Straight to the Point
The successor to the pizza oven Kenji tested and recommended years ago is the Ooni Frya 12, however it’s wood pellet-only. For a gas-powered pick, we recommend the Ooni Koda 16, while our multi-fuel top choice is the Ooni Karu 16.
We last tested pizza ovens in 2017, when Kenji evaluated a dozen of them in his backyard (imagine the space that took up). But, since then, a whole bunch of our favorites have been discontinued. Most notably, Uuni rebranded as Ooni and phased out the Ooni 3 (which was one of our top picks). The company currently has five ovens available—all of which have their own pros, cons, and fuel sources.
So, we decided to put all of the Ooni ovens to the test at our Lab: timing how long they took to come up to temperature, making multiple pizzas, and evaluating their performance and usability. We also reached out to Andrew Janjigian, to find out which Ooni oven he uses at home and why. (Andrew’s a bit of a pizza oven person—he wrote this outdoor pizza oven how-to, our outdoor pizza oven dough recipe, and several outdoor pizza oven pizza recipes.)
Here’s what you need to know about each Ooni oven to help you decide which one’s ideal for your backyard.
Ooni Koda 16 Gas Pizza Oven
This is our top-pick if you’re looking for a gas-only oven. It heats up relatively quickly, produces pies in about one to two minutes, and has a large (20.5-inch) opening that makes turning and retrieving pies easy. Its L-shaped flame (located at the back and on the left side of the oven) licks up its walls and partly up its ceiling, so more of the pizza is exposed to the flame. It has a single ignitor/temperature dial located on the right side of the oven and is incredibly easy to assemble: you just need to take it out of the box and unfold its legs before using. While it is quite large, we found it particularly easy enough to store thanks to its foldable legs. It was also a cinch to ignite.
Best For: If you want a gas-only pizza oven that’s incredibly easy to turn on and adjust the temperature. It also offers a very large, 16-inch cooking surface.
Challenges or Shortcomings: For outdoor pizza novices, the concentrated, L-shaped flame might lead to hot spots and has more of a learning curve. It’s also gas-only, which might be unappealing for some.
- Fuel source: gas (propane or natural gas)
- BTUs: 29,000
- Time to reach recommend temperature: 25 minutes
- Weight: 40.1 lbs
Ooni Fyra 12 Wood Pellet Pizza Oven
This is a hardwood pellet-only oven. And, in fact, it’s the successor of the oven we tested and recommend (the Ooni 3). The pros (fast, quick-heating, lightweight) and cons (small hopper, airflow issues) we noted then hold true today. When its fire is really going, we found it preheats in about 15 minutes. To use it with wood pellets, you add the pellets to the fuel tray, light it, and slide it back into the oven. After those starter pellets have burned, you add more pellets through the cylindrical hopper located at the back of the oven. As Kenji explained in our review, as the wood burns, “the flame is drawn over the stone, across the top of the oven, and out a tall chimney in the front.” It cooks pizza in about one minute, 30 seconds to two minutes.
Best For: If you want a wood pellet-only pizza oven, this is the way to go (Ooni’s other multi-fuel ovens aren’t compatible with wood pellets). It’s also the cheapest Ooni oven, at $349.
Challenges or Shortcomings: There’s more setup involved with this model. We recommend checking out this video for help. As we noted when we reviewed the Ooni 3, the small hopper requires tending to to keep airflow ideal and make sure the pellets are burning efficiently. This can even mean repositioning the oven mid-cook. The oven’s door is meant to be kept on at all times unless adding or removing your pizza. While this isn’t a huge deal, taking off and putting a door back on a bunch of times feels finicky. The chimney and hopper can make storage tougher, but they can be both removed and placed inside of the oven to make things more compact. It’s not a multi-fuel option.
- Fuel source: wood pellets
- Time to reach recommend temperature: 15 to 20 minutes
- Weight: 22 lbs
Ooni Karu 16 Multi-Fuel Pizza Oven
We liked that this oven has a temperature gauge (located at the front of the oven, below the door) that displays the Karu 16’s internal temp. It has a hatch at the back of the oven for adding wood or charcoal (we recommend wearing gloves for this task, as the flames can lick up the hatch when the lid’s off) and a glass door that lets you watch pizza/monitor the flame as you cook. To use this oven, you have to first remove the chimney cap, adjust the pin (called a baffle) to open the chimney and ceiling vent. The vent can be totally opened (for gas) or closed partway (for wood or charcoal) as a means of controlling internal temperature. The flame is located at the back of the oven and radiates outwards and upwards. It produces pies in about one minute to one-minute, 30 seconds and also took about 25 minute to preheat. It’s the only pizza oven of its kind to be “Recommend for Domestic Use” by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN)—the authorities on Neapolitan pizza.
This is also the oven Andrew has at home. He says, “I’m using the Karu now, and I love a few things about it: 1) the door, which makes it heat up more quickly and efficiently, 2) the thermometer, which makes heating easier to manage, 3) the fact you can use either gas or wood/charcoal, and 4) the roominess, which lets you make large-sized (12- to 14-inch) pies without risk of them burning too easily.”
Best For: If you want the ability to use multiple fuel types and value extra features, like a built-in internal temperature gauge. For someone who frequently makes multiple pizzas back-to-back, the Karu 16 retrains heat incredibly well and requires pretty much zero recovery time between pies.
Challenges or Shortcomings: If you’re using the oven’s gas burner attachment, it’s located at the very back of the oven, which feels like less of an intuitive placement than to the side. It features foldable legs, too, but at 50 pounds, it’s pretty dang heavy, making it less portable.
- Fuel type: wood or charcoal; gas (gas burner sold separately)
- BTUs: 25,591 (for gas)
- Time to reach recommend temperature: 25 minutes
- Weight: 50 lbs
Ooni Karu 12 Multi-Fuel Pizza Oven
This multi-fuel oven is compatible with wood, charcoal, or gas (its gas burner is sold separately, as with all Ooni multi-fuel models). When its fire was really going, we found it preheated in about 20 minutes. To use it with wood, you add the kindling to a tray at the back of the oven (the tray has a heat-resistant handle for easy use). It cooks pizza in about one minute, 30 seconds to two minutes. Opening or closing the baffle allows you to control the airflow of the oven, depending on the fuel source or when you want longer, slower cooks.
Best For: If you want a lightweight, multi-fuel pizza oven with a slightly more compact cooking surface (13.2 inches, so best for smaller pies).
Challenges or Shortcomings: The gas burner is located at the back of the pizza oven (by the hopper). This is a less intuitive placement than having the burner on the side of the oven, like with the Ooni Koda 16. Its chimney makes it tougher to store, though it can be taken off and placed inside the oven to make things more compact.
- Fuel source: wood or charcoal—it is not compatible with wood pellets; gas (gas burner sold separately)
- BTUs: 29,000
- Time to reach recommend temperature: 15 to 20 minutes (for wood)
- Weight: 26.4 lbs
Ooni Koda 12 Gas Pizza Oven
This oven is a smaller version of the Ooni Koda 16 and, therefore, has a smaller cooking surface and isn’t suitable for larger pies. It heats in about 15 minutes (fast!) and cooks pizzas in about a minute to one-minute, 30 seconds. Its legs fold down for compact storage.
Best For: If you’re looking for a smaller, gas-only pizza oven that’s easy to store. At $369, it’s one of the cheapest Ooni models.
Challenges or Shortcomings: Because it has a smaller opening, we found it harder to turn and retrieve pizza, so we recommend investing in a smaller peel and/or turner to go with it. Its ignitor/heat control knob is located at the back of this oven, and we found this placement wasn’t as intuitive as the Koda 16’s. And, of course, it’s gas-only, so it’s not ideal for those who want a multi-fuel option.
- Fuel source: gas
- BTUs: 13,648
- Time to reach recommend temperature: 15 minutes
- Weight: 29 lbs
Other Gear We Recommend for Outdoor Pizza Oven Success
How long should you preheat a pizza oven?
How long to preheat a pizza oven depends on the model you’re using. For the Ooni ovens, we found anywhere from 15-25 minutes to be sufficient.
Which Ooni oven takes wood pellets?
Only one Ooni oven (the Ooni Fyra) uses solely wood pellets as fuel. Using wood pellets with one of their multi-fuel ovens “will keep your oven from getting up to temperature,” the company says.
What’s the best way to store a pizza oven?
Pizza ovens should be stored in a dry, covered place. We recommend getting cover, too, to protect both the exterior and interior of the oven.
Do you need a special table to put your oven on?
You don’t need a special table—any heat-safe surface (we just wouldn’t recommend plastic or glass) will do. However, a stainless steel prep table (especially one with wheels) can be mighty helpful while in-use and for storage/transport. You can find ones off Amazon, however Ooni also sells their own, which has both shelves and hooks for placing or hanging pizza peels and turners. Just be sure to measure your pizza oven so you can order the correct table size.
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