BakerStone Original Review
Pros: Reasonably priced, large capacity, heavily insulated firebox, transformable design improves versatility
Cons: Bulky, heavy, slow to preheat
Compare to Similar Products
|Price||$250 List||$349 List||$300 List||$110 List||$349 List|
|Pros||Reasonably priced, large capacity, heavily insulated firebox, transformable design improves versatility||Fantastic crust quality, high-fire temperatures, compact and portable||High-fire temperatures, amazing airflow, multi-fuel option||Affordable, designed for a normal range oven, fast bake times||Well-insulated, easily broken down for transport, easily converted multi-fuel system|
|Cons||Bulky, heavy, slow to preheat||Steep learning curve related to control, prolonged cook times||Dangerous flame blowback, awkward attachment of the gas adaptor||Heat profile depends on oven, heavyweight||Heat-resistive stone takes long to preheat, soot buildup in oven chamber reduces efficiency|
|Bottom Line||Top-notch cooking performance, output power, and versatility, all at a fraction of the cost of direct competitors||The brand that put portable pizza ovens on the map lives up to its name with outstanding performance||A powerful pizza oven with the special capability to cook with gas and wood simultaneously||A heavy-duty carbon steel slab capable of serious heat transfer to make the best pizza you've ever experienced out of a normal oven||A beautiful, portable option that offers the best of both the gas- and wood-fired worlds|
|Rating Categories||BakerStone Original||Ooni Koda 12||Bertello Outdoor||NerdChef 3/8" Steel...||Ooni Karu 12|
|Cooking Performance (30%)|
|Output Power (30%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Specs||BakerStone Original||Ooni Koda 12||Bertello Outdoor||NerdChef 3/8" Steel...||Ooni Karu 12|
|Fuel Type||Gas||Gas||Gas, Wood (w/ conversion)||n/a||Gas, Wood (w/ conversion)|
|Power Output||25,000 BTU||13,648 BTU||Not listed||n/a||15,350 BTU|
|Size of Firebox||n/a||n/a||97.5 cu. in.||n/a||135 cu. in.|
|Average Stone Temperature||732°F||733°F||777°F||686°F||736°F|
|Footprint||345 sq. in.||368 sq. in.||301 sq. in.
441 sq. in. (w/ gas attachment)
|228 sq. in.||368 sq. in.|
|Maximum Pizza Diameter||13"||12"||12"||14"||12"|
Our Analysis and Test Results
A company that made its name with the box oven that transforms an ordinary grill into a pizza oven, BakerStone improves on their original design with the Original Portable. This design, albeit bulky, splits the base unit and oven chamber for improved portability. Two powerful burners generate 25,000 BTUs to efficiently heat the oversized pizza box from below, churning out pizzas up to 13" quickly and with ease. The fact that the burner unit separates from the oven box allows for you to pivot from pizza oven to an on-the-go grill or griddle setup for multi-functional outdoor cooking. And the oven box can even still be placed on a full-size gas or charcoal grill for ultimate versatility.
Though its general size may give away the following statement, the bulkier BakerStone oven takes much longer to preheat than other, comparably powerful ovens. The dual burners are more than capable of boosting internal oven temperatures in excess of 800°F, but it is going to take more like 30 minutes instead of the manufacturer-recommended preheat time of 15-20 minutes.
However, once it is up to temperature, it is the even heat retention of the firebox that translates to this pizza oven's superior cooking performance. The kiln-like fire bricks that comprise the five sides of the oven chamber are well-designed to deliver both conductive and radiative heat, much like a traditional wood oven. They also provide an amazing level of insulation, which all but eliminates any required reheat time in between pizzas, allowing you to turn out rounds of pies with ease.
To the benefit of novice pizza makers, the BakerStone can deliver temperatures analogous to a Neapolitan-style pizza oven without the need to turn around pizzas in less than 90 seconds. Even at an average pizza stone temperature of 732°F, average bake times are on the order of three to four minutes, which offers new users ample margins to both make and learn from their mistakes without ruining pizzas in the process.
We discussed the ability of the oven housing to deliver both conductive heat to cook the bottom crust, and radiative heat to the upper crust, but that is really only two-thirds of the total equation. The open-front means that there are only five sides to the firebox. But what isn't immediately evident is that there is a gap between the pizza stone itself and the back wall, through which the back burner pumps convective heat to both drive airflow and maintain a consistent internal temperature averaging an impressive 780°F.
The position and design of the powerful burners play a major role in the remarkable heat output of the BakerStone oven. As mentioned above, the outer U-shaped burner drives the convective heat transfer through an opening in the back — a design concept that draws heavily on the heat transfer of a wood-fired oven: from the back, over the pizza, and out the open front. But since the firebox is inset from the exterior walls, a surrounding air gap is also heated by this same burner. The conductive heat is supported by a second burner located directly underneath the pizza stone.
Thanks to the combination of insulation and design, there is no other oven that operates quite as efficiently as the BakerStone, as evidenced by the lack of reheat time required in between pizzas. It is uncommon for the pizza stone — especially in an oven with an open front — to fire at a lower temperature than the internal air temperature of the oven. But this works to a huge benefit of the pizza maker, who can achieve a more blackened crust akin to a New Haven-style apizza without overcooking toppings.
From the first firing, the BakerStone was an immediate favorite of our testers, thanks in large part to the control and consistency of the oven. This oven stands apart from the majority of gas-powered ovens in this review with the simple fact that it is powered by two separate burners — one lollipop covers the center of the pizza stone, and an oversized U-shaped burner extends the length of the sides and back. Each has its own knob for adjustment, which allows you to dial in the direction of the heat source if you experience any hot spots while baking.
This is unlikely, however, because the shape and design of the oven box create an incredibly stable environment when considering average internal temperature. The composite methods of heat transfer — convective, conductive, and radiative — come together nicely to evenly and equitably heat the five sides of the oven chamber. We used an infrared thermometer to gather an average internal temperature by measuring the temperature of each wall, and the BakerStone had one of the lowest standard deviations of any we tested, with an average difference of only 21°F.
Learning how to turn a pizza in the oven is a requisite skill, but the difference in temperature between the back and front of the BakerStone makes it even more important to practice this technique to avoid overcooking one section of a pizza. The position of the burner and the opening in the pizza box directly above at the back of the oven brings that half of the pizza stone up past 800°F, while the open-air front tends to hover around 650°F.
Ease of Use
Although this oven chamber is no larger overall than other comparable pizza ovens, it may feel that you have more room to work with simply based on the difference in width. With a 15-inch wide front, the BakerStone is the only oven that even accepts a standard 14" pizza peel. As such, it can reasonably accommodate a 13" pizza, thanks to an inch-or-so advantage along either axis of the square pizza stone. But this oversized oven chamber is heavy, tipping the scales at just under 50 pounds. Even though the firebox separates from the burner unit, and regardless of design features like foldable legs to improve portability, this bulky oven is likely best left in the backyard.
The full "firebox" design of the oven chamber takes more setup than most ovens — requiring you to build out the fire bricks almost like a lego-form of kiln shelving — but for reasons already stated, the little bit of extra effort is well worth the additional performance. One downside of this particular design is that the permanently installed pizza stone requires a bit more scrubbing (with a soft brush) to get clean, rather than being able to simply flip it over and allow the mess to burn off.
In terms of accessibility, the forgiveness of a slightly slower cook rate combined with the overall ease of firing makes the BakerStone the most approachable option for novice cooks. While the reflective internal chambers of other stainless steel ovens can quickly lead to blackened crusts, one doesn't need to manage the output of these burners to avoid overcooking a pizza. That is, of course, not to say that these burners aren't powerful — it may be necessary to turn the burners down to manage the overall temperature of the oven. We simply mean that you won't have to fine-tune the burner level each time you launch a pizza into the oven.
Now, here's the kicker. The BakerStone pizza oven offers all of this performance at a sticker price that is significantly lower than other gas-fired models in this review. As such, it is an easy choice as our Best Buy Award winner. Toss in the flexibility of being able to remove the pizza oven and use the base burner unit as either a grill or griddle — or place the oven box on a full-size gas or charcoal grill to transform it into a pizza oven — and you have a multi-functional outdoor kitchen.
Beyond its amazing versatility, dynamic heat output, and nearly unparalleled insulation, the BakerStone Original is offered at an excellent price point. All of this, at a fraction of the cost of its competitors, and there is no reason you shouldn't add this impressive pizza oven to your outdoor kitchen.
— Aaron Rice