The Vonhaus Outdoor Pizza Oven is not dissimilar to other small wood pellet pizza ovens. It’s easy to use and I can’t fault the tasty wood-fired pizzas I produced while reviewing it. Having used a big brand version recently, I noticed that the budget friendly price tag means it lacks some of the more finessed design features, but it’s still a great buy.
Easy to use
Heats up fast
Compact to store
Great entry-level option
Flame comes out of chimney
Burns through pellets quickly
No way to dampen the flame
Why you can trust Ideal Home
Pizza is one of those universally loved foods, a total crowd-pleaser. But making it from scratch and baking it in your regular oven can give disappointingly average results. If you want to elevate your homemade pizza to create the best possible flavour and texture, investing in one of the best pizza ovens is absolutely the way to go.
It's understandable if you’re worried that cooking in a wood fired pizza oven will be too much of a hassle, or even if you think it sounds quite intimidating. Let me assure you, this new breed of small portable pizza ovens make it a joy. The tiny wood pellets are easy to use, virtually mess-free and heat up super fast. All you have to do is perfect your dough-making skills and decide on some toppings.
I’ve recently been initiated into the world of back garden pizza ovens and I think they’re great. But if you’re unsure whether it’ll be for you, it can be hard to justify spending the money. At around £160 the Vonhaus Outdoor Pizza Oven is more affordable than most. So I tried it out to see if you still bake a tasty pizza in a more budget friendly pizza oven.
Vonhaus Outdoor Pizza Oven product specs:
- Fuel: wood pellets
- Weight: 11.5kg
- Pizza size: 13 inch
- Preheat time: 15 minutes
- Dimensions: 72 x 36 x 70cm
Who tested this pizza oven?
After completing a Home Economics degree, Helen went on to work for the Good Housekeeping Institute and has been reviewing home appliances ever since. She lives in a small village in Buckinghamshire in the UK, where she reviews all sorts of home and garden appliances using her wealth of experience.
Helen tried out this pizza oven in late spring and was thankful for a warm spell of weather that was perfect for a spot of al fresco cooking. She fired it up on three occasions and enjoyed several pizzas and cheesy garlic breads. She was gifted the pizza oven for the review.
Unboxing, setting up and first impressions
The pizza oven came in a manageable box, but it is packed with polystyrene inserts - my biggest packaging bugbear. That said, it’s well protected and came out of the box without any dents. You will need a screwdriver to attach the handle to the door as well as to screw the hopper into position. But everything else simply slots into place and the whole unboxing and assembly took around 20 minutes.
The wood pellet drawer slides into the back of the oven and an ash collection tray slides in below it to collect any ash that falls through. There’s a removable dual purpose handle that hooks onto the pellet rack when you want to remove it, or it can be used to open up the hopper, where you can feed in more wood pellets during cooking.
For easier storage the chimney unscrews and the four legs fold up to make it more compact. The square pizza stone easily slides into position and can be removed for cleaning. There’s a small hook at the top of the opening that holds the door in place so you have to tilt it slightly to remove it. Keep in mind you’ll need somewhere heatproof to rest it though.
It comes with a scoop for topping up the wood pellets, but you’ll need to buy a bag of these and some natural firelighters, because it doesn’t come with any to get you started. I'd also recommend an infrared thermometer for checking the pizza stone is at the optimum temperature, and a pizza peel. Vonhaus sells a pizza peel for £19.99, but I used one I already have.
The instruction manual is very brief and I’d be inclined to disagree with some of the points. I don’t think you should smear oil on the pizza stone and make your pizza on it before putting it in the oven. The whole point is that the pizza stone gets hot and then you add your pizza directly to the hot stone - no oil needed.
Thankfully I’ve used pizza ovens before so I don’t really need comprehensive instructions. But if you’re new to this style of cooking, I’d recommend reading our guide on how to get the best from your pizza oven and watching some videos online on how to use similar pellet style pizza ovens before you begin. This will enable you to get the most out of it from the get-go.
Overall my first impression is that despite being a relatively affordable option, this stainless steel pizza oven feels well made. The wood handles are a nice touch, it’s very stable and it definitely looks the part. There’s no recipe book included, so you’ll need to do your research and find a good pizza base recipe.
What’s it like to use
I loaded the wood pellet rack with pellets and lit a natural fire lighter on top, before sliding it all into position in the back of the oven. The instructions advise waiting 10-15 minutes for the oven to heat up. I kept an eye on it, but gave it 15 minutes. I have an infrared thermometer, so was able to double check the temperature of the stone before adding a pizza. It was around 390C so 15 minutes was about right.
At this point I launched my first pizza onto the hot stone. If you’re new to pizza ovens I’d highly recommend dusting the peel with semolina, this makes the pizza slide smoothly from the peel onto the stone, but getting the hang of launching a pizza into the oven is a part of the process that takes a little practice.
I turned the pepperoni pizza about four times and it took four minutes to cook. Part way through cooking, I loaded in more pellets and one thing I noticed with this pizza oven is that when you add more pellets, the flame quickly gets very big and whips across the top of the oven, to the point that you even see a flame coming out of the top of the chimney. This means that if you add pellets while a pizza is cooking, the top browns fast.
After cooking the first pizza, I added a scoop full of pellets and left it for about five minutes while I made up a margarita. This pizza cooked in two minutes, so it was obviously a bit hotter this time. Both had light crispy crusts with charred spots and nicely cooked bases. The results far exceed what you’ll achieve in a kitchen oven, but you have to be on the ball, turning the pizza regularly and keeping the pellets topped up.
In comparison to the Ooni Fyra that I recently reviewed, this pizza oven seems to burn through the pellets faster. The other thing is that when I loaded in a big scoop of pellets in one go, I noticed some soot deposits on the crust of the pizza. So, the second time I used it to make pizzas I got the hang of loading in smaller quantities of pellets more frequently, which still created a big flame across the top of the oven, but I felt more in control. Smaller but more frequent loading of pellets also seemed to deposit less soot onto the food, though you still get a lot on the inside of the door.
The next time I made pizzas I used a dry pizza mix from the supermarket, the kind that just requires a bit of water and oil added - it’s a very easy and convenient way of doing it. I made a spicy sausage pizza, a vegetarian pizza and two cheesy garlic pizza breads. Plus I had a bit of dough left at the end so I baked it as a flatbread with no toppings and popped it in the freezer.
This time I didn’t actually use my infrared thermometer, I simply allowed it to heat up for 15 minutes. Then after each pizza I loaded in more wood pellets and let it heat up again while I went back to the kitchen to quickly prepare the next one. I probably gave it around 5 minutes between each pizza and this worked perfectly.
It’s easy to achieve fantastically crisp and well baked pizzas in this oven once you get the hang of how to use it. The big caveat being that the pizza dough you use will have a huge impact on the result and you must check and turn the pizzas frequently.
You can, in addition to pizza, cook plenty of other perhaps suprising foods in a pizza oven. So I heated a cast iron pan and when it was hot, I threw in a pan full of par-boiled new potatoes. I’d oiled and seasoned the potatoes before adding to the hot dry pan.
I kept topping up the pellets and stirred the potatoes a few times, but within 15 minutes, they were crisped and charred and delicious. Once again, I noticed a small amount of soot deposited on the potatoes during cooking, which seems to be a bit of a quirk of this oven, but I’m fine with it.
After the potatoes I popped some chicken and chorizo skewers in on a baking tray, these took just under 15 minutes to cook since I hadn’t preheated the tray first. But it just goes to show, pizza ovens are not just for pizza and you really can get quite inventive with what you cook in them.
I noticed that if you slide out the pellet tray when hot, you do risk burning pellets falling out onto your table and scorching it. So it’s best to leave it closed and only open the top hopper during use.
Cleaning and storage
There’s not a huge amount of cleaning to do, which is a joy. Once cooled, there’s a very small amount of ash to empty from both the ash tray and the pellet tray. Then if you want to remove the pizza stone to clean it you can, but in my opinion it’s really not necessary to wash it regularly. You’re best off brushing away any loose residues and then next time you light the oven, the intense heat will sanitise it.
If the exterior needs a wipe, it’s stainless steel so can easily be cleaned. Then, to store, the legs all fold flat and the chimney is removable so it’s quite compact. Unfortunately Vonhaus doesn’t sell a weatherproof cover or bag for it. So you’re best keeping it in a shed or garage when not in use.
How does it compare to similar pizza ovens?
The Ooni Fyra is a similar size wood fired pizza oven from one of the best known pizza oven brands. Granted, at first glance it looks pretty similar to the Vonhaus so you’d be forgiven for wondering if it’s worth £100 more. But the design is slightly more finessed so if you’re looking for a pizza oven that offers more than the entry-level Vonhaus model, it’s a great option.
Its self-feeding hopper allows you to load it up so you can concentrate on cooking pizzas and not have to feed it with wood as frequently. Plus, the damper in the chimney gives more control over the airflow and smoke inside the oven. And the door conveniently hooks on to the oven so you don’t have to figure out where to rest it while you tend to your pizza. These small details actually make a big difference to the overall experience.
Another pizza oven we love is the Gozney Roccbox, it’s a fantastic dual fuel oven. So if you’re struggling to decide whether to choose a gas or wood fired pizza oven, why not get one that can do both. At £400 it’s a bit of an investment though and if you want to make use of its wood fired capabilities, you have to pay extra for the attachment. That said, it’s a great bit of kit that’ll look really nice on your patio and make delicious pizza to boot.
Should you buy the Vonhaus Outdoor Pizza Oven?
In my opinion this is a good entry-level pizza oven, it’s budget friendly and easy to use. It does have a few drawbacks, like the speed at which it burns through pellets and the way the flame whips across the top of the oven. But all-in-all there’s nothing that’s a deal breaker. Once I’d used it a few times and got to grips with its quirks, I was happily turning out excellent quality pizzas.
So if you want to get cooking in the garden and you’re bored of burnt sausages cooked on the BBQ, I’d definitely recommend you try your hand at creating restaurant quality pizza. With the Vonhaus pizza oven, you can start honing your pizza oven skills without having to invest several hundred pounds to get started. But do be prepared to invest a bit of time in finding the right pizza base recipe and learning the skills, like how to launch a pizza onto the stone.
About this review, and the reviewer
In line with our guidelines on how we test products that we recommend, our expert freelance reviewer Helen tested this pizza oven out for us at home with a variety of foods before coming to the conclusions you can read here.
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After completing a Home Economics degree, Helen went on to work for the Good Housekeeping Institute and has been reviewing home appliances ever since. She lives in a small village in Buckinghamshire in the UK.
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