Ooni Karu 16 Review – Cook Super-Sized Restaurant-Quality Pizza in Just a Minute!

Ooni Koda 16 Review
  • Design 90% 90%
  • Portability 100% 100%
  • Functionality 85% 85%
  • Ease of Use 100% 100%
  • Price 80% 80%

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Heats up fast
  • Easy temperature controls
  • Great testing pizzas

Cons

  • More expensive than other models 
  • May need to purchase ad-ons
  • No built-in thermometer

Pizza ovens were the NUMBER ONE cooking gadget of 2022 and their popularity looks set to continue throughout 2023 as well. It is understandable too, as for the past few years we have had to endure a pandemic which meant an over-reliance on low-quality food deliveries.  

Why wouldn’t people prefer to have the means to cook professional-quality pizza in the comfort of their own homes? The pizza tastes amazing, is fun to cook, and takes no time at all – especially if you have a pizza oven of the quality of an Ooni Karu 16. In fact, once up to its max heat of 950°F (500°C), this multi-fuel pizza oven will deliver a perfectly-cooked homemade pizza as large as 16 inches in just 60 seconds!

According to Ooni, the Karu 16 is the first and only pizza oven ‘Recommended for Domestic Use’ by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. That alone is some achievement considering how many outdoor pizza ovens are available today.

Sounds great, right? But does it stand up to the hype? That is why our team of pizza chefs here at PizzaOvensReviews.com are here to answer that question. We’ve put the Ooni Karu 16 through its paces and in the review below, you will discover our unbiased thoughts and opinions of yet another product from Ooni.  

Why Ooni?

If you’re familiar with Ooni, you will know that arguably, the firm is the leading manufacturer of home pizza ovens and accessories. You will also know that the company has a wide range of ovens, each designed to suit pizza-cooking lovers of varying degrees of experience, know-how, and budgets.

There are models like the Koda 12 that were designed for portability or the Koda 16 that compromises some of that portability (not much) to deliver larger pizza. Then you have the Ooni Fyra 12, one of the firm’s budget-friendly options.

The common denominator and the key-selling point across all models? They each reach their top temperatures in just 15 minutes and will cook restaurant-quality homemade pizza in 60 seconds.

Ooni Karu 16 Design & Key Features

So where does the Karu 16 Multi-Fuel Pizza Oven sit among the range of products offered by Ooni? Well, it is one of the firm’s latest and most advanced models for a start. It also offers great flexibility as it offers versatile multi-fuel functionality.

  • Wood: For faster results and a flame-cooked taste for your pizzas. With wood fuel, your Ooni Karu 16 will cook amazing pizza in 60 seconds!
  • Charcoal: Want to cook meats, vegetables, or bread? Then charcoal is the better option. This fuel allows you to cook at lower temperatures – so is perfect for the food types suggested.
  • Gas: For the ultimate in control – you can go for the gas option. You will have to purchase the separately-sold Ooni Karu 16 Pizza Oven Gas Burner. 

If you go for wood or charcoal, there is an optimised fuel tray that is designed to boost airflow to ensure the maximum fuel efficiency possible. Topping up the fuel is simple too, thanks to an extra large fuel hatch.

The Karu 16 is the larger and more advanced variation of the Karu 12. It is capable of cooking delicious 16-inch pizza compared to the limited 12-inch of the smaller model. Additionally, it features a glass drop-down door developed using Integrated ViewFlame™ technology. That ensures a cleaner and clearer view of the magic happening within the pizza oven. It also retains heat and gives you easy access to the pizza inside. 

The oven is contained within a temperature and water-resistant powder-coated carbon steel shell. It is also fully insulated which means it can retain heat amazingly well while also providing optimal heat control. It is aided further because of a built-in ceiling vent and chimney baffle that delivers unmatched flame and airflow control. 

Situated underneath the oven is a mounted thermometer. Via a quick glance, you can discover the current temperature of the Ooni Karu 16 pizza oven. As for the inside, there is a super-thick 17-inch-wide cordierite baking stone that offers enough room to cook pizza up to 16-inch in size.

Here are the general specifications of the Karu 16:

  • Weight: 62.6 lbs (28.4 kg)
  • Dimensions: 33” x 32” x 20″ (50cm x 81.5cm x 83.7 cm)
  • Dimensions with the legs folded:
  • Baking Stone Size: 16.7” x 16.7″ x 0.6” (42.42cm x 42.42 cm x 15mm)
  • Pizza Stone Material: Cordierite
  • Oven Body Material: Powder-Coated Carbon Steel and Stainless Steel

Our First Impressions

We probably need to get out a bit more but the delivery of a new pizza oven always gets the team excited. That’s especially the case when it is from Ooni, a brand that we all agree is up there with the best. 

As ever, the Ooni Karu 16 came well-packaged in a sturdy box. It felt very heavy – but that is usually a good sign. After all, the Karu 16 weighs in at 39kg in a boxed state. That does decrease to 28.4kg once it is set up, so portability shouldn’t prove too much of a problem.

We instantly noticed the quality of the parts and that is where most of the weight comes from. The body is built to last using matte black powder-coated carbon and stainless steel. 

Overall, our first impressions were as good as they usually are when we first clap our eyes on an Ooni Pizza oven. The quality shines through from the moment you open the box. Our (or Four Cheese Steve’s as he is the handyman around here) next task was to study the ‘essentials guide’ that comes packed with the oven. We wanted to get this thing set up and ready to go!

Ooni Karu 16 Ease of Use

It did not take too long for Steve to put the Karu 16 together. He commented that the assembly instructions were clear and easy to follow. Besides, having built several Ooni pizza ovens in the past, he basically knew the drill for the most part. The only difference this time around was the tall chimney which is not a feature on many other models. 

There is not much to do in terms of assembly anyway. The main body is already assembled when you take it out of the box. You just need to attach everything else from the legs, chimney, glass door, and burner tray.

Once assembled, we had to admit the Ooni Karu 16 looked fantastic. In fact, it is one of the best-looking pizza ovens we have seen and that includes previous Ooni models. 

Our Pizza Cooking Test

After sitting with our legs up watching Four Cheese Steve do his business, it was time for the rest of us to get involved. We had to see if the Ooni Karu 16 was deserving of its praise and our own high expectations.  

We already knew that the previous models all matched up to their claims. They could get up to insane temperatures within 15-20 minutes and could cook restaurant-quality pizza in a minute or so. For that reason, we were confident the Karu 16 would perform just as well, if not better.

That 15 minutes proved to be ideal as it gave us all the time needed to prepare the toppings and sauce for our chosen pizza (we already had the dough prepared well in advance). This time under heavy influence from Vaani the Vegan we went with a meatless Parmigiana Pizza recipe. We gave in as she often misses out on taste tests (at least on the first pizza) in our reviews. 

We also went with wood as our fuel, as that is ideal if you want that delicious flame-cooked taste. Besides, it is the best option for pizza as wood fuel provides higher temperatures. The other fuel options are more suited for different food types in our opinion. On top of that, we did not have the gas burner needed to use gas – you have to buy that separately.

Well, the claims were true (as ever) by Ooni, as the Karu 16 did get up to 950°F (500°C) in 15 minutes give or take. The oven also delivered a cooked pizza in about 60 seconds. We still like to give a few more seconds on top as that just adds even more crispiness to the outer crust.

And the results?

Well, understandably, Vaani enjoyed the results more than the rest of us. However, we were all in agreement that the quality of the finished pizza was as good as anything you will get at a pizzeria. The crust was super crunchy and the middle had the perfect combination of softness and flavor. Equally as impressive was just how long it took to cook a 16-inch pizza. The turnaround time is amazing – but then, we didn’t expect anything less from an Ooni product. 

With the first pizza out of the way, we went about creating some other recipes and the results were just as amazing. The only issue is we couldn’t finish everything as we were stuffed. Still, it is safe to say that our families were treated to plenty of (slightly cold) pizza when we went our separate ways.

Ooni Karu 16 Positives

The benefits are plain to see and we have already documented them well in this review. In our opinion, the Ooni Karu 16 is one of, if not the, best outdoor pizza ovens around. It has tremendous build quality, multiple fuel options, and it delivers fantastic restaurant-quality pizza quickly and efficiently. We’re yet to see an oven as good as this from any of Ooni’s main competitors and it wouldn’t surprise us if we never did. 

Ooni Karu 16 Negatives

One of the only downsides is that it offers less portability than some of the other models in the Ooni range. For that reason, the Karu 16 is best suited to staying in one location. Aside from that, you will have to buy the gas adaptor and cylinder separately. Arguably, that is not even a negative as it is the same for most pizza ovens. 

Price and Warranty

Now onto the cold hard facts about how much this epic pizza oven is going to cost you. Well, the first thing you should know is the Karu is the most expensive model in the Ooni range currently. It retails at $799 putting it $200 more than the Ooni Koda 16 Gas Powered Pizza Oven and $300 more than the Karu 12.

First off, is the Karu 16 worth that price? If you’re planning on using the oven regularly, we think so. This is the most advanced of any previous model. It offers fuel source versatility which is a big selling point, is made of high-quality materials, and has a digital thermometer. Finally, it can cook pizzas up to 16-inches in size, at a rate of one a minute.

If you’re a beginner or do not plan on using the oven frequently, you might decide that one of the other Ooni models is your best bet. We would agree with that as well. This is a model designed to last – which means it deserves regular use.

As ever, our advice is to purchase the Karu 16 directly from Ooni. That way you will receive a 3-year parts warranty. You also have the option of getting your money back within 60-days if you’re not happy with the results. 

The Ooni Karu 16 Verdict

In our opinion, Ooni regularly outdoes itself which each new product. The Karu 16 might represent a substantial investment, but it is definitely worth it for a top-quality product that is better than anything else out there. 

Again, this is a model that although anyone can use, its cost will dictate who purchases it. If you’re going to make use of it regularly and are likely to keep it at home, the Ooni Karu 16 is the perfect pizza oven. If you’re not planning either, then there are cheaper and more mobile options in the Ooni range that might fit your needs better. 

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