Ooni Pizza Oven Review

By Ben Carmichael on Kitchens, Tool Reviews, Weekend warrior

Ooni Pizza Oven – As Good As It Seems? Hell Yes.

Shortly after the pandemic hit and I found myself sequestered in my house, I turned to my wife and pronounced: “I am going to master homemade pizza.” I thought this would set me apart, and would wow friends and family but, as it turns out, the rest of the world was right there with me.

Pizza has been booming during the pandemic. People at home are making it; pizza dough has been the second most Googled recipe during the pandemic. And people at home are consuming it in record numbers; major chains like Domino’s, Pizza Hut, and Pappa John’s all saw double digital sales increases from March – June over last year. Meanwhile, independent pizza stores on the e-delivery platform called Slice doubled their weekly sales in March. 

Why has pizza been the perfect pandemic food? In some ways, it is the perfect food. It’s convenient: easy to eat, not too messy. It’s accessible for everyone: it can be dirt cheap and fast or made into more of an art. It combines carbohydrates with vegetables (even on a meat lovers’ slice there’s red sauce) and nice crisp crunch and some incredible umami flavors. Also, as the blog Elite Daily hilariously put it, “pizza will never judge you. Pizza has seen you at your absolute worst and never throws any shade.” 

For many, it is about comfort. According to Sam Sifton, the NY Times food writer, the first slice of pizza that people ever had is what for them becomes pizza. This is what he coined the “Pizza Cognition Theory.” For me, the first pizza that really made an impression was at 2 Amy’s Neapolitan Pizza in Washington DC, right near the National Cathedral. I remember having my first slice there. It was eye-opening; I felt like one bite had drug me out of Plato’s cave. It’s fair to say that my love and growing obsession with pizza has been an effort to return to and approximate that first bite. 

I’ve been making homemade pizza for a while now, trying various formats, and, while some have been good, they have always come up a bit short for me. The shortcomings have been various: the crust wasn’t quite crisp enough, the toppings weren’t fully cooked or, worse yet, it just took too damn long. 

For years, I’ve been fantasizing about an outdoor pizza oven. The challenges there, though, are various: they’re big, they’re expensive, they can be complicated to build and, once built, they’re built — they’re immobile. 

With more time at home, I thought I would finally take the dive and, with an eye to the Ooni which promised portability and professional heat, I took the dive. Has it been worth it? Without question it is the best addition to our kitchen we have made. I absolutely love the Ooni. Why? Let’s take a look.

Ooni Pizza Ovens: Professional Portability 

The combination that the Ooni promises is both portability and professional results. How’s that possible?

The short-comings of many home ovens is that they max out around 550 degrees F or so, discounting the direct heat from say a broil. In contrast, the Ooni gets up close to 932 degrees — almost as hot as some ovens when set to their self-clean cycle — and it does so with speed. It’s ready to use within 20 minutes of firing up and, once up to temp, fully cooks pizza’s in 60 – 90 seconds.

What’s incredible about this is the way it contains heat. With a stainless steel exterior, and a two pizza stones on the bottom, you can safely and reliably put your hand under the pizza oven while it’s cooking a pizza and not hurt yourself. What this means is you can put it on a wooden table, no problem. Ooni doesn’t recommend putting it on a glass or plastic table, which I can understand, but a wooden or metal table is no problem. 

We found this helpful when we transported the oven. Our family had heard about this incredible new contraption, and so we took it to Maine and to NH when we went to visit our families. The legs neatly fold into the bottom, and the chimney easily comes off, making it easy to travel with it in the back of a car. Note that it weighs a claimed 48.5 lbs unboxed, and so it’s not light, and there’s no real handle for you to use, and so it’s either best to carry it with two people, or to carry it carefully.

Burn Various Fuels: Gas, Wood, or Charcoal

The advantage of the Ooni Pro model we went with is that you can use it with various fuels. Out of the box, the Ooni Pro is suited for wood or charcoal. When we say wood here, we mean small wood chunks — not pellets, and not larger logs. There’s a small fuel containment area in back in which you can light charcoal or wood chunks, with an easy to remove lid with a large, safe handle for access. I have not had a problem with this at all.

In order to use propane, you need to buy an Ooni adapter. This is what we used, and found it to be incredibly easy. The adapter is super easy to attach, and you simply attach a regular propane tank, like you would for a grill, or a small portable propane tank. 

I found that with the propane tank attached, it came up to temperature in the advertised 20 minutes and remained hot — really hot — for the duration.

And this is what I found to be so incredible: the pizza cooked in 60 – 90 seconds. It was so fast, you have just enough time to sip a beer in between. I would sometimes find myself gazing into the fire, watching the toppings bubble and the dough swell and, odd as it seems fall into a kind of trance. The smell of dough cooking, the heat, the sight of fire — it’s mesmerizing. 

With heat that high, you get on the crust small burnt spots — what people call “leoparding.” This heat not only cooks all toppings thoroughly, but it also creates a crunch, flaky crust with a slight taste of carbon from the leoparding.

The first time I used it, I thought it was going to be good, but I truly had no idea just of just how good it was going to be. The heat? It makes all the difference.

Does the top sometimes get hotter than the bottom and so you have to flip the pie around a few times to make sure it’s evenly cooked? Yes, it does. But if a little bit of flipping is my only complaint for the best pizza I have ever seen anyone make at home, then I’ll take it.

Final thoughts: Thinking about it? Buy it. You won’t regret it.

Here on the site, we’ve had a good time over the years and have been fortunate to review a lot of things. I can honestly say that I cannot remember a time when I was this impressed by a single product.

Consider this: it’s advertised as a pizza oven. But, it also comes with a removable steel and glass front door, complete with a thermometer, so you can cook all sorts of things in what is essentially a high-temp professional oven. You can cook meats, seafoods, breads, or warm appetizers like olives, anchovies, and more. 

Plus, it looks amazing. When clean, the steel exterior has a beautiful modern look to it and the interior glows when in use. It may seem beside the point to mention this, but I do because people we’re cooking for never fail to comment on how good it looks. 

This is one product where the product functions as well as it looks. I simply cannot recommend the Ooni Pro highly enough. Those Covid pounds? Those are up to you. 

Recommended Reading

I highly recommend this book for people looking to learn how to make great pizza dough.

Mastering Pizza: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pizza, Focaccia, and Calzone by Marc Vetri

For people looking for a simple but good pizza dough recipe, save yourself the Google search and try this one from the NY Times: Roberta’s Pizza Dough

Ooni Pizza Oven Specifications

 

  • Ooni Pro Pizza Oven
  • Stone baking board (2 parts)
  • Oven door with built-in thermometer
  • Pizza door with postbox-style entry
  • Wood & charcoal burner tray
  • Essentials Guide & Manual
  • Allen key
  • Ooni Pizza Oven Gloves

 

Technical specs:

 

  • Ooni Pro Pizza Oven
  • Stone baking board (2 parts)
  • Oven door with built-in thermometer
  • Pizza door with postbox-style entry
  • Wood & charcoal burner tray
  • Essentials Guide & Manual
  • Allen key
  • Ooni Pizza Oven Gloves

 

MSRP: $599

Product on Ooni website

oonipropizzaovenreview

Is there anything better?

oonipropizzaovenreview

The exterior is beautifully constructed, and the legs fold in for easily portability.

The gas conversion on the back is remarkably easy to install.

oonipropizzaovenreview

The pizza is cooked on two pizza stone that form the bottom of the Ooni oven.

oonipropizzaovenreview

The flames come from the back and heat up the oven to over 900 F.

oonipropizzaovenreview

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Preparing to make Ooni pizza.

oonipropizzaovenreview

oonipropizzaovenreview

oonipropizzaovenreview

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About the author

Ben Carmichael

Ben Carmichael

Writer / ACC Photographer / Videographer / Fly fisherman / DIY Fanatic

Ben Carmichael is a communications and marketing professional, with experience in content strategy, video production and marketing, social media and email marketing, digital photography, and SEO, to name a few. He is also the proud owner of an historic home in Carlisle Massachusetts. Built in 1860, the home keeps him busy: there’s plenty of projects — from painting and insulation, to a bathroom remodeling project — to be done. For A Concord Carpenter, Ben compliments the site's construction expertise with the perspective of an avid home DIY’er. Ben is also an avid fly fishermen, and has had his articles and photography published by fly fishing magazines. His website, New England on the Fly, is devoted to fly fishing in New England.

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