The Ooni Karu 16 Is the Ultimate Pizza Oven – Here’s Why

We’ve made hundreds of pies on the Karu, and it’s a must-have for summer entertaining.

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ooni karu 16 pizza oven


For my dad’s birthday last year, a few family members and I all pitched in to get him a pizza oven. As a long-time chef who enjoys showcasing his culinary creativity during our weekly family meal traditions, we knew he would love the gift. We didn’t realize how much we would all love it, too. 

We chose the Ooni Karu 16 Multi-Fuel Pizza Oven (currently 20% off as of this writing ahead of Memorial Day) and prepared some pizza dough and an array of toppings along with the oven because, knowing him, he’d want to get started right away. True to form, on his birthday, he made one pie to work out all the kinks, and instead of stopping at three or four 14-inch pizzas (mind you, we’re a family of 5), he made seven pizzas that night while testing out different combinations and honing crust techniques. 

This pizza oven has since become a fixture in our family's mealtime routine, not only because of the great pies it makes but also as a fun ritual that signals family time. While I can’t claim that the oven is solely responsible for bringing us together, it certainly has made an impact. Overall, I can attest that the Ooni Karu 16 is a truly stellar pizza oven for entertaining and even everyday use.

Ooni Karu 16 Multi-Fuel Pizza Oven

ooni karu 16 multi fuel pizza oven

Williams Sonoma

Price at time of publish: $640 (originally $800)

  • Fuel source: Wood, charcoal, or natural gas
  • Size: 62.6 pounds, 33 x 32 x 20 inches
  • Accessories: Cordierite pizza stones, burner tray & grate, digital thermometer
  • Pizza diameter: 16.7 inch maximum
  • Temperature range: Up to 950°F

How We’ve Used the Ooni Karu 16

Over 250 pizzas later, we’ve really put the pizza oven through intense use. The Ooni has proven to be a versatile addition to our culinary arsenal, ideal for everything from family meals to large-scale entertaining. Most importantly, it is able to bake perfectly crisped pizzas in less than 90 seconds. Our pizzas range from classic cheese pies to more creative takes with a Thai flair, featuring chilies for a spicy kick or using curry as a base. My dad is so enthusiastic about the oven that he even ordered custom-made pizza boxes printed with “Sichon Design’s Pizza,” with some of his art featured on the box.

In addition to making great pizza, the Ooni also functions as an outstanding outdoor broiler. We have used it to cook New York strip steaks, which we sous vide before finishing in a cast iron pan with some butter to sear it over the flames. We have also cooked small spatchcocked chickens in a cast iron pan, cooking them at a lower flame for a longer period and covering the first 40 minutes with foil to prevent the skin from burning. We turn the pan occasionally, then uncover it to achieve a crispy finish. One word of caution: ensure that your cast iron pan has only side handles, not a long one, as turning in the oven will be more difficult.

What We Love About the Ooni Karu

Not only does this pizza oven produce beautiful pies, but it also looks great, making for an eye-catching addition to our outdoor area. The large glass window is a particularly nice feature, as it allows us to keep an eye on the flames, and the larger opening allows for easy turning. We love the flexibility of the dual fuel source, allowing us to choose between charcoal and wood or propane.

Due to the hybrid fuel feature, some extra assembly is required, but the setup process was pretty straightforward and hassle-free. We sometimes attach a propane burner as a heat source or detach that and use a metal tray to light charcoal or hardwood as a flame and heat source. The propane is easy to use, similar to lighting a gas grill. Charcoal and hardwood are more involved because we need to light the fuel source and adjust the flame to get the heat just right, but all in all, both fuel types make great pizzas. 

The Caveats

For a product with an already hefty price tag, it’s important to remember that the pizza oven doesn’t come with a pizza peel or a gas burner port. The Ooni Perforated Pizza Peel works great, but both a peel and a port are additional expenses.

For fuel sourcing, the option of using lump charcoal and wood to add a smoky flavor to our food is fantastic, although it requires more time and attention to tend to the coals. The propane option is incredibly convenient if you simply want to light it and get started. The spark start mechanism isn't always reliable, so we often have to light the gas manually with a lighter. Despite the workaround, we still use the propane option about 90% of the time since we can start cooking within 10 minutes of lighting it.

pizza oven
Courtesy of Food & Wine/Fred Hardy

Tips for Making Pizza with an Ooni

For making pizza with an Ooni pizza oven, Neapolitan-style crusts are the way to go. The oven is perfect for creating a crust that quickly puffs up and gets charred on the edges. It's important to keep a close eye on your pizza as it cooks; it cooks so fast it can go from great to burnt in seconds. Remember to turn the pie every few seconds, as the end facing the flames will be the hottest. 

Before you put your pies in the oven, it’s important to go light on the sauce, cheese, and toppings, as too much weight can cause the dough to stick to the peel or even rip in the oven (which really sucks). If a rip happens, you can easily remove the pizza, let the stone reheat, burn off any mess, then scrape it off with a metal peel.

Hardier Pizza

If you prefer a more American-style pizza with more toppings and a crispier crust, we have a hack for that. Pre-cook the pizza dough in your kitchen oven at 500 degrees for 90 seconds to par-cook it. With this method, you can use more toppings, and the crust will be sturdy enough to handle them. You can pre-cook several pies ahead of time and then add toppings later when you're ready to cook them in the Ooni. 

To cook the pre-cooked pies in the Ooni, bring the temperature to at least 800 degrees and immediately lower it to around 650 degrees. This will give you a deeper crisp on the crust without too much burning. Just like with the Neapolitan-style crusts, be sure to watch the pizza carefully as it cooks.

ooni karu models


How It Compares

We got the pizza oven in the first place because a friend had brought over their Ooni Karu 12 Pizza Oven. We dabbled with the idea of getting the same model, especially as it’s $400 cheaper, but ultimately knew that size would be important and that if we were going to splurge anyway, we would aim for the one that would get the most use. That being said, the Karu 12 is very portable and essentially works the same, just smaller. If you’re looking for something you’ll use regularly, and maybe not just for pizza, go for the larger size. But, if you’re looking to use it more casually, primarily for entertainment purposes, the smaller size would suffice as a great option, too. 

The Verdict

As our favorite and go-to kitchen gadget, the Ooni Karu 16 is a solid pizza oven that's straightforward to use and produces consistent, delicious pies. The versatility of this product makes it an ideal choice for any occasion, whether it's a special event or just a regular day. It's so enjoyable that some of our friends who have come over for pizza have gone on to purchase one for themselves. Snag one during Ooni’s Memorial Day sale this week while the even better price lasts.

Shipping/Warranty Info

All Ooni products have a standard 1-year warranty as part of the standard package. However, if you register your pizza oven with Ooni within the first 60 days of receipt, the warranty increases to 5 years. You can learn about the warranty policy here. Ooni offers free shipping on U.S. delivery on orders over $99 (excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico). Learn more about the shipping policy here. Products can be returned within 60 days of purchase if unused and in original packaging. Learn more about the return policy here.

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