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Review: Blackstone Portable Pizza Oven (Conversion) Fails to Deliver

I’m here with another Blackstone pizza oven. If you saw my previous review of their $800 pizza oven model, you’ll know I didn’t quite care for its bulkiness, cost, packaging, and lack of overhead heat.

This smaller version uses their 22″ flat top base as a heat source. It’s also sold as a conversion kit if you already own the flat top – but I bought the kit that comes as a complete portable pizza oven from the box since I didn’t have a compatible 22″ flat top grill.

In this review, I’ll give you everything you need to know including setup, preheat times, performance, and durability.

So let’s unbox this 68 pound behemoth, which is considered a “portable pizza oven”.

Not interested in reading? Here’s the takeaway: Blackstone pizza ovens have a lackluster design with a severe lack of overhead heat. These budget pizza ovens performed way better.

  1. Ninja Woodfire (10% off coupon: PALA10)
  2. Pizzello Forte
  3. Solo Pi Prime (10% off coupon: PALAPIZZA10)
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Unboxing & Setup

The packaging seems better with this model since it’s a smaller overall size. Their bigger pizza oven with the stand had poor packaging because everything was crammed into one big box, resulting in dents in the metal. No issues with this one.

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Packaging is basic, but no damage!
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Except for one bent tab to hold the top stone.

Setup is straightforward and easy to follow with the manual, but takes a solid 20 minutes. You first have to install a metal shield under the flat-top base, then attach three handles, screw in the feet, and secure a cap above the dome. But I struggled to get the overhead pizza stone in place because one of the tabs was bent. A quick bend with some pliers and it was good to go.

One important thing to point out is that it only comes with a regulator for 1lb propane tanks, whereas the Camp Chef oven I just reviewed came with both. I find it really interesting that they provide a regulator for small tanks, which would promote portability – but the whole setup weighs upwards of 68lbs! This is one of the heaviest “portable” pizza ovens I’ve tested. Even the Ooni Karu 16 weighs less, which has a lot better insulation.

Design & Features

The Blackstone Portable pizza oven comes in two variations: a semi-stainless steel version which is available through Blackstone’s website, and an all black version which is available through Walmart and a couple other retailers.

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I’m using the all black version from Walmart.
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A round pizza stone to bake on and a square one to help improve the top heat.

I like the look of the all black personally – BUT, more to come later on the durability of this.

The two burners are located under the left and right sides of the stone, and a very tight-fitting door can be used during operation to improve the preheat times, the latter of which can be monitored with a nice built-in thermometer.

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The burners are quite small for a pizza oven.

Performance

It’s time to find out how well this pizza oven works. In this section, I’ll test the preheat times and bake both NY style and Neapolitan pizzas.

Preheat Test

Firing up the oven was a bit of a bottleneck; I couldn’t get either burner controls to ignite. I tried turning it really slow and holding it in for 10 seconds, but couldn’t get a spark. And of course I was out of matches, so I lit a Q tip on fire. Surprisingly, that worked beautifully. 

The oven let off a lot of smoke during the preheat, and seemed to top out around 770 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a comparison chart showing the preheat times to some of my top-ranked ovens. You can find links to those reviews down below.

Comparing Blackstone Portable Pizza Oven to Others

The built-in thermometer has the opposite problem that most pizza ovens do. The stone temperature is much hotter than what the thermometer shows. This is due to the design with gas burners being located below the stone.

Pizza Test

Since I had the oven really hot from testing the preheat times, I decided to try a Neapolitan pizza first. I launched my first Neapolitan at 770 degrees, and in 75 seconds the bottom was cooked perfectly – but the top was terrible. This confirms what the thermometer showed – a severe lack of overhead heat for this style of pizza.

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blackstone portable neapolitan top 1024x576 jpg

I dropped the heat a bit and launched a New York style at 687. After 2 minutes, I picked the pizza up and held it closer to the top stone for another 2 minutes. This salvaged the pizza, but it wasn’t enjoyable to do. So next time I dropped the heat even more to just below 600 degrees. This was a better bake and only needed to be held up for 1 minute. 

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Going even lower in temperature would negate the need to lift the pizza – but we’re reaching kitchen oven level bakes at that point. 

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I’m not impressed with the design of Blackstone pizza ovens with burners under the stone. They market their patented two-stone technology which is supposed to provide enough ambient heat to cook the tops, but it just doesn’t work very well. A bigger flame in the back of an oven (which every single product on my best pizza ovens rankings all use) is capable of heating the stone and baking the top of the pizza at the same time.

Durability

Durability is another concern – after just 1 week of using it, rust is appearing where the door scrapes against the oven. The door fits very tightly in the oven so there’s really no way to avoid scraping the sides – and after reading user reviews on their website, other people are experiencing this as well.

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In addition, a bunch of rust is appearing under the stone where moisture can collect. This is the most I’ve seen on a pizza oven to date after just a week of owning it. Whereas my Ooni Koda 16 sat outside, uncovered, throughout Northeast winters, for two years and only has some rust on the bottom screws.

But to give some credit, the cost of this model is much more appealing than the Camp Chef I just reviewed. And, at $274, the base is interchangeable as a flat top grill. So if you want a dual-purpose product and only plan on making New York style pizza, you can make this work. But if you’re looking to get serious about making good pizzas, get one from my best pizza ovens list.

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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