If you don't know anyone with a pizza oven, that's likely to change -- and soon. These sleek and easy backyard cookers from brands including solo, and are enjoying record sales, sparking at-home pizza parties from coast to coast. With popular models already on backorder for 2023, pizza ovens are looking like the hot .
Papa John, Little Caesar, consider yourselves on notice.
Home pizza ovens aren't new. Just ask Sara Lauro, whose family-run companyhas been making artisan wood- and gas-fired pizza ovens in Italy for 46 years. But something clicked of late, Lauro tells me, and the brand has seen oven sales skyrocket more than 95% in the last year alone. The popular high-end ovens have also gone on backorder several times since 2020, but Alfa has since caught up and roughly tripled production in 2022 to keep pace with consumer appetite.
The home pizza oven category is also still something of a niche market, Lauro admits. But this new breed of turnkey and foolproof pizza ovens that slide into a backyard setup with ease and hook up to propane tanks for instantaneous ignition is helping take home pie-making into the mainstream.
Home pizza ovens caught fire in 2020 with no signs of cooling
The pandemic caused a seismic shift in how we approached cooking at home. skyrocketed, for instance, as folks used their time in quarantine to learn to cook or improve on existing skills. While individual food projects grabbed the spotlight with rounds of and frothy receiving outsized attention, pizza making was lurking in the shadow and, at times, very much in broad daylight. But there were signs of growth even before the 2020 lockdown. In 2019 alone, Alfa saw more sales than the three previous years combined, according to Lauro.sales
While Alfa has been making its ovens for nearly a half-century, two newer companies were ready for and perhaps even helped to spur on this pizza oven hot streak.
Utah-basedlaunched its popular in 2016. and was impressed with how quickly and cleanly it made pizza, burgers, salmon and steak. With wildly fast cooking times and almost no mess to clean up, I liked using it just as much as my trusty , maybe more. More recently, Gozney launched the , a large, professional-grade oven with a price to match.
, a Scottish pizza oven brand (naturally) opened for business four years earlier and has dispatched several ultraportable , , and even pizza ovens into the market. Reps from both Gozney and Ooni say that the past few years have been gangbusters for pizza ovens and, much like Alfa, they've had to supercharge production to satisfy demand.
, a popular Texas-based producer of modern is yet another brand looking to capitalize on the pizza craze with the launch of the just this year. Solo Stove's first venture into the pizza oven space has been a smash, CEO John Merris told me over Zoom, and the oven is sold out through the holidays with the next available deliveries in January 2023.
The sleek, circular stainless steel unit retails for $625 but can regularly be found for $500 or less on-- a bit more if you opt for the . CNET's Megan Wollerton gave the Solo Pi a whirl recently. You can read her .
Pizza ovens do things your grill and oven can't
There are a few sound methods for making pizza at home without a specialty oven. Grilled pizza enjoys earned praise during the warmer months and a-- which can be had for as little as $30 -- traps heat so you can use your grill or even a conventional oven to make more authentic style pie. But neither approach will give you quite the crispy crust of a hot-as-heck pizza oven.
That's because commercial pizza ovens run extremely hot, often reaching temps of 1,000 degrees F or more. This new class of at-home pizza ovens keeps pace, with most models climbing to 900 F, often within 10-15 minutes of firing them up. That blazing heat means a few things: a perfectly crisped bottom and crust and evenly melted cheese without drying out the pie, cheese or toppings.
Logistically speaking, it also means pizza and other foods are ready in a matter of minutes (pizzas typically take less than two minutes each). Even ovens that make just one pizza at a time such as the Roccbox and most Ooni models will feed a gang without creating a queue of hungry folks.
Making and rolling out the dough is by far the most time-consuming part of any at-home pizza party. Conveniently, most supermarkets and many bakeries stock, ready to be rolled out, topped and baked. Solo has even started selling including dough, sauce and cheese, although you'll probably get a better deal at the .
Pizza ovens are pricey. But, then again, so is pizza lately
These new pizza ovens come at a cost, with models typically ranging between $300 and $700. Alfa makes more professional-grade (and expensive) models with insulated walls and full-effect circulation flu systems -- features that the less expensive brands don't offer. Alfa ovens will run you, although the brand is set to release its most portable and affordable model, the Moderno, to US retail partners in January.
Those price tags are considerable for any appliance, especially one you likely never gave much thought to in the first place, and any one of these pizza ovens still falls squarely in the splurge category.
But to look at it another way, pizza itself has gotten awfully expensive, at least where I live in Brooklyn. The Italian classic has humble beginnings as peasant fare and street food but has become one of the single most marked-up cuisines considering the cost-of-ingredients-to-menu-price ratio. Parse out the groceries needed for adinner and $25 doesn't seem so outrageous. But the dough, sauce and cheese required to craft a single pizza costs somewhere in the neighborhood of a few bucks.
If you're looking to nab a pizza oven for a holiday gift or to add to your backyard cooking collection, we've personally tested models from, Ooni, and Alfa and had great success with all of them. We've rounded up some of ahead of the holidays. But as demand rises and producers scramble to keep up, don't be surprised if models continue to go out of stock and on backorder during this busiest of buying times.