Perhaps it’s a trend that took off because of the early pandemic shut-downs, or perhaps it’s just its time, but the backyard pizza oven is definitely having a moment. Just ask Chef Cole Ellis, owner and Executive Chef at Delta Meat Market in Cleveland, Mississippi, who constructed his own backyard pizza oven last year. “We chef types don’t sit idle well,” Cole shares of the ennui that set in during quarantine. “Additionally, the fact that I had a few bricks lying around from the construction of my home, and the sand was in the way of my soon-to-be raised beds … I’d like to say the desire was out of necessity, but it was the boredom setting in.”
So, Cole set to work constructing his own backyard pizza oven. “With a few more bricks and fire brick, I had what I needed to begin,” he continues. “I bought the remaining bricks and a couple of bags of refractory cement.” And with that, it was down to the fun part: the building. The key to constructing the perfect pizza oven? Cole shares this pro-tip: “To ensure the dome-like shape, use a large exercise ball that can be deflated [for post-build removal]. The rounded shape allows for a hotter, more evenly distributed oven.” Wood selection for the fire is also imperative. Cole prefers pecan. “[It’s] in the same family as hickory, which is a popular wood used to cook BBQ throughout the Southeast.”
The hard work of building now behind him, Cole is firing up homemade pizzas for his family on a regular basis. Below he shares his homemade pizza crust recipe, and keep reading for some delicious pizza recipe ideas as well as some backyard pizza oven options for non-DIY folks.
Pizza Crust Recipe
- 600 g 00 pizza flour
- 25 g high-gluten pizza flour
- 8 g active dry yeast
- 5 g kosher salt
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 3/4 c warm water
- In a stand mixer mixing bowl add water and yeast. Whisk together and let stand for 10 minutes.
- Next, add the remaining ingredients fitted with your mixer's dough hook. Mix for approximately 5 minutes until thoroughly incorporated.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 3 minutes. Divide the dough into four equal pieces and round into balls.
- Rest the dough overnight in a ziploc bag or covered bowl. You may also freeze for later use.
- Finally, shape the crusts, top with your desired ingredients, and bake according to your recipe.
Pizza Oven Recipe Ideas
The key to a delicious wood-fired pizza begins with the crust, so starting with a great pizza dough recipe is essential. After that, though, the beauty of a homemade pizza is that it’s pretty much up to you what goes on top. To spark your imagination, here are a few ingredient combinations to get you started:
Standard Four-Cheese Pizza
Pizza sauce, mozzarella, gorgonzola, fontina, and parmigiano
Pizza sauce, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil
Standard Pepperoni Pizza
Pizza sauce, mozzarella, and pepperoni slices
Pizza sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, crumbled sausage, onion, mushrooms, green peppers and black olives
Pizza sauce, mozzarella, pineapple and ham
Veggie Lover’s Pizza
Pizza sauce, mozzarella, fresh tomato slices, spinach, mushrooms, black olives, fresh garlic and bell peppers
Pizza sauce, mozzarella, grilled shrimp, spinach and garlic
How to Get a Backyard Pizza Oven
If you’re a DIY fan, there are plenty of tutorials online — Google “How to build a backyard pizza oven.” But if you’d rather leave the building to the pros, search “local builders pizza oven,” and you’ll quickly find who can construct a custom outdoor set-up in your city. Odds are they can create an amazing outdoor pizza oven and then some! Think grill, sink, mini-fridge, counter space, etc. — how custom you go is up to you! And finally, if you just want the outdoor pizza oven experience in a more compact and portable format, there are tons of options. Tennessee Stone & Design’s Relic portable pizza oven starts at $985 — it started as a Kickstarter campaign several years ago, and now has two models available. There are gas options available as well, like the Ooni Koda 16, which starts at $499. We even found an option as low as $169.99! The point is, if you want a pizza oven, there’s something for every budget.
While Chef Cole’s Delta Meat Market is back open for business, albeit in a limited capacity, his backyard creation is inspiring. And with summer right around the corner, the backyard is where so many of us enjoy spending our warm summer evenings. Why not do it in flavorful style?
Enjoy your pizza!
Still hungry? Check out our recipe archives for more cooking inspiration!