Serious Eats / Jesse Raub
I love making pizza at home—especially for guests—but trying to hack my home oven with various stones and steels always took longer than I’d like and with less desirable results. On top of that, no matter how good the pizza tasted, it always lacked that “wow” factor professional pizza ovens deliver: I’m talking about puffy crusts, leopard-spotted char marks, and a tender crumb. Luckily, a new class of home outdoor pizza ovens can do just that, and Solo Stove has a new model that’s competitively priced.
The Solo Stove Pi Prime promises blistering hot temperatures from its gas-powered burner and a demi-dome ceiling that can cook a 12-inch pizza in under 90 seconds. It’s the second standalone pizza oven Solo Stove has launched, and we put it to the test by cooking back-to-back pizzas to see if it could deliver the same great results as the Solo Stove Pi (which costs $150 more).
Serious Eats / Jesse RaubGas Burner Pizza Tests: We followed the recipe for Outdoor Pizza Oven Dough and made three Neapolitan pizzas with fresh mozzarella and pepperoni back-to-back. We noted the recovery time needed between pies, the overall cook, and the contrast between the char and chew of the crust. Usability and Cleanup Tests: We tested how easy the oven was to set up, how quickly it got up to temp, and how easy its heat dial was to adjust. We also tested how simple it was to clean and break down for storage.
What We Learned
So, What’s New?
Putting the gas dial at the front of the pizza oven made it easier to adjust.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub
There really aren’t that many differences between the Solo Stove Pi Prime and the Solo Stove Pi. One is that the standard Pi is available in wood-fired or dual-fuel heat sources while the Pi Prime is gas-powered only. The Pi Prime also has its flame adjustment knob on the front of the pizza oven (the Pi has it on the back), making it easier to adjust the flame on the fly—we found this was key to a good cook (more on that in a bit). Finally, the Pi Prime comes with a cover to protect it from the elements, which is a nice bonus considering that adding a cover to the Pi is an extra $40. Overall it would cost $540 to have a gas-fired Pi with a cover compared to the Pi Prime at $350.
It Brought the Heat
The dome reached extreme temperatures over 1000ºF.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub
After just 15 minutes of preheating, the Solo Stove Pi Prime’s dome was over 1100ºF. As Kenji noted in his Neapolitan pizza recipe, a true Neapolitan pizza needs a 1000ºF dome temperature, yet most home ovens can only reach 550ºF. After 25 minutes of preheating, however, the stone read 811ºF in the back and 705ºF towards the front—a little too hot for the pizza to cook evenly without burning (in fact, we literally set the crust on fire on our first pie and had to blow it out like a birthday candle). It was an impressive showing from a modest-looking burner, easily matching the performance of the Solo Stove Pi in gas mode.
Adjusting the Flame Was Key for a Perfect Cook
Adjusting the gas mid-cook helped dial in the perfect char on the crust.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub
The demi-dome ceiling of the Pi Prime does an excellent job of redirecting the flame up and over each pizza—but sometimes it does too good of a job. We found that unless we turned the flame down after launching, it could easily scorch the tops of our pies before the bottoms crisp up. But with the gas dial on the front of the pizza oven, it was easy to drop the flame on the spot for a more even cook. After a little practice, we were able to develop a system of charging the heat and then dialing it back that gave us evenly charred pies with a tender crumb and a nice, puffy crust.
The Panoramic Opening Made It Easy to Cook 12-inch Pies
An opening wider than the stone made it easy to launch pies.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub
Because the opening flares out at the edges, it’s easier to fit a full 12-inch pizza peel in it without having to line it up just right. It was also easy to turn pies mid-cook, even without a dedicated turner. We were able to get the peel under each pie, rotate it slightly, and re-center the pizza without too much hassle. One of our issues with some other pizza ovens is that their opening is the exact same size as the stone, meaning that you can only cook a 10-inch pizza in a 12-inch oven. With the panoramic opening on the Pi Prime, we could easily cook a full 12-inch pizza (and could even cheat the dough a little closer to 13 inches, too).
There Was Almost No Recovery Time Needed
The second pizza was ready before the first one could be devoured.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub
We made three pizzas back-to-back to test the Pi Prime’s temperature latency, but every single time the oven was back to temp when we were ready to launch the next pie. The dome has incredible heat retention due to its thick, dual-wall stainless steel construction and, with a powerful flame, the stone was able to recover in just a few minutes—the same amount of time it takes to stretch and top another dough.
The Stones Were Easy to Clean
The stone was easy to remove for cleaning because it came in two pieces.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub
The stone for the Pi Prime comes in two pieces, which makes it easy to remove and clean. Though we didn’t have any disasters like the last time, there was still a fair amount of burnt semolina left over. When a brush couldn’t quite get into every corner, we simply let the stones cool, reached in, and removed them for a more thorough cleaning. After wiping with a damp cloth, both sides looked good as new and were ready for another bake.
The Pizzas Tasted Great
A perfectly cooked pie.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub
To truly test out its crowd-pleasing abilities, we threw an impromptu lunch backyard pizza party. With pizzas cooking in just 90 seconds, it was easy to keep everyone satisfied and the next pies were ready before the first ones were eaten. While there were some comments about the blackened crust that we set on fire (whoops), the feedback was overwhelmingly positive—the crumb was tender and chewy and the cheese was nicely browned, even in such a short cooking time. The pizzas were a great example of a Neapolitan-style pizza, and with how easy the Pi Prime is to set up and use, we could deliver pro-style pizzas even at noon on a Wednesday.
The Solo Stove Pi Prime is an excellent pizza oven that is easy to set up, heats quickly, cooks great pies, and is priced very competitively at $350.
With a gas burner that can heat the dome over 1100ºF and the stone up to 800ºF, the Solo Stove Pi Prime can cook true Neapolitan-style pizzas right in your backyard. It has a conveniently located gas knob for on-the-fly adjustments, and its demi-dome ceiling directs heat perfectly over the top of your pizza while the dual-wall stainless body retains high temperatures even with the flame turned low. It’s also very moderately priced and comes with an all-weather cover.
Like the standard Pi, the burner juts out into the back part of the stone which can easily burn your pizzas if you launch them too deep. It can also be tricky to get the flame dialed in just right, so expect some practice (and some burning) before you’re able to declare yourself a master pizzaiolo.
Overall dimensions: 20.5-inch diameter; 15.5 inches highWeight: 30 poundsMaterial: Stainless steel, cordierite stoneOpening dimensions: 13 inches wideStone dimensions: 12-inch diameter cooking surfaceStone thickness: 13 millimetersAccessories: All-weather coverPrice at time of publish: $350
Is the Solo Stove Pi Prime worth it?
The Pi Prime is a great pizza oven that can hit high temperatures, is easy to set up, and is also easy to clean. It’s priced at the lower end of the outdoor pizza oven market and comes with an all-weather cover, making it a great value for anyone looking to have a backyard pizza party. Heads up: It has a gas-only burner so you’ll have to get a propane tank to run it.
How long does it take to cook pizza in Solo Stove Pi Prime?
The Pi Prime can cook a whole 12-inch pizza in under 90 seconds, but we recommend dialing the heat down a bit and aiming for a two-minute cook. That way you can make sure the crust has a nice char, a crisp bottom, and a tender crumb.
How hot does the Solo Stove Pi Prime get?
The Pi Prime advertises it can reach temperatures in excess of 950ºF, but in our testing, we found that the dome reached over 1100ºF, even with the gas dial set to the Solo Stove’s recommended range. While this temperature can cook pies super quickly we found it was better to dial the heat back a bit so the crust had more time to develop before it burned.
Why We’re the Experts
Jesse Raub is the commerce writer for Serious Eats. Jesse spent 15-plus years in the specialty coffee industry. He’s also an avid baker, having written our reviews of pizza peels and proofing baskets.We made multiple pies in the Solo Stove Pie Prime and also evaluated how easy the oven was to operate and clean.