Ooni Karu 16 Review

In this review of the Ooni Karu 16, I’ll be going over every detail possible. Hopefully by the end you’ll have a better idea about whether this pizza oven would be a good fit for you.

Unboxing the Ooni Karu 16

First of all, I’d just like to share my video of the Ooni Karu 16 unboxing below. In the video, I show the opening and setting up of the oven, as well as some pizza cooking at the end.

YouTube player

Before we go any further, I should mention that I was gifted the pizza oven to review by Ooni. However, they didn’t have any influence over my content so everything in this article is still my own opinion.

Ooni Karu 16 dimensions

Below are the dimensions of the Ooni Karu 16. It’s quite large for a domestic pizza oven but by no means large when compared to commercial or traditional pizza ovens.

  • Unboxed dimensions: 81 x 50 x 83cm (31.9 x 19.7 x 32.7″)
  • Boxed dimension: 95 x 61 x 40cm (37.4 x 24 x 15.75″)
  • Cooking surface: 42.42 x 42.42cm (16.7 x 16.7″)
  • Stone thickness: 15mm (0.6″)

The oven has quite a thick stone which helps with heat retention. With the stone being 16.7, it can comfortably cook a 16″ pizza. It can’t cook 2 pizzas at once though, unless they’re tiny!

Ooni Karu 16 weight

I’ve listed both the boxed and unboxed weights of the Ooni Karu 16 below. Just be aware that this oven is quite heavy, especially when it comes boxed!

  • Unboxed weight: 28.4kg (62.6 lbs)
  • Boxed weight: 39.3kg (86.6 lbs)

Bear in mind that the stone itself is quite heavy. Although I wouldn’t say the oven is designed for portability, removing the stone does make it quite a bit more portable.

Ooni Karu 16 specs

I think a good starting point is to go over the specs of the Ooni Karu 16. Below are all the important features you need to know.

Ooni Karu 16 specs
  • Fuel: wood, charcoal, gas (with optional gas attachment)
  • Cooking time: 60 seconds per pizza
  • Heating up time: 15 minutes to reach 500C/950F
  • Pizza size: can cook 16 inch pizzas
  • Thermometer: built in thermometer
  • Door: glass door for monitoring cooking
  • Fire management: dual vents for temperature control

I think these are the main features to be aware of. I’ll discuss these further in this section, as well as some other features.

Ooni Karu 16 assembly

The Ooni Karu 16 took me around 20 minutes to assemble on my own. I’ve outlined the process below.

Ooni Karu 16 assembly
  • Unbox/unwrap everything
  • Unfold the legs
  • Attach the glass door (1 bolt)
  • Insert the pizza stones ( 1 small stone at the back and 1 large one at the front)
  • Insert the firebox (rests on the rear pizza stone)
  • Attach the chimney (twists on)
  • Attach the thermometer & plug it in (underneath the oven)

It was very straightforward to be honest. It was a little bit tricky finding where the thermometer plugged in. But otherwise everything was pretty intuitive.

The weight of the oven was the biggest challenge, especially before it was opened. Moving the box around was not easy! As long as you’re aware of this though, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the assembly process.

Once the oven was built, I removed the stones to make moving the oven into position easier.

In fairness, I probably could’ve assembled the oven in less than 20 minutes but I was also busy filming it. The assemby is shown in the unboxing video which I’ve posted again below in case you missed it earlier.

YouTube player

Ooni Karu 16 fuel

With the Ooni Karu 16 multi-fuel pizza oven, you can use both wood and charcoal. Wood is the normal choice for pizza but the ability to use charcoal offers a little more flexibility.

Ooni Karu 16 fuel

With many small pizza ovens, pellets are used as fuel. In my experience, these tend to work well for creating extreme heat and for cooking pizza. The downside is that it’s very difficult to manage the temperature, especially if you want to cook anything besides pizza.

However, Charcoal is an excellent option for cooking many things at lower temperatures, which is why it’s used for barbequing. As well as burning slowly, it also produces a consistent heat. One benefit to this is that it doesn’t have to be topped up as often.

Ooni Karu 16 wood

For pizza, I still think that wood is the primary fuel for the Ooni Karu 16. If you only used charcoal it would be difficult to reach the 450C/850F required for Neapolitan pizza.

For me, a good option is using both wood and charcoal together. I’ve enjoyed getting a nice base of charcoal and then topping it with large chunks of wood.

This method seems to have the best of both worlds. You get the stability of the charcoal along with the extreme heat from the wood.

Ooni Karu 16 wood

It also seems to get the most out of the size of the firebox on the Ooni Karu 16. Compared to other small pizza ovens, the firebox is quite large. But compared to full size pizza ovens, it is small.

Using just wood as fuel (without charcoal) tends to work best when you can use huge pieces of wood. These produce a lot of heat and burn more slowly than the pieces of wood that will fit in the Karu 16.

I have had success using just wood in the Ooni Karu 16 and you can get the oven very hot doing this. The problem for me was that the wood required topping up often. This is why I preferred using the combination of wood and charcoal.

Gas burner for Ooni Karu 16

The gas burner for the Ooni Karu 16 is a good option for those who want ultimate flexibility. Gas makes temperature control so easy. And of course, there’s none of the fire maintenance that you have with solid fuel.

This allows you to focus on making the pizza without having to worry much about the oven. For those wanting to do pizza parties this could be a huge selling point. You could use solid fuel when cooking a small number of pizzas and you could use gas when cooking many.

Ooni Karu 16

Having said that, I’ve been able to do pizza parties with the Ooni Karu 16 without using gas. It maintaines temperature well thanks to the insulation and the charcoal helps too. So if you’re confident with fire management you should be OK.

It’s still nice to have the gas option though. And if you’re unsure whether you want a solid fuel or gas oven you have the best of both worlds with the Karu 16. You could start off with solid fuel and if you don’t get on with it you could switch to gas later.

Ooni Karu 16 insulation

The Ooni Karu 16 in insulated with ceramic fiber. This helps to maintain a more consistent temperature inside the oven. It also offers some safety, making the outside of the oven cooler than it would be otherwise.

Ceramic fibre insulation is an excellent option for a small pizza oven since it is lightweight and can withstand temperatures of up to around 1,300C/2,400F.

Ooni Karu 16 insulation
Showing the thickness of the insulation on the Karu 16

I had one of the first Ooni pizza ovens which didn’t have any insulation at all. That was released in around 2012 and at the time it was quite revolutionary to be able to get a compact pizza oven that was also affordable. My old Ooni can be seen in the unboxing video at the top of this page.

Although that oven didn’t have any insulation, it still cooked pizza well. But it did cool down quickly and after cooking a pizza, it took a while for the oven to get hot enough for the next one. It also required topping up after every pizza.

Old Uuni insulation
My old “Uuni” which didn’t have any insulation

The insulation in the Ooni Karu 16 aims to solve that problem, or at least reduce it. In my experience, the insulation has helped a lot. I found that the oven stayed hot for a lot longer and I could cook 2 or 3 pizzas before having to top up the fire.

Ooni Karu 16 stone

The stone in the Ooni Karu 16 is made of cordierite, one of the most popular materials for pizza stones and baking stones.

Cordierite is a naturally occuring mineral which is very good at withstanding extreme tempeatures. It is also more durable than the more cost-effective ceramic pizza stones.

Ooni Karu 16 stone
The stone in the Karu 16

In the Ooni Karu 16, the stone is quite thick, at 15mm/0.6″. This provides improved heat retention and durability when compared to thinner stones.

The stones in the smaller Ooni ovens use a pizza stone which is 50% thinner, at 10mm/0.4″. This includes the Ooni Fyra 12, Ooni Koda 12, Ooni 3, Uuni 2S and Uuni 2.

Really, the only downside to the thicker stone is the increased weight. But the stone can be removed if you need to move the oven. There are in fact 2 stones in the Karu 16, there’s a large one at the front and a small one at the back, where the firebox sits. Both stones are easily removable.

Ooni Karu 16 thermometer

The Ooni Karu 16 has an inbuilt digital thermometer. It is easily attached to the front of the oven and is plugged in underneath. The thermometer can be easily switched between celcius and fahrenheit, depending on which you prefer.

Probe on Ooni Karu 16

This thermometer measures the air temperature inside the oven, which I find to be very handy. I don’t think this should replace a laser thermometer though. For me, the best solution is to use a laser thermometer to check the temperature of the stone, as well as the built in air themometer.

Using both thermometers together allows you to easily check when the oven is fully up to temperature. I tend to find that the stone gets hotter much quicker than the air so I like to wait until the two temperatures get close together. This has generally provided me with the best and most even cook.

Ooni Karu 16 vents

There are 2 vents on the Ooni Karu 16 which can be used for temperature control. In general, for pizza, I have found it best to leave these open. This allows for maximum air flow, producing the highest temperatures. Ideally, you want to cook Neapolitan pizza at around 450C/850F.

Ooni Karu 16 vent
The main vent on the Ooni Karu 16

Closing these vents can help to reduce the temperature in the oven. This can be great for cooking dishes that require less heat, such as bread loaves. It can also be used to reduce the oven temperature if it’s getting too hot.

One thing to note is that I think it’s probably best to use fire management as the best way to control temperature, rather than relying on the vents. For instance, using just charcoal (without wood) is a great way to keep the temperature down. Also, simply using less fuel will help you to maintain a lower temperature.

Ooni Karu 16 baffle
The vent on the Karu 16 chimney – this is technically called a “baffle”

For me, the best way to cook at a lower temperature is to use a combination of fire management and vent control. This will just take some experimentation for you to find out what works, much like using a traditional charcoal BBQ.

Overall, I think having the vents in the Karu 16 is a nice touch which provides some additional versatility.

Ooni Karu 16 warranty

The Ooni Karu 16 comes with a 3 year warranty when it is registered online, and a 1 year warranty as standard. In fact, this is the same for all Ooni products.

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I think it’s unlikely that you’d experience any issues but it’s still nice to have that peace of mind. The support from Ooni seems to be good from what I’ve read. I have heard of some people that have had a broken pizza stone replaced with no questions asked. That’s great to hear!

Ooni Karu 16 FAQs

Below I’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions about the Ooni Karu 16. I can’t speak directly for Ooni but I have had quite a lot of experience with the oven. I think I’m in a pretty good position to answer most questions about the Ooni Karu 16.

How do you season the Ooni Karu 16?

Seasoning the Ooni Karu 16 is done simply by heating the oven up and allowing it to run for a while before cooking any pizza. Ooni recommends heating the oven to maximum temperature for 30 minutes and then allowing it to cool down.

Seasoning Ooni Karu 16

Once the oven has fully cooled down, it is recommended to be wiped down with dry paper towels. This should remove any oils and coatings that are left behind from the manufacturing process.

What can you cook in an Ooni Karu 16?

There are so many things you can cook in an Ooni Karu 16, too many to mention! Aside from pizza, some of the most common options are bread, meats, and vegetables.

If you have a cast iron pan, such as the ones that Ooni sell, you can pretty much cook anything! I have cooked steaks using these cast iron skillets which have turned out excellent! The extreme heat and open flames can produce a beautiful crust on the meat.

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I have also cooked a lasagne in the oven which was delicious. I think the limits of the Karu 16 is just the limits of your imagination!

Can Ooni 16 be used indoors?

The Ooni Karu 16 is not designed to be used indoors. In fact, none of the Ooni pizza ovens are made to be used inside. They are designed and certified for outdoor use only.

I think the biggest problem with using an Ooni inside is probably the fire risk. With there being many combustible items indoors, the risk of a dangerous fire increases considerably. With the extreme heat and large open flames with an Ooni, I think the fire risk is quite clear.

Ooni Karu 16 outside

As well as the fire risk, there is also the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Even when using gas there is still a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

For these reasons, I think the best option is to always use any Ooni pizza oven outdoors, regardless of whether you are using gas, wood, or charcoal.

How do you light Ooni Karu 16?

Lighting the Ooni Karu 16 is very easy. Thanks to the efficient airflow design, the fire gets going very quickly with just 1 natural firelighter. Although personally, I have been known to use 2 firelighters if I’m in a rush.

Here are some tips which should help you to get going:

  • If you’re just using wood, it’s generally best to start with a few pieces of kindling, Ooni recommends 3-6 pieces. Stacking the kindling like jenga and placing the firelighter underneath them seems to work well.
  • If you’re using charcoal, Ooni recommends starting with 1-2 handfuls of charcoal and a firelighter on top. The charcoal is ready for cooking once it is glowing white. When I want to speed up this process, I’ll place some kindling above the firelighter as well.
  • If you want to use wood as well as charcoal, you can simply place a couple of chunks of wood on top of the charcoal. This is my favourite to cook pizza in the Ooni Karu 16.

If you follow these tips, hopefully you won’t have any trouble lighting the Ooni Karu 16! But if you do have any problems, feel free to leave me a comment below and I’ll try to help.

Ooni Karu 16

Why is my Ooni Karu 16 not getting hot enough?

There are a few things to check if your Ooni Karu 16 isn’t getting hot enough. The following tips should help when cooking with solid fuel:

  • Make sure the chimney cap is removed
  • Make sure the vents on the oven are both open
  • Make sure the firebox is clean of ash, to ensure proper airflow
  • Make sure the oven door is closed
  • Make sure you are using high quality, dry fuel
  • Make sure you are topping the fire up fairly regularly

Personally, I’ve never had any trouble getting the Karu 16 very hot. Hopefully these tips help you to get the fire raging!

Ooni Karu 16 thermometer not working?

I have experienced the thermometer on the Ooni Karu 16 not working myself. What I found was that it had become unplugged when I had moved the oven.

Of course, be very careful when trying check this or to plug it back in! I would recommend checking this when the oven is completely cool. The bottom of the oven does get very hot!

Ooni Karu 16 thermometer

Also, if the Karu 16 thermometer displays “HHH”, this means that the maximum temperature of the oven has been removed. In the user manual, Ooni recommends opening the door until the oven has cooled down a bit.

Is the Ooni Karu worth it?

Overall, I think the Ooni Karu 16 is a fantastic pizza oven. I’ve found it to make amazing pizza and for me, it’s been easy to use.

Pizza cooked in Ooni Karu 16
Here’s one I made earlier – in the Ooni Karu 16!

I enjoyed the larger size of the oven when compared to smaller pizza ovens that I’ve used before. For one, you can cook a 16 inch pizza instead of say, a 12 inch pizza. This actually works out at almost twice as much pizza if you do the maths!

In fact, I’ve also liked having the extra space even when cooking 10 or 12 inch pizzas. I found it easier to turn the pizza and to watch it cooking. Of course, the glass door helps massively with this too.

One of my favourite things about the oven was how consistent the temperature was. When I’ve used smaller ovens, I’ve found that I’ve had to top it up very regularly, usually after each pizza.

Cooking pizza in Ooni Karu 16
Cooking a pizza in the Karu 16

With the Ooni Karu 16, I liked that I could cook 2 or 3 pizzas in a row before having to top it up. This is probably largely thanks to the insulation and the large firebox.

I also think that the oven looks great and I’ve been impressed with the build quality. It’s difficult for me to find fault with the oven really, aside from the weight of the oven.

Although Ooni are known for their portable pizza ovens, I don’t think the Karu 16 was designed to be portable. I would say the best option is probably to have it in a permanent location outside. Or you could at least have it on a table with wheels so that you can move it around.

That being said, I have found it much easier to move if you remove the stones.

Is the Ooni Karu 16 worth the money?

In my opinion, the Ooni Karu 16 is easily worth the money. It’s more expensive than many pizza ovens but in my view, the design, build quality, and cooking experience is excellent. And it makes amazing pizza!

But really, I think that whether the Karu 16 is worth the money or not depends on what you want from a pizza oven. If you want an oven that’s larger, easier to use, and overall a bit more premium, then I think that the Ooni Karu 16 is a great option.

Is the Ooni Karu 16 worth it?
Pizza cooked in the Ooni Karu 16

True, you can still only cook one pizza in the Karu 16, but you can cook a big pizza! The oven also lends itself to cooking lots of other dishes. If versatility is important to you, this could be a big selling point.

Also, the ease of use alone is probably going to be worth the price tag for many people. Although I think it might be difficult to appreciate this unless you’ve used smaller pizza ovens.

If you’re looking for a portable pizza oven though, this is definitely not the one for you. And if this is your first oven or you don’t want to spend too much, it may be difficult to justify the price. But if you have the budget for it, I don’t think you’d be disappointed with the Ooni Karu 16. I certainly haven’t been.

Ooni Karu 16 recipes

Below I’ve linked to some of my pizza recipes that you can try out in the Ooni Karu 16, or any pizza oven for that matter! Good luck!

Authentic Neapolitan Pizza

Also, be sure to check out my pizza school series (with videos) here. I go over every step in the pizza making process in great detail. Once you’ve completed the course, you’ll have everything you need to make incredible Neapolitan style pizza!

Tom Rothwell from My Pizza Corner eating homemade pizza

About Me

I’m Tom Rothwell and I’m super passionate about all kinds of homemade pizza! In the last few years I've been on a quest to find the perfect pizza. Now I'm sharing what I've found out with the world!

Ooni Fyra
Tom Rothwell's Ooni pizza oven

My Pizza Oven

I often get asked what type of oven I use for my pizzas. Well, I use a pizza oven made by a company called Ooni.

The range of pizza ovens that Ooni offers is just brilliant. They cover all bases, and all price points. There's affordable and portable models such as the Fyra 12 Pizza Oven and then there's state-of-the-art models such as the Karu 16 Pizza Oven pictured below.

In all honesty, I would say that the oven makes a huge difference. If you're looking to make authentic Italian pizza, a pizza oven is a must.

Pizza cooked in Ooni pizza oven

By clicking the link below and purchasing from Ooni, you would be supporting this website. I've been using their ovens for a long time now and I wouldn't recommend them if I didn't believe in their products.

Time to make some amazing pizza!

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Ooni Pizza Ovens
Tom Rothwell from My Pizza Corner eating homemade pizza

About Me

I’m Tom Rothwell and I’m super passionate about all kinds of homemade pizza! In the last few years I've been on a quest to find the perfect pizza. Now I'm sharing what I've found out with the world!