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The Best Pizza Ovens to Make the Perfect Slice

The Best Pizza Ovens to Make the Perfect Slice

There’s a reason why pizza is the menu choice of picky preschoolers, hungry teenagers, and discerning foodies alike. With enough cheese, tomato sauce, and arugula, homemade pizzas are a complete meal. They’re irresistible, easy to make, and customizable for a wide range of dietary preferences. 

Until recently, an aspiring pizzaiolo had no choice but to crank up their kitchen oven to the standard 450 degrees. Now, the best portable pizza ovens can heat up as high as 900 degrees—the perfect temperature for making a crisp, Neapolitan-style pizza in minutes. For the past three years, I’ve memorized recipes, perfected my dough-tossing technique, and made hundreds of pizzas. You don’t have to limit yourself to pizza, either; I’ve seared steaks and pan-fried broccoli in ’em. Here are my—and my waistline’s—favorites. For those of you with limited access to outdoor spaces, I’ve included an indoor option and an oven that fits on a small deck, balcony, or patio. 

Be sure to check out our many other buying guides, including our Best Portable Grills and Best Camping Stoves guides.

Updated April 2022: We added a slide on accessories and updated pricing. 

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Don’t Dump Frying Oil Down the Drain. Turn It Into Jelly

Don’t Dump Frying Oil Down the Drain. Turn It Into Jelly

After speaking with Brown, I kept frying things: salt and pepper shrimp, smothered pork chops, even fish and chips. Slowly, I came up with a better plan for how to get rid of cooking oil in Seattle, and when I’d incorporate FryAway. For large quantities (up to 2 gallons), I’d continue to try to put it in labeled containers so it could be converted to biodiesel—no FryAway used, unless I didn’t have containers. For typical sauté quantities, I’d just wipe the pan out with a paper towel and put it in city compost without FryAway. For shallow-fry quantities, which are too much for paper towels and too little to put in a container, I’ll use FryAway and put the solidified oil in the city compost. Your solution will depend on where you live and what the local disposal options are. If I lived somewhere where the only option was to throw it in the trash, I’d likely use FryAway (or something like it) for anything but quantities I could wipe up with a paper towel.

The other thing I tried to do was cook with the oil more than once, or as Brown might say, more fully capture its value. After all, she said, “if you use it twice you need half as much.”

This made me think back to the years I lived in Barcelona, where, if I may generalize, they don’t do as much out-and-out fried food (like fries) as we do in the United States, but are more prone to cook a pound or two of sliced potatoes and onions in a couple cups of oil over medium heat for a Spanish tortilla. What surprised me was how people would have dinner, then pour the used cooking oil into a container near the stove to be used again and again. If that seems weird, think about the Fryalators at your favorite burger joint; it’s not like they’re changing the oil out after every batch of onion rings.

“We might use oil four or five times,” said my old friend and Barcelona native Carme Gasull, a food writer and screenwriter on a new cooking show called Menu(dos) Torres. “We’ll make fries, croquettes, tortillas …”

“How do you know how long to keep it?” I asked on a video call, and she gestured to her eyes and nose.

“With potatoes, the oil stays pretty clean, but with croquettes, it goes faster,” she says, referring to ingredients like bread crumbs, flour, and cheese in the latter which might flake off, fall to the bottom of the pan, and slowly crud up the oil. “If you use it too long, you can tell.”

The reuse of cooking oil is so ingrained into life in Barcelona that the city provides cooking-oil recycling containers, which can be filled up and swapped out for empty ones at recycling centers.

“Every Wednesday, a truck comes to our neighborhood for a few hours and we can bring stuff like used cooking oil, clothes, and electronics to it for recycling,” she says.

While I’m glad Seattle has different options for disposing of cooking oil, I really liked having FryAway around, particularly for midsize jobs that were too much for a paper-towel wipe up and not enough to stick in a gallon container. However, its usefulness will depend on what you cook and what the disposal options are where you live. We might not all have little trucks that show up in our neighborhood and cart our oil away, but at the very least, FryAway gives us one more reason not to pour oil down the drain. It may even help keep the banana peels off our roofs.

The Best Chef’s Knives to Sharpen Your Home Cooking Skills

The Best Chef’s Knives to Sharpen Your Home Cooking Skills

A great knife is the cornerstone on which a great meal is built. But if you ask three chefs what makes a great knife, you’ll likely get at least five answers. The truth is that what makes the perfect knife for you will depend on many factors, including your comfort level with knives, the size of your hands, and what sort of food you like to cook.

That said, there’s a reason the basic 6- to 8-inch chef’s knife is ubiquitous: It’s the most versatile knife. The chef’s knife is capable of dicing veggies, slicing meat, smashing garlic, and chopping herbs and nuts. In a pinch, it’ll even go through small bones without too much trouble.

There’s a bewildering range of chef’s knives available, from dirt cheap to very expensive specialty blades. To help you make sense of it all, we sliced and diced with dozens of knives until a simple truth emerged: A poorly-made $10 blade you sharpen every week is more useful than a $200 blade that’s dull. Every knife needs to be sharpened, some just need it more than others. Much of the price difference in knives comes down to the quality of materials, which in turn often translates into how well the blade holds its edge.

We stuck mostly with 8-inch blades, the sweet spot for the classic chef’s knife. Testing involved the stuff you’d do in your own kitchen—peeling, filleting, dicing, chopping, cubing, slicing, and all the other standard prep work for meats and vegetables. Here are our picks.

Updated February 2022: We’ve removed a Shun that’s no longer available anywhere. We’ve also add some more sharpening options and updated pricing throughout.

Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.

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Cooking in a Tiny Kitchen? This Gear Will Help You Stay Sane

Cooking in a Tiny Kitchen? This Gear Will Help You Stay Sane

When you show people your kitchen, they ask “Where’s the rest of it?” We get it. If you live in a big city, it’s not uncommon to find kitchens crammed into hallways and former closets. If your kitchen is so small you have to store bread vertically to keep it from sticking out into the living room, then this is the guide for you. 

Maybe you’re having trouble fitting your chef’s knives onto your limited counter space. Maybe your beloved Dutch oven sits in the middle of the floor. If so, we have some creative storage solutions and fun-size cookware that WIRED writers have loved and tested. Do you need some inspiration once you have your setup perfected? Don’t forget to check out our other buying guides, including the Best Cookbooks and the Best Pots and Pans.

Updated January 2022: We’ve swapped out the Cooks Standard 36-Inch Pot Rack, which we love, for the Wallniture Lyon rack, since the Cooks Standard is currently out of stock everywhere. We’ve also added the Gneiss Spice magnetic spice jars, Hamilton Beach Mini 3-Cup Food Processor, Le Creuset Small Utensil Crock, Raddish Mini Cooking Tool Set, and Ebern Designs Aliecia hanging fruit basket.

If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more. Please also consider subscribing to WIRED.

Maximize Storage Space

Schmidt Bros Knife Bar with knives attached

Schmidt Brothers Acacia

Photograph: Crate & Barrel

  • Start with pot hanger shelves. Getting those pots and pans onto the wall will free up precious drawer and cabinet space. If you don’t have room for a shelf, a hanging bar will get skillets, saucepans, and woks out of your way.
  • Mount a wooden knife bar to your wall. The magnets that grab the knives are hidden beneath the wood, so it’ll be less likely to chip or dull your knife blades than an all-metal bar. Skip the countertop knife block—not only does it take up counter space, it’ll dull the blades of your knives more quickly.
  • Wall-mounted spice racks also free up a lot of cabinet space. Buy a bare rack and stock it with good spices, like selections from Burlap & Barrel. Spices are one area where you should spend money; the difference in quality is noticeable. WIRED product reviewer and writer Louryn Strampe sticks magnetic spice jars to her refrigerator. She likes Gneiss Spice, which comes in a ready-made kit. You can also specify the spices you want.
  • If you’re low on drawer space, store your cooking utensils in a utensil crock. This Le Creuset Utensil Crock ($55) has enough room to hold all your spoons, spatulas, and tongs.
  • Hanging fruit baskets mean you won’t need to use precious counter space to store fresh fruit and vegetables. Leave your tomatoes, potatoes, and stone fruit out of the refrigerator.

Consolidate (and Downsize) Your Cookware

Image may contain Pot and Dutch Oven

Lodge Enameled Dutch Oven

Photograph: Amazon

  • How often do you really use that quesadilla maker or steaming basket? One multicooker can replace a couple of less often used machines. The Instant Pot for ($89) is the most famous, but there are other multicookers worth a look.
  • A Dutch oven, like this enameled one from Lodge ($80), can also replace several single-use pots or machines. I’ve used my Dutch oven to steam oysters, bake cornbread, slow-cook stews, and make barbecue.
  • WIRED product reviewer and writer Louryn Strampe makes most of her meals in the Great Jones’ Deep Cut ($90), a hybrid pan that’s a cross between a skillet, a frying pan, and a sauté pan. “It doesn’t shine in one area over any other,” she says, “but it’s sturdy, it heats up evenly, and the stainless steel surface cleans up easily in the dishwasher.” WIRED food writer Joe Ray recommends a similar multi-use option from All Clad.
  • You don’t need that many knives. Ditch the 10-inch knife set: An 8- or 9-inch chef’s knife, a smaller paring knife, a bread knife, and maybe a couple of specialty blades will suffice. Or consider replacing them all with a general-purpose Chinese caidao. For more information, check out our chef’s knife buying guide.
  • If drawer space is limited, you can even downsize your hand tools. Senior associate reviews editor Adrienne So got a pair of tiny tongs in a mail-order cooking kit for her six-year-old daughter, but she quickly found them useful for everything from flipping sausages to tossing noodles and serving salad at the table in tight confines. “I also use her tiny whisk for salad dressing, her tiny stirring spoon, and her tiny spatula much more often than I’d like to admit,” So says. “Tiny tools forever!”
  • Consider a small food processor if you don’t have enough prep space to handle a knife safely. The Hamilton Beach Mini Food Processor ($19) can slice and dice up to three cups of ingredients at a time. WIRED product reviewer and writer Medea Giordano has had hers for three years now and particularly loves using it to make fresh pasta sauce.

Add Prep Surfaces

Image may contain Furniture Tabletop Wood and Drawer

Catskill Craftsmen Maple Cutting Board

Photograph: Wayfair 

  • Cutting boards take up a ton of room when you’re doing meal preparation. Buy one that’s made to fit over your sink, like this Catskill Craftsmen Maple Cutting Board ($27). Hardwood, like the maple used here, is easier on your knives than bamboo.
  • Mount a drop-leaf table to a nearby wall. The IKEA Bjursta ($45) is 3 feet of counter space that swings down and away when not in use.
  • Burner covers can add space to your cooktop. Use them to make a place to set down an extra cutting board or utensils. This Prosumer’s Choice Bamboo Workstation ($60) can cover half your stovetop—get two for a continuous flat surface over all four burners.
  • Buy a rolling cart. Most tend to be 48 inches long, but if you’re in a tiny kitchen you’ll be better off with 36 inches or less. You can tuck it into a corner of your kitchen-adjacent room and wheel it over when you need more counter space, then roll it away when you’re not using it. Utility carts can also move where you need them to go.

How to Move in the Kitchen

  • Here are some tips from WIRED senior writer and product reviewer Scott Gilbertson, who worked in the restaurant industry for six years and knows his way around tight cooking spaces:
  • You don’t need to lay everything out like you’re presenting a cooking show. “I think there’s this notion that you always need to cook via mise en place, where everything is all spread out and ready to go,” Gilbertson says. “Take what you need off the shelf, use it, and put it away.”
  • Clean up as you cook. Got a spare minute while you’re waiting for a sauce to reduce in the skillet? Wipe down that counter. Toss out those eggshells. It’s not just a chef’s and line cook’s secret to making cleanup less intimidating and soul-sucking later on. It’ll also cut down on the clutter that builds up by the time you’re finished making your meal.
  • If you’re sharing your cramped kitchen, it’s important to communicate whenever one or both of you are handling food, pots, or cooking utensils. Just say “behind” loudly when you’re passing somebody in the kitchen who’s wielding that cleaver or handling that colander of hot pasta.

More Great WIRED Stories

Hard-Core Home Bakers, This Is the Mixer of Your Dreams

Hard-Core Home Bakers, This Is the Mixer of Your Dreams

Out of the blue a few months back, my power-baker friend Shannon texted photos of a failed baking project. Instead of a picture of a plateful of crumbly cookies, she sent three successive shots of the stripped gears in her high-end stand mixer, which was in the process of falling apart.

“Do I just bite the bullet and shell out $3K for the Hobart n50,” she asked, referring to a pro model that looks like it could power a tiny tractor through a stony field, “which at that price, should rub your feet and tell you that you’re beautiful?”

I sent Shannon’s pictures to another power-baker friend, Tara, as something of a joke, à la “look at the weird stuff people send me!” Instead, she had a suggestion.

“Tell her to get the Ankarsrum.”

“The what now?”

“The Ankarsrum. It’s from Sweden.”

As a product reviewer, it’s always a bit of a thrill to say, “I’ve never heard of such a thing,” knowing it’s preapproved by someone who knows what’s what in the kitchen.

I looked it up, and this unique Swedish gem—the $700 Ankarsrum Assistent—which originally came out in 1940, did not disappoint.

Here in the United States, where the brand of reference is KitchenAid, we’re used to stand mixers whose motor and moving parts are all above the bowl and whose primary attachments—the dough hook, paddle, and whisk—all spin around in the bowl.

In the Ank, as aficionados call it, the main bowl spins, powered by a motor in the base of the machine. Once I started testing it, I’d tell friends about it, usually accompanied by a short video I took, which would invariably elicit a response along the lines of “what the hell is that?”

The Ank’s motor is controlled by a pair of dials: One is for the speed, and the other is an on/off switch that also allows it to run on a timer for up to 12 minutes, something that’s handy when you want to multitask, but not overmix. The metal bowl is a cavernous seven quarts, and the company’s website touts its ability to make five kilos of dough (11 pounds!) at a time. In the machine’s back corner is a tower with an arm that swings out over the bowl and attaches to a kneading dough roller.

In what you might call its classic setup, the dough roller is attached to the arm, and a dough knife slots into the tower to keep the sidewalls clean.

GIF of Ankarsum Mixer mixing dough

The mixer in action. 

Courtesy of Joe Ray

Turn it on and your dough comes together, the bowl spinning, the roller squooshing it up against the sidewall, the dough knife keeping that sidewall clean. There’s also the possibility of using a big dough hook in place of the roller, which I did to gently (and cleanly) mix together a giant batch of meatballs. Confusingly, there’s a second bowl that’s stationary for other baking styles. This smaller, plastic bowl in the shape of a bundt pan has a pair of balloon whisks for light work and thicker wired “cookie whisks” for chunkier doughs.

I went with classic breads to start testing, making sure to adjust recipes to add liquids first—something of an Ank requirement—immediately marveling at all the work done by friction. Yes, the bowl spins thanks to the motor, but the roller rolls thanks to a grooved rubber ring around its top that nestles into the bowl’s lip. The dough knife is naturally pushed against the sidewall of the bowl. It quickly gives you the pleasing sense that there’s less to break.

Once the dough comes together, you can pivot the arm and roller toward the center of the bowl as it runs, allowing you to adjust the kneading pressure on the dough, occasionally allowing you to work through the step in the directions where you stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Staying in a similar, bready vein, I made toast bread, following a recipe in the book that came with the mixer and makes four squat loaves that fill a half-sheet pan. I used up some lovely Moroccan olives to make a more rustic loaf. I also tried two different recipes for focaccia, and one that many people recommended I make: challah. For each of these, the Ank felt impressive and sure on its feet.