Fired Up

from Outdoor Style
A wood-fired oven may be perfect for your outdoor kitchen. Find out if one will fit into your backyard and outdoor-living style.

While gourmet pizzas are what typically lights the spark of interest in wood-fired ovens, these specialized appliances can also cook breads, meats, vegetables, and desserts.

Wood-fired ovens usually have brick walls, but they can also be made of tile or clay. They retain heat and cook food quickly, which gives it a crisp outer shell while keeping the inside moist. Be forewarned, it takes at least an hour to heat a wood-fired oven to the right cooking temperature. You'll want to do a lot of research if you're serious about having a wood-fired oven, but here’s some basic information to help you decide if a wood-fired oven is for you and your family:

  • A wood-fired oven needs at least one hour to heat.
  • Unlike a smoker, the wood does not impart a taste to the food because much of the smoke is burned off in the high heat.
  • An oven can be made of brick, clay, tile, or refractory cement.
  • For residential use, look for an interior cooking area of at least 35 inches square.
  • A self-built oven will cost about $750 – $1,000, including plans and materials. Do-it-yourselfers should have masonry experience.
  • A modular version that a homeowner assembles can cost $2,500. If made with cement blocks, it can weigh as much as 8,000 pounds.
  • A preassembled version, which can cost $5,775, is better for indoor use because it weighs less — 2,500 pounds. But its size makes it difficult to install in an existing kitchen.
  • Wood-fired ovens and built-in barbecues are usually subject to the same building codes. Many times they must be 10 feet from the house. Check your local ordinances before making a purchase.
  • Do not install an oven under a tree. If it’s going to be sited under an awning or structure, it will need a spark arrester to reduce the risk of a fire. This feature is usually sold through the oven’s manufacturer at an additional cost.

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