When it comes to backyard pizza ovens, Ooni is the brand to beat, and the Fyra 12 ($349) is the cheapest model it makes. The Fyra 12 is also Ooni's most portable option. It weighs 22 pounds and uses dry hardwood pellets as its fuel source, which are naturally easier to transport and widely available for purchase at grocery and hardwood stores around the U.S.
All together, these characteristics make the Fyra 12 an attractive option for a couple of different types of cooks:
- People looking to pick up their first backyard pizza oven, but who don't feel ready for some of the more premium options out there
- Cooks who plan to use the oven away from home, such as at a campsite or vacation house
Does it deliver high-quality pizza? Is it easy to use? Can it actually go on the road? I tested one for more than a month to find out.
At a Glance: The Ooni Fyra 12
Dimensions (Unboxed): 29.1 x 15.4 x 28.5 inches
Dimensions (Boxed): 26.7 x 18.9 x 9.8 inches
Weight: 22 pounds
Preheat Time: ~15 minutes
What's Good About the Ooni Fyra 12
This thing rips (for a short while)
The Fyra 12 is easy to light: load the hopper with pellets, ignite the fire starter, add more pellets, sit back and drink a cold beverage. It also preheats fairly quickly. On average, the Fyra 12 takes about 15 minutes to reach the ideal temperature (900 to 950 degrees Fahrenheit), assuming the weather cooperates. For Neapolitan pizzas, you want your oven at 950 to 1,000 degrees.
Windy conditions will increase the time it takes to get hot, and they also expose pellets' greatest flaw: flame maintenance. While the Fyra 12 is capable of reaching ideal pizza-making temperatures, it doesn't stay there. Even with perfect conditions, the window to cook a proper Neapolitan pizza is just a few minutes, and the oven often requires a bit of recovery time between pies.
It's "affordable" — relatively
Let's just get this out of the way: outdoor pizza ovens don't come cheap. Even middle-of-the-road options can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000. The sticker price of the Fyra 12, however, is $349 — $50 less than Ooni's gas-powered Koda 12 ($399) and $350 cheaper than the bigger, top-of-the-line Karu 16 ($799), which can use different types of fuel and also carries a seal of approval from the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (the international body that protects and preserves the tradition of Neapolitan pizza-making).
However, like any pizza oven, the Fyra 12 needs fuel — and fuel costs money. Ooni sells 20-pound bags for $25, though cheaper options abound and any brand will do. While you're at it, pick up some fire starters — you'll need those, too.
It's easy to move and store
The Fyra delivers on its promise of portability. The chimneys fit inside the oven cavity and the legs fold up. Weighing little more than 20 pounds, it's really light and easy to move from a patio to the garage — or into the trunk of a car. I wouldn't worry too much about dents or scratches, either; the powder-coated exterior is durable and scratch resistant.
I only have two complaints about the overall design: The peephole in the door, there to let you check on a cooking pie without letting out heat, is too tiny to actually see through. And the fire box in the back is also too small, so it's difficult to maintain a consistent flame.
What's Not Ideal About the Ooni Fyra 12
Pellets are a pain
In general, pellets have a lot going for them. As mentioned elsewhere, they're easy to store, buy and pack for a trip; they're quick to light; and they burn very efficiently (though this last point is debatable when cooking at the high temperatures needed for proper pizza-making).
What they're not, at least in the context of the Fyra 12, is easy to control. There's no smart computer here; it's all feel, and the learning curve is steep. My theory: a lot of that comes down to the small fire box mentioned in the previous section.
What does that mean for the end user? The Fyra 12 eats through a lot of pellets — and it always needs more. Maintaining the proper flame for cooking more than a single pie takes a lot of focus taken away from the actual pizza part of pizza-making.
My recommendation: have two cooks — one focused on flame maintenance, the other focused on pizza assembly and cooking. Also, get an infrared thermometer; it's more or less essential with all the variability in heat.
There's a lot of cleanup
One of my favorite parts of cooking and eating outdoors is how little cleanup there can be. Not so with the Fyra 12, where soot buildup is a common occurrence (even with a well-oxygenated flame). There isn't just one thing to wipe down, either. The Fyra 12 has two chimneys — one for smoke, the other for pellet-loading — each with various removable parts, and all of them are filthy after a cook. Thankfully, the pizza stone itself stays relatively clean, requiring little more than a quick wipedown after use.
It's not great for crowds
Cooks who dream of churning out pies for a big party should stay away from the Fyra 12. This is an oven for small groups; the pellet-fueled flame just isn't consistent enough to cook more than four pies properly in succession. The most I ever tried in a single cook was eight pies, and it took nearly three hours and a lot of pellets; even then, the ash buildup after three or four pies was so immense that the oven struggled to get hotter than 500 degrees Fahrenheit. The result? Pizzas that took longer to cook and didn't come out with the right texture.
The Ooni Fyra 12: The Verdict
The Ooni Fyra is a lot of fun, and for many potential buyers, the pros — especially the price — will outweigh the cons.
However, if you have a big family or plan to make pizza the focal point of your next dinner party, I highly recommend going with a gas-powered option like the Koda 12. It will set you back an extra $50, and you'll forfeit some of the portability inherent with pellets, but you'll enjoy yourself, and your company, a whole lot more.
At the end of the day, though, the real question hanging over the Fyra 12 is whether or not it can cook a high-quality pizza. It's an easy yes, as long you don't mind navigating around its quirks.