Authentic wood fired pizza is hard to replicate at home without spending a fortune (or teaching yourself masonry). That’s exactly what Ooni has set out to fix.
Ooni offers a range of different sizes and fuel options. I’ve been testing out the top-of-the-line Ooni Pro 16 Multi-Fuel pizza oven over the last few months to see how well it performs and if it could replicate authentic wood fire quality.
(Note: Ooni has just released the Ooni Karu 16 Multi Fuel oven for pre-order. It looks like an upgrade over the Pro, but we still need to get our hands on it and do a proper review.)
Let’s get to the Ooni Pro review and see if it’s worth the investment.
Ooni Pro 16 overview and first impressions
If you’re not familiar with Ooni, they’ve exploded onto the home pizza oven scene with a line of accessible, portable, high-heat charcoal, gas, and wood-burning pizza ovens.
The Ooni Pro 16 is one of their higher-end models and is capable of running on multiple fuel options depending on your preference. It also boasts one of the largest cooking areas of their product line, with a 17.7 x 17.7” pizza stone size, capable of producing 16” or 12” pizzas.
The pizza oven body is made out of brushed 430 stainless steel with ceramic fiber insulation. The steel makes for easy cleaning and maintenance, while the insulation offers first-class heat retention.
Though the Ooni Pro 16 is the largest of the Ooni pizza ovens, it is still portable enough for one person to move around and sits comfortably on a small table.
One of the main draws of the Ooni Pro 16 the option to use multiple fuels.
Out of the box, you can cook with lump charcoal, wood, or a combination of both. Ooni specifically says not to use briquettes as they clog the holes in the firebox grate reducing airflow for clean combustion.
Ooni also offers a gas attachment as an optional extra which provides a convenient, steady cooking option, great for when you want pizza fast and can’t be bothered burning wood.
Each fuel type has its nuances, so I’ll walk through each option in detail later in the review.
Ooni Pro specs and technical features
|Fuel Type||Wood, charcoal, or gas|
|Dimensions||28.8 x 19.2 x 30.7” (73 x 49 x 78cm)|
|Max Temp||932°F (500°C)|
|Preheat Time||20 minutes|
|Cook Time||1-2 minutes|
|Cooking Surface||18” (46cm)|
|Material||Brushed stainless steel with ceramic fiber insulation|
|Price||Check latest price|
What I like:
- Ease of use – The Ooni Pro 16 is easy to use, heats up fast and cooks even faster. Use wood and charcoal for authentic flavor, or use gas for low maintenance and steady temperature. It’s perfect for pizzas, but you can also cook meats, bake bread, and roast vegetables among other things.
- Versatility – The Ooni Pro’s multi-fuel capabilities make this a fun and functional oven. Paired with its portability and excellent temperature control, and you’ve got a piece of kit that’s hard to beat in the same market space.
- Cooking accessories – Ooni has you covered with accessories that make your pizza oven experience easier. From pizza peels to cast iron cooking pans, they even offer prep tables and digital thermostats for convenient cooking.
What I don’t like:
- Small fuel chamber – the fuel burner tray fits perfectly in the back of the Ooni Pro, but I’d like to have the capacity to fit more fuel into the tray as it burns rather quickly getting to target temperature. I needed to add wood frequently to maintain the heat.
- Price point – The Ooni Pro 16 features and benefits have a price point to match, and though it performs admirably, the price is on the high end compared to other portable pizza oven options.
With the Ooni Pro, it really comes down to versatility. If you want the option of cooking with charcoal and wood for that authentic taste, or gas to crank out some pizzas without any fuss then it’s worth paying extra for the Pro.
On the other hand, if you think you would prefer to stick with gas then you can go for the gas-powered Koda 16.
Unboxing and setup
The Ooni Pro 16 arrived in a branded box made of heavy duty cardboard. Inside, the pizza oven body and its parts were expertly packaged in styrofoam and packing cardboard. The delicate pizza stones were especially safely packed, and there were no defects due to shipping.
It took about fifteen minutes from unboxing to full set up. One of the many benefits of the Ooni Pro 16 is how easy it is to set up.
After pulling the oven out of the packaging, you just unfold the legs, insert the pizza stones and fuel tray, attach the chimney and your door of choice – the pizza door or the full oven door – and you’re ready to cook.
I was pleasantly surprised just how easy it was to get up and running. The instructions were straightforward and user-friendly with no questionable or unclear steps. Ooni even has a how-to video walking through the process.
The overall build quality for the Ooni Pro 16 is very good. I was impressed with not only the main pizza oven body, but the accessory pieces as well. The steel is sturdy and the insulation gives it a heftier feel, so it’s not easy to dent or break.
The oven setup is well calibrated and doesn’t rock from uneven legs or loose parts. The chimney locks hard into place so there’s no wiggle room, and fuel tray and pizza stones slide easily into their respective places.
Everything is precision engineered to work perfectly together in a portable yet quality piece of equipment.
I’ve traveled with this pizza oven. I’ve loaded it in and out of the car, from storage to prep table and everything in between. The Ooni Pro 16 remained durable and sturdy through all of it.
Cooking on the Ooni Pro 16
Ooni claims ease of use and accessible restaurant-quality pizzas at home. I couldn’t wait to put those claims to the test.
Wood, charcoal and gas all perform well enough on their own, but have subtle differences in the final result. Light it up, throw your pizza on and let it roll.
Overall oven performance
The easiest part about using the Ooni Pro 16 to make pizzas is you don’t have to worry about overshooting your target temperature. You basically want to get it as hot as it will possibly get to cook pizzas in 60 to 90 seconds.
The Ooni manual claims it takes 20 minutes to preheat, and I found that true when using gas. However, with wood and charcoal, it takes about double the preheat time if not longer. In one instance it took upwards of an hour to get to 850°F using a combination of wood and charcoal. This could be due to the time it takes for wood and charcoal to get to full, clean combustion in the firebox.
Once the pizza stones get hot, though, they stay hot even when air temperature in the oven dipped and refueling was necessary. This allowed for no drop off in cook time, allowing the crust to cook through and get crispy on the bottom.
Gas was much more convenient and overall a faster experience, but my preferred method remains a combination of a charcoal base with added wood chunks.
Wood combustion allows for a rolling flame to dance over the interior roof of the Ooni and kiss the edges of the pizza. This is what causes that leopard browning on the edges. Perfect crispy exterior and soft interior.
Cooking with charcoal and/or wood
When cooking with charcoal or wood, you need to make sure you have the appropriate setup. Remove the chimney cap and open the vent fully. Make sure the ceiling vent is also open and install the door of your choice.
Next up, you want to remove the fuel hatch and add a layer of sustainably sourced lump charcoal or stack of wood in the fuel try. Light it up using the firestarter of your choice. Ooni even offers their own all natural firestarters if you want to get them directly.
Once your fire gets going, add more fuel to make sure you have enough to cook with and to also bring the temperature up. I added half a standard chimney starter’s worth of charcoal once the initial piece got rolling. Leave the Ooni alone for about 20 to 30 minutes to preheat.
Be sure to monitor your fire, adding more fuel as needed to keep the heat up, but not too much that it smoothers the fire.
A combination of charcoal and wood is my go to as the charcoal keeps temperatures constant and high, while the wood adds authentic, smoky flavor and roaring flames.
Once the Ooni gets to 800°F to 850°F on the pizza stones, it takes roughly 90 seconds for the pizza to cook, rotating a quarter turn every thirty seconds to achieve even browning. I used the Ooni infrared thermometer with laser pointer to accurately measure the surface temperature.
We have a dedicated guide to the best infrared thermometers if you want to look at some other options.
The pizzas cooked with this method turned out great, time and time again. It takes some time to get a feel for the heat and when to rotate the pizzas, but after that it’s all good.
Cooking with gas
The Ooni set up for gas cooking is a little different than with charcoal and wood cooking. If you bought and installed the additional gas burner, you first need to make sure that both the chimney vent and the ceiling vent are closed, and you need to switch to the pizza door instead of the regular oven door.
Lighting the gas burner is easy enough. With the fuel hatch open you just press and turn the dial on the gas attachment until it clicks and it will automatically light the burners. Replace the hatch and let the Ooni Pro preheat. With gas, I found it preheated faster and steadier in roughly 20 minutes.
Pizzas cooked much more uniformly through the crust and browned more evenly, but there was noticeably less leoparding of the crust edges as you would get with charcoal and wood, and though it’s subtle, there’s a lack of smokiness to the finished product. Still, the pizzas turned out delicious and gas cooking took much less monitoring than having to add fuel every few minutes.
To fully maximize the Ooni Pro 16’s capabilities, I recommend buying the gas burner. Ideally, we always plan ahead accordingly and have the time to spend managing a wood or charcoal fire, but there are times when you just need to knock out dinner in a hurry and that’s where the gas burner comes in. You don’t need to babysit the Ooni fire with gas, so you can tend to other dishes or enjoy company.
If you don’t think you’ll use the wood or charcoal portion, then consider the Ooni Koda 16. It’s strictly gas powered and has a cheaper price point.
Cleaning the Ooni
To keep your Ooni lasting as long as possible, you’ll want to take good care of it as you would any cooking appliance.
The Ooni Pro 16 is very easy to clean and does a pretty good job of cleaning itself through the cooking process. The inside of the oven runs at such a high heat, it burns everything up and you just need to wipe out the ash once it’s completely cooled. It operates much like the self-cleaning mechanism on some home ovens.
You’ll see some more residual ash when cooking with wood or charcoal, but clean it up in the same manner. Let the Ooni cool completely, then use a non-abrasive brush or rag to sweep out the inside of the oven. Remove the burner tray and empty it as well.
The outside of the Ooni Pro is easy to clean as well. Use designated non-abrasive stainless steel cleaner and buff clean as directed.
You can certainly use your Ooni without them, but their pizza cooking accessories greatly enhance the ease of pizza making.
Fortunately, Ooni has thought of just about everything to help with prep, cooking and cleanup. They even offer an Ooni oven cook book that goes beyond just pizza making.
The pizza oven also comes with heat resistant gloves, which was a boon when my dough stuck to the pizza peel and I was trying to knock it off without burning myself.
The accessories definitely make the pizza process easier, and I recommend at least one peel and the instant read thermometer to get you started.
Other pizza ovens to consider
The Ooni company has definitely revolutionized home pizza making, and they offer a line of options that fit a range of home cooking needs.
Ooni’s success doesn’t come without competition though. The Gozney Roccbox is comparable to the Ooni Pro with its ability to run on gas or wood as well as its price point. It offers a safe-touch silicon outer shell so you don’t have to worry about people burning their hands on the outside of it.
It climbs to similar high heats as the Ooni and is portable as well, but its cooking floor is only roughly 13 inches across vs. the Ooni Pro’s 16 inches.
The Camp Chef Italia Artisan Pizza Oven is also an alternative to consider. This oven is portable and offers a 16 inch cooking floor, but it runs on gas only and tops out at around 700°F.
In the same price range as the Ooni Pro, but without multi-fuel capabilities, this is for the user who is fine with gas operation only.
If you’re looking on the higher end of the price range and don’t need portability, consider the Bella Medio 28-Inch Outdoor Wood Fired Pizza Oven. The Bella Medio is large and heavy duty, with the capacity to cook three 12 inch pizzas at one time. It needs a designated spot on your patio though, but if you have the space it looks to be worth it.
The Ooni Pro 16 is a can’t beat home-based pizza oven that results in restaurant quality pizzas time and time again.
Anyone looking for a home pizza oven that’s durable, portable and versatile would be pleased with this purchase.
There is a bit of a learning curve depending on which fuel source you use, but once you get a feel for it, you’ll be cranking out pizzas in no time.
The Ooni pro is a solid performer whether using gas, wood or charcoal, and I highly recommend it.