Pizza is a nearly universally loved treat. With its crisp crust and gooey cheese, that restaurant-quality pie is often the envy of home chefs. So, why can’t they replicate those results in their home ovens?
Pizza needs to be cooked at a high temperature to create its iconic texture. Ideally, that’s around 600 degrees Fahrenheit (315 degrees Celsius).
Standard commercial pizza ovens will reach between 700 and 800 degrees Fahrenheit (371 and 426 degrees Celsius).
In comparison, household ovens will only get as high as 500 degrees Fahrenheit (250 degrees Celsius).
Here’s what you need to know about the temperature for pizza oven cooking, both commercially and in your own home.
Why the Temperature for Pizza Oven Operation Matters
When you think of eating pizza, you probably imagine a light, airy crust with a crisp exterior and a soft interior with hot, melting, lightly browned cheese with well-cooked toppings. These effects all come from the same source – extreme heat and a short cook time.
Pizza dough contains water, which, when heated, becomes steam. Steam, along with other gases, expands to create pockets that lessen the overall density of the crust.
At high temperatures, this happens quickly and results in the fluffy texture we associate with great pizza.
At the same time, high temperatures cause the exterior of the pizza to cook rapidly, charring in some places to give it depth of flavor.
The surface of the pizza hits the boiling point of water (212 degrees Fahrenheit, 100 degrees Celsius), causing the cheese to melt, the sauce to steam, and other toppings to cook and darken.
This high-temperature setting can result in a burned pizza quite fast, so pizzas typically only cook for a short time. However, the rapid heating and immediate removal from the heat once perfectly baked let pizza take on the qualities we love.
The Correct Temperature for a Small Pizza Oven
Your standard household oven will, at maximum, usually only reach 500 degrees Fahrenheit (or about 250 degrees Celsius). However, some may get as hot as 600 degrees Fahrenheit (or 315 degrees Celsius) at a stretch.
This lack of heat makes it challenging to achieve the perfect pizza at home; your oven doesn’t get hot enough to accomplish the quick bake. Beyond that, steel ovens transfer heat differently than brick ovens do, meaning that you’re much more likely to burn your pizza.
For a home pizza bake, it’s best to heat your oven to around 430 degrees Fahrenheit (221 degrees Celsius) and bake for 5 and 10 minutes. Keep a close eye on the pie as it’s baking to ensure it doesn’t burn.
Still, even if you do this, you won’t achieve the same texture and consistent results in a household oven compared to a traditional pizza oven.
Household ovens do not get hot enough. They are also constructed differently, with heat coming from below or above (or sometimes both) rather than the sides.
However, home pizza ovens exist and are built the same way as commercial ovens. But with only enough room to cook one pizza at a time.
These smaller ovens, designed to be used either inside or outside depending on their construction and heating method, can reach temperatures in the 700-to-800-degree Fahrenheit (between 371 and 426 degrees Celsius), comparable to a commercial pizza oven.
The main issue with these ovens is that they are often costly. Still, suppose you make pizza at home frequently; in that case, it might be worth your time to create the ideal hot environment for a traditionally baked pizza.
The Correct Temperature for a Commercial Pizza Oven
Standard modern commercial pizza ovens can reach an internal temperature between 700 and 800 degrees Fahrenheit (or between 371 and 426 degrees Celsius).
Traditional wood-fired pizza ovens can reach temperatures as high as 850 to 900 degrees Fahrenheit (or 454 to 482 degrees Celsius).
Typically, though, neither of these ovens will be heated to their maximum temperatures. For example, the ideal temperature for making pizza that bakes for 90 seconds is around 600 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit (315 to 398 degrees Celsius).
If the temperature is lower than that, your crust becomes dense. Higher, and you risk burning the pizza. This sweet spot in the middle is how pizzerias and chain restaurants can create the perfect pizza every time.
Creating a consistent, replicable product is essential when you run a business. So, commercial ovens hold heat evenly and for long periods. In addition, they typically have a solid, flat base and heating elements from the side rather than below.
They’re also larger to heat multiple pizzas at once. Meaning that the ambient temperature in the oven will be significantly lower than its listed temperature, so it may be heated to a higher temperature to compensate for the added space.
How to Achieve the Correct Temperature for a Pizza Oven
You can use some tricks to achieve the correct temperature for a pizza oven.
First, for commercial and at-home appliances, preheat your pizza oven for at least 20 minutes before cooking to ensure that the temperature is both hot enough and stable enough to cook your pizza evenly.
For a domestic oven, you might want to increase this time to between 30 minutes and an hour, possibly two hours for exceptionally high temperatures. Be careful to watch your oven during the preheating and baking times to prevent fires.
If you are working with a domestic oven and often make pizzas at home, you may choose to invest in a pizza stone. These are round and flat, either made from actual stone or ceramic. They typically cost upwards of $40.
Pizza stones retain heat well and ensure that the bottom of your crust is heated evenly and to a higher degree than through convection. In addition, it results in a crispy base with some char flavor that imitates a traditional oven relatively well.
Traditionalists and pizza enthusiasts will often agree that the best pizza comes from family-owned businesses using traditional, commercially-sized brick pizza ovens. These ovens reach the high temperatures needed for the classic crispy, light pizza texture and have the woodsmoke for a more robust flavor profile.
However, as with practically any other food, pizza making ultimately comes down to personal preference. The “ideal” state of pizza might not be one you enjoy, so your cooking methods may differ.
You may prefer a slightly denser, chewier crust and simpler flavors. If that’s the case, making pizza at home in a standard oven is a viable and enjoyable option, with or without a pizza stone.
On the other hand, if you enjoy lighter crusts and the flavor added by woodsmoke, you may opt to enjoy commercially-made pizza or pizza made in specialty home pizza ovens.
There’s no right or wrong way to enjoy pizza. What matters is that you’re getting a product that tastes and looks good to you.