Qubestove 12 Inch Pizza Oven Review: When Good Intentions Go Wrong
If you’re here, you may have seen the Qubestove pizza oven pop up on social media or on pizza making discussion groups. Backed by a successful Kickstarter campaign, lots of people are talking about this oven and a few of its relatively unique features. So is the Qubestove worthy of all the hype?
The Qubestove (by Q-Stove) is a unique pizza oven with several interesting features. Unfortunately, due to some inexplicable design choices, I find it hard to recommend. The automatic rotating baking stone (designed to avoid a few seconds of rotating by hand) is trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. By consequence, the round pizza stone required for rotation introduces some new problems: a smaller baking surface, difficulty launching a pizza onto the stone, and various maintenance issues.
But there are some things I do like about the Qubestove, such as its modular burner design and gravity-fed pellet hopper. I encourage you to read this full review before deciding for or against purchasing a Qubestov
What Is Qubestove
Qubestove is a 12 inch “rotating” pizza oven with options for propane gas and wood pellet fuel. The Qubestove was created by Q-Stoves and funded through a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $124,000 with the support of 413 backers. This pizza oven is now available for sale to the general public through the company’s website and on Amazon.
What I Like:
The Qubestove is innovative. I love to see pizza oven brands trying new things to appeal to different segments of the market. For the Qubestove, that innovation comes by way of its modular design and unique gravity-fed pellet burner.
1. Modular Burner Design
Out of all its features, I think I appreciate the modular design of the Qubestove most of all. Most pizza ovens, even popular multi-fuel models, have their burners more or less built in to the unit. This comes with some engineering advantages, but it also means the burners can’t be upgraded or changed without buying an entirely new oven.
Q-Stove offers their 12 inch oven with the choice of a propane gas or wood pellet burner for $449. For $199, you can purchase an extra wood pellet or propane burner to have one of each. This is very convenient, and I hope that Q-Stove maintains backwards compatibility so that upgraded burners in the future can be used by people who already own an original Qubestove pizza oven.
2. Excellent Wood Pellet Burner
Q-Stove has clearly put a lot of thought and effort into their gravity-fed wood pellet burner, and were likely influenced by a similar wood pellet burner in the Ooni Fyra 12. It also features a “secondary burn system”, which reduces smoke. I wouldn’t say the Qubestove’s burner is better than the Ooni Fyra 12, but it appears to be an equal, and the secondary burn is a nice feature.
I also like the fact that you can use the burner for other purposes besides fueling the pizza oven. For example, the burner can be used as a kind of portable camp stove with the ability to boil a kettle of water, roast vegetables, or even toast marshmallows over the open flame.
That said, there are probably less expensive ways to get the same functionality with another appliance. But if you’re already purchasing a pizza oven, it’s a nice touch.
What I Don’t Like
There are actually several things I don’t like about the Qubestove—namely its round pizza stone. This round stone, among other things, are why I ultimately will not recommend purchasing the Qubestove, at least at full price. To find out why, keep reading.
1. Pizza Stone Rotation: Bug or Feature?
The Qubestove promotes itself as an oven with automatic and manual rotation capabilities, and in theory that’s a good thing. However, in my opinion, the rotation mechanism is more of a workaround to other problems than a feature.
Rotating a pizza periodically (usually once) as it cooks is standard in pizza making, even when using a professional pizza oven. Usually this means turning the pizza around halfway through the cooking period to compensate for the back of the oven being hotter than the front.
So in this way, the ability to rotate a pizza without taking it out of the oven sounds like a great idea on the surface. But with the Qubestove, I don’t believe it’s that simple.
The Qubestove gets extremely hot nearest to the flame, and it also has a slightly elevated baking surface. These factors can cause one side of the pizza to burn without being constantly rotated.
Make no mistake—a hot pizza oven is a good thing, especially with Neapolitan style pizza, but only if the heat is dispersed evenly. With the Qubestove, that doesn’t appear to be the case. This is why I believe the rotation mechanism was added—not as a convenience, but as a necessity to prevent the pizza from burning.
Then again, if the rotation mechanism works at keeping the pizza evenly cooked (and in my experience, it does appear to work), then I can’t really complain. But this brings me to my next issue with the Qubestove: its round baking stone.
2. Compounding Problems: The Round Baking Stone
Most pizza ovens have a square or rectangle baking surface that covers the entire base of the oven. That means as long as your pizza peel fits in the opening of the oven door, you can make any size or shape pizza you want.
The Qubestove, on the other hand, has a round baking stone. The reason for this design choice is obvious—it has to be round in order for the rotation mechanism to actually rotate the stone. With a square baking stone, rotation wouldn’t be possible without a much bigger oven body. This is where the problems with the Qubestove begin to compound.
You may be aware from reading other articles on this website that I don’t like round pizza stones. In fact, I specifically recommend against buying them. Round pizza stones provide a smaller baking surface, require much more precision when launching from a pizza peel, and are more likely to result in oil, toppings, and sauce dripping onto the oven floor.
Round pizza stones also result in a smaller pizza, which might not be immediately obvious to someone who hasn’t made a lot of pizzas in a lot of different ovens. Pizza dough retracts when it cooks, which is why pizza makers will generally stretch the dough beyond the target size for the pizza. For example, if you want a 12 inch pizza, you might launch it into the oven at 13 inches or more. With a round pizza stone, this isn’t possible.
A round pizza stone also requires a lot of precision when launching into the oven. Without practice and experience, pizza dough can very easily change shape (or stick) as it slides off the pizza peel. So, what starts off as a round circular dough on the peel can end up as an oval with half the pizza dough dripping off the side of the stone.
. The Outside Surface Gets Extremely Hot
I mentioned this briefly already, but the Qubestove is an extremely hot pizza oven, which is not necessarily a bad thing by itself. Good heat generation is actually a testament to the quality of the Qubestove’s burner, which appears to be doing its job very well.
The trouble comes with what happens to that heat once it’s released into the oven. We’ve already established that the Qubestove tends to disperse heat unevenly, hence the need for the rotation mechanism. But while well-constructed, the Qubestove does a poor job of retaining heat, causing the outside surface to become extremely hot to the touch.
This is not unique to the Qubestove as most pizza ovens get hot, but in general, the cheaper ovens with poor insulation are the ones that reach skin-scalding outside temperatures.
That might be acceptable if the oven was inexpensive (like the Big Horn pizza oven), but at $399 (for the base unit), the Qubestove is selling at a premium price. In my opinion, it’s just not worth the safety hazard when other similarly priced pizza ovens (like the Gozney Roccbox or Ooni Koda 16) don’t suffer from the same heating issues.
Is The Qubestove Worth It?
It’s always difficult to reduce any pizza oven to simply being “worth it” or “not worth it”, but at the end of the day, hard earned money is on the line and there are lots of choices in today’s market.
The Qubestove is a good idea with some interesting features, like its modular and highly efficient burner design. Q-Stove also appears to be a company invested in making a good product that its customers want to use, as seen by the hundreds of backers who pledged their support for the Qubestove on Kickstarter.
That said, good intentions can only carry a product so far. In my opinion, the Qubestove is tragically flawed in a number of ways, namely its poor heat retention and its odd rotating baking stone design. For the same price, you can buy an (arguably) superior pizza oven from well-known brands like Gozney and Ooni.
Too Expensive For Too Many Problems
Poor heat retention causes the outside of the Qubestove to get dangerously (and inefficiently) hot, while the round rotating baking stone is something I’ve only ever seen in cheap electric pizza ovens. The minor inconvenience of needing to use a turning peel once per pizza isn’t worth the extra problems that a round pizza stone introduces.
Yes, you can absolutely make a good pizza using the Qubestove, but the same can be said for almost any pizza oven. The true measures of a good pizza oven are how easy it is to use, the quality of its construction, and its ability to regulate and retain heat.
Qubestove misses the mark on all of the above, especially when you consider its premium price tag.Unfortunately, despite good intentions, the
Qubestove vs Competition (Cost Breakdown)
If you can find the Qubestove offered at a discount, or you’re particularly drawn to its modularity, by all means buy one. The Qubestove is still a perfectly capable high-temperature pizza oven, as long as you understand its limitations.
That said, I’d recommend purchasing any of the following pizza ovens that perform better, are easier to use, and sell for a similar price to the Qubestove. In a minute, I’ll tell you why I like each one.
But first, let’s establish a baseline price of the Qubestove for the sake of comparison. It varies depending on which features you want.