Ooni 3 is a small, lightweight, portable pizza oven. The manufacturer claims that Ppni 3 is capable of a 13” pie, but I think 10” is the ideal size. Ooni 3 comes standard with a wood pellet burner, which we found lacking and is Not Recommended for reasons described below. I strongly prefer the Ooni 3 with their optional gas burner. Click here to read our review of Ooni 3 with Gas Burner and learn why it earns our AmazingRibs.com Best Value Gold Medal.
The company’s second model, Ooni 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 Ooni 3, I feel certain that the best option for the Ooni Pro is also the gas burner.
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 Ooni 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.
Both the Ooni 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 Ooni 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 Ooni 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 Ooni 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.
We do not recommend Ooni 3 with the pellet burner.
The keys to making great Neapolitan style pizza are a hot oven and cooking surface, pizza dough that is ideally suited to that oven, great toppings, and perfect timing. Don’t underestimate the timing. You need to time the assembly of the pie so the dough does not stick to the peel. You also need to insert the pie when the oven is at its optimal temp and then watch the pie and rotate it as needed for even cooking. Then you build the next pie and repeat. In the Ooni 3 with pellets, igniting and controlling the pellets gets tricky and interferes with perfect pizza timing.
To fire up this unit, you must insert a small grate in a pellet tray. I had a dickens of a time learning how to insert the grate and finding out whether the pellets go on top of the grate or below it. Many videos later, I learned how to insert the grate and that the pellets go on top. You then insert the pellet tray into the rear of the unit. Ideally, you will have a propane torch to ignite it.
Once you are burning, you need to add pellets to a hopper and keep it topped off. Problem is you have no temp control on the pellet burner. Once the smallish 10″ pizza is done, if you take it inside, slice it, pour a glass of wine, enjoy your meal, and some conversation, then build your second pie (and you should build your pie at the last minute because the longer that wet dough sits on the pizza peel, the more likely it is to stick to the peel), by the time you get back out to the Ooni 3, the pellet hopper is empty and the tray is burned down and you pretty much need to start over.
Once you get the oven up to temp and get the pie in, things do move quickly. The dough bubbles within 30 seconds, and within a minute you are rotating the pie so the back edges don’t burn. Within 2 to 4 minutes, you can get some excellent golden to slightly charred crust on top, leopard spotting underneath, and melted cheese. But don’t load your pie with a lot of toppings or else the dough will not cook through, a problem I encountered (and no fault of the oven, really).
However, the Ooni 3 did not overcome the classic pizza problem to achieve what I call “simultaneous pizzagasm,” wherein the toppings and the crust are done simultaneously. The ideal scenario depends on a LOT of variables, including getting the pizza stone to the right temp, getting enough heat over the top of the pizza, and not overloading the pizza with toppings, especially thick or raw toppings like uncured sausage that need a little extra time to cook to safe temps. To do this with the pellet burner, you need the pellets burning optimally and that ain’t easy after the first pie, especially because you cannot control the temp (but you can control temp with the gas burner).
There is another issue: Wood pellets make a lot of billowing white smoke and the pie can get develop a bitter, sooty taste from the white smoke. I also had issues with Roman style dough in this unit. Roman dough has a good amount of oil in it, which makes the pizza crust richer and crunchier. A simple Neapolitan dough with little or no oil performs well, but Roman dough tends to burn on the bottom. I had to open the door and cool down the stone a bit first. And that cooled down the whole oven, which interfered with our “simultaneous pizzagasm.” Don’t even ask about thick pizza doughs in this oven: they just don’t cook through.
I did finally succeed in making some lovely pies with the Ooni 3 pellet smoker, but I also made several pizzas with undercooked dough and burnt edges, unsafe sausage, and a bitter smoke flavor.
Long story short, the Ooni 3 with the gas burner and temperature control is the better choice, and with a little practice, you can make great commercial quality pizzas in a hurry. The standard Ooni 3 is $299 and the gas burner option adds $85. Our posted MSRP below is $299 for the standard pellet burning version.
We thank Ooni for providing a pellet burner for this review. We bought the gas burner.
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.
Published On: 9/24/2018 Last Modified: 2/28/2021
These are products we have tested, won our top awards, and are highly recommend. Click here to read how we test, about our medals, and what they mean.
A big part of this site is our unbiased equipment and product reviews. We love playing with toys and we have no problem calling them the way we see them. Some companies pay a finder’s fee if a reader clicks a link on AmazingRibs.com and buys a product. It has zero impact on our reviews, zero impact on the price you pay, and the sites never tell us what you bought, but it has a major impact on our ability to keep this site alive! So before you buy, please click our links. Here’s a link that takes you to a page on Amazon that has some of our favorite tools and toys: https://tinyurl.com/amazingribs
Napoleon’s 22″ Pro Cart Charcoal Kettle Grill puts a few spins on the familiar kettle design. In fact, the hinged lid with a handle on the front, spins in a rotary motion 180 degrees. It’s hard to beat a Weber kettle, but Napoleon holds its own and adds some unique features to make the 22″ Pro Cart a viable alternative.
The Thermoworks Thermapen MK4 is considered by the pros, and our team, to be the single best instant read thermometer. The MK4 includes features that are common on high-end instruments: automatic backlight and rotating display. Don’t accept cheap substitutes.
Click here to read our comprehensive Platinum Medal review
The PK-360, with 360 square inches of cooking space, this rust free, cast aluminum charcoal grill is durable and easy to use. Four-way venting means it’s easy to set up for two zone cooking with more control than single vent Kamado grills. It is beautifully designed, completely portable, and much easier to set up for 2-zone cooking than any round kamado.
Green Mountain’s portable Davy Crockett Pellet Smoker is one mean tailgating and picnic machine. But it’s also gaining popularity with people who want to add a small, set it and forget it pellet smoker to their backyard arsenal. And with their WiFi capabilities you can control and monitor Davy Crocket from your smart phone or laptop.
The Good-One Open Range is dramatically different from a traditional offset smoker. By placing the heat source behind and under the smokebox instead of off to the side, Open Range produces even temperature from left to right, something almost impossible to achieve with a standard barrel shaped offset.
This is the first propane smoker with a thermostat, making this baby foolproof. Set ThermoTemp’s dial from 175° to 350°F and the thermostat inside will adjust the burner just like an indoor kitchen oven. All you need to do is add wood to the tray above the burner to start smokin’.
The Broil King Signet 320 is a modestly priced, 3-burner gas grill that packs a lot of value and power under the hood. Broil King’s proprietary, dual-tube burners get hot fast and are able to achieve high, searing temps that rival most comparatively priced gas grills. The quality cast aluminum housing carries a Limited Lifetime Warranty.