple of hours from cold to be absolutely roaring.
 
All that for a couple of pizzas on a Saturday night with the family?
 
Models such as the Gozney Roccbox and Ooni Karu/Koda ovens can be ready to go in 15-20 minutes and will smash out perfect pizzas every time, if your pizzaiolo tekkers are up to scratch that is!
 
So, without further a-doo-doo, let’s have a look at what’s out there.

GOZNEY ROCCBOX

GOZNEY ROCCBOX​
We got our hands on one of these and it helped us take the next step in pizza making at home.
 
It comes with a very good gas burner that connects to a standard BBQ gas bottle, and we found that it was plenty powerful enough to cook proper Neapolitan style pizzas in around 60-90 seconds once up to temperature. More importantly, the base (stone you cook on) recovers really quickly so you’re good to go again with your next pizza.
 
The reason it heats up and retains heat so well is due to the small opening. You’re only really going to get an 11″ pizza in there and it will be tiiiiiight, meaning you’ll need a good amount of practice launching, spinning and removing. Once you get used to it, it becomes second nature.
 
You also get a nice little perforated peel (that paddle/shovel thing that you launch your ‘za with) included, which is nice and light but can bend if it gets knocked about a bit. Can’t forget the obligatory branded bottle opener – let’s face it, you’ll most likely have a bottle of something nice and cold in one hand as you use it, regardless of time of year.
 
Their wood burner attachment is an additional cost and, truth be told, you’re best perfecting your technique using gas and then getting the wood burner as and when you’re ready for a new challenge. Wood is MUCH trickier than cooking on gas.
 
Gozney also love a little collab so expect to pay more for exclusive colourways etc but the bones of it are no different to the ‘standard’ oven. Unless you’re into matching exact colours, don’t bother.
 
Not got a bad word to say about the Roccbox really. It’s really well built, performs really well and is fully portable. Gozney are obviously very happy with it too, having kept the same design for years now.
 
For the home pizza enthusiast looking for a restaurant quality product at a pretty decent price, look no further. If you’re looking to make massive pies or cook other things like a roast, this probably isn’t for you.

OONI KARU 12G

OONI KARU 12G​
Aimed at the home pizza enthusiast, this is another fantastic pizza oven option and comes from a more varied stable of pizza ovens that have been updated over the last few years. The Karu 12G is their best offering for pure pizza making yet. In fact, Ooni claim it’s ‘The world’s most advanced portable pizza oven’.
 
The first thing you’ll notice that’s different to the Roccbox is the flue that protrudes from the top of the oven, making it look more like a traditional pizza oven (which we like). This is needed because of the fact the Karu has a nifty little door to keep the heat in, and a little window so you can keep an eye on your creations without losing heat. We’ve all been there with Yorkshire puds, right? It’s waaaay to tempting to sneak a peak!
 
A 15 minute heat up time is boasted, and that’s probably about right when cooking on gas. Plus, it boasts eco credentials as it is super efficient when burning gas or wood due it’s enclosed frontage.
 
It’s the opposite of the Roccbox in that it comes with a wood burner and the gas attachment is an extra. It’ll be interesting to see if the ‘ClearView’ technology on the window actually stays clean in the long run. Soot from burning wood gets everywhere. And I mean everywhere 👀
 
The Karu 12G is also approved by the AVPN – that’s the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana to you and me. They decide what can legitimately be called a TRUE Neapolitan pizza, down to the very ingredients to be used, along with the oven to cook it in. Either way, they’re happy with the Karu and you can certainly spin out some beautiful pizzas in this pizza oven.
 
It’s a tad bigger than the Roccbox, meaning there’s more margin for error when launching, turning, etc. which can only be a good thing. You’ll get a 12″ pizza out and anything you can cook in a skillet really.
 
Again, it’s super portable at just a shade over 15kg and we love the way it looks. Sleek and elegant. Gotta love a flue as well.
 
Price-wise it’s pretty similar to the Roccbox so this will really come down to brand loyalty. They’re both really very good at making pizzas.

OONI VOLT 12

OONI VOLT 12​
The Volt is a fully electric pizza oven – clue’s in the name ⚡ – and, speaking from experience with electric ovens, they are by some considerable difference the easiest to use. You literally plug it in, wait 20 mins and off you go.
 
Yep, it’s considerably more expensive than the Karu and Roccbox but if you are looking for one of the best options for purely indoor use, then this is one to consider.
 
There’s no mess to contend with either – unless you put a hole in your pizza in which case you’ll have molten cheese all over the shop (tips on how to avoid this here) – which makes for a clean cooking environment.
 
Operation is almost silent, almost disconcertingly so when you’re used to the crackle of wood burning or the gentle whoosh of gas, but don’t let that put you off. In the end you need a really intense heat source up top (heating elements) and another really intense one below (also heating elements, underneath the Cordeirite baking stone).
 
There’s a lot of pizza snobbery when it comes to cooking method but wood, gas and electric, even charcoal, will all create plenty of heat, and that’s all you need. We’ve used wood, gas and electric commercially to cook pizza and 99% of people would not be able to tell the difference between the final product.
 
Go with what works for you at the end of the day. Or whatever looks the best. The rule of cool is very much a viable one.

EFFEUNO P134H

EFFEUNO P134H​
Honourable mention on the electric pizza oven front must also be made to the Effeuno P134h, of which we have 4! We ran these bad boys for our kitchen residency in the Crafty Taproom in Marlow.
 
They also helped us survive the start of Covid Lockdown Part 1 when our van was out of action. Running them out of a gazebo at the Three Horseshoes in Flackwell Heath was certainly not what they were intended for, but needs must and all that. And they certainly pulled their weight. In fact, we’d go as far to say that if weren’t able to trade for those months in 2020 we probably wouldn’t be where we are now.
 
I still get PTSD whenever I watch the episode of The Bear when they turn on their online ordering for the first time. We faced exactly the same situation with this ticket machine spewing orders all for the same time resulting in us selling out in less than 8 minutes on one occasion 😵
 
Anyway, back to the machine itself. They cook perfect pizzas time after time, better than the Ooni Volt tbh, and you can easily upgrade the base to a ‘biscotto’ stone which helps for even baking on the undercarriage. However, they are more expensive, larger and not as good looking, meaning you may have a time of it justifying to your other half.
 
Still, it has a special place in our hearts 💖

THE VERDICT

This is by no means an exhaustive list of home pizza ovens available now, but we wanted to comment on personal/portable ovens we have either used or can vouch for.
 
We didn’t mention the Gozney Dome for instance as it’s a hybrid pizza/bbq number but is also worth consideration if you have deep pockets. In fact, if you think there’s one we’ve glossed over that needs shouting about, get in touch!
 
For us it’s a straight shootout between the Roccbox and the Ooni Karu 12G. We’re into Nike v Adidas territory here as you’ll smash out some stunning pizzas to wow you family and friends with either.
 
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