Even though pizza is one of the most popular takeout foods in the US and worldwide, a homemade pizza will taste better when you make it correctly. Getting a pizza oven will drastically improve your pizza-making game, but which type of oven is better?
A gas-fired pizza oven is the better option for most home cooks. Gas ovens typically cost less, reach temperature much faster, and are easier to control than a wood-fired oven. Clean-up is quicker, and gas is safer and more convenient. However, gas ovens lack a distinctive wood-fired flavor.
Keep reading for a comparison between wood-fired and gas-fired pizza ovens to decide which option is more suitable for your needs.
Wood-Fired Pizza Oven vs. Gas: Which To Choose?
It ultimately comes down to choice, but a gas-fired oven will give you the same results for less of a hassle. There is less of a learning curve because regulating the temperature is as simple as turning a knob, and you won’t need to buy firewood (or split it).
However, what the gas oven makes up for inconvenience—it slacks that smoky, delicious wood-fired taste—an aesthetic you can’t recreate. Arguably, it is also dangerous because the smoke released from burning firewood causes many health problems. However, many pizza devotees would say it’s well worth the risk!
Let’s explore more about the benefits and drawbacks of these two types of pizza ovens.
Why Gas Pizza Ovens Trump Wood Fired Pizza Ovens
A gas-fired pizza oven typically heats up to 800°F (426.67°C) in a matter of minutes, which is at least twice the temperature that a household oven would reach. As such, there is no need to use a pizza stone, and the pizzas cook much faster in this type of oven.
Remember that people bake pizzas in a scorching hot oven, which is necessary to melt and brown the mozzarella cheese and cook the crust simultaneously. While pizzaiolos traditionally use a wood-fired range in pizza making, there are several advantages to gas ovens that led to their popularity.
Benefits of Using a Gas-Fired Pizza Oven
Although gas is not the original fuel used in pizza making, gas-fired ovens offer several advantages for home pizza making. Here are a few reasons to consider getting a gas-fired pizza oven.
Gas Ovens Heats Up Faster
Because gas burns faster than wood, the entire oven heats up quickly. There is no need to wait for firewood to turn into coal or anything—you light up the oven and wait for the temperature to rise steadily to the desired temperature. Fire takes time and attention, adding to the effort in creating your pizza.
Gas Ovens Are Safer Than Wood
Safety is critical whenever you are using fire, and gas ovens are arguably safer because you can quickly turn off the fuel source (gas) in an emergency. Extinguishing a wood fire is much more complicated and, thus, a more considerable hazard. Fires left unattended can quickly turn into a dangerous situation.
Less Clean Up
Cleaning up a gas-fired pizza oven is similar to cleaning up a household oven. Unless you spilled anything or food splatters, there is minimal regular clean-up involved in using this type of pizza oven. Dealing with heaps of ash each time you use your wood-fired oven can be exhausting, especially if convenience is your ultimate aim.
While building a pizza oven and installing a gas line is possible, many companies sell ready-made gas-fired pizza ovens. Installation involved connecting the oven to your gas line—no building or other complicated installation necessary. Wood-fired ranges are generally more expensive to install.
No Need To Buy or Handle Firewood
Unless you already have a fireplace at home, you probably never need to handle or even purchase firewood. A gas oven is fueled by an energy source already available in most modern homes.
Even if you do not have a natural gas connection at home, you can connect the oven to a butane gas cylinder. The cylinder also makes gas ovens somewhat portable, so you can take it from one home to the next if you’re moving.
Better Temperature Regulation
As mentioned earlier, regulating the temperature of a gas-fired pizza oven is pretty simple. There is no learning curve at all—you turn the knob to increase or decrease the gas and change the temperature accordingly. You don’t need to wait for your fire to reach the required temperature to enjoy your yummy pizza.
When Do Wood-Fired Pizza Ovens Trump Gas?
This oven, made for baking flatbreads and pizzas, was standard in the Mediterranean and usually fuelled by wood. You may already know that the pizza originated in Naples, and early pizzaiolos used a wood-fired pizza for baking the first Margaritas.
Wood-fired ovens generally take longer to reach the desired temperature, and it isn’t as easy to regulate the temperature. Additionally, burning firewood is messy as it forms coals, and soot from the flames can be difficult to clean up.
Benefits of Using a Wood-Fired Pizza Oven
There is only one primary advantage to using a wood-fired pizza oven—at higher temperatures. Even though a gas-fired pizza oven reaches very high temperatures, wood-fired ranges can increase the temperature much more, up to 1000°F (537.78°C).
It’s All in the Taste
Despite all the drawbacks of a natural wood-fired oven—there is one thing a gas oven can never replicate—the taste! You won’t find a pizzaiolo caught dead with a gas oven—it is equivalent to sacrilege in the world of authentic Italian pizza.
While pizza makers prefer gas ovens for the New York style and thinner-based pizza, for the real-deal Italian pizzas—this is not the case.
The wood and smoke flavor undeniably elevates a pizza taste, whereas a gas oven can not. If you are an aficionado like me, this is where you can forgive all the drawbacks of wood-fired ovens.
It’s All in the Char
Wood-fired pizzas also have distinctive charr that is difficult to replicate in a gas-fired oven. A cornicione is not an authentic crust without that sooty, blackened edge caused by a roaring fire. You will know what I mean by those scorched pizza crusts if you have seen an authentic Napoletana pizza.
If you aren’t familiar with this tastebud-blowing style of pizza—check out this Youtube clip of the best pizza in Naples:
Drawbacks of Using a Wood-Fired Pizza Oven
There are more than a few drawbacks to using a wood-fired pizza oven, which explains why so many people and restaurants worldwide favor gas. Before installing a wood-fired pizza oven in your home (or anywhere else), consider the disadvantages.
Firewood Is Messy and Detrimental to Your Health
Medical professionals and scientists have conducted many studies on the effect of wood smoke on respiratory health. No doubt being around burning firewood for prolonged periods harms your lungs, but it is also a messy ordeal.
Cleaning the soot from a wood-fired pizza oven is time-consuming and physically exhausting. Not to mention the amount of work that goes into igniting the fire in the first place—from chopping the firewood to stacking it correctly and turning the coals.
Regulating Temperature Takes Time To Learn
If you’ve ever tried to barbeque on coals and found it challenging to get the temperature right, you know how hard regulating temperature can be when it depends on wood and coal. It’s a skill that takes time to learn and can be very difficult. Gas is the better option If you don’t want to go through trial and error.
Firewood Is More Expensive
Although gas is not a free resource, it is generally cheaper to pay for using gas than to purchase firewood. Also, because a wood-fired pizza oven needs a lot more time to come to temperature, it is not as energy efficient as its gas-fired counterpart. The added time to bring the oven’s temperature up to optimal levels correlates to the money spent on fueling the oven.
Despite being the more traditional option, wood-fired pizza ovens aren’t feasible for home pizza making, so a gas-fired pizza oven is generally the better choice. It heats up much faster and produces similar results with less clean-up involved.
However, if you seek a pizza true to its Italian roots—look no further than the wood-fired oven. Nothing beats that smoky, delicious flavor that the burning wood imparts.