I Tried the Ooni Pizza Oven—And Backyard Pizza Nights Will Never Be the Same

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Since I've owned the Ooni pizza oven, we've barely ordered takeout. Homemade pies are just so much better! Here's everything you need to know about this must-have backyard appliance.

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While you can make homemade pizza in the oven, it usually doesn’t come out quite as good as a fresh pie from your local pizzeria. Residential ovens just can’t reach the high temps needed for that perfectly crispy crust. However, outdoor pizza ovens are changing the game, making it possible to whip up professional-quality pizza in the comfort of your own yard. It’s no wonder they’re all the rage lately!

As a self-proclaimed pizza enthusiast and lover of cool cooking appliances, I knew I needed to try the Ooni Koda pizza oven as soon as I heard about it. This gas-powered oven claims to cook perfect pizzas in as little as 60 seconds and can reach temperatures up to 950°F! After several weeks of lusting, I finally caved and bought the Ooni Koda pizza oven for my backyard. It’s been just a few months since then, and I can honestly say I don’t ever want to live without it.

What Is the Ooni Pizza Oven?

Ooni pizza ovens have been around since 2012, but they recently surged in popularity as people searched for creative ways to pass the time at home. After all, what better way to spend time with family than by making homemade pizza?

The brand currently offers three models that use different fuel sources. The versatile Ooni Karu pizza oven comes in 12- or 16-inch sizes and runs on wood, charcoal or propane. The Ooni Koda pizza oven, the model I bought, runs solely on propane, and is also available in 12- or 16-inch models. Finally, there’s the 12-inch Ooni Frya pizza oven, which cooks your pie using wood pellets.

Not only do Ooni ovens cook pizza at extremely high temperatures, they’re significantly sleeker and more compact than many other models. They’re designed to be portable—allowing you to make pizza virtually anywhere—and they won’t take up a huge chunk of storage space when not in use.

How We Tested the Ooni Pizza Oven

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As the proud owner of an Ooni Koda pizza oven, I’ve (slowly) become a pizza master over the past four months. Here’s how I put the oven through the paces—and what I learned along the way.

Set-Up and Assembly

When I first received the oven, I was impressed that it was ready to use right out of the box. There was no assembly needed—all I had to do was put the pizza stone into the oven and hook it up to a 20-pound propane tank. Along with the pizza oven itself, I also purchased the brand’s perforated pizza peel and an infrared thermometer, which allows you to measure the temperature of the pizza stone while the oven is on. A pizza cutter came in handy, too!

Prepping the Pies

Toh Launching Ooni Pizza Oven Social Camryn Rabideau For Taste Of HomeCamryn Rabideau for Taste of Home

The first time we used our Koda, my partner and I kept it simple, making ourselves a few pepperoni pizzas. I used the Ooni pizza dough recipe and we topped our pies with pizza sauce, fresh mozzarella and pepperoni. Yum! To make a proper Neapolitan pizza, you need to stretch the dough very thin, and you also have to generously flour the peel to get a good “launch”—the term for sliding the pizza off the peel into the oven.

The First Few Uses

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There’s definitely a learning curve to using the pizza oven, especially if you’ve never done it before. But luckily, the process is easy to master.

After just 15 to 20 minutes of preheating, the pizza stone reached temperatures of 650°F or more. The cooking time typically takes only two or three minutes, so it’s important to monitor your pizza closely while it’s cooking, otherwise you can quickly end up with burnt edges. Because we were total novices at pizza baking, our first few pies certainly weren’t as picturesque as the ones on the Ooni website. However, they were still tasty, and we could see the oven’s potential.

Becoming Pizza Pros

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We continued to experiment with the Ooni, and slowly, our pizzas became more and more beautiful. We’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way—here are some of our top tips:

  • Spend the money on the Ooni pizza turning peel. The back of the oven is much hotter than the front, so you need to rotate your pizza while it’s cooking for even results. It’s much easier to turn the pizza while it’s inside the oven using the turning peel than it is to take it out and rotate it on a regular peel.
  • Preheat the oven for as long as possible to get the stone nice and hot, but before you launch your pizza, turn down the gas so the flames don’t burn your crust.
  • Keep your pies on the smaller side. The Koda 12 can hold pizzas up to 12 inches wide, but they’re much easier to turn if you give yourself a few inches of wiggle room.
  • If you make your own pizza dough, use double zero flour. It makes for a much smoother dough and delicate crust.
  • Don’t go crazy with the toppings. If you put too much on top of your dough, the ingredients may go flying when you launch the pizza into the oven.

We recently hosted a small backyard party with my family, and all of the pizzas came out phenomenal! Everything was perfectly cooked, no burnt edges to be found. I’d definitely recommend practicing a few times before you try to wow your friends, especially if you’ve never used a pizza oven before. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll never want to get takeout again.

Ooni Pizza Oven Product Features

The Ooni Koda pizza oven has an extremely sleek, compact design. The oven itself is around 23 inches long and 14 inches wide, and it stands on three metal legs with rubber tips. The legs fold up when the oven isn’t in use, making it fairly easy to store. We have a wooden cabinet on our enclosed deck where we keep the oven, and it doesn’t take up much space. Honestly, I’ve found the peels to be harder to store, as they’re quite long. We ended up putting hooks on the wall to hang them up.

The Ooni Koda only weighs around 20 pounds, making it easy to move around as needed, and it has a dark gray powder-coated finish. However, the finish does scratch fairly easily if you’re not careful. At one point, we had the oven on a low table and our dog jumped up on it, leaving a few good scratches on the surface.

Pros

  • Multiple sizes and fuel options available
  • Reaches temperatures up to 950°F
  • Cooks pizza extremely quickly
  • Straightforward operation
  • Legs fold for compact storage

Cons

  • Learning curve for picture-perfect pies
  • Several pizza tools required for easy operation

FAQs

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What else can I cook in my Ooni pizza oven?

While Ooni pizza ovens are most often used for cooking Neapolitan-style pizza, you can cook other foods in the device as well. The brand sells a variety of cast-iron cookware options that fit perfectly inside the oven, allowing you to cook meat, fish and vegetables in the high-heat oven. You can also cook homemade bread right on the pizza stone. (For a more versatile outdoor cooking option, consider the Spark grill.)

Do you need a pizza stone for Ooni pizza oven?

The Ooni Koda comes with a cordierite stone baking board that goes in the bottom of the oven. You’re able to cook directly on the board and do not need a separate pizza stone.

Can Ooni pizza oven be used indoors?

Ooni pizza ovens are for outdoor use only. Because they reach extremely high temperature, these ovens require appropriate ventilation and clearance on all sides for safe operation.

Can you use store-bought dough in Ooni pizza oven?

If you don’t have time to make homemade pizza dough, you can use store-bought dough in your Ooni. The brand even has its own pre-made pizza crust mix that you can try.

What Other People Say

I’m not the only one who’s having a blast with the Ooni pizza oven. There are hundreds of reviewers who rave about the amazing pizza they’ve cooked with it.

“So glad I took the plunge and ordered one,” writes Kristina W. on the Ooni website. “Works like a charm and I love having pizza night with the family—it tastes like restaurant quality, fresh-baked pizza. The fact that I can tote it wherever to enjoy pizza is an even better bonus.”

Buyers also love that the Koda 12’s compact size is perfect for cooking on the go: “I had people from every other tailgate within 150 feet coming to check it out and take pictures,” writes Amazon reviewer Jason B. “It was fun and delicious, and the results were absolutely amazing. A little practice and maybe one or two trial pizzas, and you will be an expert in no time!”

Final Verdict

If you’re tired of takeout or just want a fun culinary project to try with your family, the Ooni Koda pizza oven is definitely a worthwhile addition to your backyard. It does take a little practice to figure out the right technique, but soon, you’ll be whipping up delicious pizzas that rival those from your favorite restaurant. Plus, this model is compact enough to travel with, meaning you can take it tailgating, camping and more.

Where to Buy the Ooni Pizza Oven

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The Ooni Koda 12 retails for $399, and if you opt for the larger Koda 16, it costs $599. You can purchase the pizza oven on the Ooni website or from several other retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy and Williams Sonoma. Trust us when we say: Family pizza nights will never be the same!

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Camryn Rabideau
Camryn is Taste of Home contributor who specializes in home décor, product reviews and general lifestyle content. She holds a degree in fashion merchandising from the University of Rhode Island and jumps at any opportunity to tap into her design expertise.