The Compact, Easy-to-Use Outdoor Oven I Love for Making Artisan-Worthy Pizza (and So Much More!)
Coming from New Jersey, I’ve always been a huge fan of pizza — and sharing my opinions on pizza. As I was growing up, I wasn’t aware that “bad pizza” existed, since pretty much every pizzeria near me was pretty solid, and at the time, getting a slice or two from a local joint was even more affordable than going to a national pizza chain. Now, living in New York City, I have even more pizza places (that are within walking distance!) that serve up every style imaginable, from classic NY slices and brick-oven pies to Detroit-style, New Haven-style, and more. Since I’ve always had access to the best pizza in the world (I’ll see you in the comments section), I’ve never really been interested in owning a pizza oven. I figured, why not just let the professionals handle it, right? (And, of course, I don’t have a place to put one in my tiny NYC apartment.) However, when I heard about how much more the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Oven does than just make pizza, I knew I had to test it out. (Plus, The Kitchn readers can get 10% off with code AT10 till Sep. 30.) And, after years of being jealous of seeing Instagram posts of my friends from home having barbecues and smoking various meats all summer long, I finally got to join their ranks. Let’s dig in.
A Quick Look At the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Oven
- Easy-to-use electric outdoor oven with smoking capabilities
- Multipurpose cooking tool with eight different functions
- Comes ready to cook out of the box with no assembly required
- Relatively small footprint compared to other outdoor ovens
- Intuitive display and control panel
- Recipe booklet and instructions are included
Features That Stand Out
This compact electric outdoor oven boasts eight different cooking functions with a temperature range of 105–700 degrees Fahrenheit, which lets you achieve flavors and textures that you could never get with a standard grill or kitchen oven. We’re talking about making wood oven-style pizza, high-heat roasts, specialty roasts, broiled dishes, baked dishes, smoked or dehydrated meats, and much more. And, because the oven gets so hot, you can get that classic charring, caramelization, and crunch without a massive wood-burning oven. It also has a sizable capacity, and I had no problem making personal pizzas, whole roasted chicken, and even an entire pork shoulder in this bad boy. The best part, though, is that you get to relax while you’re cooking — instead of having to fuss with the coals, move the wood chips around, and sweat the placement of your food in relation to your heat source, you can enjoy the convenience and precision of electric convection.
How It Performed
So, I’m usually skeptical of things that say 8-in-1, but I have to say, the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Oven really delivered on this promise. I had it shipped to my parents’ house in NJ, and like I said, the setup was a total breeze, and the instruction manual was super easy to understand — even for someone who usually tosses the manual as soon as they get it. I left the pizza-making to my sister, who reported that after a good flouring, the included pizza stone worked like a dream and though we didn’t spring for the pizza peel, a two-spatula technique worked just fine for popping in and pulling out her pies. (Pro Tip: Don’t buy grocery store pizza dough, since most pizzerias will sell you some if you ask nicely — and leave a tip!) She said the blistery goodness was top-quality, and as a lifelong NJ resident, I have to believe her. I whacked in a roasted chicken for the inaugural feast, and to truly get an idea of the smoky flavor that the included pellets provided, I just did a light coating of avocado oil (no EVOO, since this oven gets hot) with a generous dusting of salt on both sides of the spatchcocked bird. After the two-stage specialty roasting was done, I pulled out what was probably the juiciest, crispiest baked chicken I’ve ever made — no joke. The smoky flavor was incredible, and something I’d literally never be able to do in my home kitchen without the help of this oven. I also popped in a low-and-slow pork shoulder, which, after a few hours, was smoky and practically falling apart — though it still had its structure, for all you BBQ nerds out there. All in all, I have pretty much nothing bad to say about its performance.
What I Loved
- Easy to use and no assembly required: One of the best parts about the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Oven is that I was cooking with it probably five minutes after I took it out of the box. (And, most of that time was giving the interior grates and pans a quick wash.) It comes with everything you need to get started, including a bag of pellets, a pellet scooper that perfectly measures a single cooking session’s worth of wood, a pizza stone, what’s basically an “everything pan,” and a roasting rack. All you have to do is plug it in, add pellets (optional), set your cooking times and temps, and boom — you’re in business.
- Smoky flavor with minimal effort: Now, you can run this bad boy low and slow for hours and actually smoke your meats and veggies (think: BBQ), but you really don’t have to do that if you’re just looking to impart a touch of smoky flavor to whatever you’re cooking. Even though my folks are big-time grillers, my mom absolutely loved the taste the pellet smoke imparted into the roasted chicken that I made for them, and that was only in the oven for about 40 minutes total. The same goes for pizzas, other kinds of roasts, and pretty much anything else you’re tossing into the Ninja.
- Multi-stage cooking functions: For me, the coolest thing about the oven was the specialty roasting feature, which allows you to set your oven for multiple stages of cooking. Let me explain: First, you’ll turn the knob to “Specialty Roast,” before setting your different cooking stages. Stage one, for example, could be 600 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes to get a nice crispy exterior on whatever you’re roasting. You’d then set stage two to, say, 375 degrees for 35 minutes, to finish cooking the interior of your roast without totally blackening the outside. Once you set those parameters, you just wait for it to preheat (600 degrees took literally five minutes for me), pop your food in, press start, and voila — it takes care of the rest for you.
Good to Know
It’s an outdoor oven, and they mean it, people! Even though it could easily fit on a countertop or kitchen island, this is really only meant to be used outside, so if you don’t have an outdoor space to house this sucker, it’s probably not for you. Another good thing to note is that if you use the smoker function, it gets pretty smoky (duh), so if your outdoor space is tight, or you have neighbors who don’t appreciate the delicious smells of gently roasting meats on a weekend (if so, we’re truly sorry) that’s another thing to consider. Lastly, if you don’t have a heat-proof outdoor table to pop the oven on, you might want to spring for the oven stand as well, since it can get a little taxing on your back having to bend over if you leave it on the ground.
Should YOU Buy the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Oven
If you’re asking me, I’m going to say: absolutely. This thing is sweet, and if I had the outdoor space to keep it in the city, you better believe I’d be heading back to New Jersey to snag it from my parents’ house ASAP. To be honest, though it cranks out great pizza, I think it really shines with all of its other cooking capabilities — especially the specialty roast function. So, you should buy the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Oven if you:
- Love cooking outside
- Don’t want an outdoor oven with a massive footprint
- Enjoy cooking projects and new recipes
- Like convenience and ease of use
- Are a fan of pizza and smoked, roasted, baked, or BBQ’d dishes
Where to Buy the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Oven:
- Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Oven, $399.99