How to Build an Outdoor Pizza Oven

There’s nothing like a fresh, homemade pizza straight out of a wood-burning brick pizza oven: crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, with a deliciously smoky flavour. An outdoor pizza oven is also great for entertaining, whether it is part of a larger outdoor kitchen or a stand-alone feature.

Difficulty level : 
Duration : 
1 week

Before You Start

This DIY project provides step-by-step instructions for building a dome-shaped backyard pizza oven with space for firewood storage, made from brick and retaining wall block. It has a 3’ x 3’ base and a 36” oven. For a smaller or larger oven, simply scale the base size up or down.

1
Choose the Right Location

  • 1.1Take the time to pick a good location for the pizza oven. The ideal spot will have plenty of clearance on all sides and sit away from any combustible materials. It should also be easily accessible.
  • 1.2Check that the installation surface is sturdy and level. If not, it will require the construction of a foundation.
  • 1.3The pizza oven should be installed at least 3’ away from the house for safety, so take the necessary measurements to find a suitable starting point.
Pizza oven – choosing the right location

2
Split the Blocks

  • 2.1Use a speed square to mark the blocks for cutting.
  • 2.2Using an angle grinder, score the blocks to a depth of 1/4” on each side.
  • 2.3Finish splitting the blocks using a chisel.
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Safety First

Always wear eye protection, hearing protection, gloves, and a respirator/dust mask when working with a grinder.

3
Lay the Base

  • 3.1Lay down the first row of blocks to make the base of the oven, ensuring that it is square and level before continuing to build.
  • 3.2Apply two parallel strips of landscape adhesive to the middle of the blocks and start building upwards.
  • 3.3For greater structural integrity, arrange the blocks with the joints staggered.
  • 3.4After laying the second row, check for level and plumb, and make any necessary adjustments by tapping the blocks with a rubber mallet.
  • 3.5Continue adding rows until the desired height is reached, checking the level and plumb after each one.
Laying the base (patio blocks)
Adding construction adhesive
Completing the pizza oven base

4
Cap the Oven Base

  • 4.1Apply landscape adhesive to the top row of the base.
  • 4.2Position the capstone in place on top of the blocks.
Applying construction adhesive to the base
Setting the capstone

5
Lay the Bricks

  • 5.1Lay the first row of clay bricks along three sides of the capstone’s perimeter to outline the dome shape.
  • 5.2Set a layer of fire bricks within the perimeter of the clay bricks for the oven’s floor.
  • 5.3After establishing a brick layout, mix high-heat mortar by following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • 5.4Apply the mortar to the fire bricks in a thin layer using a brick trowel.
  • 5.5Make any necessary cuts to the bricks using an angle grinder.
  • 5.6Allow the mortar to set for 24 hours.
Laying the pizza oven floor
Apply the mortar
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Pro Tip

Easily clean up any mortar drips or spills with a damp sponge.

Lay the pattern any way you like. We used a traditional herringbone pattern for this oven.

6
Build the Oven Dome Support

  • 6.1Mark the size of the brick oven floor on a ¾” sheet of plywood (27” for this project). Mark the centre point as well.
  • 6.2Draw the radius of the dome on the plywood and hammer a nail at the centre point. Attach one end of a string to the nail and the other end to a pencil. Measure from the centre point to the desired arc height and adjust the string length accordingly.
  • 6.3Starting from the height of the arc, move the pencil from left to right to draw out the arc shape.
  • 6.4Cut out the arc-shaped mould for the oven opening using a jigsaw. Be sure to wear all the proper safety equipment.
  • 6.5Repeat the steps above to cut a second arc mould for the back of the oven.
  • 6.6Attach the arcs with 2” x 4” plywood pieces cut to size to form the mould.
  • 6.7Bend and attach lauan over the top of the mould for a solid surface to help shape the brick around it.
Drawing arc on plywood
Cutting the arc mould using a jigsaw
Attaching the mould arcs
Attaching the lauan
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Pro Tip

Use a drill to create multiple holes in the mould facing. This will aid with the removal process later on.

7
Build the Brick Dome

  • 7.1Mix the mortar for the bricks according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It should be slightly thicker than the mortar used for the fire bricks.
  • 7.2Use a brick trowel to apply the mortar along one side and along the face of the clay brick.
  • 7.3Start laying the bricks on top of the clay bricks that were placed earlier, staggering the joints. They may need to be cut to size to accommodate the design.
  • 7.4Fill the mortar joints using a tuck pointer. The tuck pointer can also be used to pump up the brick level for better support and a neater appearance.
  • 7.5Roll the bricks while building up to fit the dome shape, varying the mortar line from thick to thin.
  • 7.6Leave an 8” x 8” square at the top of the dome for the chimney.
  • 7.7Use the same clay bricks to build the chimney about four rows high, making sure to check the level.
  • 7.8Let the mortar dry completely.
Filling oven joint with mortar
Leaving space for the chimney
Building the chimney

8
Remove the Dome Support

  • 8.1When the mortar is dry, put on a pair of work gloves and eye protection and begin removing the mould.
  • 8.2Remove the screws on the mould facing using a drill.
  • 8.3Remove the 2” x 4” bracing using a pry bar.
  • 8.4Remove the remainder of the mould using an oscillating multitool.
  • 8.5Clean out any mortar and dust from the oven floor.
  • 8.6Fire up the pizza oven!
Letting the mortar dry
Removing the front of the mould
Removing the rest of the mould
Firing up the pizza oven
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Pro Tip

For those who aren’t quite ready to tackle a DIY project of this size, Lowe’s carries a great selection of pre-built outdoor pizza ovens. These versatile appliances can also be used to roast vegetables, bake bread, and smoke or slow-cook meats.

9
Outdoor Oven Margherita Pizza Recipe

The only way to make an authentic Neapolitan Margherita cheese pizza is in a wood-fired oven. Break in the new oven with this delicious recipe.

Ingredients

  • Raw pizza dough
  • 28-oz can of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 8 oz of fresh mozzarella cheese balls
  • Cornmeal
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Olive oil

Instructions

  1. Let pizza dough come to room temperature.
  2. Roll out dough on a surface sprinkled with cornmeal and make sure not to flip.
  3. Empty tomatoes into a large bowl and crush with your hands.
  4. Use a coarse grater to shred the mozzarella balls.
  5. Sprinkle mozzarella on pizza crust in a thick layer.
  6. Scoop tomato sauce onto pizza in large dollops a few inches apart.
  7. Transfer pizza to the oven and bake for 2­–3 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven, drizzle with olive oil, and add the basil leaves.
  9. Rest for 5 minutes, then cut and serve!
Outdoor wood-fired oven Margherita pizza

WHILE YOU’RE AT IT