Over the last few years, largely thanks to to the pandemic, home luxuries such as pizza ovens have become very popular. Ooni is one of the key brands for this particular item. The latest and most versatile model is the Karu 16.
At £699/US$799, the Karu 16 is Ooni’s most expensive and extravagant model and while it might be too expensive for many, if you can afford it, it’s an awesome piece of kit that can cook a lot more than pizza, with features such as a glass door and digital thermometer.
Design & Build
Much like the Ooni Fyra 12, the Karu 16 is a super stylish and well-made oven. There’s a little more to do in order to get cooking but the setup process is simple and easy to follow.
It largely consists of attaching pieces to the main body such as the hinged ViewFlame glass door, digital thermometer, burner tray and draft defender plate.
Being a bigger oven than most of the Ooni range, the Karu 16 isn’t designed with portability in mind, so it’s not really suitable for taking camping or to the beach. This is more of a static oven and really requires two people to move around thanks to its 50 x 81cm dimensions and 28.4kg weight.
That’s nearly three times the weight of the Fyra 12 but it still has folding legs and a removable chimney so you can store it away in a garage or shed. If you do want to leave it outside for extended periods, the powder coated carbon steel and stainless steel should survive well but an optional cover will ensure maximum protection from the elements.
The size is one of the main lures here with, as the name suggests, space to cook pizzas up to 16in. The ViewFlame glass door is the another, as you can see whatever is cooking without opening the door and letting heat out.
Since it’s on a hinge, it’s also much quicker and easier to open it and turn a pizza compared to the Fyra 12, where the door must be completely removed and placed somewhere near the oven.
The door and the fuel hatch have handles that mean you don’t need to wear gloves to use them. The chimney, however, still has a metal handle to adjust the vent position.
The Ooni Karu 16 is the only model in the range to feature a digital thermometer. This sits underneath the door and tells you how hot the oven is, ensuring you cook at the right temperature and avoid wondering if it’s ready or not.
In-Use & Performance
The Karu 16 doesn’t use pellets like the smaller Frya 12 model. Instead, you have a large fire grate much like you’d have in a living room open fireplace. Here you build a fire out of wood or charcoal, though optionally you can get a gas burner upgrade.
Burning fuel should give you a better result, though, and the Karu 16 only takes around 15 minutes to heat up. I used Ooni’s 5in hardwood oak logs (£19.99 for a large box) and natural firestarters and found it couldn’t be much easier to get things going, and the large hatch gives you plenty of space.
Once the fire is lit, you can easily see when the oven is up to temperature, thanks to the digital thermometer. But you will need to keep more of an eye on the fire, compared to the Fyra 12, as that model feeds pellets gradually as they burn.
Flames can rise out of the hatch when you add more logs so be careful; I’d suggest placing new ones in with a pair of tongs.
Once up to temperature, it couldn’t be much easier to cook pizza as the Karu 16 is so spacious and the hinged door is quick to open and close, helping to keep the temperature consistent. I didn’t need to use the vent in the chimney much but when you do, it’s metal so can’t be touched without wearing gloves.
One thing I particularly loved is that cooking isn’t a guessing game, as with other ovens. You can simply watch your pizza cook through the glass and turn it when necessary. As advertised, the Karu 16 can cook a pizza in around 60 seconds and results are spectacular, with the oak providing an authentic wood-fired finish and flavour.
As per other models and rivals, you will need a peel to get pizzas in and out and the 14in size is £64.99 from the official store. Ooni has plenty of other tools and accessories, should you want to go the whole hog.
This includes a range of cast iron pans which can be placed in the oven to cook just about anything from vegetables to steak. I haven’t tried this, but I imagine that in the Karu 16 you could potentially even cook a small pizza while there’s a cast iron pan in the oven, too.
As mentioned at the top, the Karu 16 is the most expensive Ooni model to date and will set you back £699/US$799 before you add anything like fuel, peel or cover.
From Ooni’s own store, that price does include free shipping and a three-year warranty and you can also take advantage of Ooni’s 60-day money-back guarantee.
If you don’t want to buy it directly, the Karu 16 is also available from retailers such as Amazon and John Lewis in the UK. In the US you can buy it directly or from Amazon.
If this is too expensive, then the Frya 12 is much more affordable at £299/US$349. If you want a 16in size, then the Koda 16 is £499/US$599 – if gas-only is sufficient. Another option is the Ooni Pro 16 multi-fuel, which is also £499/US$599 if you don’t mind a more old school design.
For many people, the Ooni Karu 16 will be the ultimate pizza oven – and it’s not even just for pizzas either.
This stylish and well-made oven has luxurious features like its hinged glass door and digital thermometer, making cooking easier and more consistent. It really is a joy to use and the size means you can likely cook a small pizza and something else in a cast iron pan at the same time.
There are really only two downside here. The first is the premium price, which I’m sure will put many people off. It’s also not particularly portable, despite having folding legs and a removable chimney, because it’s a large oven that weighs nearly 30kg.
This somewhat rules it out for many situations and even makes it a little awkward to put away in a garage or shed.
Ooni Karu 16: Specs
Unboxed dimensions: 81 x 50 x 83cm
Unboxed weight: 28.4kg
Cooking surface: 42.4cm
1.5cm cordierite stone baking board
Folding legs for easy transport and storage
Durable, insulated, powder-coated carbon steel shell
Digital thermometer, C or F
ViewFlame glass door
Multi-fuel – wood or charcoal
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