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Ooni Koda 12 Review

The brand that put portable pizza ovens on the map lives up to its name with outstanding performance
Ooni Koda 12
Credit: Ooni Koda
Top Pick Award
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Price:   $349 List | $385.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Fantastic crust quality, high-fire temperatures, compact and portable
Cons:  Steep learning curve related to control, prolonged cook times
Manufacturer:   Ooni
By Aaron Rice ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 3, 2021
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 12
  • Cooking Performance - 30% 9
  • Output Power - 30% 7
  • Control - 25% 7
  • Ease of Use - 15% 7

Our Verdict

An oven that almost needs no introduction, the flagship Ooni Koda 12 is the model that has — for all intents and purposes — made "Ooni" synonymous with "portable pizza oven." This oven is both compact and lightweight, earning our Top Pick for portability. A well-insulated frame is powered by a rocket booster of a gas-burner, capable of generating temperatures over 800°F. The operation of this beautifully streamlined oven is straightforward from the moment you take it out of the box. Though convenient, don't take the speed and simplicity of this pizza oven for granted — it takes some time and commitment to hone the skills of a Pizzaiuolo before you can expect to turn out beautiful, Neapolitan-style pizzas with consistency.

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Ooni Koda 12
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Ooni Koda 12
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $349 List$499 List
$499 at Amazon
$250 List$300 List$110 List
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Pros Fantastic crust quality, high-fire temperatures, compact and portableUnbelievable heat retention, quick baking time, accurate integrated thermometer, multi-fuel systemReasonably priced, large capacity, heavily insulated firebox, transformable design improves versatilityHigh-fire temperatures, amazing airflow, multi-fuel optionAffordable, designed for a normal range oven, fast bake times
Cons Steep learning curve related to control, prolonged cook timesExpensive, heavy, wood-fire box is smallBulky, heavy, slow to preheatDangerous flame blowback, awkward attachment of the gas adaptorHeat profile depends on oven, heavyweight
Bottom Line The brand that put portable pizza ovens on the map lives up to its name with outstanding performanceSuperior design precedes superior performance in this professional-grade oven made for the common cookTop-notch cooking performance, output power, and versatility, all at a fraction of the cost of direct competitorsA powerful pizza oven with the special capability to cook with gas and wood simultaneouslyA 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%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Output Power (30%)
7.0
10.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
Control (25%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Ease Of Use (15%)
7.0
7.0
9.0
5.0
8.0
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.

Performance Comparison


Modern in appearance but traditional in style, this portable oven...
Modern in appearance but traditional in style, this portable oven bridges the gap between new-school and classic Neapolitan pizza making.
Credit: Aaron Rice

Cooking Performance


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.

This oven delivers lightly singed "cornicone", or the raised pizza...
This oven delivers lightly singed "cornicone", or the raised pizza edge of a beautiful Neapolitan-style pizza (if we do say so ourselves!)
Credit: Aaron Rice

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.

And on the inside, a perfectly puffed pocket of airy goodness. The...
And on the inside, a perfectly puffed pocket of airy goodness. The intense temperatures of the insulated Koda offer the perfect environment for a quick crust rise, a critical component to successfully making Neapolitan-style pizza.
Credit: Aaron Rice

Output Power


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.

The stainless steel interior of the oven chamber drives the...
The stainless steel interior of the oven chamber drives the radiative cooking process, more so than the burner at the back (though that does drive the convective heat throughout the oven.)
Credit: Aaron Rice

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.

Thanks to the power of the gas burner, supported by an efficient...
Thanks to the power of the gas burner, supported by an efficient insulate design, this oven is able to quickly rise the pizza stone to optimal temperatures in the range of 750F.
Credit: Aaron Rice

Control


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.

The unfortunate outcome of being just a few seconds behind the...
The unfortunate outcome of being just a few seconds behind the curve. Don't be fooled by its short stature, this oven is powerful.
Credit: Aaron Rice

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.

Learning to turn a pizza is a requisite skill. While master...
Learning to turn a pizza is a requisite skill. While master Pizzaiuolo use a special technique to perform this turn swiftly in the oven, there is no shame in pulling the pizza out to accomplish the same task.
Credit: Aaron Rice

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.

Collapsible legs, make this oven easy to store. And a removeable...
Collapsible legs, make this oven easy to store. And a removeable pizza stone make it much more reasonable to transport to avoid any potential damage.
Credit: Aaron Rice

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.

Pre-heating the Koda provides enough time to burn off any previous...
Pre-heating the Koda provides enough time to burn off any previous mess. But for a more thorough cleaning, Ooni recommends simply flipping over the stone to allow debris to burn off from the bottom.
Credit: Aaron Rice

Value


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.

The efficiency and speed with which the Koda cooks makes it an ideal...
The efficiency and speed with which the Koda cooks makes it an ideal oven to host an impromptu pizza party.
Credit: Aaron Rice

Conclusion


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.

It's hard not to be excited about fresh Neapolitan-style pizza...
It's hard not to be excited about fresh Neapolitan-style pizza, particularly when the Ooni Koda produces such appealing pies!
Credit: Aaron Rice

Aaron Rice