Social scene with Ooni Pizza Oven
Social scene with Ooni Pizza Oven

18 expert tips from Ooni prosumers - People who cook for big crowds with their Ooni ovens

A whole world of love and knowledge opened up to us when we interviewed some of our most dedicated Ooni pizza oven owners. These everyday heroes have taken their pizza-making skills to the next level, cooking pizzas by the dozen and beyond on a regular basis! 

Learn from their experience in this article, where we have gathered their top tips and tricks for making pizzas for large crowds. Let’s dive in!

1. Make a production line

Mark Wing from South Carolina, who used to work in the restaurant business, has had his trusty Ooni Pro (an older model we released in 2017), and often cooks a lineup of pizzas for friends and family. His setup is laid out just like a production line: “I like a table space for all the toppings, another for stretching, another to hold the oven, and another to cool and cut.”

Ooni Koda 16 pizza oven in outdoor kitchen

Douglas Blair’s outdoor kitchen setup

2. Get your setup ready

Oren Noah in California often caters big events as part of his Scout volunteering efforts, and has pretty much nailed the setup: “From left to right: - Folding table with marble slab for stretching, dough boxes, ingredient containers. Ooni medium table with Karu 12, perforated peel, turning peel, brush, container for pizza tools, side towels, etc. Folding stainless steel cart with ½ sheet cooling rack, cutting board, Ooni rocker cutter.” Superb.

Minna Sundberg, in Finland, an active member of the Ooni community who’s served up to 200 people on the same day, says: “Proper tools make the experience better. I recommend a wooden pizza peel for launching, especially for beginners. A thin metal utensil can then be used to turn the pizza while baking. Lastly, a digital infrared thermometer will take the guesswork out of temperature regulation.”

Ooni Pizza Oven

Minna Sundberg’s simple setup

Our recommendations for an outdoor kitchen have all of those and more. Check them out here.

3. Plan ahead of time, get some spreadsheets involved

Oren also has some great tips for preparing for a big pizza party: “PLAN! Make a spreadsheet laying out all the steps that will need to be performed on the vertical axis, and the time when they need to be done on the horizontal. That way, you’ll see if you have enough time and resources to pull off your plan.”

He continues, “Once you start, you’ll know if you’re on schedule, behind schedule or ahead of schedule.”

4. Do a practice run

Minna in Finland agrees: “Preparation is key. Practice beforehand and find out how many pizzas you’re able to make in an hour. Calculate the amount of toppings and dough needed.”

5. Use high quality ingredients

“Plot out your bake, make a grocery list, and splurge on the best ingredients—they make a difference.” says Rene Dupont from Michigan, who last year cooked no less than 36 pizzas during Ooni Day! He defines himself as “just a passionate home chef that loves fresh ingredients and cooking outdoors.” 

6. Go for a favorite dough recipe

A pizza party is not the kind of event where you’ll be wanting to try a new dough. Go for a tried and tested favorite instead. 

For Douglas Blair in New York it’s “New Haven or New York style dough with King Arthur bread flour, water, yeast, and fine sea salt.” Mark Wing from South Carolina for a Neapolitan dough: “Neapolitan dough with 65% hydration using Antimo Caputo 00 flour.” Douglas is an awesome human who holds fundraisers in his backyard once or twice a year using his Ooni oven and smoker grill.

7. …or Use the Ooni Calculator

When asked about his favorite dough, Rene Dupont said: “We make our own of course, using the Ooni calculator! Our current lineup consists of Caputo Blue Flour, Caputo Yeast, Jacobsen Sea Salt and good ole fashion H2O. Secret ingredient - malt powder to give it a more evenly colored crust.”

8. Don’t knock out frozen dough

Especially if you’re serving a huge crowd. Sean Poultney from Tamworth, UK knows it well: “For large numbers, buy frozen dough.” Sean has a catering business powered by Ooni ovens, run from his very own pop-up gazebo.

Did you know Ooni carries an excellent quality frozen dough?

9. Make Extra Dough

You can never be too cautious! “Make more dough than you think you need—it gives you an out if you mess up a couple of pies.” says Douglas Blair. And don’t forget you can always make a Recovery Calzone if you get a hole in your dough.

10. Experiment with Flavors “I love trying all types of combinations. I find that plain pies are still popular but I like putting pepperoni, sausage, meatballs, mushrooms, fresh basil, onions, peppers, in any combination.” says Douglas Blair. Meanwhile, for Rene Dupont, the options are equally mouthwatering: “Our most popular pizza combos are definitely pepperoni, sausage and onion, or honey garlic cheese bread.”

Mark Wing likes trying out the unexpected: “Experiment with ravioli pizza, venison meatball, mushroom, onion, and more!”

For Mary Hoekwater, a dedicated grandma who loves feeding her family in Florida, a winning combo is “sweet chili base, mozzarella, zucchini, red onions, shredded chicken, Thai basil, and chili flakes.” 

And if you really want to pull out all the stops, try this beast by Oren Noah: “My favorite and the one that gets me the most raves, is my own invention: - the “Ultimate Tiki Pizza.” Homemade mango barbecue sauce, home smoked mozzarella, kalua pig (homemade from pork shoulder, Hawaiian salt, liquid smoke while wrapped in banana leaves), fresh pineapple. After baking, topped with scallions and home-pickled red onion.”

11. Get your loved ones involved

For many Ooni owners who dabble in the catering world, friends and family make the best co-workers: “My girlfriend handles management and prep, while my best friend is the cook and dough prep expert.” says enthusiastic pizza party host Hector Fuentes, from El Salvador. Oren Noah agrees: “A small crew of volunteers doing assigned tasks works well for events.”

Marty McPies, an Ooni-powered food truck in Texas, likes to keep it in the family too: “My girlfriend is the manager/cashier/expo/prep. My best friend is my cook/dough prep. I ball up dough and make the pizza.”

12. Have side dishes and nibbles available

Having side dishes will help take off the stress so people can snack while you cook, instead of staring at you hungrily, putting you under stress. Mark Wing from South Carolina, says it best: “If you already know how to make pizza, just do it! Have side dishes, salad, and don’t set yourself up for high-pressure production.” 

13. Have all toppings laid out

Mary Hoekwater says: “I always have all my toppings ready and accessible. I have made huge batches of sauce and canned it in pint jars that give me two pizzas, which is what we usually cook for.”

14. Work on one pizza at a time

You might be tempted to try to stretch and top several bases at once, but Minna Sundberg advises against it: “Working on one pizza at a time makes it less likely to stick and develop holes.”

15. Serve by the slice, instead of making individual pizzas

Oren in California advises: “Because you can’t produce pizzas as fast as a pizzeria, don’t plan on a personal pizza for each person. Rather, make a few different types of pizzas, slice them and serve them by the slice as they come out of the oven.”

16. Always let your stone go back up to temperature between pizzas

Marty McPies, a food truck in Texas powered with three Ooni ovens, can sell as many as 70 pizzas in an afternoon. With that many customers, having multiple ovens is essential. Its owner’s tip for others like him who have multiple ovens is, “Make sure you alternate ovens, you must start your first pizza at around 785°-800 °F (420-430 °C), fully cook it, move to the next and allow at least a minute and a half for the stone to come back up to temp. You’ll find a rhythm, and just remember not to go back to back in the same oven. 2-3 ovens should be enough to manage.”

Ooni Pizza Ovens in a Food Truck

Marty McPies’ food truck - check out the Ooni ovens in the back!

17. Keep things clean

When making lots of pizzas, you’ll need to remember to brush your oven every now and again to get rid of any excess flour, debris and fallen toppings. Marty McPies has a three-oven setup, so he’s come up with a practical solution: “Maybe get a mop head that is slightly damp to clean off the stones, flour will burn and if you are doing multiple pizzas, you’re going to need to clean the stone or else every pizza will have burnt flour taste.” - We’d advise you to be very careful when putting any flammable materials in the oven, and wear gloves whenever you’re cleaning the oven.

See here for our Ooni pizza oven brush

See here for our Ooni gloves

18. Parbake and top - but consider your audience

Sean Poultney from Tamworth in the UK, often cooks for crowds exceeding 100 guests. His top tip? ”It’s all about preparation. When we are doing bigger events we will part bake 30/50 pizzas, add toppings and then sit them on a screen rack. Then when cooking for guests we’ll use these alongside fresh bakes to ensure a constant flow of pizzas.”

That works great for him in his catering business. But if, instead, you’re throwing a pizza party, consider Oren’s advice too: “Personally, I feel that making pizza is as much a show as it is production of food. Accordingly, I don’t parbake shells. I want the guests to see the pizza-making process. They appear to enjoy it and it starts many fun conversations. I also think it makes the pizzas taste better, as they’re more “invested” in the process.”

If you want to learn how to parbake pizzas ahead of an event, we have a full guide.

If you’re already part of the Ooni Community group on Facebook and want to check out the work of the fine folk we interviewed for this article, you can find them here:

We hope these tips have added some good knowledge and give you the confidence to boldly go into your next pizza party! See you out there and remember to keep it chill, plan ahead, and most importantly, enjoy every cheesy moment.

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