Given the current pandemic, owning an Ooni pizza oven has saved our social life and quarantine date nights. My wife and I credit maintaining friendships through this pandemic to owning a “cool-spaceship looking pizza oven.” The best thing about creating a custom pizza is accommodating everyone's new year's dietary needs. From vegan, vegetarian and gluten diets, to satisfying meat lovers the Ooni pizza ovens make cooking fun and creative.
The Ooni Karu’s sleek design practically speaks for itself, but there’s plenty more worth knowing. Fueled by real wood or charcoal, The Ooni Karu 12 cooks authentic wood-fired, stone-baked pizza in any outdoor space in just 60 seconds. It’s also gas compatible with a separate Ooni Gas Burner attachment to extend your fuel options. One of my favorite design aspects of the Ooni Karu is the custom-designed fuel tray which maximizes airflow delivering more than enough oxygen for the flame to reach 950°F (500°C) in 15 minutes. I personally enjoy heating up my Ooni Karu with real wood and giving the pizza a unique wood burnt taste. Weighing just 26.4lbs the Ooni Karu 12 offers portability, plus all the power and heat of a larger wood-fired oven. The Ooni Karu’s stainless steel body is ceramic fiber-insulated, with an extra-thick Ooni Baking Stone and patented flame keeper for maximum heat retention.
The Ooni Koda 12 can cook a pizza in less than 60 seconds. The Koda is ready right out of the box by connecting the propane tank, flipping open the foldable legs, inserting the stone baking board, and turning up the heat with the heat control dial. My wife and I took the Ooni Koda on a 5 day overlanding trip throughout the Colorado backcountry making high quality customizable pizza right in our campsite. The Koda is ready to cook in 15 minutes and can reach temperatures up to 932°F (500°C).
One of my favorite things about the Ooni Koda is the heat control dial allowing the operator to regulate the temperature to either cook a pizza as quickly as 60 seconds or lowering the temperature for a longer cook time if desired. One thing I noticed with the Ooni Karu is if you are cooking multiple pizzas, one after another it can be difficult to keep the heat at a consistent temperature burning wood or charcoal. The gas burning option with the Koda gives you a consistent heat temperature knowing how long each pizza will take to be completely cooked.
Between the Ooni Koda 12 and the Ooni Karu 12 the fuel type is different with the Ooni Koda 12 running only on propane gas and the Ooni Karu can be field by wood, charcoal and propane gas (with optional adaptor). Both pizza ovens offer the same baked pizza size at 12”. The size is quite a bit different between the two due to the chimney included on the Ooni Karu coming in at 30 x 15 x 31” and the Ooni Koda 12 measuring at 15.7 x 11.6 x 24.8”. The weights between the Koda and Karu are relatively close. The Koda weighing in at 20.4 lbs and the Karu weighing in at 26.5 lbs. The max temperature for both ovens sits at 950 degrees giving both ovens a quick bake time. As far as aesthetics go, the Ooni Koda 12 Gas Powered Pizza Oven has a powder-coated carbon steel finish and the Ooni Karu 12 Multi-Fuel Pizza Oven is a brushed 430 stainless steel. The price point is also the same between each oven sitting right at $350.
Both the Karu and Koda pizza ovens will take practice to bake the perfect pizza with a crisp exterior and soft, chewy interior crust. Living in Colorado, having the ability to take the Ooni pizza ovens camping, to a tailgate or just having the ability to cook from home at this level of quality is a game changer! For Colorado, having the Ooni Karu with the fuel source being wood makes it easy to transport, not having to lug around a propane tank for a gas source. However, you can hook the Ooni Koda up to a camping propane source which is also an easy and reliable way to transport the Ooni Koda off the grid. For beginners the Ooni Koda will be an easier oven to learn on where the Ooni Karu takes a bit more practice to get the hang of. Either way you can't go wrong as they are both the same price.
1. Watch the Ooni online intro videos, read through their online guides and resources.
2. Get organized and prepare ingredients before you start the oven. The pizza oven heats up very fast and by the time I made my first pizza the wood fire had dissipated so I had to add more wood and wait for it to heat up again.
3. Make sure the pizza peel is cooled down when you put a second pizza on it because the dough will stick to a hot pizza peel.
4. Don’t walk away from the pizza oven thinking your pizza needs time to cook. I know this seems obvious but I burned one pizza when I walked away for 20 seconds. THIS OVEN HEATS UP QUICK!
5. Make the dough as thin as possible to get the crust crispy and cooked through or you will have a raw center with cooked toppings.
6. Get the infrared thermometer. I didn't and it would have taken a lot of the guesswork out of regulating the heat. To regulate heat on the Ooni Karu you are able to close and open the chimney. On the Koda you can regulate the heat control dial to adjust the temperature. Using an infrared thermometer you can avoid the raw/doughy center and cooked toppings.
All in all these are both great pizza ovens and are very high quality. If you haven't made pizza at home before you might find it challenging but I consider myself a noob when it comes to cooking, and after a bit of practice and patience you’ll be slaying za’s in no time.