Buying an outdoor oven will be the turning point in cooking in your home. With an investment that is not too high, you can have a cooking instrument at home with professional performance, only smaller in size. Professional wood-fired ovens are the primary productive tool of pizza makers, who therefore need an efficient and reliable solution, as well as being much more cumbersome and expensive. The wood-fired ovens for the garden at home, both in masonry and free-standing, are instead designed for use in family contexts where it is rarely prepared to eat for more than 15 – 20 people. They are therefore smaller than professional ovens, but the best models have the same level of quality construction and cooking performance.
Many companies also continue to develop free-standing solutions, that is free installation. They can be placed in your outdoor kitchen, and many models are also available in the version with the base equipped with wheels. A mobile wood-burning oven is ideal for those who do not want to change their outdoor spaces with masonry work permanently and is the best solution for those looking for a comfortable, space-saving solution that can be removed in the winter months.
Wood ovens for outdoor use VS domestic ovens
As we mentioned at the beginning, there are substantial differences in the design and construction of the various types of stoves. The main distinction that needs to be made is between domestic ovens and professional ovens.
In our homes, we cook more with the stove than with the oven, which in addition to being off for several days, must prepare for a few people at a time. Compared to professional ones, domestic ovens are less capacious for reasons of comfort and more modest quality, to lower the selling price. Professional ovens, on the other hand, must work hard and every day, are therefore designed with more exceptional care, using better materials and taking into account the needs of professionals (inherently low management costs, high productivity, and quality of cooking).
Having clear that we refer to domestic ovens, another way to classify ovens are based on the power supply: wood, electric or gas. This distinction allows us to talk about the performances, the functionalities and the different solutions that we can find in the various types of ovens, valid both for home ovens and for those of pizzerias. There are indeed significant differences between the multiple types of food, which mainly concern cooking, practicality, and cost.
Traditional wood-fired brick kilns are the most common in the case of outdoor installations, while wood-fired ovens walled up in the internal kitchen are now rarer, especially in the city, for reasons of comfort, construction constraints, and cleanliness. Free-standing wood-fired stoves are widespread in outdoor use, especially the less demanding mobile versions, but also for internal use, thanks to the freedom of installation and the care of design (a solution adopted by many professionals who work with the exposed oven, both to attract the customer and to gain space in the kitchen ).
The electric ovens are those that are more widespread in indoor kitchens, both houses of the activities, and they are also the ones that are developing more in technology in recent years. The great success comes from the ease of installation in kitchen cabinets, usually with a lower operating cost and versatility with which they can cook many different recipes, thanks to the combination of various tools. Furthermore, modern appliances are equipped with software and connection to the home network, which offer the possibility of having a personalized user experience, automatic setting of time, temperature and humidity differentiated for each recipe and control from the smartphone. However, outdoor installation is complicated, because electrical circuits are not suitable for being in the rain for safety reasons.
The gas ovens finally are still widely used, but are losing ground both inside the house, towards electric furnaces, and off, for the benefit of wood-burning stoves, thanks to the greater accessibility of tools and the dissemination of knowledge on cooking with wood. They can represent a cross between the first two types of power we have seen, according to different aspects:
- Performance – the temperature reached by the gas oven can exceed 350 degrees, more than the electric oven but not like the wood oven. This makes the gas oven suitable for cooking excellent pizzas in a short time, thanks to the high temperature and heat more similar to that of the live flame, as well as being more than suitable for all the cooking that can be done in an oven traditional electric;
- Fuel cost – varies according to gas and electricity supply contracts, but usually the electric oven costs less and indeed the wood-fired oven a little more, depending on the type of wood we choose to buy for cooking (if we have the luck of having a spacious garden, with large plants from which to make wood with prunings, the free fuel makes the wood oven become more convenient);
- Convenient installation – gas ovens can be easily installed in the kitchen if the pipe passes in a comfortable position, or if there is space for the cylinder. There are also many free-standing versions, both indoor and outdoor, useful for those who want to cook outdoors but not with wood.
In addition to the three main types of power supply we have just seen, we also mention the existence of other power supplies, such as pellet ovens, but we will not talk about them because they are not widespread and of a more technical nature. We must also mention the hybrid feeding, that is made by combining gas and wood that burn together. This solution makes it possible to reduce costs and the demand for attention compared to a standard wood-burning oven, while still maintaining part of the aromatic yield in the foods we cook.
Electric built-in ovens VS wood-burning ovens for outdoor use
The distinctions made so far among the various ovens allow us to better compare a classic built-in electric oven for the home kitchen with a domestic outdoor wood oven. Let us now look at the main differences between these two types, comparing their performance, costs, and utility.
1. Possibility of cooking
The wood oven offers more cooking possibilities thanks to the very high temperature it can reach, opening the way to the world of a traditional bakery. With a wood-fired outdoor oven we can, for example, make a pizza dish, faithful to the Neapolitan recipe, cooked in a wood oven between 400 and 450 degrees in less than two minutes. The electric oven at home is much more comfortable to use and can cook very well all the recipes that do not need to exceed 250 degrees (220 – 230 if it is an oven with a few years).
2. Quality of cooked products
Not just pizza, but all wood-fired foods have something extra . Once you get to know the oven and the different wood scents of the various trees, you can literally cook with one more ingredient: the aroma of the fuel. Wood-fired food is more genuine because it contains something natural, even in cooking. The electric oven can cook many preparations well, without however providing any kind of extra flavor
3. Daily use
The electric oven heats up faster than a traditional wood oven, which can usually take at least a couple of hours. Moreover, it is more versatile thanks to the various functions that you have when combining fan and grill, thus being able to choose how to distribute the heat. The outdoor wood-burning oven can be convenient if it is used frequently because if it is closed as soon as we finish cooking with the embers still alive, it will retain the heat until the next day. A wood-burning oven closed at 10 pm at 400 degrees may also stay above 200 until lunchtime; moreover, returning the wood-fired oven to the pizza temperature will be much faster if you start from the residual 100 degrees from the night before instead of from the room temperature.
4. Maintenance and cleaning
The wood-burning oven is more demanding in this respect due to the residual fire, which must be removed once the oven has cooled a lot. It is necessary to get rid of the ash and brush the bottom, passing also a wet rag to remove all the combustion residues. The domestic oven, on the other hand, is much more comfortable, just a wipe with a damp cloth or degreasing products in case of more enormous dirt/
The budget for the electric oven at home is usually lower, but it depends on what we choose. The most modern appliances can cost even more than an outdoor wood-burning oven if full of special functions such as self-cleaning or artificial intelligence. Wood-fired outdoor ovens have a cost that usually starts at around a thousand euros, but even here we can go much further by choosing the top of the range of the best brands. One way to save money is to buy the products to build it yourself, brick by brick or by purchasing a prefabricated dome. You need to be practical with the masonry work or call someone you trust who has already built a wood-fired oven, as a wrong assembly could send your efforts to the air as well as make you waste a lot of money.