Ooni Karu Pizza Oven Review (16 & 12 Models) – The Best Multi-Fuel Portable Pizza Oven?

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If you love high-quality, Neapolitan style pizza and want to be able to make it at home whenever you want, you might be looking to get a pizza oven for your back patio.

Ooni is one of the most popular portable pizza oven brands on the market – and their Karu line specifically is a multi-fuel option, meaning you can choose to cook your pizzas with either wood fire heat or with propane gas.

With Ooni Karu Pizza Ovens, you will get a quality pizza every time. The wood-fired option gives you access to an amazing restaurant-quality flavor.  The gas option still makes incredible pizza and couldn’t be easier to use.

They also have a sleek and modern design which will be a great addition to any outdoor living area.

Their original multi-fuel pizza oven is the Ooni Karu 12, but the 16 is a newer model that released in early 2022 and has many pizza fanatics jumping to get it. You might be wondering which model is right for you and better for your outdoor kitchen. We will go over an in-depth Ooni Karu review in this article to make sure you get the perfect outdoor pizza oven for you.

Ooni Brand Overview

Ooni specializes in portable outdoor pizza ovens and is based out of Edinburgh Scotland. All the pizza ovens are designed by the team in Scotland – in 2012, they launched the first portable wood-fired pizza oven which is outlined in greater detail in this article.

They specialize in making ovens for residential areas so that every homeowner has the ability to make amazing pizza right in their backyard. They also aim to make the pizza-making process easy with their many grill options as well as some pretty stellar accessories.

All their pizza ovens use ultra-high heat (most can go up to 950ºF or 500 ºC) and make incredible restaurant-quality fire and stone-baked pizza. With their pizza ovens and tools, you can become a master pizza chef right in your outdoor kitchen without leaving your backyard.

When it comes to the Karu series, a lot of the features of the 12 and the 16 are the same, although since the 16 is newer it does come with a few new features that really elevate the product.  The biggest and most notable difference between the two is the size of the oven – as the names suggest, the Ooni Karu 16 is wide enough to fit a 16″ pizza and the 12 is wide enough to fit a 12″ pizza.

Ooni Karu 16

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The Ooni Karu 16 offers everything that the 12 does but with a few extra additions that make your pizza-making experience much more enjoyable. Instead of being made with stainless steel, it has a powder-coated carbon steel shell. It can also fit the 12 inch and 16-inch cordierite stone baking boards.

The Ooni Karu 16 can reach 950ºF or 500ºC in just 15 minutes.  With temperatures that high, you can completely bake a pizza and have it ready to eat in just 60 seconds.

One fantastic feature that’s new to this oven specifically is the hinged oven door design. Oven doors are ideal because they keep all of the hot air inside of the cooking chamber, but at the same time you want to be able to see your pizza while it cooks to check in on it.  Ooni solved for both of these needs by designing an easy-to-open door with a viewing window – a feature you don’t see on many portable pizza ovens currently.

Since this option is larger than the 12 models, it also weighs a lot more. It’s still portable like the other model – but it weighs almost double at 63 pounds, so it may be a little bit more of a hassle to take on the go. With a generous amount of cooking space, this model is a great choice to leave in your outdoor kitchen – you can even cook things other than pizza (like steak!) on this pizza oven.

The base Karu 16 comes configured to cook with wood fire, but you can easily switch to propane gas cooking with an Ooni gas burner that’s sold separately.

Some specifications to keep in mind:

  • 63 lbs
  • 33″ x 32″ x 2-“
  • Only to be used outdoors
  • Gas compatible if you buy the converter, but usually fueled by real pizza oven wood or charcoal.

Ooni Karu 12

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The Ooni Karu 12 only weighs 26.5 and is extremely portable. It’s the number one choice for people who want to travel with their pizza oven or people who want to bring the pizza oven to summer cookouts. Despite the small size, you will still get a powerful pizza oven.

You can use the oven with wood or charcoal as these are the preferred methods. You can still use gas if you want to, but you will need to buy the Ooni Gas Burner to convert into gas.

This pizza oven will give you incredible heat up times being able to reach 950ºF or 500ºC within just 15 minutes. If you preheat the oven, you can have a ready-to-eat stone-baked pizza in just 60 seconds. This oven is fantastic for making pizzas for large groups of people or cookout events where you need to have many pizzas done in a short period of time.

With this pizza oven, you get a 13″ cooking surface and a 0.6″ cordierite stone baking board. This oven should last for years and years to come even if you bring it everywhere as it comes with durable 430 stainless steel and glass-reinforced nylon construction.

The main complaint with the Ooni Karu 12 is that the fire basket is pretty small, but you have to remember the pizza oven is portable, so it would be hard to carry around with you if the fire basket was any larger. Just make sure to keep an eye on the fuel as you are cooking so you don’t run out mid-pizza cooking. Other than that, most users don’t have any issues and they love their pizza oven for years and years to come.

Some features to keep in mind:

  • 26.5 lbs
  • 31.5″ x 15.7″ x 30.3″
  • For outdoor use only, don’t use inside
  • Durable and sleek 430 stainless steel
  • Can be fueled by wood, charcoal, or even gas with a converter

If you are still stuck between the 12 and 16 models, remember that the 12 is more portable and should be a solid choice if you plan to travel with the pizza oven. You will get a lightweight and portable pizza oven that can still bake amazing pizza in just a few minutes.

If you want a larger oven and don’t plan to travel a ton with the pizza oven, you might want to go with the 16 models. The larger capacity allows you to make larger pizzas.

Both models will allow you to make more than just pizza including desserts, fish, meat, and unique flatbreads. The major difference between the two ovens is the size, so you can base your choice on what size you want and how much food you plan to cook at the same time.

Benefits of Multi-Fuel Pizza Ovens

The main benefit of multi-fuel pizza ovens is that you have maximum cooking flexibility. You can fire up the oven right out of the box with wood or charcoal. Most of the multi-fuel pizza ovens also allow you to use gas, but you will need to buy the converter separately. Ooni has a burner that they sell that works perfectly with their pizza ovens.

If you want the convenience of cooking with gas, consider buying the converter if you have extra money. Many people choose to use wood or charcoal though because the taste is so much better when it comes to having quality restaurant pizza.

Benefits of Wood Fire Pizza Ovens

Wood fire pizza ovens are often the most popular because you get a pizza that tastes like it was made at a classic restaurant. Wood-fired pizzas have a better taste and flavor giving you an authentic pizza taste. There are many other advantages though when it comes to using wood fire pizza ovens.

Wood-fired ovens often cook pizza much quicker than the charcoal or the gas options. Wood-fired pizza can reach higher temperatures much faster than its counterparts. This cuts your pizza cooking time down by almost half. The exact cooking time will depend on the dough thickness though.

Wood-fired pizza ovens will also retain more nutrients than if you use gas to cook. Cooking with wood allows the fruits and vegetables you put on the pizza to retain more nutrients and antioxidants. Longer cooking processes such as those seen with gas cookers can cause more depletion of nutrients which can cause your diet to be lacking in certain areas.

Wood-fired ovens also save energy. They don’t require any electricity to operate as the only energy source is heat from the fire. This also reduces air pollution in your neighborhood.

Benefits of Gas Pizza Ovens

Gas ovens are usually easier to operate because you don’t need any wood or charcoal supplies. Gas pizza ovens also offer a unique flavor, although it’s different from wood-fired pizzas. They are sometimes more expensive because you might need to buy a converter or additional supplies if you are starting with a wood-fired oven.

Gas ovens are also easier to control in terms of controlling the temperature and the heat that’s cooking the pizza. For people that are used to cooking with gas, this can often be easier because you don’t need to learn how to use wood or charcoal and there is added convenience.

Final Thoughts

Both the 12 and 16 Ooni Pizza Ovens have amazing features that make baking artisan pizza right in your backyard extremely easy. The 12 is often a better option for those who want something portable, but other than that the two basically function the same despite the different sizes.

Want to see how Ooni stacks up to the competition?  Head on over to our comparison of Ooni vs Roccbox pizza ovens next.

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