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Why I Used To Disagree With WIRED Magazine: Ooni Koda Review

Since I originally posted this article, I have spent many wonderful hours making and eating the pizza that I've made on both my Ooni Pro and Ooni Koda pizza ovens.  I have come to the conclusion that Wired magazine was MOSTLY right.  

Why have I revised my original opinion about the Ooni Pro versus the Ooni Koda pizza oven?  Again, to restate my view, they both belong to be at the top of the class of portable pizza ovens, however as I continue to use both of them extensively, there is one setup that I prefer above all portable outdoor pizza ovens.

Most of my original article is centered around how the Ooni Koda is easier to use because it cooks with propane.  Since I have 4 kids, I make at least 6 pizzas at a time, and I don't want to worry about constantly adding wood.  This is made more dramatic since I tend to entertain a lot, which means I make 10-30 pizzas at a time - depending on the size of the group.

Since writing the original article, I got the Ooni Pro Gas Burner and I have come to a new conclusion.

The Ooni Pro bundled with the Gas Burner Module is by far the best portable pizza oven on the market!  By adding the gas burner to the Ooni Pro, you gain the top two advantages I outlined in the original article, PLUS these advantages:

Additional Advantage 1: More Space = More Comfortable Cooking
The 17 inch cooking space means that you could cook a 16 inch pizza in it, but I've not gone to that extreme.  I still make my pizzas about 12 inches, but the Ooni Pro just makes me feel more comfortable while cooking.  I simply have more space to work with and don't have to worry about hitting the sides or front.  It makes things easier when launching the pizzas or taking them out.  It's hard to explain - best word I can think of is comfortable.

Additional Advantage 2: Stone Temperature
Because there is more surface area, there is more variance in the stone temperature from the front to the back - and this can be a good thing.  I tend to cook my pizzas up close to the burner where the stone is hottest and the direct heat from the gas will make the crust pop up - making it crisp on the outside and airy on the inside.  When you cook a lot of pizzas in a row, sometimes the stone up front cools down a bit and the bottom of your pizza needs a little more cooking time.  So, after cooking the pizza most of the way, I'll move the pizza closer to the door to cook the bottom a little more and the top will cook more slowly and the bottom more fully.  At the same time, my sweet spot on the stone gets the chance to re-heat.  Versatility you won't get in any other portable pizza oven! 

Cost Difference
The trade-off for going with the Ooni Pro over the Ooni Koda is the cost.  The gas burner adds an extra $95 to the cost of the Ooni Pro (SRP $499) - which is already double the cost of the Ooni Koda (SRP $299).  You just have to decide if the versatility and ability to cook so many more dishes in the Ooni Pro is worth the cost.  

So, after much very enjoyable testing, I have come to the conclusion that the Ooni Pro with Gas Burner Bundle is the best pizza oven on the market,  and the Ooni Koda is the best value for an ultra portable pizza oven.

Thank you for reading my revised article, and I hope you will enjoy the rest of the original article below.

Original Article Post Below:
Portable Pizza Ovens are growing in popularity. Because of this, WIRED magazine published an article "The 6 Best Pizza Ovens for Every Occasion (and Budget)". While I agree that the Ooni pizza ovens belong at #1 and #2 of this list, I disagree as to the order.

The author, Adrienne So, ranked the Ooni Pro as the #1 portable pizza oven on the list. I understand that the top reasons for the top ranking is that the Ooni Pro can use 4 different fuels for cooking - wood, charcoal, propane, or wood pellets - while the #2 Ooni Koda only uses propane. The second reason is that the Ooni Pro is larger than the Ooni Koda - making it better for cooking other foods than the Koda is.

I first learned to use the Ooni Pro before the Ooni Koda was released. Now, I have both ovens and my kids and I almost exclusively use the Ooni Koda. Here are 4 points of comparison to help you understand why:

1. I'm lazy! The Ooni Koda is easier to start. Use the built in knob and starter to light it up and wait for the Koda to get up to the correct heat. Backside of Ooni Koda showing the knob used to turn on the oven and adjust temperatureIt's not that the Ooni Pro difficult to start.  It is easy enough to get lit if you use proper food grade fire-starters and good hardwood, lump charcoal, or both together.  I couldn't get the pellet burner to crank up the Pro above 600 degrees, so it is probably good for other foods - but not pizza.

2. The Ooni Koda makes me look good!  Because the Koda can maintain its high temperature for a sustained period of time - the bonus side-effect is that it makes me look good! What I mean by that is I can cook pizza after pizza with a brown, unburned crust - and make it look pretty easy.  With 4 kids, we never make less than 3 pizzas, and often 6 or more when we have friends over. The propane burner of the Koda keeps the temperature consistent without having to add more fuel between pizzas. Surprisingly, the hardest part is for the rest of the crew to add toppings fast enough to keep up with how fast I can cook the pizzas.  I struggled to be as consistent with the Pro - likely because it takes more patience and skill on the pro to keep the temperature even at cooking levels.

3. Cobbler is the Koda's kryptonite! The Ooni Pro is better at making dishes other than pizza.Ooni Pro Portable Pizza OvenBecause of its size and the insulation of the door, I have been able to cook other dishes, such as shrimp and apple crisp, in a cast iron skillet. I've tried do the same in the Koda and only the front end gets fully cooked without putting the skillet in handle first - making it difficult to turn and cook thoroughly.

4. The Koda is a road warrior!  I mean, what else is there to say for a pizza oven who's cover doubles as a duffel bag? Ooni Koda in carry caseThe Ooni Koda is easier to transport and cleanup. This is especially important when I take the oven with me to gatherings away from home. And since there is no ash to cleanup afterwards, it is easier to cart it home with you. Imagine how much easier it would be to take the Koda tailgating if you don't have to dispose of the ashes before going into the game.  Just fold the legs up, pack it away, and go!

Why do Adrienne and I disagree as to which oven should be listed as the #1 portable pizza oven? This just goes to show that finding the right portable pizza oven is more about what you are trying to accomplish and what kind of experience you are looking for. Both the Ooni Pro and the Koda are excellent ovens that are very transportable and great at cooking pizza. You just have to decide what you want out of your pizza oven.

If you are new at the pizza oven game, worried about whether or not you will be successful, or just want to use your oven to cook pizza - then I would say that the Ooni Koda is the right pizza oven for you.

On the other hand, if you want an oven that will cook all kinds of dishes besides pizza, you are more experience at cooking with wood or charcoal, or you are a wood fired purist that wouldn't be caught dead cooking with propane - then the Ooni Pro is the right choice for you.

No matter which oven you choose, the good guys at Yardity are here to take care of you before and after your purchase. We've had numerous customers call back after their first attempt at making pizzas to ask advice on how to cook their pizzas better - just to help them get over the learning curve. Give us a call - we'll be happy to help!

Tim Palmer
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