I Tried the Halo Pizza Oven, and It Made Restaurant-Quality Pizza at Home

Updated: Feb. 20, 2024

A native New Yorker put the Halo Pizza Oven to the test to see if it could give him a taste of home.

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I was born and raised in New York City, where pizza isn’t just a food—it’s a religion that preaches that at-home pizzas are akin to blasphemy. This sin can be forgiven, however, if you have a pizza oven that can replicate the hot temperatures found in brick pizza ovens. Could the Halo Pizza Oven be the answer to my prayers? While not as well-known as the Ooni Pizza Oven or the Solo Stove Pizza Oven attachment, the Halo Versa 16 won the 2022 Retailers’ Choice Award and comes with features that have impressed rookie and expert pizza makers alike.

I wanted, no, I needed to do a Halo Pizza Oven review to find out if I could get the slice of home I’ve been craving since moving to North Carolina. Spoiler alert: After using it for more than a month to make everything from New York-style pizzas to skillet cookies, I can confidently recommend the Halo Pizza Oven to my fellow Big Apple natives or anyone else who wants to make restaurant-quality pizzas in the comfort of their own home.

What is the Halo Pizza Oven?

New Halo Pizza Oven on CarpetAnthony O'Reilly for Family Handyman

The Halo Versa 16 is a propane-powered and portable backyard pizza oven capable of heating up to 950 degrees in under 15 minutes, which is much hotter and quicker than your kitchen oven. The high heat cooks 16-inch pizzas in about five minutes, and the dual burners and rotating pizza stone ensure a crisp crust and a gooey cheese pull.

It can be used for a lot more than just pizza, too. You can roast meat, bake bread or cook any other dish that requires even heat distribution at high temperatures. Halo is far from the only pizza oven out there, but it’s one of the most affordable options compared to other similarly sized appliances.

We Tried It

Halo Pizza Oven

Get a deep flavor, crispy crust and chewy goodness with this pizza oven. Cook the perfect pizza whether it’s in the backyard or at the campground.

Halo Pizza Oven Features

Let’s dive into some of the features that separate the Halo Pizza Oven from Ooni, Alfa Nono and other pizza ovens.

Size

Bagels cooking in Halo Pizza OvenAnthony O'Reilly for Family Handyman

Unlike the first outdoor pizza ovens that required permanent and costly installations and took up a lot of space, the Halo Versa 16 Pizza Oven is compact and portable. It weighs 43.54 pounds, is 22.4 inches wide, 14.84 inches tall and 24.59 inches deep. I like that there’s no chimney sticking out of it, as you see on the Alfa Nono, so it’s easier to assemble or put in the back of your car if you want to take it on a camping trip or tailgating party.

I think most able-bodied people can carry it with ease. The only challenge is the shape is a little bulky and there are no handles. As the Halo Versa 16’s name implies, the oven can cook pizza pies up to 16 inches in diameter.

Propane Connectors

Propane container on halo pizza ovenAnthony O'Reilly for Family handyman

The ability to use either one- or 20-pound propane tanks makes the Halo Versa 16 Pizza Oven more versatile than other options, like the Gozney Pizza Oven, that only use 11-pound tanks or heavier. The one-pound tanks are perfect for people who don’t plan on making multiple pizzas a week or don’t have room for a 20-pound tank.

Connectors for both one- and 20-pound propane tanks are included with your oven. Some outdoor fireplaces with pizza ovens, like the Solo Stove Pi Prime, allow you to use wood to give you an authentic pizzeria taste.

Rotating Pizza Stone

Rotating Stone in Halo Pizza OvenAnthony O'Reilly for Family Handyman

All of my pizzas were evenly cooked and melted thanks to the Halo Pizza Oven’s rotating stone, which spins your pizzas or other dishes the same way a pizzaiolo turns their pies with a peel to ensure uniform cheese meltage.

Dual Burners

Dual Burners in Halo Pizza OvenAnthony O'Reilly for Family handyman

Like most pizza ovens, the Halo Versa has a hot burner in the back of the unit to cook the top of your pizzas but also comes with a second heat source to crisp the pizza’s bottom. This is the only pizza oven I’m aware of that has dual burners, and I have to say it’s one of my favorite things about it.

With the dual burners, you get a perfect pizza every time, so long as you preheat the stone ahead of placing your pizza on it.

Hinged Access Lid

Opening the lid of Halo Pizza OvenAnthony O'Reilly for Family handyman

The hinged access lid made putting pizzas in the Halo Versa 16 much easier than using the opening on the front, and it also comes in handy if you’re cooking larger items like a cut of meat or need to clean the pizza oven. I liked having this option, though I wish there were an easier way to close it.

Several times, I used it with a plate or something else in my hand, and I couldn’t close the lid without it slamming. This means you need to drop what’s in your hand before safely closing the lid, which could result in heat loss.

How We Tested It

If you’ve made it this far, you shouldn’t be shocked that the first thing I made in this pizza oven was a New York-style pizza. My first attempt taught me a valuable lesson—you need to let this thing preheat, and I’m talking about preheating it for a good 10-15 minutes. Otherwise, your cheese will melt much sooner and even start to burn before the dough is thoroughly cooked.

New York-Style Pizza

New York Style PizzaAnthony O'Reilly for Family Handyman

Another trick I learned: Preheat the oven to medium or low and crank it to high when you place your pizza on the stone. If you just crank it on high, your stone will be too hot, and the bottom will burn before the cheese melts. So as you can see, there’s a little guesswork involved in getting it just right. But when you do get it right…Mama Mia.

I’m not going to say a tear rolled down my eye when I took a bite of my homemade New York-style pizza, but I definitely got a little emotional. This was on par with some pizzas I’ve had back home.

Here’s my first knock against the Halo Pizza Oven: I don’t think this is for people who prefer Neapolitan pizzas, the thinner-crust pizzas typically found in Italy. These pizzas need to be cooked in under two minutes, and I don’t think the Halo gets hot enough to do that.

“But wait,” you might be thinking, “doesn’t it heat up to 950 degrees?” Yes, that’s what Halo and the built-in thermometer say, but I’m skeptical. I don’t have a laser thermometer to prove it, though I read some Reddit posts from people who do, and they said the stone read a lower temperature than what the Halo thermometer stated. If that’s a problem for you, I’d recommend a pizza oven with a more powerful heat source like the Ooni or Gozney.

Cooking Other Food in the Oven

Uncooked Pizza Bagels ready to be bakedAnthony O'Reilly for Family Handyman

Believe it or not, pizza wasn’t the only thing I cooked in this oven. As a stereotypical New Yorker, I also had some bagels in the fridge that I used to create a pizza bagel. The everything bagel was crispy, as was the pepperoni I topped it with, and the cheese was melted to perfection.

Baked Pizza bagel with pepperoniAnthony O'Reilly for Family Handyman

I had some cookie dough in the fridge, so obviously I put some in a cast iron pan to make a giant skillet cookie. The trick here is to make the cookie thick enough that it’s not raw in the middle when the top is done. You can also use aluminum foil to protect the top while the inside cooks.

Lastly, I made some homemade cheeseburger hot pockets, which are crescent rolls that are stuffed with ground beef and cheese. These are a repeat meal, so I’ve made them plenty of times in a conventional oven. Are they better in the pizza oven? They don’t taste much different. If anything, they get a little crispier in the pizza oven and cook a lot quicker.

As I discussed earlier, I wish the hinged access lid was easier to close. I don’t own a pizza peel, though I’m planning on buying one very soon, so using the top was easier than trying to wiggle the pizza out of the oven through the front. I didn’t want the lid to slam, so I had to have someone nearby or quickly drop my plate before closing it, which allowed some heat to escape.

Assembly

Assembling the Halo Pizza Oven is pretty straightforward—you screw in the legs and the rotating pizza stone motor to the bottom and attach the gas knobs. The motor required two D batteries and the igniter required one AAA battery.

Cleaning

To clean your Halo Pizza Oven, let the stone cool completely and simply brush any food remnants off. You can soak it in hot water if there are any stuck-on food remnants—do not use soap or detergent on the pizza stone or your next slice will taste soapy. The hinged access lid can be opened to clean the oven’s interior or remove any crumbs that may have fallen during cooking.

Pros

  • Cooks New York-style pizzas in under five minutes
  • Reaches up to 950 degrees
  • Can be used with one- or 20-pound propane tanks
  • Compact and portable
  • Easy temperature control
  • Built-in thermometer
  • Dual burners melt the cheese and crisp the bottom
  • Hinged access lid
  • Easy assembly
  • Natural gas-compatible (conversion kit sold separately)

Cons

  • Difficult to carry
  • Not the best for Neapolitan-style pizzas

FAQ

How do you clean a Halo pizza stone?

When you’re done cooking, let your Halo pizza stone cool completely and brush off any stuck-on food remnants. Soak it in hot water if the crumbs won’t come off, but do not use soap or detergent. The chemicals can seep into the stone and alter the taste of your pizzas—and not for the better.

How do you season a Halo pizza stone?

You do not need to season your Halo Pizza Oven pizza stone. The company says you can spray it lightly with oil before firing up your oven, though it’s not necessary.

What Other Reviewers Had to Say

Tom Hambly, founder of Crustkingdom.com, has not used the Halo Pizza Oven but he had a lot of positive things to say about it as an experienced pizza oven user and reviewer. “At the price comparable to the Ooni, it’s cheaper for this size oven,” he says. “The rotating stone is a cool feature.”

Five-star reviewer, Bradley Lennox writes, “I recently purchased the Halo Versa 16 Pizza Oven, and I must say, it has exceeded all my expectations. As a self-proclaimed pizza enthusiast, I left behind my $8000 gas/wood-burning brick oven that we had built in at our previous house. Removing it from the box was quite easy and even though you can cook up to a 16″ pizza, it is quite compact. It not only looks great on my countertop, but it is built really well and in my opinion, definitely a high-quality appliance. I feel the investment is well worth it for the quality, performance, and versatility it brings to the table. If you’re a pizza lover or someone who enjoys experimenting with different culinary creations, I highly recommend the Halo Versa 16 – it’s a fantastic appliance that has brought delicious homemade pizzas back to our new home.”

Halo Pizza Oven vs. Ooni Pizza Oven

The Ooni Pizza Oven has been the go-to for at-home pizza makers for years, though it carries a bigger price tag compared to the Halo Pizza Oven, depending on which model you go for. Is it worth the extra price without an Ooni sale?

Like the Halo, it comes with a temperature control dial, but there are no markings as you see on the Halo, so there’s a bit more guesswork involved. It doesn’t have a rotating stone, though its opening is large enough to easily turn pizzas as needed. Ooni has models that use wood and/or propane for fuel, whereas Halo only has propane-powered models.

Jasmine Peterson, an experienced chef and nutritionist, has used the Halo Pizza Oven and the Ooni, and she prefers the Halo. The feature that separates the two, she says, is the Halo’s temperature control. “This nuanced control and reliability make the Halo a commendable choice for chefs who prioritize precision and consistency in their pizza crafting,” she says.

Gabrielle Yap, an avid home cook with a Hospitality Management degree, says it depends on what cooking style you’re looking for. “For me, Halo oven stands out for its versatility, offering not just pizza perfection but also the ability to roast, bake and even smoke your favorite dishes,” she says. “I appreciate the flexibility it brings to my culinary ventures, allowing me to experiment with various cooking techniques.”

“On the other hand, the Ooni oven is fantastic for its portability and speed, making it an excellent choice for outdoor gatherings or events where you want that authentic wood-fired taste in a flash,” Yap adds. “It’s like having a mini pizzeria on the go.”

The Ooni is the better choice for Neapolitan pizzas while New York pizza lovers should go for the Halo Pizza Oven.

Final Verdict

The Halo Pizza Oven has quickly become my favorite cooking appliance. My one bit of advice to potential buyers is to not expect instant gratification. You need to play around with it to get everything just right, and I’m still a bit skeptical of the brand’s temperature claims.

That said, it’s more affordable than the competition and comes with unique features like a rotating pizza stone and dual burners. It’s not the best for Neapolitan-style pizzas, but it excels at New York-style pies and can be used for baking and roasting.

Where to Buy the Halo Pizza Oven

We Tried It

Halo Pizza Oven

Whether it's pizzas, pastries, steaks, desserts or any other dishes you can think of, the Versa 16 is the perfect outdoor oven for the job.

The Halo Pizza Oven costs around $550 for the base unit and is frequently on sale for around $400. Find it on Amazon, Walmart, BBQGuys and The Home Depot. The weather cover and other pizza oven tools and accessories can be purchased at an additional cost on the brand’s website, similar to the Solo Stove pizza oven accessories.