It’s cold outside, the snow has been piling up, and you look out your window longingly at your outdoor pizza oven. You want to fire up the outdoor pizza oven, but it’s winter and so cold.
About your Outdoor Pizza Oven in Winter
Luckily you don’t have to deny your cravings for homemade pizza in the cold months. You can use your DIY brick outdoor pizza oven in the winter. Even in Minnesota, where we’re from.
Outdoor pizza ovens don’t just work great in the nice weather. You can use them in the cold dark days of winter too. It just takes a little planning and preparation and some extra layers of clothes, and you can make piping hot pizza even as fresh snow is falling.
Planning and Prep
To prepare your outdoor pizza oven in winter, ensure the oven is protected when it’s not in use. You will need to keep it covered so that rain and snow don’t seep inside. Be sure to keep the oven door on and cover the chimney so no moisture can enter.
If it gets wet, the moisture will release on the cooking surface, and then when it heats up, it will release too much steam and cause hairline fractures. This process is called spalling and can damage the oven. When you are ready to use, uncover the oven and make sure it is dry. And clean out any debris that has collected before firing it up.
So now the oven is clean and ready to go, and you will need to plan for fuel. Whether you have a gas-burning or wood-burning outdoor pizza oven, you will need more fuel than in the warmer months because when it’s cold outside, it will take longer to get the pizza oven hot.
And of course, once it’s hot, it needs to stay hot. It is best to start early, especially if using a wood-burning outdoor pizza oven, so that you have plenty of time to get the fire going.
While cold weather and snow are no problem for the outdoor pizza oven, excessive wind can be a problem, especially for wood-fired ovens. If your oven is portable, move it to a more protected location but not under the garage or an overhang. If you cant find a safe place to put it and the wind is high, you might have to wait until the weather isn’t so windy for safety.
We’ve even written a great list of flavored wood to use in your pizza ovens. Please let us know whichever flavor you think is best for which style pizza. We’d love to quote you!
Pro Tip #1: Dress warm and in layers because once it starts to heat up, you will quickly warm up as you care for the oven and get it ready. Skip the scarf as it blowing around could potentially be dangerous. And use gloves with grip to make it easier to use the pizza peel.
Pro Tip #2: In the winter, it gets dark early and since pizza is an afternoon-evening food, invest in a headlamp so you can have plenty of light and still be hands-free while managing the outdoor pizza oven.
Keeping Your Winter Pizza Oven Hot
Pizza ovens are different than conventional ovens because they can get much hotter, thus cooking the pizza faster. And when you are using a pizza oven in the winter, you do not have the weather on your side. It will take longer to heat up, and you will need to keep an eye on the temperature adjusting as you go. Don’t get us started on the pizzazz variety.
Expect to watch the oven more closely in the winter than in the summer. If the temperature goes down too quickly, the pizza won’t cook well. Pizzas need even heat throughout the cooking process. Fortunately, once the oven is hot, it stays hot for a while, so if you are planning on making pizza, you should plan to take advantage of the heat and make some other yummy things too.
What Can You Make With Your Outdoor Pizza Oven in Winter?
Besides pizza, you can make focaccia, bread, baked cheese, lasagna and other family favorites. You can use a simple cast iron baking pan that you probably already have in your kitchen for focaccia and bread. If you are making something that doesn’t require a deep pan, it’s best to use a pizza stone. Pizza stones are made to withstand intense heat.
Since they are flat, you won’t be able to make focaccia on a pizza stone, but breadsticks, garlic knots, cookies, and such would do well on a pizza stone. The added benefit of a pizza stone is that they help keep the oven hot and regulate the oven’s temperature, which is especially important in the winter.
Make it an Outdoor Pizza Event
So you have enough fuel and warm clothes, so now you are ready to fire up the outdoor pizza oven in winter. So what would make it better? Well, having friends and family over to share in the fun always makes it better.
If you are going to go to the trouble of firing it up and being out in the cold, you might as well make it a party. Invite your favorite people over to share pizza and keep you company while you wait for the oven to heat up. Add some outdoor lights and some warm beverages, and make some delicious pizzas.
We love to make appetizers for friends to enjoy while we wait for the pizza oven to warm up. Our favorite is jalapeños filled with cream cheese and wrapped in salty bacon. They have the right amount of heat to heat you up from the inside. They are easy to make. Just cut the jalapeños in half lengthwise. Don’t forget to take out the seeds, or they can be too hot.
Then, fill them with a spoonful of cream cheese and wrap them in a slice of bacon. Bake them in a conventional oven for 20 minutes on 450ºF or throw them in the pizza oven while it heats up. When the bacon is sizzling, they are ready. Serve with a red marinara pizza sauce.
If you invest in an outdoor pizza oven, and you definitely should, you want to make the most out of it and use it year-round, even in the winter. Using an outdoor pizza oven in the winter is doable and fun. Break up the cold, dark days of winter with an outdoor pizza party.
Do you use your outdoor pizza oven in winter? What’s your favorite season to fire up your pizza oven?