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Ooni Karu 16 Review: Is The Extra $$$ Worth Spending?

10-Seconds on the Ooni Karu 16

A high quality, versatile and complete outdoor oven that makes exceptionally good pizza.

So, you’ve been eyeing up Ooni’s top of the line Karu 16 multi-fuel pizza oven…

Wondering if it’s worth it, what it’s really like to cook on, how the different fuel types work, and, if it’s the right Ooni oven for you?

Since we first tried the Ooni Koda 12, we’ve been crazy about home-made pizza and Ooni. Yes, it’s 110% as good as they say it is. And, no, it’s not as hard to make as some make out.

But, before you go and invest your hard earned dollars on this mega pizza making beast, make sure it’s the right oven for your backyard.

In this Ooni Karu 16 review, we share the ins and outs of actually using this pizza oven.

Here you’ll learn all about the different fuel options you’ll have available with the Karu, what it’s like to make pizza dough, which accessories you really need, and, if the 16″ upgrade is worth the extra money.

Before I get too hungry, let’s jump on in.

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Table of Contents

The Quick Version of the Ooni Karu 16 Review

Never did I ever think that I could love a pizza oven as much as I do the Ooni Karu 16.

Well, I guess it’s not really the pizza oven I’m in love with, it’s the pizza. It’s really amazingly good! And, I’m no crash hot pizza chef. If I can do it on an Ooni, so can you.

When it comes to the Ooni Karu 16, you are buying the biggest and the bestest Ooni.

And, while an Ooni isn’t the most expensive at home pizza oven on the market, the quality of the build is exceptional.

From the insulated, powder-coated carbon steel shell to the 0.6″ thick cordierite pizza stone, to the built-in thermometer and the ViewFlame™ glass oven door, the Ooni Karu 16 really is premium. And, considering all of that, the price tag, we feel, is very reasonable.

prosciutto pizza on the Ooni Karu 16

When you’re cooking with the Ooni Karu 16 out of the box, you’ll have a choice of either using small hardwood pieces for high-heat Neapolitan pizza, and/or, lump charcoal for a lower and slower temperature.

If you want the convenience of gas, you can grab either the propane tank gas attachment or the natural gas attachment for a quick and easy mid-week meal.

But, because you’ve got the added flexibility of choosing your fuel plus the temperature gauge and the glass door, the Karu 16 can accurately be described as an outdoor pizza oven.

And, it’s easily the best oven in Ooni’s range for cooking things other than pizza like steak, fish, vegetables and desserts while still being great for pizza too!

Whichever type of fuel you choose, the Karu 16 heats up to pizza temperatures in just 15 minutes. Then, it literally takes 60 seconds to turn out a beautifully crisped pizza base with well-cooked toppings and perfectly melted pizza.

The 16 inch size is great for larger families or anyone who likes to entertain on the regular (yes, all of your friends and family will be requesting pizza nights at your house).

But, the Karu 16 is definitely not what I’d call easily portable. It’s best set up as a permanent backyard feature.

Equally great for a fast mid-week meal as it is for a long drawn out weekend pizza making session, you’ll never be tempted to get pizza take out again. Your Ooni Karu pizza will just be too good!

A Bit About the Ooni Karu 16

Selling beside Ooni’s wood pellet fired Fyra and the purely propane powered Ooni Koda, the Karu 16 is the larger version of Ooni’s multi-fuel pizza oven for people who want flexibility and authenticity when it comes to cooking pizza at home.

Out of the box, the Ooni Karu 16 runs off of either small, kiln dried hardwood logs or lump charcoal.

The hardwood is best for creating the high heat environment you need for cooking pizzas while the charcoal gives a lower and more stable heat that’s ideal for cooking everything else. You can also use a combination of both.

But, you can also hook up to a propane tank or natural gas with the optional attachment that’s sold separately for a fast and convenient mid-week meal.

There’s a lot this not just a pizza oven can really do.

Ooni Karu 16

Designed by the husband and wife team, Kristian Tapaninaho and Darina Garland, these two set out to create an exceptionally great pizza oven that’s also affordable, high quality and easy to use.

No easy feat right? But, Kristian and Darina have done just that. And, the popularity of these ovens proves it.

Since their startup, Ooni (which was originally called Uuni) have won so many awards on their way to growing into a worldwide company.

One of the latest is that this model, the Ooni Karu 16 was named as the first pizza oven that’s ever been recommended for domestic use by the very prestigious international authority on true Neapolitan pizza, the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana.

So, see, Ooni’s legit and it’s not just us who ramble on about how absolutely amazing they are.

The question isn’t should you get an Ooni, it’s just which Ooni is right for your backyard?!?

Features of the Ooni Karu 16 Multi-Fuel Pizza Oven

Construction

  • Powder-coated carbon steel shell
  • Ceramic fiber-insulated body
  • 0.6″ (15mm) cordierite stone baking board
  • Hinged, glass oven door

Ease of Use

Included Extras

  • 60 day great pizza guarantee

Unboxing and Setting Up the Ooni Karu 16

If you’re even a little concerned about getting an Ooni shipped to you, don’t be. They’re so well packaged!

Here’s how ours arrived. Double boxed with everything packaged so tightly inside.

Ooni Karu 16 Double Box Packaging
Opening Up the Ooni Karu 16

Compared to the rest of the Ooni range, setting up the Karu 16 takes a little longer because there’s more parts.

We’re talking about maybe 10-15 minutes until your Karu is on the table and ready to be burnt in.

You’ll pull the body out, fold the legs up, insert the pizza stones, place the firebox, chimney and fuel door then screw on the glass front door and built-in thermometer.

Absolutely everything you need for the setup is included with the Karu 16. You won’t need a screwdriver or batteries for the thermometer. They’ve made setup super easy.

Unboxing the Ooni Karu 16

Before you start making your first pizza, Ooni do recommend seasoning it to burn off any not so nice stuff left over from manufacturing.

To do this, you’ll simply run the Karu at high for about 30 minutes. Then, wait for it to cool down, wipe the interior out with a dry cloth or paper towels and you can fire it up again.

Because the oven has to cool down before you wipe it out and cook, do the burn in well before dinner time! You could even go and start making your first batch of pizza dough while the oven cools down to keep you busy.

Our glass door got really blackened during the burn in. It’s never happened since. But, goes to show how important that first heat up is!

Construction and Build-Quality

The black shell of the Ooni Karu 16 is powder-coated carbon steel. The silver parts are stainless steel. And, there’s actually ceramic fiber insulation for superior heat retention inside the walls too.

Ooni Karu 16 Powder-Coated Carbon and Stainless Steel Body

Resistant to the ultra high heat you’ll be exposing it to, and, durable enough to handle if you’re moving your oven in and out of the garage, the body of the Karu 16 doesn’t just look good, it serves it’s purpose really well.

There’s no issues with paint flaking or discoloration. With a simple wipe down every now and then, your Karu 16 should be looking just as good in a few years as it does when it’s new.

While the smaller Ooni Karu 12 has an insulated stainless steel door, the larger Karu 16 that you’re looking at has the full glass door. But, you won’t be losing a heap of heat through there either.

Ooni have really focused in creating a well-insulated front panel with what they’ve trademarked as ViewFlame™ technology.

And, no, the door doesn’t fog or smoke up while you’re cooking. You’ll have good visibility to see exactly what’s going on inside your oven at all times.

Unlike the rest of the Ooni pizza ovens with doors, the Karu 16’s door doesn’t come fully off. Instead it’s hinged just like a regular oven door. So, you don’t need to hook it onto the body like you do with the Fyra or set it down on a table like with the Karu 12.

Inside the Karu 16 you’ve got 2 x 0.6″ (15mm) thick cordiertie pizza stones.

The reason for there being two is so that they fit the angled back section of the Karu 16 without being an awkwardly large and heavy stone that’s more likely to get broken.

But, if you’re not familiar with different types of pizza stones, cordiertie is one of, if not the best material you can get for a pizza stone. It’s really durable, heats up quickly, and, most importantly, cooks your pizza very evenly from the bottom up.

A couple of other things to mention about the build quality of the Ooni Karu 16 are that the handles don’t get hot to touch. They’re made from glass-reinforced nylon and stay cool despite the insanely high temperature’s you’ll have going on inside your Karu.

To adjust the temperature, you’ve also got a simple levered damper inside the chimney. It’s a basic design but works effectively to reduce or raise the temperature if you need to.

Heat Controlling Damper Inside the Ooni Karu 16s Chimney

And lastly, the Karu 16’s stainless steel firebox is great quality.

There’s nothing complicated about this part either. The firebox simply sits on top of the rear pizza stone where it can be fed through the rear fuel door. But, after a lot of use, there’s absolutely no warping, twisting or damage to it.

Ooni Karu 16 Stainless Steel Firebox

Ooni have really done an excellent job of building such a high quality pizza oven for the price, even when you’re looking at the top of the line Karu 16.

Fuel Options with the Multi-Fuel Ooni Karu 16

If you buy just the Ooni Karu 16, you can use either kiln dried hardwood and/or charcoal in it.

Keep in mind that when you’re doing pizzas, as per the Karu 16 Essentials Guide, you will need at least some wood because it’s the wood that helps to achieve those ultra high Napolitan pizza temperatures while also giving you the best flame to roll across the top of your pizza, cooking the toppings and melting that cheese perfectly.

Using charcoal in the Karu 16 is idea for creating a more steady, even temperature. So, it’s best to use when you’re cooking things other than your Neapolitan pizza including bread, meat or deeper-dish pizzas that need a slightly longer cook time.

Then, as you can see from the chart above, you can also use gas to fuel the Karu 16.

You do need to buy the gas burner which is sold separately. So, it will add a bit of expense to your total purchase price. But, using the gas burner is the easiest and fastest way to cook a pizza on an Ooni.

Gas Burner Attachment for the Ooni Karu 16

You can reach those maximum temperatures you need for Neapolitan pizzas. But, it’s so easy to crank the gas lower for slower cooking too.

If you are interested in buying the gas burner to go with your Ooni Karu 16, it’s now available in two options – the Propane Tank Gas Burner Adapter and the Natural Gas Burner Adapter.

Whichever way you go, to set up the gas option, you simply remove the firebox, unscrew the draft defender plate from the back of the Karu 16 and slot the gas burner in, replacing the two screws.

Ooni Karu 16 Propane Gas Tank Adapter

It doesn’t take long.

But, do be aware that if you want to swap between the gas and solid fuel options, you do need to change out this back piece and replace the firebox every time. Using the gas isn’t as simple as just plugging in a bottle.

What Wood is Best To Use In The Ooni Karu 16?

To create those high temperatures and powerful rolling flames you’ll want for 60 second pizza, you will need small hardwood logs, not wood chips to burn in your Karu 16.

Ooni recommend using kiln-dried beech or oak for the cleanest burn (they sell this too).

We have used other types of locally available wood without any problems.

But, it is essential to ALWAYS AVOID using toxic, treated or painted wood and best not to use wood that’s got a high resin content like pine or spruce. These may add a bitter taste to your pizza.

As for what sized logs to use in the Karu 16, Ooni recommend pieces that are about 8 inches or 20cm long.

Having some smaller pieces does make it easier to get the fire going though. So, try to get a bit of a mix, like is available in Ooni’s Premium Assorted Oak Box for the Karu 16, and you’ll be well set up to use your Karu 16.

If you are buying wood for your Ooni Karu, another brand we rate is Cutting Edge Firewood.

They’re a bit more expensive than Ooni’s hardwood. But, it’s sustainably sourced, 8 inch long hand selected piece oak that is available at a discount on subscribe and save.

A great Amazon alternative is the Smoak Firewood 8 inch Mini Splits. It’s USDA Certified as kiln dried red oak and works so well in the Karu 16.

Can You Use Wood Chips in Ooni Karu?

To cook authentically wood-fired pizza in the Karu 16, you do need small hardwood logs. This will create the best heat and flames for optimal cooking.

But, if you’re using charcoal, you can throw some wood chips in to add a smoky flavor.

How Much Wood Does the Karu 16 Use?

I’m actually pretty surprised at how little wood the Karu 16 uses considering that the oven is pretty big, and, you’re running it really really hot for pizza.

Exactly much wood you use will depend on what type of wood you’re burning, how long you’re running it for, and, how many pizzas you’re making.

Wood only fire in the Ooni Karu 16

10 to 15 x 8 inch sticks of hardwood will see us through the 15 minute heat up and making 4 large 16 inch pizzas without rushing.

We do try to get them through there quickly but the oven is on for a while between each pizza as we prep the next one.

Your heaviest wood usage will be right at the start when you’ll load 3-6 pieces plus a firestarter onto the grate. From then on, you’ll add wood one piece at a time to keep the fire going steadily without overfilling the firebox.

Is The Karu's Multi-Fuel Capability The Best Ooni For Me?

Burning wood and/or charcoal in the Ooni Karu 16 takes more work and is more time consuming than using either the gas-powered Ooni Koda or the pellet-fired Ooni Fyra.

You will have to add another stick of wood or another piece of charcoal every few minutes as needed. But, you will be standing nearby because making pizza is pretty hands on anyway. So, I don’t really find it that much of a hassle.

Wood Sitting Beside the Ooni Karu 16

If you’re alright with needing to tend to the fire, the Karu is a great oven and it’s the only Ooni that will give you the extra flexibility of being able to do lower and slower temperatures with charcoal or quick and easy propane cooking.

The Karu 16 is also the only Ooni that lets you cook with real wood logs. Yes, the Fyra is wood fired too. But, some people feel like using wood pellets is cheating a little and would prefer the real deal.

Lighting the Ooni Fyra 12

The other thing to consider with the Karu 16 is that if you were hoping to use your own free wood, or, make it cheaper by sourcing larger firewood chunks and splitting them into smaller pieces, you will have quite a bit of work to do to prep and dry your kindling.

You will save a lot of money. And really, what’s better than a free to run pizza oven?!? But, it’s just something to consider before you buy, the Ooni Karu 16 does require more time investment than the Koda or the Fyra.

So, if you don’t mind the extra time commitment and attention that the Karu 16 does need, it’s the best Ooni pizza oven for people who:

  • Want to cook more than just pizza – the Karu 16 is pretty much an outdoor oven and is the best Ooni setup for doing things other than pizza (the pizza is still unbelievably great too!)
  • Like to have the greatest control over temperature by being able to change your fuel mix depending on what you’re cooking
  • Can source their own hardwood for free
  • Live somewhere that’s windy – The glass door protects the gas fire from blowing out unlike the Koda which has an open front
  • Value cooking authentically wood fired pizza the real Neapolitan way

If you do want a less time consuming way to cook wood-fired pizza, read about our experience with the pellet-fired Ooni Fyra as well. And, our comparison of the Ooni Fyra vs Karu.

Ooni Fyra vs Karu

It’s only available in the 12 inch size at this time. But, the gravity fed hopper means you load up the pellets and get about 20 minutes of cook time before you simply pour more in.

We regularly use the Ooni Fyra 12 as well as the Ooni Karu 16. It’s an awesome oven.

And, if you were interested in the Ooni Karu 16 because it can do gas but you don’t think you’ll really use the hardwood or charcoal fuel options, the Koda 16 is a cheaper oven that will work with either bottled propane out of the box, or, natural gas with the right attachment.

We’ve reviewed that one too. And, written a comparison of the Ooni Koda vs Karu as well.

Capacity

The Ooni Karu 16 can cook pizzas that are up to 16 inches wide.

You can always do smaller. But, a 16 inch pizza is about a large or an extra large at Papa Johns or other takeout restaurant.

16 Inch Double Cheese Pizza Ready for the Ooni Karu 16

One batch of Ooni’s Quick Dough (our go-to) makes 4 x 16 inch pizzas. If we’re entertaining, we’ll just do a double batch of dough and cook 8 pizzas.

But, the all important question, how much does 1 x 16 inch pizza feed? Well, that’s of course going to depend on your appetite.

You can easily cut one pizza into 12 slices. And, for us, 4 x 16 inch pizzas usually feeds 2 adults and 3 kids who are big eaters with a few leftover slices to eat cold the next day.

Is Ooni Karu 16 Too Big?

One slightly annoying thing about the larger Ooni Karu 16 is that if you do big pizzas, they won’t fit on your regular sized cutting board or plate.

16 Inch Pizza on Regularly Sized Cutting Board

You can get 16 inch cutting and serving peels from Ooni. You will need a few if you want to serve all your pizzas up at once.

We honestly just make do without a set of larger things. But, buying a larger cutting board is on my to-get list. It will make pizza nights easier.

As for if the pizzas from the Ooni Karu 16 are too large, after having used both the 12 inch and the 16 inch versions, it’s easier and quite a bit faster to cook for a family or more with the larger size.

Ooni 12 inch vs 16 inch pizza peels

One batch of Ooni Quick Dough makes 6 x 12 inch pizzas while you’ll only have to cook 4 x 16 inch pizzas to make the same amount of pizza.

So, that’s 2 less pizza doughs to stretch, top and cook. It doesn’t sound like that much of a time saving but I’ve noticed it does make a difference.

Cooking on the Ooni Karu 16

Just so you know where we’re coming from experience-wise, we had never stretched dough or cooked a pizza on a pizza oven before buying our first Ooni, the Koda 12.

Topping a pre-made base and throwing it in a regular oven was as much as we’d ever done. And, no matter what you do, a homemade oven pizza can only ever be so good…

So, although we’ve got quite a bit of experience now, we were absolute beginners when we started our journey. And, if you are too, it’s all good.

An Ooni is the perfect oven for a beginner Pizzaiolo. With not that much practice, you’ll be making INCREDIBLE pizza too.

Absolutely honestly, it tastes so so so good!!

Pepperoni Pizza Cooked on the Ooni Karu 16

Making and Stretching Your Pizza Dough

Before you get started making a pizza on the Karu 16, you’ll need to either make yourself some dough or buy some.

We almost always follow Ooni’s Quick Dough recipe. It’s never let us down yet and only takes an hour including rising time! But, Ooni have so many different types of dough recipes, and, you can choose from any of them.

Pizza Dough Ready for the Ooni Karu 16

Alternatively, you can buy pre-made dough.

We’ve just bought pre-made, rolled out bases to use in the Ooni before. And, while they do taste a lot better than if you just cooked them up in your regular oven, actually rolling out fresh dough (store bought or home made) makes a huge difference in taking your pizza from ordinary to incredible.

If you’ve never made a dough before but want to give it a try, it’ll probably take you a few goes to get the hang of both making it and stretching it out.

Use a mixer or a food processor with a dough attachment if you’ve got one to save on the manual work. But, you can totally make dough for your Ooni by hand, kneeding it and leaving it to rise. You don’t need anything fancy.

When it comes to stretching out your dough, Ooni won’t leave you in the dark on that too.

Check out the video below to learn how to stretch out your pizza dough. Ooni have made it fun and easy to remember the steps.

Give it a go! You won’t regret it.

Lighting the Ooni Karu 16

Once you’re dough is good to go and you’ve decided on which fuel to use, you’ll get the fire going in your Ooni Karu 16.

If you’re cooking with hardwood only, you’ll grab 3-6 pieces of dried hardwood with a natural firestarter. Choosing a more natural firestarter is important in your Ooni so that you avoid any chemicals that could leech into the pizza stone, contaminating and damaging it.

Starting a hardwood fire in the Ooni Karu 16

You can also use an electric firestarter with the Karu 16 too. These ones are our favorites.

If you’re using lump charcoal only or a charcoal and hardwood combination, start with 1-2 pieces of charcoal and a natural or electric firestarter.

You’ll need to wait until the charcoal pieces are white with a glowing red center before you start cooking.

Then, you can add a small piece of kindling a couple of minutes before you’re ready to put your first pizza in. This will help the flame roll through the cooking chamber which is exactly what you want.

And, if you’re using the optional gas adapter, once it’s set up with a bottle or the natural gas line correctly hooked up, light it just like you would any regular gas barbecue.

Once the fire is lit, press the button to turn on the built-in temperature gauge and give it around about 15 minutes to heat up.

You’ll want to see the temperature hit around at least 750°F before you launch your first pizza.

Ready to Cook Pizza In the Ooni Karu 16

Launching Your Pizza Into the Ooni Karu 16

Once you’re up to temperature, you’ll be ready to stretch out that pizza dough and put whatever toppings you’d like on it.

To get your pizza in there, also called launching your pizza, you will absolutely need a pizza peel.

A pizza peel is basically a big metal paddle with a handle on it. And, the 16 inch one is the right size to make the largest pizza you can in the Karu 16.

Ooni 16 Inch Pizza Peel for Launching Pizzas

To launch your pizza, you’ll slide the peel under your topped dough (it’ll have semolina or flour under there to prevent sticking).

Then, you sort of use a flinging action of pushing the paddle into the Karu 16 and pulling it back quickly, leaving your pizza perfectly positioned in the oven and your paddle empty.

Launching a Pizza into the Ooni Karu 16

Now, that makes it sound much harder than it really is I must admit!

Launching might take you a few practices (and we still mess it up very occassionally). But, Ooni has a great guide on how to launch your pizza plus a video showing the whole process.

You can totally do it!

Turning Your Pizza

You might have noticed that, just like all pizza ovens, the fire in any Ooni is located right at the back of the unit.

This means that you’ll have to rotate your pizza while it’s cooking to get the toppings evenly cooked all over.

The easiest way to do this is to grab yourself an Ooni turning peel (the only other accessory apart from a peel that we’d say is essential).

Then, you simply open the Karu 16’s door, slide your peel underneath one side and use it to turn and pull your pizza around so that the less cooked side is now at the back in the hottest area.

Turning a Pizza in the Ooni Karu 16

In the Ooni Karu 16, we usually do 3 turns per pizza, leaving it for about 20 seconds before moving it each time.

20 seconds x 3 sides literally equals 60 seconds. And, that’s it, your pizza will be cooked and ready to eat in Ooni’s stated 60 seconds.

Because the oven and your stone are so hot, it really is that quick to cook.

Keeping the Ooni Karu 16 Hot

Like we’ve already mentioned, cooking with hardwood or lump charcoal on the Ooni Karu 16 isn’t set and forget.

You’ll have to keep an eye on how the fire is going and add more wood and/or charcoal throughout the cook to keep your temperature steady and those flames rolling through the cooking chamber as they should.

To do that, aim to top up little but often.

That looks like adding a piece of wood or charcoal every few minutes when the flame decreases a little but well before your fuel has burnt to embers. Check out the image below.

Ooni Karu 16 Fire Ready for More Fuel

With either fuel option, make sure there’s still good airflow through the firebox by making sure you don’t overfill it.

If you are using the Ooni Karu 16 with the gas adapter, you won’t need to worry about maintaining your fire.

It is simply set and forget and can be great to have the simple option when you’re entertaining and could be distracted chatting and drinking a cold one.

Finishing Your Ooni Karu 16 Multifuel Pizza

Then, you’ll grab your pizza peel again (the one you used for launching) and use it to grab your cooked pizza out.

Getting Pizza Out of the Ooni Karu 16

So, What Does Ooni Karu 16 Pizza Actually Taste Like?

In all of the marketing Ooni do set the expectation really high that you will be making AMAZING pizza at home.

And, I’ve got to say, there’s absolutely no way that they’re exaggerating!

Ooni pizza is incredible! Like the best pizza of my life incredible and I love pizza. There’s no way I’m buying takeout pizza again after owning an Ooni.

Meat Pizza Cooked on the Ooni Karu 16

Yes, making pizza on the Karu 16 isn’t as fast as ordering takeout. But, it tastes so so so much better, it costs a lot less, and, the whole pizza making experience is pretty fun.

If you make the Neapolitan style pizza you’ll see in most Ooni photos (including ours), the bases are light and crispy without being like a cracker. The toppings are well-cooked and the cheese perfectly melted.

And, because you’re in charge of cooking it, if you like a slightly softer base or crispier cheese, you can cook it a little longer or shorter to get it just the way you want it.

Ham Pineapple and Pepperoni Pizza Cooked on the Ooni Karu 16

But, Neapolitan isn’t the only type of pizza you can make on the Ooni Karu 16.

If you prefer Chicago deep dish, you can do that too, Detroit-style pizza, definitely, or even mix it up with something different like a Sourdough base.

All you need to do is follow a different base recipe and you can create just what you want on the Karu 16.

Wondering how smoky your Karu 16 wood-fired pizza will taste?

While you definitely get a little smokiness from using all hardwood, the pizza is only in there for about 60 seconds so don’t expect a hugely strong smoked flavor.

Cooking pizza with wood is so good because you can get such high tepmeratures but it won’t taste overwhelmingly smoky.

What Else Can You Cook in the Ooni Karu 16?

You can use any of the Ooni pizza ovens to cook a lot of food besides from just pizza. But, the Karu 16 is our favorite of the Ooni ovens for cooking other things.

Because of the full glass door, built-in temperature gauge and the ability to use different types of fuels which can be set to different temperatures more easily, the Karu 16 really is like an outdoor oven. It’s multi-fuel, multi-option for sure.

So, what’s good in the Karu 16?

You can sear up a steak, wood-fire a piece of salmon, roast some vegetables or bake just about anything you can think of including flatter style breads and a whole heap of desserts… Check out this Apple and Pear Crumble cooked on the Ooni Karu 16!

But, before you go crazy grilling and baking a whole heap of things, just be aware that you do need to use a cast iron pan in the Ooni Karu 16 if you’re cooking things that don’t have a bread base.

Putting a more wet food like a raw steak onto the cordierite pizza stone will allow it to absorb too much liquid, causing it to absorb unwanted flavor and odour and potentially crack.

Ooni do sell a great range of cast iron ware that’s got longer handles for easier access when you’re cooking other things in their ovens. You can also use your own.

Portability

The Ooni brand have established themselves as a portable pizza oven brand.

But, if you read carefully, the words portable disappear from the larger 16 inch pizza oven listings. And, instead of being able to buy a carry case for the oven, you can now get a cover.

So, is the Karu 16 still a portable pizza oven?

There are elements of it that definitely are.

You rotate the chimney to remove it fully and fold down the legs to minimize the body space. There’s no power cords and you can take the fuel with you easily, no matter which fuel you’re choosing to use.

So, you 100% can pick up and put the Karu 16 in the back of your car or pickup truck to take it anywhere with you.

But, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

The Karu 16 weighs a significant 62.6 lbs (that’s 28.4 kg). And, it’s pretty bulky with the body alone being 32″ long (81.5cm) and 19.6″ wide (50cm). Not to mention the fact that the built-in temperature gauge sticks down, getting in the way of being able to sit the oven flat if you fold the legs in.

So, while you can move it, I wouldn’t recommend buying the Karu 16 if you’re primarily looking for a portable pizza oven.

The smaller and lighter Karu 12 is defnitely easily portable. But, the Karu 16 is best left set up outdoors where you cook your pizzas.

Optional Extras Available for the Ooni Karu 16

If you’re an accessory person, you’ll be delighted with the huge range of accessories you can get for the Ooni Karu 16.

Like the oven itself, the accessories are great quality, and, are very functionally designed to make pizza making easier and more fun.

The large modular table is an add-on that I would recommend unless you’ve already got a good and wide table to set your Karu 16 up on. The oven itself is very deep so it won’t fit on a standard 23″ (60cm) deep bench and it’s nice to have a permanent spot to put this beast.

Apart from that, the oven brush is great for cleaning and the topping station makes pizza parties that much easier and more fun.

One other Karu 16 accessory that’s worth mentioning because it sort of looks like you need it, is the pizza door.

Now, you can only use the letterbox style pizza door if you’re using the oven with a gas attachment.

Having the open front will mess with the natural pattern of the flames rolling through the cooking chamber if you’re using wood or charcoal.

But, if you do like the look of this add-on, the pizza door makes it that much easier and faster to whip a pizza in, turn it and out again.

Check out the video below for a good look at what extras you can get for your Ooni Karu 16.

On the other side of the table, if you want to get an Ooni but you’re a bit put off thinking that you’ll have to spend a small fortune on all the add-ons, we’re here to tell you, you don’t.

You will need a pizza peel to launch and remove your pizzas from the oven. And, a turning peel makes cooking easier. But, the regular peel is all that you absolutely need to cook on your Karu 16.

I’m sure you’ve already got a cutting board and a knife you can use to cut your pizzas so you’re good to go without all that extra expense.

Is the Gas Burner Included With the Ooni Karu 16?

No, the propane tank gas burner and natural gas adapter do not come with the Ooni Karu 16.

Out of the box you can cook on the Karu 16 with hardwood and/or charcoal. But, if you do want the gas capability, you’ll need to grab one separately.

What We Got - Ooni Karu 16, Ooni Gas Adapter, 16 Inch Peel

Warranty

The Ooni Karu 16 comes with a 1 year warranty. But, if you register online within 60 days of buying it, Ooni will extend that warranty out to an impressive 5 years.

We have actually had a small warranty claim with one of our Ooni ovens (not the Karu). Ooni were amazing to deal with and replaced the part quickly and easily without needing one hundred questions answered and photographs sent in.

As a result of that dealing, I feel confident in the warranty cover and also reassured that this oven should last well provided that you look after it which we’ll cover right about now…

Cleaning the Ooni Karu 16

It’s actually impressive how little ash the Ooni Karu 16 produces.

The picture below was all the ash leftover from one cook.

Ash from the Ooni Karu 16 After One Cook

You should still empty the firetray after each cook to maximize airflow and just keep everything in good knick.

Always make sure the ash is 100% cold before emptying it into the bin. I tend to empty before I do the next cook instead of after I’ve finished the last one to make sure it’s cold.

As for the pizza stone itself, you don’t need to do much very often to maintain it.

If there’s any stuck on debris, simply run the oven at high heat to burn off any residue. Then, use a spatula or the Ooni Pizza Oven Brush to scrape off any excess.

You can also do the same to burn off and remove anything that’s stuck to the inside of the oven itself.

But, whatever you do, never submerge the pizza stone in water or try to wash it!

The pizza stone will absorb water which will cause it to crack and a cracked stone is no good to use anymore.

You can also flip the pizza stone periodically so that it wears evenly from both sides. Doing so will prolong it’s life. But, you should get many years out of your high quality Ooni stone anyway.

Pros and Cons of the Ooni Karu 16

Ooni Karu 16 Side View

What We Like About the Ooni Karu 16

  • The pizza is INCREDIBLE!
  • The choice of fuel gives you more power to control how hot or not you want to run your oven
  • The easiest Ooni pizza oven to cook things other than pizza
  • Well insulated body plus full glass door means it’s pretty much an outdoor oven
  • Built-in temperature gauge gives constant feedback to really hone in on the best temperature for what you’re cooking
  • Great quality build
  • Looks awesome set up in any backyard

What We Don't Like About the Ooni Karu 16

  • If you want to swap between the wood/charcoal and gas setups, you need to add/remove the firebox and back plate to screw in the new part. It’s not super quick
  • Cooking with hardwood and/or charcoal requires you to add more fuel frequently. It’s not as set and forget as the Koda or Fyra
  • It’s huge and heavy so we feel that the Karu 16 isn’t really portable and you don’t want to be moving it in and out of your garage either

Our Verdict on the Ooni Karu 16 Review

Pizza Fresh Off the Ooni Karu 16

After a few months of using it, we do have to say that the Karu 16 is our favorite pizza oven in Ooni’s range.

This oven really has everything you need to make legit, INCREDIBLE pizza at home.

The larger 16 inch size is perfect for families and entertaining. The full glass door gives you a complete picture of what’s going on inside leaving nothing to chance. And, the built-in temperature gauge gives you that feedback you need to nail whatever it is you’re cooking.

We love that you’ve got choice when it comes to your fuel.

Most of the time we use ours to do pizzas with pure hardwood. But, the charcoal is definitely an easier and not so hot fuel to work with for those times you want to use the oven to cook something other than pizza.

We do have the propane gas adapter for the Ooni Karu 16 as well. It definitely comes in handy for those times we just want a quick pizza fix or don’t have wood prepped.

And, although the Karu 16 is the most expensive oven in Ooni’s range, we still feel like the value is right on up there! The build quality is seriously impressive, and, it’s got the warranty to back it.

Perfect for people who want the extra flexibility that the multi-fuel design gives. Or, those who want to know they’re doing Neapolitan the proper way, the Karu 16 makes an awesome addition to any backyard.

Whether it’s family pizza nights, kids parties, or to share with some mates over a beer, the Ooni Karu 16 sure will get a good run for the money.

It’s hands down, as Ooni promised, AMAZING pizza.

What Other Pizza Ovens Should I Consider?

When it comes to pizza ovens for your backyard, we really believe that Ooni is the best out there!

They’re so well made, cook incredible pizza, look really stylish, and, are a great price compared to the competition.

So, if after reading this Ooni Karu 16 review, you’re thinking that this isn’t the right oven for you, we’re not going to suggest you move to another brand, just look at the rest of Ooni’s range

Think you’ll only really use the propane or natural gas function with the Karu 16?

Save some money and grab the Koda 16 instead.

Double Cheese Pizza Cooked on the Ooni Koda 16

Do you like the sound of the Karu 16 but think it’s a bit too big, too expensive, or, you wanted something more easily portable?

Check out the Karu 12, we review it here.

Double Cheese Pizza on the Ooni Karu 12

Like the idea of a real wood fired pizza, but, want something that’s not quite so hands on?

The Ooni Fyra gives you a legit wood fired pizza. But, being pellets, you simply fill the gravity-fed hopper to get about 20 minutes of cook time before you need to refill.

Ooni-Fyra-Cooking-Pizza

The only downside to the Fyra is Ooni only make it in a 12 inch model at this stage.

Read our full Fyra 12 review here.

We’ve also done in-depth comparisons of the Ooni range as well.

Check out our Ooni Karu vs Fyra comparison.

Here’s our Ooni Karu vs Koda comparison.

And, if the Karu’s completely not for you, our Ooni Koda vs Fyra comparison.

Whichever you end up choosing, you, your family and your friends are going to love your Ooni pizza!

Specs for the Ooni Karu 16 Multi-Fuel Pizza Oven

Barbecue type: Charcoal/hardwood pizza oven

Barbecue material: Insulated, powder-coated carbon and stainless steel shell

Stone material: 0.6″ (15mm) cordierite

Cooking capacity: 1 x 16″ pizza

Heat Range: Up to 950°F

Fuel type: Hardwood, charcoal or gas with correct attachment (sold separately)

Price guide: $$$

Model: Karu 16

Assembled size (in): 33 H x 32 D x 20 W (50 x 81.5 x 83.7 cm)

Weight: 62.6 lbs (28.4 kg)

Warranty: 1 year that is extended to 5 with registration

FAQs About the Ooni Karu 16 Multi-Fuel

We’re not going to sugar coat it, the step up to the Karu 16 from the rest of the Ooni range is steep. There’s just a lot more to this pizza oven. And, is it worth it?

After holding off on buying one for a long time, we have to say yes, the Karu 16 is worth the extra money! Not only do you get a larger pizza oven which cuts your total cook time down, it’s so easy having the full glass door and the temperature gauge so you can keep a close eye on things.

But, if the Ooni Karu 16 is out of your price range, remember that a Karu 16 pizza tastes no better than a Karu 12 pizza or any other oven in the range. They all make incredible pizza. I’d just say that the Karu 16 is that much easier to use, and, is a more flexible outdoor oven.

A pizza cooked on the Ooni Karu 16 tastes exactly the same as one cooked on the Ooni Karu 12.

You’ve got exactly the same fuel options and flexibility when it comes to cooking.

The only ways that the Karu 16 is better than the Karu 12 is that one, you’ve got a bigger pizza (if you need bigger that is), two, the full glass door is easier to use than the solid door on the Karu 12, and three, the built in temperature gauge makes it that much easier to not only cook pizza, but, cook other things as well.

These added features do make the Ooni Karu 16 better than the smaller Karu 12. But, whether the larger oven is right for you will depend on what you need and your budget.

The Ooni Karu 12 is a great pizza oven too! Read our full Karu 12 review.

You can pretty much grill, sear, roast or bake anything inside the Ooni Karu 16.

With the full glass door and built-in temeprature gauge, it’s like an outdoor oven.

Steak turns out great as does fish, vegetables, other types of breads and desserts.

Just remember that to cook anything other than a bread based meal in the Ooni Karu 16, you do need cast iron wear to protect your pizza stone from damage (it doesn’t have to be Ooni’s).

So, instead of placing say a steak directly on your stone, you place it in a cast iron pan which then sits inside your oven.

Preheating the pan beforehand will let your food cook from both sides as well.

Yes, Ooni do state that you can store the Karu 16 outside all year long.

It comes with a chimney cap to prevent water from getting inside your oven when it’s not in use.

But, as with all outdoor cookwear, it will always last longer if you use a cover or store it undercover. So, I do recommend grabbing an Ooni Karu 16 cover to protect your investment if you want to leave it outside when you’re not using it.

Yes, I have used the Ooni Karu 16 in light rain before.

Cooking pizza in the rain is not ideal though. While your oven can handle a little bit of water, your pizza will get wet. So, yes, you can cook on your Karu 16 in the rain but let’s hope for better pizza weather!

The first difference between the Ooni Karu 12 and the Karu 16 is that the Karu 12 is made with a stainless steel shell while the Karu 16 is made from a powder-coated carbon shell.

This doesn’t affect their function, both ovens are insulated for optimal heat retention. It’s a looks based thing and some people prefer one over the other.

Next, the Karu 16 has a full, hinged glass door while the Karu 12 has a solid stainless steel door that you cannot see through. It’s also not hinged but there is a hook that you can use to hang the door on when you’re launching and turning your pizza.

And, lastly, the Karu 16 has a built-in temperature gauge which isn’t on the Karu 12.

This gives you a constant reading of the internal temperature of your pizza oven. To see how hot your Karu 12 is running, you need an infrared thermometer to take a reading.

The three different types of fuel you can use in the Ooni Karu 16 are hardwood, lump charcoal or gas (propane or natural), with the correct gas attachment which are both sold separately.

You’ll need to use small, dried hardwood logs or kindling in the Ooni Karu 16. The ideal length is about 8 inches or 20 cm long.

Ooni recommend kiln-dried beech or oak because it burns hot and cleanly for minimal ash production.

But, any type of wood with a LOW resin content will work fine in the Karu 16. Just be sure that you NEVER use painted or treated wood that will give off toxic fumes as it burns.

It takes about 15 minutes for the Karu 16 to reach the ideal temperature to cook Neapolitan pizzas.

One pizza takes around about 60 seconds to cook in the Ooni Karu 16. It runs HOT and cooks from both the bottom and the top so it’s in, out and ready to eat really quickly.

The door should be closed on the Ooni Karu 16 unless you’re taking your food in or out. This helps to keep the heat where you want it while minimizing running costs.

The Pro is Ooni’s earlier, now discontinued version of the Ooni Karu 16.

The Karu 16 has improved heat retention, a single piece pizza stone, heats up faster, a built-in temperature gauge, and improved airflow control.

Kate Brown, the founder and voice behind Burning Brisket, is not your typical pitmaster or restaurateur. Her expertise in barbecue grew from a humble desire to cook exceptional meals for her family. From overcoming burnt brisket mishaps to establishing her boutique cattle ranch, Kate shares her passion to help 'ordinary' individuals cook extraordinary barbecue, believing that simplicity often yields the best flavors. Kate is committed to making great barbecue accessible to all with the right resources and some tasty practice.

About Burning Brisket

Burning Brisket is one of the leading, independent authorities on all things barbecue. Family-owned and run, it's our mission uncomplicate the art of smoking to help you enjoy making incredible food at home for your family and friends to create memories over.

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