Pizza Oven vs Grill — Which is Better? We Grilled Experts Over It and This is the Verdict

We're asking the big questions in the backyard debate between pizza oven vs grill — this is what the experts say

A pizza oven on the left, and a grill on the right
(Image credit: Ooni Pizza Oven and Getty Images)

No outdoor kitchen is complete without a BBQ. These allow you to spend cozy moments with the family, as you grill their favorite meats and veggies, and bake pizzas, breads, and more. These appliances are almost synonymous with a functional backyard, so the question then begs to be answered — is it better to buy a pizza oven or a grill?

To put this debate to rest, we reached out to experts to understand the pros and cons of both, so that you can choose the best gadget for your outdoor kitchen. Read along to find out more about both these exciting appliances.

What is the difference between a pizza oven and a grill?

A pizza oven in the outdoors

(Image credit: Gozney)

Traditionally, an outdoor bbq or grill is the most commonly purchased item for the backyard. These are available in several sizes and fuel types. Pizza ovens on the other hand are small ovens designed to mimic a full-size brick or clay oven. Some models can use an open flame and cook a pizza in around two minutes, replicating the taste of a good quality, delicious, smoky pizza with charred spots.

'One of the main differences between pizza ovens and grills is that pizza ovens are designed to reach much hotter temperatures and can retain that heat for longer periods,' says Tom Gozney, founder of Gozney. 'With a pizza oven’s high temperatures and even heat distribution, you can cook food quicker so you don’t need to be continuously manning the grill.'

In terms of grilling food, which is better?

An outdoor dining with a grill next to it

(Image credit: NOVA)

'Although pizza ovens and grills can both offer an amazing outdoor cooking and grilling experience, one of the biggest benefits of a pizza oven is that you can also use it as a grill,' says Tom. 'There’s a lesser need to purchase multiple outdoor ovens as you can do everything with one, which is extremely beneficial if you have a smaller garden space. The only thing I would recommend is purchasing a skillet that will help you to cook meats and other foods whilst retaining all the flavor and juices. Simply pop the pan in and you can do so much more – grilled prawns, burgers, shakshuka, steaks, wings, kofte, this list goes on. Our Dome oven gives you the ability to roast, sear, steam, or bake so not only can you enjoy pizza but also charred slow-cooked meats, mouth-watering crackling, and crispy skin, as well as roasted vegetables – much like you would using a grill.'

If yours is a small backyard, or if you have a small outdoor kitchen countertop, you could go in for a portable pizza oven. You can wheel it to the sunny side of your garden whenever you like, or take it to a more sheltered spot if you have trouble with the fuel on a breezy day.

A grill on the other hand is much better for family events because it can handle different types of meals. It can simultaneously cook seafood, chicken, burgers, and hot dogs, as well as heat sides or toast buns. You can also smoke meats with a grill, which you can't do — or at least not easily — with a pizza oven. Also, grills allow you to cook larger quantities of food. You can feed 20 people in one grilling session, whereas feeding them from a pizza oven would take much longer.

What type of fuel options do the two have?

an outdoor kitchen with a pizza oven

(Image credit: Adam Rouse. Design: Feldman Architecture)

'With pizza ovens, you have the option to choose a dual fuel oven, so you can easily switch between gas fuel or wood-fired cooking – giving you more ways to cook with fire,' says Tom. 'Our Dome oven has flex fire with its built-in dual fuel burner system so you can enjoy the romanticism and flavor of wood-fired cooking alongside the convenience of gas.'

Whether you prefer charcoal, gas, or electric, there's a gas grill for all needs. These also range in size and portability, giving you the flexibility to whip up a grilled feast on a modern small patio, a campsite, or even a porch.

In terms of costs, which one is more expensive?

Most pizza ovens are on the steeper end, and can range from $350 to $1000. And, these might not even include accessories like a pizza peel or pizza slice.

A grill can be as cheap as $100 and the tiny, portable ones can be even cheaper. But just the cost of the gadget alone isn't the only consideration. Think long-term. A pizza oven often requires wood, while BBQs may run on charcoal or propane. Think of the ongoing fuel costs and maintenance requirements to ensure you make a well-informed decision. The best outdoor kitchen appliance should be the right balance between cost and quality.

So, which is best?

An outdoor grill

(Image credit: Justin Miers Photography. Studio credit Bockus Payne)

In terms of quality and versatility, the two are quite head-to-head. If you're wondering how to plan the perfect outdoor kitchen, you should consider which of the two works better for your lifestyle needs.

'A high-quality pizza oven should have fast heat-up times and be able to retain heat efficiently, ensuring consistent and rapid cooking,' says Francesca Fay, senior brand manager at Ooni Pizza Ovens. 'Ooni ovens are fitted with fully insulated bodies and pizza stones that are specifically engineered to conduct heat optimally. Outdoor pizza ovens are also designed to withstand exposure to the elements. Look for features like weather-resistant coatings and covers to protect against the elements when left outdoors or in storage, extending the lifespan of the oven. One of Ooni’s key values is innovation and our expert team of pizza aficionados and engineers are constantly innovating to design new products to improve existing ones, ensuring everything performs at the highest level for home cooks and pizzaiolo alike.'

A grill, on the other hand, has a faster startup time compared to the pizza oven and does not take up too much time to preheat. If quick and easy is your go-to, then a grill for a quick BBQ is the way to go. Plus, a large variety of designs, from rustic to modern, can serve all styles of homes.

Also, if artisan-style pizzas and roasted Mediterranean feasts are your thing, then a pizza oven will not disappoint. Plus a smart design will make your backyard look more expensive. But for the average American family that wants versatility and convenience, the outdoor grill reigns supreme.

3 best grills and pizza ovens to buy

Design Editor

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is the Design Editor at Livingetc. She is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.