Countertop pizza ovens are sorted by the jobs they can handle. The format is generally the same, with low-profile openings and typically electric elements that heat food from above and below, although a few of these run on gas. Larger models have separate heat zones that can be controlled independently.
Frozen Pizza Ovens
The simplest, most economical type of countertop pizza oven is designed to mainly reheat frozen pies, though it can also provide adequate heat for ones made on a pre-baked crust. These typically include a wire or solid rack attached to a handle that can be slid in and out of the unit. These are relatively low-powered and they're not designed to cook fresh pies. They're great for convenience stores, bars, and concession stands that want to have pizza on the menu, but don't intend to serve more than a few a day. They're often used in establishments that want to keep a few pies in a glass merchandiser and sell them by the slice. These can also be used to heat other frozen snacks like cheese sticks and chicken fingers, and to finish foods like heated sandwiches.
Fresh Pizza Ovens
The ovens in this category are designed to deliver the consistent, even heat that's required to bake authentic fresh pies with crisp crusts. These are built with more heating power than the ones for frozen foods, so they can be used to produce higher-quality pies, but still in low volume. They sometimes include brick linings inside to absorb and radiate heat for even baking, just like the larger versions you'll find in pizzerias. Choose one of these if you want the capacity to bake a few high-quality pies each day.
Pizza and Pretzel Ovens
An oven designed to bake pizza and pretzels typically includes a stone deck which will heat up and give breads a crispy, flavorful crust. These are used mainly for fresh pizzas and made-from-scratch pretzels, but any bread product baked in low- to medium volumes will do well in these, so long as they're small enough to fit inside the low-clearance opening. These are a favorite in mall kiosks and concession stands.
The most powerful countertop pizza ovens are classified as multi-purpose because they can bake more than just pizzas. These can be used as a versatile solution for baking bread, pretzels, and cookies, as well as cooking quesadillas, frozen cheese sticks, egg rolls, and fish sticks. These can typically achieve higher temperatures and may include independent controls for each heat zone. Ones with larger baking chambers can even be used to roast meats. These are sometimes thought of as a higher-powered alternative to a toaster oven.
Brick-lining absorbs heat and radiates it evenly throughout the baking chamber. This reduces hot spots and helps create a higher-quality, more evenly heated product. Bricks also improve heat-recovery, which can let you bake more products faster.
Stone decks replicate the traditional way of baking pizzas on a thick stone hearth. Stone absorbs heat and provides an even baking surface that can help create crispy crusts on bread products, including pizzas.