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Testing KettlePizza and Baking Steel's New Joint Pizza Oven (2013) (seriouseats.com)
45 points by Tomte 28 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 52 comments

I have the Kettle Pizza with Baking Steel, and honestly, it's garbage. It's not worth the effort to set up once a week to get mediocre, not very repeatable results. Pretty sure I've ruined my Weber Kettle by using it too.

I got a RoccBox last summer (after watching Kenji's review videos) and it's freaking amazing. It's not much more effort to setup. So easy to just turn on the gas and wait for it to heat up.

I've been making VPN-ish style pizzas for 10 years at home and have a lot of experience with gadget and tips and tricks, and the Kettle Pizza just seemed too gimicky after I got it, and tried it once. Was honestly disappointing I spent so much money on it.

This is my go-to guide: http://www.varasanos.com/PizzaRecipe.htm ; Jeff is a great guy; talked with him for few minutes in ATL.

The "baking steel" required too much maintenance, and rusted to pieces and started dropping rust flakes into my food. The radiant heat effect was very small, and I nearly always burned the bottom of my crusts before the top was charred, even when doming the food.

The sheer amount of fuel you have to put in to get up to temp was absurd too. Having a 900 degree raging fire in my weber kettle sure made me nervous, even for hours after I was done making pizzas.

How did you dome the food, if the steel was above the pizza? What burned the pizza, the fire or the steel?

Really just brought the pizza off the stone so that the bottom wouldn't burn, and brought it close to the top without touching to get enough radiant "broiling" effect.

When you say you ruined your weber did it warp?

I got a cheap piece of steel and had it in a gas grill and the front of the grill bowed.

didn't warp, but the enamel paint started flaking off the outside and rusted through in certain spots where the flames would have been the hottest. My kettle is 10 years old though.

For a lower cost option it might be okay, but there are a lot of small standalone gas/wood pizza ovens you can buy now that will get much better results. I myself recently got a roccbox and it is fantastic. There are similar ones out there for something like half the cost though that are probably as or nearly as good, blackstone, uuni, napoli etc.

In fact Kenji reviewed some of these ovens two years ago: https://www.seriouseats.com/2017/05/best-backyard-pizza-oven...

Purchased a Roccbox last year and it's a fantastic well designed portable pizza oven. Used it a ton of times and have loaned it to family and they loved it. Although I has only used the gas burner attachment I like having the wood rocket stove option. Worth the money.

I also own a custom cut baking steel for indoor cooks and bread.

I looked into a bunch of these too for my ceramic grills and ended up going with a standalone oven too (Ooni Koda). Couldn't be happier. Perfect Neapolitan pies every time in about 2 minutes, and super portable.

I assume it's pretty good for flatbread, too? If I could get meaningful contribution to at least one other thing (naan, say) out of this it starts to get really tempting.

...oooh, how about tandoori-style meat? Any other high-temp cooking work well in these things? Thinking the opening might make it tough or cleanup make it impractical.

Yup, in fact I have used mine more for flat bread than pizza so far lol.

Good to know. This is exciting—last time I looked into these sorts of things the selection was far more limited, and priced in the "enthusiast" range. Never got why they'd be so much more expensive than cheap grills or smokers—market hadn't caught up to demand, I guess. These are cheap & space-conscious enough to actually be non-crazy purchases for someone who just wants to make some good flatbread or pizza 1-2x a week. Super bonus points if I can also do some other crazy high-temp things (tandoori!) with it 1x/month or so. Now on my definitely-get-one-this-year list, thanks.

Yep, Naans too. I suppose you can do steaks and veggies as well but I usually do those on the grill.

how do you like the Ooni Koda? Wired had a review and they seem a little mixed on it, gave it 8/10


I love it.

I've tried my neighbor's Roccbox too. Basically Koda is a Roccbox with a few upgrades but with some minor corner cutting too. I.e. Koda is a lot more portable because the burner is inside the oven (so you don't need to disconnect it before you fold the legs). The burner has quite a bit more coverage and heats much more evenly than Roccbox. It also weighs quite a bit less so carrying it with you is a lot more of a possibility, although realistically speaking you will probably be transporting both of them in a car anyway. On the minus side, after a few hours of making pizza the top of Koda heats up quite a bit more than Roccbox (which basically stays cool) so touching it is not an option. It's not hot enough to accidentally burn yourself but it's not cold enough to rest your hand, and if you have kids/pets I'd definitely watch out. Another minus which I can sorta perceive is that Koda's pizza stone is fairly thin compared to Roccbox so I'm not entirely sure what the longevity of it will be. Roccbox stone is proven to last, I guess time will tell.

thanks very much, super-helpful!

Thanks for posting that. I hadn't realized those existed!

Can anyone explain why the bottom layer is stone and not steel, is it more marketing than anything?


I'm guessing it is due to the temperature the oven can reach. A normal oven can only hit 500F but once you get much higher than that the steel works too well, casing the crust to burn before the toppings (or top crust) are properly cooked.

I recently retired my steel after moving due to how much hotter my new oven gets. With the steel sheet you had burnt curst with little to no browning on the top. Switching back to my stone evened things out.

>little to no browning on the top.

Did you have a sheet of steel above your pizza? If anything, if your steel is too hot to have underneath the pizza, put it above it and use it to radiate heat, vs the ovens regular convection heat transfer.

My original question was more if having steel on both sides works or not. What if the fire source is above the top layer, so the top side (the one that doesnt contact the pizza) is slightly warmer than the bottom layer (that does touch the pizza.)

Ah thanks, I don’t feel so bad now. I had no luck after moving to a steel because he grill broke our pizza stone.

Yup. Source: I burnt a few pizzas on the baking steel on a grill.

Kenji has some other articles about baking steel that mention it's excellent ability to radiate head downward and cook the top of the pizza.

Personally, I make pizza in the oven in my home and avoid baking steel because at high temperatures the seasoning (oil) burns off.

I agree, a real baking steel works very well for this. I have one I use as a griddle, and sometimes in the oven.

The Kettle Pizza came with a much thinner version of steel, that was still heavy as hell. The radiant effect of the kettle version wasn't that great. And mine rusted through in less than one season, and it lived inside my kettle.

Theres probably a cost/ durability element. You want that thick metal plate to be stainless steel (expensive), or protected in some way (slightly less expensive), wood ash is caustic, so could eat though unprotected steel quite quickly if not properly maintained.

It may be possible an over enthusiastic bbqer to overheat the metal plate, I don't know how likely that would be in real life though.

Maybe this is an unpopular opinion but I don't enjoy the burned Neapolitan pizza style.

If you want something chewier you can make a pretty damn good pan pizza with just a... well, a pan. A cast-iron skillet, specifically. Electric heat gun or small butane torch optional but recommended to start the surface cooking while you heat the oiled-pan-with-pizza-in-it on the stovetop before putting it in the oven. Probably you'll still need to run the broiler a bit. I prefer the results from a pizza stone but the pan method's not bad, requires less special equipment (stone, peel), makes less mess (that blasted cornmeal/farina) and is harder to screw up in a way that makes an even larger mess, when you're starting out—failed peel transfers can go very wrong.

Totally fine obviously to have a preference. I would mention that even NY style pizza is typically cook at temperatures higher than your home oven can get, so this type of thing can still be useful. NY Pizzas I think are typically cooked between 550 - 650 degrees Fahrenheit I think.

Yeah, I don't get the appeal. It makes a pretty picture, but I don't want to eat charcoal.

Obviously it should not be burnt. That's just really hard to do.

This is not an unpopular opinion. Its just not the cool opinion, so it becomes unpopular.

Thankfully NYC pizza is the world's most globally emulated.

I sometimes enjoy charred flavor on things, but Neapolitan style is always way too soggy for me. Even more so in Naples itself. If it weren't for the historical aspect I'd say it's not even pizza.

Well, your definition of “pizza” seems to be related to what you’re most familiar with. I would say that it’s the American version(s) that can’t be called real pizza :)

That's fair. Neapolitan is definitely the original, it's just so different from most of the pizza descended from it.

I try to stay away from burnt foods as I am already at an increased risk for cancers. That burnt crust has elevated levels of Acrylamide.

Makes me think of how an efficient way of removing smoke quickly from a cooking element, without having a fancy hood, would make cooking a variety of foods easier. I can't make steaks too often because it fumigates my entire apartment.

My FIL in Russia built a metal box contraption he used to smoke fish in his flat/apartment. Put fish inside w/wood chips or whatever you use to smoke, then place it on the gas stove and light it up. It had a vent hole on the top and he would connect it with flex pipes to his flat's oven hood. Worked very well, kept nearly all the smell and smoke away.

Do you have a picture by chance? My stove has a microwave over top of it with a fan underneath. Come to think of it, I'm not even sure if vents outside or if it just recirculates. It doesn't seem to reduce the odors much at all.

Something similar to those tubes they have in Korean BBQ joints connected to a window fan might work

You'd need to figure out how to tether it above the stove though


Thanks! Updated.

honestly the baking steel in the regular oven works pretty well as long as you make an effort with the dough (make a few days ahead/doing a cold ferment + using OO flour)

Stone and peel with a normal 550-degree-max oven, bread-machine-prepped dough using ordinary bread flour, cheese one notch above Kraft, and fresh veggies, will leave all the chains in the dust. You can get even better busting out the standing mixer and specially-sourced flour, cold-fermenting, et c., but anyone looking to get started should know you can absolutely produce pies no-one'll complain about by going the cheap & lazy route.

I've seen mention a few times that the true traditional Neapolitan pizzas made in Italy are gluten-free. Does anyone know how they make their dough?

Extremely unlikely. Gluten's what makes pizza dough stretchy, and holds it together. Usually you want very high gluten flours for pizza. Wikipedia confirms that the Neapolitan style calls for (ideally) 0 or 00 flour, which is to say, high gluten.

For it to be gluten free it'd have to be... IDK, corn or rice-flour or something, with some chemical mumbo-jumbo performed to make it hold together well enough to make a pizza.

> For it to be gluten free it'd have to be... IDK, corn or rice-flour or something, with some chemical mumbo-jumbo performed to make it hold together well enough to make a pizza.

That's about right. You can make gluten-free pizza crust, but I'd only recommend it if you're actually feeding someone diagnosed with Celiac disease. GF baked goods use xanthan gum, guar gum, and eggs to stick the dough together as gluten would do.

I like the Bob's Red Mill crust mix [1]. The ingredients on the side read: brown rice flour, potato starch, whole grain millet flour, tapioca flour, potato flour, cane sugar, xanthan gum, sea salt, guar gum. You add 2 eggs (as well as water, an included yeast packet, and olive oil).

I don't do the Neapolitan style featured in the article, and I don't think this mix is suitable for that. (Doesn't the dough for that need to be almost runny? This stuff is thick when prepared according to the directions.) I sometimes cook it on the grill with a pizza stone, but I make a midwestern style with a chewier crust, a solid layer of shredded mozzarella, and enough toppings to shock the conscience of any Neapolitan pizza aficionado.

[1] https://www.bobsredmill.com/gluten-free-pizza-crust-mix.html

Right - pizza dough really, really wants the stretchiness that gluten gives you. I have occasionally made gluten-free "pizza" because my wife has coeliac disease, but it's a poor imitation, and lack of gluten is the big problem. It tends to end up either crumbly or (if you marginally overdo the xanthan gum or equivalent) too hard. And there's no way you can stretch it properly, you just have to roll out a (small) base.

For many other kinds of baking, we're pretty successful with gluten-free versions - we'll happily serve our gluten-free bread to guests with no shame, provided it's really fresh - but pizza really doesn't work very well.

Definitely not. In fact like many foods in Europe, there are standards/guildlines(sometimes laws) regarding certain traditional foods. You can download the "official" regulations regarding Neapolitan pizza making here: https://www.pizzanapoletana.org/en/ricetta_pizza_napoletana

Some pizza doughs are fermented as sourdough, which degrades gluten, but if you ferment a wheat dough long enough to become gluten free it will become too soupy to make pizzas. You need the gluten for it to hold together when you stretch it.

Traditional dough is flour, water, salt, and yeast (the first two things and time). I strongly doubt anyone in Naples would consider a pizza without wheat flour to actually be a pizza.

That sounds apocryphal to me. Every pizza dough recipe I've ever seen includes wheat flour and water.

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