Ooni Karu 12 Review

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Price Range: $$$
Fuel Type: Wood, Charcoal, Pellets, and Gas
Oven Type: Portable Pizza Oven

👩‍💼Ideal For:

  • Home chefs with great enthusiasm for outdoor cooking
  • Multiple fuel options
  • Cooking up to 12-inch pizzas
  • Sweet wood-fired flavor
  • Premium pizza oven with a great warranty to protect your investment

⚖️Considerations:

  • The gas burner is sold separately. That’s an extra cost.
  • There’s no built-in thermometer.
  • It’s not the most eye-catching pizza oven.

My Final Verdict with a rating (Out of 5)

The Ooni Karu 12 is a hot commodity in the portable pizza oven arena. This particular model is in great demand because of their ability to cook with wood or gas. And it doesn’t matter what fuel you choose to cook with; the heat output is crazy.

Temperature-wise, Karu 12 ranks among the top pizza ovens that can attain 850 °F. Unlike its competitors, this award-winning device gets searing hot in 15 minutes.

With a sturdy stainless steel construction, this unit stays outdoors – no issues whatsoever. Plus, you get plenty of cooking space to bake memorable pizzas up to 12 inches.

On top of that, there’s a 60-day free trial offer. If it falls short, return the oven and get your refund, no questions asked.

From my assessment, I would give the prime Karu 12 an overall solid rating of 4.5 out of 5.0. The baking performance is unmatched. The metal construction is sturdy. The airflow is great for flaming combustion and is backed by a generous 5-year manufacturer’s warranty. All these are just a few of the standout features of this exceptional appliance.

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Ratings Summary:

Build Quality
4.8/5
Cooking Performance
4.5 / 5.0
Flavor
4.6/5
Temperature Control
5/5
Power consumption
4.5 / 5.0
Ease of Use
5/5

🎭Compare to Similar Pizza Ovens

 Ooni Karu 12Gozney RoccboxOoni Koda 12
BestValue for MoneyPremiumGas-Powered
Overall Ratings4.5 / 5.04.6 / 5.04.0/5.0
Fuel OptionsWood, Charcoal, Pellets and GasWood and GasGas
Max Temperature950 °F950 °F950°F
Heat Capacity15,300 BTU14,300 BTU13,648 BTU
Cooking TimeLess than 60 seconds60 – 90 seconds60 – 120 seconds
Cooking Surface13 inches12.9 inches13.2 inches
Built-in Thermometern/aYesn/a
Weight25.6 lbs44 lbs20.4lbs
Freebiesn/aPizza peeln/a
Warranty5 years5 years5 years
Price***********

Who We Recommend For

  • Natural Wood Taste Lovers: The Karu 12 leaves an aromatic smoky flavor in your pizza for great taste. Thus, creating a truly authentic wood-fired taste that can easily become a habit-forming experience.
  • Dual Cooking Method Seekers: Sometimes, cooking with wood can be a lot of work. Having a gas option for a fast cooking experience with less fire tendering is great.
  • Quality-Conscious Buyers: the Karu 12 is built to last with rugged stainless steel. So, it’s up for any task, from pizza nights to camping trips. Plus, it’s lightweight, making it easier to move around to create a captivating ambiance.

Who We Don’t Recommend For

Time-Conscious Cooks: If you hate tendering to the fire or working up your appetite, this is not for you. The Ooni Karu 12 requires patience to build a fire and attention to keep the heat up. However, the results are always worthwhile.

Budget-option Shoppers: not looking to splurge on a pizza oven, look elsewhere. The Karu 12 is a premium pizza oven that comes at a reasonable price. It delivers amazing restaurant-grade pizzas with savory wood flavors. You get what you pay for. In this case

Our First Impression:

Build-Quality

The Karu 12 is crafted exquisitely from brushed 430-grade stainless steel. While it might not help this unit look gorgeous, it stands up to the harsh outdoor elements.

Further, the dome and doors feature superb ceramic fiber insulation—perfect heat retention for quick preheating and optimal fuel usage.

The lid’s handle is made of glass-reinforced nylon. This ensures you can safely touch it without getting hurt.

Assembly

The Ooni Karu 12 is intentionally designed with simplicity in mind. There are only a few parts to put together. It takes about 30 minutes, even if you don’t consider yourself a DIYer.

Ooni Karu 12 unboxing

The setup process primarily entails attaching the chimney and unfolding the legs.

You must also slide in the ashtray, fuel basket, and pizza stone, then fit the back and front covers.

For the gas option, it’s pretty straightforward. Unscrew the back plate and attach the gas regulator. Also, you want to remove the chimney (no longer needed) and the front cover. Remember to place a stopper in place of the removed chimney. It takes only about 2 – 5 minutes to convert the Karu 12 to a gas-powered unit.

Stone

The darling Karu 12 features a thick 15mm cordierite pizza stone. When the center is about 750 – 800 degrees hot, this stone cranks out the perfect stone-baked pizza. It’s also perfect for whipping up quesadillas and tostadas.

But the best thing is it’s thick enough to offer excellent heat retention. This means no huge drop in temperature when you launch your pizza. Also, the wait time between pizzas is significantly shorter than other stones.

Fuel Options

When it comes to flexibility, Karu 12 ranks very high. This appliance is supplied in its wood-burning version. However, there’s an option to purchase the gas burner separately.

In its original form, Karu 12 burns better with kiln-dried hardwood about 6 inches long. It gets better. It’s compatible with charcoal. Adding some wood chips offers that natural wood taste.

More importantly, ensure the hardwood is dried and low in resin. Otherwise, you’ll be exhausted by tendering to the fire and cleaning out a whole lot of ash. Also, stay away from painted or treated wood. They spell trouble.

Capacity

The Karu 12 boasts a generously sized opening. It measures approximately 13 inches wide and 3.9 inches high. Therefore, using a 12-inch pizza peel in this oven will not pose any issues or feel restricted.

pizza-performance

True to its name, this oven is ideal for crafting 12 inches of any pizza style.

Additionally, it offers ample space to accommodate cast iron cookware, including the premium line from Ooni. However, you can use your existing cookware to roast hot dogs or bake cornbread.

It’s important to note that the oven’s opening has a low profile, limiting its suitability for taller dishes.

What I Like About Ooni Karu 12

Premium Tough Build Quality: The Ooni is rugged and will weather any storm. Unlike its competitors, this unit can live outdoors with no damage. Thousands of customers still brag about the oven’s structural integrity even after several years. Everything still works as it should, like a grandma’s car, without looking old or rusty.

Bakes like a brick oven: the Karu 12 is coveted for its high heat performance. It goes from 0 to 800 degrees F, usually in 15 minutes. The rest is super easy and mind-blowing. This oven knocks out authentic pizzas with a very crispy texture. Also, you get a subtle, not overpowering, real wood taste for gastronomical delights. While you have to shuffle the pizza quickly, expect a perfectly cooked pizza in about 60 seconds.

Good bang for the buck: this oven is extremely powerful. Yet, it comes at a more affordable price. Even with the separately-sold gas burner, the Karu 12 is cheaper than the Koda 12 and the Roccbox. Plus, it’s a hybrid option. If you don’t have the patience to build a great flame, the gas accessory will save the day.

ooni karu 12 multi fuel pizza oven Complaints

Cleaning is not a snap: the Ooni Karu 12 is wood-fired. This creates loads of soot, especially in the chimney. You have to detach the chimney for a thorough cleaning. Else, the soot might alter your food’s taste. Also, there’s ash to clean out in the ashtray, which sits way back. To reach this component, the pizza stone needs to get out of the way.

No window: the door is a solid block of stainless steel. There’s no way to monitor the cooking progress. This is a lot of work – constantly opening and closing the door to watch your food and prevent it from burning.

Testing The Ooni Karu 12: How Does It Perform?

Fuel Performance

This stubby beast offers two fuel options: wood and gas. No matter which fuel you choose, this pizza-making marvel provides the best of both worlds.

However, it’s worth noting that the experience varies slightly depending on your preferred fuel option.

Cooking with wood

The Karu, in its true state, is a wood-fired beast. It brings all the charm and allure of a traditional Neapolitan-style pizza oven. This unit features a 135in³ firebox holding sufficient wood chunks to create blazing internal heat.

Cooking with wood

In this form, you need to learn how to be a great fire tender, maybe not like Avatar. However, this Ooni model requires loading and stocking for about 30 minutes to get the oven up to 760 degrees F.

Once you get the oven’s temperature high enough, this oven produces beautiful, evenly golden-brown pizzas. And, of course, crispy base, fluffy and tender on the inside, and gorgeous leopard spotting.

Ooni-Karu-12-cooked-pizza

If you want the next pizza to be just as perfect as the first, there’s a bit of extra work. I needed to keep stocking to return the oven to the ideal temperature. This took about 5 minutes before it was ready and okay to launch the next pizza.

Cooking with gas

With gas, it’s a different experience and one without tiring work. First, there’s no steep learning curve with the gas burner attachment. Getting this oven up to a workable temperature is a breeze.

cooked with Ooni Karu 12

Not only does the gas option deliver scary temperatures, but it’s more consistent. So, pizzas turn out with tantalizing charred crust within 1 – 2 minutes. The preheating time is shorter. Also, it has a speedy recovery time between pizzas. Hence, it’s great for handling crowded pizza parties without feeling torn apart.

Output Power

Most top Italian chefs stick with the traditional way. There must be a reason, despite the utter convenience of gas-powered units. Wood-fired models, under the right condition, burn hotter than their alternatives.

Ooni Karu 12 performance

So, with the Karu 12, achieving temperatures over 800 degrees F is easier. This is crucial to achieving a perfect pizza crust. If you have yet to experience cooking with wood, gas burns better and still delivers wonderful results.

With a 15,350 BTU gas-burning system, it has enough heat juice, just like the powerful Koda 12.

Temperature Control

Building a fire is one of many tricky parts of the Karu 12. Maintaining a consistent internal temperature can be more demanding. If you are new to the pizza world, using the gas burner is best.

Despite the Karu 12’s efficient insulation system, the temperature can be difficult to hold. It requires stocking and regulating the airflow with the chimney for consistent cooking temperature.

Controlling the jet-like flame from the two burners is important in gas mode. Else, the toppings might cook faster than the base and get burnt.

Cooking Performance

The pizza stone’s temperature plays a huge part in perfectly cooking your pizza. Whether wood, charcoal, or gas, the Karu 12 can reach over 700 degrees Fahrenheit. Once you work the temperature up to that level, it delivers memorable pizzas in 1 – 2 minutes. 

However, it cooks better, with a great smoky flavor using wood. The chimney traps most of the smoke within the chamber to impart your pizza with natural smoke flavor. This explains why pizzas cranked out of the Karu 12 were way better than the ones from Roccbox.

Remember, it’s a 12-inch pizza oven. This unit won’t make any larger or bigger than a 12-inch pizza. Aside from that, this oven will cook most low-slung foods to juicy perfection.

What Else Can You Cook In Ooni Karu 12?

Ooni Karu 12 stands out in the realm of pizza making for its delicious and crisp crust. We tested this appliance outside its primary purpose. The results were astonishing.

With a cast iron skillet or Grizzler pan, this oven cooks nearly everything from meat to vegetables. Also, it accommodates a 9-inch metal cake pan and whips up mouthwatering cinnamon buns, dinner rolls, and peach cobbler.

This oven roast, grill, sear, or bake anything that fits in there nicely. In some cases, you get better results than regular kitchen ovens.

What’s About Other People’s Opinions?

Thousands of customers are pleased with the build quality. They often use the word “sleek” to describe the unit.

Most customers also claim it requires only a few pieces of medium-sized wood to get the oven up and running. While some complained about the gear-up time, others applauded the firebox’s excellent design. Starting a fire was said to be easier, and the ultra-high temperature the oven could achieve was worth the wait.

Overall, people went ahead to brag about their lip-smacking results. They were proud of how efficiently and smooth the Karu 12 bakes pizza to crisp perfection.

My Ooni KARU 12 Pizza Oven REVIEW – TWO Years Later! | Got2EatPizza

Sadly, some customers couldn’t get the hang of the wood-burning process. After a couple of burnt pizzas, they purchased the gas burner attachment.

Coupons, Trials, Warranties, and Shipping

Warranty: there’s a standard 1-year warranty on all Ooni pizza ovens. The manufacturer extends the warranty period up to 5 years when you register the Karu 12. The registration has to be done within 60 days of receipt.

Refund Policy: Ooni provides a refund policy with a 60-day money-back guarantee. If you are unsatisfied with the oven after trying it out, Ooni will repurchase it. However, please note that you will be responsible for covering the shipping fees associated with the return.

Quick Things You Know About The About Ooni Karu 12

Ease of use

The Karu 12 is similar to other Ooni models. It’s a cinch to set up. Although it has numerous components, assembling is easy and quick. Anyone can put this machine together in 10 minutes or so.

Also, it’s very portable and weighs less than 30 pounds. Carrying along on your next camping trip won’t be a pain.

This oven has a specially designed fuel box to hold wood chunks in the wood-fired format. Starting the fire is no different from the typical method – using a firestarter.

With practice, you’ll figure out how much wood and time the oven takes to come to a temperature. But before then, you would have to constantly open the door to measure the inner chamber’s temperatures.

Cleaning and maintenance

This depends on the cooking style.

Cooking with gas requires almost no post-baking cleaning. Usually, the oven is cleaned prior to baking the first pizza. Reposition the pizza oven, with the dirtiest area closer to the flame, and heat up the oven. At a high temperature, the food debris or residues will burn and become easy to brush off.

For wood-fired cooking, there’s a bit of work. You need to take out the ashtray and empty it out. Also, the chimney gets a lot of soot. It’s best to remove it for a thorough cleaning. Whatever you do, the components must be dried before coupling to the oven.

Upgrades, Accessories, And Attachments

Ooni karu 12 cover

This is an essential add-on for maximum protection and easy transportation. This is a must-have if you intend to use your Karu 12 on the go.

Ooni Karu 12 cover

It’s made with a sturdy material with elasticated edges for a secure and snug fit. Disassembling the machine before taking it on your next adventure is unnecessary.

Pizza oven cart/table

Ooni has an extensive collection of carts or tables. They are the perfect foundation for ultra-hot Karu 12. These tables are mostly made of premium carbon steel to withstand harsh conditions, especially searing temperatures. Also, they come with storage space to hold your propane tank or wood chunks for a seamless baking experience.

Baking stone

Accidents happen, and it’s good to know you can easily get a replacement if your stone gets broken. This baking stone is made of top-quality cordierite material for incredible heat retention and distribution. It’s a perfect fit for the Karu 12 and 12G.

Ooni Karu 12 Multi Fuel Pizza Oven Review: FAQs

Is Ooni 12 too small?

No. The Ooni Karu 12 is a compact and portable pizza oven. It’s designed to cook a 12-inch crispy pizza crust. However, it takes less space compared to other larger models on the market.

Is Ooni Karu 12 worth it?

Yes. The Karu 12 is a worthwhile investment for home chefs looking to bake irresistible small-size pizzas occasionally or frequently. Besides, you can cook delightful dishes based on your mood. Want to work up your appetite? There’s a wood-burning option. Otherwise, stick to the gas version to beat time.

How big of a pizza can you make in an Ooni 12?

The Ooni Karu 12 has a spacious 13-inch cooking space. It’s perfect for baking 12-inch pizzas. And there’s plenty of room to shuffle your pizzas for even doneness.

Are Ooni pizza ovens waterproof?

Ooni ovens can withstand outdoor elements. However, they are not waterproof. You can purchase the Ooni cover for your particular model for 100% protection. Otherwise, consider storing them in a safe space.

Can you use Ooni Karu 12 indoors?

No, the Karu 12 is designed for outdoor cooking. Using it indoors can trigger your smoke detectors, among many other troubles. Ooni has an electric version, Volt 12, that works amazingly indoors.

Tim Anderson
Tim Anderson

Tim Anderson is the founder of pizzapeopleaz® and has been in the pizza industry since 1998. Since then, his mission has been to make a pizza lover's guy into a personal pizzaiolo. And each year, he continues to help more people with Pizza chemistry, pizza Crust, pizza oven, and oven troubleshooting.

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