13 Best Uses For Your Outdoor Pizza Oven

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An outdoor pizza oven is a vital tool for true pizza fanatics. According to Pizzaware, the pizza oven creates a superior crust because the flame from the oven (which can reach upwards of 850 F) evenly cooks the pie. The heat from the flame warms the bricks (which heats the bottom of the pizza), while the dome shape of the oven circulates the heat inside. The smoke from the fire also imparts a distinct taste to the pizza. 

As the name would suggest, an outdoor pizza oven is typically used for pizza. But this culinary fixture — which can cost anywhere up to several thousands of dollars — can make more than just pizza. The oven creates a perfect, evenly-heated environment for steak, chicken, bread, and even desserts. If you think just a bit outside the box, you can find variations on an array of oven-baked recipes that can benefit from some time in a pizza oven instead. 

Reheat frozen pizza

Frozen pizza has a bad rap for being flavorless and tasting like the box it came out of. Baking your frozen pie in an outdoor pizza oven can make your pizza's crust super crispy and elevate the flavors it's topped with. Because the outdoor pizza oven can be relatively unpredictable (and reaches temperatures much higher than the recommended one on the box), you need to keep a steady eye on the dough to ensure the pizza doesn't burn. Pizzacraft recommends placing the pizza on a screen so you can better monitor it for burning. You can also use a pizza peel to rotate the pie, ensuring that all sides of the pizza cook evenly. 

Pizzacraft also notes that the type of pizza you choose is essential because thin crust pizzas tend to cook quicker in outdoor ovens. With all the frozen pizza brands out there, it can be overwhelming to pick just one — no matter what you choose, the pizza oven is sure to elevate the taste to something you might find at your local shop.

Cook steak

Steak is a delicious protein for slicing over salads, eating with potatoes, or dunking into an over-easy egg for breakfast. Patio and Pizza recommends cooking your New York strip steaks in an outdoor pizza oven. You'll want to pre-heat a cast iron pan for at least 15 minutes before adding a fully marinated steak to the cooking surface. Sear your steak on either side until you are content with the cook. In terms of food safety, you want to make sure to take the internal temperature of the steak and that it reaches 145 F. Per the USDA, allow the steak to rest for at least three minutes after you pull it from the oven. This allows the juices in the pan to redistribute and keeps the meat super tender.

Cooking steak in a cast iron pan helps the cut develop the perfect sear with a juicy inside, making it one of the best proteins to cook in an outdoor pizza oven. 

Bake a Basque cheesecake

Basque cheesecake is a unique, crustless cheesecake that's baked in a hot oven for a perfectly caramelized and hardened crust. The result is a rust-colored, crunchy outside and a soft, decadent inside. Per No Recipes, the standard basque cheesecake requires temperatures between 450 F and 480 F to perfectly caramelize the sugars in the crust and form its golden-brown hue. The high temperature of the pizza oven makes it ideal for cooking a Basque cheesecake.

There is a downside to the outdoor pizza oven — the temperature inside can be variable if there is more airflow moving through the oven than expected. The Los Angeles Times recommends observing the cheesecake every few minutes to assess the color and how gelatinous the custard is. If the top of the oven begins to blacken, the cake needs to be moved away from the flame. When you shake the cake, the edges should be set and the middle should be the same consistency as Jell-O. Err on the side of caution when it comes to Basque cheesecake —almost like it feels undone — because it is so easy for the cake to become hard, crumbly, and far from a custardy cheesecake. 

Cook corn on the cob

Corn on the cob is an undeniable summer favorite. And with your pizza oven, cooking corn comes together much quicker than on the grill. We recommend upgrading your grilled corn by soaking it in a brine for at least thirty minutes before cooking to keep the kernels soft. Alternatively, you can cook the corn whole, in its husk, as long as you soak the entire husk first to prevent it from burning. Turn the corn often to ensure even heating throughout, as well as letting the corn char. 

Using butter while the corn is cooking in the oven can instill smoky notes into the kernels. This flavor pairs perfectly well with feta cheese, sliced red peppers, and a fresh, herby vinaigrette dressing in a corn salad. Or, serve it with burgers or grilled chicken at your next family barbecue. There's no wrong way to enjoy fresh corn on the cob on a summer day! 

Roast pulled pork

Pulled pork credits its flavor and tenderness to a low-and-slow cook. A pizza oven is a perfect place to cook pulled pork because it maintains a low cook temp over a long period of time. Forno Bravo recommends brining the pork before placing it on an aluminum tray and locking it in a 400 F pizza oven overnight. You should be sure to shut the insulated door to the pizza oven rather than the thinner bread-making door — this will keep the heat stable in the oven and allow the pork to cook. 

When it comes to selecting the best cut of meat to roast, we recommend a marbled cut of the shoulder — either the Boston roast or the picnic roast. The fat marbling keeps the meat soft and pliable, which in turn makes it easier to pull apart with a fork after it's finished cooking. Enjoy your pulled pork inside a sandwich or a burrito. 

Prepare freshly baked bread

Freshly baked bread is always at your disposal when you have an outdoor pizza oven. The sustained high heat of your outdoor oven can make an array of bread including focaccia, crusty ciabatta, and even quick bread. Baking bread in an outdoor oven is perfect during the summer — especially when you don't want to heat up the house with a running indoor oven. 

When picking the perfect bread recipe to make in your outdoor oven, it's first important to note the recipe requirements for heat. That will indicate if the bread requires a low-and-slow bake or a hotter temperature. For example, our simple focaccia recipe requires a 400 F bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Whereas a jalapeño cheese quick bread needs to bake at 350 F for 50 minutes to an hour. When in doubt, keep an eye on the bread to ensure it is not burning. Rotate it at regular intervals to assure that all sides of the bread bake evenly. 

Make some potato chips

Homemade potato chips are the perfect salty snack. And they're even more satisfying when you know you can make the recipe at home. The key to a crispy potato chip is thinly slicing the potato with a mandolin. The mandolin will maintain a uniform slice and ensure all the chips bake the same in the oven. 

Besides thinly slicing your potato chips, you'll also want to make sure that you're using adequate oil and seasoning. If you leave the skin on the potato, the oil you use to help season your potatoes will soften up the skin. Kitchen Seer recommends using an oil with a high smoke point to make your potato chips. Sunflower oil, canola oil, and vegetable oil can all hold up to the heat of your outdoor pizza oven and result in a better, more flavorful potato chip experience. 

The potatoes should bake for about 15 minutes at 375 F. You can pull the tray out and shake the potatoes to stop the slices from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Also — be sure to add seasonings right when your potatoes come out of the oven. The salt will degrade the hot oil — plus, in our opinion, there's nothing much better than a hot, salty, and crispy slice of potato. 

Roast barbecue ribs

A wood-fired oven provides a sustained heat source over long periods of time — much like the environment of a smoker. That makes it a great alternative to preparing a dish of smoked ribs. Belforno recommends smoking marinaded spare ribs at 350 F for at least two hours before increasing the temperature to 460 F for ten minutes on the grill. Rotating the ribs in the final stage of searing is critical to developing a crispy exterior — one of the most well-known characteristics of classic American barbecue. 

The only thing more critical than the perfect roast and sear is the seasonings or marinades applied to the meat. Depending on the type of heat source you're using in your wood-fired oven, you may find strong woody notes that pair well with apples and molasses. Our baby back pork rib dry rub gets its flavor from dark molasses and ground coffee beans. And, according to Dyer's Bar-B-Que, using a dry rub helps flavor the meat and creates a crust to seal in the juices. 

If you opt to go with a marinade, use one that contains tenderizing agents, like vinegar, which helps the meat become more pliable during cooking. We recommend marinating the meat with hard apple cider, vinegar, and a classic barbecue sauce. 

Roast fruits and veggies

The summer is a great time to use up the veggies in your garden — especially when you need a side dish for a fresh slice of homemade pizza. The pizza oven provides a space to roast everything from eggplants to zucchini. The best part? You won't have to worry about heating up your kitchen while doing it. In the summer, you can use your pizza oven to roast peaches or nectarines. Serve the roasted stone fruit with fresh vanilla ice cream or try a more savory twist with pancetta, sage, and arugula. 

Monitoring the heat of the oven is critical when roasting your favorite fruits and veggies. According to Ilfornino, you should first group the veggies and fruits by density and equivalent cooking times. While some produce may benefit from charring (like bell peppers), others may need more time to steam in aluminum foil —  like a baked potato. You may have to rotate and expose the bottom of your produce while it's cooking to ensure a more even preparation. 

Bake fish

Whether it's salmon or white fish fillets, we all love a good, savory piece of the sea for dinner. And with your outdoor pizza oven, cooking fish at home is so much easier! 

If you're making salmon at home, we recommend cooking it skin-side down. This method cooks the salmon perfectly because the fish has a layer of fat between the skin and flesh that buffers the heat from the oven. Searing the salmon in your outdoor pizza oven allows you to mimic the same heat as your oven without the undesirable smell of fish stinking up your house afterward. 

Forno Piombo recommends roasting fish on a flat stone in your pizza oven. Allow the stone to preheat with the rest of the oven — since most fish only needs to get up to 145 F rather than the pizza-cooking temperature of around 700 F, note that this happens relatively quickly. 

Make sticky toffee pudding

Sticky toffee pudding resembles a bread pudding that's been sweetened with dates and uses layers of butter and confectioner's sugar toffee. It's decadent, sweet, and something you can make at home. The outdoor pizza oven is the perfect oven for your sticky toffee pudding because it can maintain an even temperature and instills smoky flavors into your homemade butter toffee. 

You'll want to use an enameled dish or cast iron skillet to assemble your sticky toffee pudding. OvenSpot says that enameled cast iron (such as a Le Creuset or Staub) can withstand temperatures up to 450 F. Cast iron skillets have a higher temperature maximum, clocking in at around 700 F. Although you can bake your sticky toffee pudding in either of these pans, we recommend dedicating a good chunk of time to seasoning your skillet or buttering your enameled pot to ensure the sticky toffee does not cling to the pan. 

Cook spatchcock chicken

Spatchcocking is the process of removing the backbone of poultry to reduce its cooking time. When working with the hot temperature of a pizza oven, spatchcocking is important because it allows the legs to sit lower than the breast of the bird. This in turn concentrates the moisture in the breast of the bird which tends to dry out faster than the rest of the chicken (via Ooni). 

You'll need to cook the chicken until the internal temperature reaches at least 165 F, and the juices of the bird are translucent. To keep a consistent internal temperature, you'll need to keep rotating the chicken every ten minutes while monitoring the flame of the oven. At each turn, Ooni recommends basting the bird to keep it moist and flavorful. 

The cast iron pan is the ideal dish to cook your spatchcocked chicken in because it can withstand the heat of the oven and cooks the underside of the chicken. You can grill it using charcoal or wood, but the wood provides a smokier aroma than the former. 

Roast a Thanksgiving turkey

Thanksgiving morning can be busy around the house — especially when you don't have enough room in your oven to fit an entire bird and stuffing. If you're looking for space to cook on Thanksgiving, try turning to your outdoor pizza oven. 

Forno Bravo says that the ideal cooking temperature for a turkey in an outdoor oven is between 500 and 600 F. The temperature in the oven will decrease as the bird cooks, so you shouldn't be too worried about maintaining an active flame during the cooking process. After the bird has browned for about fifteen minutes, you'll need to allot about four hours to tent the turkey with foil and let it cook. The exact cooking time depends on the bird itself; use the bird's temperature as your guide before removing it from the oven. According to the Food Network, most cooking recommendation times are based on the standard roasting temperature of around 325 F.