The Woody Portable Wood Fired Pizza Oven is fairly new to the market, having been developed in 2020. Owners James and John saw the rush on pizza ovens as everyone trapped in their homes found ways to entertain without leaving the garden. However, they saw that many options were quite expensive and required extra spend on top of the oven price to get everything you needed for amazing homemade pizza.
What they created was a portable pizza oven that can be set up on no time, heats up in less than 20 minutes and makes amazing pizza in 60 seconds. And, to make it a kit, they throw in a peel, built-in thermometer and carry case so you can take your pizza party with you. All this comes in around £30 cheaper than the closest competitor – and includes parts they don’t. No wonder the first version sold out completely.
With what sounded too good to be true, we were keen to give the Woody Pizza Oven a thorough testing this summer and see how it stacked up against other buys our best pizza oven list.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4/5 stars
All you need is an outdoor space and a heatproof surface to stand it on. Oh, and your best pizza dough recipe to hand… Good fire making skills will help, but we found frustration quickly turned to fascination and we have found the art of woodfired pizza making to be a bit of an obsession.
Reasons to buy:
- Includes everything you need in the kit
- Integrated thermometer
- Makes delicious stonebaked pizza in 60 seconds
Reasons to avoid:
- Quite a high maintenance cooking experience (so you need to be prepared to get involved)
- A bigger fire basket would be handy for kindling and charcoal
- Slightly wider and heavier than nearest competitor
Woody Wood Fired Pizza Oven
The Woody Portable Wood Fired Pizza Oven is just that – a wood fired pizza oven that can easily be packed up and taken with you to a friend’s house or perhaps to a holiday rental. Wood pellets are our fuel of choice, but you can use small pieces of kiln dried wood or charcoal in the pellet box to make delicious smoky stone-baked pizza.
- Type: wood (pellets are best)
- Pizza size: 12in/30cm
- Cooking surface: cordierite stone baking board
- Size: H735 x W410 x D530 mm
- Weight: 13kg
- Temperature: 450–50ºC/842–932ºF
- Cooking time: 60 seconds
What’s in the box?
This pizza oven kit comes with everything apart from the fuel and pizza ingredients (of course). A 1.78kg bag of pellets can be bought on the website for just £12.99. These are made from virgin British wood, sustainably sourced and made from waste wood sources as a by-product of manufacturing. They aren’t treated with any chemicals so you will get that clean wood-fired taste.
The pizza oven kit includes:
- Powder coated oven body (with ceramic fibre insulation)
- Door with handle, peep hole and built-in thermometer
- Pizza stone made from cordierite
- Pellet box with burner grate to collect ashes
- Detachable chimney and vent with detachable chimney cap
- Charging hopper
- Pizza peel
- Carry bag with chimney bag
- Tools for building the Woody Pizza Oven
Setting up the Woody Pizza Oven
I was lucky enough to have my pizza oven delivered by John from Woody who helped set it up in my garden (in 28ºC weather, no less). The main body already has the legs attached – these just need flipping out to stand the oven up. Next you have to secure the hopper which is easily done with some small bolts and an allen key (all included). The chimney slots into place, so no construction needed here and you only need to install the cap when out of use. Then you need to attach the handle and thermometer to the removable door, and build the pellet box and burner grate. Even a DIY novice can do this all in around 20 minutes, max. With the pizza stone in place, you’re ready to go.
What is the Woody Pizza Oven like to use?
Pizza is a regular treat in my house. I have a pizza stone that can be used in the oven and feel like I have my dough recipe down now. However, having never used a pizza oven, I was keen to do my research before getting started. John had given me some tips about getting the oven up to temperature and keeping it there. He said it was all about feeding the burner, little and often, with fresh pellets. I had to get the thing alight first though…
Dear reader; please note that I clearly would not last long in the great outdoors. Starting a fire never seems to run particularly smoothly for me as every attempt at barbecuing I have made has meant a good hour trying to light it. Even my trusty fire pit gives me the runaround, but I have found a method of lighting using some old waxed sandwich wrappers as lighters. The Woody certainly put my fire making skills to the test.
Lighting the fire
The instructions are clear.
- Make sure the door is on.
- Fill the grate with pellets and a natural firelighter
- Light the firelighter and slide the fire box into the oven
- Make sure the pellets are fully alight before feeding with more pellets via the hopper (John and James recommended a mug of pellets at a time)
- Maintain pellet level to bring the oven to approx 450ºC/850ºF
- You are ready to cook!
I didn’t have any natural firelighters on my first attempt and after over half an hour trying everything from kitchen roll to cotton wool to light the pellets, we gave up and got a Chinese takeaway. I ordered some natural firelighters though and on take two, lighting was as easy as the instructions make out, taking just minutes for the wood pellets to start burning evenly.
How to maintain temperature
Once your fire is lit you have to get it up to temperature and then keep it there for the duration of cooking. To do this, the instructions recommend refuelling when the ‘pellets have burnt to embers, but before all visible flames have disappeared’. Doing this means you don’t overload the grate which causes lots of smoke, but also means you have a few flames to help the next batch of pellets catch. Once the pizza oven reaches the desired temperature, it is a good idea to add a small cup of pellets, and let these burn a bit before putting food in.
The oven’s chimney has a vent with a lever on the outside to adjust it. You can use this to help manage the draw on the chimney and control the burn. This does take some getting used to and can be hard to maintain over extended cooking periods, but after a couple of uses you will soon learn how often to feed the flame, and how to control the draw to get the best results. It is also worth noting that if there is a bit of a breeze, the way you place the oven can affect how the flame reacts. So try to pick a sheltered (yet well ventilated) spot, so you aren’t playing with the elements too much.
What sets the Woody Pizza Oven apart from lots of other market leaders is that there is a thermometer on the door that measures the ambient temperature of the oven. For complete accuracy, Woody recommends using an infrared thermometer gun to check the temperature in the middle of the pizza stone. This way you know for sure that the stone is the right temperature for that delicious stone-baked base.
Making pizza with the Woody pizza oven
Before even getting the pizza oven lit, I prepped my dough and ingredients so I could work quickly. I cut the dough into smallish palm sized balls, which I find is a good amount for thin and crispy 12 inch pizzas. Roll these out on a floured surface ready for topping. My advice is to dust the peel supplied with the kit with a bit of flour or polenta before lifting your base on and topping it on the peel. If you are doing lots of pizzas, you can prep them on boards and slide each onto the peel, but for me, mess is less of a risk if I make the pizza on the peel. Once topped, you check the oven is at 450ºC/850ºF, open the door and quickly, but gently, slide your pizza in. Now, it really does take just 60 seconds to cook, so at about 40 seconds I take a little peek through the door’s peep hole (a super handy feature that few pizza ovens have) to check on it. Sometimes you might need to turn it as there is a bit of a temperature difference between the front and back of the oven, or you can do what I did first time and let the crust at the back get more well done. Once cooked, you just use the peel to get your pizza out and it is ready to eat.
Being wood-fired, Woody Pizza Ovens cook pizza a little differently to gas ovens. The base is cooked by the stone, but the advantage of wood is that the flame will roll over the top of the pizza creating what is called leoparding – those lovely browned bubbles in the crust. This is spot on if – like me – you like a well done crust, but don’t want your toppings incinerated. The result is a quick pizza with a lovely taste that you can’t achieve in a regular oven. We actually used it in tandem with a pizza stone in a conventional gas oven – using the same dough and ingredients – and agreed the texture and taste was far superior.
If you are making a couple of pizzas, it is a straightforward affair, but we used it to make pizzas for a group of six and it was somewhat more involved. With every pizza, you will lose a fair bit of heat so the manufacturers recommended using the short wood dried kindling you can easily pick up at a garage. This burns slower than the pellets, meaning a longer window between refills. However, because it is small battens of wood, you can’t top them up using the hopper, so to keep the fire burning well, you need to open the fire basket to add wood. We found when we did this the temperature inevitably dropped, so had to factor some reheating time into our cooking. A slightly deeper fire basket would have been handy to make the process easier as it was quite hard to negotiate a hot fire basket full of wood back into the oven, but if you remove the grate from the fire basket it is much easier.
We also felt the heat retention of the oven could be improved to reduce heat loss in use, but by the end of the evening we had hit a good production line of someone constantly tending to the fire while others took it in turns to make and cook the pizzas. It was definitely a team event, so if you want to use the Woody for a family pizza night, it is best for older children who can safely muck in.
If you need more tips and recipes on making pizza, Woody share a few recipes on their site.
What else can you cook in the Woody pizza oven?
The Woody Pizza Oven can also be used for steak, cooked veggies and bread. In fact, you can cook almost anything in it as long as you use an oven proof dish or tray for wet ingredients. This is because cooking liquids directly on the pizza stone, could cause damage and the residues are very hard to clean off.
I tested it by making a very quick aubergine parmigiana (of sorts) in it after cooking my pizza. I layered aubergine, cheese and tomato sauce in a lasagne dish and cooked it in the pizza oven using the residual heat. When it went in the oven was still around 250ºC which is a good temperature for this type of dish. After about eight minutes, it was ready and though some of the dish was quite burnt, the aubergine was cooked to perfection, with bubbly cheese on top. I will happily use it for other ‘al forno’ dishes in the future and would love to test a pasta bake in it.
I don’t eat meat, but the instructions say charcoal is a better fuel choice for meats and loaves as bread as it allows a lower consistent temperature. I am yet to test with charcoal, but for now would say that if you want to cook meat in it using wood pellets or kindling, lean towards stuff that can be served rare, or pre-cook and finish in the Woody for that wood-fired taste.
In conclusion, it might not be a complete replacement for the best BBQ if you are a big fan of a summer barbie, but it certainly has enough versatility that those who prefer pizza will want to buy this first to serve both purposes.
How portable is the Woody Pizza Oven?
The Woody packs away into a strong carry bag with buckled straps. This can also be used to cover the Woody Pizza Oven if left outside in dry spells, though you do need to remove the door handle, or turn the door inside out to get it in the bag properly. The chimney also needs removing and this comes with its own carry bag that attaches to the top of the carrier with velcro.
I am quite short, but manage to carry it short distances fairly easily. It weighs 13 kilograms which is not too heavy, but because of the size I can’t see myself carrying it anywhere other than to and from the car. Which really should be all you need.
Do take note that it takes a while to cool down, so you will need to wait before you can pack it away to take home.
Cleaning the Woody Pizza Oven
Cleaning the Woody Pizza Oven is very easy. Pyrolytic cleaning comes into play. Just like some of the latest ovens, you simply have to run the oven at top temperatures for 30 minutes to burn off excess food. Do this at the end of each cook and you won’t have to do more than give it a quick dust with dry paper towels once cooled.
You can hand wash the pizza stone too if preferred. If you do, you must use nothing but warm water, then dry it in a conventional oven at a very low temperature for at least two hours. The stones are slightly absorbent which is how they create such a crispy base, drawing water from the dough as the pizza cooks. This means that if the stone is not fully dry before cooking, you could damage it, or find the temperature is compromised.
The rest of the oven can be cleaned with a damp cloth as needed and any soot and smoke wiped away with dry kitchen roll. Note that the stainless steel parts of the oven do change colour after use – a reaction with the heat that creates an interesting patina that I think adds to the industrial look of the pizza oven.
Is the Woody Pizza Oven worth the money?
I would recommend the Woody Pizza Oven to friends and family looking to create a garden ristorante. It heats up quickly so once you get the hang of maintaining the fire, you will get plenty of bang for your buck out of this pizza oven kit. And even if the British weather isn’t conducive to pizza every night in summer, the kit is so affordable you will soon be saving big compared to spending at least £10 a pizza at a certain well known pizza chain. We think the pizza we made in our Woody was much much tastier, too.
We also love that you get the cover and peel thrown in, making it much cheaper than the closest competitor, the Ooni Fyra – the other 12 inch portable wood-fired pizza oven that our team has tested. Granted, it is not a sleek in the looks department and is slightly heavier and bigger than the Ooni Fyra, but for the saving – and the benefit of an integrated thermometer – we will happily take the Woody’s rustic charm.
The verdict: should you buy a Woody Pizza Oven?
If you love the process and theatre of making pizza and have enough outdoor (and indoor storage) space, then you should buy a Woody Pizza Oven. Note that this is a hands-on cooking experience though – parents with small children might prefer a gas or multi-fuel option that is less demanding. Though it is easy to light and the pizza cooks really quickly, you do need someone dedicated to feeding the fire throughout cooking to keep the temperature rolling. My friend with a toddler (who tested it with us) noted that for them, the pizza stone we were using in their oven would be a better fit for their family pizza nights. For a group of adults though, it can be a fun group activity.
Though gas and multi-fuel pizza ovens aremore convenient and easier to maintain, they are also at least £60 more expensive and gas refills cost more than wood fuels. So, if you are happy with the wood-fired experience (which we think trumps others in the flavour department anyway) then the Woody Pizza Oven Kit is the perfect offering and low commitment, price wise.
About this review and our reviewer
Lindsey Davis heads up the team writing about products for your home and garden at Ideal Home and four other brands. She is a keen cook and enjoys testing anything to get the restaurant experience at home. Woody sent her this pizza oven to test, free of charge and she has been allowed to keep it meaning she can continue testing it over time. She has been using it (when weather permits) for two months and has made over 12 pizzas in it to date, plus a couple of bakes.