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The 6 Best 12″ Pizza Ovens: Side-by-Side Tests

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Narrowing down your choices for a pizza oven can feel like an impossible task. I mean, Ooni is just one brand and they have seven (soon to be 8) different models! 

But I’m here to help. 

If you landed on this review, you probably already decided that a 12” pizza oven is best for you (check out my consolidated rankings here if you want to see bigger ovens as well). Next, you need to decide if you prefer making New York style, Neapolitan, or both. This is very important, because certain ovens are designed to be better for one style than another. 

In this review, I’ll only showcase the 12” pizza ovens which ranked the best in my hands-on tests. I’ll also show you which one is best for each style pizza in addition to the best overall. Let’s get right into it.

Not interested in reading and just want the top picks? Here they are:

side by side test of 12" pizza ovens
My top picks all stacked next to each other.

Testing Criteria

I’m testing the performance of these 12″ ovens by making both Neapolitan and New York styles. I look at two main areas when ranking outdoor pizza ovens:

  1. Quality to cost ratio
  2. Baking performance

The build quality of an oven is important. I’m a big fan of budget-friendly products just like everyone else… until performance suffers. There’s a difficult balance between great performance and price; only a few manufacturers are able to do it right. After testing each pizza oven, I use my own custom-developed grading scale to rank the oven on a fractional scale of 1-5.

Best 12″ Pizza Ovens

Solo Pi Prime

Best Overall

solo pi prime neapolitan2

Use this link and code to get $10 off the Pi Prime.

The Solo Pi Prime, a budget-friendly gas-fired pizza oven from the makers of popular smokeless fire pits, promises a high-quality performance at an accessible price point. This 12″ oven, retailing for $349 before potential discounts (and they do tend to offer them), aims to offer the same high-end experience as ovens costing over $500. Unlike other budget models reviewed recently, such as the Blackstone Portable and Camp Chef Italia, which delivered poor performance, the Solo Pi Prime stands out with its efficient operation and quality build.

The design of the Solo Pi Prime emphasizes simplicity and durability, requiring minimal setup straight out of the box—simply insert the pizza stone and connect to a propane tank. Notably, the oven features a unique dome design, similar to the premium Gozney Dome, which is efficient in retaining heat and provides a wide opening for easy pizza handling.

In terms of performance, the Solo Pi Prime impresses with its ability to create perfect Neapolitan and New York-style pizzas. Despite its lower price, the oven achieves a delicate balance between stone heat and flame intensity, crucial for optimal baking. It preheats effectively, even under varying outdoor temperatures, and consistently produces pizzas with excellent crust and melt. Alongside pizza, the oven’s versatility extends to baking steaks and more using a tailor made cast iron kit. The Solo Pi Prime is a top contender in the budget pizza oven market, performing as well as $500 ovens while remaining around the $300-$350 mark.

Ooni Karu 12G

Most Versatile

ooni karu12G temp test edited

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Ooni has solidified its reputation as a leader in the pizza oven industry by continuously innovating and staying ahead of the competition, as demonstrated by their simultaneous release of two new ovens, including the Ooni Karu 12G. This model is an upgraded version of the original Karu 12, known for its great cooking capabilities and portability, but criticized for feeling a bit clunky. The revamped Karu 12G addresses these issues by incorporating a sleek design with user-friendly features like a heat-resistant handle and a hinged door with a transparent panel, enhancing both the aesthetic and functional aspects of the oven.

The Ooni Karu 12G is designed to be a smaller, more advanced counterpart of the Karu 16, providing a superior cooking experience with significant improvements in heat retention, fuel efficiency, and user-friendliness. It offers the versatility of using both wood and gas, with a seamless switch between the two, and features a large fuel tray for extended cooking without the need to frequently reload the fire. 

Performance tests of the Ooni Karu 12G highlight its capability to reach high temperatures rapidly and maintain consistent heat, essential for various pizza styles from Neapolitan to New York. With its improved design and efficient functionality, the Ooni Karu 12G is a versatile, do-it-all beast. If you value multi-fuel functionality, you won’t find a better 12” pizza oven.

Gozney Roccbox

Best for Neapolitan

gozney roccbox pizza oven
Gozney Roccbox

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The Gozney Roccbox pizza oven, renowned for its quick cooking time and high quality, has proven to be a standout among fans of Neapolitan. It boasts the ability to cook pizzas in just 60 seconds, a feature underscored by its dense insulation and an innovative rolling flame. 

Design-wise, the Roccbox stands out with a choice of gray or olive colored silicone sleeves, which not only add to its aesthetic but enhance safety, keeping the external temperature manageable despite the high internal heat. Additionally, its multi-fuel capability allows quick swapping between gas and wood – but keep in mind the wood-fire feature is an add-on, and it’s a bit more of a chore to maintain fire than in the Ooni Karu 12G.

The Roccbox’s performance is further exemplified by its efficient preheat times and consistent high temperatures, crucial for creating perfect Neapolitan-style pizzas. Its compact design, however, creates a larger learning curve. It’s not uncommon to burn a few pizzas when first using this oven. Despite this, once you practice a bit, the Roccbox excels at authentic Neapolitan pizza, making it my top pick for this style, and this style alone.

Ninja Woodfire

Best for New York style

Ninja Woodfire Outdoor oven review

Use this link and code to get 10% off .

The Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Oven is an 8-in-1 multifunctional unit designed not just for pizza making, but also for grilling, smoking, and roasting. I tend to look the other way when I see multi-function ovens like this, but hear me out.

This versatile oven boasts a temperature range from 175F to 700F, which, while ideal for New York style pizzas, falls short for authentic Neapolitan pizzas that require higher temperatures. The oven itself comes fully assembled, with an optional stand available, and features a sturdy, tank-like build with an intuitive control panel and heavy hinged door, suggesting good insulation and temperature maintenance capabilities.

In terms of performance, the Ninja Woodfire Oven excels with New York style pizzas, offering a preset that cooks at 475 degrees for 8 minutes, though custom settings allow for fine-tune adjustments. I found that cooking a New York at 600 degrees for 5 minutes was absolute perfection. The oven also efficiently maintains heat, allowing for back-to-back pizza baking without the need for flame adjustments or door opening, except to check progress due to the lack of a viewing window. 

However, when testing the Neapolitan pizza preset at the oven’s maximum temperature of 700 degrees, the results were underwhelming with insufficient crust rise and over-melted cheese, confirming that the oven does not reach the optimal temperature range for Neapolitan pizzas.

But Wait, There’s More

The above four pizza ovens are my top picks for 12” outdoor pizza ovens. But there are two more ovens I wanted to call out in this article: the Ooni Volt (due to it’s indoor/outdoor abilities) and the Pizza Party Ardore (technically larger than 12”, but I wouldn’t bake anything larger than a 12″ pizza).

Pizza Party Ardore

pizza party yt

Use this link and code to get 10% off the Ardore.

Why not include it above? The Pizza Party Ardore is technically larger than 12″ – coming equipped with a ~15″ pizza stone. However, the burner placement on this oven is located on the left side, which takes up floor space. So I would only bake a 12-13″ pizza in this. Because of this, I wanted to include it in this review, but felt it technically didn’t meet requirements.

After much anticipation, I finally reviewed the Pizza Party Ardore, a flagship portable pizza oven made in Florence, Italy. The Ardore comes equipped with a 1.2″ thick and 15″ wide Biscotto clay floor and a robust 6kw propane burner. Despite its compact size, the oven showcases impressive build quality and includes distinctive features like a side burner.

During testing, the Pizza Party Ardore demonstrated its strength, particularly in achieving high temperatures essential for authentic Neapolitan pizza, although it faced some challenges in colder conditions. On a warmer day, the oven’s preheat test showed it could reach temperatures nearly as high as 1,000 degrees, though mid-winter tests peaked around 920 degrees. The initial Neapolitan pizza test resulted in a pizza with excellent leoparding on the top crust but an undercooked bottom, suggesting the need to adjust the flame during baking for optimal results.

The second Neapolitan test, with adjustments made to the gas dial, produced an incredible pizza that highlighted the unique capabilities of the Biscotto stone—a crunchy exterior with an airy interior, showcasing the stone’s ability to cook the base thoroughly without scorching.

Overall, the Pizza Party Ardore stands out not only for its build and performance but also for its value. You’re getting a lot in this oven, and for a cheaper price than the Ooni Karu 16. The left burner placement is easier to bake with, but it does take up some floor space. Because of this, I view this closer to a 12″ pizza oven rather than a 15″ oven. In either case, if you want the most authentic Neapolitan pizza possible, this is the one.

Ooni Volt

Ooni Volt 12 electric pizza oven review

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Why not include it above? The main focus of this review was 12″ outdoor pizza ovens. But the Ooni Volt is a unique product, in that it can be used indoor or outdoors. So I felt this fit requirements; however, being limited to electric burners, it’s performance doesn’t quite match that of the Karu 12G or Solo Pi Prime.

The Ooni Volt, Ooni’s first indoor/outdoor electric pizza oven, has created quite a buzz for its portability and capability to reach temperatures over 800F, a feature that rivals only a few in the market like the Breville Pizzaiolo. This innovation is seen as a game-changer, especially for those who want the flexibility to cook authentic Neapolitan pizzas indoors, a significant advantage particularly in less favorable weather conditions.

In terms of technical specifics, the Ooni Volt impresses with a rapid preheat time, reaching up to 850F in just 20 minutes without the need for a high voltage outlet, operating efficiently on standard 120v. This model stands out with its dual burners, allowing for precise heat management and a boost function that quickly reheats the stone between bakes. Despite its larger size, suggesting substantial insulation, the oven maintains a manageable weight and integrates a user-friendly interface with touch controls that enhance its modern appeal.

Performance testing of the Ooni Volt revealed its proficiency in baking Neapolitan pizzas with its ability to fine-tune the heat distribution between the top and bottom burners, crucial for achieving evenly cooked pizzas with desirable leoparding on the crust. I found the best bake was by setting the stone temp to 800F and putting all the power in the top burner. This resulted in the most balanced bake, just around the 2 minute mark.

New Yorks and Detroits are incredibly easy. I no longer use my indoor kitchen oven with pizza steels. The Ooni Volt does a better job, in less time, and with using less energy. What’s not to love?

Written by Derek Gaughan

Derek Gaughan is the Founder and Content Lead for Pala Pizza. He's been featured in PMQ Magazine, The Washington Post, and Home & Gardens. Derek holds an MBA from Pennsylvania State University and is a trained pizzaiolo, specializing in New York style, Neapolitan, and Detroit pizzas.

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