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Outdoor Stone Pizza Oven: 3 Types, Pros & Cons, and Your Best Option

Did you know that the average American consumes 46 slices of pizza each year?

This fact alone isn’t all that surprising… We’d honestly expect to see a higher number! 

But perhaps what you didn’t know is that over half of America’s pizza lovers prefer to eat their cheesy pies from the comfort of their own home (59% to be exact).

Based on this stat… It’s no wonder why outdoor pizza ovens are in favor.

You can cook up and enjoy delicious, Neapolitan pies… Without ever leaving your outdoor space!

So, an outdoor pizza oven will give you that authentic cooking experience… But what if you want a pizza oven that looks authentic, too?

cooked pizza taken out of stone pizza oven

What Exactly is a Stone Pizza Oven?

Before we get to the nitty-gritty details on outdoor stone pizza ovens… Let’s start with a baseline.

You’ve likely heard of brick pizza ovens… Well, stone pizza ovens are much the same!

Historically, stone pizza ovens were cooking apparatuses fueled by coal or wood, with a stone baking chamber… And surrounded by layers of stone masonry for maximum heat retention.

So, what does an outdoor stone pizza oven look like today?

The Modern Day Outdoor Stone Pizza Maker

diy outdoor pizza oven featured image

Interestingly enough, modern outdoor stone pizza ovens rarely feature stone baking chambers!

Instead, most outdoor pizza ovens have fire brick or cement interiors, which effectively act as an integrated pizza stone.

This makes sense… Both fire bricks and cement are great at holding up to high temperatures… And both have unparalleled heat retention!

On the other hand, natural stone may not hold up as well to super high heats. Over time, it could potentially crack or crumble. All in all… The switch from stone to fire brick or cement means modern pizza ovens are just a bit more durable!

You may be scratching your head at all of this… Then what makes stone pizza ovens, well, stone?

It really comes down to the finish.

Modern stone outdoor pizza ovens usually feature refractory cooking chambers or prefab appliances… With an exterior stone finish.

Unless you have your outdoor stone pizza oven custom built… It likely won’t have a stone cooking chamber at all!

Truthfully, stone pizza ovens today are really all about the aesthetics.

So, now that we’re all on the same page… Let’s go into some more detail on why an outdoor stone pizza oven may be a worthwhile consideration! 

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Benefits of an Outdoor Stone Pizza Oven

Now that we’ve covered what an outdoor stone pizza oven is… Let’s discuss why you might want one. 

You Get That Authentic, Old World Aesthetic

Most modern outdoor stone pizza ovens may be a far cry from their old world predecessors… But one thing that has remained consistent is their one-of-a-kind aesthetic.

For many… This authentic, old-world look is the primary selling point!

You could have an outdoor stone fireplace with a pizza oven to really tie your backyard together

Or if you have a stone outdoor kitchen, you can finish your pizza oven to match!

No matter what… A stone pizza oven would definitely be the main attraction in your outdoor living space.

Layers of Stone Invite Outdoor Cooking Versatility

stone pizza oven built into wall

Aside from aesthetics… Let’s discuss a more functional benefit of an outdoor stone pizza oven.

Of course, once your oven preheats to a high temperature, you can use it for quickly cooking pizzas with delicious, melty cheese and crispy crusts…

And though your pizza oven may not necessarily have a stone baking chamber… The layers of stone surrounding your outdoor pizza oven will allow the cooking area to retain this high heat for hours! 

The extra insulation here may be quite appealing… And it may even be better than certain prefab, freestanding pizza oven models (some of which don’t have any insulation at all)

This additional insulation provided by the stone finish means your oven is not only good for pizza-making… It also opens up a realm of possibility for other types of outdoor cooking!

As your pizza oven slowly cools, you can use the residual heat for cooking breads, desserts, veggies, roasts… And whatever else you can dream up!

Alright. We’ve covered why an outdoor stone pizza oven is a worthwhile consideration… Now, how do you go about including one?

Let’s take a closer look at your options for adding an outdoor stone pizza oven to your backyard!

The Different Types of Outdoor Stone Pizza Ovens

There are a few different methods for including an outdoor stone pizza oven in your outdoor space

And each has its own unique set of ups and downs.

We’ll kick off with the most complex: A built from scratch stone outdoor pizza oven!

Fully Custom Outdoor Stone Pizza Oven

For a true stone masonry oven, complete with a stone baking chamber… You may consider a fully custom outdoor stone pizza oven.

These can be built entirely with any stone of your choice… And are most commonly designed to be wood-fired pizza ovens.

Though stone may not hold up to high heats quite as well as fire brick or concrete cooking chambers… If you still want to see what a full stone oven has to offer, let’s discuss the other advantages and disadvantages with this method.

Pro: You Have Total Control Over Customization

With a fully custom, built from scratch outdoor stone pizza oven, you’ll have total control over pretty much every facet of your project (just as you would with a custom outdoor kitchen)!

Of course, there will be no limits on the stone exterior… The way you finish your oven is entirely up to you!

You can fashion your oven’s visual aesthetic to be as simple or complex as you wish when you take the custom route.

As well as this, you won’t be limited to one set shape or size for your cooking chamber. You can have a small dome for cooking 8-10 inch pizzas… Or a huge cooking chamber for pies 16 inches and up!

The lack of constraints here may certainly sound appealing… But unfortunately there’s a few key disadvantages with a custom, built from scratch outdoor stone pizza oven.

custom stone pizza oven not in use

Con: It’s Extremely Difficult to DIY

We won’t sugar coat it… Building an outdoor stone pizza oven from scratch is really not a DIY-friendly project.

In fact, just as you should hire a professional when building an outdoor kitchen from scratch… We’d strongly suggest hiring a professional stonemason to bring your custom outdoor pizza oven to fruition.

If you don’t know how to build a stone outdoor pizza oven (and let’s be honest, this isn’t a common skill!) chances are the process won’t go as smoothly as you’d like.

Your pizza oven may not function properly (which may pose safety hazards), and all in all you may be left feeling dissatisfied with the end result… Which would be frustrating, to say the least!

man applying scratch coat on pizza oven

Con: A Fully Custom Oven Takes a Long Time to Build

Lastly, even when you do hire a professional to build your stone outdoor pizza oven… It may still take longer than you’d like to complete.

This makes sense… From the get go, a fully custom outdoor stone pizza oven is an extremely involved project!

You’ll have to come up with outdoor stone pizza oven plans… Source your building materials… And when it comes time to put it all together, each and every stone has to be perfectly, individually laid.

Not to mention, you’ll have to work on your builder’s schedule… Which may significantly increase the amount of time it takes to complete your custom stone pizza oven outdoors!

For a method that’s a bit more practical… Let’s see what an DIY outdoor stone pizza oven kit has in store.

Outdoor Stone Pizza Oven DIY Kit

You can also add an outdoor stone pizza oven to your back patio by purchasing a pizza oven kit!

Chicago Brick Oven, Forno Bravo, and Californo offer some of the most popular DIY pizza oven kits.

With this method, you’ll work around a refractory cement dome (which will form your oven’s internal cooking chamber)… Install a flue… Attach a door (many pizza oven kits include cast iron doors)… Add insulation… Then, you’ll wrap up your outdoor stone pizza oven project by applying an exterior stone finish.

When you opt for this method, there are a couple major pros and cons.

Of course, the primary draw of pizza oven kits is the DIY element.

Pro: Slightly Easier to DIY

Pizza oven kits are more DIY-oriented… They’ll be much easier than building an outdoor stone pizza oven from scratch!

With a pizza oven kit, it’s not necessary to hire a professional to do the work for you.

You’ll have a more clear and straightforward rubric to follow, right from the start… And a bulk of the work will already be done for you!

Plus, you won’t have to wait on a builder… You can finish your outdoor stone pizza oven on your own schedule!

diy pizza oven by pool with seating

Pro: You’ll Have Plenty of Options

Another upside of pizza oven kits is that you’ll have plenty of brands to choose from. 

These brands will have slight variations in dome construction, insulation, and included components (such as tools or materials included)… Though these differences won’t be significant, they may still play a role in which is best for you! 

Many different pizza oven kit brands will also offer tons of variations in dome size, from small to large. If you don’t see the size you need with one brand, another one may offer it! 

This gives you a bit more flexibility in your design! You won’t be limited to just a few size options. 

Lastly, DIY-intensity may also vary across brands… Which brings us to our next point! 

Con: It’s not as DIY-Friendly as You May Think

Turning our attention to the downsides of pizza oven kits…

They’re not the easiest solution out there. 

But wait… Didn’t we just say that pizza oven kits are easier to DIY? 

Well, they’re certainly easier than building from scratch… But make no mistake, this project is still quite involved! 

Though you can complete this project on your own… Putting together a pizza oven kit still requires a big commitment on your part!

Most of the time, the only component that will be fully assembled for you is the dome (and sometimes you’ll have to assemble this yourself, too)

You’ll have to source materials (if they’re not included in the kit)… Assemble the components… And then apply the stone finish.

If you’re an ambitious DIY-er willing to put in the work, you’ll certainly feel accomplished with the end product!

placing the refactory dome on pizza oven base

But we don’t want to give you a false impression… You can DIY a pizza oven kit, but it’s certainly not a small feat. 

So, is there an easier option? 

Let’s talk about prefab stone pizza ovens.

Prefab Appliance Finished with Stone Masonry

For a method that’s a little easier… You may want to look into prefab pizza ovens.

Prefab pizza ovens are often constructed with stainless steel (the highest quality models will be made with full 304 stainless steel)! 

They’re usually fueled by propane gas or natural gas burners… Though you may find some wood burning pizza oven or dual-fuel options, as well. 

Now, many prefab outdoor pizza ovens are designed to simply sit on the countertop of a BBQ island… It’s really not necessary to add a finish for a prefab appliance to operate!

However… For those who want that unique visual appeal, there are a couple brands that offer prefab pizza ovens designed to be finished with materials of your choice (stone, in this case).

The masonry finish will provide your pizza stone outdoor oven with both aesthetic value and additional layers of insulation.

To name specific brands… Tuscan Chef and Alfresco offer pizza ovens meant to be fully encased in a layer of masonry.

When it comes to building outdoor stone pizza ovens… This method is by far the easiest!

Of course, you will be limited to predetermined dimensions… But your appliance will come fully assembled, and all you’ll have to do is apply a finish!

Just keep in mind that despite being the simplest choice for an outdoor stone pizza oven… Finishing a prefab pizza oven will still require a decent amount of effort on your part.

So, what are some other ups and downs specific to this method?

Pro: You Don’t have to Sacrifice Modern Functionality for Old-World Aesthetics

Starting on a positive note… When you finish a prefab pizza oven with stone, you don’t have to give up aesthetic value for modern functionality.

What does this mean, exactly?

Well, most prefab pizza ovens take significantly less time to preheat than traditional wood-fired masonry ovens.

You won’t have to wait as long to get the pizza party started!

Plus, if you have a gas pizza oven… It’ll be super easy to use! All you’ll have to do is turn a knob to fire it up.

So, you’ll get to enjoy quicker cook times, ease of use… As well as the unique, rustic visual appeal. It’s truly the best of both worlds!

Con: What Happens if You Need to Repair or Replace Your Prefab Pizza Oven? 

On the flip side… Let’s take a look at some potential issues posed by prefab outdoor stone pizza ovens.

In a perfect world, your outdoor pizza oven would function properly and hold up beautifully the entire time you own it!

Unfortunately, though, we all know that this isn’t guaranteed.

You can probably see where we’re going here…

It would be extremely hard to service or replace a prefab pizza oven once it’s finished with layers of heavy stone masonry!

Now, this doesn’t mean this method is a total lost cause!

However, it does mean you’ll want to expend a bit of extra energy researching, and making sure you’re getting a high quality appliance before you encase it in a layer of stone. 

But hold on… While we’re on the topic, what does the product selection in this category actually look like? 

alfresco pizza oven

Con: Product Selection is Slim 

Truth be told… There unfortunately aren’t an abundance of options for prefab pizza ovens meant to be finished with a layer of masonry. 

Sure, there’s the options from Tuscan Chef and Alfresco that we previously mentioned… 

But other than these, you may have a hard time finding other options in this category! 

Since selection is so limited…You likely may not be able to find a “ready-to-finish” prefab pizza oven that matches your personal wants and needs. 

Alright… That concludes our list of the types of outdoor stone pizza ovens.

Of these methods… Is there an overall best solution?

alfresco built in pizza oven

The Verdict on Outdoor Stone Pizza Ovens

Truthfully… Any of these methods may suit your wants and needs. It all depends on the type of outdoor stone pizza oven you’d prefer!

If you’re looking for a slightly easier solution with that old-world aesthetic… Finishing a prefab appliance may be the way to go!

But for something a bit more hands on, a DIY kit would provide that involved experience.

And for an authentic outdoor stone baked pizza oven… Having it built from scratch may be the obvious choice to you!

Really… The choice is yours. Only you know what’s best for you!

However, the truth is that all of these outdoor stone pizza oven methods will require a significant amount of effort on your part… No matter what, you’ll have to put in the work to finish the exterior!

And in the case of prefab or DIY stone pizza oven kits… The effort may not even be worth the payoff. 

So, what if you still want an authentic pizza oven… But don’t want to go through with applying a stone finish after all?

A More Practical Solution for Authentic, Great Pizza

mina starsiak and her family cooking pizzas in their alfa pizza oven

We won’t beat around the bush… Even the easiest method for including stone pizza ovens outdoors requires a relatively large amount of effort.

Sure, if you’re dead set on that authentic, old-world stone look… Even this may not deter you from your goal!

But what if you’re looking for an outdoor pizza oven that’s easier to achieve?

Well… Allow us to direct your attention to Alfa.

Alfa offers some of the best pizza ovens on the market… 

They have a wide selection of authentic, Italian handcrafted outdoor pizza ovens.

Their gas, dual fuel, and outdoor wood-fired pizza ovens come in a variety of shapes and sizes (including portable outdoor pizza ovens)

And all of their pizza ovens come fully assembled, with a powder coated, 304 stainless steel exterior. 

There’s no need to apply a finish… And an Alfa pizza oven will look and hold up great for years to come!

Though you won’t get that rustic stone look… Alfa pizza ovens are quite beautiful on their own!

Plus, they build all of their pizza ovens with a firebrick cooking chamber… As well as a DoubleDown Ceramic Superwool insulated dome to ensure maximum heat retention and even heating (without a bulky stone finish)

Is your interest piqued yet?

If so, let’s talk about where your brand new Alfa pizza oven will live.

For the most convenience… You’ll want to factor a pizza oven into an outside kitchen setup.

And RTA Outdoor Living makes this easy to do… With a pizza oven stand to perfectly match your outdoor kitchen design!

As for the rest of your grill island… RTA is one of the easiest customizable outdoor kitchen solutions on the market.

You can include an outdoor bar for hosting pizza parties… A prep station for easy pizza-making… Storage for your pizza peel and ingredients… And other appliances for increased outdoor cooking versatility (like a wood pellet or built-in gas grill, a sink, a fridge, and more)!

Plus, longevity won’t be a concern. All of our kitchen islands are made with high quality, structural concrete panels… Rated for 100 years and backed by a limited lifetime structural warranty! 

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves… You can check out our Learning Hub to help you decide if an outdoor kitchen is the right choice for you!

And when you’re ready to get started… Try out our free online design tool to see what your pizza oven will look like alongside your summer kitchen island!

Then, we’ll be happy to help you make your vision come to life.

Need Help With Your Plans?

Talk to one of our expert designers and they will guide you from planning to installation. Schedule a call today.

FAQ

For an outdoor stone pizza oven… You can finish the exterior with any stone of your choosing.

Natural stones such as flagstone, granite, slate, and limestone are popular choices for outdoor use!

Pizza stones (often made with cordierite) are used to quickly cook pizzas… And give them a deliciously crispy crust.

You don’t need an outdoor oven pizza stone… Instead, you can cook directly on the firebrick or refractory cement interior of your outdoor pizza oven!

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