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The Ooni Karu 12 Pizza Oven is a fun add-on to any outdoor kitchen. Not only can you throw an entertaining build-your-own pizza party, but it’s great for cooking up other quick meals.
Disclosure: Ooni provided this pizza oven to me at no cost to provide an honest review. The post contains affiliate links.
What is a pizza oven
Pizza ovens made of clay or brick have been around for thousands of years. In Medieval Europe, they were often located in communal areas in towns and villages and fueled by wood. In the 18th century, a dome-shaped pizza oven made of volcanic stone emerged in Naples, Italy. This was the start of the Neapolitan pizza.
In more modern times, metal was used in manufacturing pizza ovens. They were fueled by gas or electricity and included conveyer belts, so multiple pizzas could be cooked rapidly. This is the type of pizza oven commonly used in commercial pizza restaurants.
While delivery is fine if you’re short on time, there has been a resurgence in wood-fired pizza. There’s a newfound desire to create authentic restaurant-quality pizza with charred crust at home.
Ooni launched its first portable pizza oven more than a decade ago. Since then, they’ve been continuing to innovate ways to make wood-fired pizzas in your backyard.
They offer a range of portable pizza ovens with different fuel sources and in various sizes priced from $300-$1,000.
Today, we’re going to take a look at a multi-fuel pizza oven. The Ooni Karu 12 can be fueled by wood, lump charcoal and even propane.
There are two models of the Karu 12, the regular model, which has a brushed 430 stainless steel finish and the G model, which has a powder-coated carbon steel finish. I tested the G model, but they both function the same.
How to assemble an Ooni Karu 12
Putting the Karu 12 together is really easy and only takes one person.
Start by placing it on a flat, padded surface upside down. Slide the door into the bracket. Then, add a bracket to the left side. Press it into place and secure it with a screw using the provided torx key.
Next, screw on the plate that catches the door when it opens.
Extend the foldable legs and flip the grill over.
The torx key can be stored in a slot in the back leg.
You’ll see there are two metal baskets that stack inside each other. One is the fuel tray and the other is the fuel grate. Place them all the way in the back of the grill.
Then, slide in the baking stone.
The Karu 12 comes with a long chimney. Take a look inside. When the lever is pointing up, the baffle is open, which will make your oven hotter. When it’s horizontal, the lever is flat, which will let you cook at cooler temps.
Place the chimney on top and lock it into place. The chimney also comes with a cap. You’ll only need this when you’re not using the grill.
On the back of the grill, add the hatch door that covers the fuel tray and the draft defender plate.
When you’re ready to start cooking, place the grill on a solid, non-combustible surface. I placed mine inside my hearth under my Grillworks Grill. This is important because the portable oven cooks at high heat.
How to light the Ooni Karu 12
To start the grill, place wood in the fuel tray. For best results, Ooni recommends using 5-inch long dried hardwood. Add 1-2 fire starters and light the wood.
Place the hatch door on top. This will force the air into the oven to heat the pizza stone. In about 15 minutes the baking stone should reach 750 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the ideal temp for pizza.
PRO TIP: In order to get the oven up to temp, I had to add wood logs every few minutes. Ooni says you should plan on 2.2 pounds of fuel for 10 pizzas.
Instead of wood, you can also use lump charcoal. Place a handful in the fuel tray, add a fire starter and light. Once the coals are ashed over and the smoke is running clean, you can add your food.
You can also add a combination of charcoal and wood.
Ooni also offers a gas burner accessory that gives you more heat control and a faster recharge time between pizzas. The gas option makes excellent pizza, but you lose that wood-fired flavor.
How to cook pizza on an Ooni Karu 12
Pizzas are meant to be cooked at high temperatures. To cook a pizza on an Ooni Karu 12, it’s a good idea to get all of your ingredients ready first.
Then, light your grill. After about 15 minutes, it should reach the recommended temperature of 750F degrees.
Stretch out your pizza dough and place it on a floured pizza peel. Add a light amount of sauce, cheese and toppings. Then, launch it into the pizza oven and close the oven door.
Every 20-30 seconds, pull the pizza out of the oven and give it a spin. In 90-120 seconds, the pizza crust should be golden brown and the cheese should be melted.
The first time you cook on your Ooni oven, it may not be perfect. Don’t get discouraged. You’ll get a hang of the cooking process quickly and will be making delicious pizza for all the pizza lovers in your life.
GCG Pro Pitmaster Pizza Tips
- For great pizza, try making your own dough
- Let your dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes to make it more pliable
- If your short on time, use pre-made dough; it’s usually in the deli or freezer section of the grocery store
- Make sure your pizza crust can slide freely on the peel before adding toppings
- If it sticks, add a light amount of flour underneath it
- Don’t overload your dough or it will become too heavy to shake off
- If your crust burns, either your grill is too hot or you didn’t spin if fast enough
How to cook other dishes on an Ooni Karu 12
Even though the Ooni is designed to be a pizza oven, you can use it to cook so many other recipes.
The baking stone should only be used for dry dough-based ingredients like bread and pizza. Don’t use it to cook meats or veggies.
PRO TIP: To cook meats or vegetables, use heavy-duty pans that can withstand high temps, such as cast iron. Ooni has a collection of cast iron products that fit perfectly in the oven.
The Grizzler pan is a griddle on one side and a grill plate on the other. It comes with removable handles to push and pull the pan in and out of the oven. It also includes a trivet for holding it when it’s hot.
It’s great for dishes like parmesan-crusted halibut and wood-fired asparagus.
Simply season everything with olive oil, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. Then, place it onto a Grizzler pan that’s been pre-heated in the oven to 600 F degrees.
After 5-6 minutes, the fish will be fully cooked through and flaked to perfection.
The Ooni is even great for breakfast. I love using it to make Dutch baby pancakes.
Adjust the chimney baffle, until the oven registers at about 425F degrees. Then, heat a cast iron skillet with a couple tablespoons of butter.
Pour in your Dutch baby batter and close the door. Rotate every 30 seconds until you get peaks of pillowy goodness.
Then top it with your favorite sweet or savory toppings.
How to clean an Ooni
When you’re done cooking on your Ooni, let it cool down completely. You can add the chimney cap to stop the oxygen flow more quickly.
Once it’s cool, reach into the back of the oven and remove the fuel tray. Discard any cooled ash.
If there is any debris on the baking stone, simply brush it out of the oven. Do not use water to clean the stone.
If you cooked with cast iron, let it cool and wash with warm water, removing any residue. You many want to re-season it with a fresh coat of high-heat oil. The Ooni manual provides more details.
The grill includes a built-in thermometer on the side. However, it doesn’t provide any numeric temperatures or indicators to show you where the temp needs to be for pizzas. Instead, it has a color range from yellow to orange to red.
Ooni recommends using an infrared thermometer aimed on the center of the stone to get the most accurate temperature.
The glass door is great, because it allows you to peek inside the oven to see how your food is cooking without releasing any heat. And the handle stays cool to the touch.
Because it’s portable, you can also take the Ooni Karu 12 on the go. The legs collapse and there is an optional carrying case with a handle. This makes it easy to load into your car for your next tailgate or camping trip.
If you have more questions about cooking on the Ooni, download their app. It includes recipes, videos, tips and news about new products.
Ooni Karu 12 Specifications
Frequently Asked Questions
The Ooni Karu 12 has an interior cooking space that is around 13.25 inches wide and deep. The Ooni Karu 16 is larger with a 17-inch interior cooking surface. It also has a mounted digital thermometer that provides a numeric readout of the grill’s ambient temperature.
The Ooni 12 is great for smaller 12-inch pizza while the 16 is better for larger pizzas.
The Ooni Koda 12 is a gas-powered pizza oven. It comes with a gas regulator and hose that you attach to a propane tank. The Karu 12 is a multi-fuel grill that is fueled by wood, lump charcoal or gas. To use gas, an optional accessory is required.
The Koda and Karu can both cook pizzas in 1-2 minutes, but the Koda will lack the wood-fired flavor.
Ooni recommends using dried, hardwood that is no more than 5 inches long. It’s also best to avoid wood with too much bark. You can buy Ooni’s brand or other brands of pizza wood online.
If you love pizza and you like making meals quickly, the Ooni Karu 12 is a great add-on to your backyard. You can buy pre-made pizza dough, jarred sauce and pre-shredded cheese for a quick pizza party. The grill only takes 15 minutes to heat up and pizzas cook in 1-2 minutes.
You can also use the pizza oven to cook 15-minute meals like wood-fired steaks, grilled halibut or Dutch baby pancakes.
No. The Ooni pizza ovens are outdoor ovens and are meant for outdoor use only.
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