If you’ve invested in one of the best pizza ovens, understanding how to prepare for cooking is part of the learning process so you can produce tasty pizzas with the taste you expect and at the time you want from your appliance. The process will vary depending on how the pizza oven is fuelled, so our guide has the details for each type to allow you to cook and serve up free of stress. We’ve included extra advice below, too, so you can be sure about how to light a pizza oven and become a pizza chef whose creations are celebrated by all your diners.

How to light a pizza oven like a pro

The process for lighting a pizza oven depends on how it is fuelled – whether that’s with wood, gas or wood pellets. Here, we’ve put together the information you need on all three from the experts to make lighting a pizza oven in your outdoor kitchen a smooth and stress-free process.

How to light a wood-fired pizza oven

Lighting a wood-fuelled pizza oven the right way is a skill that’s important to gain. Dan Hart, the founder of Home Pizza Ovens (opens in new tab), explains, ‘Typically, pizza chambers measure 24x24in, and at the time of baking, the burning embers will be located to one side of the oven. Prior to the burning embers being ready to bake, the fire must be started in the center of the oven floor so the heat penetrates its entirety.’  These are the steps to follow from Dan:

How to light a pizza oven using wood pellets

Compact wood-pellet-fuelled pizza ovens are many people’s favorite type of pizza oven – especially for small backyards – as they are convenient to use and easily portable. ‘There are a few wood pellet ovens on the market and each varies in terms of lighting,’ explains Dan Hart. ‘However, the principle of lighting the pellets and letting them heat the oven thoroughly prior to baking is essential.’ Here’s how to light our garden editor’s favorite Ooni Fyra wood-pellet-fuelled pizza oven – you can find more from Ooni (opens in new tab):

How to light a gas pizza oven

One of the benefits of a gas pizza oven is how easy it is to light. Tom Gozney, the founder of Gozney, explains how to do so correctly:

Tips to make lighting a pizza oven easy

To make lighting a pizza oven easy, it’s important to get the setup right and use the best fuel. Check out these expert recommendations.

Locate it correctly: ‘Ensure your oven is on a stable, heatproof surface that is relatively sheltered from any strong winds,’ says Tom Gozney. This is particularly important if you are using a pizza oven in winter, when the winds might be stronger. Consider the fuel: ‘You need to know what fuel type you are planning on using and have the appropriate equipment ready,’ says Tom.Opt for kiln-dried wood: ‘If you’re using wood, we would always recommend using kiln-dried hardwood such as ash, beech or oak as they are dense and have lots of energy to burn,’ explains Tom. ‘Avoid softwoods or anything with a high moisture content and make sure you chop your kindling into manageable pieces.'

When should you light a pizza oven?

When to light a pizza oven so it will be ready for cooking when you need it to be depends on the type. Dan Hart offers these guidelines: ‘Wood-fuelled pizza ovens: 40 minutes minimum; gas-fuelled: 25 to 30 minutes; wood pellet ovens: 20 minutes.’

How much smoke does a pizza oven produce?

A wood-fired pizza oven does produce smoke when it has first been lit, so bear this in mind if you’re hosting a garden party. ‘One thing we often have questions about is smoke,’ says Tom Gozney. ‘There will be smoke when you first light your oven using wood, but it should reduce as the oven gets hotter.’ Be sure to use kiln-dried hardwood to avoid excess smoke, and tend the fire. ‘It’s important to remember that wood-fired cooking is all about the experience, managing the flame and feeding it as appropriate,’ says Tom. ‘It’s a labor of love from which you’ll be rewarded with that signature smoky flavor.'