This Portable Oven Makes Restaurant-Quality Pizzas on the Spot
Pizza is a food group. That's a fact, and we're not here to argue about it. I never get sick of eating it, and one reason is that pizza can be made in so many different ways. (Another reason is cheese. And the third is bread.) And thanks to my favorite kitchen appliance, I can have a custom personal pie ready in minutes.
It was my uncle who introduced me to the Breville Crispy Crust Pizza Maker when he invited my cousins and me over for pizza night one summer evening. Since we live in New York, I thought that meant ordering in; instead, we found this spaceship-like device sitting on the kitchen counter. We rolled out store-bought dough, placed it on the included pizza stone, and spread sauce, cheese, and vegetables on it as the crust began to brown.
It took less than ten minutes to cook up each thin-crust pie, which we could monitor through the pizza oven's little window, and the results were downright delicious—better than anything I'd tried making in my standard oven. Considering how much I talked up the pizza maker to my mom later that night (and the following day, and the following week), it wasn't much of a surprise to find it under the Christmas tree for me later that year.
To buy: $150, williams-sonoma.com
The Breville countertop device can crank its temps up to 660 degrees Fahrenheit as it heats the 12-inch pizza stone from both the top and the bottom, giving the pizza a brick oven-esque taste. A dial on the top offers settings for thin, medium, and thick crusts, plus a "keep warm" option if, for some wild reason, you're not going to devour that pizza right away. That setting is also useful to hold the stone at prime temperature if you're making multiple pizzas.
Aside from the restaurant-quality pies it produces, what I love most about this pizza maker is that it's the most social appliance in my kitchen. I pulled it out when I hosted a Super Bowl party to entertain guests who weren't into the game. I've caught up with friends while making pizzas in my own kitchen instead of letting someone else do it at a restaurant. I even impressed my pizza-obsessed partner on one of our early dates. He still thinks I'm a good cook; please no one tell him that it was all the Breville oven.
If you're buying this as a gift, especially for someone whose cooking skills are limited to stacking ingredients on top of each other (another point for pizza), I'd recommend throwing in an extra pizza stone for your recipient. I was a little messy in letting oil and cheese spill onto my stone early on, which caused it to smoke if I made more than one pizza. They should also have a good scraping tool in their kitchen to clean off baked-on food once the stone cools.
For a single-purpose kitchen appliance, it sees a whole lot of use in my home. Although I'm currently in my smallest New York kitchen yet, I still make room for the Breville Crispy Crust Pizza Maker on my countertop for solo weeknight dinners and group meals alike. Still not convinced pizza is a food group? Pick up this pizza oven and get back to me in two weeks.