The Sage Smart Oven Pizzaiolo is the first domestic benchtop oven to hit 400C, claiming to provide ‘brick oven performance at a fraction of the cost’. The sleek metal oven looks like an oversized microwave and sits happily on a countertop or kitchen island to be plugged in – no outdoor space required.
The Smart Oven Pizzaiolo reaches 400C, enabling you to cook pizza in just 2 minutes. There are seven preset modes for all styles of pizza, plus a manual mode to choose your own cooking method.
- Read our round-up of the best pizza ovens.
What were your first impressions of the Sage Smart Oven Pizzaiolo?
The Sage Smart oven is securely but not excessively packaged, in a large cardboard box with polystyrene to protect it and some recyclable elements. The oven itself has a sleek metal design with three simple turn dials on the front. The oven opens from the front with a narrow door that opens downwards and a large chunky handle that stays cool even in use. There is a window into the oven to keep an eye on your pizza while it is cooking.
The oven is raised on low feet and has vents to help air circulate.
The oven also comes with a heavy round pizza stone that you slot inside the oven to bake the pizzas directly on, plus a long-handled metal pizza peel and a round metal tin to make a deep-dish pizza. The pizza stone feels sturdy, while the tin is a handy unexpected addition to help maximise the versatility of the oven.
How easy is the Sage Smart Oven Pizzaiolo to light?
No fuel or lighting is required with this easy electric model. The Sage works just like a microwave oven – slot the pizza stone inside the drawer, plug in, turn on and wait for it to heat up. The oven takes about 20 mins to heat up to the full 400C, like a regular oven. This makes it handy for impromptu pizza parties and feels impressively quick for reaching such a high temperature.
How easy is it to cook a pizza in the Sage Smart Oven Pizzaiolo?
To cook a pizza, you simply open the narrow front drawer downwards. The pizza stone is on a hinge inside attached to the door, so slides out slightly towards you as you open the door. We used the pizza peel to slide in pizzas – very easy once you get the hang of it. Our top tips are to heavily flour both your surface as you make the pizza and then the peel, so that the pizza can slide off easily. Don’t make your pizza on the peel, as this can cause it to get more attached and harder to slide off.
Then simply shut the door and set the timer – we found 1min 30secs-2 mins was optimum on the ‘Wood fired’ setting. It’s easy to open the door to check on the pizza and you don’t get a blast of heat straight out.
The oven uses Sage’s Element iQ system’s algorithms to adjust power and heat for the best results. Instead of just relying on heat from one direction or style, the oven can balance heat, including high heat from the bottom for a crisp base, convective heat (like a brick oven atmosphere) for melted toppings and intense heat from above to cook the crust edges.
There are seven preset modes to choose from. We loved ‘Wood fired’ for speedy homemade pizza with a leopard-spotted crust, but there are also modes for ‘Pan’, ‘New York’, ‘Crispy’ or even ‘Frozen’ pizzas. Each setting alters the levels and direction of the heat in order to cook the pizza the optimum way.
There’s also the option to go into a fully manual mode once you’ve really got the hang of your pizza style. The oven comes with a sticker you can lay round the dials, allowing you to individually control the temperatures and adjust how much heat hits both the top and bottom of the pizzas.
The electric model certainly gives you more control over the oven than some traditional, outdoor pizza ovens – you can get precise temperatures and timings.
How many pizzas does it fit?
There’s space for one 30cm pizza at a time, either on the pizza stone or using the pizza tin.
How hot does the outside get?
Some heat comes off the outside of the oven but it does not feel dangerously warm – the equivalent of being near a standard kitchen oven or microwave that has been on for a while. Considering it can reach 400C, this is impressive.
Due to the high heats, it takes a while to fully cool – we switched it off and it cooled 20-30 mins later. The oven does make a noticeable whirring sound while in use (like a loud fan oven), although if you were entertaining a crowd this would be easily drowned out.
Can you keep the Sage Smart Oven Pizzaiolo outside?
The perk of the Sage Smart Oven Pizzaiolo is it is perfect for using inside, all year round and in all weathers. You could plug it in outside if you have an outdoor plug, putting it on an outdoor table.
How was the finished pizza?
Our favourite thing about this pizza oven was the results themselves – crisp bases, a leopard-spotted crust and perfectly melted cheese. And all in just 2 mins. Being able to alter the levels of heat from the top and bottom of the oven allows you to balance different toppings and pizza styles.
We tested the oven using our margherita pizza recipe and had light crusts and melted cheese. We also experimented with lots of toppings on classic pizza dough, from garlic butter for instant garlic bread to meat feasts and veggie options. Because the oven gets hot so quickly, it’s great for adding bacon or chorizo to pizzas as it will fully cook through and crisp up instantly.
Can you cook anything other than pizza in the oven?
We only tested using pizza, and due to the narrow oven space we wouldn’t recommend other classically barbecued items sometimes made in a pizza oven, such as a spatchcocked chicken. However, the high temperatures could make it useful for grilling or blackening vegetables such as aubergines or peppers if already having the oven on for pizza.
How easy was the pizza oven to clean?
We found it tricky to clean this oven – if you mess up getting a pizza off the peel and toppings fall off, it can be tricky to reach in and get these. There is a clever metal band round the back of the oven that the peel fits into when sliding pizzas in, that stops toppings fully rolling down the back of the oven.
But if toppings fall off and cook onto the stone, as the stone does not come all the way out when opening, you either have to reach in (which can be dangerous due to the short height of the drawer), or turn off the oven, remove the pizza stone entirely, and clean it – which is time-consuming and impractical if you’re in the middle of a pizza feast.
The outer edges of the door also darkened after a couple of uses but this is easy to wipe off and was purely aesthetic.
Who would the Sage Smart Oven Pizzaiolo be most useful for?
If you’re into homemade pizza but don’t have much or any outdoor space, the Sage Smart Oven is designed for you. It would make entertaining with pizza easy and the variety of different modes encourages you to get experimenting.
It is an expensive piece of kit, so you have to consider how much you will use it to get good value for money. But this well built, sleekly designed oven should last you a long time.
The Smart Oven Pizzaiolo offers high levels of accuracy that brick or wood-fired ovens cannot – allowing you to precisely control the temperature and direction of heat, for results you can repeatedly replicate.
Sage Smart Oven Pizzaiolo: the verdict
The main attraction of the Sage Smart Oven Pizzaiolo is its convenience: as an indoor countertop model, you don’t have to wait for good weather or have outdoor space, and there is no stress about lighting it, controlling a flame or buying fuel or wood to keep it going. Simply plug in and you are ready to go.
For the investment, we’d have liked it to be easier to clean and you’ll have to ensure you get plenty of use out of it to get good value for money. But if you’re a true pizza fan, you can’t go wrong with this model.
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This review was last updated in July 2021. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at goodfoodwebsite@.