Ooni Koda vs Ooni Karu: Which Pizza Oven Is Best For You?
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.
The Ooni Koda 16 and Ooni Karu 16 are two of the most popular pizza ovens on the market today. But with so many similarities, it can be difficult to choose between the two.
On top of that, the Ooni Koda and Ooni Karu series actually consists of 4 separate ovens, with 12 inch and 16 inch options available for both. Which pizza oven is best for you will largely come down to your preferences in the following areas:
- What type of pizza you prefer (Neapolitan or American/New York style)
- How big you like your pizza (12 inches or 16 inches)
- What kind of fuel you plan on using (propane, wood or charcoal)
Bottom Line: With its easy gas controls, roomy 16 x 16 inch baking surface, and reasonable price, the Ooni Koda 16 is probably the best choice for those who prefer American style pizza. But, if you’re looking to make authentic, smoke infused, wood or charcoal-fired Neapolitan style pizza, you’re better off with the multi-fuel Ooni Karu 16 or Ooni Karu 12 since the Koda series is propane only.
These are just generalizations based on the strengths of each oven. You can, of course, make any style of pizza in any Ooni oven, as long as it fits.
Keep reading for more information on the strengths and weaknesses of each.
|Pizza Oven:||Price:||What I like:|
|Ooni Koda 16||$599||Big, least expensive16 inch oven, simplicity of propane|
|Ooni Koda 12||$399||Sleek, inexpensive, compact propane oven|
|Ooni Karu 16||$799||Massive baking area, multi-fuel, all bells and whistles|
|Ooni Karu 12||$399||Compact, least expensive multi-fuel oven|
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)
Ooni Koda vs Ooni Karu In Numbers
|Feature||Ooni Koda 16||Ooni Karu 16||Ooni Koda 12||Ooni Karu 12|
|Fuel||Propane||Wood, charcoal, gas||Propane||Wood, charcoal, gas|
|Max Pizza Size||16 inches||16 inches||12 inches||12 inches|
|Baking Surface||16 x 16 inches||16.7 x 24.5 inches||13 x 13 inches||13 x 13 inches|
|Max Temperature||950F (500C) – 20 mins||950F (500C) – 15 mins||950F (500C) – 15 mins||950F (500C) – 15 mins|
|Weight||40 lbs||62 lbs||20 lbs||26 lbs|
|Easy Temperature Control Dial||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|Ideal Pizza Types||New York, Detroit, Pan, American||Neapolitan, Wood Fired||American||Neapolitan, Wood Fired|
|Price Per Square Inch (Baking Surface)||$2.33||$1.95||$2.36||$2.36|
Note: Interestingly, according to the chart above, the Ooni Karu 16 is the most expensive pizza oven at $799 while also being the least expensive in terms of price per square inch of baking surface at $1.95 ppsi. This is because of the Karu 16’s massive 16.7 x 24.5 inch baking stone, far bigger than any other Ooni oven.
Comparing Ooni With Ooni Is Tricky
Unlike some of my other pizza ovens reviews, where I compare Ooni to competing brands, this review pits Ooni against Ooni. That means many of the things that set Ooni apart from other brands, like their commitment to quality and design, as well as extended warranties and customer support, are going to be the same in this case.
In some ways, this actually makes the job of helping you decide which pizza oven is best a little more difficult. In previous reviews, when all things are equal, I can rely on Ooni’s many perks as a tie breaker of sorts, but here all of that applies to either oven you choose. Thankfully, this puts you in a good position as a consumer.
To settle which Ooni oven is best for you, we’ll be focusing on features rather than brand perks.
Ooni Koda vs Ooni Karu: The Basics
The Ooni Karu and Ooni Koda series are very similar in a lot of ways, but there are some important differences to be aware of when choosing between the two.
The Ooni Koda is a propane fueled pizza oven that comes in your choice of 12 or 16 inches in size, which gives you enough baking space for a 12 inch or 16 inch diameter pizza respectively. On the other hand, the Ooni Karu is a multi-fueled pizza oven that can burn wood, charcoal or gas with an optional attachment. Just like the Ooni Koda, the Ooni Karu series comes in your choice of 12 or 16 inches in size depending on how large you like your pizza.
The main difference between the Ooni Koda and the Ooni Karu is fuel choice: the Ooni Koda can only burn propane, while the Ooni Karu allows you to burn propane, charcoal, and wood – or even a combination of all three for the best of both worlds. In terms of price, the Ooni Koda 16 comes in at $599, compared to the Ooni Karu 16 at $799, while the smaller Ooni Koda 12 and Ooni Karu 12 both sell for $399.
Ooni Koda and Karu Pros and Cons
To makes things even simpler, let’s break down the pros and cons of both the Ooni Koda and Ooni Karu series of pizza ovens.
Keep in mind that both the Koda and Karu come in 12 and 16 inch options, so a few of the features of the 16 inch models might not be available in the 12 inch models. If this is the case, I’ll indicate it below.
Ooni Koda Pros
- Ease of use: you can light the oven with a simple turn of control dial
- Requires no assembly – ready to use right out of the box
- Easy cleanup: propane burns clean, so no soot, ash or smoke to cleanup afterwards
- “L-shaped” gas burner cooks evenly and only requires a quarter turn at the halfway point (16 inch model only)
- Hefty 15mm cordierite baking stone ensures a crispy bottom (10mm for 12 inch version)
- Compatible with regular barbecue propane tanks
- Precise temperature and flame controls using control dial
- Reaches 950F (500C) in 20 minutes
- Legs fold up for easy storage
- Excellent insulation: the powder coated carbon steel shell easily retains heat
- Perfect for New York style pizzas, especially the larger 16 inch version
- Both 16 and 12 inch version are reasonably priced for the features they offer
- Larger model is the least expensive 16 inch Ooni pizza oven
- Free 3 year warranty, responsive customer support, massive online support community
- Sleek, modern design
Ooni Koda Cons
- Only has the option for propane, so no wood-fired, smoky flavors
- 16 inch option is a bit heavy at 40lbs
- 12 inch version doesn’t include “L shaped” burner
Ooni Karu Pros
- Multi-fuel capability gives the option for cooking with wood, charcoal or propane. Great for when you want the smoky flavors of wood and charcoal, or the convenience of propane
- Glass door lets you watch the pizza while also retaining heat for a quicker cook. (16 inch model only)
- 16 inch version features a massive 16.7 x 24.5 inch baking surface, by far the biggest of any portable domestic pizza oven
- Newest and most advanced Ooni pizza oven yet
- Built in digital thermometer shows you the internal temperature of the oven at all times (16 inch model only)
- Amazing air flow and smoke control for consistent, clean cooks
- Only domestic pizza oven to be AVPN certified (16 inch model)
- Legs fold up for easy storage
- Thick 15mm stone baking surface (both 12 and 16 inch versions)
- Powder coated carbon and stainless steel body retains heat well
- Sleek, modern design
- Wood and charcoal are perfect for Neapolitan style pizza, while lower temperature propane is ideal for New York Style pizza – best of both worlds
Ooni Karu Cons
- 62.6 lbs is portable but a bit heavy (16 inch model)
- $799 for the 16 inch model is expensive, but not necessarily overpriced (12 inch model is only $399, however)
- Propane burner attachment is sold separately
Both Ovens Are Amazing, But There Are Key Differences
The Ooni Koda and Ooni Karu are each excellent pizza ovens with their own strengths and weaknesses, and understanding the differences between the two will give you an advantage in picking the right oven for your needs and budget.
The Ooni Koda 16, for example, excels at making thin and crispy pizza under a low and tightly controlled heat, while the Ooni Karu 16, fueled with wood or charcoal, is best at making pizza that’s cooked quickly and comes out soft and fluffy.
The size of the oven makes a big difference as well. The Ooni Karu 12 and Ooni Koda 12 only have a 13 x 13 inch baking surface, meaning the biggest pizza you can make is (more or less) personal sized. So, if you’re looking to make pizza you can share with friends and family, stick to the Ooni Karu 16 or Ooni Koda 16.
Ooni Means Quality
In the relatively short time they’ve been around, Ooni has become synonymous with high-quality, well engineered outdoor pizza ovens. And rather than launching a single pizza oven and resting on their laurels for the next 10 years, Ooni has released several new models and updated versions of their pizza ovens based on customer feedback.
See Also: Ooni Pizza Ovens: All 6 Models Compared & Reviewed
This is a big reason why I feel comfortable recommending either the Ooni Karu or the Ooni Koda to anyone thinking about buying a pizza oven. Yes, other pizza oven models from budget brands can get the job done, even quite well at times, but they don’t have the finishing touches or build quality that comes with Ooni.
Ooni Provides Excellent Customer Support
Another reason why I like Ooni is their customer support. Each Ooni oven comes with a free 3 year warranty, meaning if your oven breaks or stops working for any reason, Ooni will get it working again at no cost to you. Ooni also offers very prompt customer service and hosts a massive online community (official and unofficial) where users share their tips and experiences.
Koda vs Karu – How To Decide?
Ok, so you understand the differences between the Ooni Karu and Ooni Koda, but you’re still having trouble figuring out which one is best for you. No problem, let’s go over the most important factors to keep in mind when making your decision.
Which Fuel Type Will You Be Using?
By far the biggest difference between the Ooni Karu and Ooni Koda is in the choice of fuel (or lack therof). The Ooni Koda 12 and 16 only use propane, while the Ooni Karu 12 and 16 are multi-fuel pizza ovens that use wood, charcoal or (optionally) gas.
Any of these fuel types are fine, but keep in mind the following when making your choice between the Ooni Karu and Ooni Koda:
- Wood and charcoal are great because they add a smoky flavor to the pizza, just like in a traditional Neapolitan oven, but it comes with a relatively steep learning curve as well.
- Learning to keep a good flame going at a specific strength takes time, while flipping the dial on a propane burner is easy and requires no learning. Most users prefer the simplicity, and lower price, of propane.
- If you only plan on using propane, you can save about $200 on the Ooni Koda 16 vs the Ooni Karu 16 ($599 vs $799 respectively).
- Wood and charcoal options should be left to those who already know what they’re doing or are highly motivated to learn. Learning the craft can be quite rewarding, but don’t expect it to get it right on the first try.
- While all ovens require regular cleaning, keep in mind that wood and charcoal leave soot, ash and other residues that will need to be swept away before and after each use. A dirty oven is unsightly and can negatively affect the taste of your crust as well.
- When using the multi-fuel Ooni Karu 16 or 12, many users like to heat the oven with propane then add a small wood or charcoal flame for a smoky flavor. This might be appealing for some as it marries the simplicity of propane with the smokiness of a wood or charcoal flame.
What Type Of Pizza Do You Plan On Making?
Different styles of pizza require different cooking environments, so knowing which oven is best for each is a great way to make sure you buy the best one for your needs.
Keep the following in mind when selecting between the Ooni Koda and Ooni Karu:
- Neapolitan (or Italian) pizza is generally cooked at a very high temperature very quickly, which is what gives it its characteristically charred yet soft crust. A wood or charcoal flame is ideal as it gives off an intense heat and a smoky flavor.
- New York (or American) style pizza is generally cooked longer and at a lower temperature. This gives NY style pizza a dark brown crust with a crispy bottom, as compared to the “leopard spots” seen on Neapolitan crusts. Propane is ideal for this kind of pizza because it can be set to a low, consistent temperature without having to fuss with wood or charcoal.
- Temperature also affects how the toppings cook. For example, a low and slow cook will give you browned and bubbly cheese characteristic of New York style pizza, while a quick cook at a high temperature will just barely melt the cheese into white puddles like Neapolitan style. So if you like your toppings well-done, you’ll want to be cooking at a lower temperature for longer.
How big pizza?
Another major factor to keep in mind is the size of the pizza you plan on making. If you’d like to make pizza you can share with family and friends, you’ll probably want to stick with the 16 inch Ooni Karu 16 and Ooni Koda 16.
On the other hand, if you plan on making individual Neapolitan style pizza for each of your guests, then the 12 inch Ooni Karu 12 and Ooni Koda 12 will be ideal. In this case, you’ll be more concerned with heat retention between cooks than with total oven size.
- Neapolitan pizza is small while New York style pizza is big. Don’t expect big floppy NY pizza slices cooking in a smaller 12 inch oven.
- If you plan on making mostly Neapolitan style pizza, it’s more efficient from a heat retention perspective to cook in a smaller 12 inch oven.
- Small pizza can be cooked in a larger oven, but not the reverse. So, if you ever plan on making larger pizza you’ll probably want to go with either the Ooni Karu 16 or Ooni Koda 16.
- The larger 16 inch ovens are portable but quite heavy – sometimes 2-3x heavier than their 12 inch counterparts. So if you plan on taking your pizza oven on the go with you frequently, you might want to consider a 12 inch oven.
Final Verdict: The Ooni Karu 16 is by far the best and most versatile pizza oven currently available, but only get it if you plan on using the multi-fuel options for Neapolitan/wood-fired style pizza. On the other hand, if you only plan on making American/New York style pizza (and want to save some money) get the Ooni Koda 16 propane oven instead.
Whether you pick the Ooni Karu or the Ooni Koda, you can rest assured that you’re getting a well engineered oven from a company that takes customer concerns seriously.
That said, picking the right oven for your needs and budget will go a long way to keeping you satisfied with your purchase for the long term.
In using and reviewing the Ooni Koda and Ooni Karu pizza ovens, I’ve come to the following conclusions:
- If you prefer American style pizza, with a crispy bottom and browned cheese, you can save money by going with either the Ooni Koda 16 or the Ooni Koda 12. Both of these ovens use propane only and can be easily kept at a low temperature for a longer cook.
- If you’re making Neapolitan style pizza, you ideally want to use wood or charcoal, something the Ooni Karu 12 and Ooni Karu 16 specialize in.
- The Ooni Koda 12 is a great propane oven, but for only $200 more you can get the same great performance in a much bigger oven with the Ooni Koda 16.
- If you plan on cooking small pizzas using only wood, I would consider the Ooni Fyra over the Ooni Karu 12. The Ooni Fyra 12 uses wood pellets, which are much easier and more efficient to use compared to traditional pieces of hard wood.
- Only get a multi-fuel pizza oven if you plan on using different kinds of fuel, otherwise you’re spending money on features you won’t use.
- In terms of features and price, the Ooni Karu 16 is easily the best domestic pizza oven on the market today. There’s a reason this oven received AVPN certification. Grab one of these if your passion is Neapolitan style pizza.
- I like the Ooni Koda 16 for New York style pizza – it’s large enough for big floppy slices and has fine-tuned propane temperature controls, making it easy to set it to a low heat for a longer cook for a great crispy crust.
Tip: If you’re only interested in making 12 inch wood-fired pizza, the Ooni Fyra 12 is the best option. It uses a gravity-fed wood pellet hopper that’s the best on the market in my opinion. Plus, it’s $50 cheaper than the Ooni Karu 12, at only $349, making it the least expensive of all Ooni ovens.
Ooni Karu Series
Ooni Koda Series
The Ooni Koda 12 and Ooni Koda 16 are Ooni’s only propane exclusive pizza ovens. These models are more affordable and easier to operate than traditional wood or charcoal fired ovens, plus they require very little maintenance as there’s no ash or soot buildup. The larger Ooni Koda 16 model is perfect for making big crispy slices of New York style pizza.
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- How To Light Any Ooni Pizza Oven – Step By Step Instructions
- Ooni Vs Bertello: Which Pizza Oven Is Best And Why?
- 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
- Can Ooni Pizza Ovens Be Used In The Rain? Yes & No: Here’s Why
Is The Ooni Karu Worth It?
The Ooni Karu 12 and Ooni Karu 16 are multi-fuel pizza ovens, making them perfect for everything from American to Neapolitan style pizza. If you’re looking to experiment with wood, charcoal and gas all in the same oven, the Ooni Karu is absolutely worth the price. The Ooni Karu 16 has even been AVPN certified, so you know it’s good at what it does.
Is The Ooni Koda Worth It?
The Ooni Koda 12 and Ooni Koda 16 are both pizza ovens fueled only with propane. Propane is great because it’s easy to fine tune the temperature with just the turn of a dial, and it’s also less expensive than using wood or charcoal. So if you only plan on using propane anyways, you can save about $200 with the Ooni Koda 16 over the multi-fuel Ooni Karu 16.
What Is The Difference Between Ooni Fyra and Ooni Karu
The Ooni Fyra and Ooni Karu are both pizza ovens capable of burning wood, however unlike the Ooni Karu that burns hard wood, the Ooni Fyra has a wood pellet burner instead. The benefit of wood pellets is they are easier to load and keep burning than traditional hard wood. In fact, if you’re only planning to burn wood in your Ooni, I recommend the Ooni Fyra 12 over the Ooni Karu 12 due to its lower price and superior gravity fed pellet hopper design.
What Is The Burner On The Ooni Koda Like?
The burner on the Ooni Koda 16 is fueled by propane and is “L-shaped”, giving it better coverage over your pizza and only requiring a quarter turn per adjustment with the peel. The advantage of a propane burner is that it allows precise temperature and flame control, unlike using wood or charcoal which requires more experience to fine tune.
If you’re going to purchase an Ooni oven, I recommend buying from Ooni directly for the best service and to take advantage of special bundle offers. However, if you’d prefer to purchase from Amazon, you can do that as well.
- Ooni Karu 16 (Amazon.com)
- Ooni Koda 16 (Amazon.com)
- Ooni Karu 12 (Amazon.com)
- Ooni Koda 12 (Amazon.com)
Excellent article. Question: If the Koda 16 is too heavy to carry into the house every time that it is used (my wife insists, for anti-theft reasons), I can see two solutions. Which do you recommend?
1) Get the Koda 12
2) Remove pizza stone after each use (after it cools), allowing me to carry the stone and the now 27 lb oven separately
Hey Mark, thanks for the question.
Honestly, I think you should get the oven that fits your size preference and not be so concerned about weight. Both ovens are very portable, and I don’t think you’ll have any trouble carrying the heavier Ooni Koda 16 back and forth from your yard to the house. If you’re planning on taking your oven on camping trips (etc.), then it’s a different story, and the Ooni Koda 12 might make more sense.
But if you’re at all inclined to want the bigger 16 inch oven (and you’re only using it at home), then I think the Ooni Koda 16 is the way to go. 40lbs is really not that heavy for short trips, with or without the pizza stone, and you’ll appreciate the extra flexibility to make larger pizzas.
I hope this helps! Any other questions, just let me know.
Thanks for the reply.
I note that you feel that either Koda model is ideal for American-style pizzas. If I want to make Neapolitan style most of the time, and if I prefer propane to charcoal/wood (for convenience), it seems that I must choose a model that is less than ‘ideal’ for my purposes. If the Karu 16 is outside my budget, what do you suggest?
I understand that I am asking for an opinion, but you are very familiar with these ovens and I’d like to hear your comments.
Hi Mark. No problem, and thanks again for the question.
The reason why the Ooni Karu 16 is “ideal” for Neapolitan pizza is because it’s wood-fired, and traditionally Neapolitan pizza has a smoke infused crust. That said, many people don’t care about the smoky crust and there’s no rule that says you need it anyways. It’s just the most “authentic” way of making it.
You can absolutely make a great Neapolitan style pizza using either the Ooni Koda 12 or Ooni Koda 16. Both pizza ovens reach 950F+, and that’s the most important factor in making Neapolitan pizza. Plus, you can’t beat the convenience of propane.
I hope this helps. Good luck!