A Guide to Cooking with Wood-Fired Pizza Ovens

Wood-fired pizza ovens have been used by restaurants for all types of cuisine, not just cooking great-tasting pizzas. These ovens make perfect pizzas with the right amount of crunch to the crust with the ooey-gooeyness of cheese, sauce, and your favorite toppings. Aside from pizzas, authentic pizza ovens can be used to make numerous other types of foods, including:

  • Meats
  • Vegetables
  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Desserts

Now you, too, can cook great-tasting wood-fired pizza at home, along with a host of other meals, with your very own wood-fired outdoor pizza oven. The oven you purchase will provide a valuable cooking appliance for your home.

Instead of getting pizza delivered on Friday nights, you and your family can enjoy baking up homemade pizzas in your own wood-fired brick pizza oven! The oven you buy is also the perfect cooking appliance to use to roast, bake, barbeque, grill, steam, simmer, and grill other types of foods. Additionally, you can even use your pizza oven as your new cooktop, oven, and slow cooker appliance.

Cooking in Wood-Fired Pizza Ovens

Cooking in wood-fired pizza ovens is a bit different from using the oven and stovetop in your home. Instead of setting a specific temperature on the oven or turning a knob to adjust the temperature of a cooktop burner, the amount of heat in the oven is determined by how much heat energy is being released from the burning wood.

As wood burns and turns to embers, it gives off a higher amount of heat. Using wood-fired outdoor pizza ovens does require tossing out what you know about cooking temperatures and cooking times. However, your pizza oven does have a thermometer on the outside of the unit to help you gauge the temperature to ensure it is at the right level that you need.

In addition, you can use various types of scented wood chips when you want to use your brick pizza oven to add the smokey wood flavor. Imagine all the great smoked meats and vegetables you can make at home!

Learning Temperature Scales for Wood-Fired Pizza Ovens

The type of cooking you want to do in authentic pizza ovens will determine what temperature you need to aim for when deciding how much wood to load into the oven, as well as how long to allow the oven to preheat. In general, the temperature scale is very similar to what you are already familiar with and use when cooking with your oven or cooktop.

  • Keep Warm: This is the lowest you can operate your wood-fired oven at to help keep foods warm. Using a wood-fired oven helps maintain moisture so it prevents foods from becoming dry. The temperature you want to see on your oven thermometer is between 150°F and 160°F.
  • Slow Cook/Slow Roast: You can use your wood-fired oven to slow roast and slow cook meals, from pot roasts to pulled pork, stews, and beans. The temperature gauge on the wood-fired oven should be maintained between 200°F and 250°F.
  • Baking Desserts: You can bake desserts like pies, cakes, and cookies in your wood-fired oven. You can even bake scones! The ideal temperature for baking desserts is between 300°F to 350°F.
  • Baking Bread/General Baking & Reheating: For general baking and baking your favorite homemade bread, you want to keep your wood-fired brick pizza oven between 400°F and 450°F.
  • Roasting/Grilling/Baking Hearth Bread: Roasting requires higher temperatures, between 500°F and 550°F. Remember, when using your oven at this temperature range, foods will brown faster, which is perfect for making seared steaks, hamburgers, brats, and wieners.
  • Baking Pizzas/Calzones: To make brick oven pizza like you get at your favorite restaurant, you need to heat your wood-fired oven to 700°F or more! Due to the extreme heat, you can enjoy homemade wood-fired pizzas in about three minutes.

outdoor pizza ovens

Tips for Maintaining Desired Temperatures in Outdoor Pizza Ovens

The key to cooking with wood in a wood-fired oven is understanding how to regulate and maintain desired temperature levels. Unlike the oven in your home, a wood fire oven is designed to absorb and retain heat. Once the desired temperature is reached, you can let the fire go out and allow the embers to help maintain temperature levels.

Getting your wood-fired oven to the right temperature level will require using varying amounts of wood. For lower temperatures, you do not need as much wood as you do to make pizza. For instance, if you want to bake pizzas, you will want to start a fire and keep adding wood. Reaching 700°F+ can take around 18-20 pieces of wood that are about 16 inches long and 4 inches in diameter.

Before you start cooking, you will need to build the fire and allow it to burn anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes to reach the right temperature. Once it reaches the right temperature, you will need to add one to two pieces of wood every 20 minutes or so to maintain that temperature.

Do keep in mind, opening and closing the oven door will cause temperatures to gradually drop. This is why it is important to add more wood to maintain temperatures—although, if you are roasting, or slow cooking where you will leave the oven door closed, you may not need to add any additional wood.

Your wood-fired brick pizza oven is designed to retain heat for numerous hours. With the door shut, temperatures do not drop as quickly and allow you to cook or bake for several hours before you need to add more wood.

Recipes for Wood-Fired Pizza Ovens

Now that you understand how wood-fired pizza ovens work, let’s take a look at some recipes you will want to try out as soon as you get your new outdoor wood-fired oven!

Wood-Fired Pizzas

Preheat the oven by starting the fire. You want the oven to reach at least 700°F before baking your pizza. While the oven is preheating, remove your pizza dough from the refrigerator. You want to let the dough set out and rest for an hour as it comes up to room temperature.

After an hour, sprinkle flour on a countertop and lightly dust both sides of the dough. Gradually stretch or roll it out to the desired shape and size. Next, add pizza sauce and spread evenly over the crust, leaving about one quarter to a half-inch of dough around the edges.

Add a light layer of cheese, then all of your favorite toppings. Sprinkle the top with more cheese. Brush the outside edge of the dough with olive oil. You can add parmesan or other herbs and spices over the olive oil for a flavored crust.

Once your pizza oven has reached 700°F+ degrees, carefully place the pizza in the oven using a pizza peel. You will need to rotate the pizza every 20 seconds to turn the part of the pizza closest to the fire away from it. Continue doing this for an even bake. Your pizza should be done in about one to two minutes.

Wood-Fired Meats

Preheat the wood-fired oven and bring it up to 550°F. You want to make the fire in the middle of the oven. Once the fire has gone out and the embers remain, place an elevated grilling rack over the coals and shut the door. Allow the rack to preheat for about 10 minutes.

Add your favorite meats like steak, hamburgers, brats, chicken, or fish to the top of the grilling rack. Allow to cook for several minutes before flipping. For instance, for a medium steak, cook on each side three to four minutes.

For roasted meats, you want to preheat the oven to around 400F and then maintain a temperature between 350F and 375F. Roast the meat how you normally would in an oven-safe pan or cast iron pan.

wood fired pizza ovens

Wood-Fired Vegetables

Preheat the wood-fired oven to 400°F – 425°F. You can place a grilling rack over the coals after the fire dies down and grill right on the rack. You can also lightly toss your vegetables in olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt or other spices and roast on an oven-safe baking sheet. Rotate the baking sheet after five to seven minutes.

Either method takes about 10 to 15 minutes to cook vegetables. Alternatively, you can preheat to 600°F to 650°F and roast the veggies for about four to five minutes to get that wood fire taste.

Wood-Fired Pasta

Wood-fired ovens are great for making pasta dishes like lasagna. Preheat the oven to the desired temperature. Make sure your pasta dish is in a cast iron or oven-safe baking dish. Place in the oven and bake for the desired amount of time. Rotate the baking dish every 15 to 20 minutes for an even bake.

Wood-Fired Bread and Desserts

Preheat your wood-fired pizza oven to at least 600°F. Once the fire dies down to about 500°F, bake the bread or dessert, rotating numerous times for an even bake. Place flatbread dough right on the baking surface.

To check out our recipes or to learn more about our wood-fired pizza ovens for your home, please feel free to explore our website. We even teach you how to make homemade pizza dough! For ordering assistance or help in selecting the right brick pizza oven for your home, please feel free to call Fontana Forni at 877-842-9822.