It is coming up on a decade since the husband and wife team founded Ooni with a Kickstarter campaign. Love of pizza and passion for quality led them to today and their high quality, and best of all, effective pizza cooking ovens. Here we take a close look at one of their latest releases, the Ooni Frya 12 wood fired outdoor oven.
Most of can probably recall the first time we had a perfect wood oven cooked Neopolitan-style pizza. Crispy and chewy crust with minimal and bold ingredients. Then we tried to aspire to recreating that at home. Shy of building an expensive brick igloo in the back yard that challenge was hard to meet. But devices like this Ooni Fyra 12 have helped bring us to that level of quality cooking.
The things that we liked most about this product are a quality purpose built design that is simple to operate. Ooni has taken this a step further, so that you can take it a step further. It is truly portable. The components break down easily into a compact unit weighing in under 25 pounds. Not bad for a device that uses stone as the cooking surface.
Even better, it reassembles easily as well. We’ll get into those details further into our review. If you aren’t travelling, the powder coat finish and metal components will stand up well to the elements for a long life of food production.
Keep in mind the goal is fairly simple; create an environment of enclosed high heat. First off, you need fuel to create the heat. In today’s world, wood cooking pellets are ubiquitous, available at any store, often in your choice of wood type to impart different flavors. Of course Ooni has their own line of quality pellets, but you have lots of choices in the market making this part of the process very accessible.
The fuel delivery system is simple. The ash hopper also works as your starter tray. Load a couple handfuls of pellets into the tray, add a flammable starter and ignite. Or, you can us a torch to get the flame going very quickly. Either way, put the tray in place and let the pellets get a good burn going. This is an important step. The cooker works really fast when up and running, but patience at the beginning will serve you well. When you have a good flame, add more pellets through the hopper, using the provided scoop, a genius idea in and of itself. You are up and running, in 15 minutes you should have a 900 plus degree cooking environment.
We know nothing is perfect, but this pizza oven is pretty darn good. Here are a couple things we discovered about using this and maintaining high temps through multiple pizza cooks. First off, we don’t recommend topping off the pellet hopper to the maximum as it can feed too many pellets, potentially creating extra smoke and acrid flavors. You will be burning about half a pound of pellets every 10-15 minutes. The scoop is nice, but you can also get the pellets cleanly into the hopper with a mason type jar, the pint size will hold about a half pound. A good way to track and deliver your pellets. Having your fire go out is a pain and is to be avoided. Get used to regularly feeding pellets, but since the overall process is not too long, we’re okay with the tradeoff.
Because the pizza will cook in less than two minutes, generally, you should already be in an attentive mode for this whole process. Typically you want to allow about 5 minutes for the surface to recover temp between pizzas. Also, get an infrared thermometer that will read the surface temp of your stone. Our friends at Thermopro have a great device at a great price ThermoPro TP30 Digital Infrared Thermometer Laser Temperature Gun
We mentioned the powder coat and durability. The other components are sturdy and solid. They fit together very well. This is important if you are going to enjoy the portability the Ooni has to offer. Remove the pellet hopper assemble and the chimney, they will fit in the cooking chamber. Fold up the legs and you have a fairly compact unit. For this use we would recommend getting the carrying case.
The cooking chamber is fairly well insulated. This is to contain the heat, but understand the exterior components still get hot. No surprise when you hitting 900 plus degrees just inches away. As a result though, you will want a pair of hot mitts handy for handling things. Especially the most crucial piece, the damper. In the chimney is a flap that you can rotate. This will open or close the air flow and give some degree of control. It also gets really hot, so be aware.
The one exception is the door. It has a nice handle that is fairly well insulated so you can quickly remove it to take pizzas in or out, or rotate them during cooking. This also brings up the only truly necessary accessory you need, a pizza peel to move the pie around as needed. It also has another nice feature; a peephole. You can look in and see how your flame is doing. It is not quite big enough to see how the pizza is cooking, but popping the door open is easy enough for you to do and check the progress.
When the time comes to cook your pie, the Ooni Frya 12 is there to make it easy for you. Start with the name, a device called a 12 probably is designed for a twelve inch pizza…just saying. And that is the maximum size you will want to cook.
With the stone properly heated this unit delivers scorching temps and times for your cook. 90 seconds with a rotation every 30 seconds yielded a crisp crust with just the right coloration top and bottom. We found the fresh mozz pieces needed a little thinning down, to chunky and they didn’t get the proper melt. Other than that you can get a nice crisp curl on your pepperoni and other ingredients in the allotted time. It does the job it is made to do.
Mostly pros, but here is our wrap up:
And, most of all, it produces a very well cooked pizza and it’s priced right. For this reason we recommend the Ooni Fyra 12 as we have rated it the best pizza oven under $500.