I've had the amazing Ooni Karu 12 for 3 years now and thought it was about time to update you with my best practice for lighting the oven and bringing it up to temperature.
I used to fall into the marketing hype in the small pizza oven world, that getting the oven to temperature as quickly as possible is the right idea, but now I have more experience with wood fired ovens I've realised that even with an Ooni, there are benefits from taking a little longer and saturating the oven with heat. The main benefit is a faster recovery time between pizzas, which allows you to bake more pizzas in a shorter timeframe.
I now use a base of lumpwood charcoal to bring the oven almost all the way up to temperature, with barely any topping up of my fuel, then I add wood to give the oven the final kick of heat. I then run the oven on a combination of the two fuels - lumpwood is amazing if I need some time to step away from the oven for a while, whereas I'll always use wood when I'm cooking a pizza.
This method is a totally different experience from cooking on wood alone - it allows you more time, makes the whole experience more relaxed, and ultimately allows you to make better pizza.
Lighting Your Ooni Karu 12
Obviously, we recommend watching the whole video to nail down your end to end process - it's only three minutes long!
But if you're looking for something specific, you can use the scroll bar in the video to jump forward to the chapters below:
0m04s - Choosing the Right Fuel
0m30s - Basic Set Up of Your Ooni
0m47s - How to Load the Fuel Tray
1m20s - Lighting the Oven
1m34s - Checking on Your Fire
2m01s - When to Add Wood
2m27s - When Your Oven's Ready to Cook
2m23s - How to Manage Your Fuel
2m52s - Why I use Charcoal
What if I Only Want to Bake One Pizza?
Fair enough, in that case, you don't need to worry as much about heat retention and can focus more on heating your Ooni up quickly - so follow my wood-only lighting guide at the link below!
Fuel for Ooni Karu 12 and 12G
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