Outdoor Earth Ovens

Outdoor ovens with earthen veneers. Examples of pure cob and adobe, and refractory castable cement over bricks.

There are two common ways of building cob ovens: one is to make a mold of sand, upon which the oven is built, and after which the sand is removed through the oven door. The other is the Quebec-style oven, in which the form is built of saplings bent into a hemispherical shape, upon which the oven is built, and after which the saplings are burned out in the first fire. Another less green option, castable refactory cement, can withstand temps to 2200ยบ F.

The Horno: A Traditional Outdoor Earth Oven

Hornos are traditional pueblo, beehive shaped, adobe ovens. Used mostly for baking and roasting, other cooking can take place at the opening while the horno is being fired. A fire is built inside allowing the thick adobe chamber to absorb heat. After two or three hours coals are removed to a nearby brazier for other use or to reheat the oven as needed. Whatever is to be baked or roasted is placed in the oven and the smoke hole and doorway sealed. An horno can maintain a useable, though slowly dropping, temperature for several hours. Workshops in Payson, Arizona: paysonsmallbusiness

Horno ovens directly outside the kitchen at El Rancho de Las Golondrinas, New Mexico.ย sarayasjournal.blogspot

Horno at Casa San Ysidro.
Photo by Anne Galer.

Horno at Taos Pueblo is possibly the oldest continually inhabited community in the USA.ย Many adobe walls, domes and vaults are made of individual sun-dried mud bricks, bonded together with mud mortar. Cob construction is hand formed by shaping thick layers of mud directly on the wall or object.ย shimercrazytrip.blogspot

cob oven
Horno built by the Kino School in Tucson, Arizona.

Earth Ovens Around The World

earth oven
This small figurine dates from around 500 BC and is clearly an early wood fired oven. Vienna Art History Museum. fornobravo

earth oven
Earth oven with old pieces of reused concrete for a base. Floor and walls were insulated with hardwood shavings, cob mixture and glass bottles. fornobravo

earth oven
Cob oven by Hendrik Lepel. The design cut in to the cob is a technique called sgraffito.ย facebook

earth oven
Free form cement oven.
Instructions here:ย howjunction.com

adobe wood fired oven
Cob oven by Michael Blรกha.

cob oven
Cob Oven by Cunnings Oven Builders.
Lots more interesting ovens here: cunningsovenbuilders.blogspot

cob oven
This happy cob oven was built at Deanne Bednarโ€™s Straw Bale Studio (strawbalestudio.org) in Oxford, MI, where she runs all manner of natural building projects. facebook.com

cob oven
Cob oven at the City Farmer’s Cob Shed in Vancouver, Canada. Hereโ€™s an interview on YouTube with the project leader John: youtube.com

cob oven
Community kitchen cob oven at the Boom Festival in Portugal. The festival has won several awards for using natural building and permaculture principals that ensure they leave no trace on the earth.ย boomfestival.org

outdoor cob oven
This cob oven was made by Hendrik Lepel.
It is protected with a living roof.
A close-up of the oven: fornobravo

outdoor oven
Wood fired oven (adobe formed atop sand) placed beneath a vine covered pergola. A tile covered work area links to an adjacent barbeque.ย woodfiredworkshops

earth oven
A Jamie Oliver oven.
Kit chamber with rendered dome.

wood fired outdoor oven
A Jamie Oliver oven.
Kit chamber with refractory cement dome.

Wood fired oven.

wood fired outdoor oven
Cob oven by Kiko Denzer built for Intaba’s kitchen restaurant in Corvallis, Oregon. facebook.com

outdoor pizza oven
Ceramic kit by Mugniani.

A cob wood fired barrel oven, and cooktop at the Natural Building Extravaganza in Asheville, NC. Lots more about the project here: firespeaking.com

Earth Oven Resources

Frequently Asked Questions – Hand Print Press by authors of
Build your own Earth Oven’.

DIY – Sunset’s backyard Adobe oven
ย ย  Instructables.com/id/How-to-build-a-Pizza-Oven
ย ย  Build an Outdoor Pizza Oven for $20 – Slice Pizza Blog
Building a Clay Oven โ€“ The Basics ยซ The Clay Oven
Natural Building Colloquium– Building a horno.
Permaculture Magazine Article The Simple Art of Making an Earth Oven
Grit.com – Backyard Bread Oven
Mother Earth News – Build Your own Wood-fired Earth Oven
Little City Farm – littlecityfarm cob-oven
Cob Oven Workshop- lots of pics:ย Masonry Heater Association
ย ย  Backwoodshome.com
Urbanite and Clay oven for $100.
Two-chambered cob by Ernie and Erica: youtube
Cob Brick: runningwave.blogspot.com

The Best Books On Earth Ovens

Build Your Own Earth Oven by Kiko Denzer and Hannah Fieldย amazon.com

wood fired outdoor oven

Start the fire in the front – shift further back once established. When roaring, push it to the back, so the roof of the chamber heats evenly.

Written by Keiren

Keiren is an artist who lives in New York City. A lover of animals, nature, science & green building. Keiren originally founded Inspiration Green in 2007, which merged with Insteading in 2016.


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  1. I am building an adobe oven and I was wondering if I could use marble slab for the floor of the oven as the cook surface. I am putting the slab on top of firebrick. Have you heard of this being done

  2. Hi Laurie,

    Sounds a fun project. As to the marble, I personally do not know anyone who used marble as a cook surface in an outdoor oven. But all kinds of questions arise as to the idea: how thick is the marble? Are there extreme temperature changes in your area? Will there be stress on the edges from the upper part of the oven? I have googled the idea and see people use marble as bread cooking stones…but see no use as a base…sorry I could not be of more help!

  3. is it okay to use a bond adhesive to secure paver stones for he base of the cobb oven. when the adhesive dries and is non-flammable and non-toxic

  4. Hello please any advice on the following

    a) How long to burn out the hazel structure of oven

    b)can we naturally glaze final coat with oak pigment glaze n how?

    c)advice re chimney at back of oven and use of flexi silver chimney re it coming out of bender n making it obscure thanks

  5. Iv got kiko denzers book on my wish list. I can’t wait to get my hands on his book! The craftsmanship is wonderful and creative! I love everyone’s ideas. I’ll put a design on mine to give it some beauty.

  6. How high off the ground does the oven have to be to stay away from ground moisture. Also can 12′ square concrete paving stones be used in the floor of the oven. Or is it better off with fire brick. What kind of clay can be bought to be mixed with sand to be formed over the oven. Can fire brick be used to shape the dome of the oven?

  7. I’d like to put the bottom of colored glass bottles in a design in my mud oven, similar to the ones people often use in cob houses. I’m imagining I’d lose some heat that way, but I’m thinking not too much. My concern is whether the heat would break the glass… Has anyone made a mud oven with glass bottle decorations? Is there any reason it can’t be done?

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