Solo Stove Pi Prime, Tested and Reviewed

I fired it up to cook frozen pizza, homemade pizza, steaks, zucchini, and sweet potatoes.

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Solo Stove Pi Prime, Tested and Reviewed

In my almost 40 years in the restaurant industry, and more recently as a food writer, I've tried out enough grills, pizza ovens, and even smokeless fire pits to know that, sometimes, you just need the right tool for the job. Making pizza or calzones at home is one of those times. The average home oven simply doesn’t have the heating capacity to make many styles of pizza well, even with a stone or steel. So, where does that leave you? Many newer grills have pizza-baking capabilities, or you can invest in a pizza oven. 

While the idea of an oven just for pizza may sound frivolous or intimidating, many models go far beyond a single-purpose tool, allowing you to bake bread, pizza (of course), vegetables, meats, and fish, utilizing the oven’s high temperatures to lend flavor and texture from the added caramelization that high heat brings. Solo Stove just released its upgraded Pi Prime Pizza Oven, and I got to test it out.

To buy: Solo Stove Pi Prime Pizza Oven, $350 at

The propane-fueled Pi Prime came with everything I needed to get started, short of the gas, the oven, baking stones, and a gas line and regulator. Setup was simple; I just placed the unit on a heat-safe surface, put the stones inside the oven, and connected the propane tank. Pay attention to the illustrations in the instruction manual for the proper placement of the stones. There are cutouts in them to account for the burner and heat deflector that need to face the appropriate direction. Also, there was some dust from the packaging in and on the oven, so a wipe-down with a damp paper towel seemed prudent before lighting it.

Food & Wine / Greg Baker

With those tasks out of the way, it was time to light the oven. The temperature control knob has a built-in click-type ignitor, so it only took a few clicks to get the burners going. The instruction manual says to let the oven heat for about 15 minutes to come up to temperature and shows a photo of someone using an infrared thermometer to check it.

At this point, I found an item for the wish list. The temperature control dial had several markings for hot to cool settings with two orange markers, which the manual stated were “a workable baseline for pizza-making,” but no temperature indicators. This isn’t unusual for a propane appliance, but a thermometer to measure the ambient temperature inside the oven would be a nice touch, especially for someone eager to take their new oven for a drive but encountering the infrared thermometer graphic and coming up short. Still, it's not a deal breaker.

To establish a working baseline for ourselves, I first tested the oven with a thin-crust frozen pizza, approximating the brand’s baking temperature with the Pi Prime’s control. After waiting the prescribed 15 minutes for preheating, I put the frozen pizza in. The pizza browned nicely, rotating every few minutes, and finished cooking in 10 minutes, seven minutes shorter than the directions indicated. It had a nicely browned top, and the cheese had a nice pull to it, but the bottom of the crust was not crisp at all.

Food & Wine / Greg Baker

I then moved on to a handmade pizza. Using the typical one-pound ball of grocery store-bought dough, I stretched it to 12 inches (the oven has a 13-inch opening) and topped it with cheese, spinach, red onions, and crimini mushrooms. Starting from cold, I again allowed the Pi Prime to heat for 15 minutes, this time utilizing the two indicators on the dial to approximate 700°F. The top browned nicely, but this pizza required more tending than the frozen test subject. Allowing it to sit in place for three minutes, the part of the pizza closest to the burner suffered from a charred crust and toppings. Repositioning it and moving it frequently, I achieved a nicely browned crust and top, a good cheese pull, and fairly well-cooked vegetables. But again, the bottom did not crisp. I’d recommend a longer preheat time and dividing the pound of dough into two pies if you’re not a fan of bready pizza crust.

For the next test, I wanted to see how the Pi Prime did with cooking foods that aren’t pizza. I roasted sweet potatoes at medium-low heat and zucchini at high heat, then cooked two 12-ounce New York strip steaks using Solo Stove’s cast iron cookware set, which is available for purchase starting August 31. The sweet potatoes cooked in about 10 minutes, still moist with nice caramelization; the zucchini in four minutes, with similar results; and the steaks, heavily caramelized and medium rare, in six (watch out for grease fires near the burner). I can see the versatility of the Pi Prime as a major selling point, bringing it out of the realm of “just a pizza oven.”

Cleanup is almost as easy as the setup. It’s best to clean the stones while the oven is hot, as heat is an exceptional cleaning aid. Hot or cold, a grill brush with a scraper head will remove any baked-on remnants (and there will be remnants no matter how careful you are – pizza making is not a tidy process). The exterior requires no more than a wipe-down with soapy water to remove splashed or accumulated grease. Finally, wipe out any crumbs that may have fallen between the stones with a dry towel after the grill has cooled. On that note, the Pi Prime’s exterior was cool to the touch in 30 minutes after turning it off, and the base and legs disperse heat, never getting hot to the touch.

The Pi Prime is a great product for people wanting versatility in their pizza oven, especially at the price. Allow the stones to heat longer than advised, and you’ll achieve a crisp bottom crust. Just monitor your pie to avoid charring near the burner, and you’re good to go.

Solo Stove Pi Prime, Tested and Reviewed

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