Ooni Koda 12 Review
Pros: Fantastic crust quality, high-fire temperatures, compact and portable
Cons: Steep learning curve related to control, prolonged cook times
Compare to Similar Products
Ooni Koda 12
|Price||$349 List||$499 List|
$499 at Amazon
|$250 List||$300 List||$110 List|
|Pros||Fantastic crust quality, high-fire temperatures, compact and portable||Unbelievable heat retention, quick baking time, accurate integrated thermometer, multi-fuel system||Reasonably priced, large capacity, heavily insulated firebox, transformable design improves versatility||High-fire temperatures, amazing airflow, multi-fuel option||Affordable, designed for a normal range oven, fast bake times|
|Cons||Steep learning curve related to control, prolonged cook times||Expensive, heavy, wood-fire box is small||Bulky, heavy, slow to preheat||Dangerous flame blowback, awkward attachment of the gas adaptor||Heat profile depends on oven, heavyweight|
|Bottom Line||The brand that put portable pizza ovens on the map lives up to its name with outstanding performance||Superior design precedes superior performance in this professional-grade oven made for the common cook||Top-notch cooking performance, output power, and versatility, all at a fraction of the cost of direct competitors||A powerful pizza oven with the special capability to cook with gas and wood simultaneously||A heavy-duty carbon steel slab capable of serious heat transfer to make the best pizza you've ever experienced out of a normal oven|
|Rating Categories||Ooni Koda 12||Gozney Roccbox||BakerStone Original||Bertello Outdoor||NerdChef 3/8" Steel...|
|Cooking Performance (30%)|
|Output Power (30%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Specs||Ooni Koda 12||Gozney Roccbox||BakerStone Original||Bertello Outdoor||NerdChef 3/8" Steel...|
|Fuel Type||Gas||Gas, Wood (w/ conversion)||Gas||Gas, Wood (w/ conversion)||n/a|
|Power Output||13,648 BTU||14,330 BTU||25,000 BTU||Not listed||n/a|
|Size of Firebox||n/a||156 cu. in.||n/a||97.5 cu. in.||n/a|
|Average Stone Temperature||733°F||748°F||732°F||777°F||686°F|
|Footprint||368 sq. in.||299 sq. in.||345 sq. in.||301 sq. in.
441 sq. in. (w/ gas attachment)
|228 sq. in.|
|Maximum Pizza Diameter||12"||12"||13"||12"||14"|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Ooni Koda 12 is the oven that really set the standard for modern, portable pizza ovens. The cold-rolled carbon steel frame provides ample insulation for quick cook times, yet at just over 20 pounds, is lightweight enough to travel. A single 13,648 BTU burner located at the back of the oven directs flames directly up and over the 13" pizza stone to conveniently crank out Neapolitan-style pizzas within a matter of just a few minutes.
Within moments of igniting the gas-powered Koda, it is easy to understand why this oven is a fan favorite. Allowing for 15 minutes of preheat time brings the pizza stone up to an incredible 755°F — right on par with the manufacturer's recommended "optimal" temperature of 752°F (400°C.) At these kinds of temperatures, it is possible to pull out Neapolitan-style pizzas in as little as 90 seconds.
However, our testing revealed that decreasing the output of the burners, and thus increasing your bake times to around three minutes will consistently produce a better pizza, with much less of a chance of the pie transforming into an inedible charcoal brick. Average stone temperatures during normal operation — that is, making rounds of pizzas in succession — hover around 710°F, which consistently produces beautifully browned, puffy crusts.
The trick with the Koda is learning to work with the oven to hit that harmonious rhythm where the bottom of the crust cooks through at the exact moment the upper crust begins to develop a golden tinge. It may sound easy on paper, but this is exactly the skill that Pizzaiuolo spend years working to develop.
We measured the average internal temperature of this oven at 778°F, but this only takes into consideration each of the four walls that make the oven chamber. The operating temperature of the Koda is likely higher than we were able to capture — our infrared thermometer tops out at 800°F. But whatever the exact internal temperature, you can be sure that it is hot.
The efficiency and efficacy of this oven design really come into focus when you realize that all of this incredible heat is being generated by a single gas burner located at the back of the oven. And while other ovens tend to employ all three forms of heat transfer to evenly cook a pizza, the Koda seems to focus almost entirely on radiative heat transfer.
A highly reflective stainless-steel interior combined with a low-profile oven chamber helps to evenly cook a pizza from the top three sides — a method so effective that it is often necessary to turn down the heat to a medium setting to avoid over-charring the top. A similar approach is used to simultaneously cook the crust base. The pizza stone is made from cordierite, a highly heat-resistant material that allows for all of the heat of the oven to be transferred directly into cooking the crust. Taking into consideration internal oven and pizza stone temperatures alongside our anecdotal evidence from cooking, we can confidently confirm that the Koda is one of the most powerful pizza ovens on the market.
When we first started out, the sheer output power of the Koda made it difficult to actually cook well. But like any good chef, to produce a consistent quality product one must be in tune with the tools at hand; certainly, this is true of a pizza oven.
It is important to recognize that you will likely have to work through a steep learning curve while operating this particular oven before you can expect to churn out the brushed golden crusts of a perfect Neapolitan-style pizza. But to the benefit of this oven — and to the benefit of your confidence as a cook — the gas burner can easily be managed to either increase or decrease baking times.
There is a significant difference between the lowest and highest output settings, and all this is easily adjusted by the turn of a dial. Unlike other highly-insulated ovens, based on the fact that the Koda cooks primarily with radiative heat, this also means that if you turn the burner down, the internal temperature will quickly follow suit.
Ease of Use
Despite a small time commitment to learn how to harmonize internal and pizza stone temperatures to achieve pizza perfection — a common learning curve for practically all pizza ovens — the Koda is remarkably easy to use. Even when firing this oven up in the middle of winter, we still experienced the same performance and heat output when cooking outside in these sub-freezing temperatures.
Although this is predominantly a pizza oven, its versatility arises from its ability to take its show on the road. Compared to other ovens we tested, we would actually qualify the compact, 20-pound Ooni Koda as a portable pizza oven. Similar to a turtle returning to its shell, simply fold the legs inward and tuck the slender oven away when it comes time to pack up.
Setup could not be more effortless; you can literally be making pizzas within minutes of pulling this oven out of the box. Cleanup is equally painless, and simply uses the high-heat output of the oven to burn off any mess on the pizza stone.
Like all quality products — particularly those products that set the standards by which all other manufacturers design — you can expect the Ooni Koda carries a price tag worthy of its performance. That said, not only is it designed with a durable outer shell that should improve longevity, but the fact that this is a truly portable pizza oven only increases its value.
It is not technically the first portable pizza oven to hit the market, but the Ooni Koda 12 advances that legacy. As a compact powerhouse capable of producing beautiful, Neapolitan-style pizzas in a matter of minutes, you can rest assured knowing that in this case, the original is still one of the best.
— Aaron Rice