Is An Ooni Pizza Oven Worth It? We Tested 9 Pizza Ovens To Find The Best

Is An Ooni Pizza Oven Worth It? We Tested 9 Pizza Ovens To Find The Best

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Everyone loves pizza — so why not enjoy making it at home? Whether your tastes run toward artisan-baked, wood-fired Italian styles with puffy, soft crusts; thin-crust New York slices or deep-dish Chicago pies, the latest home pizza ovens let aspiring pizzaioli turn out pizzas that match — or even exceed — the quality of those you’d get from most local pizza joints.

To pick out the perfect pizza oven, we tested nine different leading pizza ovens in electric, gas, wood/charcoal-burning and multi-fuel configurations, spending 10 weeks making countless pizzas to find the best models for any dedicated home pizza baker.

Best pizza oven overall

The only electric pizza oven we tested, the Breville Pizzaiolo was our favorite oven overall because of its predictable, consistent results and even cooking.

Best gas pizza oven

The gas-fueled Ooni Koda 16 had the most even heat distribution of the gas ovens we tested, making for fuss-free operation and perfectly charred and blistered artisanal pizza crust.

Best multi-fuel pizza oven

The Ooni Karu 16 was the simplest-to-use multi-fuel oven we tested, with straightforward switching between wood and gas and easy fuel loading — plus it made great artisanal pizzas with either fuel source.

Best wood-burning pizza oven

The Cru Model 30 has an incredibly simple, sturdy design and plenty of room to work in, and turned out delicious wood-fired pizzas.

Key Specs Capacity: 12-inch pizzas Maximum temperature: 750º F Accessories: Pizza peel, deep-dish pizza pan Warranty: Two years (three- and four-year extended warranties available at an additional cost when purchasing directly from Breville) The only electric pizza oven we looked at happens to be our favorite pizza oven overall. We utterly loved using the Pizzaiolo and consistently got the best results from it compared to every other oven we evaluated. It doesn’t get as hot as the competition (it can hit 750 degrees Fahrenheit while wood- and gas-fired ovens can get up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit) but, because it can control the temperature more precisely, it turns out evenly cooked crusts and overall better pizzas than any other oven we tested.

The Pizzaiolo doesn’t look much like the other pizza ovens we tested. Rather, the heavy stainless steel unit resembles an oversized toaster oven adorned with three push-button dials in front — one for selecting among pre-programmed baking temperatures, one for the baking timer and one for darkness adjustment.

But this is all you need to make perfect pizzas every time: no turning, no positioning, no vent adjusting. No futzing with anything. Simply pick your style with one of the preset modes, wait for it to come up to temperature (indicated with an LED “AT TEMP” light), place your pizza on a circular stone (which can accommodate pies of 11 inches or less) and wait for it to cook. It takes 3 minutes for a “Wood Fired,” 8 minutes for a “New York,” and 18 minutes for a “Pan Pizza.” And unlike the gas, wood- and charcoal-burning ovens we tested, you can cook at any time of day, in any weather, indoors, in less time than it takes to cook a pizza with gas or with wood if we take setup, fuel loading and preheating into consideration.

We preferred the Pizzaiolo to everything else we evaluated because of its predictable, consistent results and even cooking, which comes from the placement and electronic control of the dual heating elements — one pair of concentric circular elements set below the stone and one above. The presets let you tailor the cooking chamber’s temperature precisely by independently controlling the heating elements and the operation of the oven’s convection fan, with constant fine-tuning courtesy of internal sensors. It’s an impressive piece of industrial design and technology. You can override the preprogrammed temperatures and set the heating elements manually, but we never explored this and we don’t expect most users will either.

It’s worth noting that, because of the lower and more consistent cooking temperatures compared to gas or wood ovens, you will not get the pronounced burn marks that give your pies that “artisan” look and crust texture, with leopard-skin crust char and big crust bubbles. Instead, you’ll get results similar to an American pizza parlor and slice shop with a steel deck electric setup: very evenly cooked crusts on top and bottom. But is there anything wrong with that? We think not.

We also found that the temperature indicator is solely visual and lacks an audible cue, so as you’re prepping in the kitchen, you’ll want to check for the LED after the suggested 18–20-minute preheat period. Nor is there an integrated thermometer to indicate the current temperature. Also, while the oven alerts you with a tone when the pizza is done, it’s not very loud and the oven continues cooking at temperature after the timer ends. Presumably, this is designed so you can reset the timer and load more pizzas, as with the gas and wood ovens, but to be safe, it’s a good idea to use an external timer.

However, these are pretty minor issues. Given the quality of pizzas we’ve gotten out of this unit, it’s a clear winner, even considering it’s the most expensive oven we tested. As with all of Breville’s products, the build quality is solid, and Breville’s two-year warranty support is good (longer warranties are available when you purchase directly from Breville).

Key Specs Capacity: 16-inch pizzas Maximum temperature: 950º F Accessories: Propane regulator and hose (natural gas regulator and peel available separately) Warranty: 3 years, with registration Smaller version: Ooni Koda 12, $399 at Ooni If you’re looking to master the artistry of traditional pizza-making with a minimum of fuss, then we think the gas-fueled Ooni Koda — which we tested in the larger 16-inch version (it’s available in a more compact 12-inch configuration for $399 as well) — will satisfy most aspiring backyard pizzaioli. Gas lets it hit the 900-degree temperature required for Neapolitan-style pizzas without the fuss of stoking a wood fire.

The Koda can run from a 20-pound liquid propane (LP) tank or from a natural gas hookup (a $49 conversion kit is required). We found the setup to be relatively easy. We unpacked it from the box, unfolded its tripod legs, placed it on a stable fire-resistant surface (we used the Ooni modular table), installed the pizza stone and plugged in the tank.

Getting the Ooni Koda 16 fired up is as simple as turning the knob on the side, pushing it in and clicking it to ignition at full power. After about 15 minutes, the unusual L-shaped burner gets the oven up to 932 degrees Fahrenheit and the cordierite baking stone holds and distributes heat extremely well; the Ooni Koda 16 gave us a more even distribution of heat than the more expensive Karu and Gozney Roccbox. The Koda’s insulation — mineral wool sandwiched between the stainless steel inner shell and the powder-coated carbon steel shell outer housing — also did a better job than most competitors, though we don’t recommend you touch the outside of the oven while it is hot.

As with all gas-fired ovens, it takes a bit of practice to get good results. The Koda gets very hot, and at maximum oven temperature, a pizza cooks in under 90 seconds, and will let you achieve that “leopard skin” and big blisters that pizza aficionados like to chase. But you’ll need to learn how to launch and position the pie using a peel, and then pay careful attention (you absolutely can’t walk away for even a moment), turning the pizza a quarter turn every 15 seconds so it cooks evenly.

You may want to lower the gas output immediately before cooking a pizza and then monitor the temperature with an infrared thermometer. Some pizza crusts do not need to cook at 900-degree temperatures; you may get better results in the 600-degree to 700-degree range, using longer cook times to get even cooking and the desired results. That said, should you burn parts off or leave ingredients on the stone, no worries — simply run the flame at high heat, incinerate it and scrape it off with a wire brush.

Overall, we felt the build quality was pretty decent, and it is certainly made of top materials that should last a long time; however, we recommend you buy a cover for it should you keep it outdoors. And if you can keep it indoors between uses, that’s even better. There are a couple of downsides — there’s no integrated thermometer and no oven door — but it’s a great gas-only setup that turns out very enjoyable pizzas.

Key Specs Capacity: 16-inch pizzas Maximum temperature: 950º F Warranty: 3 years, with registration Smaller version: Karu 12, $399 at Ooni Gas burners: LP, $99.99 at Ooni, Natural Gas, $149.99 at Ooni While we feel that the gas-fueled Koda is the Ooni for the majority of home pizza makers, some aficionados will want the ability to cook with either wood or gas. Proponents of wood ovens appreciate the added flavor, or simply enjoy the artistry, replicating more closely the pizza-baking methods used in Naples.

The Ooni Karu 16 multi-fuel pizza oven will give you these options. You can use the included wood fuel tray or install a gas burner accessory (the propane kit is $99.99; natural gas $149.99). The Koda 16 also adds a hinged metal front door with a large insulated handle, a glass window and a bracket-mounted external digital thermometer with a thermocouple.

We evaluated the Karu 16 in both liquid propane gas and wood configurations. Unlike the Koda, which has an L-shaped burner, the Karu has two large gas jets that take the place of the wood fuel tray at the rear of the oven. Installation took us about 10 minutes, with a hinged door, a backplate and the thermometer being the three main components requiring the use of the included Torx wrench.

In gas mode, we got roughly similar results to the Koda 16, though pizzas tended to cook more evenly with less effort in the gas-specific Koda. However, we had no problems getting those leopard spots and crust bubbles with Karu’s dual rear gas jets, we just needed to pay careful attention to rotating our pizzas.

Turning to wood fuel, we couldn’t tell the difference from a flavor standpoint, likely because at such high temperatures we got only a brief exposure to the hardwood we were using. However, we found it was much easier to overcook the pies, and more careful heat management was necessary. This is accomplished using the Karu’s stainless steel vented smokestack and in-oven vent control (when the oven is in operation you’ll want to use something other than your hands to adjust it, such as barbecue tongs, as it is far too hot).

We did get some great pizzas from the oven in wood mode, and the Karu’s design made the process relatively easy. In particular, the rear cover makes it easy to add additional wood and charcoal and prevents wind from extinguishing the fire.

At almost 63 pounds, the Karu 16 is too heavy to be considered “portable” when compared with the 40-pound Koda 16, so you will want to put it on a sturdy surface, such as a metal table with caster wheels so you can move it in and out of the elements. If you intend to keep it outside, then you’ll want the cover as well. If you don’t want such a big oven but still want to keep your fuel options open, then the smaller Karu 12 is available for $399.

Key Specs Capacity: 12-inch pizzas Maximum temperature: 900º F Accessories: Pizza peel, embers rake Warranty: 1 year Although we are, admittedly, fans of electric and gas pizza cooking for convenience and ease of heat management, we think the Cru Oven Model 30, an all-stainless steel pizza oven made in Portugal, is the best choice for those who prefer to focus on wood-fired pizza baking.

The Cru Oven Model 30 is about as barebones as it gets when compared to the others on this list — it’s not insulated and there’s no separate removable tray for removing and loading wood or thermometer. With its large ceiling arc and unfinished, laser-cut steel panels, it has a distinct, almost steampunk personality — think Mad Max Beyond Napoli. It’s basically a wood-burning stove or outdoor fireplace that makes pizza.

But the interior heat reflectivity is excellent, the oven’s generous interior with a high ceiling makes it very easy to maneuver your pizzas and the ceramic stone is easily removable and can be replaced (or you can substitute third-party options if desired).

Fueling the oven is simple. You load the wood at the center of the stone, make a teepee, and light it on fire – we used square firestarters and a BIC butane lighter wand. When everything is burning nicely, you push it all back to the rear of the oven using the included ember rake. As the fuel burns down to embers and pizzas are removed, you load more fuel, approximately every 15 minutes. Vent management? There isn’t any. There’s a stainless steel smokestack, which has no controls. You put in fuel; it burns; you cook. When it cools off, you brush out the ashes. The Cru Oven Model 30 does come with a front door cover, but you’re not meant to cook with it – it’s for extinguishing the flames and for shielding the interior from the elements when not in use.

We loved the pizzas that came out of this oven — you can produce artisan-style pies with the Cru Oven Model 30 and achieve the big bubbles and high char levels that wood-fired enthusiasts want. But as this is the most primitive of designs, developing fuel management skills on this oven is paramount, so it isn’t for everyone. Because there is no way to adjust airflow (there are no vents!), you need to develop a sense of how long to wait for the fuel to burn down to the desired temperature range that will hold for as many minutes as you need to cook the pie.

By the way, under no circumstances should you touch this because it has no insulation, and you’ll easily burn yourself, as my wife learned when she accidentally touched the edge of it briefly. Keep kids away when using this — and carefully consider whether you should even own one if you have inquisitive small children around.

Beyond that, there just isn’t much to go wrong, and it is built to last. Should the world become a post-apocalyptic nightmare, you’ll at least be able to feed scavenging hordes some pretty nice pizza.

Jason Perlow/CNN Underscored

The pizza ovens that we looked at let you reach back to pizza’s Italian roots, achieving temperatures over 900 degrees Fahrenheit to execute pies to the strict requirements of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, on your patio, without having to build or permanently install a brick oven. All of the ovens we looked at are simple in design: a chamber designed to hold a flat, thick pizza “stone,” usually made of ceramic or a manufactured material that contains the mineral cordierite, designed to hold and distribute the high levels of heat needed to evenly bake a pizza.

We tested ovens that use several types of fuel, mainly wood (hardwood, fruitwoods, hardwood lump charcoal or wood pellets) and gas (liquid propane or natural gas). Some are “multi-fuel,” meaning they can be configured to burn either wood or gas, swapping out a special refillable hopper, propane or natural gas burner as desired. And we checked out a single electric model, Breville’s Pizzaiolo.

We had no problem reaching the desired 900-degree-plus temperature with any of the gas or wood-fueled ovens we tested. The choice of gas or wood really comes down to taste and how much time you want to spend fine-tuning your technique and managing your fuel supply.

Gas is more forgiving in that you don’t need to add fuel over the course of your baking, and you can adjust the temperature without learning to manage to vent or waiting for fuel to burn down — just turn a knob as you would on a stove or grill.

Wood takes more practice and is better suited for serious home bakers who are interested in mastering the craft of baking in the traditional Neapolitan style. There’s more work involved since temperature management is dependent on the timing of your fuel supply and careful attention to the venting of the oven chamber itself.

That temperature instability is what can give you a more pronounced crust char on a pie baked in a wood-burning oven — the temperature spikes and drops produce that effect, which many associate with an “artisanal” look and taste. You need to be very careful, of course, because the timing is critical not only for the crust but for the toppings — unless those are minimal, you don’t want to keep your oven at extremely high heat all the time.

That takes a lot of practice, and we had trouble consistently creating this effect in the ovens we looked at, given the difficulty in maintaining high heat on the stones. When we were more occupied with fuel management, we had to pay less attention to cooking the actual pizzas.

An electric oven is the simplest to operate, and the one we tested, though it couldn’t get hot enough to produce an artisanally charred crust, was much easier to use and turned out more consistently good pizzas. We think it’s a compromise most amateur home cooks would be willing to make, and that we much preferred during our testing.

As with anything culinary, cooking pizza is a science that requires years to master, but part of the enjoyment in cooking pizza is learning how to achieve the results you want. Working in a very hot oven requires constant attention, and you’ll need to rotate your pizzas frequently during their brief cooking time.

While all of the gas and wood-fueled ovens gave us similar results, some oven designs made the baker’s task easier. Narrower openings gave us less room to “launch” or place our pizzas on the stone and subsequently rotate and maneuver as they cooked, making it harder to execute a perfectly cooked pie, regardless of the fuel technology (the Breville electric oven was an outlier, requiring no interaction during cooking).

While most ovens are simple

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