I’m into all things ‘wood pellets’ and I have been for many years. My original interest started in making wood pellets for pellet stoves and boilers. However, over recent years I’ve also become more interested in the wider uses for wood pellets. One of my favourite alternatives is using wood pellets for cooking. In today’s post, we’re going to look at pizza’s ovens which are specifically designed to 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. One of which is a portable pellet grill.
You can get wood-fired pizza ovens which use logs. The problem is they are quite large and also quite expensive: Image – Amazon
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You could also 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 cooking pizzas using wood pellets there is one brand name that’s particularly popular and that’s Ooni (but it used to be called Uuni). There are a couple of small brands of wood pellet fueled pizza ovens out there and a couple of other alternatives I’ll reference.
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 which are very useful when learning about new products. They get straight the point on the features and benefits of the Ooni portable wood pellet pizza oven.
The 3 is the smallest/cheapest wood pellet outdoor pizza oven that Ooni produce: Image – Amazon
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 Is 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 have 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.
The Ooni Pro pizza oven can use wood pellets but it can also use gas. A handy feature to have. However, the Pro is quite a bit more expensive than the 3: Image – Amazon
Which Wood Pellets Should You Use In The Ooni 3 or Pro?
I discuss this more in the FAQ below. However, put simply, 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.
There is a huge range of BBQ wood pellet you could try in the Ooni 3 portable pizza oven: Image – Amazon
Alternatives to the Ooni 3 For Cooking a Pizza with Wood Pellets?
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, they’re not directly comparable to the Ooni 3/Pro when you factor in portability and cost. But if you’re looking for a new grill/smoker that can also cook your pizza, the Traeger is worth considering.
However, if you are looking to produce the best pizzas you possibly can on your Traeger pellet grill or any grill for that matter there is an accessory you can get. The Unifit Red Stag Stone kit is a stainless steel enclosure with a stone plate that you place within your grill. This helps to enclose the heat around the pizza much better to produce not only a crispy base but a better cooked top layer.
If you want to cook better pizzas on any grill, not only pellet grills this stainless steel enclosure/stone kit from Unifit is worth having a look at: Image – Amazon
Below I’ll discuss answers to some questions you may have around outdoor door wood pellet pizza ovens and the type of wood pellets you can use with them.
Why Did Ooni Change Their Name From Uuni to Ooni?
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.
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.
If you are not sure what type of hardwood pellets are best suited for cooking your pizzas. Going for a general mixture of wood species such as Traegers Signature blend is probably not a bad choice: Image – Amazon
Standard fuel pellets are predominantly made from only softwoods such as pine and spruce. Therefore, you’re 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 BBQs 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?
When I first published this post there were no direct alternatives to the Ooni pizza oven I could find online. However, I’ve now come across a few different options. The first is produced by a company called BBQ Star. The construction of this pizza oven appears very similar to the Ooni in full stainless steel with a rear firebox and the chimney positioned at the front. Therefore, just like the Ooni, the fire/heat is carried over the top of the pizza by the draught created by the chimney at the front.
If you are looking for an alternative to the Ooni this portable wood pellet pizza oven from BBQ Star appears to be pretty comparable and at a reasonable price: Image – Amazon
The second alternative I’ve come across is produced by a company called Napoli called the Bertello. While this portable pizza oven is more expensive than the BBQ Star above it can use gas as well as pretty much any sort of wood/charcoal. It can also cook slightly larger pizzas up to 12.5 inches. I would say the BBQ Star above is comparable to the Ooni 3 where this Bertello is more comparable to the Ooni Pro.
If you are looking for an alternative to the Ooni Pro the Bertello from a company called Napoli is worth a look: Image – Amazon