There’s never been a better time to be a foodie. Pizza used to be just pizza, but today, we have choices: wood-fired Neapolitan, square Sicilian, foldable New York, deep-dish Chicago, thin-crust California, and crispy-cornered Detroit pizza. Each variety has unique characteristics that make it stand out from the rest, and they all seem impossible to recreate at home.
Of course, there’s never been a better time to be a home cook, either. Cooking gadgets and smart appliances make it easier than ever to cook restaurant-quality food without an expensive culinary degree. Outdoor pizza ovens—like our top pick, Gozney Roccbox(available at Amazon for $499.00)—are a perfect example. You could absolutely pick up a pizza stone, plop it in the oven or on the grill, and make pizza to your heart's content. But, if you’re the type of person that's not satisfied with just-okay pizza (like me), these ovens provide an option for making absolutely stellar pizza.
You don’t have to buy a massive oven or spend a fortune to build one into your outdoor setup anymore, either. There are several portable models available, many with folding legs to make storage a breeze. So we picked up a few propane-powered pizza ovens (all under $500) to see if they could do what they promise: Make restaurant-quality pizza at home.
Here are the best outdoor pizza ovens we tested ranked, in order.
The Gozney Roccbox was an absolute pleasure to use from the beginning. Assembly was as simple as screwing on the gas attachment and extending the legs. From there, the oven reached 900°F within 25 minutes on the highest flame. The flame is located in the back of the unit, and when it hits the roof, it rolls throughout the top of the oven. That heats the stone quickly and evenly while also providing broiler-like heat for cooking the top of the pizza. When we turned the flame down, the temperature responded accordingly, and it held temperatures steady within 5°F.
Both the Neapolitan and New York-style pizzas turned out fantastic in the Roccbox. The Neapolitan pizza cooked in less than 90 seconds, and the exposed flames produced an attractive char on the exterior crust as we turned the pizza. The bottom crust was evenly browned and became beautifully speckled, even in such a short amount of time. The New York pizza, which cooked at a lower temperature of 500°F, took about five minutes to finish. We were delighted when the thin crust turned out simultaneously crispy and foldable. The pizza stone isn’t removable for cleaning, but it was easy enough to clean using a bristled brush.
We were similarly impressed with the Roccbox’s ability to sear in a cast-iron pan. Our 12-inch skillet fit easily inside the oven, with the handle hanging out the door for easy access. Within 15 minutes, the pan registered 600°F. That high heat created a beautiful sear on the first side of the steak, and it maintained those high temperatures to sear the second side, too.
To top it off, the Rocccbox also looks gorgeous with its sleek gray and silver design. It is taller and heavier than the other ovens we tested, but it’s easy to transport with the included carrying strap. The propane attachment hangs underneath the long folding legs, so it won’t fold flat unless you detach the burner. But, the longer legs also mean the oven is positioned higher up on the countertop so it’s at an ideal height.
Put it all together—incredible tasting (and looking) pizza, ability to sear in a cast-iron skillet, and easy-to-use design—and it was a no-brainer to name this pizza oven as our top pick. Gozney also sells a detachable wood burner accessory to turn this propane oven into a wood-fired oven.
Makes delicious Neapolitan and New York-style pizza
There was a lot to love about the Ooni Koda. Ooni makes several different pizza oven models, some of which are powered by wood pellets or charcoal. For simplicity, we chose the gas-powered Koda, which hooks up to a standard propane tank.
The pizza we made on the Ooni were almost as perfect as the ones made on our top pick, but it’s significantly less expensive. Like the Roccbox, the heat source is located in the back of the oven, providing the cooking food with direct access to the flame. We loved that the cooking stone is removable, and you can flip it upside down to clean it during the next cooking session. The legs also fold all the way down, making the already thin-profiled oven almost flat for storage.
It only took five minutes for the pizza stone to register 500°F, and 25 minutes to reach the Ooni’s maximum temperature of 900°F. The Neapolitan-style pizza cooked in about 90 seconds and resulted in beautifully charred spots on the crust and a gorgeous speckled bottom. The oven recovered quickly to cook a second pizza without issue, and it did a similarly fantastic job searing steak and charring broccoli in a cast-iron skillet.
While we were thrilled with this less expensive oven’s results, it is worth noting that we did encounter some issues with the original Ooni Koda we received. After a few cooking sessions, the flames extinguished, and we couldn’t get the unit to turn back on. A piece on the plastic ignition knob had also broken, causing the knob to spin around and around. Ooni’s customer service was fantastic, sending us a replacement knob. When that didn’t resolve the issue, they sent a new oven. We put the new oven through the same rigorous trials as the first one, and couldn’t get the issue to replicate, so we must have had a defective unit the first time around.
Hi, I’m Lindsay Mattison, a trained professional chef and absolute pizza fiend. After graduating from culinary school, I became the executive chef of a farm-to-table restaurant specializing in from-scratch pizza and pasta. I’ve made hundreds—if not thousands—of pizzas during my career, and I somehow never got sick of eating it! Now, I’ve taken my expertise to the backyard, and I’d love to help you find a pizza oven capable of producing restaurant-quality pizza.
To start, we picked up several highly-rated propane-powered pizza ovens and put them to the test. We focused on portable, outdoor units designed to sit on a countertop instead of pizza ovens that become a permanent fixture. One of the test units used one-pound portable propane canisters, but most of them hooked up to a standard propane tank used for gas grills.
Our first set of tests revolved around temperatures. Neapolitan pizza dough requires at least 700°F to create the right texture, so we turned the ovens on and set them on high. Using an infrared thermometer, we timed how long it took each one to reach 500°F, 700°F, and 900°F (if possible). We repeated this test several times to see if the times and temperatures were consistent.
Then, we set the pizza oven on its highest setting and cooked two Neapolitan-style pizzas in succession. In addition to timing how long it took to cook the pizza, we also measured the recovery time for the stone to regain its temperature in between pizzas. We assessed the pizza’s level of doneness on the bottom and edges, as well as the toppings’ appearance. We repeated the tests with a New York-style pizza dough, reducing the oven temperature to 500°F and cooking two more pizzas.
We weren’t satisfied with ovens that could only cook pizza, so we added a 12-inch cast-iron skillet and let it preheat on the stone. After cooking steaks and broccoli in the pan, we assessed the amount of char and sear, giving us a good idea if the ovens could accommodate this cooking method.
As we went, we took several subjective measurements. Was the oven easy to ignite, control the temperature, and turn off? Could the oven be moved easily, and did it take up too much space for storage or general use? Was it sturdy and well-constructed, or did it shake, rattle, or move as we used it? These answers went a long way to helping us determine our winner.
What To Know About Buying Outdoor Pizza Ovens
I’ve made pizza in commercial-grade ovens and at home using a pizza stone in the oven or on the grill. The biggest difference between the two methods is temperature. A home oven usually maxes out around 500°F, while a pizza stone on a grill might reach 600°F. By comparison, commercial pizza ovens can get as hot as 900°F. Those high temperatures allow the dough to expand rapidly when it hits the stone, creating the ideal balance between crispy (but not crunchy) and tender (but not undercooked or dry) textures. It’s one of the reasons why restaurant pizza always tastes better than the freezer-aisle options.
Outdoor pizza ovens are designed to resolve this issue. Some ovens have the heat source located under the stone, but the models we preferred positioned the flame at the back of the oven, allowing it to kiss the crust and promote char. They’re significantly smaller than your oven inside (most of the models we tested fit a 12-inch pizza), so the heat can radiate more efficiently around the small space, heating the built-in stone more effectively.
Outdoor pizza ovens aren’t exactly cheap, so making restaurant-quality pizza has to be important to you. If you’re fine with okay pizza and you wouldn’t use the outdoor oven too often, go ahead and pick up a pizza stone instead. But, if you cook pizza on the regular and want to create the best possible result, you’ll definitely need this specialized oven. In addition to being able to reach higher temperatures, these ovens are also better at holding temperature. The cooking stone loses heat as soon as you add a raw pizza, but a good oven recovers quickly enough to cook several pizzas in succession.
You might also be surprised to learn that these small ovens can do so much more than cook pizza. Use a cast-iron pan to sear steak, char vegetables, bake dips, or cook casseroles. With the addition of a door to trap the heat inside, they can also bake sourdough bread (using a door may not be possible with all models, so be sure to check with the manufacturer). That can really change the nature of how you cook outside, and combining these units with a grill or a smoker can create a full outdoor kitchen setup.
Great Pizza Comes From Great Pizza Dough
Even a fantastic oven will cook a subpar pizza if the dough isn’t right. It’s important to find a pizza dough recipe that stretches easily, but you also have to be patient enough to let it proof properly.
There are several different pizza styles to choose from, and we focused on Neapolitan and New York pizza for these tests. Neapolitan is the simplest type of dough, containing just flour, water, yeast, and salt. It requires longer proofing time to develop the right flavor and consistency, and it absolutely requires a high-temperature oven (700°F to 900°F) to pull it off. It cooks quickly in around 90 seconds, resulting in a tender-crisp crust that has a characteristic char on the outside.
New York-style pizza is designed to cook in a cooler oven (500°F) for about five minutes. The dough usually contains olive oil and sugar, which helps it proof more quickly and makes it easier to stretch. At the lower temperatures, the dough becomes crispy (but foldable) and turns an appealing golden-brown color instead of charring.
We tested any pizza dough recipes that came in each oven’s instruction manual, as well as several recipes we found online. Ooni had our favorite recipe for true Neapolitan pizza, but it’s a two-day process to pull it off correctly. The Roccbox’s recipe contains olive oil and sugar, but it’s also ready to use the same day. We found the former much easier to stretch (great for beginners), and it also tasted great at both high and low cooking temperatures.
Other Pizza Ovens We Tested
Bertello Outdoor Pizza Oven
The Bertello Outdoor Pizza Oven is similarly priced to our value pick, but it lacked the finesse of the other ovens in the test group. The heat source is located in the back of the unit, and our pizza crust and cast-iron broccoli got a gorgeous flame-kissed char. It couldn’t reach 900°F, so the Neapolitan pizza took almost 2 minutes to cook, but it did reach 700°F in about 30 minutes. Unfortunately, the Bertello didn’t recover temperatures as well as some of the other ovens. Our second pizza always lacked color on the bottom, and the steak was only seared on one side.
While we were generally pleased with the pizzas’ appearance and flavor, the unit itself left much to be desired. It features the same streamlined design as the Ooni Koda, and it’s large enough to cook a 12-inch pizza (like our top picks). But the propane cord was way too long, creating a tripping and safety hazard. We also didn’t love the design of the gas hookup. It extruded from the back of the unit, wobbled around when we moved the oven, and generally made the oven awkward to store.
Although we didn't test this feature, the Bertello oven also has a wood burning tray accessory. After preheating the oven with the propane gas burner, the tray allows you to add wood to infuse the oven with wood-fired flavor.
The Camp Chef Italia Pizza Oven is a much larger, heavier model than the rest of its competitors. The cooking stone is 20 inches wide—almost double the 13-inch standard used by most of the other ovens—so you could cook two small pizzas at once. Unfortunately, its design doesn’t make it ideal for Neapolitan pizza.
The heat source is located underneath the stone instead of in the back of the oven, so the crust doesn’t get any color or char from the flames. There are also warnings not to heat the oven over 750°F (although we found it really maxed out around 600°F anyway). That doesn’t allow this oven to get much hotter than a grill, and the resulting pizza was crunchy and dry instead of crisp and tender.
The one thing we really like about this unit is that it comes with a door. With it on, the oven reached 500°F within 20 minutes, and the pizza and cast-iron broccoli cooked much more evenly. The door and wide available space inside makes this oven a good option for anyone wanting to bake bread.
Compared to the other pizza ovens we tested, the Cuisinart Alfrescamore Portable Outdoor Pizza Oven just didn’t stack up. It was the least expensive pizza oven in our testing group, and the price showed in the test results. It was the only pizza oven we tested that used a one-pound portable propane canister, which we found difficult to screw in. The oven itself was nicely designed with a liftable lid, a wood chip cup to add flavor, and a warming drawer below. The warming drawer hovered between 180°F to 200°F, but it wasn’t deep enough to hold an entire pizza without cutting it first.
Our major issue with this oven is it doesn’t get much hotter than a grill or indoor oven. Like the Camp Chef, the heat source is located underneath the pizza stone, so the upper crust never saw any flames that lend it color. We never registered temperatures on the cooking stone that exceeded 600°F, and it took over 10 minutes to get color on the bottom of the pizza. By the time the toppings were bubbling, the pizza dough became crunchy and lacked the soft, chewiness we found in the other ovens.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.