How to Build a Garden Pizza Oven

How to Build a Garden Pizza Oven

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A garden pizza oven can be a wonderful addition to any home. You might not hear about them often, but that does not mean they are a new invention.

Nowadays most pizza ovens are made from metal but they have been around in different variations for over a thousand years. Clay ovens were used by the Egyptians and other examples were unearthed in Roman Pompeii.

These would still work even today once they have been properly cleaned. Over time, the ovens became bigger and were used to bake bread for entire villages.

They have continued evolving over the years and are now what we call wood pizza ovens. In the past, families would use the ovens to warm their houses, cook delicious meals, and also could heat water for washing basins.

There are high-quality metal pizza ovens from companies such as Ooni that are used as alternatives nowadays. However, a DIY wood-fired pizza oven is quick and easy to make.

You only need a few weekends, and your home improvement project will be complete. Don’t worry about skills, even if you aren’t a qualified mason or builder, you can still do an excellent job, as long as you follow our simple and straightforward instructions.

Why Build a Wood-Fired Pizza Oven?

That shouldn’t be the question, you should ask yourself: why don’t you?

However, most people don’t have much experience with using wood. If you’ve ever tasted wood-fired pizza, then you’ve probably noticed that wood makes it taste a little different.

It also can expand culinary possibilities. A garden pizza oven can be a beautiful and artistic creation that can bring life to your outdoor patio.

It’s a great way to take advantage of your outdoor spaces. Another advantage of wood-fired ovens is they offer warmth, especially during winter. They’re so much fun, very easy to build, and also cheap.

What Do You Need to Build a Wood-Fired Pizza Oven?

Items you’ll need

  • 30 bricks, ensure about 20 are smooth and solid with no recess or holes
  • Large bag either 14 liters (or 6 kg) of wood shavings
  • Rubble and big stones
  • 10-14 bags of builders sand
  • 20 breeze blocks and 5 kg tub of cement
  • 125-175 kg clay
  • Chimney or plant pot
  • Wellington boots
  • Plenty of water
  • Tape measure
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Old kitchen knife
  • 10 litre builder’s plastic bucket

How to Build a Garden Pizza Oven

Step 1: Make the plinth

Making a plinth for the pizza oven will take approximately 4 hours because the plinth needs to be very solid as it’s the foundation of the oven.

You can use either bricks or wooden sleepers to build the plinth frame. Dig a shallow trench (120 cm × 120 cm square). If you build with bricks, use cement. If you decide to use wood you can simply screw the pieces together.

Place a layer of rubble and stones in the center, and add a layer of sand and glass bottles. Then afterward form the oven floor by topping it off with a layer of smooth, solid bricks. The bricks need to fit together tightly because it’s where you’ll cook.

Step 2: Create the dome mold

This next step in making a DIY pizza oven takes approximately one hour.

Form the clay into the proper rounded shape by making a mound of 120kg of damp sand. Slowly construct the dome by placing it on the already built plinth. The height should be 40-45 cm and a diameter of 80 cm. Ensure it is round and cover with wet newspaper to prevent it from drying out.

Step 3: Create the first oven layer

The process will take 2 hours, and drying takes a further 4 hours.

Start by rolling handfuls of the puddled clay into 20 cm long and 10 cm thick sausage-like shapes and then build them up around the sand dome in circles.

Place newspapers from the bottom to the top until it’s fully covered. Smooth the outside using your hands after working the clay lengths into each other. It should be around 7-10 cm thick.

Step 4: Cut the entrance

Cutting the entrance is not a long process and takes approximately only one hour.

Take a kitchen knife and use it to cut out the oven’s entrance. The entrance should be big enough for a roasting tray to fit through it, but also small enough to keep the heat in. It should be about 30 cm wide and 20 cm high.

Scoop out all the sand after cutting the entrance and let your dome dry overnight. The next day, light a small fire inside the dome to help the clay dry out.

Step 5: Create the brick opening

The building of the brick opening takes 2-3 hours.

Start by building an arch that fits around the entrance using more sand/clay mix, and bricks to create the arch’s angle.

In order to secure the arch to the dome, use more clay mix. Follow-up by cutting a hole in the roof of the clay dome where the entrance arch joins the dome. Then build a collar to hold the chimney.

You can either use a build-up of rings made of clay to create a chimney or use a plant pot or similar as the chimney.

Step 6: Build the insulation layer

Drying of the insulation layer takes approximately 2 hours, not including the hour it takes to first create it.

Create a mixture of clay and water (slip) about 4 liters. You need to have a creamy consistency to the mixture.

Stir the slip in 14 liters (or 6 kg) of wood shavings until it’s well mixed. The insulation layer should be slapped onto the clay dome.

Step 7: Build the final shell

The final shell isn’t different from the first oven layer and will only take 2 hours.

Puddle the clay and sand mixture together. Follow by making sausage-shaped bricks then press them firmly together to cover the insulation layer.

It should be 7-10 cm thick all over and you should also smooth the surface as you did in Step 3.

After the oven is ready and you’ve left it to dry out for two days, you can clean out any debris or sand remains. That’s the last step and your DIY pizza oven is ready to use.

How to take care of your wood-fired pizza oven

In order to get the most from your new oven, protect it from damp conditions using a well-secured tarpaulin when you are not using it. Now you can enjoy all your favorite pizza recipes in your backyard, almost any time you want.

DIY Pizza Oven Kits

If you don’t feel confident in making your own pizza oven then why not take a look at some of the DIY pizza oven kits that are on the market.

Vitcas do several including their Casa model. The Casa comes in several pieces that are then simply and easily fixed together to form the pizza oven. Although more expensive than making your own, they do give the traditional look without the hassle.

You can find the current price and more information by clicking on the link.

How to Use Your DIY Pizza Oven

Before you start you need properly-dried hardwood so you can cook.

Take a pile of newspaper plus small sticks of softwood and light them up in the chimney’s entrance. Then add pieces of hardwood slowly to build the fire.

Once you get it going, slowly move it to the back of the oven. Add just enough wood to keep it tricking over once it’s become a roaring fire.

Now that you know how to build your garden pizza oven, there’s nothing left to do but get started. You will be enjoying new, delicious pizza combinations in no time at all!

For further information read our How to use a wood fired pizza oven and Choosing the best wood for a pizza oven articles for lots of in-depth advice.