The Best Pizza Oven Temperature [Homemade and Frozen]

Pizza ovens are hot. Really, really hot. Pizza needs to be cooked at a very high temperature but what exactly is the best temperature for cooking pizza? If you want to make a perfect pizza, you definitely need to have your oven at the optimal temperature. Too cold and your pizza will be raw or dry out before it is cooked. If your oven is too hot, the pizza will burn quickly. So, let’s take a look at the best oven temperature for pizza so you can start cooking!

Why Are Pizzas Cooked at High Temperatures?

The perfect pizza has a chewy crust with a crisp exterior. The cheese is perfectly melted and has just a touch of brown. To achieve this perfect texture and taste, the pizza needs to be cooked quickly. A higher temperature oven will allow the outside of the dough to get crisp and cooked quickly, but keep the inside of the dough soft and tender.

High heat will also melt the cheese completely in a short time. When the oven is too cold, colder spots in the oven may not melt the pizza cheese. No one wants to eat a pizza with cold, hard cheese! So turn that oven up in order to cook your pizza correctly. High heat is a must.

The Best Temperature For Pizza in a Home Oven

Most of us only have a regular oven in our homes. However, you can make amazing pizza inside a normal, kitchen oven. The key is to use the highest temperature setting on your oven. Most home ovens can reach up to 500 degrees F. You are going to want to use all the power your oven can give! My oven happens to go up to 550F, which is what I use anytime I make a pizza indoors.

If you have never turned your oven up this high, don’t worry! It will work perfectly. Your oven is designed to handle high heat and turning it up to 500 degrees F will not damage your oven. Make sure there is no food debris in the bottom of the oven that may burn when the heat is turned up high. A clean oven will cook best!

The kind of pizza you are making will also affect the time and temperature. Here is a closer look at how to cook pizza in a home oven based on the kind of pizza you are making.

pizza top rack
Cooking the pizza on the top rack works best, especially if you’re using a pizza stone or baking steel.

Fresh, Homemade Pizza

Homemade pizzas are made with very soft doughs. The fresh dough will cook the best at the highest heat possible. Since the dough and toppings are not frozen, the pizza will cook quickly. If the oven temperature is too low, the dough may dry out and get hard before the cheese even has time to melt!

But, when cooked in a 500 degree home oven (or higher if possible!), the pizza dough will brown and crisp, leaving a chewy dough inside as well. The high heat will melt the cheese quickly and allow it to bubble and brown as the dough cooks. Turn that oven up as high as you can when you cook homemade pizza.

Frozen Pizza

When you put a frozen pizza in your kitchen oven, you are going to use a little less heat. Frozen pizza only needs to cook at about 425 degrees F. The baking temperature for frozen pizza will be a little less than a fresh pizza because of the pizza’s beginning temperature. The colder pizza will need longer to cook. If the oven is too hot, the outside may burn before the inside of the pizza dough is even thawed. 

Drop the temperature a little bit when baking a frozen pizza but never less than 400 degrees F. 425 degrees F is the ideal frozen pizza cooking temperature.

Outdoor Pizza Oven Temperature

If you happen to have an outdoor pizza oven, you are in luck! Outdoor pizza ovens are able to reach very high heat. As you now know, the high the heat, the better the pizza! An outdoor pizza oven can be up to 900 degrees F. This high cooking temperature will give your homemade pizza a restaurant-quality taste and texture. The outside of the dough will quickly crisp, the cheese will almost instantly melt, and you will be eating a fresh pizza in a matter of minutes. In fact, a thin-crust pizza will cook at 800 degrees F in about ninety seconds. You can’t beat that!

Every outdoor pizza oven will enable you to control the temperature in different ways. Some have vents to open and close, others have more sophisticated mechanisms. Read your instruction manual to see how to gauge the temperature in your outdoor pizza oven. Then, be sure to keep it about 750 degrees F, ideally around 850-900 degrees F for the best pizza.

outdoor pizza oven temp

If you are wondering if you can cook frozen pizza in an outdoor pizza oven, the answer is yes! Lower the pizza oven temperature to about 750 degrees F and then pop the frozen pizza in the pizza oven. If your frozen pizza recommends baking the pizza on a cardboard tray that is included in the packaging, skip this step. The cardboard will burn at such a hot temperature. Cook the frozen pizza for about 5 minutes or until the cheese in the center is bubbling. Let it cool slightly before enjoying it. Frozen pizza tastes much better when cooked in a real pizza oven.

How Long Should You Preheat For?

You want to be sure your oven is at the right temperature before putting in the pizza to bake. Every oven will preheat at a different rate but, as a general rule of thumb, turn your oven on about 30 minutes before you are ready to cook your pizza. This gives your oven plenty of time to reach a high and steady temperature. If you’re cooking with a pizza stone or steel, you can even increase the time to 1 hour to ensure the stone/steel reaches its max temperature.

How to Know When Your Pizza is Cooked

Knowing when your pizza is fully cooked is very important. It can be tricky, especially if you are using a new pizza oven. You don’t want to eat a raw pizza and you definitely don’t want it to burn! The best way to see if your pizza is cooked is to look at the cheese. The cheese in the center of the pizza should be bubbling and completely melted.

In addition to the cheese, look at the crust of the pizza. The crust should be golden brown and even starting to blacken on the bottom. A pale pizza crust means the pizza is not quite cooked yet. Cooking your pizza at high temperatures can make it go from raw to burned quickly so keep checking it and take it out right when the cheese bubbles and the crust is golden.

Are Pizza Stones or Baking Steel Necessary?

You do not necessarily need a pizza stone or baking steel to make a great pizza. You can always opt for a simple cookie sheet pan. However, you will get a much better pizza when you use a pizza stone or steel. Pizza stones heat evenly and ensure that your pizza is cooking at a regulated, uniform temperature. A pizza stone also draws out any moisture from the dough to give you a very crispy crust. When you preheat the stone or baking steel, it will give the pizza an initial burst of high heat, cooking the exterior of the crust immediately and leaving the inside chewy.

While you do not necessarily need a pizza stone or steel, you may want to invest in one especially if you plan on making a lot of pizzas!

Should Pizza Be Placed in the Top or Bottom Rack of the Oven?

The best place to position your pizza is on the top rack of the oven. Place your pizza stone or baking sheet on the rack near the top to preheat. When you slide the pizza onto the stone, the hot surface will cook the crust while the close oven heating element will take care of the top cheese.

Getting the oven temperature right is the first necessary step to baking a perfect pizza. Hopefully, these tips and tricks will help you assess your oven and how high to turn up the heat. Just remember, the higher, the better when you are making pizza!

Written by Derek Gaughan

Derek Gaughan is the Founder and Content Lead for Pala Pizza. He's been featured in PMQ Magazine, The Washington Post, and Home & Gardens. Derek holds an MBA from Pennsylvania State University and is a trained pizzaiolo, specializing in New York style, Neapolitan, and Detroit pizzas.

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