Although traditional pizza ovens cook pizza to perfection using the intense heat from a wood fire, that doesn’t mean this is the only route to great tasting pizza. Just like barbecues, there are gas pizza ovens too, and the Koda is a gas fired model available from one of the best pizza oven brands, Ooni.
The Ooni Koda 12 is very similar to the wood fired Ooni Fyra except it connects to a gas bottle so there’s less mess. And keeping the flame going doesn’t require the same level of attention that a wood fired one does, so it’s a bit easier to use and as well as more predictable.
I’m not used to cooking outdoors on gas, I’ve always been a fan of charcoal barbecues and campfires. To me cooking on gas outside is kind of cheating, like if you’re cooking outside it should be smoky and messy and a bit difficult at times. But the Ooni Koda has changed my mind. I might not be fully converted to gas, but I’m happy to tell you I enjoyed cooking with it and the results were far tastier than I expected. Contrary to my original expectation, the Koda is not a lesser version of the wood-fired alternatives.
Ooni Koda 12 product specs
- Fuel: Gas
- Hose: 120 cm
- Weight: 9.25kg
- Pizza size: 12 inch
- Preheat time: 15 minutes
- Dimensions: 62 x 39 x 29cm
- Warranty: 3 years
Who tested the Ooni Koda?
After completing a Home Economics degree, Helen went on to work for the Good Housekeeping Institute and has been reviewing home appliances ever since. She lives in a small village in Buckinghamshire in the UK and reviewed the Ooni Koda at the same time as the Ooni Fyra, which helped her to determine the differences between the gas and the wood fired models.
Unboxing and setting up
The Ooni Koda appeared on my doorstep in its fully recyclable cardboard packaging, and it came out of the box assembled and ready to go. All I had to do was slide the pizza stone inside and unfold the legs. The gas hose is pre assembled so that when I’m ready to start cooking I just need to connect the push-on gas fitting to my gas bottle.
At the back of the pizza oven, next to the gas hose there’s a control knob. Turning this not only switches on the gas flow, but also the ignition spark, so there’s no need to get inside with a match to light the flame.
One thing I immediately noticed is that unlike the Ooni Fyra, there’s no door to keep the heat in. Likewise, there’s no chimney or wood hopper, so even though internally it’s the same size, externally it’s more compact. But otherwise, the two feel very similar.
If you don’t have one, you will need to purchase a gas bottle, like the ones used for gas barbecues. You’ll also need an infrared thermometer to check the temperature of the pizza stone, as this is the only way you’ll know when it’s reached the right temperature to cook pizza – guessing is just too risky!
Additionally you’ll need a peel, this big pizza size spatula is what you’ll use to launch the pizza onto the pizza stone as well as remove it once cooked. Ooni sells all the essential accessories separately as well as many more to help you get the most out of your pizza oven.
With the gas fired Ooni there’s really nothing to it. I turned the knob to let the gas flow and this automatically triggered the ignition and lit the flame. Then it was simply a case of waiting for the stone to heat up enough which takes around 15 – 20 minutes.
On one particularly blustery day it did struggle to hit 400oC and I found myself wishing it had a door on the front that I could close to keep the heat in. So if you do live in an area prone to stronger winds, you’ll have to keep this in mind and try to find a sheltered spot for it.
One thing I did before making my first pizza was to read through all the hints and tips on the Ooni website and watch some of the many YouTube video tutorials. These offer guidance on how to use an Ooni as well as how to make, shape and cook your pizzas and I’d highly recommend watching and reading through this information to give yourself a head start. What’s more, there’s a handy Ooni app to help you calculate your dough ingredients.
I started my Ooni Koda journey with two simple pizzas, a margarita and a pepperoni. I used Ooni’s recommended dough recipe and was surprised at how easy the dough was to manage and stretch into shape. Ooni says to add toppings after the dough is on the peel, so that it’s easy to load straight into the pizza oven. This means you have to resist the temptation to make up pizzas too early, they’re best made right before cooking.
I found semolina worked better than flour to stop the dough sticking to the peel and another useful – but tricky to stick to – bit of advice, is that less is definitely more when it comes to toppings. Adding too much can weigh down the pizza and both make it hard to handle as well as potentially leave you with a soft base.
Sliding the pizza from the peel onto the hot pizza stone wasn’t too tricky. My pizzas took about two minutes to cook and it’s important to turn the pizza every 20 – 30 seconds to get a good, evenly browned and crisped crust.
You’ll need to leave about five minutes between pizzas because the pizza stone cools down during cooking and it needs to regain some heat ready for the next pizza. Once I realised this, I was making amazing pizzas from the get-go and was impressed with how easy it is to get to grips with.
Cheesy garlic pizza bread was another favourite that cooked really well in the Ooni. Overall I was surprised at how, despite being a gas fired pizza oven, the pizzas made in the Koda were very similar to those I made in the wood fired Ooni Fyra and had deliciously crisp and charred crusts, just how I like them.
It’s actually not the pizza oven that takes time to master, I’d say making and shaping a great dough is the skill that might take a bit of practice, especially if you’re new to making bread dough. But that’s half the fun, and if all else fails, you can buy pizza mix from Ooni and they even sell frozen dough balls online, which really takes the thinking out of making excellent pizza.
Cooking other foods
With its dial to control the flame, the Ooni Koda offers plenty of scope for cooking all sorts of other foods. I managed to find a cast iron skillet in my kitchen that would fit inside, but Ooni sells them too or you can use a baking tray.
While preheating the skillet in the pizza oven for five minutes, I chopped onions and peppers and coated them in oil and fajita spices. I put the vegetables in the skillet and turned and checked them frequently. After just 10 minutes they had cooked into a deliciously charred tasty fajita mix.
On another occasion, I used the skillet to cook four chicken thighs. I had to turn the flame down because they were burning on the outside without cooking properly in the middle. But with the flame on low, and with regular turns, they cooked really well. Juicy and succulent on the inside, with crisp gnarly charred skin that could rival results you’d see from the best BBQs.
Aside from pizza the list of foods that can be cooked in the Ooni is endless, from meats, to vegetables, potatoes and more. The Ooni website and app both offer up plenty of recipe ideas and inspiration.
Cleaning and packing away
After the gas has been switched off and disconnected, you’ll have to wait for about an hour for the oven to be cool enough to pack away. Generally, the Koda doesn’t need much cleaning since the super high temperatures burn away any residues on the pizza stone. But you can remove it and brush off any ash or other residues if needs be.
I noticed that after cooking chicken thighs the area around the opening was splattered with fat, but I just wiped it quickly with kitchen paper before putting it away. Ooni recommends storing your pizza oven away from harsh weather, so keeping it in a garage or shed is a good idea.
You can buy a cover for it for £39.99, which is also handy if you plan on taking it with you on camping trips, but not a necessary accessory if you’re only likely to use it at home.
How does it compare to other pizza ovens?
If 12-inch pizzas don’t sound big enough, there is a 16-inch version of the Koda. But it’s £150 more expensive and if I’m honest I think if you’re a novice, it’ll take a while to master the art of making 12 inch pizzas and the larger 16 inch will be a bit tricky to manage.
Whilst reviewing this model I was also trying out the Ooni Fyra 12 which is the wood fired sibling of the Koda. The Fyra is £50 cheaper than the Koda and slightly larger overall thanks to the chimney and wood hopper. But in terms of speed of heating up and cooking pizzas, the two are very similar. The choice comes down to personal preference and whether you want that true wood fired pizza taste. But if so, the fire requires a bit more attention than the less hassle gas option.
If you can’t decide between gas or wood fired, the Ooni Karu 16 gives you the best of both worlds. This dual fuel model can cook 16-inch pizzas, but at £700 it’s double the cost of the either the Koda or the Fyra so it might be one to consider when it comes time to upgrade. But if you do choose it, you’ll get all of Ooni’s top-of-the-range features such as a built-in thermometer and a glass door so you can see what’s going on inside.
Should you buy the Ooni Koda?
The Koda is a great pizza oven that will allow you to make authentic pizzas without the hassle of keeping a fire going or the worry of loading it up with wood frequently. I’d say, if you’re a fan of a gas barbecue, you’ll probably prefer the gas fired Ooni too. But if you like cooking on an open flame, over a campfire or you really want to produce food with a wood smoke flavour, you should really be looking at the Ooni Fyra instead.
For consistently great pizza, especially if you live in a built-up area and need to avoid filling your neighbours gardens with wood smoke, the Koda is perfect. But don’t forget to buy all the accessories you’ll need to complete the experience, such as an infrared thermometer and a peel.
About this review, and the reviewer
Thankfully, despite trying out the Ooni in February, Helen fired it up during an unseasonably warm couple of weeks. She used it to make several pizzas as well as plenty of other meals for herself and her husband. And this review feels like it’s just the start of the journey, next she’s planning on perfecting sourdough pizzas, but she’ll probably be using the Ooni Fyra.
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