The Ooni Koda 16 is one of the Barbecue Lab’s favorite new units to cook with outside. Best of all it’s portable, which means we can have delicious homemade pizza even when the party isn’t in our own backyard!
We’ve been grilling pizzas on our gas grill for years, but I’ve always wanted a pizza oven and this Ooni Koda 16 did not disappoint.
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Ooni Koda 16 Specs
The Ooni Koda 16 is an outdoor pizza oven that is designed to be used with either natural gas or propane.
With the legs extended, the Koda 16 stands about 14.5 inches tall. It runs about 25″ from front to back, and about 23″ from side to side. The unit weighs approximately 40 pounds.
(You can check out the official Ooni Koda dimensions here.)
Internally, the cooking area is about 16.5″ square with an entrance height of about 5 inches. While this pizza oven can fit a 16″ pizza, we have typically stayed in the 12-14″ ballpark so far, leaving extra room for navigating the required pizza rotations
This pizza oven can reach up to 932°F and we’ve found that to be pretty accurate. It takes about 20 minutes for the oven to be fully preheated. We like to preheat it on high and then turn the temperature down a little before actually launching our first pizza.
The Ooni Koda has an L-shaped burner that runs along the left side and back of the oven. This means that the pizza stone will be hottest in the back left quadrant, requiring the pizza to be rotated in the oven every 20 seconds or so.
The Koda 16 comes fully assembled in the box and literally the only thing you have to do is slide the pizza stone in place and run it for about 1/2 hour for an initial burn-in.
There is a Bit of a Learning Curve
I was not used to transferring pizza from a peel to a hot pizza stone so this did take a bit of practice to get down. Cooking pizzas 1-2 times a week for 6 weeks or so, I only just now feel like I’m getting the hang of it.
It takes some practice to get to the point where you can successfully launch a whole assembled pizza into the oven and not just the toppings (while the base remains on the peel.) So while you’re getting started, always make extra dough just in case you have a mishap or two. But don’t give up! Practice makes perfect.
And also, Ooni boasts a 60-day guarantee on their website that they’ll buy back your pizza oven if you’re not happy with it in that time span. So try it as much as you can in two months and if you still can’t seem to get it down, Ooni has your back.
Here’s what we’ve learned getting started:
- In the beginning we put WAY TOO MUCH flour on our bamboo pizza peel, placed our (already stretched out) dough on top, and then decorated the pizza while constantly jiggling the pizza around hoping it wouldn’t stick before launching. The problem was that we launched quite a bit of that excess flour into the oven which burned, leaving a fair amount of burned flour on the bottom of the crust resulting in not the tastiest pizza. (You can even spot an example of this in our video review, where a clip from one of our earlier cooks was used)
- What we do now: We lightly dust a wood cutting board with flour and build our pizza there. Then we lift up a corner of the assembled pizza and slide the pizza peel (not floured at all) underneath. As it turns out, with a little bit of practice, transferring an assembled pizza onto a peel isn’t nearly as challenging as I assumed it would be. We’ve found that the transfer onto the peel eliminates the excess flour that used to taint our pizzas, but the crust is dusted enough from the cutting board that it doesn’t stick to the peel during its short trip from the cutting board to the pizza oven.
What Kind of Dough Should I Use?
If you’re making your own pizza dough, start with the classic pizza dough recipe right on Ooni’s website.
However there are a couple of things you’ll need to know.
- Ooni recipes favor the metric system, so you may feel a little lost for a moment if you’re like me who lives in the American world of cups and teaspoons. It may be time to invest in a digital kitchen scale while you get acclimated.
- Ever heard of “00” flour? I certainly hadn’t. I’ve learned that it’s basically the secret ingredient to a good Neapolitan pizza crust. And it turns out hunting down “00” flour during the dog days of COVID-19 proved to be extra challenging. Fortunately, it seems like the supply is now recovering making it a little easier to find.
- Get yourself a dough proofing tray that can fit in the fridge. It will be your best friend when you go to separate your dough into individual balls and don’t want them all to run into each other.
Do We Recommend the Ooni Koda 16?
In short, yes we do recommend this portable pizza oven.
Is my quest for the perfect pizza oven over now? Well, no. I still dream of having a huge wood-fired oven built into my backyard kitchen scape.
However, this is a pizza oven I can easily take to my parents house, camping, loan to a friend, you name it. You can’t argue with the fact that it is incredibly portable and cooks a very delicious pizza once you get the hang of the technique.