A cooked pizza being slid out of an Ooni pizza oven on a metal peel.Photo: Sarah Kobos
A pizza oven is not an essential item, but it sure is fun to use.

It can also do something your home oven cannot: Reach the blistering-hot temperatures required to bake up the perfect pie.

If you're really into making the best possible pizza at home, the Ooni Koda 16 Gas Powered Pizza Oven is a great portable pizza oven that can help you reach that goal.

After baking 70 pizzas in four outdoor pizza ovens and one indoor countertop oven, we like the Ooni Koda 16 best because it has the biggest baking surface of all the models we tested, as well as superior heat distribution.

Our pick: Ooni Koda 16 Gas Powered Pizza Oven

Ooni Koda 16 Gas Powered Pizza Oven

This conveniently portable outdoor pizza oven lights up with the turn of a dial and can bake an obscene amount of pizzas on one tank of gas.

$596 from Amazon | $599 from Lowe's | $600 from Best Buy

The Ooni Koda 16 is the most convenient and user-friendly portable outdoor pizza oven we tested, and it also bakes up a stellar pie. This 16-inch, propane-fueled oven has the largest baking surface of all the ovens we tested, which allowed us more maneuverability for launching, rotating, and moving the pizza as it baked. And the fact that it uses propane (as opposed to wood pellets, charcoal, or hardwood) means you have a continuous flame as long as there's fuel in the tank. During our tests this past winter, we got the Koda 16 up to 890 degrees Fahrenheit, more than enough heat to bake up a crispy, bubbling pie. At $600 (at this writing), the Koda 16 is an expensive, specialized cooking appliance---you could get a great gas grill that meets more general outdoor-cooking needs for about the same price. But for anyone focused on making great pizza, the Koda 16 works better than a standard grill, and its versatility and ease of use makes it a great value compared with its competitors. If you want to save some money and don't mind sacrificing oven capacity (but still prefer a propane oven), we think the smaller Ooni Koda 12 Gas Powered Pizza Oven, which typically costs about $200 less than the Koda 16, could serve you well---but we haven't tested that model.

Budget pick: Ooni Fyra 12 Wood Pellet Pizza Oven

Ooni Fyra 12 Wood Pellet Pizza Oven

Small but mighty (and blazing hot), this wood-pellet pizza oven bakes perfect pizzas with a hint of smokiness.

$311 from Amazon | $350 from Best Buy | $349 from Ooni

If you want to pay a little less, or if you like being more hands-on with your fuel and want just a touch of smoky flavor (and don't mind dealing with a few quirks), the wood-pellet-fired Ooni Fyra 12 is a good choice. The Fyra gets just as hot and bakes up the same quality pizzas as the Koda 16, but it's about $250 cheaper---and smaller, lighter, and smokier. Instead of propane, the Fyra uses wood pellets (the same ones that fuel pellet grills). One hopperful of pellets equals roughly 15 minutes of cooking time, so if you're baking a lot of pizzas, you'll have to feed that hopper as you go. Compared with the Koda 16, the Fyra's smaller stone and oven opening feels a little more cramped for maneuvering your pizza while it cooks. And, as mentioned above, it has its quirks: The hopper can be prone to jams, and it's normal for flames to shoot out the back of the firebox when you remove the door to launch or rotate the pizza. All that said, it was much easier to get (and keep) a fire going in the Fyra than in the Ooni Karu 12 Multi-Fuel Pizza Oven (which runs on hardwood or lump charcoal), making the Fyra a solid wood-fired pizza oven for the price.

Also great: Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo

Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo

This oven fully preheats in 15 minutes and can cook a pizza in just over 90 seconds. It's the Ferrari of countertop ovens: sleek, expensive, and fast.

$1,000 from Amazon | $1,000 from Williams Sonoma

The Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo is designed and built for one thing: baking pizza. And it does that very well, reaching temperatures of up to 750 °F---way hotter than a home oven. Unlike our portable oven picks, which are meant for the backyard, the Breville Pizzaiolo is an indoor countertop appliance that's loaded with preset cooking functions. It also has precise temperature control, a timer, and included accessories (a metal peel and a deep-dish pizza pan with a detachable handle). At nearly twice the price of the Ooni Koda 16, the Breville Pizzaiolo is a costly specific-use appliance. But if you're really into making awesome pizza at home and don't want an outdoor oven, this is a great option.

Everything we recommend {#everything-we-recommend}

The research

Why you should trust us

Before I became a journalist, I was a cook for almost a decade. And for two and a half years, I spent 10 hours a day maintaining the wood-fired grill at a restaurant. To this day I still love cooking with fire.

Types of pizza ovens

Until recently, if you wanted an oven that could get hot enough to bake a pizzeria-quality pie, you'd have to shell out thousands of dollars and set aside space for a brick oven. But that's not the case anymore. Countertop ovens, such as the Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo, and portable outdoor models from Ooni and Gozney are less expensive, and they don't require permanent residence in your kitchen or on your patio. These models make the idea of better homemade pizza attainable for more folks.
The Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo is the only indoor countertop pizza oven we've tested---we first reviewed it back in 2019. Even though we've found other countertop models in our research, the Breville Pizzaiolo is in a class of its own when it comes to performance and heat output. It's well designed and packed with features, and it excels at its primary function: baking really good homemade pizza. We recommend it if you don't have the patio or yard space for an outdoor oven.
Portable outdoor pizza ovens are precisely what the name implies: small, standalone ovens that can reach the stratospheric temperatures---upwards of 900 °F---needed to bake up a Neapolitan-style pie. These models range in price from around $250 to $600 and up. No matter the maker, most portable pizza ovens have similar bones: wide, low profile, outfitted with a cordierite baking stone (cordierite is a type of ceramic often used to make unglazed pizza stones), and sits on three legs. Fueled by either propane, wood pellets, hardwood, or charcoal, these ovens pump a lot of heat into a short, wide cavity, and the result is a crazy-hot and speedy pizza cooker. Even though they're called portable, they still weigh 30 to 45 pounds---something to consider in terms of storage and mobility constraints. But if you have the outdoor space, they're a more versatile option than the Breville oven thanks to their larger opening, and they can also cost a lot less.

Who this is for

A pizza oven is rarely an essential item. However, you might want one if you're really into making the best possible pizza at home but don't have the budget or space for a backyard brick oven. And if you're ready to up your homemade-pizza game, this will definitely help you do that.
If you've ever tried cooking a pizza in your home oven---even with a pizza stone---the resulting pies probably lacked that perfect balance of crispy, chewy-yet-tender crust that the best pizzerias seem to achieve effortlessly. That's because your home oven tops out at 500 °F (maybe 550 °F, if you're lucky). And that's not hot enough to bake a pizza completely without the crust drying out. However, cooking your pizza between 750 and 800 °F for a couple of minutes yields a pie with puffy edges, leopard-spotted crust, and steamy melted cheese.
These ovens are not magic machines that will turn you into an expert pizzaiolo overnight. A super-hot oven is simply the last crucial step to creating excellent homemade pizza. As many folks reading this might know, your dough (recipe and technique), sauce, and toppings can be just as important as your heat source. And getting it all right takes practice. A couple of my favorite resources include Peter Reinhart's American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza and "How to Make Pizza" from NYT Cooking.
All of our picks are more than capable of baking excellent pizza. The trick is finding the best oven that works for your space and budget. Portable pizza ovens are a better value and more versatile than the Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo, if you have adequate outdoor space that allows for at least 3 feet of clearance around all sides of the oven. However, the Breville is loaded with preset cooking functions, which makes it especially easy to use, and it fits on a kitchen countertop---no patio needed.
The portable outdoor pizza ovens we tested can cook more than just pizza. You can bake flatbreads like pita or naan, and roast fish, vegetables, chops, and steaks, as well. (However, we don't advise cooking super-fatty meats in these ovens, as the high heat and grease splatter can create excess smoke and fire.) I even made some delicious oysters Rockefeller in the Ooni Koda 16 for Christmas Eve dinner. I'd definitely fire up one of these in the summer when I don't want to deal with my regular oven heating up half my apartment. That said, these ovens are too hot for baking pies, cakes, cookies, and other recipes that require more moderate temperatures.
By contrast, the countertop Breville Pizzaiolo isn't quite as versatile. Its low-ceiling cavity measures 3½ inches from the stone to the upper heating element, which provides just enough clearance for pizza or cut vegetables. Fatty meats would likely splatter grease on the heating element and cause plumes of smoke even bigger than those we already saw when baking pizzas on the oven's highest heat setting.

How we picked

A selection of pizza ovens that we tested to find the best pizza oven, together with charcoal, wood, and peels.
From left to right: the Gozney Roccbox, the Ooni Koda 16, and the Ooni Karu 12 pizza ovens. Photo: Lesley Stockton
Though there are several types of pizza ovens, and we've tested the indoor Breville Pizzaiolo separately in the past, for this series of tests we focused mainly on portable outdoor pizza ovens. If you have the outdoor space, we found them to be an amazing value for what you can do with them.
Since the portable outdoor pizza oven category is relatively new, we didn't have to sift through hundreds of models while researching this guide. The most prominent brand, Ooni, sells the most of any company we saw in our research. At this writing, it carries seven different models on its website. But Ooni isn't the only game in town. We also tested the Gozney Roccbox, another popular model.
Here are the factors we considered when looking for the best portable outdoor pizza ovens:

Fuel types {#fuel-types}

Portable pizza ovens use either propane, wood pellets, hardwood, or charcoal (or some combination of two or more of these) as fuel. We found that a pizza oven's learning curve and ease of use is tied mostly to the type of fuel it burns. Let's break down the benefits and drawbacks of each one.
Propane: Just like backyard gas grills, propane-fueled pizza ovens ignite and heat up with the turn of a dial, so they're the easiest style to use. In our tests, the propane ovens heated the fastest (within 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the oven size and outside temperature) and provided the most consistent heat as long as there was gas in the tank. Propane ovens are also much less sensitive than solid-fuel-burning models (wood pellet, hardwood, and charcoal) to environmental factors such as below-freezing temperatures, wind, rain, and humidity. The only drawback to propane gas is the chore of lugging home a 20-pound propane tank (be sure to check local regulations regarding the transport or use of propane tanks). By my best estimate, I found that running a propane pizza oven for two and a half hours on medium-high to high heat used less than a quarter of a tank. In that time I cooked eight pizzas. Five bucks' worth of fuel to cook eight pizzas isn't bad.
Wood pellets: We found that the pellet-burning pizza oven we tested (the Ooni Fyra 12 Wood Pellet Pizza Oven) was the most convenient of the solid-fuel models. Hardwood cooking pellets are nothing more than compressed sawdust. They ignite fast and burn hot. In our tests, the Fyra took about five to 10 minutes longer to preheat than the propane ovens, but unlike charcoal and hardwood, which need to burn for up to 30 minutes before you can cook over the hot coals, pellets are ready to cook with as soon as they ignite. It's also easier to keep a steady temperature with pellets, since they sit in a hopper over the firebox and gradually feed the fire as it burns.
The biggest drawback to the pellet model is that it's a little too responsive to windy conditions. Wind naturally draws heat from the firebox in the back, through the oven cavity, and up the chimney. A stiff breeze will stoke those flames and burn the pellets much quicker, in turn making the oven too hot. Wood pellets are also very sensitive to moisture and humidity, which cause them to expand and jam up the hopper. Keep your wood pellets in a dry place and sealed in a container with a tight-fitting lid.
Lump charcoal: I like hardwood lump charcoal because it's available at most hardware stores and easier to light than solid wood (more on that below). But the biggest issue with portable pizza ovens that burn charcoal---and hardwood, for that matter---is that their fireboxes are small, about 6 by 9 inches. This means you have to continue adding fuel to both preheat and keep the oven hot, then wait for the charcoal to ignite and ash over before you put food in the oven. If you're making just a few pizzas, that's not a terrible inconvenience. But if you're hosting a pizza party for a crowd, you might find the lag time after each fuel addition annoying. Along with the hardwood models, these took the longest to heat (just shy of an hour).
Hardwood: Folks who want to replicate the flavor of pizzas baked in an Italian wood-burning brick forno might jump at the idea of a hardwood-fueled portable pizza oven. But the tiny 6-by-9-inch fireboxes in these ovens provide little headroom, so you need to find a quality hardwood supplier that sells 6-by-2-inch-long wood kindling for cooking. This is no easy task. The only wood we found that's cut for portable pizza ovens costs roughly $70 for 10 pounds or $190 for 45 pounds. That's a lot of dough (pun intended). There's always the option of cutting the wood yourself, if you're handy and have a table saw. These ovens also took the longest to preheat (up to almost an hour, compared with the propane ovens' 30 to 40 minutes).
Also, just like with lump charcoal, you need to keep refueling your oven with hardwood for it to stay at the correct cooking temperature. And you still have to wait for the wood to ignite and turn to embers before you start or continue cooking. It's a lot to manage while also trying to stretch, top, launch, turn, and remove your pizzas.

Bakes awesome pizza

Three crispy pizzas, topped with cheese, basil, and meat, cooked in our pick for best pizza oven.
We baked these pizzas in the Ooni Koda 16. Photo: Sarah Kobos
We baked excellent pizzas in every oven we tested. But we had to work harder to do so in some ovens than in others. Propane-fueled models heat at a consistent pace as long as there's gas in the tank. The same argument applies to the wood-pellet oven we tested: If you keep the hopper full (and flowing), you'll have consistent heat. We preferred the propane models because they let us focus on baking the best possible pizza. (The same can be said for the electric countertop Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo, if you need to go the indoor route).
On the other hand, hardwood and charcoal models offer a short window of time for adding more fuel once the oven is at the perfect pizza-baking temperature. What's more, when you cook with solid hardwood and charcoal, you have to wait at least 10 minutes after you add more fuel for it to ignite and turn to embers before you can launch more pizzas. Otherwise, your pizzas will taste sooty.

Size of opening and cooking surface

Ovens with wider openings make it easier for you to launch your pie and rotate it as it cooks. You must rotate your pizza mid-bake so that it emerges from the oven with an evenly browned and crispy crust. And you have to work fast, because an 800 ºF oven cooks pizza in about two minutes. A narrower oven opening doesn't allow you as much mobility to move and twist your baking pie compared with a wider one. The size of the baking surface is an important factor too: A 16-inch oven will give you more space to work with than a 12-inch model. However, note that the size of the opening may not match the interior. When we compared the 12-inch models we tested, one oven's opening (the Gozney Roccbox's) measured 1 inch narrower than the other two. It may not sound like much, but that inch made a big difference in how well we could maneuver the pizzas as they baked.

Ease of cleaning

Most importantly, you want a removable stone so that you can clean under and around it from time to time. Each pizza leaves burnt bits of flour or cornmeal on the stone after you remove it from the oven, and you need to get rid of that detritus so it doesn't make your subsequent pies taste like an old fireplace.
Pellet, hardwood, and charcoal models do need a little extra care when it comes to cleaning, since they have chimney pipes where soot can build up. You can burn off excess chimney soot by running the oven extra hot for 15 to 20 minutes.

Easy-to-read instruction manual

Portable pizza ovens are a new appliance for most folks, and for that reason we think instruction manuals are extra important. The manuals for the models we tested incorporated a lot of illustrations and sleek layouts that made them navigable. But the most important information---safety and fire management---was packed in the front, in small type. It's easy to glide right past that section, but we recommend you read (and reread!) the safety guidelines. That's where you'll find important tips, such as not to use a particular model in windy conditions (like the Ooni Fyra's manual suggests). The Gozney Roccbox doesn't include a hard-copy manual for the oven itself, only for the burner. That means getting on your computer or phone while you're outside, hands covered in flour and sauce, to troubleshoot a possible issue.

Included accessories

The main accessory you need for using these ovens is a pizza peel (video), but not all pizza ovens come with a peel in the box. As is the case with two of our picks, pizza peels are sometimes sold as extra accessories. While a little annoying, it's not a dealbreaker for us. We don't expect, say, a grill to include tongs and a spatula. However, it's nice when a pizza oven does include a peel, because unlike a grill, which works with almost any grilling tool, many of these pizza ovens have small openings that require peels measuring no wider than 12 inches.
We say "peels," plural, because your pizza-making efforts will be much more enjoyable if you have two: a wooden peel for dressing and launching pizzas, and a metal peel for rotating them while they bake. In our tests, we used wooden and metal peels from Ooni (sold separately) as well as the aluminum peel that comes with the Gozney Roccbox. Ooni's peels cost more than ones you can find on the internet, and they're frequently out of stock. More affordable peels are available---like this wooden one, which has 12-inch models available in various handle lengths, and this aluminum commercial-grade model---but we didn't test either one. (For more on peels, check out our Pizza oven tools you may need section.)
We also looked at extra fuel burners for the portable ovens that supported them---for example, a wood-burning attachment for a propane oven and vice versa. Ultimately, we don't think they're worth it. These add-on burners cost around $100, and in our tests, we found that they didn't perform as well as the primary burner included with the oven. It's much better to pick the fuel source you think will work best for you and go all in.

How we tested

The Ooni Koda 16, our pick for best pizza oven, with the flames lit and a thermometer in the middle of the open space.
Photo: Lesley Stockton
Before I launched a single pizza, I ran each oven a couple of times to see how easy they were to fire up and how quickly they heated. For the first couple of models I tested, I used an infrared thermometer to measure the stone's temperature and a high-temperature probe thermometer (used for kilns) to measure the temperature of the air inside the oven cavity. After about four rounds of using both thermometers, I found that once the stone hit 730 °F---and all the way up to 850 °F---the air inside the oven stabilized between 750 and 800 °F. So I ditched the probe thermometer and stuck with the infrared from then on, with good success. I discovered that a stone temperature from 750 to 830 °F is the sweet spot for baking pizzas with crispy crusts and puffy, blistered edges. Any hotter and the outer crust got torched.
We tested these ovens between December and March in New York City. None of them reached their peak advertised temperatures during that time, but it was cold outside, and there's only so much these little things can do. That said, they all reached more-than-sufficient temperatures needed to cook satisfactory pizzas in below- and near-freezing conditions. We'll be firing up our picks this summer to see how fast they heat up and whether they can surpass their wintertime maximum temperatures. We suspect that these ovens will get much hotter in the summer heat.
How fast the ovens heated depended on the type of fuel they burned. Propane ovens heated the fastest (30 to 40 minutes, depending on their size and the outside temperature), with wood-pellet-fueled ovens coming in a close second (up to 45 minutes on the coldest day). Wood and charcoal ovens took up to almost an hour to heat, and required frequent refueling.
A person on a rooftop patio sprinkles cornmeal onto a pizza peel with their right hand while holding dough in their left.
A light and even dusting of cornmeal or semolina keeps your stretched dough from sticking to a wooden peel for a few minutes---the perfect amount of time to sauce, dress, and launch your pie into the oven. Photo: Sarah Kobos
I made pizzas using the same dough ratio, sauce recipe, and toppings as we did when testing baking stones and the Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo. This provided consistency across all of our pizza testing. I cooked the pizzas once the stone reached anywhere between 750 and 850 °F, observing the general heat zones in each oven and identifying hot spots. I also noted how the size of the stones and oven openings made it easier or harder to rotate and move the pies as they baked.
As a bonus treat (for me), I cooked extra things in some ovens as the workday came to a close and I had dinner on the brain. I made oysters Rockefeller in the Ooni Koda 16 Gas Powered Pizza Oven for Christmas Eve dinner, and roasted skin-on salmon and cauliflower in the Ooni Fyra 12 Wood Pellet Pizza Oven---all with great success. I like that these portable pizza ovens can do more than just, you know, cook pizza.

Our pick: Ooni Koda 16 Gas Powered Pizza Oven

The Ooni Koda 16 gas powered pizza oven, our pick for best pizza oven, on a table with several wooden peels.
Photo: Sarah Kobos
If you want a convenient, portable outdoor pizza oven---one that ignites and heats up with the turn of a dial---the Ooni Koda 16 is it. This propane-fueled pizza oven is the largest model we tested. With a square 16¾-inch cordierite-ceramic baking surface and a roomy 21-by-4½-inch opening in front, the Koda 16 gave us ample room to launch pies, as well as rotate and move them around the oven as they baked. Ooni claims the Koda 16 can reach 932 °F, and in our tests it came close. The maximum temperature we measured on the stone was 890 °F---still impressive, and definitely hot enough to torch a pizza. (Also keep in mind that we tested this oven in the dead of winter in Brooklyn.)
I made at least 30 pizzas in the Koda 16 alone. This wasn't because I was playing favorites; I just had it for a month before the other ovens arrived, and I was eager to start using it. This oven made pretty perfect homemade pizzas, with spotted crispy bottoms and chewy crusts punctuated with golf-ball-sized air bubbles. As we've mentioned, we managed to do this in every oven we tested, but the Koda 16 stood out from the competition because it was the easiest to use and has the biggest cooking surface.
Check out the size difference between the Ooni Koda 16 (left) and the Fyra 12 (right). The Koda 16 not only has a wider opening and a larger baking surface but also provides more headroom. Pretty handy if you want to roast meat, fish, or veggies in a cast-iron skillet. Photo: Sarah Kobos
We found that the Ooni Koda 16 consistently performed the best of all the models we tested, even in pretty harsh weather conditions: below-freezing temperatures, moderate wind, and even light snowfall (in a covered area). Its L-shaped burner runs along the left and rear sides of the oven, providing a heat map that was unique from the competition, which fired the oven only from the back. The Koda 16 is hottest in the left-rear corner, and gradually gets cooler as you move diagonally across the surface to the front right. The other models are hottest in the back and coolest in the front.
The Koda 16's larger cooking surface and wide opening not only let you make bigger pies but also afford you more maneuverability inside the oven. Its square baking stone measures 16¾ inches, an average of 3½ inches wider and deeper than the other models we tested. That may not seem like a lot on paper, but in practice those extra inches give you a lot more room to rotate and move your pizza to achieve an even bake. That's not to say that we didn't produce evenly baked pizzas with the other ovens---we absolutely did. But the other ovens were just a little cramped inside, and that made us appreciate the extra wiggle room the Koda 16 provided.
As a fun personal experiment, I also made a dozen oysters Rockefeller in the Koda 16 for Christmas Eve dinner. I baked two batches of six oysters on rock-salt-lined restaurant sizzle platters, which I knew could handle the heat of the Koda 16 since they're intended for use in a professional salamander broiler. The resulting oysters were browned on top and bubbling hot under the cheesy crust. No other cooking appliance in my kitchen could've come close to delivering such a stellar dish.
The Koda 16 uses 30-pound liquid-propane tanks that you can find at most hardware stores. Setting up the oven and getting started is pretty seamless, although you might need a friend to help unbox and lift the 40-pound oven onto a stable surface. There are no tools required to set up the Koda 16---just unfold the three legs, insert the cordierite baking stone, and connect the gas hose to a propane tank. To light the oven, make sure the valve on the propane tank is open all the way, then turn the dial on the right-hand side of the oven until you hear it click. If you don't see a flame, turn the dial back off and repeat the process until you see the ports ignite. This could take two or three tries, and for heaven's sake, do not stick your face in the oven! You'll know it's lit from a safe distance.
I got parental on y'all for a second there because this thing gets extremely hot. The first time I used the Koda 16, I melted part of my puffer jacket on the oven roof and---wait for it---stuck my face too close to the opening and singed my eyelashes. Don't be me.
With burner ports along two sides of the oven, the Ooni Koda 16's unique heat map is hottest in the back-left corner and gets cooler as you move diagonally to the front right. Photo: Sarah Kobos
As far as fuel consumption goes, Ooni states on its website that the Koda 16 burns through 1.3 pounds of propane per hour of use, which seems about right in our experience.
Ooni also makes a small version of this pizza oven, the Koda 12. It's roughly the same size as the other Ooni ovens we tested, the Fyra 12 and the Karu 12. Compared with the Koda 16, the 12 has burners along the back end, as opposed to the left-hand side, which makes sense to us---the Koda 12 is smaller, and any more burners would probably be overkill.
All Ooni ovens come with a one-year limited warranty that covers defective parts (not normal wear and tear), as well as a 60-day buyback guarantee that gives you a couple of months to decide if you regret your purchase. If you register your Ooni oven within the first 60 days, they will extend the warranty to five years (or two years for the electric Ooni Volt 12). And although Ooni doesn't include any accessories with its ovens, you can buy peels, covers, and just about any other pizza-adjacent tool on its website. However, the Ooni-branded accessories, such as pizza peels and cutting wheels, are frequently out of stock. They also cost more than non-Ooni versions of those things, which (except for the oven covers) are easy to buy elsewhere. (For more about peels, see Pizza oven tools you may need.)

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The word "portable" is accurate for this oven, in that it's not built into your patio. But at 40 pounds, the Koda 16 is pretty heavy, and its wide shape makes the oven awkward to carry. You don't want to lug it around on a long walk. But it's still good for backyards and chill outings, like tailgating and car camping---basically any situation where you don't have to carry it too far.
The Koda 16 is the most expensive portable outdoor pizza oven we tested. We understand that $600 is a lot to spend on a niche cooking appliance. But it's half the price of the Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo and a little more versatile, in that it has a larger oven cavity that gives you more room to cook things other than pizza. If you want a more affordable option---one that gets just as hot but comes with its own set of quirks---check out our budget pick, the wood-pellet-burning Ooni Fyra. (And although we haven't tested it, you might also consider the Ooni Koda 12, a smaller version of the 16, that usually costs around $400.)

Budget pick: Ooni Fyra 12 Wood Pellet Pizza Oven

The Ooni Fyra 12 wood pellet pizza oven, our budget pick for best pizza oven, on a metal table with a wooden peel.
Photo: Sarah Kobos
The Ooni Fyra 12 pizza oven is an excellent choice if you don't want to plunk down $600 on a niche cooking appliance. Fueled by wood pellets, the Fyra gets just as hot and makes the same quality pizzas as our top pick, and it's also smaller, lighter, and less expensive. The Fyra has a 13¼-inch square cooking surface and a 13-by-20-inch footprint. If you have limited outdoor space, or you just don't want to commit to a larger model, this little oven is fun and capable of baking some awesome pies. But this fireball does come with some quirks that make it trickier to use than the propane-fueled Ooni Koda 16.
The components of the Ooni Fyra 12, taken apart and set side by side on a green cloth.
Clockwise from left: The Fyra's oven body, two-part chimney, chimney cap with built-in pellet scoop, pellet hopper, firebox, and oven door. Photo: Sarah Kobos
The Fyra was the only wood-pellet model we tested. Wood pellets light fast and burn hot, and we found that while pellets aren't as convenient a fuel as propane, they're much handier than charcoal or hardwood. You can find pellets online and at most hardware stores that stock grilling accessories. Be sure to look for pellets made from 100% hardwood, with no fillers or additives. You can play around with different brands and types of wood to find what suits your taste and budget best. For our tests, we used Pit Boss Competition Blend Hardwood Pellets (for no other reason than that's what the local Lowe's had in stock).
The Ooni Fyra bakes awesome pizzas but requires more attention to fuel and fire maintenance than our top pick---enough for us to add a section below expanding on the user manual, with a few extra tips we learned in testing. The Fyra is the best value of all the ovens we tried, but it comes with its own unique quirks. For starters, the airflow reverses inside the oven when you remove the door, causing flames to shoot out the back. As the manual explains, this is totally normal for this model, and it's a strong visual reminder that you should keep the Fyra (and any other portable pizza oven, for that matter) away from anything flammable. Speaking of airflow, we don't recommend using the Fyra in windy conditions. That push of air into the firebox can stoke the flame and cause the fire to get too big. If you live in an area prone to high winds, consider our top pick, the Ooni Koda 16.
Another quirk of the Ooni Fyra: The hopper jams. No matter how much we tried to avoid it, the hopper either jammed up or failed to feed the fire naturally at least once each time we used the Fyra oven. We have theories as to why this happened, but no concrete explanation. The first time we encountered this, we thought the cold, February-air-chilled pellets were the culprit, but the hopper also jammed up the next time, when the pellets were at room temperature. Maybe the pellets in the hopper absorbed the humidity from the air that got sucked in through the oven's opening when we removed the door to launch a pizza. As of now, we still don't know why the hopper jams---we just know that it's both a fact of life and easily fixable.
As with the Koda 16, I cooked a couple of bonus dishes in the Fyra, this time roasted cauliflower and skin-on salmon. It's important to note that I wouldn't cook anything but pizza and other breads directly on the baking stone. Luckily for me, I have a small, oval cast-iron roaster that fits perfectly in these low-profile ovens. (I mention the roaster because it trapped just enough moisture from the cauliflower to cook it through while the fire blackened the tops of the crowns.) The salmon emerged from the Fyra with tender flesh and crispy, blistered skin---perfection.
Like our top pick, the Fyra doesn't require tools for setup. Unlike our top pick, the Fyra burns wood pellets, and as a result comes with a few more components you need to assemble: a two-part chimney pipe, a pellet hopper, a firebox, an oven door, and a chimney cap that doubles as a wood-pellet scoop.
This little slot in front holds the Fyra's removable oven door while you launch and rotate your pizza. Photo: Sarah Kobos
We estimate that the Ooni Fyra consumes about 1½ pounds of pellets every 15 minutes (one hopperful), which works out to roughly $2.56 per hour of fuel at the price we paid for pellets. In comparison, our top pick, the Koda 16, costs about $1.90 per hour to heat. That said, the price difference between the more-expensive Koda 16 and the Fyra 12 is equivalent to about 100 hours' worth of pellets. The real trade-off is that the Koda 16 is bigger and easier to use. (If you're concerned about cost, or if you aren't sure whether a wood-pellet oven is right for you, the propane-burning Ooni Koda 12 is similar in size to the Fyra and costs just 50 bucks more.) Note that the Fyra 12 has the same one-year warranty and 60-day buyback guarantee as the Koda 16, too.

Expanding on the user manual {#expanding-on-the-user-manual}

Narrow view of the vivid flames of the cookfire of the Ooni Fyra 12, our budget pick for best pizza oven.
The oven door on the Fyra has a useful peephole that lets you monitor your fire without disturbing the oven's airflow. Photo: Lesley Stockton
Starting the Ooni Fyra takes some getting used to. The manual says to start with two handfuls of pellets in the firebox. I used one scoopful from the aforementioned chimney cap that comes with the oven. Then, the manual instructed me to place one "all-natural firestarter" on top of the pellets and ignite with a lighter. I couldn't find an all-natural fire starter that I trusted to be food safe, and the Ooni starters are often sold out, so I used a propane torch. (Since then, I've found a fire starter comparable to Ooni's that should work.) After this first batch of pellets are fully ignited, the manual says to "top off little and often" with more pellets, so as to let the fire build gradually (as well as to avoid snuffing it out). Okay, but what does "little and often" mean? After a couple of runs, I learned that it means adding one scoop about every two minutes until the hopper is full.
Sometimes the wood pellets in the hopper can swell and get stuck inside. Hopper jams are a bummer if you catch them too late and your fire dies down. The Fyra manual doesn't address what to do in the event of a hopper jam. An Ooni customer service representative advised us via email to "use your pellet...scoop to give the top of your pellet hopper a good tap" after each addition of pellets. "This will avoid any jamming" and "help 'stoke the fire' so to speak," they wrote. But that didn't always do the trick for me. Against the manual's advice, while testing the Fyra I dealt with a couple of stubborn hopper jams by using a long metallic tool to physically push the pellets down into the firebox. (This isn't by any means a recommendation; I'm just saying that's what I did.)

Indoor countertop pick: Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo

The Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo, our also great pick for best pizza oven, sitting on a kitchen counter with fruit.
Photo: Sarah Kobos
If you don't have outdoor space for a portable pizza oven, the Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo bakes pizzas just as well as our other picks but from your kitchen countertop. This $1,000 oven takes most of the guesswork out of baking the perfect pie thanks to preprogrammed functions that set the time and temperature for almost any type of pizza automatically. And since it runs on electricity---not on propane or wood pellets, like our outdoor picks---you can crank out as many pizzas as you want without fear of running out of fuel. But at twice the price of our most expensive portable pizza oven pick, the Breville is an expensive single-purpose appliance.
Compared with our portable-oven picks, the Breville doesn't get as hot, topping out at 750 °F. That's about 100 degrees cooler than we measured in the Ooni Koda 16 and Fyra 12 models. That said, the Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo bakes up a pretty perfect pizza, and it takes only 15 minutes to preheat. That's roughly half the time it took our portable picks to come up to temperature (depending on weather conditions).
The Breville pizza oven isn't as versatile as the portable outdoor pizza ovens we tested. Its small oven cavity is the perfect size for baking a 12-inch pizza and little else, other than flatbreads like pita and naan. If we're wary of cooking a fatty piece of meat in a portable outdoor pizza oven, we wouldn't even attempt that in the Breville Pizzaiolo due to its tendency to emit considerable amounts of smoke at high temperatures. When we ran our tests in 2019, the Pizzaiolo oven set off the smoke alarm twice.
All that said, the Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo excels at its sole function: baking stellar homemade pizza. If you have $1,000 burning a hole in your pocket and the extra counter space, this is a fun little fireball of an oven. The Breville also comes with a two-year warranty.

Care and maintenance

Even though portable pizza ovens are meant for outdoor use, they're not impervious to the elements. If possible, store your pizza oven in a garage or shed. If you don't have that kind of space available, buy a dedicated cover for your pizza oven (or wrap it in a tarp) and store it in a covered area.
Clean in and around the pizza stone occasionally. Remove the stone and wipe it down with a dry rag, then brush or wipe away all the stray bits at the bottom of the oven. (I tried using canned air, but that didn't do much other than fling the leavings around inside the oven.)
If you have an oven with a chimney, you'll want to check it for soot buildup after every three uses or so. You can clean that in a couple of ways. You can run your oven extra hot for 20 minutes to burn up extra soot. Or, if you want to give it a good once-over from time to time, wipe out the chimney pipe with a dry rag or some paper towels---but you should understand that this is a dirty job, and not at all necessary.

Pizza oven tools you may need {#pizza-oven-tools-you-may-need}

What to look forward to

Ooni has released two new pizza ovens, the electric Ooni Volt 12 and the Ooni Karu 12G (an updated version of the Ooni Karu 12 that includes a glass door for better heat retention and a built-in thermometer). We plan to test the Ooni Volt 12, an indoor countertop pizza oven, to see how it stands up to the Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo.

The competition

The Ooni Karu 12 Multi-Fuel Pizza Oven runs on hardwood kindling and lump charcoal for fuel (either independently or combined). First, let's talk about the wood needed to fuel this thing. The firebox on the Karu measures 9⅜ by 6 inches and requires wood that's been cut specifically to fit---6 by 2 inches is ideal. This isn't a common shape and size for cooking wood. Thankfully, the Karu also burns lump charcoal, which is easier to both light and fit into the firebox. But with either charcoal or wood, the Karu 12 takes longer to heat up than our Ooni picks, about an hour in cold weather (preheat time will vary with the outside temperature).
After a few dry runs of heating the oven and maintaining the temperature, I was finally confident enough to actually cook in the Karu. While testing, I found that once the oven got up to temperature, I could bake two pizzas before I had to add more fuel. You can probably cook more pizzas between fuel additions in the summer; I was working in 30- to 40-degree weather surrounded by snow. I thought the Karu pizzas were good, but my partner thought they were too smoky. At the end of the day, it took a lot more effort to bake pizza in the Karu 12 than in any other oven we tested.
The Gozney Roccbox is a compact, propane-fueled pizza oven that gets super hot and bakes great pizza. It also has a super-cute rounded design that reminds me of a happy space robot, and includes a convenient carrying strap with a handle. The Roccbox is the only portable pizza oven we tested that both comes with a peel and has a built-in thermometer. However, the thermometer measures the temperature just beneath the stone, so it's only useful for checking when the oven floor is hot. Once the oven preheats, the needle just stays at the maximum temperature mark (932 °F).
The Roccbox isn't a pick for a few reasons, one being that it's a 12-inch oven that costs as much as the Ooni Koda 16. At 12¼ by 3¼ inches, the Roccbox's opening is also the smallest of all the ovens we tested, which made it more difficult to rotate a pizza mid-bake. Plus, its cordierite baking stone isn't removable for cleaning. We tested the Roccbox using both the included propane and Gozney's sold-separately wood-burner accessory ($100). (We preferred using the propane burner; the wood burner never got the oven hot enough to cook.) Even after an hour and a half of constantly feeding the fire with hardwood, the stone never exceeded 400 °F. Maybe it's because we tested it during the cold winter months, but we didn't have that issue with the wood-fired Ooni Karu 12. Our advice is to stick with the Roccbox's included propane burner for best results.
This article was edited by Marilyn Ong and Marguerite Preston.





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