Let’s face it! Pizza ovens are expensive. Whether you build one yourself or buy one, it’s going to leave something of a hole in your bank account. But, there are some budget options you can look into. We’ll review two ready-made ovens in the category of the cheapest wood-fired pizza oven.
This is Ooni’s Karu 12 and the model offered by Big Horn Outdoors. Both are excellent and cook a decent pizza. But, as with anything, there are some exceptions, caveats, and downsides to each.
Even still, both are excellent for any outdoor cooking pursuit, whether in your backyard, out camping, going to a picnic, or visiting friends. They are very easy on the pocketbook while also being simple to use, clean, and take anywhere.
Ooni Karu 12
Ooni’s motto surrounds the concept of great pizza. They adamantly stand by their belief that everyone should have great pizza and the design of their Karu 12 model keeps this firmly in mind. From beginner pizza makers to master pizzaiolos, this will truly up your ability for pizza creation by leaps and bounds.
This company’s quest for authentic pizza means you can trust your purchase. Ooni prides themselves on empowering people with the tools and knowledge required to make fabulous pies at home since 2012. No longer do you have to rely on a restaurant for that leopard-spotted crust with flame-cooked toppings.
What Is Ooni Karu 12?
Ooni’s Karu 12 is a multi-fuel outdoor pizza oven that’s portable, wood-fired, and gas-powered. It’s perfect for almost any outdoor pursuit. It’s very large with dimensions measuring just over 30¼ inches tall by 15¾ inches deep and 31½ inches wide. Plus, it’s very lightweight for its size, coming in at almost 26½ pounds (12 kilograms).
It has silver metal and wood construction to provide the best heat retention and distribution along with that classic wood-fired taste. You can use it whenever hunger strikes for yourself, or your kids, or when you want to host a gathering.
How Does It Work?
You can use the Karu 12 straight out of the box with charcoal or wood. Alternatively, you can use the gas burner attachment, which you have to buy separately. It takes about 15 minutes for the oven to reach 500°F but it can go as high as 950°F. Once heated, you can cook a fresh stone-baked pizza in 60 seconds.
Of course, this will largely rely on what kind of pizza you have. Ones with few toppings, such as a Neapolitan, will cook quickly. But, if you’re going to do an overloaded Sicilian type, it will take a little bit longer than that.
When the pizza’s done and the oven cools, you won’t have any excess ash to clean. Just sweep out the contents and make sure no food debris adheres to any of the oven’s components.
- Oven body
- User Manual
- Fuel door
- Oven door
- Cordierite baking stone
- Wood and charcoal fuel tray
- Chimney cover
- Burner grate
- Design maintains and distributes heat evenly
- Fuel tray maximizes airflow to deliver searing flame in a powerful blast
- Cooks pizza in less than a minute after heating up
- Can use wood, charcoal or gas to fuel the pizza oven
- You can bake, roast, grill and sear steaks, vegetables, fish, chicken and other goodies in the oven with cast iron accessories (separate purchase)
- Portability feature means you can take it anywhere to cook an excellent pizza (camping, traveling, visiting a friend or family and etc)
|Makes a great gift||Expensive for a cheap pizza oven|
|Very portable, efficient and versatile||Any amount of wind tends to put out the fire|
|Easy to clean and use||Very steep learning curve for the pizza oven|
|Gets super hot quickly with searing flame||Uses more wood or charcoal than seems necessary|
Big Horn Outdoors Pizza Oven
Built and designed by Shinerich Industrial Ltd., this pizza oven will last you for years. Wood pellets fuel this puppy and it comprises sturdy stainless steel. All this plays into a great-tasting wood-fired pizza you will enjoy within 30 minutes or less.
What is Big Horn Outdoors Pizza Oven?
This pizza oven offered by Big Horn Outdoors is portable with simple dimensions. It has a finish of both wood and premium stainless steel while also having wood as the fuel type. It’s durable and compact, making it safe for cooking pizza along with various other foods.
Once you receive the oven, you will have to assemble it. However, this is very easy, having it up and running within an hour. It’s this assembly feature that can be somewhat time-consuming, but it’s also what makes it very portable. You can disassemble whatever parts to transport for camping, tailgating, picnics or any other outdoor adventure.
How Does It Work?
You load the oven with wood pellets, light them up, and wait about 18 minutes for it to thoroughly heat. It can reach temperatures as high as 860°F. But, once it reaches 500°F, you can pop your pizza in and it’ll be ready within 90 seconds.
All you have to do is turn and rotate the pizza while it cooks to ensure even heating. Unfortunately, however, it does not come with a pizza peel. Once the pizza oven cools, then you can remove the stone and clean the compartment. Never touch anything while it’s still hot.
- 12” x 12” square pizza stone
- Oven assembly kit
- Oven Door with handle
- Removable fire tray
- User Manual
- Poker ; Ash Tray
- Equipped with folded legs
- Plenty of space for turning and rotating pizza during the cooking process
- Set the oven on a table or countertop anywhere outside
- Wood pellets are a very inexpensive way to heat an oven at almost any time of year
- Can cook many other foods besides pizza: steak, salmon, veggie dishes, roasts, chops, burgers, breads and so much more
- Compact design and folded legs makes it good to take anywhere
- The dimensions are even and succinct, which means no awkward measurements or configurations for placement
|Easy to assemble and take anywhere||Standard pizza peels do not fit inside|
|A cinch to clean while also cooking efficiently||Opening is uneven and awkward|
|Great value for the money and flavor it provides||Maintaining the temperature can be frustrating|
|Works the way it should and never fails||Challenge to use under inclement weather|
Comparisons: Ooni Karu 12 versus Big Horn Outdoors
As you can see for both ovens above, each has an equal amount of benefits and disadvantages. So, the best one for your purposes will come down to your budget, the space you have and how often you cook pizzas.
Ooni’s Karu 12 is the most expensive of the two. But, for $300 you have a world of fuel options that include wood, charcoal or gas. For about $100 less, Big Horn Outdoors provides a sturdy pizza oven but it only uses wood, specifically the pellet kind. This puts far more limits on heating the oven.
Weight ; Dimensions
However, both ovens weigh almost the same, with a pound of difference between the two. So, while they are portable, both might be difficult for those with physical disabilities or are simply not strong enough to haul it around. But, even though Big Horn Outdoors model is heavier, it has foldable legs making it easier to carry.
Temperature ; Cooking Time
The temperature, preheating and cooking times vary greatly between both ovens though. Ooni’s Karu 12 can reach 950°F and only needs to warm up for 15 minutes to be hot enough for a pizza in 60 seconds. Big Horn Outdoors, on the other hand, requires 18 minutes and only gets up to 860°F for a pizza in 90 seconds.
Other Capabilities; Inclusions
Both ovens, however, allow for cooking foods other than pizza. Each one is fantastic for steaks, cakes, fish, vegetables or any other thing you want to create. Such a thing is handy for the summer months when cooking indoors is less than desirable.
The other thing is how you can use the Karu 12 right out of the box if you want to. This is not the case with Big Horn Outdoors because you have to assemble it. So, this factor will depend on how much work you want to put into it and how savvy you are.
While both have great features, the Karu 12 offers more. Certainly, this is due to the various fuel options. But, it does have a chimney cover and you know the baking stone is cordierite. Big Horn doesn’t offer this kind of information, so you’ll get what you pay for.
After reviewing all details, the best pizza oven here is Ooni’s Karu 12. It’s lighter, more versatile and the results come with a stamp of approval. It’s the easiest to use, offers more fuel options and its design lends itself to ease of cleaning.
But, if you’re on a tight budget, then Big Horn Outdoors is going to be your best option. However, you have to watch the wood pellets as they burn, especially if there’s any wind or inclement weather. While the Karu 12 does have problems in winds, it will be far easier to relight than using only wood pellets.
The table below displays all the main points discussed above for your consideration. You can do a side-by-side comparison for yourself to see which will be prime for what you require.
|Ooni Karu 12||Big Horn Outdoors|
|Dimensions||30.31” x 15.75” x 31.5”||21” x 14” x 24”|
|Weight||26.4 lbs (12 kg)||27.8 lbs (12.61 kg)|
|Temperature||Up to 950°F||Up to 860°F|
|Cooking Time||60 seconds||90 seconds|
|Fuel Type||Wood, Charcoal or Gas||Wood Pellets only|
|Can Use Right Out of the Box||Yes||No|
|Overall Customer Rating||4.7 out of 5 stars||4.4 out of 5 stars|
What should you look for when trying to find the cheapest wood-fired pizza oven?
If you don’t like any of the selections above, there are a few points to consider when hunting for the cheapest wood-fired pizza oven. First, it should be able to handle high temperatures and have some way to utilize heat. Also, it should include a stone board for cooking the pizza that allows for even heat distribution.
You should also look into the company selling the pizza oven. Look at their ratings on the Better Business Bureau and find reviews all over the internet about their products, specifically the pizza oven you want.
What is the price range for a cheap pizza oven?
Depending on the size and materials, you can find a cheap pizza oven for as little as $100. But, this will be small and most models on the market can only handle personal-sized pizzas. If you want to cook a bigger pie, expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $400. Anything more than that is getting quite expensive.
Do you have to use a pizza peel in a wood-fired oven?
You don’t have to use a pizza peel, although it does make turning and rotating much easier than trying to use a typical grilling spatula or your hands. Plus, it makes inserting and removing the pizza from the oven a much safer and simpler process.
The cheapest wood fired pizza oven is the model offered by Big Horn Outdoors. But, Ooni’s Karu 12 is king here, being the most versatile with various methods for fuel. Of course, this will depend on what you’re looking for and what you can afford along with the space you have available.
Either way, they’re both a steal for the price and they work beautifully to create a pizza in a matter of mere minutes. So, whichever one you pick, you’re sure to be satisfied after using it.