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For an authentic 12-inch pizza at home, you not only require the best ingredients you can lay your hands on but also a genuine pizza oven with an operating temperature of up to 400˚C and beyond.
Ooni is the most popular pizza oven brand in the UK, but Sage makes an exception indoor/outdoor pizza oven.
We’ve gathered together a quintet of fine pizza oven contenders that bake pizzas as well as any restaurant oven, replete with crisp bases and tall, airy crusts.
Best pizza ovens at a glance
The pizza-making process
Now, you could make the pizza dough yourself using the finest Italian OO flour, good quality salt, olive oil and some yeast but unless you’re a decent cook or baker, you may find it difficult to create dough balls as good as those made by the professionals.
If you want to opt-out of dough making, buy in some pre-made dough balls. This will not only save you a lot of time and mess, you’ll likely be happier with the results. We list some first-rate dough ball suppliers below.
Preparation is another important factor, as is the use of the best ingredients you can lay your hands on. There are great YouTube demonstrations on how to stretch and build pizza.
The best mozzarella to use is the type that comes in a bag of liquid, be it normal or Buffalo. Make sure you dry the pieces of mozzarella on some paper towel 30 minutes before baking or any remaining moisture in the cheese will turn the centre of the pizza into an unsightly pink pool of cheese and passata.
Best pizza dough providers
Granted, you will have to order a dozen or so dough balls at a time but they keep for ages in the freezer. Simply defrost in the fridge overnight, take them out a few hours before to reach room temperature and cover with a damp tea towel to proof.
Massarellas: Massarellas is based in Yorkshire and they ship their amazing Sourdough and Classic varieties to most of mainland UK.
The Sourdough version, especially, produces outstanding pizzas with mountainous crusts that are light as a feather.
Ooni: Ooni is arguably the most popular consumer-based pizza oven brand in the UK. It also ships top-notch semi-frozen sourdough pizza dough balls to your door – mainland UK only.
The minimum order is 24 dough balls but they keep for months and freezing doesn’t affect the final results, which are scrumptious.
Northern Dough: These dough balls can be found in pairs in most supermarket freezer sections. They’re not quite up there with the tough competition above but they are certainly the most convenient to buy.
Sage the Smart Oven Pizzaiolo
Best for: Convenience and consistency
Most consumer pizza ovens are of the outdoor variety but this one’s designed for indoor and outdoor use.
Sage is one of the world’s finest small home appliance manufacturers and this bona fide pizza oven is one of the best products they’ve ever created.
The Pizzaiolo uses two electric elements – one below the pizza stone and one above – and some clever computer trickery to produce some of the best pizzas you’ll ever bake.
It’s effortless to use and far and away the most consistent model on this page. Moreover, because the 12-inch pizza stone moves outwards when you open the door, there is almost zero chance of you burning your hand as you place or remove the pizza.
This 400˚C pizza oven heats up in about 25 minutes and automatically produces a variety of scrumptious pizzas at the turn of a dial: slow-baked deep dish, roman, New Yorker. In short, no other pizza oven on this page can match it for fuss-free convenience and unswerving consistency.
No, it’s not cheap at all but if you really like pizza, flatbreads, nans etc, you won’t find a more efficient all-seasons machine.
Ooni Koda 12
Best for: Ease of use
This cracking Ooni oven uses gas for added convenience. All you need is a typical 5kg canister of Patio Gas for amazing 12-inch pizzas and, what’s more, without the need for continually having to add fuel to the fire.
The Ooni Koda doesn’t have a chimney like its wood-burning stablemates because it hardly produces any smoke. Pizza purists may baulk at the thought of using a moisture-producing heat source like gas, but you’ll be hard pressed to tell the difference between the pizzas this cracking contender produces and its admittedly more authentic wood-fired counterparts.
Also, the chimney-less design makes it easier to transport and store away (it weighs just 9.24kgs).
Unlike Ooni’s chimney ovens, the Koda 12 comes out of the box pretty much pre-assembled – simply attach the gas bottle, carefully insert the supplied cordierite stone, fire it up and, in just 15 minutes or so, you can start baking.
Although the flames from the seat of the fire at the rear lick over the entire pizza, you will still need to turn the pizza at least once during the baking process so keep an eye on the back of the oven in case it starts to burn the crust.
Best for: Authentic wood-fired pizzas
If only the very best in authentic wood-fired pizza making will do and you have the financial wherewithal to fork out over a grand, then the DeliVita will repay your investment with classic results time after time.
However, you will have to work hard at it because wood-fired pizza ovens require a lot of attention from the warm-up period all the way through the baking process. You will need to be on the ball or the pizza feast will turn into a disaster.
The key thing is to light the fuel – kindling in this case – 40 minutes before baking time. You will also need to reach deep into the back of the oven with a long hoe-type tool to move the embers clear of the baking area before shoving in the pizza.
The igloo-shaped DeliVita weighs about 30 kilos – fairly heavy, in other words – and it comes in six striking colours. The heavy-duty insulation does a superb job of keeping the interior furnace hot – up to and over 500˚C – so that pizza bases are baked to a crisp finish every time.
Ooni Fyra 12
Best for: Value
Ooni is unquestionably this country’s most popular pizza oven manufacturer. The keenly-priced Fyra 12 runs on wood pellets like those used in pellet barbecues, weighs just 10kgs and comes with a 12-inch baking stone.
All Ooni pizza ovens are a doddle to assemble and this one is no different – simply attach the chimney and the rear-mounted pellet hopper, unfold the three legs and carefully slide in the cordierite stone.
To use the Fyra 12, simply load the hopper with pellets and ignite them using a small piece of fire lighter. Leave for at least 30 minutes until the stone reaches 400˚C or above and carefully shove in the prepared pizza using a 12-inch peel of your choice.
Keep an eye on the pizza because it will be done in less than 90 seconds – absolutely do not chat with a mate, even for just a few seconds or you may be pulling out a black, charred disk. You will also need to turn the pizza mid bake or the rear part nearest the seat of the fire may burn.
Best budget buy by far.
Best for: High-end pizza baking
Yorkshire-based Gozney produces both consumer and commercial pizza ovens so it knows the business well. This 12-inch gas-fired model can also be altered to burn wood kindling with the correct aftermarket accessory.
It also comes out of the package ready assembled though, at 20kgs, it is a heavyweight beast. Unlike most outdoor pizza ovens, this one comes with a built in thermometer which is handy for at-a-glance temperature reading.
Gozney’s patented baffle plate ensures the rolling flame from the gas or wood source covers the entire top of the pizza which in turn ensures a mostly even bake.
The Roccbox comes with three folding legs which keep it sturdy on any table. When finished with, simply fold up the legs and manhandle the unit into the shed for safekeeping. If you’re after an exceedingly well designed and very attractive pizza oven for the patio then this one fits the bill.