Outdoor pizza ovens are becoming quite popular and it's not hard to see why! They offer a quick and easy way to get that wood-fired pizza flavor right in your own backyard. They're as convenient as a classic grill but super versatile since they can reach such a high temperature and cook all kinds of foods.
We'd been wanting an Ooni pizza oven forever and finally got ours just a few months ago. I know you've been curious about whether I think it's worth the hype or not so I'm here to share my thoughts, tips, and tricks - AND whether I think the Ooni is worth the investment!
Full disclosure - Ooni gifted me this pizza oven. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
The Ooni Pizza Oven
The Ooni is a portable, outdoor pizza oven. It heats up to about 950 degrees in 20 minutes and can cook your pizza in 60 seconds. It has a pizza stone inside that gives you that delicious, crispy crust of a traditional wood-fired pizza oven.
Ooni has several models to choose from, which means there's likely one that will fit your needs and budget. They offer 12" or 16" ovens that are either wood pellet or gas-powered or use both wood and gas. They range in price from $299-$799 depending on the size and specifications you choose.
We went with the 16" Koda because we liked the ease of being able to use gas and also wanted a larger size so that we had the option to cook larger pizzas or other things like fish, steak, etc.
At $299 for their base model, the Ooni pizza oven is definitely an investment. However, adding a pizza oven to your outdoor area may really spark some joy for you and make pizza night more exciting!
Also, this is a well-made, quality cooking appliance that is going to last for years as long as you take care of it. So while it is a bit spendy, in my opinion - if you're going to use it at least a couple times a month or more - it's totally worth it!
The Ooni comes almost completely assembled out of the box. All you have to do is unfold the legs and put the pizza stone in it!
If you're getting a gas-powered Ooni, you will need to purchase a 1 pound or a 20 pound propane tank. Tracking down that propane tank and having it filled might have been the hardest part of the whole assembly for us! I'm not sure why, but here on the West coast, we had a heck of a time finding a propane tank, and then once we found one we had to find a place to get it filled. Luckily, our local hardware store had one left, and the gas station down the street can fill them so we didn't have to travel far, but I called a TON of places before I could even find one.
How to Use the Ooni
Using the Ooni pizza oven is easier than you might think! It was definitely easier than I expected it to be. Once you connect the propane tank, you just turn it up to high and let it heat up for 20 minutes. Then lower the heat, toss your pizza in, and let it cook for a couple minutes. My partner and I were both pleasantly surprised at how easy the Ooni is to use and how fun it is to watch the pizza cook!
The nice part is that the oven only has flames on the back and left side, so the front right side is the cool spot which gives you more control over how the pizza is cooking. The 16" Koda gives you plenty of space to move the pizza around and also a good distance between the pizza and the flame itself in case it starts to cook too quickly.
Ooni's claim to fame is that it can cook a pizza in 60 seconds - which it totally can. However, for novice pizza cooks like ourselves, we found a couple YouTube videos that said turning the heat to low and cooking it for a bit longer at a lower temp might be easier. With that said, our preferred cooking method is to:
- Heat the oven on high for about 15-20 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low and add a pizza to the oven.
- Cook the pizza, rotating it every 20-30 seconds or so for about 2-3 minutes depending on the size of the pie and the amount of toppings
The Learning Curve
I will say I was a bit nervous about the learning curve of cooking with the Ooni. I thought it was going to be a little tricky to get the heat just right and keep it moving. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that after just a couple pizzas you really start to get the hang of it!
I think we get a little better each time as we perfect the dough shaping and topping. But honestly, we kept our Ooni in the box for a few weeks because I just wasn't quite ready to tackle what I thought was going to be a difficult cooking process. I could NOT have been more wrong. Using the pizza oven is super easy and I wish we would have opened our Ooni the day we got it!
- Lightly flour the work surface where you're making the pizza. And lightly flour the pizza peel as well. This will make it easier to move the pizza to the pizza peel and transfer it to into the oven. I've heard semolina flour works best, but we use all-purpose without any issues.
- Don't roll the crust out too large unless you're very comfortable with the process of moving it. You'll have to assemble the pizza, then move it to the pizza peel, and then scoot it off the peel and into the oven. The smaller your pizza, the easier it is to do. The larger the pizza, the more likely it is you're going to end up with a mangled mess. Although the 16" Koda can handle a 16" pie, we still keep them around 10"-12". I typically divide a one pound ball of dough in two, and then roll out two pizzas from that.
- Don't overwork the dough. The secret to getting that signature pizza crust is touching the dough as little as possible. I really lucked out because my partner used to make pizzas for a living so he's basically a professional. He recommends using your fingers to gently create the crust while moving the dough in a circle. Then slapping it back and forth between your hands/forearms until it gets large enough. Ideally, you want the dough to be thicker on the edges, and then very thin in the middle. This will give you that signature wood fired pizza oven texture you're looking for. If the crust is too thick in the middle it won't cook all the way through.
- Don't add too many toppings to your pizza. Another way to ensure that your pizza cooks through, is to top it very minimally. I'd recommend adding half of what you'd normally add to a pizza you're going to bake in a regular oven. Like I mentioned, the transfer of the pizza is a little tricky, and the more toppings you have, the trickier it is. So keep it simple and top lightly. This is not the time to make your signature extra extra cheese pizza!
- Don't get distracted. When you're cooking pizza in the Ooni, you want your full attention on that pizza. With the inside of the oven reaching temps over 900 degrees, it's important to keep a close eye on the pie because it can go from perfectly done, to perfectly burned in a matter of seconds.
I will admit, I was hopeful but skeptical that the flavor would be close to that of a wood-fired pizza oven. And holy cow - I was blown away!
The flavor is nearly identical to wood-fired pizza even though it only uses gas. You get those perfectly charred little bits all over, the crust is tender on the inside and super crisp on the outside, and the cheese gets ooey-gooey melty in just minutes.
I could try to continue to describe how delicious the pizza is, but let me just say, you will be amazed at the difference between the pizza you may in your Ooni and the pizza you make in your oven. They just don't compare.
Which Dough to Use
Honestly, we use dough from the grocery store 9 times out of 10. They have a really delicious dough that's inexpensive and cooks really well in the Ooni. If I'm in the mood for homemade though, we either use my No-Knead Pizza Dough or my Quick Pizza Dough.
- 16" Pizza Peel - We love the 16" pizza peel! The long handle makes it easy to put the pizza right into the oven.
- Pizza Turning Wheel - We have not purchased the turning peel yet but I'd highly recommend the pizza turning wheel to help you turn the pizza while it's in the oven. We currently just use the pizza peel to do it but it's a bit more cumbersome.
- Large Modular Table - The large modular table is something I went and back forth about. I wasn't sure if we should buy it or just try to find something else similar online. But let me save you some time and energy. There is nothing out there that is comparable to this table for cheaper. It's the absolute perfect size, comes with a shelf, hanging dowels and it's on the wheels so you can easily move it back and forth. It also has brakes. For $250 you are really getting your money's worth. It was also pretty simple to put together - or at least I didn't hear my partner swear too much while he was putting it together and I think it was done in less than an hour, even with a 5 year old "helping" him.
- Wooden Pizza Peels - We got these cute little pizza peels as well. Mostly just for ease of having something to make the pizza on and then something to slice the pizza on after it's baked. They're super cute and pretty affordable.
- Infrared Thermometer - We have not yet gotten an infrared thermometer but I've heard that it's super helpful in knowing if the pizza oven has gotten up to temp and is ready to cook!
Where to Buy an Ooni
You can find the Ooni pizza ovens on their website, Amazon, or Williams-Sonoma. The prices are pretty similar, but sometimes they have sales, so check around to see where you can get the best deal.
One thing that really enticed me about the Ooni was that you don't have to clean it! The temperature inside the oven gets so hot that there's really no need to disinfect or sanitize the inside of it. Obviously, you'll need to wipe down the outside from time to time as dust settles on it, but other than that no cleaning is required!
The Ooni Koda 16" is 25 x 25 x 20 inches. Then the modular table that we put it on is 30 x 30 inches. We keep it in the corner of our garage and it doesn't take up too much space. Keeping it out of the snow and rain will help it last longer. If you don't have any covered space to store it though, Ooni does make a weatherproof cover as well.
Good for Weeknight Use
It might seem like a lot of work to get the Ooni all set up just to make two pizzas (which is what we usually do as a family of three) but I assure you, it's really not. The Ooni modular table we got makes it easy to wheel in and out of the garage. Then you just connect the propane and let it heat while you make the pizzas. It's totally doable on a weeknight and we haven't cooked a pizza in our oven since we got it!
It is Worth the Hype?
Yes, it is. I see what all the fuss was about. The Ooni is worth the price for the experience that it delivers. I do say experience because I think that making and cooking food really can be an experience.
My overall thoughts on that Ooni are that I was expecting everything to be a lot more work. I was expecting the setup to be a hassle, the actual prepping and cooking to be a bit time-consuming, and I wasn't sure what the cleaning process entailed. Overall, I am absolutely elated to find that the Ooni is actually a really simple, straightforward, outdoor pizza oven experience. The setup is quick. Prepping, heating the oven, and cooking the pizzas is pretty easy. And clean-up is virtually non-existent.
It's also very lightweight and portable so I can totally see us taking this camping with us when the wildfires aren't raging!
Is the Ooni Right For You?
If you like pizza, have a small outdoor space, a bit of storage space to keep it dry, and enjoy having a beverage outside while you cook dinner, then yes - the Ooni is for you!
If you're ready to check out the Ooni pizza oven and decide which one is right for you - CLICK HERE!
I just purchased my Ooni Karu 16. I was like many others, not gifted it. I did contact Ooni and stated that it’s almost impossible to find a review that a pizza oven wasn’t gifted or given to some influencer with a staged set up filming situation and truly a real life review. I don’t expect Ooni to give $1000 oven to a nobody from upstate New York with no Influencing purpose on the Internet, that I understand but now I’ve made it a mission to learn how to get a true and honest review out to as many people as I can about this oven when I get it. Whether it be good or bad it will truly be a review of somebody Who has a mediocre home no influencing ability and 22 years of culinary experience behind them. You are one in 100 of people with a beautiful website and wonderful insight on an oven that was given to you with all the accoutrements. Let me truly hear what you say when you spend $1000 on some thing that might just end up truly sitting there. I don’t want to sound so negative because I obviously bought it and I’m truly hoping that I like it but it was a six month process of trying to decide. I hope I can join the rest of the ambassadors and influencers in the ooni family, and continue to support this company.
Hey Ryan! I totally get where you're coming from and understand your frustration. It can be hard to know who's reviews are genuine and who is just looking to make some quick money. I can't speak for other folks, but I can say that personally, I do NOT ever work with or promote a brand that I am not 100% behind! If I were to have received the pizza oven and not liked it, I simply would have told Ooni "thank you for the gift but I cannot knowingly promote a product that I don't love". In this case, I actually do LOVE my Ooni pizza oven. We use it almost weekly most of the year and in the summer at least a couple nights a week. We love having friends over and getting everyone involved in topping the pizza and watching the cooking process. It really is a very high quality pizza oven and has stood up to PNW rain outside for almost 2 years now. I do sympathize with you that sometimes it can be hard to sift through the folks who actually genuinely like a product, but in this case, I whole heartedly believe that Ooni makes a great product and I am happy to share my love of their product with my readers. I can't wait to hear what you think as you get to dive in to the world of making your own restaurant quality pizzas right at home. Please report back if you can!
Thank you for the response, I think I’m going to like the adventure of about to take with it and would love to share the feedback. And I will continue to read your reviews.
Buying one for my daughter & her family. When I told her, she was very excited & said she has wanted one since she first heard about them. She prefers pellets or propane. Wondering if they can be alternates? So much info & price differences having a difficult time deciding!
They do offer a multi-fuel option if you want to have the flexibility to use propane or wood pellets! Here is the link to the multi-fuel 16" Karu: https://shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=1791991&u=2112246&m=82053&urllink=&afftrack= They also offer a 12" if she's looking for a smaller version. Hope that helps, Fran! Please feel free to reach out if you have any other questions!
Can you use the Ooni to make frozen pizzas? Lol I know sounds crazy, but for an event I'm doing, I am planning to make pizzas ahead of time, freeze them, let them thaw a little and then cook in Ooni.
Hmmm...that's a great question! My only concern would be that they wouldn't cook through all the way in the middle if they were previously frozen. So they might end up burned on the outside before they're cooked through on the inside. I'd love to hear how it turns out if you do end up giving it a try!
I just read all about Ooni's at this site. Love it. By far the most insightful response was the reply to the one tough review. That's the REAL scoop. There really is a learning curve to this, but then you have the power. I am interested in this for more than pizza. What about naan or other breads that are made in this type of oven? My family eats largely a carnivore based diet + homemade breads and fruits. Good breads have become important. Thanks for being a great influencer.
That's a great idea, Steve - I do think you could make a delicious naan or other homemade bread in the Ooni as well. I'd love to hear how it turns out if you give it a try!
I actually have a cru wood fire pizza oven and I have a pellet smoker (Traeger) I have had a pizza in an Ooni oven. It's good, but not a true wood fire oven. Even with pellets. In my opinion you want you want the wood flavor. With Ooni you don't get that. I love my wood fire one and the wood flavor is awesome. That's the way they do it in Italy. More authentic.
The new oven, Karu 16, has a firebox.
Ooni has the very best customer service I’ve encountered in a long time. They are responsive, polite, and actually read what you send them! Ooni stands behind their products. I have an Ooni Karu 12 and have been nothing but pleased with it
I am so glad to hear that and I could not agree more!!
ilFornino New York
It's very informative to be aware of the many outdoor cooking possibilities. I have my wood-fired ovens, and people have told me how much they enjoy outdoor cooking since it allows them to connect with traditional Italian cuisine. The flavor is chewy and authentic pizza made in outdoor ovens. Your article is very informative.
Having had an Ooni and then later building my own brick wood fired oven, I agree the Ooni is worth it. It introduced me to high heat cooking and became a gateway to a real wood burning oven. The main difference now is of course more space, I can have the fire to the side where I can see the pizza/food charring to prevent burning and have greater versatility with retained heat cooking for baking and roasting. But without the Ooni I doubt I'd have ever taken the leap to a wood burning oven.
That's so cool! That is my dream to have a built in wood-fired oven some day!
How did you manage to a get a free ooni pizza oven for review ?
Great question! I'd been wanting to try an Ooni forever and one day I got an email asking if I'd like to try one out! Brands often reach out to bloggers/influencers with this kind of offer. In this case, I also chose to be an affiliate with them as well because I love their pizza ovens SO much! This is a very common relationship between brands and bloggers.
Tried the Fyra pellet fuel(bought from Amazon), was doing the initial burn off and was wanting to then cook a pizza but the stone would not fit inside no matter what I tried. So I not only wasted my time but money for extras in order to do it right. Now I have to pack it back up which is quite the feat and the black suet from the burn off got on me my floor as I dismantled it. For the price, I am surprised at the lack of quality control.
I would definitely recommend using Ooni products with the Ooni pizza oven! I'm not familiar with any type of burn off process or how that would affect being able to put the stone back in? As far as I know, the stone goes in right when you assemble the oven and then stays put. As I mentioned in the review, we have the gas fired oven, but this video does a great job of outlining how to use the Ooni Frya wood burning pizza oven. Hope that helps! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMexJZg1CbA
I think it sucks (Ooni Karu 12) and I loathe the day I wasted my money on this piece of garbage. Have tried every trick and tip in the book. 1- It does NOT get as hot as they claim. Yes, I have the point and shoot oven thermometer. 2 - Almost impossible to get pizza off the peel in one piece to put it in the oven. 3 - Pizza sticks to the stone making it almost impossible to get out of the oven in one piece. 4 - Toppings burn, crust doesn’t get crispy.
I am so sorry to hear that! It sounds to me like it might help to: 1. Let it warm up for longer. We typically let it warm for 20 minutes or so and definitely longer if it's winter. 2. Try a sprinkle of cornmeal, semolina flour, or all-purpose flour on your pizza peel! Also, try not leaving the pizza on the peel for too long! I typically flour the peel, put the stretched crust on, top it quickly and throw it right in. It takes a bit of finesse but it should come right off the peel super easily! Also, make sure you don't put too many toppings on! That can weigh down the pizza and make it a bit trickier to transfer from the peel to the stone! 3. Same as the last one, you definitely need just a quick sprinkle of cornmeal or flour and your pizza won't stick to the stone for a second! Also, if the stone is warm enough it's going to start cooking the pizza as soon as it hits, so it won't stick. Another thought I have, I wonder if you're using dough with too much moisture. I'd try using a different dough and see if you have better luck. We use the Whole Foods refrigerated dough and it works like a charm! 4. The trick to getting the crust cooked through without burning the toppings is to turn the heat down to low as soon as you put the pizza in! This allows the bottom to get crisp, and then the cheese melts a bit more slowly while the edges of the crust crisp. I really hope that you'll give it another try with the tips I've suggested! Everything you're mentioning is possible to remedy with just a few quick tweaks!
I'm sorry you are having issues. I just got the Karu 16 3 weeks ago. There was a small learning curve, so my first two were smaller pies to get the hang of the topping amount and launching into the oven. I can say, that 10 pizzas in, and MANY other dishes (I have played with wood, charcoal, will be trying the gas insert this weekend) I have only had one mishap, and one rather toasted pie I left unattended. In 20 degree weather - my temp exceeded 850 degrees (yes, also have the infrared to read the stone). I do find keeping the temp around 650-700 degrees gives me more "time" and not burn the edges.
The difficulty in finding propane tanks was a temporary thing due to the global supply chain backlog... You will result find them (now) at Costco (best deal) home Depot, U-Haul.. and many other outlets.
As for the oven itself, we have the karu 12. We love it.. the pizza is noticably better than my old regular oven.
We have used both wood (hardest to get in the right size), and gas. And both were great.
Yes, it doesn't get to 900 from what I've observed but it does get to 800+ which is more than enough for the small (ish) pizzas we bake (9-10").
My 14 year old did it most of the time. We are really bad at spreading the dough but other than that everything is a breeze. We sprinkle dry dough in the kitchen counter, spread the dough and the toppings. We spread some dough on the pizza peel and then finally slide the peel under the pizza. Lift one end slightly with one hand and done the peel in one clean sweep with the other. Sliding it off in the oven is also mostly as easy just need clean moves...
We have had our share of accidents where the sauce leaked inside the oven and everything stuck but it also cleaned up easy for to your high heat.
I would recommend sticking with it and trying again.. you will love it once you get the hang of it.
I love that you got your child involved in making the pizzas too! I totally agree - sticking with it and giving it another go is great advice!
Sorry but it sounds like operator error.
I live in Florida, a humid climate. Can I store the ooni outside, covered, or will it rust? Having to transport it from the garage every time I use it isn’t practical. Any advice, anyone else have that problem?
That's a great question! I can't say for sure as I don't live in that type of climate, but I wonder if you could call their customer service number and ask! I would imagine that with a cover, even outside, it would not rust.
I’ve had one for two years, cooked on both wood pellets and propane. Pizzas are great, very authentic, wood slightly better than gas though.
We have been debating getting one of these. Thanks for laying out all the information in an easy to read format. This will help us make our decision!
Is the wood burning oven is as good as the propane? I know is less expensive but what about the convenience of cooking let’s say 5 pizzas is it ok to use wood burning versus propane?
The wood-burning version is a big favorite among Ooni users, but I love the ease of propane! I think the wood burning gives you a bit more of that traditional wood-fired oven flavor but honestly in this day in age, I think both are quite comparable and similar. Great question, Jesse!