Six months ago, I decided I needed a pizza oven. After a lot of research, including countless hours dedicated to scouring Pinterest boards and YouTube playlists, I landed on the Ooni Koda 12-inch pizza oven. What I saw as the most basic option that offers pro-results.
Ooni has become a leading brand in the at-home pizza oven game, with a range of options for different kinds of cooks. The Koda is the brand's gas-powered pizza oven, and probably one of its most popular choices because of its inherent ease of use compared to the charcoal-burning Karu or pellet-burning Fyra.
Having owned the Koda for over six months now — and having no prior baking experience — I can say it's been incredibly easy to make pizza on the days I only feel like eating pizza.
Here are my key takeways using the Ooni Koda pizza oven.
What's Good About the Ooni Koda Pizza Oven
This pizza oven gets hot, and it gets hot fast
The Koda heats up quickly. Within 15 minutes, with the valve at three-quarters, the majority of the pizza stone was at least 600 degrees Fahrenheit. Although the front of the pizza stone will always be cooler than the back, the whole surface is still blistering.
Although you shouldn’t touch the Koda’s outer shell when in use, the design dissipates heat well. There is an air gap between the outer carbon-steel shell and inner pizza dome. After 45 minutes of use at 900 degrees Fahrenheit, the outer shell only reached 350 degrees Fahrenheit. At lower temperatures — say around 600 degrees Fahrenheit — the outer shell only got up to 170 degrees Fahrenheit after making a few pizzas.
The Ooni Koda is portable
With a matte black cold-rolled carbon steel shell and foldable legs, the Koda looks and feels a bit like a tortoise. In short, it's pretty cute. At 25 inches long and 16 inches wide, and weighing just over 20 pounds, the Koda is easy to store indoors and carry outside. The Koda is incredibly easy to fold up and tuck into a packed car, too. If you end up buying it, save the plastic protective sleeve the pizza stone comes in the box with — it’s been added security for bumpy rides.
After use, I typically wait an hour or two before bringing the Koda back inside for storage. (Ooni does not recommend you store the Koda outside, and I agree: while the stainless-steel exterior can weather backyard elements, no problem, the cordierite stone is less rugged.)
It's a good platform to practice pizza baking
Much like the way we all learn to tie a tie these days through YouTube, J. Kenji López-Alt's video on how to make a New York-style pizza helped me understand how to build the knack for consistency. Once you get a hang of cooking with the Koda, it becomes incredibly easy to master the perfect crust.
Because the pizza stone is fully removable, cleaning the stone on the Koda is as easy as flipping it over. This flippable feature came in handy the first few months when I'd poke a hole through a pizza and burn a mess of cheese and sauce all over the stone. Since the pizza stone is not supposed to get wet, I panic-bought a new wire brush — which I now rarely use. The sheer heat of the Koda will burn away any mistakes.
For the first four months of cooking pizza, I didn’t have a laser thermometer. Now that I have one, I've taken up the habit of lowering the flame on the Koda throughout a pizza-making session. It's brought a more consistent temperature across a pizza-making session and lead to fewer burnt crusts.
The wide mouth on the Koda makes it easy to keep an eye on how quickly the pizza is cooking and gives you ample room to slide pizzas in on a large pizza peel and turn the pizzas with a smaller instrument. I do recommend purchasing or fashioning some sort of small pizza-turning instrument for the Koda, you will need to turn the pie frequently.
What’s Not Ideal About the Ooni Koda 12
You won't be opening up a pizzeria any time soon
Although the Koda allows you to explore every type of pizza recipe sans deep dish, any pizza you make in the Koda is a mini-pizza. The Koda 12's small size is less suitable for entertaining parties of more than six people. Pizzas will cook in two minutes, however, making the many mini pizzas needed to feed a large group eats up a lot of time. If you want to make bigger pies and feed a larger crowd, the Koda also comes in a 16-inch option for a few hundred dollars more.
The Ooni Koda 12: The Verdict
The Ooni Koda 12 was the perfect pizza oven for me, someone with no pizza-making experience who wants to eat high-quality pizza at home. Despite all the mistakes I’ve made on the Koda, it’s proved to be easy clean. It’s also allowed me to routinely make four mini-pizzas in under an hour — a small commitment on a weeknight.
I’ve still used the Koda for entertaining, but feeding more than six people starts to become a chore. I’d recommend the Koda 12 for anyone who is looking for an oven to fit onto a balcony, someone who doesn’t want the ritual involved with wood fires — or someone who wants to eat entirely too much pizza by themselves.