Pizza oven vs grill-top pizza oven – which is best?

Backyard cooks love to debate pizza oven vs grill-top pizza oven, but there's only one answer

A split-panel image of a pizza oven vs grill-top pizza oven. on one side, an Ooni Karu 16 in a modern garden; on the other, a close up of a Cuisinart grill-top pizza oven
(Image credit: Ooni / Cusinart)

If you're an outdoor cook looking to save a little money, a grill-top pizza oven seems like a no-brainer. Unlike expensive full-size pizza ovens, a grill-top only costs around $100. Because it uses the heat from your grill, it saves you from buying a whole new appliance. 

However, after testing dozens of the best pizza ovens and best grills I've found that these little attachments don't live up to the hype. There's a couple of built-in technical flaws which stop them from making proper pizza. 

This is everything you need to know about pizza ovens and grill-tops before you take you plunge. 

Making a pizza in an Ooni Fyra 12

(Image credit: Ooni)

Head to head

To demonstrate the difference, here's my favorite pizza oven compared to a pizza oven attachment. 

A pizza oven is a small oven designed to mimic a full-size brick or clay oven. Unlike the oven in your kitchen, a pizza oven cooks at incredibly high temperatures using an open flame. This means it can cook a pizza in around two minutes, and it gives the pizza a delicious, smoky crust with perfect spots of charring. It also uses a pizza stone, to ensure a crisp, traditional crust. 

A grill-top pizza oven is similar to a pizza oven. It also uses a pizza stone but unlike a pizza oven, it doesn't use an open flame. Instead, you put it on top of a gas or charcoal grill, and it uses the heat of the grill to cook. 

Which makes the best pizza?

A true pizza oven makes a much better pizza than any other method. It reaches incredibly high temperatures which immediately cause a crisp crust, but make for delicate, fluffy dough further inside the base. 

The open flame licks across the top of the pizza, gently cooking your toppings and melting the cheese, as well as creating leopard spots of charring that give your pizza a classic, smoky Neapolitan taste. I've tried several outdoor pizza ovens, and even the bad ones make better pizza than you can make in the usual kitchen oven. 

A grill-top pizza oven, on the other hand, cooks at a much lower temperature and has no way of heating the top of the pizza other than radiant heat. That means that almost every time I've tried one of these ovens, I've ended up with an overcooked crust and an undercooked top - and that's the best-case scenario. 

On a couple of occasions, I've found an incinerated base while the top of the pizza has cold sauce. There's no other way to slice it: a proper pizza oven makes better pizza. I don't recommend a grill-top pizza oven. 

Which is cheaper to run?

Most pizza ovens are very expensive - the cheapest start at around $350 and easily climb to $700-800. I've seen some pizza ovens for more than $1000, and many of them don't even include essential accessories like a pizza peel or pizza slice. 

A grill-top pizza oven is usually no more than $200, so it's hundreds of dollars cheaper. However, the ongoing costs aren't much cheaper than a pizza oven. Both styles of oven need fuel; in the case of the pizza oven, either propane, wood, or pellets, and in the case of the grill, gas or charcoal. 

A grill-top oven usually leaves the other half of the grill free for grilling other food, so it's a little more cost-effective than a pizza oven, which can only cook one foodstuff at a time. However, it's still an ongoing cost. 

Which is fastest?

A Cuisinart Grill Top Pizza Oven making a pepperoni pizza

(Image credit: Cusinart)

Fellow product tester Emilia Hitching told me that 'Pizza ovens are a lot faster than grill-top ovens. A good pizza oven reaches double the temperature of a kitchen oven, which means it can cook an entire pizza in under two minutes. The very best will cook a perfect pizza in under a minute.' 

However, they're limited by capacity. Unless you buy a large oven, like the 23" Alfa Nano, available at BBQ Guys, you can only cook one pizza at a time. However you organize your cooking, it usually means one final person waiting for a pizza while everyone else tucks in. 

A grill-top oven is limited by the grill underneath it. Unless you're using a Kamado, it's unlikely that your grill will ever top about 500°F. That's still pretty hot, but it will cook a pizza in about 5 minutes rather than 2. I've also seen it take around 10 minutes at which point you may as well cook it in an oven. However, unlike a pizza oven, you should still have some room at the side for grilling burgers or chicken, so you can still feed everyone as the pizzas cook. 

A headshot of eCommerce Editor Emilia Hitching
Emilia Hitching

In her time as an eCommerce Editor, Emilia has tested several of the best pizza ovens. 

Which is easiest to use?

Putting a pizza into a pizza oven.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Both ovens are similar in use. The literal sticking point is the pizza stone. If you don't put enough flour on your pizza peel, or put your pizza in the oven before it's hot enough, your pizza will stick to the stone and cause a mess.  

Other than that, the ease of use is very similar. If you use a gas grill, the setup is similar to using a gas pizza oven. If you use a charcoal grill, it's not much different to light a wood-fired pizza oven. 

Which is most versatile?

I think that a true pizza oven is more versatile than a grill-top, and it's because it uses an open flame. True pizza ovens are amazing at roasting vegetables or chicken because they give the food delicious charring that lends whatever you're cooking a delicious smoky flavor. 

Grill-top pizza ovens don't use any flame, so they're essentially less effective kitchen ovens with a smaller capacity. Sure, you can roast vegetables or bake in them, but there's not actually that much point. 

Buy a pizza oven if...

  • You want the best-tasting pizza possible 
  • You want fast pizza 
  • You want to roast meat and vegetables

Buy an grill-top if....

  • You're on a budget


How do I clean a grill-top pizza oven?

Like a true pizza oven, a grill-top pizza oven is easy to clean. To just brush it down to remove the worst of the char and crumbs.

For more advice about pizza ovens, try our coverage of how 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.