I’m into all things wood pellets and I have been for many years. My original interest started in making wood pellets for stove and boilers. However, over recent years I’ve also become more interested in the wider uses for wood pellets. One of my favourite alternatives uses for wood pellets is cooking. In today’s post, we’re going to look at pizza’s ovens which use wood pellets.
Personally, when it comes to the best-tasting pizza’s I don’t feel there is much debate that wood fired pizza’s taste the best. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but if you think otherwise, you’re just wrong 🙂 When it comes to outdoor cooking of pizza’s at home with wood there are a couple of options.
You could go full DIY and build an impressive clay oven! Then again most people don’t have the time and space for such a project. Furthermore, there is the upkeep and maintenance of a clay oven. Let’s be honest, a wood-fired pizza is a treat and not an everyday meal. Therefore, most people are looking for a relatively cheap and easy method to get that wood-fired pizza taste at home.
When it comes to outdoor cooking pizzas using wood pellets there is really only one name out there at the moment, and that’s Ooni (but it used to be called Uuni).
What the heck is an Ooni?
Ooni does have their own YouTube channel which does have lots of great videos on using the Ooni 3 and lots of tips and recipes. However, I also like the videos by the BBQGuys, they do quick and concise introduction videos to products. They get straight the point on the features and benefits of the Ooni portable wood pellet pizza oven.
The Benefits of the Ooni 3 Portable Wood Pellet Pizza Oven
The Ooni 3 can get up to 500 degrees Celcius in around 10 minutes. Once at this temperature the Ooni 3 can cook a 12-inch Neapolitan-style pizza in around 60 seconds, which is very impressive. The Ooni 3 only weighs 12kg, so can truly be regarded as portable. For instance, you could take it around to family members or friends house quite easily.
How does the Ooni 3 Work?
The wood pellet fire is located at the back of the oven. The heat from the burning wood pellets is pulled over the top of the cooking pizza by the chimney located at the front of the oven. The diagram below from Ooni does a good job of explaining the pizza cooking process in the Ooni 3. However, the diagram doesn’t actually show the pellet hopper which feeds the fire.
What’s the History of the Ooni Portable Wood Pellet Pizza Oven?
Ooni (formally) Uuni is based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Their first wood pellet fired portable pizza oven came about through a Kickstarter campaign and was launched in 2012. Since then there has been several revisions of their portable pizza oven, of which the Ooni 3 is their latest model.
In 2017 Ooni launched an Indiegogo campaign to develop another product, the Ooni Pro. This product can use wood pellets, but it is also fuel flexible. So the Pro can use other wood fuels as well as gas. The size and weight of the Pro are increased over the 3 however. Therefore Ooni describes the Pro as ‘transportable’ opposed to Portable.
Which Wood Pellets should you use in the Ooni 3?
I discuss this more in the FAQ below, but really you want to use hardwood pellets to get the best flavour into the pizza. Therefore, you want to look to purchase barbeque wood pellets. I recently did a post on the top BBQ wood pellet brands. I would encourage you to check that out. Depending on the type of topping you have on the pizza you can choose the best flavour of hardwood pellets to suit. To say the range of choices and mixtures of hardwood BBQ pellets you could try is vast is an understatement.
How much is an Ooni Outdoor Wood Pellet Pizza Oven?
Current prices on Amazon in the US for the Ooni 3 which is their portable wood pellet pizza oven is $275. In the UK the price on Amazon is currently (July, 2019) showing as £176 which is the equivalent of $221. Here in the UK, we don’t actually get the say this very often but we’re getting a better deal! Then again, the Ooni headquarters are based in Scotland.
For the Ooni Pro, you’re going to have to spend quite a bit more. In the US that will be around $599, wherein the UK the price is £499 ($627). So in the UK while we get a better deal on the Ooni 3 we actually have to pay more relatively for the Ooni Pro.
Alternatives to the Ooni 3 for Cooking a Pizza with Wood Pellets?
I discuss this more in the FAQ section below, but essentially there are no other small portable pizza ovens specifically designed for wood pellets currently available (that I could find.) You can (and should if you own one) cook pizza’s outside on a Traeger grill, as you can see in the video below. Now I think Traeger wood pellet BBQ grills are great, however their not directly comparable to the Ooni 3 when you factor in portability and cost. But if you’re looking for a new grill that can also cook your pizza, the Traeger is worth considering.
Below I’ll discuss answers to some questions you may have around outdoor door wood pellet pizza ovens and wood pellets you can use with them.
Is there a difference between Pizza Oven Wood Pellets and other Wood Pellets?
There are some websites that are selling wood pellets specifically branded for pizza ovens. The reality is you could use pretty much any wood pellet in an outdoor pizza oven such as the Ooni. However, the question is should you use just any wood pellets?
Fuel for stoves and boilers are produced to various wood pellet standards. These will relate to the moisture content, ash content and density of the wood pellets. Is it safe to use these wood pellets in your outdoor wood pellet pizza oven? Well, if they are from a reputable manufacturer there should not be anything in those wood pellets that are more hazardous than branded BBQ or pizza oven wood pellets. However, you need to think about the main reason you interested in an outdoor pizza oven such as the Ooni, and that’s to produce the best-tasting pizza you can.
Standard fuel pellets are predominantly made from only softwoods such as pine and spruce. Therefore, your not going to get the same flavour in your pizza compared to the wide variety of hardwood pellets which are used to form cooking pellets for BBQ’s and pizza ovens.
In conclusion, fuel specifically branded as pizza oven wood pellets will likely be made of the same hardwood species as BBQ pellets. Therefore don’t be under the presumption you should only use specially branded pizza oven wood pellets. Compare prices between the pizza oven and BBQ wood pellets to see where you can get the best deal.
Is there an alternative wood pellet pizza oven to the Ooni/Uuni?
I’ve been doing some research on this, and currently, as of 2019 Ooni have the market tied up. You can cook pizza on a Traeger grill, but its not direct competition for the Ooni. Ooni has a got a big head start in this niche market space with a good product, good reputation and a well-established brand. Though changing the name from Uuni to Ooni has created a bit of confusion.
That is not to say other outdoor wood pellet pizza ovens won’t be available at some point. However, Ooni is offering a well made stainless steel product for a very reasonable price, it’s going to be hard for anyone else to enter the market and take significant market share away from Ooni.
You can potentially use wood pellets in a standard outdoor wood-fired pizza oven. However, it won’t be able to feed the pellets at a slow and steady rate into the fire as the Ooni does. Also, its the portability of the Ooni that really makes it special. Standard outdoor wood-fired pizza ovens are either permanent features made from clay or just generally big and bulky. The Ooni is genuinely small, compact and portable. Therefore when you’re not cooking pizza outside is not taking up valuable space or taking damage from the elements.
Why did Ooni change their name from Uuni?
The reason appears to be due to Google’s autocorrect. People would start to type Uuni into Google, but it would autocorrect to Unni and abbreviation of University. So essentially students need to be blamed for this one. Therefore the name change from Uuni to Ooni is to help people find their products without ending up on student websites. To play along with the mix-up, on their YouTube channel they have Ooniversity pizza cooking videos, nice.