You can do a lot more in a pizza oven than just pizza. The combination of high heat, wood fires (if you have a wood model), and adjustable flame height can do wonders to salmon, roasted meats and veggies, and even breads and desserts. But steaks are one of the most common “alternatives” to cook in a pizza oven. The high temperatures are capable of obtaining an impressive sear without overcooking the center too much.
But…before you venture into searing a fatty cut at 900 degrees, I have a few pieces of advice to share. In this article I’ll give you everything you need to know in order to cook the best steak in your Ooni pizza oven. Let’s get started.
First Off, What Kind of Steaks?
You can cook just about any kind of steak in a pizza oven. Fatter cuts like ribeyes and NY strips have the tendency to flare up – which is ok as long as you don’t panic. As the steak cooks, it’s common for the grease from the rendering fat to ignite in ovens as hot as this. I have a few tips to manage this, depending on your cooking method (cooking a steak from start to finish inside the oven or cooking it sous vide (or reverse sear) and only searing it in the pizza oven).
Method 1: Sous Vide Then Sear (the best)
I hope your current path in life has led you to eating a sous vide steak – at least once. If not, stop what you’re doing and buy this one. It’s relatively inexpensive in terms of new kitchen appliances, yet it’s life-changing for steak.
But if you’re a steak afficionado and landed on this article, you may already own a sous vide machine and know about its magical powers. And you also know that the most difficult part of cooking sous vide steak is getting a really fast sear. It needs to be fast so that you don’t continue to cook the center of the steak, which is already at the perfect temperature from center to edge.
This means you need a scorching hot cast iron pan and a sear of 1 minute max on both sides. You can do this on your stove, but its common to set off smoke alarms and deal with the eye glares from your spouse. A grill can work, but in my experience the pan cools down a bit too quick after placing the steak in.
A better solution? 900 degree pizza ovens.
Step by Step: Sous Vide Steak in Ooni
Once again, we’ll start with just salt. No need to burn up any steak rubs at these temperatures. Then we can start up our bath and use the water displacement method with a ziplock bag – this is just a fancy name for putting it under water to push the air out, then sealing it.
I like my steaks cooked at 137 degrees, but you can set the temperature here to your liking. Cook for 1 to 3 hours, depending on the thickness of your steaks.
30 minutes before it finishes, we can fire up the Ooni pizza oven on high and place a cast iron pan to preheat. Ooni sells a grizzler pan, but for a ribeye, I actually prefer a pan with walls on it to better contain the flame. And there will be a flame when cooking ribeyes.
If you were cooking a steak in the Ooni from start to finish, you would want to use much lower temperatures. But since we already cooked the steak with sous vide, we just need as fast of a sear as possible.
At this stage it’s so important to make sure you dry the steaks as much as possible before searing. Then we can add a little olive oil directly to the steaks, and toss them in the pan. Turn the flame to low, and when the flame reaches over the steaks, shut the flame off completely. Cook for 1 minute before carefully pulling the pan out enough to flip the steaks for another minute of cooking. The flame will rise when you flip them, so be very careful here.
With the pan basically being ignited, you would probably expect the steaks to be burning. But they didn’t at all. This isn’t like a grill flare-up, where the flame is below the steak and searing it. In the pizza oven, fat and grease splatters up and ignites pretty much instantly in these temperatures, but not the steak itself.
With the Ooni turned off, the flames should die down completely before the cook is finished.
Method 2: Fully Cooking A Steak, Start To Finish
If you plan on cooking your steak in a standard fashion from start to finish, plan on using a lower temperature. Preheat the Ooni pizza oven for 20 minutes on low flame with a cast iron pan inside.
We’ll start with a moderate dusting of sea salt. Nothing else at this stage, because even pepper will burn up at the higher heat. Save your steak rubs for the end.
After preheating, add the steaks (lightly coated in oil) and continue to cook, about 4 minutes and flipping once in between. If it flares up, turn the Ooni flame off and continue cooking as normal.