Pizza oven vs grill – which should you buy?

When it comes to pizza oven vs grill, which is actually worth buying?

An example of Pizza oven vs grill; a split panel image of a Weber S-470 LP gas grill and an Ooni Karu 16 pizza oven
(Image credit: Weber; Ooni)

Spring is finally here, and that means the return of outdoor cooking. Many people are thinking about how to step up their hosting this year, and a brand-new grill or pizza oven can take a family cookout to the next level.

However, both these appliances can be very expensive. Depending on the products you pick, setting up with both a pizza oven and a gas grill could cost you thousands of dollars. If your budget means you must choose between one or the other, which should you choose? 

I've been a product tester for years, and I've examined dozens of the best grills and the best pizza ovens. I know all the benefits of both types, so can help you work out which is best for you.

Head to head

Before we get into the details, here's a head-to-head of my favorite grill and pizza oven so you can see the differences.

Pizza ovens: pros

pizza oven and outdoor kitchen

(Image credit: Jacky Hobbs/Future)

The first benefit of a pizza oven is that it makes better pizza than you've ever made at home. I was skeptical when I first tested one, but the difference between a pizza made in a domestic oven and a pizza oven is incomparable. A wood-fired pizza oven turns out restaurant-quality pizza, making every other pizza you've made at home seem sterile. The pizzas have delicious char and leopard-spotting with a smoky flavor you'd otherwise only find in a proper brick oven. With practice, you can cook a huge variety of pizzas. Traditional Neopolitan pizzas are easiest, but you'll soon be turning out New York slices, deep dish pies, and calzone. 

I've found that pizza ovens are a lot more social than grills, too. Everyone's attended or thrown a cookout where the grillmaster is chained to the grill, turning out dozens of burgers with no time to socialize. With a pizza oven, however, everyone can have a turn making their own pizza, and because pizza ovens are more compact than grills, you can do it right at the table.

Pizza ovens are also a lot more versatile than many people realize. While they make unbeatable pizza, they're also great for other meals. When we test a pizza oven, we always test it on other dishes as well as pizza. My years of testing these ovens have shown me that roast peppers are amazing in a pizza oven because they pick up a beautiful char while retaining their moisture. The same is true for loaded nachos, which take on incredible smokiness if cooked in a wood-fired pizza oven. 

We've also tested lamb and chicken in a pizza oven, and both types of meat were perfectly cooked. What's more, it was faster than in a traditional oven because domestic pizza ovens reach much higher temperatures. We've even made brownies in these ovens, though I recommend getting a gas oven if you're planning this, or you'll have smoky cakes. In short, If you can bake or roast it, you can make it a pizza oven. 

Pizza ovens: cons

Pizza ovens can be surprisingly versatile but are limited to baking and roasting. What's more, you can't smoke in a pizza oven the way you can with a charcoal grill - or even a gas grill, with a little ingenuity. 

Pizza ovens are also overpriced compared to grills. For example, take our favorite-ever gas grill and our favorite-ever pizza oven. The Weber Spirit II E-310 is hundreds of dollars less than the Ooni Karu 16, but you can cook a much wider variety of meals. $700 is a lot of money for an appliance specializing in one dish. 

Grills: Pros

A gas grill with meat cooking on it

(Image credit: GettyImages)

Grills are simply more versatile. Ron Shimek, president of appliance company Mr. Appliance, told me: 'the grill offers a greater variety of cooking options'. In my years of testing products, I've found that a grill is much better for family events because it can handle different types of meals. You can cook seafood, chicken, burgers, and hot dogs all at once or in stages, 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.

Grills also make much more food. You can feed 20 people in one grilling session, whereas feeding them from a pizza oven would take much longer. Apart from behemoths like the Alfa Moderno, available at BBQ Guys, pizza ovens can only fit a single pizza at a time. With the time it takes for them to get back up to temperature, you could be doing nothing but making pizza for an hour to feed everyone. On top of that, it could be a long wait for the last person to get their pie.

That's before you get into all the bonus attachments with a grill. Most gas grills have side burners. These are incredibly helpful for steaks or for making toppings like crispy onions. Many grills have rotisserie functions, which can take your chicken to the next level, and they also have meat thermometers that are indispensable when barbecuing brisket. Grills can have griddles for frying pancakes or bacon, and there are plenty of other attachments besides. I've tried steam baskets and even wok attachments for grills.

While we're on attachments, perhaps the clincher here is that while you can't grill burgers in a pizza oven, you can make pizza on a grill. That's because you can also buy pizza oven attachments for a grill like this on Amazon. However, I don't recommend them. I've tested a few over the years, and the results are poor. Don't get me wrong, you'll end up with a cooked pizza, but it will taste worse than a pizza oven. Unlike a true pizza oven, there are no flames to cook the top of the pizza. This means that no matter how I've tried it, the pizza I've made with these attachments has a scorched base and underdone, doughy cheese on top. It's still edible, but it simply doesn't compare. 

Grill expert Leroy Hite agrees. He told me that 'Comparing a pizza oven to a grill to cook with is like comparing the use of a wrench or a hammer – you need the right tool for the right job. Can you cook pizza on a grill? Yes. Are you going to get great results? No.'

Grills: cons

This brings us to the cons of grills. The first is that grills take up a lot of space. Even the smallest grill is bigger than most pizza ovens, so if you're tight on space, a pizza oven could be a good compromise for outdoor cooking.

While grills offer better value than pizza ovens, they're also more expensive. The best pizza ovens top out at $1000, but $1000 is the starting point for gas grills of more than three burners. Kamado grills and smokers are even more expensive. 

Buy a grill if...

  • You want versatility 
  • You want the best value
  • You're cooking for a crowd

Buy a pizza oven if...

  • You want the best possible pizza 
  • You're working with a small space 
  • You're feeding a small family


Can you buy a grill and pizza oven in one?

You can, but they're usually as part of expensive outdoor kitchen setups. For example, this Thor Kitchen 6-Piece Modular Outdoor Kitchen at the BBQ Guys has both a grill and a pizza oven in one, but it's very expensive. 

We've covered lots more pizza questions in our articles, from the correct way to light a pizza oven to the best wood for a pizza oven.

Alex David
Head of eCommerce

As Head of eCommerce, Alex makes sure our readers find the right information to help them make the best purchase. After graduating from Cambridge University, Alex got his start in reviewing at the iconic Good Housekeeping Institute, testing a wide range of household products and appliances. He then moved to BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, assessing gardening tools, machinery, and wildlife products. Helping people find true quality and genuine value is a real passion.