The Expert Grill Charcoal fired Pizza Oven, my latest gadget.

Last week someone posted a tip after they purchased this pizza oven at a reduced price. This is the type of product that I have had an interest in for a while but I did not want to spend several hundred to try one. This was posted on for a sale price of $97.00 that included free shipping. Site unseen, I pulled the trigger and made the purchase and the device which weighs in at close to 40 pounds arrived two days later.

The product was packaged well and was very easy to assemble. All that was required was to remove the internal packing and to attach the 4 legs to the unit and connect the smoke stack, which simply slid onto the base. The product was sturdy and well built, did not have the cheap product feel, that I feared when purchasing the grill.

The grill operates when the user adds charcoal to the removable bin located at the back of the oven. The bin will hold approximately 2 pounds of charcoal and has an ash catcher underneath.

I filled the removable chamber and then dumped into my chimney starter, since I wanted to make sure I filled it to capacity, without lighting too many coals. The chimney starter is a great device that is used to light charcoal. I use a couple of rolled up pieces of newspaper on the bottom with the charcoal on top and then you light the paper.

It takes about 10 minutes to get the charcoal to light. I then dumped the lit charcoal it into the Pizza grill chamber and placed it into the oven. When the lit charcoal is added it will take appoximately 15 – 20 minutes for the grill to come completely up to temp. Quite quickly the grill itself was close to 800 degrees as displayed on the thermometer.

Although the grill is now 800 degrees it will take the majority of the 15-20 minutes for the stone to come up to temp which the instructions conviently pointed out. At the point the grill was 800 the stone was only 200 degree. I use a heat sensing gun to measure the temp of the stone before placing the first pizza in the oven. The heat gun can be purchased from Amazon linked below. I did wait until the stone reached close to 600 degree before trying the first pizza.

A basic internet search showed a lot of different recipes for Pizza dough and we made a couple different types; experimenting with different types of yeast. It was simple enough to make and prep. The instructions also stated you will need a pizza paddle to insert and remove the pizza from the oven. After looking on Amazon, I purchased this one and I am impressed with the purchase for under $25 linked below.

The recommendation is for the pizza to be rotated in the oven for even cooking, which can be rough, so I also purchased this pair of pizza spinners for $20 from Amazon. Once the crust sets up, it is easy to spin the pie in the oven using these two devices. The pizza will still be removed with the paddle though.

The first pie was a veggie pizza. I put sauce on it, then some diced mini peppers, mushrooms and red onions on it. I also used some shredded mozzarella, some fresher mozzarella slices and some parmesean cheese. I topped it with some Italian seasoning and garlic powder.

Lesson learned on the first pizza, use a lot of corn meal to allow the pizza to slide off the paddle and into the grill onto the pizza stone. This first one did not come off clean, resulting in a less than round finished product. The pizza is placed in the oven, the door is placed on the grill and then after a 40 second wait you need to spin the pizza in an attempt to get it cooked evenly.

40 seconds later, the pie is moved again, and then cooked for an aditional 40 seconds. A total of two minutes and then removed and fully cooked. As you can see, times are not precise, and you can easily burn the crust if left in too long in one position for too long.

The pizza had a really good flavor, all ingredients were fully cooked in the 2 minutes it was in the oven. I did cook a second pizza and added some pepperoni to it.

Lesson learned. The grill gets hot, and can shoot a flame out of the smoke stack. I originally had the oven under my pavilion, but when I noticed the flame coming out of the chimney, I quickly moved it to an open space on the patio. Good thing I was smart enough to put it on a rolling cart to start with.

Lesson #2 Since all of the charcoal is lit at once, the grill will get hot quickly. Because of the same fact the peak heat or operation of the oven is limited to a short time. Pie #1 will cool down the stone and you will need the heat to catch up before immediatley inserting the next pie. I would suggest if you planned on cooking multiple pizzas you would want them prepped in advance and ready to cook. It seemed to me from the first time use, it will only be good for about 30-40 minutes at peak temp.

Future plans, we will try to make some pizzas with a thinner crust next time, either making it from scratch or purchasing some that we saw at Sprouts that were premade.

Second time using the oven, we decided to cook calzones. Ended up making sausage, pepperoni, onion, mushroom. We used sliced mozzarella, shredded mozzarella, ricotta, and parmesean cheese. My wife made the dough again and then turned out great.

They cook really quick in the pizza oven, about 4 minutes total. And you have to be quick with placement and moving it away from the fire in an “attempt” to avoid burning.