The Video Guide
A guide to lighting your Ooni Karu 16 pizza oven using lumpwood charcoal and kiln dried wood, which is our preferred method - we typically reach Neapolitan pizza cooking temperatures of 400-450°C (750-850°F) in around 30 minutes.
What wood should I use in my Ooni Karu 16 pizza oven?
You should only ever use hardwood in your Ooni Karu 16. Softwood may be cheaper but it will burn through quickly, struggle to get your oven to temperature and leave behind a lot of excess ash,
Make sure the wood you use in your pizza oven is dried to well below 20% moisture so it burns hot with minimal smoke.
With the Ooni Karu 16, it works best to use a bed of lumpwood charcoal along with wood. You don't want any nasty chemicals in your pizza so make sure you use restaurant grade charcoal with no additives.
The Step by Step
What you need
- Hardwood cut to size for Ooni Karu 16
- Lumpwood charcoal
- Natural Firelighters
- Extra Long Matches
- Handheld digital thermometer
1. Get your Ooni Karu 16 ready
Don't forget to take the chimney cap off, fully open your flue vent and close your door, and switch on your inbuilt digital thermometer to monitor the air temperature of the oven.
2. Load up with charcoal
In the fuel tray of your Ooni Karu 16, layer lumpwood charcoal with several natural firelighters, making sure that you allow for good airflow with gaps between the fuel, but also ensure lots of contact between the firelighters and charcoal.
3. Get it lit
Light the natural firelighters, put the fuel cover back on, and leave the oven for at least 5 minutes.
4. Stoke up the charcoal base
Check on the fuel every 5 minutes from lighting to around 30 minutes in.
Add more fuel when needed but don't overdo it - more charcoal doesn't always mean an increase in temperature, so be careful to maintain good airflow through the fuel tray. I find that I add more lumpwood at the 10 and 20 minute marks.
If the oven temperature is increasing by 1°C every 5 seconds, your fuel is burning well and no more lumpwood is needed.
5. Add wood
You're aiming to hit and maintain a consistent air temperature of 400-450°C or 750-850°F, I prefer to do this over 30 minutes than rush up to temperature which will ensure the stone is saturated and it loses less heat during each cook.
I find good lumpwood charcoal gets me to 350°C (640°F) in around 30 minutes depending on wind. In this video I added wood at 330°C because it was a mostly still but gusty day, and I felt the oven needed the kick given by a wood flame.
6. Check the stone temperature
Use your handheld digital thermometer to check the temperature of your stone. The ideal cooking temperature for Neapolitan pizza is 420-430°C but in reality, anything from 350°C to 500°C floor temperature will work.
As you will see in this video, it is possible for the stone temperature to be higher than the air temperature.