Pizza ovens: The perfect alternative to your summer barbecue
It’s safe to say that barbecues are a staple of summer. But while you may not be able to picture the season without them, you may also find that they can become a little repetitive after the first few garden parties of the year. If you’re looking for ways to mix things up next time you dine al fresco or head out on a camping trip, why not swap out your barbecue for a wood-burning pizza oven? Not only is an outdoor pizza party a fun way to enjoy the summer, but there are so many other recipes you can whip up too.
Looking for some inspiration? Below we’ll share the many benefits of using a pizza oven for your outdoor cooking, as well as some delicious pizza oven recipes.
The benefits of a pizza oven
While a barbecue might be a popular choice for outdoor cooking, a pizza oven is a versatile and high-quality alternative with many benefits. One of the best things about them is how simple they are to use. While barbecues can be tricky to light (which can make for inconsistent cooking), pizza ovens are relatively easy to start and provide more even heat, making it easier to cook your dishes to perfection.
As well as the cooking being more consistent, it is also much speedier in a pizza oven than on a barbecue. Pizzas take up to four minutes to cook, and raw meat can be cooked in less than 10 minutes. And when it comes to taste, the food produced by a woodfired pizza oven is unmatched. Woodfired dishes have a unique smoky taste and aroma which cannot be replicated, and it perfectly complements a wide range of both sweet and savoury flavours.
Another benefit of a pizza oven, and an advantage they have over charcoal barbecues, is how long they can stay hot. While charcoal barbecues cool down very quickly once they’ve reached their peak heat, pizza ovens can stay hot for several hours. This is ideal for large parties with guests arriving over the course of several hours — you’ll no longer have to worry about serving lukewarm food to latecomers!
What can you cook in a pizza oven?
Picture credit: @roamwithdrake
While you may think that barbecues are more versatile than pizza ovens, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Despite the name, these ovens can cook far more than just pizza. Below are just some of the ways you can use your pizza oven outside of making pizza:
- Bread: Pizza ovens are excellent for baking bread. The intense heat and even distribution of heat in the oven help create a crisp crust and a soft, airy interior.
- Roasting: You can use a pizza oven for roasting meats, vegetables, and even a whole chicken. The high heat seals in the flavours and juices, resulting in succulent and evenly cooked dishes.
- Grilling: Some pizza ovens — like our Original Pizza Oven and our Pizza Oven Plus — come with a grill grate, allowing you to grill vegetables, seafood, steaks, and other grilled favourites.
- Baked Dishes: You can use a pizza oven to make casseroles, lasagnas, baked pasta dishes, and gratins. This is because the even heat distribution ensures thorough cooking and the perfect browning of the top layer.
- Desserts: Pizza ovens can be used to bake desserts like fruit crisps, cobblers, pies, cookies, and even simply baked fruit.
- Starters and sides: There are various smaller side dishes and starters you can cook in your pizza oven which you wouldn’t be able to with a barbecue, including stuffed mushrooms, garlic bread, and baked brie or Camembert.
Tasty pizza oven recipes
We already know just how much you can do with a woodfired pizza oven, but what exact recipes can you give a try? Below are a few of our favourite non-pizza recipes to try out in one of our pizza ovens.
The perfect starter or side dish, focaccia is a classic Italian treat that is perfectly complemented by the smoky flavour of woodfire cooking. To make a simple focaccia, use the ingredients below:
- 480g all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 175ml warm water
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Coarse sea salt (for topping)
Use the steps below to make this dish in your woodfire pizza oven:
- In a small bowl, mix the warm water and sugar. Sprinkle the active dry yeast over the water and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes until it becomes frothy.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the activated yeast mixture and olive oil.
- Mix the ingredients together until a dough forms. You can either use a stand mixer or knead by hand on a floured surface.
- Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. If it's too sticky, add a little more flour.
- Form the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover it with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm cupboard for an hour or so, or until it doubles in size.
- Preheat your pizza oven to around 200°C. Make sure to give it enough time to heat up.
- Once your dough has rested, transfer it to a greased baking tray and gently stretch the dough to fit the shape of the pan.
- Cover the dough again with the damp cloth and let it rest for another 15-20 minutes.
- Once the dough has rested, use your fingers to create small dimples all over the surface of the dough.
- Drizzle the top of the focaccia with the remaining olive oil, making sure it fills the dimples, and sprinkle coarse sea salt on top.
- Bake the focaccia in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until it turns golden brown on top. If it looks like it’s browning too quickly, place some kitchen foil on top to prevent it from burning.
- Remove the focaccia from the pizza oven and let it cool slightly before slicing and serving.
You can also incorporate various toppings and any flavour add-ins of your liking in this recipe. Olives and rosemary are a popular choice, but you could also try out ingredients such as thinly sliced potatoes, cheese, caramelised onion, or even sweet toppings like strawberries and basil.
A woodfired steak is sure to be the perfect main course for some outdoor dining and is a great way to make the most of your pizza oven. And the good news is, cooking a steak with your pizza oven is relatively simple. You’ll need the following ingredients to give this a go:
- 4 large steaks of your choice (ribeye is a popular option for pizza ovens)
- 4 teaspoons vegetable oil
- Your favourite flavour steak rub (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Simply follow the steps below to get the perfect flavour and texture for your steaks:
- Preheat the oven to around 200°C. 10 minutes before cooking your steak, pop your cast iron pan in to warm it up.
- Make sure your steaks are out of the fridge for around an hour before cooking to allow them to reach room temperature.
- Put salt and pepper on each steak, and brush with vegetable oil (around a teaspoon per steak).
- If you’re using a steak rub, rub this into your steak now.
- Get your cast iron skillet out of the oven and use it to cook two steaks at a time.
- Cook the steaks for around 90 seconds on each side for medium rare, two to three minutes for medium-well, and three to four minutes for well done.
- Remove the steaks from the pizza oven and use a meat thermometer to ensure your steak is at the right temperature for you. You should be looking for 52 °C for rare, 57 °C for medium rare, 63 °C for medium, 66 °C for medium-well, or 71 °C for well done.
This creamy and delicious dish is the perfect side for a variety of meals, from pizzas to steak. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make gratin potatoes:
- 1kg russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- 285ml full fat milk
- 285ml double cream
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 100g Gruyère cheese, grated
- 30g Parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh thyme or parsley for garnish (optional)
To whip this dish up in your pizza oven, simply follow the steps below:
- Preheat your pizza oven to around 190°C and grease a large baking dish with butter or cooking spray.
- Peel and thinly slice your potatoes to around 3mm width. Place them on a clean tea towel and pat dry.
- Add the double cream and milk to a saucepan, along with the minced garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Let it simmer over a medium heat until the mixture is hot, but not boiling, then transfer into a jug for easy pouring.
- Layer half of the sliced potatoes in the prepared baking dish, slightly overlapping them. Sprinkle half of the grated Gruyère and half of the grated Parmesan over the potatoes.
- Pour half of the garlic-infused cream and milk mixture over the cheese and potatoes, making sure to coat everything evenly.
- Repeat the layering process with the remaining potatoes, cheeses, and cream.
- Dot the top of the potato mixture with the small pieces of butter, to help brown and crisp the top of the gratin.
- Cover the baking dish with foil and bake in the preheated pizza oven for about 40 minutes. The potatoes should be tender when pierced with a knife.
- After 40 minutes, remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the top is golden brown and bubbling.
- Once done, remove the gratin from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.
- Garnish with some fresh thyme or parsley (optional).
Maple glazed peaches
A fantastic sweet treat and ideal for the summer months, this is a great dessert for rounding off your al fresco dining. Use the ingredients below to make this sweet dish:
- 4 ripe peaches
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 240g mascarpone cheese
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Crushed walnuts for garnish (optional)
Follow the steps below to whip up this dessert in your pizza oven:
- Preheat your pizza oven grill to a medium-high heat.
- Wash the peaches and slice them in half, removing the pits.
- In a small bowl, mix together the melted butter, maple syrup, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, and a pinch of salt.
- Brush the cut side of each peach half generously with the maple glaze.
- Place the peaches on the grill cut-side down, and cook for about 2-3 minutes until the peaches have softened slightly.
- While the peaches are grilling, prepare the mascarpone topping by whisking together the mascarpone cheese and honey until smooth and well combined.
- Remove the grilled peaches from the heat and let them cool for a minute or two.
- Serve the warm grilled peaches with a dollop of the honey mascarpone mixture, and if you want a little extra crunch, sprinkle some crushed walnuts on top.
If you’re looking for an alternative dessert recipe, apple crumble is a delicious treat when cooked in a pizza oven. It’s also the perfect way to make the most of your pizza oven in the colder months. Start by gathering the following ingredients:
- 120g plain flour
- 90g rolled oats
- 100g brown sugar
- 120g unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
- 4 to 5 large apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
To cook this dish in your pizza oven, follow the simple steps below:
- Preheat your pizza oven to 190°C and grease an 8-inch square baking dish.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the sliced apples, granulated sugar, lemon juice, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg (if using), and vanilla extract. Toss everything together until the apples are evenly coated with the sugar and spices.
- Transfer the apple mixture to the greased baking dish and spread it out evenly.
- In a separate bowl, prepare the crumble topping by mixing the all-purpose flour, rolled oats, and brown sugar together. Add the cold, cubed butter to the mixture.
- Using your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Continue mixing until the butter is evenly distributed throughout the crumble topping.
- Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the apples in the baking dish.
- Place the dish in the preheated pizza oven and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until the crumble topping turns golden brown and the apple filling is bubbling and cooked through.
- If the top starts to burn while it is cooking, place some tinfoil on top of the dish.
- Once done, remove the apple crumble from the oven and let it cool slightly before serving.
Tips for using your pizza oven
Picture credit: @thisgoldenjourney
Fortunately, using a pizza oven is simple and relatively intuitive. However, to make sure you get the absolute best results every time, it’s always a good idea to get some tips before making your first meal. Whether you’re preparing for a pizza party with friends or a small outdoor get-together with your nearest and dearest, make sure you take the tips below into account to serve up the most delicious dishes with your woodburning pizza oven.
- Choose high-quality wood: Invest in high-quality wood to get a slow and consistent burn and ensure your dishes cook evenly.
- Preheat your pizza oven: Preheating is crucial for a crispy pizza crust and even cooking. Most pizza ovens require preheating for a certain period of time, so follow the instructions in your manual to make sure you are preheating your oven for long enough.
- Generously flour your dough: If you’re cooking pizza or bread, flour the dough generously to prevent it from sticking too much to the pizza stone. If you’re using a pizza shovel, add a thin layer of flour to this as well before placing your uncooked pizza on it.
- Monitor the food closely: Keep a close eye on your dish as it bakes. Cooking times can vary depending on the temperature of your oven and what you are cooking, but they tend to cook food very fast. A stove with windows can easily allow you to monitor your food while its cooking, and you can also monitor the heat by the temperature gauge.
- Spin your pizza: To get a more even back, spin your pizza around halfway through cooking.
- Protect your flooring: You should make sure that the grass, flooring, or groundsheet below your pizza oven is protected with a fireproof mat or stand to prevent hot embers from damaging the ground.
- Clean and maintain your pizza oven: To make sure your pizza oven stays on top form, make sure to clean it regularly and ensure each part is working to the best of its ability, so you can maintain the quality of your dishes.
A pizza oven can completely transform your outdoor cooking, and we have a fantastic selection to choose from here at Boutique Camping. We stock two top-quality pizza ovens, as well as a range of accessories for them, including a pizza shovel, stand, and protective rain cover. We also stock a versatile range of wood-burning stoves, which are perfect for both cooking delicious camping food and keeping your bell tent warm and cosy. Explore our full collection today.