Ooni pizza ovens have been growing in popularity like crazy over the last couple of years. Outdoor pizza ovens, in general, have been super hot items in the outdoor cooking world. With a global pandemic going on, it seems as though more people are looking for ways to make staying home more fun, and cooking restaurant quality pizza in your own backyard is a great place to start.

fresh baked pizza in the Ooni Karu 16 pizza oven

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So maybe you've decided that you'd like to kick pizza night up to the next level and venture into owning one for yourself but are overwhelmed by the options. We're here to give you all the information you need in a way that helps you sort through the noise so you can make the best decision for your budget.

There are basically 2 different decisions for you to make: fuel type and size.

How will you fuel your Ooni pizza oven?

There are currently 3 different options for fueling your outdoor pizza oven.

Gas

propane hook up on the Ooni Koda 16 pizza oven

The Ooni Koda ovens (available in 12 and 16") are strictly fueled by propane gas. (The Ooni Koda 16 can actually be fueled by natural gas with a conversion kit sold separately). With the Ooni Koda outdoor pizza ovens, you have no other options for fuel. These are gas-powered and only gas-powered. Each of these Ooni pizza ovens comes with a built-in gas ignition and adjustable heat control dial.

The Ooni Karu ovens (available in 12 and 16") are wood and charcoal fueled out of the box but have the capability of being powered by a propane tank with an optional adaptor, purchased separately.

Wood and Charcoal

wood and charcoal in the Karu pizza oven

The Ooni Karu pizza ovens are multi-fuel, meaning they can be fueled with wood, charcoal, or as mentioned previously, propane with the additional adaptor.

Wood Pellets

pellet hopper on a smoker full of wood pellets

The Ooni Frya is fueled by hardwood pellets, like what you would use in a pellet grill. This is the only option for fueling the Frya.

While the Ooni Karu pizza ovens weren't specifically designed to burn pellets, one could certainly use them should they so choose. As long as you have a fire already going in the Karu, pellets could be used to keep that fire going.

What size pizza oven do you need?

The Ooni Karu and Ooni Koda pizza ovens are both available in 12 and 16-inch models. The Ooni Frya is only available in 12.

It may sound silly, but get out a measuring tape and a plate from your cupboard. Look at what 12 inches looks like on your plate. Is that the size pizza you're hoping to be making? A personal size pizza for each person?

plate and a tape measure showing 12 inches

Now stretch that tape measure to 16 inches. Is this more what you were thinking? A large sharable pizza?

cutting board, pizza peel, and tape measure showing 16 inches

Now that you've thought through the size of your wood-fired pizza, the most obvious thing you'll be cooking in your oven, let's consider what else you might be fixing because height is another measurement to pay attention to. There are a lot of things that can be cooked in Ooni pizza ovens besides just homemade pizza!

If you're thinking about cooking any taller items, such as homemade baked bread, a taller opening is going to be important. For example, the opening of the Karu 12 is only 3.89" versus the 16 which has an opening height of 5.71". The Ooni Koda 12's opening is a mere 3.22" tall as opposed to the Ooni Koda 16's height of 4.37".

opening height of the Karu 16 pizza oven

Ooni Pizza Oven Quick Comparison

Ooni Frya 12

Feature

Measurement

Fuel 

Wood pellets

Weight

22 lbs

Stone Size

13 x 13″

Opening Height

3.34″

Propane Gas Compatible

No

Max Pizza size

12"

Available at Amazon

Available at Ooni

Ooni Karu 12

Feature

Measurement

Fuel 

Wood, charcoal

Weight

26.5 lbs

Stone Size

13 x 13″

Opening Height

3.89″

Propane Gas Compatible

Yes, with optional adapter

Max Pizza size

12"

Available at Amazon

Available at Ooni

Ooni Koda 12

Feature

Measurement

Fuel 

Propane gas

Weight

20.4 lbs

Stone Size

13 x 13″

Opening Height

3.22″

Propane Gas Compatible

Yes

Max Pizza size

12"

Available at Amazon

Available at Ooni

Ooni Karu 16

Feature

Measurement

Fuel 

Wood, charcoal

Weight

62.6 lbs

Stone Size

16.7 x 16.7"

Opening Height

5.71″

Propane Gas Compatible 

Yes, with optional adapter

Max Pizza size

16"

Available at Amazon

Available at Ooni

Ooni Koda 16

Feature

Measurement

Fuel 

Propane Gas

Weight

40.1 lbs

Stone Size

16 x 16"

Opening Height

4.37″

Propane Gas Compatible 

Yes

Max Pizza size

16"

Available at Amazon

Available at Ooni

How portable are Ooni Pizza Ovens?

It is true that some Ooni pizza ovens are more portable than others. And if you have hopes of taking your Ooni to different destinations, then that is certainly a factor that you should consider. The lightest of Ooni's offerings would be the Koda 12, weighing in at only 20.4 lbs. Of course, you would also have to consider the weight of the propane tank that would be accompanying that pizza oven for fuel.

The Frya 12 comes in second at 22 lbs, followed by the Karu 12, weighing 26.5 lbs. All three of these 12-inch Ooni pizza ovens would certainly be considered portable.

Moving a 16-inch pizza oven is a bit more work. The Ooni Koda 16 is a stretch, at just a hair over 40lbs, but it is possible for one person to move this unit by themselves. Awkward, for sure, but possible.

I would not consider the Ooni Karu 16 pizza oven to be very portable. It's 62.6 lbs. and just too heavy and big for anyone to be able to move it by themselves. We've moved ours around just from surface to surface in our outdoor kitchen and we almost always use 2 people. Now we keep it on the Ooni medium cart so we can just wheel it around and don't have to pick it up anymore.

Which Ooni pizza oven do we prefer?

We started out using the Ooni Koda 16 gas powered outdoor pizza oven a couple of years ago. We absolutely loved it once we got the hang of it. You can see our full review of that pizza oven here.

Ooni Koda 16 pizza oven fueled by gas

Then last summer we got the brand new Ooni Karu 16 multifuel outdoor pizza oven to add to our collection. And to be completely honest, we love it probably just a little bit more. You can see our full review of the Ooni Karu 16 pizza oven here.

Others may disagree but in our experience, the Ooni Karu 16 cooks more evenly and the stone temperature recovers faster than the Ooni Koda 16. We really appreciate being able to close the door of the Karu between cooks and even during the first 30 to 60 seconds of a pizza cook. The digital thermometer is nice, but it's not an accurate reading of the stone temperature so it would not replace the need for an infrared thermometer in my opinion.

The Karu 16 is the first and only pizza oven to be ‘Recommended for Domestic Use’ by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, the acclaimed international authority on true Neapolitan pizza.

ooni karu 16 pizza oven hot and ready to cook a pizza

Can we taste a difference? Honestly no. We've done blind taste tests ourselves as well as having guests do blind taste tests and in most cases, you can't really taste a difference between a homemade pizza cooked in gas versus wood fired. 90 seconds isn't really long enough to infuse a pizza with any true wood fired flavor.

The most important things to know about outdoor pizza ovens

Buying a pizza oven is only the beginning of your investment.

As with any type of cooking, both indoor and out, there's an endless selection of accessories and gadgets that can make your experience easier or better. But there will be at least a couple of accessories that are non-negotiable and you absolutely won't be able to make pizza without them. 

assorted Ooni accessories

At the very least, you absolutely must have a good pizza peel to transfer pizzas to and from your pizza oven. You'll also need fuel, and some type of outdoor table, cart, or counter to set your pizza oven on at the proper height. An infrared thermometer is the only way to truly know when your pizza stone baking board is hot enough to begin launching pizzas. Stone temperature can make all the difference, for better or worse, in how your pizza cooks. If you want to know what accessories we recommend, you can check out our post on what we think are the best accessories for your Ooni pizza oven.

There's a steep learning curve.

No matter what brand of outdoor pizza oven you purchase, there's going to be a fair amount of trial and error as you get started. Cooking pizza at that high of heat, there are a number of things that can go wrong if you are new to this type of cooking. We've put together a few resources to help you get started and hopefully prevent any major discouraging mishaps.

Many people begin their Ooni experience using pre-made dough from the grocery store or a local pizzeria. That will generally work, but your pizzas may never resemble the ones you see in the Ooni commercials. What you really want is a good Neapolitan style pizza dough made with 00 flour. This type of dough is made for cooking quickly at super high heat. While there are some very complicated ways of making incredible dough out there, there are also much simpler ways to do it.

proofing tray of Neapolitan pizza doughballs

Making or acquiring the dough is only the beginning. Knowing how to stretch your dough (tip: never roll it out with a rolling pin) and build your pizza in a way that you can easily transfer, or launch it into your pizza oven is a feat in itself. I highly recommend you be prepared with more dough than you think you need the first few times because there will inevitably be some mishaps as you get accustomed to this new process.

cooking a pizza in the Koda 16 pizza oven

But don't let my honesty discourage you. It is totally a learnable skill for anyone. We've put together several videos in this post on How to Make Neapolitan pizza for your pizza oven. I just think you should be prepared and know what to expect before you begin your first cook. The learning curve might be steep, but it's certainly achievable.

Frequently asked Questions

Can you really cook a pizza in just 60 seconds using a pizza oven?

In an Ooni outdoor pizza oven, pizzas cook completely in 60-90 seconds; it's true. The time it takes to cook a stone baked pizza depends to some extent on what you put on top of your pizza. A basic Margherita pizza with some sauce and fresh mozzarella can cook in as little as just 60 seconds, but we typically let ours go for closer to 90 seconds. But the point is, in less than 2 minutes, you're eating a fresh and delicious pizza.

Neapolitan pizza from our ooni Karu 16 oven

Should I pre-bake the crust first and then add the toppings?

This really isn't necessary. Your pizza can completely cook from top to bottom all at once. However, there are a couple of factors that can contribute to a crust not getting cooked completely. Your stone temperature must be in the 750°+ range before launching, make sure your sauce and cheese aren't high moisture, and don't pile toppings on too thick. That being said, it might not be a bad idea to practice launching a plain crust or two by themselves for your first try before you add sauce and toppings into the mix.

How do I clean the stone after a failed launch?

We've all been there before. You go to launch your pizza and the only thing that moved was the toppings.... right off the crust and onto the hot stone baking board. And all you can do is just watch it burn. You can attempt to scrape it back up with a metal peel, but your pizza oven is so hot that those toppings are already complete char. Honestly, the best way to clean it off is to crank the heat up and let it burn completely off. Your perfectly clean stone will show some stains, but that's exactly what's expected. After your pizza oven has cooled you can take the Ooni wire brush/scraper tool and scrape off any texture that may remain, but do not worry about the discoloration. I'm serious. Just ignore it. There will be more in the future. It's fine. I promise. 

Ooni pizza stone showing stains from previous cooks

Some Ooni users flip their stones over in their pizza oven between uses, but to be honest we never have. I don't really see the reason for it and I feel like that's just inviting disaster and I might end up with a cracked stone.

What else can be cooked in an Ooni pizza oven?

You can use your Ooni oven for so much more than to just cook restaurant quality pizza. With the Ooni Grizzler pan, you can fix many of the same recipes you would make on a grill or griddle. The Grizzler pan is dual-sided; one side is a grill and the other side is a sizzler, or griddle. It comes with removable handles that assist you in moving the pan in and out of the Ooni oven. It also includes a beechwood serving board that gives the pan a safe place to land after coming out of the pizza oven. We've used our Grizzler pan to fix fajitas, sear steaks, cook shrimp, smash burgers, you name it.

chicken fajitas on the grizzler pan cooked in our Ooni oven

Without the Grizzler pan (or any other cast iron pan for that matter), dry recipes can also be cooked straight on the pizza stone. Fresh baked breads, pretzels, pita, tortillas can all be cooked directly on the stone.