Traditional wood-fired pizza ovens have long been viewed as the superior method for baking the perfect pizza pie – but in recent years, a rising number of professional and amateur pizza chefs are choosing gas outdoor pizza ovens over wood.
In this post, we’ll explore why, and answer once and for all the big question burning in everyone’s mind: How does it taste?
Gas Versus Wood Cooking Performance
While the two ovens look quite different from the outside, the reality is that the cooking chamber of gas outdoor pizza ovens functions almost identically to traditional wood-fired ovens in three key ways:
- Radiation: heat is generated from the natural gas flame
- Convection: heated air moves throughout the chamber to cook the dough
- Conduction: heat transmits directly from the base of the chamber to the pan or dough
The only real difference between gas and wood pizza ovens is where the heat comes from. You burn gas or you burn wood. Once up to temperature, they’re exactly the same.
NOTE: In the past, natural gas burners did not offer a sufficiently high cooking yield to reach the temperatures needed to cook a pizza in seconds, but modern burners now deliver comparable yields.
Advantages of Gas Outdoor Pizza Ovens
If cooking performance is equivalent, why are more homeowners and restaurateurs installing gas outdoor pizza ovens over the classic wood design?
- Ease of installation: Compared to the complications of building a wood-fired pizza oven, gas units are essentially plug-and-play. Simply buy the model you like, connect it to the gas network or a gas cylinder and you’re ready to bake.
- Simplicity of operation: Forget about managing the temperature of your oven manually. With gas, you just turn the dial to your desired setting and give the appliance a few minutes to work on its own.
- Convenience and cleanliness: Think about all the hassle and space it takes to buy and store wood. Wood piles are messy and gas pizza ovens don’t need to be cleaned of ash and residue after each use.
- Flexibility: Gas outdoor pizza ovens can be situated in locations and scenarios wood-fired ovens cannot, including small balconies and buildings where smoke would not be permitted. Gas ovens do not emit smoke, only exhaust that is similar to that of a hot water heater.
- Mobility: Once a wood-fired pizza oven is built, it cannot be moved. Gas outdoor pizza ovens are incredibly mobile, often equipped with wheels.
No Time to Smoke
Now that we know gas outdoor pizza ovens are easier to install, easier to use, easier to maintain and easier to move, what does the taste test tell us?
While there’s no question that smoked meats or other wood-fired dishes that require long cooking times absorb flavorful accents from the wood, the reality is that pizza doesn’t stay in the oven long enough for this phenomenon to take place.
On average, pizza cooked in a properly heated oven takes just 60-90 seconds until it’s ready to be pulled out, sliced and served. This isn’t enough time for the smoke to permeate the dough, toppings or cheese, meaning that the “wood-fired” taste difference is non-existent and gas-fired pies are indistinguishable in flavor.
Don’t hassle with wood. Gas outdoor pizza ovens deliver a practical solution with identical performance.