Decisive factors for choosing an electric pizza oven
What’s the difference between a traditional electric oven and a commercial pizza oven reviews?
How can you not love pizza? The Italian dish par excellence is in fact a real cornerstone of gastronomy in our country, and we love to eat it as often as possible. However, you don’t always have the opportunity or the desire to go to a pizzeria: more and more consumers are choosing to prepare this dish at home.
If until a few years ago it was practically impossible to make pizza at home with professional results, today you can find tools and advice to improve the quality of homemade pizza in a remarkable way (here you can find our article on how to make pizza at home).
In fact, on the one hand, the growing attention to the world of gastronomy has allowed the secrets to obtain a perfect dough and to spread it in the right way to amateur chefs; on the other hand, kitchen appliances specifically designed for this type of preparation have appeared.
One of the reasons why it was difficult if not impossible to obtain professional results at home was the impossibility of reaching the cooking temperature allowed by professional ovens. In fact, it must be considered that inside the cooking chamber of pizzeria wood-fired ovens the temperature reaches (and sometimes exceeds) 450 °C while in professional electric ovens it is around 350 °C. A big difference with the traditional built-in ovens for domestic use, which hardly allow to exceed 250 °C. The width of the cooking chamber also plays a fundamental role with respect to the quality of the final result: in traditional ovens the large internal capacity translates into a less homogeneous and less targeted diffusion of the temperature.
Electric pizza ovens have been designed to solve these two problems: their main characteristic is that of having a small cooking chamber that allows to reach higher temperatures and to heat evenly the base and the upper surface of the pizza.
In this purchase guide we will look specifically at all the characteristics of these products in order to give you a useful picture to orient your choice towards the most suitable model for your specific needs. Before going into these aspects, however, it is necessary to make two small clarifications: we will only deal here with pizza ovens suitable for domestic use and not with professional models, much more efficient but definitely bulky and expensive.
Moreover, we will not take into consideration the models that use another type of fuel, such as wood or gas: these are in fact products with very different characteristics compared to electric models. If you want to know more about the characteristics of traditional ovens, we also recommend you to read our purchase guide dedicated to built-in ovens.
What types of electric pizza ovens are there?
The electric pizza ovens can be divided into two macrogroups with respect to the structural characteristics, while with respect to the operation there are 3 types. Let’s start by observing the differences related to the structure, taking into consideration the shape, the encumbrance, the materials and the width of the baking chamber.
Structure of electric pizza ovens
The models suitable for domestic use can have two very different shapes: the shell models and the rectangular models.
The rectangular models are very reminiscent of electric bread warmers, with the difference that inside there are almost always two shelves that allow you to cook two pizzas at the same time. There are also different materials of the shelves: to allow a uniform cooking they are almost always made of stone, soap or refractory.
This type of products is not very widespread at the moment, and is mainly found in specialized shops at a medium-high cost; much more frequent instead are the electric stoves that provide a refractory stone to make this type of preparation (if you prefer to buy one of these models here you can find our guide to the purchase of electric stoves).
Most of the electric pizza ovens suitable for domestic use currently on the market belong therefore to the second type, the shell models.
The typology is so called because the round shape reminds of a shell; these products are characterized by a very small cooking chamber that can contain only one pizza.
The shell models also have a soapstone or refractory base cooking surface, while in the upper part there is a serpentine heating element that radiates heat at high temperatures.
The big advantage of these models compared to rectangular products is that they allow a rapid heating and a homogeneous temperature diffusion, without any heat dispersion.
The disadvantage is that you only have to bake one pizza at a time, an operation that in some cases (for example if you have a large family) could be tedious and impractical.
Oven size and pizza size
A significant difference between rectangular and shell models is the outer dimensions. Rectangular products are significantly larger than shell models, which are compact and easy to store. As we have already seen, this type of difference depends above all on the width of the cooking chamber: rectangular ovens will almost always allow the production of two pizzas at the same time and will have an internal width ranging from 15 to 30 liters.
In the shell ovens we do not find any indication with respect to the width of the baking chamber, which as we have seen is very small, but with respect to the diameter of the two circumferences, a fact related to the maximum size that can reach the pizza.
Most of these products have a diameter between 25 and 32 cm, the classic size of round pizza. Rectangular pizza ovens can also be used to make pizzas of the same size.
How do electric pizza ovens work?
As we have anticipated in the previous paragraphs with respect to the operation, we can divide three groups of electric pizza ovens: the shell models with serpentine and stone resistance, the shell models with removable stone and the rectangular models with double electric resistance.
Let us begin by observing the first type, which is also the one most frequently available on the market: these are shell products that have a serpentine heating element in the upper part of the bell which, as it heats up, also supplies heat to the stone at the base. In some models there are two electric resistors, one of which is placed under the stone.
Thanks to the very small size of the cooking chamber with this type of products it will be possible to reach very high temperatures in a very short time: before baking the pizza it will be necessary to wait a few minutes for the stone to warm up properly.
The stone that serves as the base can be a soapstone or a radiant stone: both materials are particularly suitable for this type of product because they are able to reach and maintain constant high temperatures. Moreover, with these materials the heat will be spread evenly at the base of the pizza, so as to obtain a uniform cooking.
Some shell pizza ovens instead of the upper coil heating element have a double stone: this means that the upper heating element will be hidden. These models are more versatile and, in addition to pizza, are suitable for other types of dishes such as cakes, tigelle, piadine or leavened.
Among the shell models we find another type of products, equipped with a removable stone. In some of these models the heating of the stone can be carried out on the cooker of the house and only later the pizza can be placed inside the electric oven for the cooking of the upper part.
Also with this type of products it will be possible to obtain good results, with the difference that the whole preparation process will be slightly less practical as two separate steps are necessary to bake the pizza.
Finally, electric pizza ovens of rectangular shape are usually equipped with a double electric heating element, one upper and one lower: even in the presence of one or more stone shelves, in fact, in order to reach the highest temperatures, the combined action of two very powerful electric heating elements is still necessary.
Controls, functions and maximum temperatures
As observed with the considerations on structure and operating mode, electric pizza ovens are quite simple products used for a specific preparation; therefore, not many particular functions are usually available.
The most important function to look for in this kind of ovens is the temperature selection: the most efficient models in fact have an internal thermostat that can be set according to specific needs.
The shell products are the ones that usually allow to reach the highest temperatures that in some cases exceed 400 °C, while the rectangular models usually reach 300 °C as maximum temperature.
The higher the temperature reached, the faster the cooking time will be: it should also be remembered that higher temperatures usually give better results.
An interesting aspect of the maximum attainable temperature is that there is often no direct correlation between the maximum wattage and the temperatures. The reason for the absence of correlation between these two elements is to be found in the structural characteristics of the products: for example, the presence of a soapstone and a cooking chamber of very small dimensions usually implies the possibility of rapid cooking at very high temperatures without too substantial an electric current absorption.
The value relative to the maximum power is therefore very similar between model and model (between 1200 and 1400 watts) and does not appear to be strictly related to the efficiency of the product.
The other function that can be found in electric pizza ovens is the programmable timer, which in the best models is connected to intermittent lights or acoustic signals.
As far as the controls are concerned, on the other hand, they are almost always knob-operated: temperatures can be indicated by degrees or indicative levels. In the latter case, the instruction manual will specify the temperature ranges that correspond to the various levels.
Accessories and maintenance
The last element to be considered concerns the ease of maintenance of the product and the possible presence of additional components.
As far as cleaning is concerned, electric pizza ovens do not need any special care in order to remain always in optimal hygienic conditions.
Especially in shell models where the stone is not removable, ordinary maintenance will be very easy: you will only have to clean the stone with a damp cloth after use, waiting for it to cool down.
In rectangular models, on the other hand, maintenance is similar to that of electric ovens: if residues of ingredients should settle on the bottom, a special product must be used to remove them and prevent incrustations that would burn causing unpleasant odours and affecting the final result.
As far as the extra accessories are concerned, the possible equipment seems very limited: in the shell models it is possible to find a shovel to extract the pizza, a wooden chopping board or an aluminium perforated baking tray to make chestnuts or similar ingredients.
In rectangular ovens instead we can find drip pan or additional grills. Finally, in both types of product it is possible to find cookbooks: they can be dedicated to different preparations in case it is possible to cook other types of dishes or they can only be pizza themed.