How to Light a Pizza Oven: A Step-by-Step Guide
By Robert Parsons March 13th, 2023
Homemade pizza is a relatively simple dish. But if you’re looking for the best-quality homemade pizza, you’ll need a dedicated pizza oven.
Wood-fired pizza ovens are becoming really popular home chef essentials. These ovens burn really hot, creating the perfect environment for slightly charred, puffy, and tasty pizzas!
That said, if you’re using your wood-fired pizza oven for the first time, you might be wondering how to light it up.
We’re here to help you out.
Below, we’re explaining all the steps to lighting a wood-fired pizza oven, along with other important things you need to know before firing up the oven.
Keep reading to learn more.
Lighting Your Wood-Fired Pizza Oven
The secret to lighting a wood-fired pizza oven is heating it up slowly but surely. You want the oven to reach high temperatures, but you don’t want to shock the oven as that might damage it. So, you’re going to need a lot of patience when lighting up your wood-fired pizza oven.
But don’t worry – if you take the time to heat your oven properly, the results will be worth it.
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to lighting your pizza oven:
1) Open the oven’s door and chimney vent
2) Place your kindling in a teepee shape with firelighters in the centre
3) Light a firelighter and carefully place it in the centre of your kindling
4) Once the kindling starts burning, slowly add more logs
5) Keep the fire lit until the pizza dome turns black from the smoke
6) Add logs to maintain or raise the heat to 400-500 degrees Celsius
7) Close the chimney vent
8) Move the embers to the side and make space for your food
9) Make sure no more embers are burning, and place your food in the oven
The whole process takes some time, and you will need to practice patience. But once the oven gets to temperature, you’ll be able to cook the best homemade pizzas possible. So, rest assured that all your effort will be worth it.
How Do I Cure My Pizza Oven for the First Time?
The first time you light your pizza oven will always be a special occasion. You can’t roast food in the oven until it’s been properly cured. Curing the oven before use prepares the dome for high temperatures and reduces the risk of cracking.
Every wood-fired pizza oven comes with unique curing instructions. And if you want to protect your oven, we highly recommend strictly following the manufacturer’s instructions.
That said, most pizza ovens require you to slowly heat the oven with a continuous fire over the course of five days. The slow heating process forces all the moisture in the dome to evaporate, reducing the chance of cracking when you start using the oven.
While curing your pizza oven takes a lot of time and effort, you’ll only have to do it once. After you cure the oven the first time you use it, it will be ready for cooking and baking anything you want. And if you cure the oven properly, rest assured that it will last you a long time coming!
How Long Does a Pizza Oven Take to Heat Up?
Smaller pizza ovens heat up faster and larger ovens take longer. So, it’s important to keep a close eye on your oven when heating it up to ensure you stay within the recommended temperature. It’s best to monitor the oven’s temperature with a thermometer so you have accurate readings.
Generally, pizza ovens take around an hour to reach optimal temperature. But again, this largely depends on the type of oven you have, how large it is, and other factors. So to be safe, we recommend constantly monitoring your oven’s temperature.
Does Charcoal Work in a Pizza Oven?
There are some pizza ovens that may work with charcoal. However, this doesn’t go for all models. So, before loading charcoal into your pizza oven, read the manufacturer’s manual to be extra safe.
Charcoal burns much hotter than hardwood. This means that using charcoal means your oven will be much hotter. And if the oven isn’t designed for these temperatures, the dome may crack, which you would want to avoid at all costs.
What’s the Ideal Temperature for a Pizza Oven?
The perfect temperature for baking pizza is around 400 degrees Celsius. Of course, you can tweak this depending on your recipe or preferences. However, 400 degrees is a good benchmark to follow if you’re using a pizza oven for the first time.
If the oven burns hotter, you’ll get a thicker crust. However, don’t raise the temperature too much, as ovens that are too hot may burn your crust and ruin your pizza.
Temperature control is one of the skills you’ll develop as you experiment with your pizza oven. Figuring out the best temperature for different recipes and ingredients are important kitchen skill, and pizza ovens are a great way to develop that skill.
What Wood Should I Use in My Pizza Oven?
You want to use wood that burns hot and doesn’t produce that much smoke. This is why we highly recommend using hardwoods, as they burn hotter without smoking out your oven. Some recommendations for wood-fired pizza ovens include oak, ash, and birch.
Safety Tips for Operating a Pizza Oven
It’s important to prioritise safety when operating a pizza oven. You don’t want to play games and put yourself in unnecessary danger when baking a pizza. So, here are some safety tips to follow when operating a pizza oven:
- Dry your oven out before use
- Avoid extinguishing flames with water
- Only use firelighters to start the fire
If you want to make the best homemade pizza, a wood-fired pizza oven is your secret weapon. On top of that, the high temperatures are great for other dishes as well. And now that you know how to heat up your pizza oven and get it ready for cooking, it’s time to head to the kitchen and get things started!