Jessica DeMay

Hands-on Review: Ooni Karu

The Ooni Karu is one of the most popular models by Ooni. It’s conveniently-sized, portable, and cooks fast. It’s a multi-fuel oven, so you can cook with wood, charcoal, or gas. It heats up quickly and requires little to no cleanup. Both its design and its performance make the Ooni Karu a desirable product. But what is it about this pizza oven that makes it a must-have? Let’s find out. 

Where Can I Buy the Ooni Karu?

The Ooni Karu 12 is sold online and in-stores across the globe. But as always, we recommend picking it up from Ooni’s official website.

Key Takeaways

  • The Ooni Karu 12 retails for $349.99
  • Fueled by kindling wood logs, charcoal, or gas (with the separately available gas burner). Not compatible with wood pellets
  • Heats to 932°F (500°C) in just 15 minutes
  • Cooks wood-fired, stone-baked pizza in just 60 seconds
  • Portable; weighs just 26.4lb (12kg)
  • Ceramic fiber-insulated, stainless-steel body for maximum heat retentio

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 28.7 x 15.7 x 26.6” (73 x 40 x 67cm)
  • Weight: 26.4lbs (12kg)
  • Cooking surface: 13.2” (33cm)
  • 0.6” (1.5cm) cordierite stone baking board
  • Brushed 430 stainless-steel, glass-reinforced nylon

Review

There is nothing quite like the flavor of wood-fired pizza. The crispy yet flavorful crust combined with perfectly cooked, steaming toppings is enough to leave you wanting pizza for dinner every night of the week. But you aren’t limited to cooking only pizza with the Karu. With this oven, you can enjoy a new way to cook meat, vegetables, and more. 

Flavorful, practically perfect wood-fired pizza in just 1-2 minutes is the major selling point of Ooni Pizza Ovens. The Ooni Karu 12 is one of several available models, but with multiple unique features.

For one, the Ooni Karu is fueled by real wood or charcoal. If you purchase the Ooni Gas Burner attachment, you can cook with gas as well. That gives you three different fuel options to choose from. No matter which type of fuel you use, the cooking process is easy and cleanup is practically effortless. 

While there is a bit of a learning curve for anyone who has never used a backyard pizza oven, the entire process is so straightforward that it only takes one or two times to get the hang of it. 

If you’re looking for a way to enjoy restaurant-quality, traditional-style wood-fired pizza at home, the Ooni Karu is a convenient and affordable option worth considering. 

You may also like: Ooni Pro 16

Features

  • The Ooni Karu heats up to a maximum temperature of 932 degrees Fahrenheit (500 degrees Celsius) which means it gets about twice as hot as most traditional ovens.
  • The oven reaches cooking temperature in 15 minutes or less. 
  • Temperatures inside the oven are maintained by patented Flame Keeper technology.
  • The oven measures 28.7 x 15.7 x 26.6” (73 x 40 x 67cm) and weighs 26.4lbs (12kg). The oven opening is 3.89 inches tall.
  • The cooking surface can accommodate pizzas up to 12 inches in diameter. 
  • The Ooni Karu is made of high-grade brushed 430 stainless-steel. It is insulated with ceramic fiber. 
  • The 13 x 13” cordierite stone is 0.6” thick. 

The Good & Bad

Good 👍

  • The Ooni Karu heats up in just 15 minutes and cooks pizza in just 60 seconds.
  • You can choose from two different fuel sources (as well as gas if you buy the gas burner)
  • Setup is straightforward and cleanup is minimal
  • It’s lightweight and portable enough to take anywhere
  • The Ooni Karu is versatile enough to cook more than just pizza

Bad 👎

  • There is a slight learning curve for people who are getting used to cooking with the Ooni Karu.
  • The Ooni Karu needs to be kept away from flammable objects because a backdraft when opening the lid causes flames to shoot out of the burner. 
  • Pizzas and other food are hard to put into and take out of the oven without a pizza peel, which has to be purchased separately.

You may also like: Ooni Koda

Ease of Use

Setting up your Ooni Karu is as straightforward as it gets. The oven stands on three legs that can be folded up to save space. The chimney can be removed depending on the fuel source you are using. Unless you are cooking with gas, you won’t need a single tool to set up the Ooni Karu. If you want to cook with gas, you will need the separate gas burner and a hex key. The key can be stored under the oven so you won’t misplace it. 

A particularly impressive design feature of the Ooni Karu involves the covers. Both covers have cool-touch handles that won’t heat up and become a potential burn hazard. There is a small cover at the back of the oven that is removed to load the oven with fuel and a large cover at the front that ensures the oven retains heat while cooking. 

To cook with wood, rather than using wood pellets like with Ooni Pro, the Ooni Karu uses finger-sized pieces of wood no longer than 6 inches. To light the fire, you’ll want to use a firelighter and a few pieces of wood, but be sure to keep an eye on it. The wood burns fast in the beginning so you will need to add more. 

As the oven heats up and the fire settles a bit, you won’t have to add pieces so often. You can reduce airflow through the chimney to slow down the fire by turning a small lever. A good thing to remember is that when you notice significantly less smoke coming from the chimney, it’s probably time to add more wood. From start to finish, you won’t have to use much wood and you’ll only have a handful of ash to clean up. The process is the same when cooking with charcoal, but charcoal burns more slowly than wood. 

To convert the Ooni Karu to gas, you need to use the hex key in two spots to remove part of the back and switch it out for the gas burner. The front cover is removed and the chimney is replaced with a stopper. The entire conversion process takes no more than a couple of minutes.

Regardless of the fuel you use, the Ooni Karu heats up in just 15 minutes. You should consider getting the Ooni Infrared Thermometer if getting an accurate temperature reading is important to you. 

Cooking with the Ooni Karu takes some practice. Maneuvering raw dough into the oven, rotating the pizza while it cooks, and removing the pizza when it’s done is easy once you get the hang of things. But the entire process is nearly impossible without a pizza peel. And remember, it takes only 60 seconds for a thin crust pizza to cook in the Karu. 

Who Is This Oven For?

Do you like pizza? Do you enjoy cooking at home? Do you wish you could create wood-fired pizzas in the comfort of your backyard, on the beach, or with your friends, anytime you want? Then the Ooni Karu is right for you. 

You may also like: Ooni Fyra

Build Quality and Design

The overall quality and design of the Ooni Karu are impressive. It heats up quickly, retains heat well, and cooks fast, no matter which fuel source you use. The Karu is built with 430-grade stainless-steel which is great for weather and heat resistance. The handles are made with glass-reinforced nylon that doesn’t conduct heat, so you can open the door of the oven without burning your hands. 

The detachable chimney gives you optimal control of the temperature inside the oven. The perforated fuel grate allows for enough airflow to not only get the fire going, but feed it enough to quickly heat the oven. Air is sucked in from the back and exits the chimney so the fire stays on the roof of the oven. 

The Ooni Karu comes with a durable cordierite baking stone that is ideal for cooking wood-fired pizza. It heats up evenly to ensure an evenly-cooked crust. 

The Karu weighs just 26 pounds (12kg), the chimney is removable, and the feet are foldable which makes the oven portable and easy to store. 

Performance

The Ooni Karu heats to 932 degrees Fahrenheit or 500 degrees Celsius in 15 minutes and adequately maintains that temperature as you cook with it. Depending on how thick your crust is, you can cook your pizza in 60 seconds or less. The powerful flame and high heat offer maximum cooking speed and ash from the fuel is minimal which means there is hardly a need for cleanup. There is a designated ash-catcher that helps keep things tidy. 

The patented flamekeeper retains heat for a long time so that you can continue cook even if the fire goes out. This is a feature you won’t find in other pizza ovens. 

Although it is marketed as a pizza oven, the Ooni Karu is capable of cooking more than just pizza. You’ll not only be impressed by the oven’s ability to cook meat, vegetables, bread, and more, but you’ll have fun experimenting with different meals made using your Karu. 

Value for Money

At $349.99, the Ooni Karu isn’t cheap. But if you are looking for maximum value, this is it. When you factor in the Ooni Karu’s performance, design, ease of use, and many impressive features, purchasing one is a decision you won’t regret. Plus, you can make the most of your purchase by using your Ooni Karu to make more than just pizza. 

Overall Thoughts

With popular pizza ovens already being sold to the masses, Ooni found a way to impress thousands of people all over again. Ooni pizza ovens are innovative high-end products that give anyone the ability to enjoy world-class pizza. From the design of the oven to its countless features and capabilities, the Ooni Karu is a must-have for people who enjoy cooking and the great outdoors.  

Review: 4.5/5

Jessica DeMay
Jessica is the lead content creator of Dishcrawl. She has lived in Italy (Napoli) for 7 years and has since become absolutely obsessed with pizza.
© 2021 Dishcrawl. All rights reserved.
Dishcrawl participates in various affiliate programs, which means we may get paid commissions on certain products purchased through our links to retailer sites.
TwitterPinterestInstagram
crossmenu