How to Build a Temporary Wood-fired Brick Pizza Oven with Cheap, Easy to Find Materials

As the fire continues, soot collects on the interior of the dome. After the heat raises, the soot cooks off.

This is a great, low-cost project for someone who wants to test out the ins-and-outs of brick oven cooking. Super fast and easy to build, and with minor modifications, it can be assembled semi-permanently and get you through a season of baking delicious breads and pizzas.

For more specifics and tips on the construction of this oven, I’ve posted details on making and using the arch jig, and a full parts list with build notes from a reader who built one from this page.

I attended a fantastic pizza making event at Machine Project (instructor: Michael O’Malley) that included the construction and firing of a DIY temporary brick pizza oven – the ultimate in pizza cooking. Hugely educational and inspiring, even for a committed pizza fanatic such as myself. The oven, built, fired up, and torn down over the course of an afternoon, worked amazingly well – I cooked the best pizza I’ve ever made, by far.

Here’s a basic rundown on how the pizza oven was assembled. Firebricks and fireclay are available at kiln and pottery supply stores. Use these over standard red bricks as the red bricks tend to pop or explode when reaching extreme temperatures. The metal table might be the most challenging/expensive component used – watch Craigslist for used welding tables. Pavers are found cheaply at Home Depot, Lowes, or gardening/hardware stores.

(Note: bricks are heavy, and brick ovens generate a lot of heat. Please use proper precautions to ensure that you don’t burn or crush yourself while making or using your oven.)

Finally, here’s a video of the oven we built in action. Enjoy!

Don’t forget, you’ll need to get a pizza peel and a decent slicer. I like to use a wood peel for preparation and inserting (dough doesn’t stick as much to wood), and a metal peel to take the pizza out. This design doesn’t need a very long handle, but larger ovens will warrant it.

The Mario Batali pizza slicer is the best slicer I’ve found. Cleaver-like satisfying heft, oversized sharp, smooth wheel and comfortable handle. It cuts through anything without dragging the pizza across the plate. I actually bring this with me to friends’ pizza parties now–it’s spoiled me.

If you have any questions, comments discoveries or discoveries, please post them in the comments.

74 thoughts on “How to Build a Temporary Wood-fired Brick Pizza Oven with Cheap, Easy to Find Materials”

  1. MarkP-
    To make it more permanent, you’ve got a couple things to consider.
    1. The “mortar” used on the bricks (to control smoke rather than cement the bricks in place) doesn’t harden when dry, meaning that any rain or errant lawn watering threatens to wash the sealant away.

    2. The bricks, being one layer deep, get pretty hot during cooking. A lot of the professional ovens use an exterior housing over the interior brickwork to protect from the intense heat.

    Done right, one easy solution can fix both these problems. I’ll be putting one of these together in my current house in the next couple weeks, and plan on adding a simple “doghouse” type structure over it to protect from the elements. Some research still needs to be done on the heat that the outside of the bricks reach, but it seems that a lining of sheetrock should suffice to keep things from bursting aflame. And, left simple, I’ll be able to disassemble and move to my next place (which may be sooner than later).

    There reaches a point when you put too much work into an oven of this design and you would have been better set putting the time and effort into a proper oven design. Plenty of resources on how to do them more permanently are around – check http://fornobravo.com as a starter (they have an amazingly active message board).

    Also, thanks for reading and the enthusiasm!
    -Mike

  2. Hello!
    I love the concept and I am planning to build one as well (not temporary though.
    Would you mind telling me the size of the bricks you are using to have an idea of how large the oven actually is?
    It would be nice to have the dimensions of the bricks to compare with what’s available over here (I am in Spain 😉
    Do you know any website where I can find plans for pizza ovens? I have looked on the links above with no luck… (no specific dimensions and plans posted).
    Thanks!!!
    Andrea

  3. hey mike,
    thanks for the terrific step by step pics. i just have one question: what ballpark of a budget do you think I should have if i want to construct something like this? i mean just for materials (not including labor).
    Thanks
    Charles

  4. Charles,
    It really depends on how resourceful you are, and how permanent you want to make this.

    The two biggest costs will be the firebricks and the table to put it on.

    Firebricks are around $2 or $3 each. On the oven we built, the floor alone had 50 of these bricks. You can cut the cost significantly by using red chimney bricks for the sides and top (arch). Red bricks are much cheaper, about 75¢ each – or just go on Craigslist and find someone giving them away free. Not a great long-term solution, but it will work. Be careful to keep them dry.

    The metal table looks like it can run up to $400 used on Craigslist too. Metal’s not cheap! Avoid that by making raised platform using cinderblocks with a couple sheets of 3/4″ plywood screwed together for the top. If you have a wood top, I’d recommend a double layer of pavers to insulate it from the heat. Again, might not be the best permanent setup, but can be easily disassembled and stashed in the shed when not in use.

    I’ve even seen a writeup of someone using a scrapped, old fireplace for the base of their oven.

    If you go the salvage/cheap route, I’d estimate about $200-$300 for materials. The priciest part being the firebricks for the floor. And in fact, this is the way I plan on building one over the holidays.

    1. Hi Mike – i have my oven half built! If I using cinder blocks as my base … do you think two one- half inch thickset sheets of cement board ( durock) is strong enough and heat resistent enough to put the base layer of bricks for the oven? Or you think I need some more insulation?

      Thanks!

      Rupesh

      1. Hi Rupesh,
        Sorry for the delay. How did your oven turn out? I’m a bit apprehensive of using only the two 1/2″ sheets of durock… did you place anything underneath? I think a couple 3/4″ pieces of plywood (matching dimensions) would be an OK platform underneath, to make sure the weight of the bricks is fully supported… Let me know how it turns out.

  5. Hi Mike, have just started my own pizza/bread oven and took some design tips from yours, thanks. Can you help me on another matter though, we regularly make pizza in our conventional oven, on a stone, but our pizza dough does not look at easy to work as yours. Could you please tell me the recipe you use for your dough. Thanks John

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