I love all forms of pizza. Whether it’s a cheap frozen pizza or a hastily reheated slice from the night before, I cannot get enough of it. There’s just something about that mix of sauce, cheese, and pizza crust that makes me forget all other foods exist.
Because of my love for it, I have even taken to learning how to make pizza from scratch in my home oven. But no matter what techniques I tried at home, I had never been able to re-create the kind of flavors you’d get from a professionally hand-crafted pizza. That was before I had an Ooni Koda pizza oven sitting in my backyard, just begging to cook pizzas to perfection.
I have the Ooni Koda 16 gas-powered pizza oven sitting in my backyard currently, and despite a rocky start to my pizza-making experience, it has become as essential as my grill. It’s fairly light, portable, and can easily connect to the same propane used for a grill. All in all, it’s been a terrific addition to my outdoor cooking experience and has been a great reason to have people over for a delicious experience.
That being said,aren’t exactly cheap or easy to master. The Ooni Koda 16 is almost $500 and it doesn’t come with everything you need to effectively make pizzas. It also takes a bit of time to figure out the right techniques and subtleties that accompany a machine designed to cook a pizza in just 60 seconds.
Easy to Setup, Difficult to Master
I don’t know why I was expecting to immediately know the right techniques for cooking pizza in a pizza oven, but my first few attempts were complete failures. The setup was easy enough, though. All you really have to do is take it out of the box, stand it up, place the pizza stone inside, and connect it to a gas source. The instructions also say to let it run without cooking the first time around to remove any potential chemicals left behind from the shipping process.
The first challenge I faced with my cooking experience was getting the raw pizza into the oven. Even if you are using a professional pizza peel, you have to be very careful to not let your dough stick to it. This will make it impossible to effectively transfer the pizza into the raging hot oven without losing some toppings.
The second challenge is something I still haven’t fully mastered after about five attempts — cooking everything evenly. Since the oven is extremely hot, the pizzas cook fast and it isn’t as easy as you’d think to get the crust and toppings to cook evenly. The back of the oven is the hottest, and you need to be able to quickly turn the pizza all the way around to ensure nothing gets too burnt or stays too doughy.
Essential Accessories are Sold Separately
Much like buying a charcoal grill, the Ooni Koda doesn’t come with all of the accessories you need to actually use it. For the base price, it comes with the oven, pizza stone, and gas connector. Here are some of the essential accessories you’ll need to buy separately:
Pizza Peel: A pizza peel is basically a giant spatula that is made for transferring and rotating pizzas in the oven. If you’re worried about your ability to transfer the raw pizza to the oven, we recommend you buy an aerated or bamboo pizza peel.
Pizza Stone Brush: Your pizza stone is going to get dirty. Toppings, flour, and cheese will burn their way onto your pizza stone over time, and the best way to remove this is to get yourself a decent pizza stone brush.
Wood or Metal Table: Though some folding tables will do, you need a nice metal or wooden table to put the pizza oven on or you’ll end up making pizzas on the ground like me.
Infrared Thermometer: While this isn’t exactly a necessity, it is a great tool for being able to check when your pizza oven is actually hot enough to be ready for cooking pizzas.
You Shouldn’t Store it Outside
While it is possible to store the Ooni Koda pizza oven outside, I wouldn’t recommend it. Ideally, you’d want to store it indoors in a cool, dry place. If you absolutely don’t have anywhere to store it inside, however, you can purchase a cover for it that allows for some protection from the elements. Though even with that, you should do your best to keep it out of the rain as much as you can.