PizzaKettle - Wood Fired Pizza on the Weber


Steve_A (Tatoosh)

TVWBB Super Fan
I bought a Pizza Kettle insert for my 22.5 OTG Weber Kettle Grill. They have since redesigned the unit, moving the thermometer to the side and lowering the top by 20%. However, I like my older version a lot now that I've had a chance to use it. I made a couple of newbie errors and need to make a few adjustments in my procedures, but I have very high hopes for a very good quality pizza in the near future.

First off I made a makeshift ceiling for my unit. I plan a much more finished sheet metal version to sit in the top of the KettlePizza insert within a month or two. I will have a sheet of heavier steel in the center of the ceiling that I can drop a 1/4 chimney of hot charcoal on which will help radiate heat from the top of the oven.

The Makeshift Ceiling:


I fired up one full Weber chimney of the local lump charcoal, then added 3 pieces of Samdol fruitwood, remnants from a woodcarvers shop here.


The First Pizza Goes In:


My Wife Turning Pizza:


One of the Finished Pizzas:


A Bit of Leoparding on Bottom:


We made our dough the night before and let it rise in the refrigerator overnight. The first one puffed up nicely and had great flavor, the second one not so much, and the third pizza was in between the two. We make our own mozzarella - a quick, but tasty microwave version. We used a store bought sauce and some pepperoni we had on hand. Overall, it was tasty and a pretty good success. I used one chimney of local lump, next time I will do two of them, the first being evenly spread on the bottom and the second toward the rear of the Weber charcoal grate the way the KettlePizza manufacturer recommends.

There is plenty of room for improvement but with practice it will be one of our favorite ways of using the Weber.
Steve, thanks for the info. I just bought one for my fathers day arrived yesterday. It went together very easy. I put my top rack off the 22 WSM on the top of the insert and I was planning on just throwing some tin foil on it or do you think it will just melt at 700-900*?
The aluminum foil I used, a bit thinner here than most sold in the USA, did fine! I've had foil "burn" when it was placed in hot charcoal, such as when used as a pouch to hold chips when smoking. But as a ceiling for the KettlePizza, it worked fine and is ready to go a second time. I did have flames coming up and licking mine from the wood. I think it will work fine. If you have something that isn't heat sensitive to sit on top of the foil, at least in the center, that will help keep it from billowing up as the hot air rises into it.

Oh boy was that an experience..... lol where do I start?
Yes foil will melt and it did.... first pie on stone broke up so was a bit messy, second pie I left on the pan and then after a few minutes onto the stone came out nice. Third pie was doing great until I could not get it onto the peel and it dropped of the back and burnt up :( fourth sort of stuck to the peel but saved it. 5th and 6th came out ok but I broke the stone :(.
I made my own dough..... it was ok but I did not get the bubbling effect.
My peel was wood and the thickness made it hard to get under the crust. I ordered a aluminum peel off fleabay and I'm going to pickup some fire brick for the grate, it will raise the pie up a bit and won't crack as easy.
It for sure makes a mess and smokes up a red grill!
All in all it was still a blast and the pie did taste great..........and made for a very exciting Friday night! :D
Sorry for the mess ups, but wow ... what a saga ... and a learning experience! Okay, more research and chatting with other KettlePizza owners brought to light that they set their food grate on the lower set of wing nuts inside the KettlePizza insert. This raises everything up substantially. I fought with mine due to it sitting lower since I rested my food grate where it normally goes.

Two users do NOT use foil for the ceiling, though I am a bit amazed yours melted, but we'll talk about the melting in a moment. They forgo the ceiling completely, instead using the pizza peel at the end to lift the pizza and hold higher in the dome of the ceiling, where the temperatures are significantly higher, to finish off the toppings. The melting very much surprises me ... but it depends on how you are loading your Weber, I think. I used 1 load of charcoal (Weber Charcoal Chimney = 1 Load) and 3 pieces of wood. I am moving to 2 loads of charcoal. That should give a more uniform base line temperature. The nice temperature spikes come from the wood, which can be reloaded to sustain your cooking. An Australian user reports hitting 900F regularly. He does not use a foil ceiling. That may be what you experienced and why your foil failed and mine did not. You may well have been getting much better temps than I've experienced and the foil couldn't handle it.

Another complaint I heard and had a bit of trouble with myself were the "pizza turners" I purchased along with the KettlePizza insert. They have teeth on the end that tend to tear up the pizza crust, particularly if the pizza sticks to the stone or the dough is still soft. I may modify them to get rid of teeth and add on some sort of longer edge that I can slip under the pizza. But you do have to have something to turn that pizza with. Ideally, you want two peels. My choice would be one wooden to build and deliver the pizza on and a thinner metal one to retrieve the pizza.

Thanks very much for the report and I hope you stay with it. The Weber/KettlePizza offers a shot at some serious pizza in your backyard for those that choose to take that path.
I had my grate in the kettle screws, had some good oak burning so it was for sure hot. I think getting the dough right and the thinner removal peel will make a big difference.
I'll be trying again soon for sure, and already see this as a huge crowd pleaser at parties!
Happy fathers day, I'm off to pick fresh strawberry's!
Guys...don't over think it...I had my kettle pizza for over a year...I found cooking the pizza on a metal tin with holes in it works best...get something more then a throw away metal tin. It makes it easier to spin and the crust comes out perfect..besides it keeps the stone cleaner too! It will take time to figure it all out!
Kim, glad that works for you. We do have a perforated pizza pan that we tried. I didn't really like the results. I moved the food grate and pizza stone up onto the lower wing nuts when we did it again today. That made a world of difference for me. Also, when I took the manufacturer's pizza turners and flipped them upside down (at least for me) they worked perfectly. The prongs are pointed up, the long flat length of steel slips under the pizza easily, helping keep the pizza from sticking when turned. I was very much pleased with those improvements. A double load of charcoal, some wood, I was at 700F and above. The pizza stone was easily in the high 675F to 690F range. Three to four minute pizzas were easy. I did three of them, could have done four, maybe even five before the temp started to seriously drop. I was very pleased with the results, at least in terms of hot temps and rotating the pizza.
Well I'm going for round 2 this Friday! I just bought a OTS 18.5 off Craigs list for $ 20.00 and will set it up just for the KettlePizza. I'll rework the grate with an opening to drop wood in from the front with out removing the top. Also plan on making a backstop so I won't loose the pie into the fire hole :) I'm thinking the lower top on the 18 may help keep the heat in a lower zone. Also going to put down fire brick instead of a "pizza stone".
Kim, I had planned to stop at our local restaurant supply for some of those holy pans.
I'll get me a purrfect pie yet!
Steve, Serious Eats has had extensive practice with the Pizza Kettle. A wood peel is intended to move the pizza to the stone and metal peel of some sort is used to remove. I use a wood peel to insert and large bbq spatual to remove it onto a pizza pan then to a cooling rack for a few minutes.

Although I don't have a Pizza Kettle I've done a little work trying to duplicate the results with just a standard kettle. I use a 1/4 inch 18 inch round steel plate (it was free) instead of a stone. There's been a bit of research in using steel vs a stone.

Also this is a recent thread here on the Pizza Kettle.
ok Did all my fab work tonight first I cut the grate
Then I cut the fire brick to fit the grate
Here is the set up, hole in back for ease of dropping in wood, handles removed
I think the lower lid on the 18 and the higher fire brick will do the trick....... but then again I never thought tin foil could melt.....
Wow, Al ... what a great pizza stone. That should do it. You have the newer version which has the lower height. I think that is a great design. Check out the link that JReyes gave above. Some great info there!

Kenji has been writing about the KettlePizza for awhile, coming up with improvements, slight modifications aka "hacks" for quite awhile and is part of why I got so intrigued with these a couple years back. Sadly, things intervened and even though I had most of the components, I was unable to get on with my Pizza Project until recently. I'm pretty serious about my pizza. Not that it has to be the best in the world, just the best I can make. Heston Blumenthal, a fairly well respected British Chef following Harold McGee or maybe it was Nathan Myhrvold, a couple of pretty well respected chefs, in using steel's radiant heat properties to up their kitchen oven's baking abilities, primarily for pizza. I have friends that have tried that and report pretty good results.

In fact, there is an article about the Baking Steel over at the Pizza Lab that has some really nice results I'd be darn pleased to serve. And they are coming out of a kitchen oven. Wow! But wood-fired pizza is my dream and with the KettlePizza insert ... Bingo! ... Bango! We are darn near there! I plan to modify my older style KettlePizza insert with a light sheet steel ceiling that will have a heavier steel center where I can do a half load of hot charcoal. It will drop it down so it sits lower, so effectively it's height is similar to the new units. I'm hoping that will radiate down and augment the hot air that is exiting out the front, finishing my toppings and turning out my "good as it gets around here" pizza. :cool:

JReyes, I added a comment on the other thread you pointed out. There is a great product for high hydration doughs called a "Super Peel" which can handle very sticky doughs. I only have the wooden peel that I bought from the KettlePizza people, but I'm hot for a metal one soon. Sadly, none for sale here in the Philippines, but I know a metal worker that can whack something together for me pretty soon, along with my metal ceiling. That will slick the whole process up, as you can see in one of the photos from our last pizza foray, I was using an upside down pizza pan to retrieve my pizza. While I had some sticking issues to start with, once I flipped my "turning tools" upside down and used their long thin shaft to break the pizza from the stone before turning, I didn't have so much trouble. Well, except with the timing. A bit dark in a couple of places. But that will improve with experience.

Thanks to everyone for great info and links!
Let us know how it performs. I may be wrong but with those thick bricks it may take a long time to get hot. Most people like to see their stone/steel surfaces in the 600 range. If you have a way to temp the surface pls let us know.
Let us know how it performs. I may be wrong but with those thick bricks it may take a long time to get hot. Most people like to see their stone/steel surfaces in the 600 range. If you have a way to temp the surface pls let us know.
John, that is a concern, I plan to get a good bed of coals going and let it heat about 30 minutes or more, then load up on oak hardwood. Nice thing about the 18 is it has a nice sized belly for some good amount of fuel. If the fire brick does not work I'll go for the baking in progress... moma never said it was guna be easy!
Considering how high those bricks sit in your oven door, you might want to try putting your grate on the Weber, not the wing nuts of the insert. Then your bricks and check your floor height. If it is at all below the bottom of the opening of the insert, you don't want the grate there. But if it lowers your stones so they are even or a bit elevated above the lower opening edge, you are golden! I found out the hard way what a pain in the pah-tootey a floor below the lower edge is. You can't turn your pizzas easily or retrieve them without lots and lots of drama ... heh! heh!

I nice load of coals is mandatory as you mentioned. I used a single Weber Charcoal Chimney worth the first time. Second time I used two chimneys worth. It worked much better, I had a much stabler temperature. I'm really looking forward to hear how your setup works out. I think if you get those bricks up to temp, they will hold the heat well. Good luck!
Tatoosh mentioned in his first post that the PizzaKettle has been redesigned, I just received the new version for Father's Day. Is there a discussion anywhere of why it was redesigned (I may have missed it)? Is it to move the lid closer to the pizza to increase the temperature?

My unit is 6-1/2 inches tall and the opening is half of that, 3-1/4 inches tall. How does that compare with the original design?

I will try out the PizzaKettle, Mark II this weekend using the basic set-up and experiment with changes later.
They are similar, but a 20 percent drop in height. I think the opening is the same. They wanted to bring the dome closer to the cooking level for more temperature hitting the toppings. See JReyes link above to the links at Serious Eats that have looked at the various designs and modifications (aka hacks) for getting the most out of your unit. I think you will end up liking it quite a bit. My wife informed me to budget 2 pizza parties a month until further notice. We are one of the few wood 'n charcoal fired pizzas around our bit of paradise and she enjoys sharing the food! :eek:

Serious Eats review of the new model is --> Here