How to make an outdoor brick oven from recycled materials

Rachel Woodisse
Sunday, 28th July 2013

When Rachel and her husband first decided to have a pizza oven in the garden as part of their permaculture design, they never realised it would become the heart of the garden. Here's how they built it step by step.

My husband had wanted to build a pizza oven ever since he saw one at River Cottage, so we decided we would build one in as part of the permaculture design for the garden. The garden isn't very big and the position it is in, is really the only place it could go. We had a plan from the internet but it was pretty useless, so we built it in the room available to us. The garden is about Earthcare, growing our own food and lessening our footprint on the earth, and it also touches on Peoplecare and Fairshare but the pizza oven is different, it is reaching all the ethics so deeply.

The 'how to' bit

We started with a load of old brick from the old garden wall, some old decking and breeze blocks and cement and plaster. I didn't like using cement but what else would happen to it? Dumped into landfill? We realised we would have to get some more materials as it wouldn't be enough, so we hunted for them on Freecycle, but no luck. So we had to purchase some bricks and some more breeze blocks, but as these have all been used, we produced no waste. We also used a lot of waste hardcore to fill in the main body of the oven. After we had finished the oven, we had our first lighting and first homemade pizza! We invited a friend over to dinner who had helped build it.


Filling in the base


Building the walls and entrance

We had some smoke escaping from the roof, so we had some tweaking to do. My husband had by this time decided he wanted to slow cook meat in it and we realised we would have to make it retain the heat better. We could also use it for baking bread as well by doing this. So the next stage involved covering up the dome with foil and then covering this up with old loft insulation.

A layer of chicken wire was then placed on top so the render would have something to stick to. I have to be honest and say, it looked like it wouldn't work but it did and looks lovely now.

We lit it again and some cracks appeared, so we will render it again. Next year we are planning to put a door on it and a chimney, to keep in the heat and take the smoke away from the neighbours. We are sourcing old wood from a timber yard that would otherwise be dumped and using the ash on the allotment. So far the oven is working really well and the pizzas taste great!



This is for materials only, other materials and labour were free.

Extra breeze blocks £100
Bricks £180
Plaster/sand £10
Iron work for domes opening £60
Terracotta render £15
Still need to cost door and chimney.

Rachel lives in Portsmouth, runs a cat sitting service in the city and volunteers on community garden projects. She is currently working towards her Diploma in Permaculture Design with the Permaculture Association (Britain).

Further resources

The Simple Art of Making an Earth Oven

Watch: Off-grid living

Book: The Permaculture Book of DIY


susiec123 |
Tue, 30/07/2013 - 14:27
We have done something similar, using as much recycled material and clay dug from the garden. We only purchased sand to make the shape and a few extra bricks that were needed. We still have much of the sand left. We have cooked pizzas for up to 20 friends and family in one sitting, each pizza being cooked in just a few seconds. I'm still practising bread, but have cooked cakes and a joint of beef overnight in the residual heat. We have built a wooden frame with roof around it to protect it from the weather (this was again all recycled material - mostly an old playhouse that we took apart). We have built a cold smoker alongside it. It was a joint project with my other half, we had great fun making it and now really enjoy using it.
SBlackwell79 |
Fri, 02/08/2013 - 11:24
I just held a Cob Oven workshop at Sutton Community Farm near London. Loads of fun and mud resulted in a very cool pizza oven.
Ash Fothergill |
Wed, 17/09/2014 - 20:17
Hello. Your oven looks great. I'm really interested in the types of bricks you have used. They look like old solid red bricks, but I have read that they are not really up to the job and that you should use fire bricks? Many thanks
Alexander-Jax |
Tue, 10/01/2017 - 16:00
Incredible! Just incredible! I'm so inspired! I have however a question. I notice how the door is not see through. Doesn't that make it a lot harder? I want to build a similar oven but I was considering using a door like this one so that I can see how the pizza is coming along. Mainly just looking for input on my thoughts here.
RPsen |
Thu, 01/02/2018 - 07:59
Thanks for the helpful post!