I Tried Out The Latest Ooni Pizza Oven – Here’s What I Thought

·5-min read
Photo credit: Bobbie Edsor
Photo credit: Bobbie Edsor

Pizza ovens are THE kitchen gadget of the summer. It’s physically impossible to open Instagram without running into a mutual proudly showing off their restaurant-quality homemade pizza. Even your mate’s dad has splashed out on an Ooni and won’t stop making Margheritas for everyone he knows.

With summer 2022 shaping up to be just what we’ve been gagging for since March 2020, and pizza ovens looking like *the* ultimate accessory to take your summer snacking to the next level, we knew we had to see what all the hype’s about.

I’ve made a lot of homemade pizza in my time, especially during lockdown when Pizza Fridays were a solid weekly ritual that helped to keep the peace in my flat share. In fact, my pizza-making routine was so seamlessly choreographed that I was sceptical over what a pizza oven could add into the yeasty mix.

I opted for the multi-fuel Ooni Karu 16: a pizza oven that can cook with wood, charcoal, OR gas if you get yourself the gas attachment. Like most pizza ovens, it’s an outdoor oven – you can leave it outside through the seasons just like a barbecue, and you clean it by just brushing down the pizza stone in between uses.

When its towering box arrived outside my front door, I was daunted. IKEA flat-packs are my nemesis – and this seemed like a very expensive flatpack to fudge my way through. But as I began unpacking and assembling its contents (including two pizza stones which slot together to fit the oven perfectly, a little charcoal tray for your fire and the oven door which is a doddle to attach), the whole thing only took about 15 minutes for me to assemble solo. Phew.

Inside the manual, a list of different fuels guides you through the temperatures you can reach with each. Charcoal as a sole source of fuel reaches 250 to 300℃, gas can achieve anywhere between 250 and 500℃, and wood or a combination of wood and charcoal will get you to the 500℃ needed for restaurant-quality pizza.

The Ooni’s fire tray is only small, so with a couple of pieces of kindling and one big shovel of charcoal, you’ve got a fire that will heat up the whole thing to pizza-ready temperatures within 15 minutes.

Photo credit: Bobbie Edsor
Photo credit: Bobbie Edsor

Each pizza takes just 45 seconds, with a 180° turn halfway through. From our first attempt, I genuinely couldn’t believe the difference in quality between my previous pizza efforts and this. The base is softer and lighter than a homemade pizza cooked in a standard oven. You get those beautiful char marks and irresistible chew you associate with a really, really good pizza place. We even managed to get leoparding on our very first pizza. I was officially sold.

The pizza oven is well insulated and its door and the closable hatch over the fire tray helps to contain so much of the oven’s heat, meaning minimal fuel usage. We managed to comfortably whack out five pizzas during the time it took for one log to burn.

But just trying pizza wasn’t enough of an experiment for one evening. As our production slowed and the pizza oven began to cool below 400℃, we even managed to bake a blueberry pie in the residual heat that came out gorgeously golden and even lightly wood-smoked (10/10 would recommend).

Photo credit: Bobbie Edsor
Photo credit: Bobbie Edsor

Is it worth the hefty price tag? If you love making pizza and cooking for friends, it’s a totally justifiable outlay that will bring you a lot of joy and good pizza to boot. The pizza oven was SO straightforward to use from the get-go.

Since our first try, the Ooni has made an appearance almost every weekend, including more successful experiments with pies, brownie skillets, and even sourdough baked in the oven’s residual heat.

I’m a pizza oven hun now. And if you see me Instagramming nothing but pizza content for the rest of 2022, mind your business.

How long does it take to cook a pizza in a Ooni pizza oven?

It should take somewhere between 40 seconds and 1 minute 20 seconds to cook your pizza, depending on how hot your pizza oven is. No matter what, though, all pizzas need turning 180° halfway through cooking!

What else can I cook in my Ooni pizza oven?

Anything! We've made sweet pies, gooey brownie cast iron skillets, giant cookies, and sourdough rolls in ours. Just made sure your pizza oven isn't too hot (you want it to be 250℃ at the absolute highest when baking).

if you're making something which has potential to spill on the inside of your pizza oven (eg. pie filling), place the pie tin inside another, larger roasting tin or make a foil boat for it to avoid any chance of spillage.

Can Ooni pizza ovens be used indoors?

Pizza ovens are similar to a barbecue, and the vast, vast majority of them are for outdoor use only. Don't let that put you off, though – because the Ooni is mostly covered with doors and hatches, they're super easy to use if it's raining as you don't have to worry about protecting the fire!

Can I leave my Ooni outside?

Absolutely! Most pizza ovens are designed to withstand all of the elements, but if you're worried you can buy a cover for your pizza oven to keep it sparkling, rain or shine.

Can you cook frozen pizza in an Ooni pizza oven?

We can't see why not! It just might take a few seconds longer than a fresh pizza. Keep your eye on it!

Are Ooni pizzas good?

Definitely. It doesn't take long to master the techniques needed to make great, homemade pizza. And once you do, you'll never want to buy a supermarket oven pizza again!

Is an Ooni oven worth it?

If you love making pizza, experimental cooking, and cooking for friends, a pizza oven is a kitchen appliance that will bring you a lot of joy through the seasons – and good pizza to boot!

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