Monday, July 9, 2012

Portable Pizza Oven

Edit: Hello and welcome all newcomers! This blog post seems to have suddenly received a lot of attention from Pinterest and other blogs. Thank you for visiting! I saw several comments on Pinterest addressing the design and safety. This is not my design, so criticize all you like. I recommend following the link below to GardenFork.tv to get more information on the build. But if you're going to get critical I suggest you read instead of just looking at the pictures. For example, reading below the first picture will give you the original source of the design. I haven't had any problems with exploding bricks. These are not cement, they are clay, which are fired in a kiln and can withstand the heat. The perlite/cement base has also been a great insulator with no concern of spontaneous combustion or melting.

I've been wanting to make a wood fired pizza oven for a while, but haven't had the space to put it. Then I came across this "portable" design (GardenFork.tv) that can be taken down and put away or (relatively) easily relocated when needed.


The original design comes from the book Bread, Earth, & Fire by Stuart Silverstein. The author recommends making an insulated base with a mix of 6 parts perlite, 1 part Portland cement, and enough water to make a rough batter. It took 2-1/2 bags of perlite (2 yards each) to get a 2-1/2 inch base of the cement mix. The base weighs more than I thought it would, but it's still much lighter than straight concrete; about 100 lbs. Two people can easily carry it. It's also fairly brittle and "chalky," so care needs to be taken when laying the bricks.


There was a bit of a learning curve to figuring out how hot to get the fire and how to turn the pizza. But once I figured out that I need to just make it really freaking hot, the pizza cooks pretty fast. Less than 5 minutes total. This works out really well when there's a large crowd to feed. You can cook a pizza in the same time it takes to assemble the toppings. So one person can be building their pizza while one is cooking. No backlog of pizzas waiting to go in.

As for portability, well...you just take it apart and reassemble it somewhere else. Everything is dry stacked. No mortar. I plan to take this on a campout in a few weeks, so we'll see how well that goes...

25 comments:

  1. Great job mate I"m going to make the same at our holiday shack

    Cheers Peter (Australia)

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  2. Got a question. How many bricks total did you use? Were they regular clay bricks or fire bricks? From the pic, how many went on bottom, sides, and top? I really want to try this out. You can email me at tcoulter1015@mac.com. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Hi Tommy - It uses a total of 84 bricks (regular clay, not cement). The bottom and top are the same size, 4 rows of 6 bricks. The sides have a row of 4 bricks on the bottom with 8 bricks standing up. The back is laid out like the sides with an extra bottom row as a base. I use 12 bricks to just close it off as best I can. I bought a total of 100 bricks to have some extras on hand for breakage.

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  4. I love this idea. My husband and I are laying out our version of this portable oven. I have the base, and the brick. The version I hope to complete is done with fireboard as a base,between the clay brick and the ciderblock base. I went to lowes to grab up a fire board- they don't sell it?! Anyone know where to get one, or a simple improv?
    Thanks :)

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    1. We put this together and set it on a couple layers of cement board on two metal sawhorses. The oven works great. You have to heat it up for at least an hr then cook away. Pizzas take approx 2 minutes to cook as the oven cools you need to continue to add wood if cooking for a cloud. Make your crust thin and don't add too many toppings.

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  5. Cyndi, I think cement backer board would work. Although, I don't think it's necessary to have anything between the clay bricks and cinder blocks.

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  6. use firebrick instead. it will hold the heat much longer.

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  7. I made this same oven last summer. I use a huge cookie sheet for a door to hold the heat( propped up with a stick!) . I also remove a few bricks on top and set an iron pot to cook stew etc and baked bread and roasted ribs and chickens inside. It's an awesome functional design!

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  8. What is the metal like thing running along the top of the oven?

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    1. Sorry about the late reply. It's a piece of angle iron. The link up at the top will take you to GardenFork that has more pictures and information on how to build it.

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    1. Angle iron runs from side to side to support the bricks. The link up at the top of this post will take you to GardenFork. It has more pictures and build information.

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  10. How do you cook it? I'm sorry, I'm a real beginner type. I wish you'd put up some pics of you cooking too, please? Thanks so much.

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    1. Here's a great YouTube demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Et52Jo3kkc Different oven, but same process. You'll need a pizza peel. I use a wooden one to build the pizza. Sprinkle with corn meal to prevent sticking. A metal peel for turning and removing from oven.

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  11. Although I don't see a chimney in the back of your oven, should there be one to promote air circulation for the fire?

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    1. I make half-inch gaps in the bricks on the first course of the back wall to allow air to get to the fire. A chimney in the back will let too much heat escape. You want as much heat as possible (given the "leaky" nature of dry-stacked bricks) to travel over the top of the pizza and out the front of the oven.

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  12. Hey Tommy, building the same oven. What type/brand Portland cement did you mix with your perlite?

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    1. I just picked up what was available at my nearest "big box store." They had Quikrete.

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    2. Ok, Thanks Bill. How has your base held up? Do you still use this oven?

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    3. Sorry, Curly. I forgot to reply to this. The base has been holding up really well. I took it camping and it performed well in travel and repeated setup/take-downs. I do still use it from time to time, but slowly getting less use as I find myself getting too busy with other projects.

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  13. So no chimney is needed for your brick oven?

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    1. Right, no chimney. The heat and smoke can escape out of the entrance (where a chimney would normally go anyway).

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