Back in August, Ooni launched a Kickstarter campaign to get funding for the new Karu outdoor pizza oven. Hoping to get $50,000 raised in 30 days, they raised over $695,662, showing how much people love and support Ooni. Ooni said they listened to community and people have a burning desire to cook with fire. This new oven features a return to their roots and ‘karu’ means ‘rugged’ in Finnish. The folks at Ooni state that Karu creates an honest, no-nonsense, primal cooking experience. If you have followed Ooni, you know this is an organization guided by its values: passion, innovation, friendliness, precision and ambition – and the general belief that everyone deserves world-class pizza. We recently got our hands on the new Karu outdoor pizza oven. It is always fun when we get to test their new oven’s as each one seems to build on the last. Read on for the full yummy details!
- Cook with real wood & charcoal
- Epic flames & heat retention, ready to cook in 15 mins
- Dimensions: 30 x 15 x 31″ (770mm x 400mm x 800mm)
- Unboxed weight: 26.5lb (12kg)
- Cooking surface: 13″
- 0.6″ (15mm) cordierite stone baking board
- Brushed 430 stainless steel, glass-reinforced nylon
The Ooni ovens are incredibly simple to get un-boxed and setup. Once you are ready to go you have some decisions to make though. Do you cook with wood? How about charcoal? Maybe both? The beauty of the Karu is its ability to have multiple fuel sources. After trying both, we liked having a combination of charcoal and wood. Getting the oven fired up was easier with wood and then adding the charcoal allows for a nice sustained heat source. We felt like the charcoal supplied the heat and the wood gave us the flavor.
To get to a nice cooking temperature in the first set up took about 45 minutes. Since then, we have been able to be ready to go in about 20-25 minutes. If you want to get setup even faster, you can the gas converter kit and you should be rolling in about 10-15 minutes. Overall, Ooni continues the trend of easy to set up ovens that have you ready to cook in no time.
As mentioned, Ooni Karu represented a change from previous models where the Karu allows for wood and charcoal as the fuel source. Previous models of Ooni have ranged from wood, pellets, and gas so adding in the charcoal is yet another endeavor from the always innovative folks at Ooni. The oven is also compatible with their existing Ooni Gas Burner accessory if you choose to go that route. The Karu is built to deliver a powerful blast of searing flames that should reach 932 degrees within 15 minutes. The oven is built with stainless steel (430 grade – perfect for weather and heat resistance), cool-to-touch glass-reinforced nylon handles and the stone baking board is made from cordierite – a durable stone that is the gold-standard for cooking perfect, evenly baked pizza bases.
My favorite designed feature ended up being something that already existed on other models. For those of you who that have the Koda, you noticed that the Karu returns with a door to keep the temperature hot inside the oven. This door is a big improvement from previous models, it is very solid and insulated and that helps trap heat inside. While I didn’t think I missed having a door with the Koda, it was a pleasant surprise to get it back on the Karu.
The Karu represents the third Ooni oven that we have reviewed and has quickly emerged as the favorite. I got spoiled by the Koda and the easy temperature control by using gas. I was concerned about going back to a wood or charcoal fuel source. Turns out, I missed the labor of love. I did find that unlike the Ooni 3 where you used wood pellets, it was much easier to control temperature on the Karu with wood and charcoal. We had no burned pizzas and the pizzas were cooked more evenly.
One of the reasons I believe the pizzas turned out better was because of the return of the door. In the Koda the temperature variations from the front of the back were wildly different. This caused you to continually rotate the pizzas to make sure it was cooked evenly, and you didn’t burn portions. With the Karu, I left the pizzas in the oven for longer than I ever had before rotating. I have often struggled to get a nice crisp crust in the Ooni’s with how fast they cook but I finally achieved excellent crunch!
I found the best fuel source to be a mix of charcoal and wood. To make my life easier I used a chimney shoot to get some charcoal heated up. I then transferred it over to the Ooni and added wood. This cut down on my setup time as I already had hot coals ready to go. The wood compliments the charcoal flavors nicely and it was fun to mix things up. I do recommend getting the gas converter kit because sometimes you just want to cook. If you must get the kids fed or you are entertaining, it is nice to hit the easy button and just focus on making great pies. When you have time to keep an eye on the oven, it is nice to play around with different temperatures and flavor profiles.
Priced at $329, we love the value of the Ooni Karu outdoor pizza oven. The oven is just incredibly built with the brushed 430 stainless steel. The oven really wowed it with its versatility of fuel sources and temperature control. Wood fire pizza cooking can sound good in theory, but it takes work to maintain temperature and not get the oven too hot or too cold. We felt like the Karu really made things easy for us. The Karu’s custom-designed fuel tray lived up to its billing and maximizes airflow that delivered a hot flame. The flame didn’t torch the pizzas though, which is something I have had to watch out for in the past. Overall, we are very impressed by the Karu and with outdoor cooking season ramping up, you should consider this for your next outdoor event! You won’t be disappointed.
- Very well built
- New door provides great insulation
- Great versatility of fuel sources to find the right style for you
- Can take a little while to get fired up