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Ooni Karu 12G Multi-Fuel Review

The authority on Neapolitan pizza, the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, recommends this redesigned multi-fuel oven for good reason
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Ooni Karu 12G Multi-Fuel Review (The Ooni Karu 12G is the first multi-fuel oven we've tested that is fun to wood-fire.)
The Ooni Karu 12G is the first multi-fuel oven we've tested that is fun to wood-fire.
Credit: Aaron Rice
Price:  $429 List
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Manufacturer:   Ooni
By Aaron Rice ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 5, 2024
83
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 16
  • Cooking Performance - 30% 8.0
  • Output Power - 30% 10.0
  • Control - 25% 7.5
  • Ease of Use - 15% 7.0

Our Verdict

When we first started testing the best pizza ovens on the market, the idea of firing with wood was novel but not quite practical. With this redesign of the popular Karu 12, the Ooni Karu 12G spins that novelty into practical application. With the addition of an extra large firepan, insulated glass door, and thermocouple to measure the temperature of the pizza stone, it is more reasonable than ever to make traditional, wood-fired pizzas in a portable pizza oven. Although we also tested the Karu 12G with the optional gas burner — which is an additional purchase — we were blown away by the temperatures and cook times we were able to achieve with wood alone. If you are set on baking homemade pizzas in the Neapolitan style, this multi-fuel oven is your best bet to achieve that dream.
REASONS TO BUY
Hugely improved multi-fuel system
High output power
Fun and intuitive
REASONS TO AVOID
Controlling temperature takes finesse
Gas burner susceptible to wind

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Bottom Line If you want to make excellent woodfired pizza at home, this redesigned oven makes that dream a realityA professional-grade pizza oven that pulls out all the stopsThis price point pizza oven performs well above its weight class in terms of power and performancePopular for more than a few good reasons, this oven stands up to the hypeAn affordable, but impressive indoor option for those not interested in investing in a new appliance
Rating Categories Ooni Karu 12G Multi... Gozney Roccbox BakerStone Original Ooni Koda 12 NerdChef 3/8" Steel...
Cooking Performance (30%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
Output Power (30%)
10.0
9.5
7.0
7.0
7.0
Control (25%)
7.5
7.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Ease of Use (15%)
7.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
Specs Ooni Karu 12G Multi... Gozney Roccbox BakerStone Original Ooni Koda 12 NerdChef 3/8" Steel...
Fuel Type Wood, Gas (w/ conversion) Gas, Wood (w/ conversion) Gas Gas N/A
Power Output 18,084 BTU 14,330 BTU 25,000 BTU 13,648 BTU N/A
Size of Firebox 275 cu. in. 156 cu. in. N/A N/A N/A
Average Stone Temperature 825 °F 748 °F 732 °F 733 °F 686 °F
Footprint 471 sq. in.
503 sq. in. (w/ gas attachment)
299 sq. in. 345 sq. in. 368 sq. in. 228 sq. in.
Maximum Pizza Diameter 12" 12" 13" 12" 14"

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Ooni Karu 12G builds upon the solid framework of the still-popular Karu 12 by adding some key features that improve user experience and overall utility. The powder-coated body improves weather resistance and durability during transport. The borosilicate glass door provides added heat retention, thus improving fuel efficiency. An integrated thermocouple helps you better understand how the oven is heating or cooling. The oversized firepan adds 140 cubic inches, making it possible to build a fire large enough to stoke the temperatures necessary to hit Neapolitan pizza standards. Of course, if you'd rather opt for the convenience and control of cooking with gas, this model is also compatible with Ooni's optional gas burner, purchased separately or as a bundle.

Performance Comparison


With a bit of practice, the Karu 12G will quickly turn out beautiful pizzas regardless of whether you choose to fire with wood or gas.
Credit: Aaron Rice

Cooking Performance


Ooni notes that “we poured every learning from our decade of pizza oven-making experience into the Karu 12G”, and all of that effort shines through in this oven's cooking performance. While they may seem like minor additions, the insulated glass door and integrated thermocouple allow you to much more easily reach and monitor internal oven temperatures. Heat retention is critical to effective and efficient cooking, and the quality of the pizza the Karu 12G turns out demonstrates that.


Although Ooni posits that you can reach the ideal baking temperature of 850°F in as little as 15 minutes, it seems much more reasonable to plan on a 30-minute preheat to reach that optimum temperature in the middle of the pizza stone. Taking that additional time to preheat effectively pays off during cooking, where we often found ourselves turning the gas burner down to slow bake times a bit. The wood-fired bake times, in particular, are screaming fast, and because the internal oven temperature is so high, we really needed to be on top of our game to avoid burning crusts to a crisp.

ooni karu 12g multi-fuel - the dual burners on the optional gas burner are powerful, efficient...
The dual burners on the optional gas burner are powerful, efficient, and convenient, easily turning out high-quality pies.
Credit: Aaron Rice

The insulated door also improves reheat time, which, from the standpoint of efficiency, is key to keeping friends and family well-fed in a timely manner. It's easy to close the door between bakes to reheat the oven –--an important step as temperatures do tend to fluctuate on this thinner cordierite pizza stone. But we came to prefer baking with the door open as a way to manage overheating the oven chamber and more easily work the pizza with regular turns. If you're on it, the Karu 12G turns out Neapolitan pies, free of burns but with the notable “leopard spotting” on a well-cooked crust. But it's just as easy to get distracted and seemingly instantaneously burn crusts, so management is key.

ooni karu 12g multi-fuel - we don't claim to be a pizzaiuolo with a well-crafted ability to...
We don't claim to be a pizzaiuolo with a well-crafted ability to bake burn-free pizzas, but they still turn out with the “leopard spotting” unique to Neapolitan-style pies.
Credit: Aaron Rice

Output Power


The Neapolitan pizza is not just a well-loved pie style; the art and culinary practice of making this type of pizza is recognized, and protected by UNESCO as an integral piece of the cultural heritage of humanity. There is a governing board, the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, or AVPN, that regulates and defines what makes a Neapolitan pizza. That's important context because the Karu 12G is the first portable pizza oven to be “recommended for domestic use” by the AVPN.


Key tenants of those regulations are in the cooking of a Neapolitan pizza: it must be a wood-fired oven, reaching temperatures between 806 - 896°F (430 - 480°C) to turn out a pizza in less than 90 seconds. The issue with portable pizza ovens has been that the size of the firepan makes it difficult (to the point of unreasonable) to stoke a fire hot enough to reach this essential temperature range. But thanks to the oversized firebox and additional insulating features on the Karu 12G, we were able to regularly stoke the oven to over 1000°F, which allows you to actually maintain average pizza stone temperatures around 870°F. This sets the Karu 12G apart from any other multi-fuel oven we've tested.

ooni karu 12g multi-fuel - this is the first wood-fired oven that we've been able to easily...
This is the first wood-fired oven that we've been able to easily maintain pizza stone temperatures above 750 degrees, and average air temperatures above 800 degrees.
Credit: Aaron Rice

Of course, as a multi-fuel oven, you do have the option to additionally purchase a gas-burner. Up until testing this oven, cooking with gas was our go-to. Not only is it more convenient for firing up the pizza oven on a weeknight, but the dual, propane-fired burners of the Ooni gas attachment allow you to easily tweak oven temperatures to your liking. Average pizza stone temperatures can reach the optimal range near 850°F, and bake times still average under two minutes. But now, considering the capabilities of this oven in wood-fired form, we'll pause to seriously consider our options before we fire up the oven.

ooni karu 12g multi-fuel - while the flames from the gas burners are more directed, the width...
While the flames from the gas burners are more directed, the width of the new fire pan allows wood flames to spread out over the entirety of the oven roof, cranking internal air temperatures to the extreme.
Credit: Aaron Rice

Control


The Karu 12G is the first multi-fuel oven we're really excited about. This oven can build and retain heat much better than the original Karu 12, which makes wood-firing pizzas a realistic pursuit, even if you're working solo. We would stoke the fire to a maximum, close the door, and let the stone come back up to temperature while prepping a pizza, and then come back to note the thermometer and figure out how best to manage the extreme temperatures of the oven. It is easy to quickly dump heat by opening the back of the oven or slowly manage internal temperature by cooking with the front door open as a wood-fired flame slowly rolls over the oven's ceiling.


The addition of a thermocouple on the Kaur 12G is key to heat management when firing with gas, or at least being able to quickly judge when the internal oven temperature and pizza stone temperatures are not in sync. The stone temperature is apt to fluctuate, so it is nice to have an infrared thermometer on hand to measure those temperatures. While the lightweight cordierite stone helps cut weight and certainly improves portability, it seems like adding a bit of thickness could improve oven control by helping stabilize pizza stone temperatures. We tended to preheat the gas oven on high and then cook on low to maximize stone temperatures without overcooking our toppings. However, the gas burner on low was actually extinguished while cooking on a few windy days. Again, this is another reason to stay on top of your game and in front of this oven while firing your pie.

ooni karu 12g multi-fuel - the addition of a front door retains heat much better than the...
The addition of a front door retains heat much better than the original Karu 12, which has an open-air front.
Credit: Aaron Rice

Ease of Use


An easy setup is a core tenant of any Ooni oven, and the Karu 12G only takes slight exception to that generalization. This oven takes a bit more assembly than more simplified models, but once you have the door on, swapping out the fire pan for the gas burner is easy enough to make it a reasonable snap decision. Our main gripe is that there's really no convenient way to store the stovepipe other than inside the oven body, which gets it all sooty after a few uses. If you're not planning on just leaving this oven set up and covered in your backyard, you'll want to keep a soot rag handy.


Like all wood-fired ovens — and even many gas-fired options — there's a learning curve to easily and gracefully turning out beautiful pizzas. But even firing the 12G with some first-time pizza makers, with a little bit of coaching on timing and technique, they were able to turn out high-quality pies on their second or third tries. This experiential experience really speaks to the user-friendliness of this oven. If you're practicing your pizza craft, practicing with gas is worthwhile. But once you're in the groove, don't be afraid to step up to regularly wood-firing the Karu 12G.

ooni karu 12g multi-fuel - without adding a measuring tape to your pizza kit, it can be...
Without adding a measuring tape to your pizza kit, it can be difficult to judge the ideal length of wood. We noticed that their suggested length is, conveniently, about the width of the owner's manual.
Credit: Aaron Rice

Should You Buy the Ooni Karu 12G?


If you come to the table with a love of Neapolitan-style pies and simply don't want to compromise on your values, then the Karu 12G really is the choice for a portable, wood-fired oven. For the pizza community, the AVPN stamp of approval speaks for itself. For the rest of us who simply love a well-made pizza, the Karu delivers a balance of cooking performance and user-friendliness that is well worth the investment.

What Other Pizza Ovens Should You Consider?


For all of our gushing over the Ooni Karu 12G as a multi-fuel oven, there are other ovens capable of baking an even better pizza. The barrel-vaulted Gozney Roccbox and the Neapolitan dome Solo Stove Pi are both better designs to generate a flame that cooks pies a bit more gently, though still within a similar range of temperature and time. For an all-gas model that is a bit more affordable, the BakerStone Original is also an awesome oven to consider.

Aaron Rice