Ooni Karu 12 pizza oven review: portable and versatile with delicious results

from Ooni
RRP  £299.00
Ooni Karu 12 pizza oven review

by Emily Gilbert |
Updated on

Introduced in 2020, the Ooni Karu 12 pizza oven became part of the Ooni lineup and swiftly gained popularity due to its versatile multi-fuel capability, enabling users to cook with wood, charcoal, or gas, all while being lightweight at just 12kg. Pizza ovens continue to grow in popularity and it's no surprise – there's something wonderfully sociable about inviting friends and family around to make and cook pizza.

While a pizza oven is obviously a luxury, Ooni's range is known for being some of the most affordable, and therefore accessible, pizza ovens on the market. There are other, somewhat pricier, brands available, but Ooni, and the Karu 12, stand out for their portability and ease of use. After all, what's a pizza party if you can't share it with friends? Its compact design and rapid heating make it a favourite among pizza enthusiasts and outdoor cooking aficionados looking to achieve authentic pizzas in their own homes (or gardens).

But is it as good as they say? Here's how we got on when we got our hands on the Ooni Karu 12 to find out if it's a new culinary adventure worth adding to your outdoor kitchen.

Ooni Karu 12 pizza oven overview

Ooni Karu 12 Multi-Fuel Pizza OvenLakeland/Ooni

Pros

  • Multiple fuel options - cook with gas, charcoal or wood
  • Easy to transport and store
  • Cooks pizza in just 60 seconds

Cons

  • Gas, gas burner and accessories must be bought separately which makes for added cost

Key features

Multi-fuel

The Karu 12 gives you total flexibility - it runs on wood, charcoal, or gas, suiting your mood and cooking style. While wood and charcoal deliver those delicious smoky flavours, you need to keep on top of the fuel to prevent the fire from going out. Gas on the other hand promises a less hands-on approach, so you can share a slice with friends and family without risk.

However, what surprised us is that despite being able to use gas, you need to purchase the Ooni gas burner separately to make this an option. Personally, we think it would have been nice if this was included with the oven to save extra faff and costs.

Easy transport and storage

No doubt about it, the Ooni Karu 12 pizza oven nails portability. Its foldable legs make packing up a breeze and, with the Ooni carry cover, you're all set for adventures. This makes it easier to carry and keeps your oven safe and snug, protected from dust, bugs, and the elements. At just 12kg, it's a lightweight champ and yet delivers heavyweight pizza perfection.

A cooked pizza emerging from an Ooni pizza oven
©Ooni

Testing the Ooni Karu 12 pizza oven

Upon arrival, assembling the Ooni Karu was a breeze. Just attach the chimney, unfold the legs, and install a few extras like the cordierite stone baking board and you're good to go - all completed in under 10 minutes. The box includes a comprehensive user manual, a valuable addition covering everything you need to know about cooking with an Ooni pizza oven, from fuel types to lighting techniques for optimal results.

When it came time to cook, I'm happy to say that using the Karu 12 was a cinch, and the results were as delicious as expected thanks to the aromatic smoky flavours.

Testing the Ooni Karu 12, sliding a homemade pizza into the pizza oven
©Emily Gilbert

Using the fuel tray door at the back, you can easily remove to add your fuel, while the removeable fuel tray inside the pizza oven itself was super handy for housing wood, charcoal and firelighters. It made it much easier to arrange the fuel in a way that would ensure heat was distributed through the pizza oven, and no doubtedly made the post-pizza clean-up easier too. Simply remove the tray once cool and dispose of any remaining ash.

As this oven is multi-fuel, you can also cook with gas, though as we mentioned, you will need to buy the gas burner separately. However, once you've got it in your hand, it's really easy to attach as an alternative fuel option. Simply remove the internal fuel tray, unscrew the backplate and add the gas burner instead. At this point, all you need to do is attach your gas regulator to your gas cylinder, remove the front 'door', replace the chimney with a stopper, and you're good to go!

Bringing the Karu 12 to temperature with wood and charcoal took about 25 minutes, at which point you can start cooking. However, some people may find this process a little more tricky to monitor, considering that this pizza oven doesn't come with a built-in thermometer. Ooni instead recommends buying its Digital Infrared Thermometer so you can gauge when the internal temperature is up to the mark, but again, this is an added cost.

Pizza cooking inside a pizza oven
©Emily Gilbert

The oven's door opening provides ample space for effortlessly sliding your dough onto the peel and into the oven and, there's plenty of room to manoeuvre your pizza for even cooking. Every pizza we made turned out beautifully, thanks to the excellent results delivered by the Ooni stone base. While it's necessary to keep an eye on your pizza and rotate it to prevent any burnt spots, the quick cooking time makes this a minor task. The claim that you can get pizza in just 60 seconds has been well and truly tested and proved.

After each pizza, it's necessary to keep the oven door closed and refuel to restore the heat to the desired temperature. Thankfully, this process is hassle-free due to the handy fuel door at the rear of the oven. The lightweight oven door, provided with the Karu 12, snugly fits in place, effectively retaining heat and quickly bringing the temperature back up.

The finished cooked homemade pizza
©Emily Gilbert

How does the Ooni Karu 12 pizza oven compare to rival products?

If you are an absolute beginner and want to make pizza with ease and the flexilibity to use different fuel types, then this is absolutely the product for you. Ooni is a well-known brand and offers a wide range of different oven types, with prices ranging from £299 (like the Karu 12) and all the way up to £499 (the Ooni Pro 16). While the Karu 12 can cook pizzas up to 12”, they do offer options for cooking pizzas up to 16”, although I was personally more than happy with 12-inch pizzas and didn't feel we'd require a bigger size.

If you're wanting to build a designated pizza oven kitchen in your garden, the Witt Etna Rotante pizza oven is certainly attractive (albeit pricey). But, if you like the idea of storing your oven away when not in use and even taking it to friends' and family's houses, then you're bound to find a suitable Ooni pizza oven to fulfil your needs.

Multi-fuel pizza ovens are harder to come by, something that absolutely works in Ooni's favour because even if you stick to just using wood, knowing you have the option of charcoal and gas is a big selling point. What we will say is that if you like the idea of the Ooni Karu 12, it's also worth considering the Ooni Karu 12G. A newer iteration of the Karu 12, it has a number of features that make it an upgrade on this one; it has an inbuilt thermometer, a glass door to monitor your pizza, and a powder-coated body for weather resistance. At time of writing, it's £80 more expensive and no, the gas burner still isn't included.

Ooni karu 12 pizza oven
©Ooni

Final verdict: Is the Ooni Karu 12 pizza oven worth it?

While I only got the chance to test with wood and charcoal, overall I was really happy with the final results when using the Ooni Karu 12 pizza oven. The pizzas turned out flawlessly, and the ease of use made it accessible for everyone to join in. As a result, it's an ideal choice for beginners who want to venture into the world of authentic stone-baked pizzas; simplifying the pizza-making process without compromising on results, yet still catering to seasoned pizza makers.

For effortless pizza cooking, we highly recommend adding the Ooni Karu 12 pizza oven to your wishlist but one thing we would flag is the extra costs. If you want to use gas, you will need to buy the separate gas burner, and there are other accessories too that add up. A pizza peel, digital thermometer and carry cover ultimately make this oven a little more expensive than expected, but we've no doubt the added cost will prove value and become a distant memory after all the delicious pizzas you devour. Before you know it, you'll be effortlessly whipping up delicious pizzas regularly for your nearest and dearest.

Verdict: 4/5

Ooni Karu 12 pizza oven FAQs

Can the Ooni Karu 12 pizza oven be used indoors?

No, the Ooni Karu is strictly for outdoor use as it involves an open flame. Also, it should not be used in high winds for the same reason.

How do I store my Ooni Karu pizza oven?

The Ooni Karu is robust enough to be kept outdoors all year round. It will benefit from the Ooni Karu Carry Cover to keep it safe from debris and the elements.

How do I clean my Ooni Karu pizza oven?

Running the oven at its highest temperature will burn off food debris from the interior. Alternatively, the interior can be wiped with a dry paper towel, but only when it's completely cold. Also, the exterior can be wiped with a damp cloth and dried when cool. You can use a stainless steel cleaner on the outside to remove any marks or smears.

For more information, refer to this Ooni Karu essentials guide.

Other pizza ovens to consider:

Ooni Karu 12G Multi-Fuel Pizza OvenOoni

As mentioned, the Ooni Karu 12G is an upgrade on the Ooni Karu 12, sharing the same design, features and accessories (the carry cover and gas burner work for both), just with some helpful changes. The Karu 12G has a powder-coated body, which makes it more weather-resistant and in our opinion, looks even sleeker. It has an integrated thermometer to monitor the temperature within the oven and a glass door so you can monitor your pizza on sight with the heat retained inside.

It's a little more expensive, but worth it if you think these extras will prove useful - which we think they will.

Pros

  • Upgrades on the Karu 12 to make pizza-making easier
  • Sleek, weather-resistant design
  • Same multi-fuel capabilities and can cook pizza just as fast

Cons

  • Like the Karu 12, you'll still need to buy the gas burner separately
  • Slightly heavier than the Karu 12, which may make it less portable for some

Gozney RoccboxGozney

As one of Ooni's biggest rivals, Gozney has created its own portable pizza oven with dual-fuel capabilities so you can cook with wood or gas. Available in four stylish colourways to add a little personality to your pizza-making process, it comes with a pizza peel included, however, like the Karu 12, you still need to pay extra for that dual-fuel option. The Roccbox comes with a detachable gas burner, but the wood burner needs to be bought separately.

That being said, customers loved that it heated up quickly with delicious results and good design extras, such as the in-built thermoemter and retractable legs.

Pros

  • Choice of colour to personalise to you/ your garden
  • Less risk of burns, thanks to the silicone-jacketed body
  • Portable and easy to store

Cons

  • You need to buy the wood burner separately - added cost
  • Heavier than both versions of the Ooni Karu 12

Best Weber barbecue accessories, tried and tested

Ninja Woodfire Electric BBQ Grill review: you can simply do it all

Gozney Dome Pizza Oven review: a stylish multi-fuel cooking machine

Subscribe to Modern Gardens magazine and get the most out of your outdoor space. Discover everything you need to know to make your outside space look fantastic, quickly and easily, with hundreds of simple ideas, designer tricks, affordable products and expert advice in every issue of Modern Gardens. View our latest subscription offers to save on shop prices.

As Features & Reviews Editor at Bauer, Emily Gilbert has a keen eye for the best products to enhance any size garden, whether that’s squashy outdoor sofas to snuggle into for stargazing or pizza ovens for delicious dinners.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us