It’s the spaceship that lands in your backyard with a lesson in thermodynamics. The Ooni Koda 16 is the propane-fired, outdoors-only pizza oven you’d find on the Jetsons’ patio. It hits temperatures over 900°F, turning a simple mixture of flour, water, yeast and salt into Neapolitan pizza in 60 seconds.
Onboard is a cordierite crystal stone and an L-shaped burner system making the oven hottest in the rear left corner. To nail the ideal Neapolitan crust—crispy outside, chewy and tender inside with requisite “leopard” spots (charring)—you’ll learn to turn the pie into and away from the hot spots. That way it cooks evenly, just like at professional pizzerias. We recommend getting an infrared thermometer and a “banjo” pizza peel (long pizza spatula). Oh, and please practice before your first pizza party.
Because the Koda 16 is larger than most competitors in the same price neighborhood ($499), it’s tempting to make large (maximum 16-inch) pies, but you’d be wise to keep the diameter in the 10-to-12 inch range, leaving room to move the pizza around. The burner shape creates what Ooni calls “waterfall heating,” and makes it easy to identify the hottest and cooler spots on the deck. The next challenge is calibrating the heat so that you can make different pizza styles, like New York, that require lower temperatures. This will take some experimenting and depends on variables like what’s in your dough. Gas power allows subtler temperature controls than on wood-burning ovens, which Ooni also makes.
Set-up is easy. Unfold the legs, insert the stone, hook up the gas and hit the ignition knob. It heats up in about 20 minutes and recovers very quickly. You can buy dough, but making and shaping your own are the most difficult and rewarding parts of pizza making. Doing so optimizes this oven and the experience. Use recipes from Ooni or make those of the masters and become one yourself.