Outdoor Pizza Party

Yes, Your Outdoor Pizza Oven Can Make More than Pizza

updated Jun 29, 2021
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peach desert in a cast iron pan
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

This piece is part of our Outdoor Pizza Party series. Read all of the stories — including a test drive and plenty of recipes — here.

My husband has always wanted an outdoor pizza oven, so I finally bit the bullet and got him one as a Christmas gift. The Ooni 16 I bought was so popular that it was backordered, so he didn’t get his oven until the spring. But as soon as we took a bite of our first pizza, we knew the wait was worth it. Powered by propane, our pizza oven gets rip-roaringly hot and cooks pizzas in mere minutes, which made me wonder what other things you could make in it — especially during the time it’s heating up. Turns out you can make a full meal, from appetizers to dessert! Here are some non-pizza ideas for making the most out of an outdoor pizza oven.

Whether your pizza oven uses propane, wood, or charcoal, make sure you have a thermometer for monitoring the temperature of the oven. Some of our recipe suggestions are specifically designed for pizza and wood-burning ovens, but for those that are not, just heat the pizza oven to the oven temperature given in the recipe. One last tip: You don’t want to cook anything directly on the floor of the pizza oven unless it’s pizza or something bread-like, so it’s time to bust out the cast iron skillets, grill pans, and baking dishes!

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

1. Flatbreads and Dips

While your pizza oven preheats, use that time to bake up some flatbreads and delicious dips. You can go as simple as baking a wheel of Camembert cheese with garlic and herbs for a twist on baked Brie, or make a more elaborate baked artichoke dip instead. In the mood for something a little fancier? How about a hot crab dip with some crudités and crackers?

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2. Vegetables

While pizza can be a meal in itself, adding a side of vegetables is worth doing when there’s so much good summer produce to be eaten. Bake that bumper crop of zucchini into a gratin, or roast corn on the cob on a cast iron grill pan and turn it into Mexican street corn. In the fall or winter, thread some Brussels sprouts onto skewers, cook until tender, then dress with some crispy bacon and raisins for a sweet-savory side. Or for a vegetable that’s substantial enough to be a main dish, roast a whole cauliflower rubbed in chile paste, then drizzle with a tangy sumac dressing.

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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

3. Meats and Seafood

The hot, intense heat of a pizza oven makes it great for searing steaks and cooking burgers. Zuni Cafe’s famous roast chicken is cooked in a wood-fired oven, and you can get the same results of crisp skin and juicy chicken in your own pizza oven. If seafood’s more your jam, try garlic butter lobster tail and spicy shrimp.

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Credit: Brie Passano

4. Casseroles and Pastas

Use the pizza oven to turn summer squash into a cheesy casserole for a hearty side dish. Or use the oven to make a main course that’s not pizza, like chicken lasagna. Cook the chicken in the oven before layering it between noodles and sauce, then let the residual heat of the oven warm the lasagna through. The oven can also be used to brown boneless chicken before cooking it together with cheeses, hash brown potatoes, and curry powder for a casserole that’s perfect for brunch.

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Credit: Joe Lingeman

5. Desserts

Don’t forget about something sweet! Before the pizzas go in, bake a cast iron skillet pie with salted caramel and bananas or a pear galette. The desserts can cool while you eat your pizza. Or take advantage of the lingering heat post-pizza to bake an apple crisp or pears in mulled wine. Another ingenious move is to turn that extra ball of pizza dough into dessert pizza by topping it with some ricotta cheese, Biscoff cookie spread, and sprinkling the treat with crushed cookies.

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We want to know, what do you like to make in a pizza oven that’s not pizza?