In my previous article on how to cook pizzas with pellets, I discussed one option is an Ooni. Over recent years the Ooni brand has been growing at a pretty impressive rate. However, I also find that quite a few people are still confused about the capabilities and benefits of Ooni pizza ovens. Furthermore, there isn’t just one model of Ooni pizza oven available and I want to discuss the benefits of their pellet focused oven the Frya12 over their other more expensive pizza ovens. I’ll also answer some FAQs about these Ooni pizza ovens. Enjoy 🙂
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1: What Is An Ooni Pizza Oven?
An Ooni pizza oven is a small and importantly easily portable means to cook pizza without the need for electricity. Hence, unlike a pellet grill/smoker you can cook a pizza (among other things) on an Ooni from pretty much anywhere.
To cook the perfect pizza you want really high temperatures both below and above the pizza to get a good crust and to properly cook the toppings and nicely melt the cheese. Well, that’s what an Ooni pizza oven is designed for, it can reach 950 degrees Fahrenheit in around 15 to 20 minutes.
2: Ooni Gas vs Pellet Pizza Ovens
As I stated in my introduction above, while Ooni has a range of models as you can see here, there is one model that is specifically designed to run on pellets, and its the Ooni pizza oven I would choose.
Ooni also offers gas-powered portable pizza ovens, so what’s my argument for why someone should choose the pellet focused Fyra 12 over the gas-fired Koda or Karu models? Well, the first reason is cost.
The Fyra which runs on pellets is the cheapest Ooni available at $349 whereas the cheapest gas-fired Ooni the Koda 12 costs $50 more at $399. However, the cost difference I think is just a minor benefit.
If you’re going to go the effort and expense of making your own pizza and owning a dedicated pizza oven surely you want a better flavour than that which can be achieved from just cooking a pizza in your home oven?
Well, that’s the key difference, with the pellet-fired Frya 12 you are opened up to a vast world of different pellet fuel options, you’re not limited to the Ooni oak hardwood pellets. There is a vast range of hardwood cooking pellets you can try for different subtle smoke flavours.
3: Running An Ooni On Wood Chunks/Charcoal vs Pellets
So above I’ve established why I would personally choose the pellet-fired Ooni Fyra over the gas-fired options such as the Koda 12. Well, what about the multifuel versions of the Ooni portable pizza ovens which can run on wood chunks or charcoal?
Yes, you will get a better flavour into the pizza cooking with wood chunks or charcoal over gas. However, the Ooni pizza ovens which can do this are significantly more expensive than the pellet focused Fyre 12. As you can see with the Ooni oven comparison chart, the multifuel Ooni ovens are more expensive and significantly so in the case of the Karu 16.
Furthermore, running an Ooni of wood chunks or charcoal requires more precise management of the fire. If you’re not constantly watching/feeding the fire with new wood chunks or charcoal the fire will not maintain a consistent temperature or could even go out.
With the more affordable Fyra on the other hand and its pellet hopper just keep that topped up and the fire will maintain its self. You can then spend more time and enjoyment preparing the pizza instead of worrying about the fire.
But what about if you want the strong smokey flavour of charcoal? Well, you may not be aware of this but you can now get charcoal pellets as well.
4: So Which Ooni Pellet Pizza Oven Is The Best?
While the multi-fuel versions of the Ooni pizza ovens would likely be determined by most people to be their best portable pizza ovens I don’t think so due to the fact they cannot take full advantage of the properties of pellets.
You may be thinking, surely you could also run one of the multifuel Ooni pizza ovens on pellets while still having the option to run on other fuels as well? That’s true, however, currently its only the Frya 12 which has a pellet hopper hence can feed the fire on its own.
If you were running one of the multifuel Ooni pizza ovens on pellets such as the Pro 16, Karu 12 or Karu 16 you would have to feed small quantities of pellets directly into the firebox. Hence, you’re not getting the advantage of pellets that can flow through a hopper on their own.
Therefore, I actually believe the cheapest Ooni the Fyra 12 to be their best portable pizza oven. Granted, it can only cook a 12″ pizza and not a 16″ pizza like some other Ooni models. However, when you think about it, the Ooni can cook a pizza in 60 seconds, just cook another 12″ pizza if you need more.
5: How Do You Light An Ooni Pizza Oven?
In a dedicated pellet grill/smoker with an electrical connection, a hot rod igniter gets the fire going, but it obviously requires a source of electricity. As an Ooni pizza oven is a much simpler affair, you have to manually get the pellet fire going in the Ooni.
So how do you that, will just any fire lighter/gel do? No, many ‘traditional’ BBQ fire lighting cubes/gels have some pretty nasty chemicals in them. Hence, when starting any fire which is going to be cooking you’re food you want to opt for a natural alternative.
The natural firelighters that Ooni offers are very commonly available and are often small bundles of wood shavings or similar coated in refined wax. These are sometimes referred to as wooden wool bundles.
As shown in the images above, some pellets are placed on the pellet grate of the Frya 12 with a natural firelighter on top. Once ignited the firefighter will eventually get the pellets going after a couple of minutes and the pellet grate should be placed back into the Ooni.
6: What Can An Ooni Pizza Oven Stand On?
As the Fyra 12 and all Ooni pizza ovens have foldable legs the hot underbelly of the oven is kept away from the surface the legs are in contact with. Therefore, Ooni does state their pizza ovens can be placed on combustible surfaces such as a wooden table.
However, its very important the surface is level and also stable. You’re going to be getting close to this very hot oven, you don’t want it rocking as you use it as it could touch and burn you.
You’ll also want to keep any Ooni at least a meter away from any other materials to avoid any potential associated fire risks. Furthermore, use suitably temperature rated gloves when interacting with the very hot pizza oven.
7: What Ooni Accessories Do You Need?
Ooni sell lots of accessories for their portable pizza ovens. There are a couple of essential accessories you would need whether purchased from Ooni or another supplier. The first is a pizza peel to load and unload the pizza from the oven. Remember for it to fit inside the Ooni Fyra it must be no wider than 12″.
The second essential accessory is an infra-red heat gun. With this tool, you can quickly measure the temperature of the pizza stone to see when its reaching high enough temperatures to cook a pizza well in around 60 seconds. Ooni states to look for a temperature of 752°F (400°C) then the pizza stone is ready.
Another essential accessory is an oven brush, the pizza stone may get ash from the pellets or food residue from a previous pizza that you need to clean off before the next pizza. Remember, the pizza stone is around 752°F (400°C) hence you need a metal wire brush.
The Ooni Fyra 12 is available as a bundle that includes the cover. However, if its purchased individually I would strongly encourage the purchase of the carry cover. Not only to make the Fyra easier to carry but also for protection. As I’ve stated above, the warranty does not cover water damage.
8: What Else Can You Cook On An Ooni Pizza Oven?
The other reason I like the Ooni Fyra 12 is its not just for cooking pizza. As can be seen in the images below with the aid of a cast iron cooking pan/skillet many other different foods can be prepared such as steaks or salmon.
While there are many portable pellet grills now available, even tabletop pellet grills they’re all larger/heavier than an Ooni Fyra 12 and they all require a source of portable power to run them. Therefore the Ooni Fyra 12 being a lightweight/no power option for cooking with pellets has its appeal.
However, what you do have to bear in mind is the Ooni Fyra is a high heat cooking device. Therefore, its suited to cooking thin cuts of meat, fish, vegetables and baking thin breads.
What and Ooni Fyra is not going to be suitable for is slow cooking large thick cuts of fatty meats. If you do want to do that type of cooking in various locations a conventional portable pellet grill is more suited to the task.
9: Can An Ooni Be Used In The Rain/Get Wet?
Quite simply, no, don’t use an Ooni in the rain or let it get wet. All Ooni products are made from powered coated steel and/or stainless steel, therefore corrosion isn’t instantly going to be a problem if you get caught out with a quick rain shower or when cleaning.
However, you need to be aware that while each Ooni is covered by a pretty good 3-year warranty (once registered) water damage and surface rust are not covered in the Ooni Warranty Terms and Conditions.
10: How Should An Ooni Be Stored?
As discussed, above the Ooni warranty does not cover water damage, therefore protecting the Ooni from rain/snow is important. Therefore, if the Ooni was left out in a rain shower you also don’t want to put it in the storage bag and leave it like that, as there could be trapped water.
You want to make sure the Ooni is stored in a well ventilated low humidity environment. Typically in a garage or shed should be a suitable place. Though if you’re garage/shed gets damp bringing the Ooni indoors would not be a bad idea and storing it in your loft etc.
11: Can An Ooni Be Left Outside?
While using the Ooni in the middle of summer and you know the weather is going to be dry leaving the Ooni outside would obviously not cause damage. Then again, someone could steal it, so that’s worth thinking about.
The point is, an Ooni is not a traditional fixed backyard pizza oven, its not designed to live outside. Besides water damage from rain you also have to consider sudden high-speed winds. As the Ooni Fyra 12 is designed to be portable its not that heavy (22 lbs).
The general point is when an Ooni is not in use (and its cooled down) it should be packed away and stored in a well-ventilated environment and protected from rain/snow to maintain its best condition.
12: Can An Ooni Be Used Indoors?
No, within the Ooni Fyra 12 is a pellet fire, therefore just like any pellet grill/smoker it should not be used indoors due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, never mind the fire risk it would pose.
But let’s say you want to use the Ooni but you think it might rain, it may be just a light shower etc. Well, the two factors to think about are ventilation and fire risks.
Hence, an open gazebo in an open area in the garden provided sufficient clearances around the Ooni are maintained could be suitable. That includes a decent distance above the chimney stack so the gazebo fabric doesn’t catch fire.
Never use the Ooni or any BBQ etc in your garage even with the door open to provide ventilation. The potential fire risks are just too great.
13: How Should An Ooni Be Cleaned?
While some of the components on the Ooni Fyra 12 are stainless steel, the body of the Ooni 12 is powered-coated steel. Hence, you don’t want to be using any harsh abrasive cleaning chemicals or extremely rough brushes/scouring pads. In doing so you could tarnish/scratch the stainless steel or worse damage the powder-coated paint finish.
Warm water and soap with a cloth should be sufficient to keep the surfaces of the Ooni Fyra 12 clean. The trick is to clean frequently to avoid a build of dirt/soot/grease which could make you tempted to use harsher cleaning solutions.
Importantly, before the Ooni is placed in its storage bag after cleaning make sure its properly dry. Otherwise, moisture trapped inside the bag could lead to corrosion damage.
14: How Should The Ooni Pizza Stone Be Cleaned?
After repeated use the pizza stone its self is going to look much darker as residue from cooking the pizza has burnt into the surface of the pizza stone. So how do you remove that dark dirty appearance on the pizza stone?
Well, you could try the warm soapy water approach, some people even try making a paste with water and baking soda and leaving that on the pizza stone to try and lift the dirt. Now, this can work in some cases. However, sometimes its a job beyond baking soda.
The most effective means to remove that black residue from the pizza stone is to burn it off. Now, you could place the pizza stone back into the Ooni (once completely dry) with the blackest area to the back closest to the flames. However, you will have burnt through quite a bit of pellets before that black residue is removed.
Another means to get the job done is the flash a gas torch against the surface of the stone over these blackened areas to burn it away. I do need to stress though, this should only be done with a bone dry pizza stone, if not, you could end up cracking the stone.
15: Where Are Ooni Pizza Ovens Made?
I often get asked about where different brands of pellet grills/smokers are made, hence its why I have an article on which pellet grills/smokers are still made in the USA.
When it comes to Ooni while they have their HQ in Scotland as you can read about on the Ooni about page, like most appliances their portable pizza ovens are made in China and shipped all around the world.
Conclusions On The Ooni Fyra 12 Portable Pellet Pizza Oven
As I mostly spend my time writing about pellet grills/smokers with highly automated features and components the Ooni Fyra 12 is a different proposition entirely.
The Fyra 12 is truly an ‘off grid’ means to cook with wood pellets. While pizza is obviously the core use case for an Ooni as discussed above it can be used to cook a wider range of meals.
As pellets have flowing properties I believe the Fyra 12 which is specifically designed for pellets while being the cheapest Ooni is actually the best Ooni. With the Fyra 12 there is a huge range of widely available pellets you can try, including charcoal pellets.
That’s it! I hope you found the above information on the Ooni portable pizza ovens and specifically the Fyra 12 interesting/useful. If you would like to learn about the wider world of cooking with pellets please check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide 🙂
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