The Ooni 3 is a conveniently-sized lightweight and portable pizza oven that’s one of the best options you’ll find out there. It is our first place selection in our ‘Best Outdoor Ovens Under $500’. If you like wood-fired flavor and cooking Neapolitan-styled pizza, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a portable oven that gives you the same results as this one. While it’s not perfect, it’s definitely one of the best finds on the market.
The Ooni 3 is made with top-quality 430 stainless steel along with durable washable cordierite pizza stones. The oven runs on wood pellets that give the pizza it cooks that unique and authentic wood-fired flavor. It’s also extremely lightweight, which allows you to easily take it wherever you want to enjoy a pizza.
The cordierite pizza stone baking board helps produce some of the best results and it’s highly durable to withstand the oven’s internal temperatures.
Ultimately, the design of this pizza oven is excellent if you want to enjoy an authentic wood-fired pizza, but if you want to avoid some of the potential issues that can come with using a pellet burner, you may want to use this oven with a gas burner.
The insulated main body is a great design to help reflect additional heat to both the stone and the pizza. Compared to previous models, the Ooni 3 also features an improved combustion chamber and pallet hopper, moving it back to allow for better airflow. The flame deflector is yet another appealing feature that helps direct flames away from the pizza toward the back of the oven, which prevents the pizza and stone from accumulating any ash.
When cooking with the oven, you can insert pizzas through the front while the burner sits in the rear, which means that you should operate the oven on a table that gives you easy access to both the front and the back.
The oven can heat up to 932 degrees Fahrenheit (500 C) within around 10 minutes, which can allow you to cook a Neapolitan-style pizza within as little as a minute. You can use a thermometer gun to easily read the temperature of the oven by shooting it onto the cordierite stone.
The setup of the oven is also very easy for the most part. The instruction manual comes with pictures to show you exactly how to put the thing together. All in all, you shouldn’t need to spend more than around 20 minutes assembling the oven and getting it ready to cook.
If you need any additional help when setting up the oven, below is helpful video to walk you through the basics.
Lighting the oven is also an easy task. Simply slide out the combustion chamber and fill it with your cooking pellets, whether you use Ooni-brand pellets or another brand. Then you can light the oven using a blow torch through the small hole on the combustion chamber’s side. When using the oven, we found that it takes a little longer than the advertised 1o minutes to preheat, even in ideal conditions, so allow for closer to 15 minutes.
When cooking the pizza, keep in mind that the rear of this oven often gets hot, and you might need to rotate the pizza at some point to cook the pizza more evenly throughout.
The only inconvenience here is that the oven is pretty narrow, which can make it a little challenging to rotate the pizza using the pizza peel included, which is almost as big as the mouth of the oven. For more even cooking and to navigate around this issue, we recommend a turning peel that’s slightly smaller than the one included. This will prevent the need to remove the pizza from the oven to rotate it.
By making sure the pizza is evenly cooked, you can get some great results with this oven.
There are a couple of issues with the default model of the Ooni 3 that we found.
As we mentioned, there’s the problem with the narrow size of the oven, which can make it a challenge to turn your pie around for even cooking, but a special turning peel can help you out here.
The biggest issue involves using this oven with the pellet burner. To cook the perfect Neapolitan-style pizza, you need a hot oven, hot cooking surface, the right kind of pizza dough and toppings, and last but definitely not least, perfect timing. Poor timing can cause the dough to stick to the peel, and periodic rotation will keep the pizza more evenly cooked. The problem with the pellet burner is that you won’t be able to easily ignite and control the pellets, which can affect the timing aspect of the cooking process. So there’s a little guess work here with the pellets.
First, it can be tricky just to determine how to insert the grate and how the pellets are introduced to the grate—they go on top, we found out. Once you insert the grate, you insert the pellet tray through the back of the oven.
Once you’ve preheated the oven, you need to load a hopper with pellets and make sure it remains topped. The issue with this is that the pellet burner doesn’t feature any temperature control, which means you might find that the hopper pellets are burned off and you need to start from scratch by the time you’re ready to cook another pizza after enjoying your first.
Burning pellets can also produce a lot of smoke, leading to a sooty and bitter taste.
The best way to optimize your cooking experience with this oven is to use it with the optional gas burner and temperature control in lieu of the pellet burner. Doing so should help you get the most from this oven.
While the Ooni 3’s pellet burner may not yield the best results, you can use a gas burner with temperature controls for optimal performance. With easy setup and fast preheating, along with a durable high-quality design, you should get a lot of reliable use out of the Ooni 3 in the long run — especially at it’s entry level price.