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While pizza might have Italian roots, there is no doubt that it is anAmerican tradition. Nearly everyone loves pizza! Still, good pizza is hard to come by and often only found at restaurants.
Fortunately, pizza ovens are showing up on the food scene in new ways. We are here to help share some of the best pizza ovens for food trucks and catering vans.
What Is The Best Pizza Oven For a Food Truck or Catering Van?
For a full-size commercial pizza oven, we recommend that you consider a Chicago Brick Oven for your food truck or catering van. For something smaller and more portable, we recommend the Ooni Karu 16, which is the gold standard for domestic use.
Naturally, there are quite a few considerations that go into making such a decision. Your budget and available space play major roles in what you might be willing to invest. A commercial pizza oven will usually be much more expensive and take up significantly more space than some of the other alternatives.
Your desired taste profile plays a leading role too. Authentic pizza oven products generally include some wood-fired components. If a commercial pizza oven combines flavoring with scale and ease of use, you know you are on to something.
Can You Use a Wood-Fired Pizza Oven on a Food Truck or Catering Van?
Before we proceed much further, let’s pause to assess whether using a wood-fired pizza oven on a food truck or catering van makes sense. Convection heating works just fine, but it doesn’t provide that rich flavor provided by wood fire cooking.
Fortunately, some commercial pizza ovens are designed for wood use and will fit under a standard commercial hood. The only downside is that commercial cooking equipment is uber-expensive, but that shouldn’t be a surprise within the food truck business.
Before we get too deep, always consult your local code authorities before installing an oven or choosing to use a portable oven in conjunction with a food truck or catering van.
On-Truck Pizza Ovens (Commercial)
Many food trucks and catering vans will be looking to install a commercial pizza oven on the truck itself. This is essential, especially for food trucks that have to serve in tight, public quarters.
Commercial pizza ovens are particularly great for cooking multiple pizzas at once, which you can’t do with the more portable residential pizza ovens we will discuss later in this article. If you are interested in a freestanding oven to sit on a countertop in your truck or van, Cookshack, Chicago Brick Oven, and Oster offer a variety of options to choose from.
Chicago Brick Oven Company
The Chicago Brick Oven company has a series of authentic pizza oven products certified for indoor and outdoor commercial uses. Chicago Brick Ovens are made in the USA and designed with unparalleled authenticity and function in mind.
Since a Chicago Brick Oven features a proprietary blend of commercial-grade refractory cement, it can hold heat longer than almost any other pizza oven and cook at temperatures higher than 1000 degrees Fahrenheit.
With a surface that a cooking surface that is much larger than any other option featured in this list, a Chicago Brick Oven is versatile enough to cook just about anything. Pizza isn’t the only dish it can make.
The big question with a CBO pizza oven is determining how much space you have to spare and your budget. The commercial-grade ovens are more expensive than some other options and take up more space.
The good news is that because a CBO pizza oven conforms to indoor and outdoor commercial standards, you can fit it under a commercial hood on a larger food truck if you have the room. It might be a tight fit on a smaller food truck or a catering van, BUT, they also sell pizza trailers, so keep that in mind.
Regardless of which model you choose, just know that a Chicago Brick Oven is incredibly versatile and can cook anything that a grill or conventional convection oven can cook. Whether you want to grill meats, bake bread, or make the best pizza in town, a CBO pizza oven will get the job done.
Cookshack Wood Fired Pizza Oven
The big benefit to considering the Cookshack pizza oven is that it doesn’t have to be left outside, and it can be installed under a standard commercial hood. Since this is a commercial unit, it holds significantly more pellets than a domestic unit might.
With a capacity for 25 lbs of pellets, the Cookshack wood-fired pizza oven will run for about 8 hours before the pellet hopper needs to be reloaded. It takes approximately 3 minutes for 1 large pizza to cook, so you can turn out a fresh pizza in under 5 minutes, which is nearly unheard of in the restaurant industry.
On food trucks, in particular, the fast cooking speed is imperative. If there is one drawback to Cookshack’s design, it is that it takes about 90 minutes for the pizza oven to reach its cooking temperature. Most domestic ovens reach this temperature within 15 to 30 minutes.
The pizza rack supports a 16” by 16” pizza stone, which is included with purchase, alongside a heat deflector. This stainless steel oven package is electrical, as electricity is required to burn the wood pellets.
Oster French Convection Countertop Pizza Oven
The Oster french oven is the only traditional convection oven featured on our list. The Oster french oven is a good choice if pizza is a component of your menu but not the entirety of your menu. In fact, it isn’t directly a pizza oven at all.
Still, the Oster oven features two racks and can fit two pizzas at once. The turbo convection technology cooks quickly and evenly, both of which are important attributes when considering an oven intended to cook pizzas. There are not many pieces of convection equipment that are both this compact and this advanced.
The oven features plenty of cooking space, which you can use to do everything from dehydrating fruits and vegetables to slow-cooking meats and cooking pizzas. Pick up a countertop oven recipe book and get cooking.
Pizza Oven Trailers
If you can’t fit commercial pizza ovens inside your food trucks or vans but you don’t want to use one of the domestic options mentioned below, there is one more option. You can pull a pizza oven trailer to your destination.
Some operators will work with a building or hearth manufacturer to retrofit a trailer that passes all local requirements, but the only reason to do this is if you need a massive oven. There are pre-built trailer options that will work just fine.
For instance, the Chicago Brick Oven Tailgater is a pre-built pizza oven trailer. It features a large 38” X 28” cooking surface and is big enough to cook for any size crowd. Plus, the Tailgater has a convenient storage drawer underneath. The overall pizza oven package includes the multi-piece oven, an install kit with anchor plates, the exclusively built trailer, and all necessary accessories (pizza peel, brush, thermometer gun).
You can also find mobile pizza ovens from a brand called Forno Bravo, which makes awesome pizza ovens on the go.
Off-Truck Pizza Ovens
There are additional pizza oven options, but they are designed for residential use and aren’t designed to fit under a commercial hood. Still, if you plan to roll out an interactive pizza experience with your catering van, these residential pizza ovens might do perfectly well.
The same is true if you will have access to a kitchen. These units will fit well on a catering van and can be easily moved to an on-site kitchen.
These residential pizza ovens won’t work as well for a food truck, but if you need a more affordable alternative for a wood-fired oven, keep reading, and you might be surprised at the high-quality functionality of these residential pizza ovens.
Ooni Karu 16
The Ooni Karu 16 is the gold standard when it comes to residential pizza ovens. The Ooni Karu 16 is a multi-fuel pizza oven, which means you can use wood or charcoal to fire your pizza as soon as you pull the Ooni out of the box.
There is absolutely no second-guessing whether wood-fire ovens provide a better flavor than gas ovens, but the beauty of the Ooni as a multi-fuel oven is that you can also purchase a gas burner. So you can cook with charcoal and wood when you are focused on providing the most authentic experience or cook with gas when you need consistency and speed.
The Ooni Karu 16 is a good pizza oven all around. It features a mounted digital thermometer display so that you can monitor the exact temperature inside the oven. Plus, the hinged oven door features a large glass pane with ViewFlame technology that enables you to watch your pizza as it cooks.
If you have any questions regarding whether the Ooni Karu 16 holds up as a formidable pizza maker, the movable oven is the only pizza oven ‘Recommended for Domestic Use’ by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana.
If turning out Neapolitan pizzas is your goal, the Karu gets the job done. The only limitation is that you can only cook one pizza at a time. It only takes 90 seconds to cook a pizza once the oven has reached the maximum temperature, but you still may need a few to full service a catering event.
Ooni Koda 16
If wood-fired ovens seem a little too precarious or difficult to maintain for large events, the Ooni Koda 16 is a high-quality gas oven. The Ooni Koda 16 features the same strong Ooni heritage, and at 16”, it is wide enough for baking large pizzas.
The Key attributes associated with a gas oven are that you don’t have to deal with adding wood or charcoal to the fire, and the temperature can be easily turned up or down at the touch of a dial.
The convenience and ease of use are unparalleled. Since the gas oven maintains an even temperature, you can maintain quick pizza baking intervals without worrying about the temperature of the cooking surface.
The Koda series doesn’t have a built-in thermometer like the Ooni Karu 16, so we recommend nearby an infrared thermometer. Even though there is a dial to control the temperature, the pizza oven, and the baking stone take a little while to heat up, so utilizing the IR thermometer will help you know when it is time to get going.
One quick tip for using a personal oven like an Ooni: To achieve the crispy crust we all desire, the cooking surface needs to be fully heated in addition to the ambient temperature. For best results, let your Ooni warm up 15 or 20 minutes before you start using it.
If you choose to go with an Ooni pizza oven and need to take a pizza oven stand with you, Ooni’s modular table is a perfect fit for any portable pizza oven.
The Gozney Roccbox has been known to make appearances in a brick-and-mortar restaurant every now and then. The Roccbox is a multifunctional oven, similar to the Ooni Karu 16. Aside from its sleek looks and quality, the Roccbox is renowned for its silicone skin, making the oven a little safer in tight spaces.
The downside to the Gozney Roccbox is that it is smaller than the Ooni Karu 16. While this might sound like a good thing if you plan on keeping it on a food truck or in a catering van, it also means you will have less room to work with the pizza inside the oven.
Having room to make a larger pizza is one thing, but having room to turn your pizza with a pizza peel or peel turner is also important. Sometimes this is challenging with smaller ovens.
Still, whether you plan to connect the Roccbox to liquid propane or use it as a wood fire oven, this is a formidable option, and the silicone skin is a big selling point. And the good thing about some of these small, portable options is that you don’t need any fancy ceramic Portuguese baking dish if you just plan on cooking pizza.
What Wood To Use For A Wood Fire Oven?
Oak, hickory, and mesquite firewood are the most commonly used for wood-fired ovens, but there are others you may try as well. While the aforementioned firewood adds an earthy taste, fruitwoods like apple wood and cherry wood offer a subtly sweet flavor.
If you have a full-size brick oven, you can probably just find firewood locally, but that might not be as easy for more portable wood-fired ovens. Fortunately, some brands like Cutting Edge Firewood offer specialty firewood.
Cutting Edge Firewood offers premium, full-sized logs and miniature logs intended for portable pizza ovens. This specialty firewood might be a little more expensive than using fuel like natural gas, but it will also provide restaurant-quality flavoring.
Favorite Pizza Ovens
Deciding which pizza oven is right for you may depend on a variety of factors, including your budget, whether you want a wood fire oven, and how many pizzas you need to turn out.
Fortunately, plenty of countertop pizza ovens will get the job done for your mobile restaurant or catering service.
As far as on-truck pizza ovens go, it is hard to find any better option than a Chicago Brick Oven. Since this is a commercial pizza oven that will connect to the hood, it is the perfect combination of authenticity and practicality, and it is the closest thing you will get to a truly authentic terracotta brick surface as you might find in Italy.
Still, not everyone can afford a Chicago Brick Oven, so you may have to consider a temporary option like one of the portable pizza ovens designed for domestic use. The Ooni Karu 16 is the most professional of those on the market.
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