Solo Stove made a name for themselves with their popular smokeless fire pits but have recently been storming into the pizza oven market too. First, they brought us the innovative Solo Pi Dual Fuel Pizza Oven (which we reviewed and loved), and now they’re at it again with the Pi Fire.
The Pi Fire is not a pizza oven in itself but rather an accessory that sits atop a Solo Stove Fire Pit, transforming your campfire into a pizza oven. Since it’s not a dedicated pizza oven, don’t expect it to perform in the same way as one. Solo Stove refers to the process as a “leisurely pizza cooking experience” since it doesn’t burn hot or cook pizzas as quickly. But I was surprised by how much I enjoyed using it.
It appeals to people who prize portability, who already own a Solo Stove fire pit, and anyone who wants a fun accessory to take their campfire cooking to the next level.
In this review, I’ll look at the features of the Solo Pi Fire (I’m personally using the Bonfire size), test out its cooking ability, and help you decide if it’s a tool worth adding to your arsenal. Let’s get started!
Unboxing and Assembly
Assembling this oven is as easy as attaching the three legs, which is done with two screws and washers each. Everything else is already in place. The pizza stone slides in and out of the oven easily, and two handles on the oven’s hood allow easy maneuverability.
Also in the box is a handy carrying case which adds to the easy portability of this oven, and a pair of heat-resistant gloves to help you safely lift the Pi into place on top of your fire pit or add more logs (warning: I’m comfortable adding logs to firepits without gloves. However, I DID burn my hand on this oven, because re-fueling the firepit with bigger logs can be more difficult with a hot piece of metal above it. So… wear the gloves.)
The Pi Fire has a specific look unique to the Solo Stove products. The squat, flat-topped, vaguely futuristic shape with plenty of chrome has become their signature, and it’s a look I enjoy. I like that the ovens resemble the fire pits and that they fit together nicely and look like an intentional, cohesive unit when assembled.
The hood of the Pi Fire is made of durable, ceramic-coated stainless steel, which insulates the oven, retaining heat and keeping the temperature as high as possible to create an efficient cooking environment.
You’ll also notice the visible holes throughout the Pi Fire’s design, again a part of the Solo Stove signature look and the brand’s forward-thinking engineering. The rows of holes draw in oxygen, increasing airflow and heat while reducing smoke. In addition, this innovative design removes the need for a chimney, saving you space.
The Pi Fire sits atop your fire pit with its three legs securely located into the lip on the pit’s rim. The oven traps the fire’s heat between its base and partially-domed top, creating a brick fire-like oven atop your campfire.
There is about a foot of space between the base of the oven and the fire, which gives you ample room to maintain your fire (and toast marshmallows) while the oven is in place.
The Solo Pi Fire currently comes in three sizes to fit the range of Solo Stove fire pits, and they’re working on bringing out a fourth size to fit the Canyon (Yukon 30″) fire pit any day now.
Ranger Pi Fire is the smallest unit with a 12″ pizza stone and a weight of 13.4 lbs, then the Bonfire Pi Fire with a 14″ stone and a weight of 19.6 lbs, and finally, the Yukon Pi Fire with a 20″ inch stone and a weight of 34.6lbs. As yet we’re unsure of the specs of the Canyon but have been told it will have a 20″ pizza stone.
The size and weight of each Pi Fire will be a factor in how portable you find this accessory and the size of pizzas you can cook on it. If you already own a fire pit, you’ll obviously choose the Pi Fire to fit your model.
Ranger Pi Fire
- Diameter Oven: 15.0 in
- Diameter Stone: 12.0 in
- Height Oven: 15.7 in
- Weight: 13.4 lbs
Bonfire Pi Fire
- Diameter Oven: 19.3 in
- Diameter Stone: 14.0 in
- Height Oven: 16.9 in
- Weight: 19.6 lbs
Yukon Pi Fire
- Diameter Oven: 26.5 in
- Diameter Stone: 20.0 in
- Height Oven: 19.1 in
- Weight: 34.6 lbs
Fuel and Fire
The Solo Pi does not require its own fuel source but works off the heat from your fire pit. So you can cook pizzas with that delicious wood-fired flavor without building a second fire or transporting a second piece of wood-burning equipment.
When building the fire to cook with, the temptation is to create a roaring fire so the flames can ‘reach’ the oven, which stands about a foot above the fire. However, if you do this, you risk circumventing the airflow technology that keeps these fire pits smokeless. This will lead to a less tasty and discolored bake. Instead, follow Solo Stove’s instructions and build the fire as they suggest. They know what they’re talking about!
Solo Stove also recommends building your fire in the fire pit and then lifting the Pi Fire into place as the fire gets going rather than waiting until it’s burning really hot. This is the safest way to handle the oven and also gives your pizza stone as much time as possible to heat up. The gap between the oven and the fire is wide enough for you to maintain the fire with the oven in place.
Max heat, Preheat, and Cooking Time
To start cooking on the Pi Fire and expect the same results as a dedicated pizza oven would be a mistake. It’s a different cooking style that Solo Stove refers to as a ‘leisurely’ way to cook pizza. So forget about whipping out 60-second pizzas and think of a more casual cooking experience where you take more time to relax as you await your pizza.
Once your fire is burning correctly, Solo Stove recommends allowing 30-45 minutes for the stone to preheat before launching your pizza.
The Pi Fire doesn’t reach the kind of 900°F heat we’ve come to expect from pizza ovens, but around 500 – 650°F. At these temperatures, you can expect to cook a pizza in around 5-8 minutes which is great for New York styles.
The stone tends to lose heat with each bake, so if you’re looking to cook multiple pizzas, you might need to add another log to your fire and give it a while to reheat between them. But, again, this is not designed to be a speedy pizza-cooking machine. So, take your time and enjoy the process.
After about 30 minutes, the stone temperature reached around 580 degrees Fahrenheit. With temperatures this low, you’ll want to use a bread flour-based dough. I used my standard NY-style recipe and sized them into 3 doughballs, which will make a 13” pizza.
I added a fresh log for some more heat and the temperature reached 660 degrees just before launching my first pizza. I rotated it every now and then, but it didn’t seem to really need it.
This pizza baked for about 5 minutes. You can see it has a pretty unappetizing grayness to it from the smoke. Lesson learned – don’t launch a pizza right after adding a new log.
For my second attempt (pictured below), the wood was burning much cleaner but the temperatures dropped to 560 degrees. I baked it for about 6-7 minutes. You can see this style of oven definitely lacks overhead heat, so you won’t get too much color on the top crust. But the bottom was spectacular. A really impressive crunch that I think is pretty solid for being made in a fire pit.
I figured I’d try a Neapolitan dough out anyway, and it came out as expected. Way too dense from the longer bake.
But I actually like this product a lot for camping. The kids were also way more interested in making pizza in this than any of my other pizza ovens. Maybe because it’s lower to the ground and more their height – or they just like the firepit.
And the cover that comes with it is excellent. Ooni charges like $60 a piece for covers and this might even be higher quality than that.
Overall, if you want to make pro-level pizzas, get their standalone gas-powered pizza oven. The Pi Fire range might not appeal to pizza purists who want a traditional pizza oven that reaches 900 °F and cooks pizzas in 90 seconds. I also wouldn’t expect anyone to purchase the Solo Stove AND the Pi Fire pizza oven attachment just to make pizza. But if you already own their fire pit and want to spend some fun nights around a campfire with crispy-bottomed pizzas, give it a shot. I’ve been having a lot of fun with it.