High-enough heat to mimic wood-fired ovens
Multiple pizza settings
Manual control for infinite options
Metal peel rather than wood
We purchased the Breville The Smart Oven Pizzaiolo so our reviewer could put it to the test in her kitchen. Keep reading for our full product review.
Cooking pizza in a regular oven is fine, but there's something decadent and fun about cooking pizza in a pizza oven. Thanks to their ability to generate much higher heat, pizza ovens create the perfect crispy crust, melted cheese, and toppings.
I love pizza, so I had great plans for Breville's The Smart Oven Pizzaiolo as soon as I saw it. I made pizza dough and sauce, and I stocked up on cheese and toppings. Then, when I’d had my fill of pizza, I got creative. Is this the best way to make pizza at home? I’ve sliced into the details and am ready to share.
Design: Attractive enough for counter life
When it comes to countertop ovens, some boast large capacities that let them roast a chicken. This oven is the opposite because it’s built specifically for pizza, which requires even top and bottom heat.
The front is attractive in an industrial sort of way, with a window to peek inside and simple dials with LED lights. The oven is wider than it is tall, which makes it easier to store on a shelf if it’s not going to live on a counter.
This comes with a shiny metal pizza peel and a carbon steel pan with a removable handle for baking pan pizzas. I was a little surprised at the choice of carbon steel for the pan since it requires a little extra care, but it was a good surprise. The handle was easy to attach and remove and made it simple to get the pan in and out of the oven safely without needing mitts.
I checked the stone’s temperature with an infrared thermometer, and it did indeed hit 750 degrees—plenty hot for any pizza.
When I had leftover pizza dough, I decided to spread butter, cinnamon, sugar, and nuts on the thinly rolled dough and roll it into a log. I placed it in the pan, planning on baking it in the oven once it had risen a bit. Unfortunately, when it was ready to go into the oven, I worried that it would rise too much and touch the top of the oven. Instead, I heated up my regular oven and used the pan there, where it worked well. I suspect I’ll find other uses for that pan as well.
The shiny peel, on the other hand, was less than appealing. The dough tends to stick to the metal no matter how much cornmeal is used, and excess cornmeal can make a mess. Fortunately, I had a wood peel that was a perfect fit for the oven.
The metal peel was fine for removing pizzas from the oven, and it was fine for frozen pizza. It would also be fine for pre-made, par-baked crusts. Still, I suggest finding a wood peel for use with this oven.
Performance: Great, easy pizza
Pan pizza can be hard to manage because the thick dough needs to bake through, the sauce needs to get hot, the cheese needs to melt, and it all has to happen at the same time. This oven handled it with ease, and all I had to do was set the dial to cook a pan pizza, let it preheat, and create my pizza.
The problem with thin-crust pizzas is getting the top and bottom cooked evenly without burning one side or the other, but this oven handled it well, whether I chose New York style, wood-fired, or thin and crispy.
For the fun of it, I cranked the oven to the highest heat and let it preheat to see if it could actually get to 750 degrees as it claimed. I checked the stone’s temperature with an infrared thermometer and it did indeed hit 750 degrees—plenty hot for any pizza.
When I unwrapped my favorite frozen pizza, at first I thought it was going to be too large for the oven, and indeed it was a bit larger than the stone. But it fit, and I baked it using the frozen preset. When it emerged from the oven, it was well-baked top and bottom. Of course, it wasn’t as good as a freshly made pizza, but it was better than the results I've gotten from my standard oven.
When the cooking time is done, the oven dings, but it doesn’t turn off, so it’s important to be nearby to retrieve the food. At first, I questioned why the oven didn’t turn off, but it makes sense for cooks who will be making multiple pizzas. Once the oven is manually turned off, the fans continue to run to cool it and should be left running until they shut off on their own.
Features: Pizza, any way you want it
This brags about its ability to cook hot and fast, mimicking a pizzeria or wood-fired oven, but that’s not all it does. There are settings for a wide variety of temperatures and pizza styles, including 350 degrees, frozen pizza, pan pizza, New York pizza, thin and crispy pizza, "wood-fired pizza," and 750 degrees. Choosing one of those also sets a default cooking time, as well as the right balance of upper and lower heat. A third dial allows a darkness adjustment.
I loved the easy controls for the different styles of pizzas because I didn’t need to think too hard about what a pan pizza needed compared to New York style.
Those controls do double duty when the manual control is chosen. A magnetic sheet covers the standard settings with a new set of options to choose from. The left dial controls the deck temperature, while the right dial controls the top temperature. Meanwhile, the small dial at the far right controls the upper elements, so the heat can be even across the whole pizza, or it can concentrate more on the outer edges, so the crust gets extra heat.
I tested the manual controls when I used the pan to make a plate of nachos. I kept the bottom temperature low and turned the top temperature higher to melt my cheese with even heat across the top. The chips stayed crisp, a few of them browned a bit, and the cheese melted perfectly. This might be the ideal nacho machine.
I loved the easy controls for the different styles of pizzas because I didn’t need to think too hard about what a pan pizza needed compared to New York style. That gave me a chance to get creative with my crusts and toppings. From a simple thin and crispy Margherita pizza to a pan pizza layered with cheese and a meaty Bolognese, the pizzas all cooked perfectly.
Thumbing through the information that came with the oven, which included recipes for dough and sauce, I found a recipe for cauliflower and decided to do a little experimenting. I grabbed the pan and used it to roast some asparagus. It worked well. While I might not take a pizza oven out of storage just to cook some asparagus, if it’s on the counter I'd certainly think about using it.
Cleaning: A bit cramped
Let’s face it, the oven space is small, so cleaning it isn’t as simple as wiping out a roomy toaster oven. The stone is removable if it needs to be cleaned more thoroughly, but for the most part, it’s suggested that the oven should simply be wiped with a damp cloth. Fortunately, a rounded shroud inside the oven keeps the pizza from sliding too far back and making a mess.
The carbon steel pizza pan is practically nonstick—even when the cheese from my nachos dripped, it was simple to just pick off the cheese. Still, it’s a good idea to pay attention to the care instructions and remember that it shouldn’t go into the dishwasher.
Price: Way expensive
This pizza oven retails for around $1,000. Is making pizza at home cheaper than takeout or delivery? Possibly. Is the difference enough to justify the cost of this oven? Doubtful. But is that really the point? Making pizza at home is fun. It can be a good cooking activity to get the kids involved in. It allows complete control of the ingredients. It’s great for parties. This oven can produce some pretty great pizza, it’s simple to use, and it’s attractive enough to leave on the counter. It’s an expensive purchase, but for those who love making pizza and who can afford it, this is pretty darned appealing.
Breville The Smart Oven Pizzaiolo vs. Ooni Karu
Ooni Karu 12 Multi-Fuel Pizza Oven: If the goal is smoky, wood-fired flavor, the Ooni Karu is a perfect choice. It retails for around $349, and burns wood, charcoal, or both, and can be fitted with a gas burner for more versatility. However, the Ooni is an outdoor-only oven, and there’s a bit of a learning curve when it comes to managing the fire and handling the pizza. It’s a great piece of cooking equipment, but the Breville I tested is much easier to use, and it’s built for indoor use. For people with outdoor space, a love for smoky pizza, and plenty of nice weather, I recommend the Ooni. But for those who want easy pizza cooking that’s not dependent on fire or thwarted by the weather, the Breville makes a great pizza, albeit at a high price.
It’s the real slice.
I’ve made pizzas at home several different ways, from the large oven to a countertop oven to an outdoor oven, so I’ve got a lot to compare it to. Breville's The Smart Oven Pizzaiolo was undoubtedly the easiest. No need to fuss about the proper temperature or stoking a fire. While it didn’t have the same smoky flavor of a wood-fired grill, I still got some char to crunch on, and I didn’t have to worry about rain, snow, hail, or lack of daylight. I see a lot of pizza in my future, no matter what’s happening outside.
- Product Name Smart Oven Pizzaiolo Pizza Oven
- Product Brand Breville
- Price $1,000.00
- Weight 37.47 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 18.1 x 10.6 x 18.5 in.
- Color Brushed Stainless Steel
- Material Stainless steel body, ceramic pizza stone, stainless steel pizza peel, carbon steel pan with removable stainless steel handle
- Capacity 12-inch pizza
- Warranty 2 year limited
- What's Included Pizza peel and pizza pan
- Power 1800 Watts