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How to Build a Coal-Fired Pizza Oven

Timothy Burns

Any discount restaurant chain can produce a pizza for $5.99. Premade and preheated, the pizza stands waiting for customers as they walk to the door. However, the robust flavor of genuine Italian handmade pizza eludes these dime-a-dozen pizza chain stores. The best pizza is most often cooked in a traditional coal-fired pizza oven.

The best pizzas are cooked in coal- and wood-fired traditional pizza ovens.
  1. Identify and select the area in which the pizza oven will be constructed. The size of the oven will most likely be determined by the size of the kitchen or cooking space available. An outdoor oven will be constructed differently than a classic pizza oven in a restaurant kitchen.

  2. Verify that the floor space, or foundation of the pizza oven, will support the weight of the entire constructed oven. A solid slab concrete foundation is necessary for most large coal-fired pizza ovens.

  3. Design the interior cooking area of the oven based on the temperatures required for perfect pizza preparation. A wood-fired pizza oven typically burns at lower temperatures than a coal-fired oven. Therefore, the designs for coal-fired pizza ovens typically feature the coal furnace in a separate chamber from the cooking pizzas. The heat is refracted and reflected into the food cooking chamber.

  4. Thoroughly investigate the EPA and local environmental regulations regarding burning coal. Coal often contains quantities of sulfur or other trace contaminants that must be filtered and removed from the escaping furnace emissions. For this reason, the coal-fired ovens house the coal furnace in a separate chamber from the pizza. The coal emissions escape through the oven's ventilation, without coming into contact with the food.

  5. Identify a supplier for burning coal as part of the construction preparation process. Fuel for a coal-fired oven is readily available in some areas of the country while scarce in others. Identifying the availability, costs and storage requirements of coal for an individual application is essential for successfully constructing a coal-fired pizza oven.

  6. Purchase plans from an authorized and reputable coal-fired oven dealer. The experience of a reputable manufacturer/installer will prove invaluable during the construction process. Details such as the ratio of the cooking space to size of the coal fire area, which installation methods to use and whether a domed and/or a square food cooking space is more efficient can be answered by an experienced supplier.