Review – Ooni Pro 16 Pizza Oven:
When I wrote my last review of the Ooni Fyra I was a bit shocked that I hadn’t written a review of the Ooni Pro 16 Pizza Oven yet, it’s been on my list for ages to write something and finally I am doing it!
I bought my first Ooni (it was Uuni then!) pizza oven many years ago, it was the Uuni 2S and I was amazed at the quality of pizzas I could cook in it especially as it had only cost me £200!
There was a fairly steep learning curve to learn how to keep the fire running optimally and to cook your pizzas without burning them but after I while I was getting there! (usually with my wife helping!)
Then Ooni sent me the Ooni 3 Pizza Oven to cook with so I could update my blog with information about the new pizza oven, it was similar to the Ooni 2S but had evolved with new design features including a clip on chimney, upgraded hopper, set back and updated pellet tray.
This is my Ooni Blog:
To get the best out of the Ooni 3 I bought a jam funnel which helped stack loads of pellets up and reduced the number of times you had to refill. I also used a little USB powered fan to keep the fire roaring when cooking. Those two additions made it possible for me to make and cook the pizzas on my own. Folk with far greater skills than me managed without these items but they were a massive help to me!
This was my review of the Ooni 3:
In August 2018 Ooni sent me the Ooni Pro 16 and I have been cooking with it frequently ever since.
To be honest, when it first arrived I wasn’t sure how it could be better than the Ooni 3 which I was really comfortable using by that point. The Pro was bigger so it would just make bigger pizzas right? Wrong! It’s a whole lot more than that!
Ooni Pro – Unboxing:
When you buy the Ooni Pro, what is in the box?
Step one, place the large (60x33x80cm) and fairly heavy (29KG) box on a table.
Remove the Ooni Pro box from the outer box.
Put the box on it’s side and slide the Ooni Pro out – This wasn’t easy, see if someone can help you.
Place the Ooni Pro flat and move the box to the side.
So many boxes. They make maximum use of space inside the Ooni Pro so have a good root around inside to make sure you get them all. Some of the boxes are empty, I would guess this is to fill all the space to stop bits moving around during transit.
Boxes opened, you can see the empty ones at the top. I have stuck some tags against everything else.
An important note: Newer versions of the Ooni Pro 16 are shipped with 2x larger stones rather than the 4x smaller stones you see in my pictures. I will come back to this later.
Take the plastic off the Ooni Pro.
The Ooni Pro has three legs underneath. Two at the front and one at the back. Fold them out so the Ooni Pro stands up.
Install the chimney, it has a lip at the front and a clip at the back.
Put the four pizza stones inside.
Fit one of the doors. This is the door with thermometer. If you are cooking with gas fit the pizza door instead. Hatch door fitted on the back too.
Ready to go! Use the closed door when cooking with charcoal/wood.
With the Pizza Door fitted. Use this when cooking with the gas adapter.
The lineup: Uuni 2S, Ooni Pro and Uuni 3.
Unpacking the Ooni Pro you realise how big it is but also how substantial the components are. It feels much higher quality than the Uuni 2S/3 but is also a lot easier to put together as you just fold the legs out, clip the chimney on, put the pizza stones in and put the door on. From placing the box down to having it fully built took 15 minutes and that included taking all these photos.
The oven is a multi fuel oven and can run on charcoal and wood, gas or pellets (both gas and pellets need extra hardware sold separately).
I have only run mine on charcoal and wood but have cooked on a gas one at Ooni HQ. Cooking with wood is great fun but gas is definitely easier so it’s down to personal choice really.
I haven’t cooked on pellets with the Ooni Pro 16 so can’t give an opinion on it other than the other options are pretty easy and I imagine pellets will be a lot harder!
Lighting the Fire:
I normally start with a base of charcoal. For a long while I put some flamers (fire lighters) underneath the mesh basket and left them to light the charcoal but recently I have been using a Looftlighter to light the charcoal and get the fire started.
Once the charcoal has been burning for around 10 minutes I add wood to the fire. I used to use wood chunks which I got from Amazon but for a while I was using Whisky Oak staves which I bought in bulk and recently I have been using large staves from Smokey Oak Barbecue which have been fantastic. The smaller the wood you use the more often you will be adding it, the fire box on the Ooni Pro 16 is big enough to take some big staves which provides a high heat and you don’t need to top it up too often.
View from the front:
Fire management is pretty easy with wood. When I was using chunks I would add one after cooking two pizzas. With the big staves somewhere around pizza two or three was the point to add another one.
It runs nice and hot!
What about the pizzas though?
I got into a routine of cooking pizzas most Friday nights after work, it was great to close the laptop, wander down to the hut, light a fire and drink a beer watching the fire. Great way to end the working week and unwind!
Because of this I think I have cooked pizzas on the Ooni Pro 16 at least 100 times since I got it and have worked my way through a number of recipes in books such as Pizza Bible, Franco Manca, Elements of Pizza, Pizza Pilgrims and Pizza Camp. I have cooked some fantastic pizzas on this oven and have been really happy with the results. The kids love making their own pizzas as well which has resulted in some quite random toppings but they enjoyed them which is the main thing!
Here are a few of the pizzas I have cooked below:
I have also cooked Detroit Style Pizzas at a lower temperature just using charcoal.
And it’s not just pizzas you can cook in it – here are some flatbreads:
A steak cooked on cast iron
Nice and pink!
But, one of my favourite things is lamb chops cooked in searing cast iron:
Just glorious and there is never enough as they taste so good!
What else can you cook in it?
A Roast Dinner:
What is my view on the Ooni Pro 16 then?
I get asked a lot “If you could only have 1 grill what would it be” and whilst I would choose a kettle bbq I would need to also have my Ooni Pro 16 with me as well as it’s such a cracking bit of kit.
It is bigger than the Ooni 3 and you can make larger pizzas but the increased head room makes it easier to use and moving from pellets to charcoal and wood makes the cooking process a lot easier also.
With the extra space you can cook more than just pizza in it as you can see from my list above, the roast dinner was a personal favourite. You can cook some cracking pizzas and food in this oven.
Fire management is easy with larger bits of wood and it really is good fun playing with fire in the Pro!
Build quality is good and it feels like a solid bit of kit. It’s of a size you can move it but I wouldn’t want to carry it far as it is quite heavy. I do move mine around the hut to cook on it but not too far!
So my simple answer is – Buy one! For £499 it’s a great bit of kit. Here is the link to the Ooni store – Link
But, here is something to be aware of. The Ooni Pro 16 is about to be discontinued so if you want one, buy it sooner rather than later!
When I heard the Ooni Pro 16 was being replaced by a newer model I racked my brain to think how they might possibly improve it:
- The door sometimes sticks at a high heat and can need a knock to release it. It’s super hot so use gloves!
- The door isn’t on a closed hinge and through clumsiness I have burnt myself a few times on the door. I even knocked the door right off one time, thankfully the glass didn’t break.
- When I had the 4x stone surface I felt like I was cursed as the last pizza was always mine and I went through a sequence of ripping it! When I bought the 2x stone combo I broke that curse but I often looked longingly at the single biscotto stones.
- The glass gets filthy, I presumed it was the wood I was using and I did clean the glass one time but it was black again on the next cook! When I was learning to use the Ooni Pro 16 it was handy to be able to look through the glass at the pizza to see how it was cooking or if it was time to spin it/take it out. Not such a big deal as I got more used to cooking with it as I just counted to 15 then spun the pizza!
Now, the Ooni Pro 16 is getting replaced by the Ooni Karu 16 which just happens to address all of those points above:
- The door is on a closed hinge so can’t fall out. The handle is on top as well to reduce the risk of burns.
- It comes with a single stone for the cooking surface
- The glass has ViewFlame™ technology to keep the glass clear (clever!)
- It also has a built in digital temperature gauge which looks very cool.
The Ooni Karu 16 currently sells for £699 which is £200 more than the Ooni Pro 16. I haven’t seen one in the flesh so can’t compare the two but you can read more about it here.
KUNGFUBBQ:UK BBQ Blog and Ooni Blog documenting recipe cooks from various cookbooks, my own recipes, reviews of BBQ’s and Accessories plus handy hints and tips. UK BBQ Blogs