Ooni Karu 16 Review: The Ultimate All-Purpose Pizza Oven?
Looking for an indoor pizza oven? The Ooni Volt 12 just dropped and it’s fully electric. To learn more, check out my Ooni Volt 12 overview here.
Summary: The Ooni Karu 16 is a premium-quality, multi-fuel, 16 inch pizza oven priced at $799. With the ability to cook with wood, charcoal, and propane, this pizza oven has a truly impressive set of features—but is it worth the price? Let me walk you through my thought process for determining if this acclaimed pizza oven is right for you.
Breakdown: The Ooni Karu 16 is a multi-fuel pizza oven with a 16.7×16.7 inch baking surface, which makes it big enough for a standard extra-large pizza. This pizza oven can cook with wood and charcoal right out of the box, or with an optional gas burner you can use propane as well. The Ooni Karu 16 is also the only domestic pizza oven to come recommended by the AVPN—Italy’s official pizza regulating body.
What I Like: The Ooni Karu 16’s wood burner is powerful enough to make authentic Neapolitan pizza, while its huge baking surface and propane temperature controls make it perfect for New York style as well. I love the big viewing window on the front and the built-in digital thermostat on the side. Its functional chimney and excellent airflow helps deliver an evenly cooked pizza every time.
Questions: The Ooni Karu 16 is clearly a good pizza oven—but at $799 for the base fuel options, is it worth the price? Am I better off getting the less expensive Ooni Koda 16 at $599 to make larger pizza, or the much less expensive Ooni Fyra 12 at $349 for wood-fired Neapolitan?
Bottom Line: The Ooni Karu 16 is expensive, but it has everything a pizza aficionado could ever want in a pizza oven. I wish this oven had the same gravity-fed wood pellet burner featured on the Ooni Fyra 12, but that’s a small price to pay. The Ooni Karu 16 might be outside of many people’s price range, but it’s still worth every penny. In fact, compared to many other high-priced pizza ovens out there that don’t perform very well, this one is a bargain.
Portable Pizza Oven Review Series:
If you like this review, read my thoughts on some more of my favorite pizza ovens below.
1. Ooni Karu 16 Review ($799)
2. Ooni Koda 12 Review ($399)
3. Gozney Roccbox Review ($499)
4. Ooni vs Roccbox Comparison
5. Ooni Fyra 12 Review ($349)
6. Bertello 12 Review ($299)
7. Ooni Koda vs Ooni Karu
8. Ooni Volt 12 Indoor Pizza Oven ($999)
What Is The Ooni Karu 16?
The Ooni Karu 16 is Ooni’s flagship pizza oven model, having taken the top spot from the recently discontinued Ooni Pro. This pizza oven boasts a huge 16.7 x 16.7 inch baking surface, multi-fuel support, and a built-in digital thermostat. The Ooni Karu 16 is also the only pizza oven meant for domestic use that’s been officially recognized by the AVPN—maybe you’ve never heard of them, but trust me, in the pizza world, that’s a very big deal.
Ooni Karu 16 Specs Compared
|Ooni Karu 16||Ooni Karu 12||Ooni Koda 16||Ooni Fyra 12|
|Fuel Types||Wood, Charcoal, Gas||Wood, Charcoal, Gas||Propane||Wood Pellets|
|Max Pizza Size||16 inches||12 inches||16 inches||12 inches|
|Max Temperature||950F (510C)||950F (510C)||950F (510C)||950F (510C)|
|Preheat Time||15 minutes||15 minutes||20 minutes||15 minutes|
The chart above compares the Ooni Karu 16 with three other Ooni pizza ovens on a spec-by-spec basis.
Right away, the most obvious difference is price. The Ooni Karu 16 is (in most cases) significantly more expensive than many other pizza ovens.
Is it worth it? Let’s find out by looking at each of the alternatives.
Ooni Karu 12: The Ooni Karu 12 is the smaller counterpart of the Ooni Karu 16, with a 12 inch baking surface compared to the 16 inch surface on the Karu 16. Besides the size difference, the Ooni Karu 12 doesn’t have a viewing window or a built-in thermostat, doesn’t support natural gas, and isn’t AVPN recognized.
That said, the Ooni Karu 12 is less than half the price of the Ooni Karu 16 ($399 vs $799), which is quite a difference. So, if your main objective is to own a great pizza oven with multi-fuel support, and you don’t mind being limited to 12 inches in size (or care about bells and whistles), the Ooni Karu 12 is a tempting offer.
Bottom Line: If you want to cook with wood and gas in the same oven, and you don’t plan on making a pizza larger than 12 inches, you can save a lot of money getting the Ooni Karu 12 instead of the Ooni Karu 16. Otherwise, the more versatile Ooni Karu 16 will give you more pizza making options in the years ahead.
Ooni Koda 16: The Ooni Koda 16 is the only other 16 inch pizza oven in Ooni’s lineup, but it only supports propane. Propane is a great option because of its reliability and convenience, but it won’t infuse your pizza with a smoky flavor like wood or charcoal.
In addition to propane, the Ooni Koda 16 is also compatible with natural gas (with an optional attachment). This is a nice touch for those with a natural gas hookup at home, but for everyone else this feature won’t mean much.
Bottom Line: If what you want primarily out of your pizza oven is size, the Ooni Koda 16 is a great choice and will save you some money. But, if you want the ability to use any fuel type to make any style of pizza, it’s hard to match the Ooni Karu 16.
Ooni Fyra 12: The Ooni Fyra 12 is a 12 inch pizza oven that cooks exclusively with wood-pellets. Priced at only $349, this pizza oven is the least expensive in Ooni’s lineup.
I like to think of the Ooni Fyra 12 as a kind of purpose-built Neapolitan pizza oven. It’s the perfect size for Neapolitan pizza (up to 12 inches), and its wood burner will infuse the crust with a characteristically smoky flavor. I also love the gravity-fed pellet hopper, which is much easier to use than the standard wood burner on the Ooni Karu 16.
Bottom Line: The Ooni Fyra 12 is the perfect oven if you’re only looking to make standard sized wood-fired Neapolitan pizza on a budget, but it really can’t compare to the full range of features available on the Ooni Karu 16.
Baking Surface Size
The Ooni Karu 16 has a 16.7×16.7 inch baking surface, which makes it just big enough for a 16 inch pizza when you consider that most pizza crusts will shrink slightly while baking.
For reference, 16 inches is about the size of a standard “extra-large” pizza at most American pizzerias. Outside of some very unique circumstances (such as running a pizzeria selling New York sized slices), most people will never need to cook a pizza larger than 16 inches.
|Standard Size||Standard Size (For Slices)|
|New York||13-16 inches||18-24 inches|
|Standard American||12-14 inches||16-18 inches|
As you can see, the Ooni Karu 16 will fit all standard pizza sizes, including styles not listed here such as Detroit and Sicilian. The only exception (as mentioned) is pizza big enough to divide into extra-large, New York-sized slices for individual sale, which most people are never going to do.
One of the best selling points of the Ooni Karu 16 is its multi-fuel support. This includes the ability to burn wood, charcoal, and propane/natural gas.
Note that to use propane or natural gas, you’ll need to buy an optional attachment for each. This will add an additional $100 to the total cost of the oven, so keep that in mind when planning your budget.
That said, you can always start out with wood and charcoal and purchase the propane burner later if you decide you want it. Most people prefer the convenience of propane, though, because it requires no learning curve to get started, and the flame can be controlled with a simple turn of the temperature control dial.
Like all Ooni pizza ovens, the Ooni Karu 16 can reach temperatures up to 950F (510C) in just 20 minutes.
Temperatures between 850F and 1000F are perfect for wood-fired/Neapolitan style pizza, while lower temperatures up to 750F are ideal for New York style pizza. I recommend using wood or charcoal at the maximum temperature for Neapolitan style, and propane for New York style using the convenient temperature controls.
Note: It’s much easier to fine-tune a low-temperature flame using propane than it is with wood or charcoal—at least if you’re a beginner.
The price of the Ooni Karu 16 is going to be a major sticking point for many people—$799 plus tax, plus accessories, can easily push one’s budget too far.
That said, the Ooni Karu 16 is not overpriced and is still a great value for someone looking to invest in a premium product that can last a lifetime with proper care. This pizza oven has all the features and specs anyone could ever want in a pizza oven, and there are no comparable ovens on the market that can match its quality of design.
If money is holding you back, consider the smaller Ooni Karu 12 for less than half the price. And if you’re fine to just use propane, but still want the extra room, the Ooni Koda 16 offers (nearly) the same oven space for about $200 less.
Ooni Karu 16 Sales
The Ooni Karu 16 rarely goes on sale outside of the regular holiday sales seasons like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If you do happen to find one offered at a discount, it’s worth picking one up.
Ooni offers discounts year-round if you bundle a pizza oven with accessories. This is actually a great deal because certain accessories (like a pizza peel) are necessary to get started anyways, so you may as well buy them at once and save some money.
For example, this bundle (as of writing) offers a 5% discount when you buy the Ooni Karu 16, a pizza peel, an oven cover, and a propane gas burner all at once.
To see all Ooni bundles, click here. But keep in mind that not all accessories are mandatory to use the oven (like thermometers and kitchen scales), so you’re only saving money if you actually want the accessories in the first place.
As most people are aware, Black Friday and Cyber Monday see big sales on most products. Ooni is no exception to this and their pizza ovens usually see a big price drop around these times of year.
To see which pizza ovens are on sale this year, check out my Black Friday/Cyber Monday buyer’s guide here.
What I Like About the Ooni Karu 16
If you’ve made it this far, you probably have a good idea of what I like about the Ooni Karu 16. But in case you skipped all that, here’s a summary of my favorite features:
- Massive 16.7×16.7 inch baking surface makes it big enough for any style of pizza.
- Multi-fuel support is perfect for different styles of pizza cooked at different temperatures.
- The built-in digital thermostat and large viewing window are really useful add-ons that make the cooking process easier and more convenient.
- Excellent heat retention allows you to evenly cook one pizza after another with minimal reheating required in between.
- Powder-coated carbon steel body will not corrode or rust (if properly cared for), and improves the thermal conductivity of the oven.
- Can be used as a charcoal or wood-fired oven in a large space, or as a convenient smoke-free propane oven in a close-quarters living arrangement (like an apartment or condo).
- Official AVPN recognition sets it apart from other pizza ovens.
Ooni Karu 16: Downsides
While I think the Ooni Karu 16 is an all-around amazing pizza oven, there are a few things I warn any prospective buyer about. I’ve mentioned most of these points already, but for the sake of summarizing my thoughts I’ll repeat them here.
- The Ooni Karu 16 is expensive (but not overpriced) at $799, which means for many people it’s simply not going to be an option.
- The propane gas burner attachment is sold separately (extra $100).
- Doesn’t include a pizza peel, which you’ll need to use it.
- The wood burner is great, but I prefer the wood pellet burner of the Ooni Fyra 12.
- It’s very heavy (60lbs), making it unsuitable for things like camping trips, etc.
Ooni Karu 16 Pizza Dough Recipe
You can use any pizza dough recipe you like with an Ooni pizza oven, including store-bought. But if you want to take your pizza to the next level, try my improved Ooni pizza dough recipe.
The benefit of this pizza dough is the extra hydration, which makes the interior of the crust more moist and tender. It’s also cold-fermented, which improves the taste and texture of the crust compared to one made and used on the same day.
This pizza recipe also uses the no-knead method, which means no getting your hands dirty kneading out a dough ball for 10-15 minutes.
Other pizza dough recipes:
- Poolish Pizza Dough Recipe (Perfect Crust Super Easy)
- How To Make AUTHENTIC Neapolitan Pizza At Home
- 70% Hydration Pizza Dough Recipe – No More Dry Crust
Ooni Karu 16 Accessories
There are many accessories available for use with the Ooni Karu 16. Some of these accessories are required to use the pizza oven, and others are simply useful. Here are a few of them:
- A pizza peel. You need a pizza peel to get the pizza in and out of the oven without burning yourself. Without a pizza peel, you cannot use the Ooni Karu 16 (or any other pizza oven). So if you don’t already own a suitable pizza peel, you’ll need to buy one.
- Infrared Thermometer. An infrared thermometer is designed to measure the temperature of any surface using a laser, including the baking surface of a pizza oven. I use my infrared thermometer to know exactly how hot my baking stone is and exactly when it’s ready to use. This is an incredibly useful tool for all sorts of cooking, not just pizza.
- Digital kitchen scale. A kitchen scale is an essential part of any serious pizza maker’s set of tools. Rather than measuring volume with cups and spoons, with a scale you can measure by weight using grams and milliliters. This is how I consistently make excellent pizza dough every time.
- Oven cover. An oven cover is a step above a simple tarp and fits each Ooni pizza oven exactly. There is even a sleeve for the chimney. This will help to keep your oven is perfect condition even when left out in the rain/snow.
- Modular table. Ooni’s modular tables are a perfect fit for Ooni pizza ovens and include space below for pull out drawers for ingredients and other oven accessories. Of course, any other heat resistant table will work as well, but these Ooni specific ones are very nice.
- Turning peel. A turning peel is not the same as a pizza peel. Turning peels are used simply to rotate the pizza while it’s still in the oven. This isn’t necessary, as you can just use a regular pizza peel and your hands, but it is useful and is what most professional pizza makers use.
Ooni Karu 16 Alternatives
- Gozney Dome ($1,799): Usually when I list “alternative” pizza ovens, I list ones that are less expensive, but this one is too unique to pass up. It’s also one of the few pizza ovens to compete with the Ooni Karu 16 in terms of features and size. To read more about the Gozney Dome and all its features, check out my review of it here.
- Gozney Roccbox ($599): The Gozney Roccbox is a 12 inch multi-fuel pizza oven that’s earned lots of praise over the last few years. See how it compares to Ooni ovens by reading my review of it here.
- Ooni Karu 12 ($399): If you like the Ooni Karu 16 but can’t afford it (or fit it in your living space), the Ooni Karu 12 is easy to recommend. I love this pizza oven because it does almost everything the Ooni Karu 16 can but in a smaller package and for less than half the price. Related post: Ooni Karu vs Ooni Koda Review
- Ooni vs Roccbox: Which Is The Best Pizza Oven & Why
- Ooni Pizza Ovens: All 6 Models Compared & Reviewed
- Improved Ooni Pizza Dough Recipe: 65% Hydration, Double Fermented, No-Knead Method
- Can Ooni Pizza Ovens Be Used In The Rain? Yes & No: Here’s Why
- What You Need To Make Pizza At Home – Pizza Making Buyer’s Guide
- Ooni vs Gozney Dome: Pizza Ovens Reviewed And Compared
- Ooni vs Big Horn Pizza Oven: Ooni Clone or Cheap Knockoff?
- Ooni Koda vs Ooni Karu: Which Pizza Oven Is Best For You?
- How Much Does A Wood-Fired Pizza Oven Cost? Complete Buyer’s Guide
- Which Ooni Accessories You Need To Get Started
- Qubestove 12 Inch Pizza Oven Review: When Good Intentions Go Wrong
- Ooni Pizza Oven Holiday Gift Guide
- Best Amazon Pizza Ovens On Sale Now
- Ooni Karu 16 Review: The Ultimate All-Purpose Pizza Oven?
- Gozney Roccbox Review
In all my experience making pizza in various ovens, I can safely say that the Ooni Karu 16 is one of the best I’ve ever used. Personally, I love this oven’s versatility more than anything. It handily makes a perfect Neapolitan pizza, then with the temperature lowered and fuel switched to propane, I can make a perfect New York style pizza—all in the same afternoon. Not many pizza ovens can boast the same.
What Else Can I Cook In The Ooni Karu 16
Besides pizza, the Ooni Karu 16 can cook just about anything else you’d cook in the wood-fired oven. For example, steaks and vegetables come out great in this oven. Just make sure to use the right cookware, like a cast iron griddle, because the stone baking surface of the oven is only meant to come in direct contact with dough.
Is The Gozney Roccbox or Ooni Better?
Both the Gozney Roccbox and Ooni have lots of positives going for them, but personally I prefer the range of selection Ooni offers. The Roccbox has amazing insulation and an exceptional propane burner, but Ooni ovens are built just as well and perform a little bit better for a similar price. So, if I’m forced to choose, I’ll go with Ooni.
Can I Leave My Ooni Karu 16 Outside?
Technically, the Ooni Karu 16 is built to withstand the elements like wind, rain, or snow. But in my opinion, unless you have a very good reason to leave it outside, it’s better to bring it inside when not in use. This will keep the oven looking and operating like it was brand new for years to come. Alternatively, you can purchase an Ooni Karu 16 cover to protect it from corrosion and damage while outside.
Can You Cook Normal Pizza In An Ooni Pizza Oven?
The beauty of a pizza oven like the Ooni Karu 16 is that it can cook literally any kind of pizza you can imagine, including pan style pizza like Detroit and Sicilian. Even if you just want to grab the cheapest dough, sauce, and cheese at your local supermarket, the finished pizza will still come out amazing when cooked in an Ooni.
Ooni Karu 16 Pizza Oven