Chad’s Killer Wood Fired Pizza Oven Design

by ziggy on November 3, 2011 -- 3 comments -- Follow

Chad slides a pizza out of the wood-fired cob oven

Our friend and neighbor Chad at Red Earth Farms recently constructed a beast of a wood fired pizza oven. It’s a massive cob oven, almost three feet in diameter inside, with huge insulation, and believe it or not, built in the greenhouse attached to his home.

What makes this wood-fired oven really unique, I think, it the fact that it’s built in a greenhouse. The oven, based on the classic design documented in Kiko Denzer’s Build Your Own Earth Oven (with modifications, no doubt), has a stack that runs outside to keep the space free from smoke. In effect, the cob oven‘s radiant heat is used to heat the greenhouse, and thus, the house to which it is all attached. Not bad.

A Highly Insulated Wood Fired Pizza Oven

It must be stated that this cob oven is massive. It must be over 4.5′ in diameter. That’s partly because the interior dome dimensions are so large, but also because it has a ton of insulation around it. Chad used some kind of custom perlite mix, several inches thick (not sure exactly how many), to fully insulate the dome, which means that this oven has a very long bake time. It stays warm for a very long time.

The massive cob oven (unplastered, by the way)

Baking Pizzas in the Oven

Chad also claims you could bake pizzas almost indefintely once the dome is up to temperature, and he achieves long pizza bake times by maintaining a live fire to either side of the dome. This, of course, continues to heat the oven, and the hearth too, very importantly. Once the hearth on the opposite side cools down, Chad rakes the fire to the other side, and continues baking on the newly charged hearth. Smart.

This is a fairly unique cob oven for those reasons — it’s huge insulation, and the fact that it’s been constructed in a greenhouse. Chad makes some great pizza (and bread), and often keeps the oven somewhat warm so that the next firing requires less wood, and so that it can be used consistently for various kinds of baking.


Chad in the pizza pit

Also, you also gotta love the fact that the baker needs to step down into a “pit” to bake. The “pizza pit” is a hole in the greenhouse floor that brings the baker down to the level of the oven so that food can be slid in and out with greater ease.

Chad’s oven gets me thinking about how I would build a cob oven differently when I do it again…

Want to know how to build your own wood fired pizza oven? Check out my post on how you too can build an inexpensive cob oven.


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  • tomcat

    this seems similar to this ernie wiesner design-

    do you know if there’s a special burn door for chad’s like there is in the video? if not, does all the smoke just get sucked up by the draw?

    very cool.

  • Hi Chad,
    I think you did a great job. Would you be so kind to foreward me some building specs and
    pics. I want to build one at my guesthouse and tea garden.

    I live in sunny South Africa in a small village ( De Rust ) on the foothills of a large mountain


  • That is a big oven. I built my first cob oven according to Kiko Denzer’s specifications in his book. I think my insulation was about 3 to 4 inches thick. Here’s a video documenting how I constructed my cob oven:

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