This is our personal review of the Maximus Prime Wood Fired Oven. We've been using this oven for over 4 years so have plenty of experience with its pros and cons. Let's get started...
How was the Maximus Oven delivered?
The pizza oven was delivered to our house via a big freight truck in a crate. The oven is in a box inside the crate.
The total container with the oven in the crate was extremely heavy so we would've had to use a pallet jack to move it around. However, we chose the simpler option and immediately knocked off the crate's wood pieces to free the oven's box from its container.
The oven was packed nicely within a box with lots of padding. All the accessories were packed inside the oven. After taking all the accessories out of the oven, the oven weighed about 350 lbs.
To make the oven lighter for picking up, we removed the cooking floor bricks which took about 100 pounds off the oven's weight. So with three strong people (myself being the least strong!), we were actually able to lift the oven onto its base.
How do we love our Maximus Prime Pizza Oven?
Let me count the ways!
The number one reason I love the Prime wood fired oven is because of its HUGE cooking surface! While the technical measurements of the Prime's cooking surface are 35" x 35", I measure it in pizzas and cast iron skillets.
We can easily cook four 12" pizzas at a time; but, we never do. The whole fun of having a pizza oven is letting everyone experiment with making their own unique pizzas. So, we tend to make smaller 6-10" pizzas and we only cook two or three at a time. As you can see from the image below when first learning to move a pizza from a peel to the oven floor, using lots of flour is helpful. We obviously needed LOTS of help!
Everyone can make several different styles and, since they cook in under 3 minutes, we have a constant source of interesting pizzas coming out of the oven for sampling.
In cast iron skillet measurements, I often use three or four skillets at a time. For example, on "fajita night", we had one skillet with shrimp, one cooking the meat (steak/chicken), a terracotta dish heating up peppers and onions, one cast iron skillet with the homemade peach cobbler, AND some Naan bread staying warm!
The other thing I love about this pizza oven is that everyone gets involved when we're having a party. When we're cooking pizzas, everyone including our nieces and nephews and friends all want to get involved with the entire process. Heck, my nephew will spend the day making pizza dough from scratch just to get to be the master chef for the evening! (And, who am I to stop him?)
When we have steak night or fajita Tuesdays with adult friends, everyone still wants to be involved when we're cooking in the oven. It's just so much more of a fun experience when everyone wants to be involved in the cooking process. And even if they're not cooking in the oven, they all still want to take a selfie with whatever dish I've got going on at that moment - whether it's authentic pizza pies or cast iron peach cobbler.
Why did we originally purchase the stainless steel pizza oven?
We bought a stainless steel oven because it was much lighter than a 1000-pound brick oven. At 350 pounds, it was still heavy but easily put into place with a few friends. Plus, since we were new to wood fired cooking, we weren't sure exactly where we were going to permanently put the oven and thought a brick oven was a little out of our league. (We know now that wood fired ovens are equally great for beginners to professionals)
We looked at multiple stainless steel pizza oven reviews and found that the smaller Maximus oven was in the Top 5 Best Pizza Ovens. Since the larger Prime oven was built the exact same (only bigger), we knew we couldn't go wrong.
So, how well does this oven cook?
When cooking in this wood burning oven, we found pros and cons to using a metal oven rather than a brick oven.
For starters, the oven heats up pretty quick compared to a brick oven. We will usually start the fire at least 35 minutes before we will start cooking in it. I try to create a pretty good size fire initially to really get it heated up. Then, we will maintain the fire throughout the cooking process.
The dome of the oven is pretty well insulated. While the fire is blazing hot inside, I can put my hand on the outside of the oven without getting burned. However, I can only keep it there for 5-10 seconds before it starts getting too hot.
Since metal doesn't retain heat as well as brick, as the fire dies down, so does the temperature. We just continue to add another piece of wood when the temperature starts to drop. Also, the floor will start to cool when making lots of pizzas because the heat is being transferred from the fire bricks to the pizza crust. We simply pull the fire back to the cooking area for a few minutes to allow it to reheat the bricks before pushing it back and continuing to bake.
Also, this oven can get extremely HOT inside! You could turn it into an incinerator if you wanted. But why? We typically cook our pizzas with the oven dome around 700 - 800 degrees. At that temperature, we can cook pizzas in 3-4 minutes which allows us to casually enjoy the cooking process rather than worrying if the pizzas are burnt in 60 seconds.
The oven is actually designed with a "false" ceiling that forces the heat to roll from the back to the front over the food before going up and back out through the chimney.
It took a little bit of trial and error to figure out how to best regulate the temperature so that dishes like fig or peach cobblers weren't burnt on top while raw in the middle. But, based on my Father's feedback, I believe we have it mastered!
Also, I've found it's better to plan your meal so that you don't waste the heat at the end of the cooking cycle. So typically while the fire is dying, I'll put in a dessert that cooks at a lower temperature (like the cobblers above) or maybe I'll throw in a breakfast casserole so we'll have a delicious woodfired breakfast in the morning.
How well has the oven held up out in the weather?
We've had our oven in the Florida sun for over 3 years. For the first full year, we didn't have the oven covered except to put a tarp on it if we were expecting really bad weather. After that time, we purchased the cover made to fit the Prime oven and have kept it covered when not in use.
The cover has held up well while protecting our oven investment from the harsh weather, including two hurricane scares! Plus it looks much better when it's covered correctly rather than some tarped mound sitting on our patio. And, the cat loves hanging out in the woodbox!
The oven has held up extremely well. Although the oven comes with two replacement fire bricks for the cooking surface, we haven't needed to use them. The cooking floor is still in great shape and the rest of the oven dome looks as it did when we received the oven.
We take the chimney off after the oven cools so we can put the cover on. The chimney gets stored in the prep station beside the oven and it's very easy to take off and put back onto the oven.
Other things to consider...
When we first starting using this oven, it was really smoky and we thought it was a poor oven design. Turns out, it was due to incorrect wood! We were using wood that was not dry enough so the moisture was causing it to smoke way more than we wanted. Once we found some good dry hardwood, our smoky issue went away.
We learned to experiment before the big party so we could learn how our pizza oven would behave since all ovens are a bit different. The wood fired cooking scene is super fun as long as you keep an open mind and a sense of humor! We turned many pizzas into calzones while trying to figure out how to get the dang dough off the peel. :-)
What's the final verdict?
Looking back over all the wonderful times we've shared with family and friends due to owning this oven, we wouldn't trade it for the world! It has paid for itself 1,000,000 times over in memories we would've never experienced.
For reference, you can find the same pizza oven we use here!