how to make pizza in a pizza oven: tips and FAQs for beginners

If you’re considering getting an outdoor pizza oven, or have recently purchased one, here’s some helpful information for you all about how to use a pizza oven.

What follows is not a “how to”, or a step by step guide… you can find those in the instruction manual of the particular model you get, or on YOUTUBE, where there are guides galore. Each model and style has it’s own particular challenges and instructions, so there’s no way to do a one-size fits all “how to use a pizza oven” guide.

What we have here for you is some handy general information about pizza ovens. FAQs, with tips & tricks woven in, all aimed at beginners.

Let’s get started.

How To Use A Pizza Oven – FAQs

 


Answers To FAQs on “How To Use A Pizza Oven”.

What is important during the set-up process? 

You’ll want to set up your pizza oven in a well ventilated space. It gets extremely HOT… and you will want to be able to dedicate some space around it for safety.  If it’s a gas model, keep the fuel supply hose directed away from any heated surfaces (the hose should not be routed under the oven).

What additional items will I need to buy?

To get started with outdoor pizza cooking, you’ll need your pizza oven with fuel source, a cooking stone, and a pizza peel. Besides your food ingredients, that’s pretty much it. Most pizza ovens already come with a perfectly sized pizza stone, but few come with a pizza peel. There are lots of different varieties and sizes of peels: wooden and aluminum/metal are the two top choices.

Do I need to season my new pizza stone?

No! Just dust it with some corn meal before cooking so that the pizza dough won’t stick. The cooking process over time seasons it.

How to use a pizza oven: Tips and FAQs for beginnersCan I make ANY pizza in an outdoor pizza oven?

Absolutely! Just be aware that the thickness of your crust, the amount of sauce you use, and the types and quantity of toppings you add will all affect your cooking times.

Most people find that thin crust pizzas with minimal toppings are the easiest to do well (cook evenly and consistently),  while thick crusts or pizzas with plenty of “wet” toppings (like vegetables) are more challenging to get right without a lot of tweaking and perfecting of their techniques.

If you like to have the crust super crispy or lightly browned, you can do either. It just depends on how long you leave it on the stone and how hot you set the oven.

How do I actually cook a pizza in this oven?

After preheating your pizza oven so that your pizza stone is thoroughly good and hot, you’ll slide your prepared pizza off of your pizza peel onto the hot pizza stone. You’ll want to have plenty of cornmeal or flour on your peel so that the pizza will slide easily.

Some pizza ovens are so hot that the pizzas cook in under 2 minutes, while others take 6-7 minutes total. Regardless of the speed, you’ll want to be rotating the pizza during the cooking process at regular intervals. It may take some practice to get the hang of what works best for your particular model and preferences.

After your pizza is fully cooked, slip the pizza peel underneath the pizza and remove. Your pizza oven is ready for the next pizza – there’s no need to reheat the oven.

What do I do if my pizza sticks to my pizza peel?

If your dough sticks to a metal/aluminum pizza peel, set the peel on the stone for a minute allowing the dough to cook a little and release. Then you can slide it off without ruining the pizza. If it sticks to wood, you’re MUCH more stuck… so beware and give it a really good dusting with cornmeal or flour beforehand.

How do I turn the pizza while it’s in the oven?

PizzaQue: One of the top rated outdoor pizza ovens for your backyard
Click to see our reviews on the PizzaQue and other top rated outdoor pizza ovens.

The stone is stationary (on most models). The pizza is turned using a peel and tongs. You sliding the pizza slightly out of the oven and using tongs to rotate it.  If you have a long handled bbq metal flipper, you can rotate the pizza wholly inside the oven by slightly lifting and rotating.  Either way, it can be a little awkward at first, but it gets very easy after some practice.

What can I try if I keep burning my crust bottoms?

Burning pizza after pizza is frustrating but it’s pretty much a given with pizza ovens that at first you’ll have to experiment a little to figure out what works best for you. You can try a combination of the following:

  • Rotate the pizza more often.
  • As soon as you notice the bottom of the pizza getting dark, if you’d like the top of the pizza to have a few more minutes, use a metal pizza peel to tilt the pizza up off the stone. This allowing the heat to continue cooking the top but stops the bottom from further cooking.
  • Check if perhaps you’re overfilling the oven – make your pizza smaller to give heat the ability to move all around the dough.
  • Also try making the dough about 1/4″ thick overall and limit your toppings to two or three (including cheese) so the pizza and toppings can cook through all at the same rate
  • Reduce the cooking time
  • Reduce the cooking temperature (especially if it’s a thicker crust)

Do weather conditions affect how my pizza oven works?

Generally yes. Any time the temperature of your very hot pizza oven fluctuates (think cold air when you open the lid to check on it, drafts from a cold breeze that make their way under the oven lid through holes, etc.), your pizza cooking time will also adjust.  The perfect conditions are a calm, mild-warm day.  The oven temperature may need to be hotter on a cold day or cooler on a hot day, as with any oven or grill.

How do I care for my pizza stone?

  • Clean the excess food off, but don’t use soap on it (soap will strip any oils/seasoning that has been done and can transfer a soap taste).
  • A black stone is actually a seasoned stone, so don’t worry at ALL about your stone growing darker.
  • As the food oils seep into the stone it basically creates a non-stick surface, so you don’t need to grease a stone prior to use.
  • Allow it to cool down gradually or it will crack.

What kind of pizza peels work best?

Experts advise newbies to have 2 different pizza peels… wood for prep and insertion, and metal for turning and removal. They say prep the pizza on a wood peel, over a thin layer of corn meal to help it slide off, because raw dough doesn’t stick to wood as easily as metal. A little scorching won’t hurt, but it should only enter the oven for 2-3 seconds.

Then use a thin metal peel to turn/remove the pizzas from the oven because it’s much easier to slide a thin blade under the cooking pizza. While the pizza is cooking, you can be prepping your next pizza on the wooden peel, so it is worth it have both if you plan to be cooking for a crowd. Just make sure that wooden peel is dry (no sauce drips, cheese, condensation) before prepping the next crust, or it’ll stick.

Do I need to preheat the pizza oven?

This is actually extremely important to do well. Give it at least 15 minutes to heat up to high temperature – that way the stone will be extremely hot and the oven will be ready to cook a fabulous pizza from the top and the bottom. It may take a bit longer to preheat than your backyard gas grill, but it also needs to get a LOT hotter.

Can I use parchment paper under my pizza to stop it from sticking to the pizza peel?

As the oven is easily capable of temperatures of 700+ºF, and most parchment papers are described as being oven safe to 450ºF, the answer is no.

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Anything else you want to know about how to use a pizza oven? (If you want more on how a wood-fired oven works, by the way, click here.)

Feel free to comment below with more tips and tricks, or further questions!

 

Haven’t picked out a pizza oven yet for yourself? We can help you out:

Best Outdoor Pizza Oven Reviews for 2018

 

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How To Use A Pizza Oven: Tips And FAQs For Beginners

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