How to choose the right size commercial oven, when most suppliers are lying to you over pizzas-per-hour
When you choose a commercial pizza oven, the first decision is size: what do you need in your restaurant, takeaway or pub in order to serve your target number of pizzas?
Unfortunately though, it’s not a straightforward question.
In fact, you’re walking into a minefield. Where there’s a lot to consider before you’ll get the right answer – AND where many suppliers’ claims are brazenly misleading.
We don’t make this accusation lightly, but it has to be said. Because you could easily end up buying an oven…even from a well-known supplier…only to find it’s far less productive than you’ve been led to believe.
It happens far too often. So this page is a kind of “whistle-blower”! Giving you the truth about oven sizes and output.
There’s a lot to cover, so please take 5 or 10 minutes now to read this in detail. It’s critically important.
Ultimately, we need to answer these two questions:
1: How much pizza can you expect to sell?
2: How much pizza can a single oven produce?
Once you’ve got both figures, you can choose the right oven. But getting there takes some effort.
Let’s take the sales question first…
Think about your busiest time. That point where you’re at full pelt – even if it’s only for one or two mad hours a week, or a few crazy weeks every year.
How many pizzas could you offload in one peak hour, if you’re able to meet the demand?
It probably comes down to floor or table space, as well as your location and customer base.
For example, if you run a pub with just a small space set aside for quiet dining, you’ll never sell more than a handful of 14 or 16 inch pizzas. But if you’re based in a city centre with a takeout window, you probably get a crowd when the pubs empty, and again later when ravenous clubbers hit the streets – so you’ll be making 20-inch pizzas that you can sell by the slice.
So what’s the number in your business – what can you realistically sell?
You need a firm handle on this, to make sure you choose an oven that’s ready for the surge. Then we can move to the second question:
How much pizza can a single oven produce?
We’d love to give you concrete statements here, like “this size oven gives you this many pizzas an hour”. But we can’t, because:
Numbers vary dramatically from one business to the next.
For a couple of reasons:
First, because every menu is different…so cooking time is different.
Okay, that’s pretty obvious! But it has to be factored in. What type of pizzas are you serving – and what sizes?
You can cook a 10-inch Roma style pizza in just 45 seconds, while a 20-inch Neapolitan could take you 4 minutes. So there is no uniform “x number of pizzas per hour”.
Then it gets more complex when you add in the oven’s capacity: how many pizzas of your chosen size can the oven hold at once? In our largest oven, for instance, you could fit a dozen 12 inch pizzas – but at 20 inches, you’re down to 5 at most.
And to cap it all, your ingredients make a difference too. Small things like your choice of dough can add a few seconds per pizza – and over an hour, that can dent your productivity.
See the problem?
Your menu choices need to be clear before we can even begin to gauge output.
Then there’s a second reason for varying output – a question of skill.
It’s like this. When you put a highly skilled pizza chef at the head of a well-trained and motivated support crew, they’re going to work for you like a well-oiled machine. They’ll be making and baking pizzas at an optimum rate, where each pizza goes in, gets turned and comes out again with precision timing.
That means no fumbling, no slip-ups, no getting in each other’s way…they’re as co-ordinated as a gold medal synchronised swimming team!
But let’s be honest – most kitchen teams will struggle to work at that level full-time. So when you’ve done your menu calculations, and hit on a pizzas-per-hour total for whichever size oven, remember:
It’s an ideal world figure that you might struggle to achieve.
This is why we never publish figures on pizzas per hour. Anything we say would be so general, it would be meaningless.
We have to talk to you first, understand your business, then work out the numbers.
This, we believe, is the only honest way to approach the question.
However, we pretty much stand alone on this!
As mentioned at the start, most suppliers are happy to throw around figures that don’t stack up in reality. So if you’re shopping around, you’re going to see –
Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics!
“500 pizzas per hour”… “600 per hour”… “800 per hour”…
You can’t take these figures at face value. Because they ignore all those nuances above. PLUS, they don’t account for RECHARGING and DOOR CONGESTION: the two forces that reduce the output of any woodfired oven. Let’s explain…
Recharging is about giving your oven floor time to recover.
See, a stone floor works like a solar panel: soaking up power when it’s hot, then emitting it back on demand. So if a section of floor is permanently covered, you’re “draining the battery” – taking all the floor’s power, and not giving it time to re-energise.
That doesn’t mean you have to stop and start production. It just means you should rotate your pizzas around the oven, always leaving a third of the available floor space clear, so power never dips.
An honest supplier would factor this into their pizzas-per-hour claim. But in this industry, honesty is getting increasingly rare.
The overwhelming majority will declare GROSS CAPACITY – a figure based on squeezing in as many pizzas as the oven can hold. But that’s a fantasy, because it skips the knock-on effect, where falling heat extends your cooking time (and hampers quality too).
The figure they should give you is NET CAPACITY, with allowance for recharging. But that’s not as headline-grabbing, so they sweep it under the carpet.
Then there’s Door Congestion – the final piece of the jigsaw.
This might be the most important point of all, as it potentially reduces your NET CAPACITY.
Put it this way…
With a busy commercial oven, you’ll have pizzas going in and out every few seconds. Especially if they’re the smaller kind, where you’ll have more on the go.
They all need turning, and all need to come out at the exact moment they’re ready.
So it’s going to get mighty crowded around the oven door – and that raises a practical question.
It might be technically possible for an oven to cook, let’s say, 400 x 10-inch pizzas an hour at NET CAPACITY. But then you’d be removing a pizza every 9 seconds!
Is that feasible – really?
Even with a well-drilled team, it’s an epic challenge. They’ll be bumping into each other, and missing that make-or-break moment when a pizza is ready.
RESULT: pizzas get burned, pizzas get dropped. Total chaos.
So – a reality check:
Whatever the NET CAPACITY of the oven, congestion imposes an upper limit. As a rule of thumb, once you pass 250 pizzas per hour, it becomes unworkable.
Let’s say that again:
Once you pass 250 pizzas per hour, it becomes unworkable.
Now don’t panic here!
For a regular restaurant, this is not a problem, because 250 pizzas is a lot to sell in an hour – even at peak.
But what if you expect to sell more – what can you do then?
Well, if you’ve got the space, you could get an electric conveyor oven: the industrial type they use in huge pizza chains, designed to roll pizzas out on an assembly line. But then you’d lose your competitive edge.
Your customers come to you for authentic Italian pizza, hot from a woodfired oven. If they want a so-so pizza, they’ve got plenty of other (cheaper) options – so that would be unwise, if quality is your thing.
Or you could choose a woodfired oven with a rotating floor. That’s an option, again if you’ve got the extra space – but you’ll need a much higher budget, so again it’s not ideal.
So the alternative?
We’d normally suggest a second oven, so you can have a second team working independently. That gives you flexibility over space, as the two ovens don’t have to be adjacent.
The second could even be outdoors – a feature for your beer garden or patio dining area. That’s something we can discuss with you, if the need arises.
So there you have it. The truth about commercial oven sizes, that no-one else wants to reveal!
If you click one of these buttons now, you can get the basic lowdown on the different size ovens we produce here at Bushman:
Extra Large Commercial Oven Specifications
Our largest oven is designed for busy restaurants and takeaways with a constant high footfall or regular spikes in demand.
With a 145cm circle of floorspace, it runs economically when trade is steady, with enough capacity to scale up as you hit the peak.
So you can offer the authentic taste of wood fired pizza, with a level of efficiency that borders on mass production.
Made from our highest grade of refractory, with 3 levels of enhanced reinforcing, this oven is suitable for any commercial kitchen.
The Large Commercial Wood Burning Oven package includes:
- 4 replaceable handmade high density cooking tiles that fill the oven floor. Each tile is 25mm thick to boost the oven’s thermal mass.
- The oven dome – handmade in one single piece and reinforced for ultimate strength.
- A stainless steel wedge door and rain cap, making the oven suitable for pub gardens, beaches and other outdoor use.
|Internal size||145 cm circle|
|Door size||55 x 31(H) cm|
|Height of Oven Interior||41 cm|
|External Height: oven floor to top of dome||55 – 110 cm|
|Height from oven floor to flue exit||70 – 110 cm|
|Allowance around edge of oven||10 cm|
Numbers vary according to style, insulation and customer requirements. Please get in touch to discuss your specific needs.
|Oven floor||110 kg|
|Oven dome – uninsulated||170 kg|
|Whole weight when insulated||650 kg|
Bushman’s commercial ovens comply with the current UK legislation for class one indoor solid fuel appliances.
The floor of this oven is cast in one piece except for the replaceable tiles, making it quick and easy to set up.
The dome of the oven is hand made in one piece so no special skills are needed.
It can be set up in 3 easy steps:
- Build the oven base, or order one of our quick assemble stands.
- Put the floor of the oven on the base and fit the loose cooking floor tiles.
- Put the oven dome on the base.
It’s that easy – then you can light your curing fires, and start cooking the next day.
IMPORTANT: when installing an oven indoors
Under current UK Building Regulations for Class One Fires & Flues, the flue pipes must be installed by a qualified engineer.
Delivery to most England destinations 9am-5pm on a Friday is now included in the list price. A surcharge will apply for deliveries to Scotland and offshore destinations.
Download the Technical Drawings:
For standard insulated and onion shaped ovens please phone for template.
Got a question? Call Bushman on 01905 621 636