The manufacturer claims that Uuni 3 is capable of a 13” pie, but I think 10” is the ideal size. Uuni 3 comes standard with a wood pellet burner. I strongly prefer the optional gas burner and give it our Gold Medal for reasons discussed below. Click here to read our review of the standard Uuni 3 and learn why it is not Not Recommended.
The company's second model, Uuni Pro, is larger and said to be capable of 16” pies, but 12 to 14” will work better. Out of the box, this model can burn wood or charcoal and there is also an optional gas burner or pellet burner available. Although I have not cooked on this particular model, I have seen the pellet burner version in use, and given my experience with the gas burner on the Uuni 3, I feel certain that the best option for the Uuni Pro is also the gas burner.
Myth-Busting Wood-Fired Pizza
Let’s get one misconception out of the way. There is nothing superior about wood as a fuel for a pizza oven. When wood is burning hot and fast in such an oven, there is not much smoke and most of it goes up the chimney. During the very short cook time, the wood smoke makes very little impact on the flavor of the pie. In fact, burning wood is risky. If the fuel to air ratio isn’t dialed in properly, you can produce soot, which can fall onto the pie and ruin the taste. This was a problem with the Uuni 3 pellet burner I tested. The most important function of a pizza oven and its fuel is consistent high heat. That is what puffs up the dough quickly (known as oven spring), creating the classic chewy yet crispy texture with leopard spots on the bottom and top edges.
How the Uuni Works
Both the Uuni 3 and the Pro are constructed of high quality 430 stainless steel with durable cordierite pizza stones that can be washed. The pies go in the front and the burner is in the rear, so the oven works best on a table that allows easy access at both the front and back. To read the temperature of the pizza stone, I recommend an infrared thermometer gun. Shoot it onto the stone and it gives you an instant reading. An IR gun is not only fun (shoot it onto your skin and check your body temperature!), it's really something that any serious pizza maker should have.
I also recommend the Uuni 3 cover/carry bag. Although the bag color fades rapidly and forces you to store the oven handle inside where it can get sooty, the cover/carry bag keeps water out of the oven, an important job. The unit comes with a metal pizza peel, but I prefer to build my pies on a wooden peel that I bought separately because the dough doesn’t stick to it as easily. With wood, a flick of the wrist gets the pie into the maw of the oven quickly and easily.
Both units can bake bread and cook other foods like steaks. But these ovens get very hot, so they would not be my first choice for other foods. Most foods are best when cooked at lower temps, although skinny burgers and steaks sear well.
The manual consists mostly of illustrations so it can be delivered to several different countries without translation like those damn IKEA manuals. I like pictures; however, they were unclear on some issues regarding the pellet hopper. The manual needs to be improved. The best way to learn how to use the Uuni 3 with pellets is to watch YouTube videos. But even the videos are lacking detail. Assembling the unit isn't too hard, but you need to pay attention to detail.
As we know, all cookers have hot spots. On the Uuni 3, the rear tends to run hot, and you need to rotate your pie for even cooking. That's not a big deal, and can be part of the fun of making pizza, but the unit is so narrow that it can be a bit tricky to rotate the pie with the supplied pizza peel. The peel is barely smaller than the mouth of the oven. I solved the problem by reaching in with the peel, pulling the pie out, rotating it with a fork, and putting the pie back in. If you wish you, can buy a special turning peel which is smaller than a normal peel. Pros use this kind of peel and it makes it MUCH easier to rotate the pie without removing it.
As mentioned, 10" pies works best, and they're so small that I tend to make more than one. To do so, I fire up my gas grill in a 2-zone low temp setup and put the finished pies on the indirect side to keep them warm while baking new pies.
Uuni 3 with Gas Burner
With the optional gas burner, Uuni 3 wins our AmazingRibs.com Best Value Gold Medal.
The manufacturer sent me a sample of the pellet burning unit before they released the gas burning attachment. I review the standard pellet burner here. If you have a pellet burner, I strongly recommend you upgrade to gas.
To switch over to gas, you have to remove the attachment that burns pellets. It's not easy. The screws were impossible to budge because the hex wrench they sent did not fit snugly nor did any of the many hex wrenches I keep in my workshop. Eventually, I had to beat on the burner with a hammer to dislodge it. No harm was done because I discarded the pellet burner and screws, and Ooni shipped two new hex screws along with the gas burner. Methinks they knew there would be problems with the old screws.
At first, I had a little difficulty igniting the gas burner, but Ooni includes a very nice telescoping match holder that does the job admirably. After the first ignition, the unit lit more easily. As I was preheating the oven with both the front door on and the cap on the chimney, the configuration they recommend, the burner flamed out, probably for lack of oxygen. After that, I left the chimney cap off to preheat the oven, and then put it back on to cook.
Once it's lit, you close the front door, and in less than 10 minutes (depending on the weather) the pizza stone registers a surface temp of 600°F or more, ideal for both my Neapolitan dough recipe and my wife’s Roman dough recipe. The flames were licking across the ceiling just like in a commercial pizza oven. This top heat is fantastic because the problem with most pizza cooking efforts is getting the top and bottom hot enough to cook the toppings (especially raw sausage) while simultaneously crisping up the crust.
I was able to get the stone up to 835°F with the gas dial on high, but I have not tried cooking at that temp yet, as I fear it is a bit too hot for my favorite pizza dough. I found that medium low was optimal for my dough, heating the stone to 600 to 650°F. At that temp, my pizzas inflated and cooked perfectly within 4 minutes. Warning: do not run inside for a beer or a bathroom break when cooking pizza. As with stir-frying, the cooking time is just too short. Keep your beer outside, stand there for a few minutes, and watch your dough puff up, your toppings cook, your crust develop slightly charred bubbles on top and leopard spotting underneath. You will be thrilled. Fire up, preheat for 10 minutes, cook for 5 minutes or less, and you get great commercial grade pizza. Better than most restaurants.
The Bottom Line
Long story short, we highly recommend the Uuni 3 with the optional gas burner and temperature control. With a little practice, you can make great commercial quality pizzas in a hurry. The standard Uuni 3 is $299 and the gas burner option adds $85. Our posted MSRP below is $384 for the oven plus gas burner.
We thank Ooni for providing a pellet burner for this review. We bought the gas burner.
Cooked On It
We have hands-on experience testing this product. We have also gathered info from the manufacturer, owners and other reliable sources.
Ooni is a European company started in 2012 under the name Uuni with the premise of, "making the world’s first portable wood-fired pizza oven." They kicked it off with 142 Kickstarter supporters and have since grown to a global enterprise. Ooni currently offers two models and some pizza making accessories. In 2018 they changed the name from Uuni to Ooni, feeling the new spelling is easier to remember and pronounce correctly.