Ooni Fyra

Ooni Karu 12 vs 16 – Which Is Best For You?

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This is my comparison of the Ooni Karu 12 vs 16.

Having used the Ooni Karu and spoken to other Karu owners I have compiled my learnings here to help guide you on your pizza oven journey.

Karu 12 vs 16: Overview

The Ooni Karu series has evolved over the years and now has three variants: the Karu 12, Karu 12G and the Karu 16.

Out of the three, my best pick is the Karu 16. As the name states, it’s the largest cooking pizzas up to 16″ in size, plus it is also the most feature-rich model. Additionally, it has better heat retention than the 12 and 12G, something that is important to me.

If you’re on a budget then I would recommend the Karu 12G. It is only slightly more expensive than the 12 but has a much better spec for the cost.

Keep reading to find out more about the Karu series and decide for yourself if this is the oven for you.

Karu 12 vs Karu 16 – What’s The Difference?

This is how the Karu 12 stacks up vs the Karu 16:

Karu 12Karu 12GKaru 16
Dimensions30 x 15 x 31″29.7 x 28.7 x 16.5″32 x 19.6 x 33″
Pizza Size12″12″16″
Stone Type0.6″ cordierite stone0.6″ cordierite stone0.6″ cordierite stone
FuelWood, Charcoal, GasWood, Charcoal, GasWood, Charcoal, Gas
Max. Temperature950°F950°F950°F
Preheat time15 minutes15 minutes15 minutes

Ooni Karu 12 vs 16 – Pros and Cons

Best Overall

Ooni Karu 16


Cooks pizza in 60 seconds

Multi-fuel – gas and wood

Large cooking surface

Premium price

Best Value for Money

Ooni Karu 12


Cooks pizza in 60 seconds

Multi-fuel – gas and wood

Smaller cooking surface

Best Value for Money

Ooni Karu 12G


Cooks pizza in 60 seconds

Multi-fuel – gas and wood

Smaller cooking surface

Karu 12 vs 16 – Size and Weight

When choosing between the Ooni Karu 12, Karu 12G, and Karu 16, size and weight are big factors.

Starting with the Ooni Karu 12, this one’s like the compact, easy-to-move-around buddy of the group. It boasts dimensions of 31.5 x 15.7 x 30.3 inches, making it perfect for smaller spaces or for those impromptu backyard pizza parties. And weighing in at just 26.4lbs, it’s the lightest of the trio. Think of it as the go-to for a classic 12-inch pie, especially if you’re someone who values portability.

The Ooni Karu 12G is a touch bigger with dimensions of 29.7 x 28.7 x 16.4 inches. While still catering to that beloved 12-inch pizza, it brings some extra muscle to the table, weighing 34.2lbs. The 12G’s claim to fame is its unique features, like the clear door, which is a game-changer if you’re the type who enjoys watching your pizza bake to perfection without opening the oven constantly.

Last but not least, the Ooni Karu 16 is the grandmaster of the group. Its dimensions stretch out to 33 x 32 x 20 inches, giving you the luxury of cooking up to a 16-inch pizza. It’s the heaviest, tipping the scales at 62.6lbs, but what it adds in weight, it makes up for in size and capability. If you often find yourself hosting pizza nights and need that extra space or if you’re all about those bigger-than-life pies, the Karu 16 is your best bet.

In essence, picking between these three is all about gauging your requirements. Want something compact and super portable? Karu 12 is for you. Looking for advanced features with a bit more heft? The Karu 12G has got you covered. But if you’re dreaming big and want the ultimate pizza oven experience, it’s the Karu 16 all the way.

Winner: Karu 12

Karu 12 vs 16 – Design and Build

The Ooni Karu 12 is the base model of the series but by no means basic in its design. Crafted predominantly from brushed 430 stainless steel, it promises durability while giving off a sleek, modern look.

Unlike the 12G and 16, the Karu 12 has a stainless steel door which is aesthetically pleasing, however, it proves to be a bit of a hindrance as when it is on you are unable to monitor the cooking of your pizza.

The Karu 12 doesn’t come with an integrated thermometer, so you’ll need an infrared thermometer to ensure your oven is at the right temperature for cooking.

Enter the Ooni Karu 12G. It shares the foundational design elements with the Karu 12, like the stainless steel build and cordierite stone. The most noticeable difference is the Borosilicate glass door, a feature that not only adds a touch of sophistication but also functionality. With this clear door, you can keep a watchful eye on your pizza, ensuring the perfect bake without any guesswork. Another improvement on the Karu 12 is that it includes an integrated thermometer.

The 12G also integrates ClearView™ technology, preventing soot and ash buildup on the door, so your view remains unobstructed.

The Ooni Karu 16, on the other hand, feels like the elder, more refined sibling. It’s larger and comes with some design enhancements that cater to those wanting a bit more from their pizza oven experience.

The ViewFlame™ glass oven door is a game-changer, enhancing visibility while keeping the heat locked in. Additionally, it boasts a mounted digital thermometer, allowing for precise temperature monitoring – a feature that can be a game-changer for those meticulous about their bake. This model also adopts a combination of powder-coated carbon steel and stainless steel in its construction, blending durability with style.

In terms of which is best, the choice boils down to personal preference. If you’re someone who values simplicity and portability, the Karu 12 might be your go-to. However, if you’re leaning towards a bit of flair with functionality, the 12G with its clear door has its appeal. For those who don’t want to compromise on features and are looking for a more comprehensive pizza-making experience, the Karu 16 stands tall with its array of enhancements.

Winner: Karu 16

Karu 12 vs 16 – Fuel

The Karu is the most versatile Ooni pizza oven in terms of fuel options.

As standard all three models are fueled using charcoal or wood. The Karu can also be fueled by propane gas, but this will require Ooni’s gas burner accessory which is sold separately at $199!

If you plan to use gas make sure the gas burner is in stock before buying the oven otherwise you will only be able to use wood or charcoal. If gas is going to be the main source of fuel for you then it’s worth considering the Ooni Koda.

If you’d like to know more about this oven then look at my Ooni Koda vs Karu guide.

Pros and Cons

  • Wood: Provides an authentic smoky flavor that’s hard to replicate with gas. However, the cost of kiln-dried wood can add up, and there’s a learning curve in controlling the flame.
  • Charcoal: Offers consistent heat but remember to use lump charcoal. It gives a distinct taste, which some might love, while others may prefer the clean taste of gas.
  • Gas: It’s all about convenience and control. The cost of the additional attachment can be a con, but the ease of use and quick heating often outweigh the initial investment.

Winner: Tie

Karu 12 vs 16 – Performance

In the realm of pizza ovens, Ooni’s Karu series offers quite a range. But like any product, they come with their pros and cons. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the performance of the Ooni Karu 12, Ooni Karu 12G, and Ooni Karu 16, from a hands-on user’s perspective.

First things first, heating. While Ooni claims the Karu 12 and 12G can reach their optimal baking temperature of 850 °F/450 °C in a swift 15 minutes, I’ve found that’s a tad optimistic when using wood or charcoal. The same goes for the Karu 16 and its promise of hitting 950 °F in the same time.

In real-world conditions, using wood or charcoal, you most likely will find yourself waiting a bit longer, to get the oven up to temperature. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it can test your patience, especially when you’re eagerly awaiting that first slice.

Temperature consistency is another area where there’s room for improvement. The cordierite stone baking board, a staple across all three models, does a commendable job in distributing heat. However, when fueled by wood or charcoal, maintaining a steady temperature can be a bit of a juggling act. This is particularly true if you’re aiming for those higher temperatures, as the flame can be fickle and demands regular attention.

When it comes to size, the Karu 12 and 12G are tailored for 12-inch pizzas. They’re decent for smaller gatherings, but if you’re hosting a larger group, be prepared for a longer wait between pies. The Karu 16, with its more generous capacity, definitely eases this, but again, maintaining that consistent high heat becomes even more critical for larger pies.

A notable distinction is the 12G’s Borosilicate glass door. It’s a nice touch, allowing you to peek at your pizza without letting heat escape. However, the Karu 16 steps it up with its mounted digital thermometer – a genuinely handy feature, but I’ve occasionally questioned its accuracy during those longer cooking sessions.

Lastly, while the gas burner attachment (sold separately) offers a more consistent heat source, it does feel a bit like an admission that the wood and charcoal experience, though authentic, isn’t as seamless as one might hope.

The Ooni Karu series, while promising and often delivering delightful results, does come with a learning curve.

Winner: Karu 16

Karu 12 vs 16 – Price

The Ooni Karu series brings a range of price points to the table, each with its unique offerings. Let’s delve into the value each model provides for its cost and evaluate which might be the best fit for your pocket and palate.

Starting with the Ooni Karu 12, priced at $399, it’s the entry point into the Karu series. It’s a compact option tailored for 12-inch pizzas and offers that authentic wood or charcoal-fired experience. But, as with most things in life, there are trade-offs. While its price makes it an appealing choice for many, remember that if you’re aiming for an easier and more consistent heat source, you’ll need to shell out extra for the gas burner attachment. The 12 might be ideal for those who are just starting their wood-fired pizza journey and don’t want to make a hefty initial investment.

The Ooni Karu 12G, coming in slightly higher at $429, offers a few upgrades from its sibling. The most notable being the Borosilicate glass door, allowing for that sneak peek at your pies.

Then we have the heavyweight, the Ooni Karu 16, priced at $799. It’s a significant jump from the 12 series, but it brings more to the plate, both literally and figuratively. With the capacity to handle a generous 16-inch pizza and features like the mounted digital thermometer, it’s designed for the more serious pizza enthusiasts. If you often find yourself hosting larger gatherings or if you’re just someone who doesn’t like to compromise on features, the 16 might be your pick.

Across the board, Ooni offers a standard 1-year warranty, which can be extended to 5 years upon registration. This speaks volumes about the company’s confidence in its products’ durability and might offer potential buyers extra peace of mind.

Winner: Karu 12G

Karu 12 vs 16 – Verdict

The Ooni Karu series is a testament to how a product can evolve over time, addressing user feedback and refining its features. Both the Karu 12, 12G and 16 come with their unique set of advantages, catering to different audiences.

The Ooni Karu 16 stands out as a more versatile and feature-rich option. Its larger cooking capacity and added amenities like the mounted digital thermometer make it a compelling choice for those who take their pizza-making seriously. But, as with many things of quality, it comes with a heftier price tag. If you’re willing to invest not just money but also the time to master its quirks, the Karu 16 is a fantastic pick.

However, it’s essential to understand the nuances of using wood or charcoal with these ovens. It’s not just about lighting a fire; it’s about maintaining the right temperature, ensuring even heat distribution, and tweaking your technique to get that perfect crust. And honestly, it can be a bit of a challenge, especially for beginners. If you’re leaning towards a more convenient and consistent heat source, the gas burner attachment is almost a must-have. But remember, it’s an additional cost, and those dollars can add up.

For those who are thinking, “I just want an easy-to-use gas oven without the fuss,” Ooni has you covered with the Koda. It’s a straightforward, gas-only option that’s user-friendly and requires minimal maintenance. It’s especially suited for those who want the joy of homemade pizzas without diving too deep into the intricacies of wood-fired ovens.

In conclusion, the Ooni Karu, be it the 12, 12G or 16, is a solid choice for those passionate about their pizzas. But like any good relationship, it requires patience, understanding, and a bit of investment. If you’re up for the challenge and the rewarding flavors it brings, go for it! Otherwise, the Koda might just be the hassle-free companion you’re looking for.

How Does The Karu Compare To Other Models?

Fyra 12Karu 12Koda 16Koda 12
FuelWood PelletsWood, Charcoal & Propane Gas (with adaptor)Propane GasPropane Gas
Pizza sizeUp to 12″Up to 12″Up to 16″Up to 12″
Unboxed size29.2 x 15.1 x 28.6″30 x 15 x 31″24.96 x 23.2 x 14.65″15.7 x 11.6 x 24.8″
Heat up time15 mins15 mins20 mins15 mins
Max. temperature950°F950°F950°F950°F
Gas NoYes, with gas burnerYesYes
MaterialPowder-coated carbon steelBrushed 430 stainless steelPowder-coated carbon steelPowder-coated carbon steel
Stone type0,4″ cordierite stone0,6″ cordierite stone0,6″ cordierite stone0,4″ cordierite stone
Stone size13 x 13″13 x 13″16 x 16″13 x 13″
Opening height3.34″3.89″4.37″3.22″
Fuel consumption2.5lbs for 10 pizzas3.3lbs for 10 pizzas1.3lbs for 10 pizzas0.9lbs for 10 pizzas
Gas consumption0.74 lb/hr1.3 lb/hr0.63 lb/hr

Check out our guide for a detailed comparison of the Karu vs the Koda.

Ooni Karu 12 vs 16 FAQs

What are the primary differences between the Ooni Karu 12, 12G, and 16?

The Ooni Karu 12 is a compact model designed for 12-inch pizzas, the 12G offers the same size but with a Borosilicate glass door, and the Karu 16 is larger, accommodating 16-inch pizzas with additional features like a mounted digital thermometer.

Can I use gas with all three models?

Yes, all three models allow for a gas burner attachment, but this is sold separately.

How long does it take for each model to reach its ideal baking temperature?

Both the Ooni Karu 12 and 12G can reach 850 °F/450 °C in about 15 minutes, while the Karu 16 can hit 950 °F in the same time frame. However, actual times can vary based on the type of fuel used.

Which model is the most portable?

The Ooni Karu 12 and 12G are lighter and more compact, making them slightly more portable than the Karu 16.

Does the Ooni Karu 16’s larger size mean it uses more fuel?

Generally, larger ovens can require more fuel to maintain high temperatures, especially when using wood or charcoal.

What’s unique about the Ooni Karu 12G’s door?

The 12G model features a Borosilicate glass door, allowing you to monitor your pizza’s progress without opening the oven.

Are there any special maintenance steps for these ovens?

Regular cleaning and ensuring the ovens are stored in a dry place will extend their lifespan. It’s also essential to use the recommended fuel types for optimal performance.

Do all three models come with a warranty?

Yes, all Ooni products come with a standard 1-year warranty, which can be extended to 5 years upon registration.

I’ve heard using wood or charcoal can be challenging. Any tips?

There’s a learning curve with wood or charcoal. Ensuring the wood is dry, not overfilling the fuel tray, and maintaining airflow are key factors. The gas burner attachment can offer a more consistent and convenient heat source.

Are there any alternatives if I want a gas-only option from Ooni?

Yes, the Ooni Koda is a gas-only oven that’s user-friendly and designed for those who prefer the convenience of gas without the intricacies of wood or charcoal.

I hope these answers have helped clarify any remaining questions about the Ooni Karu 16. If you have more queries, feel free to leave them in the comments or take a look at the Ooni tips and FAQ guide page.

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Jeff is a pizza enthusiast with over 15 years of experience of working in pizzerias.