Think great homemade pizza, and Scotland probably isn’t the first place to come to mind. Yet in a backyard in Edinburgh in 2011, a portable pizza oven revolution commenced.
Like many great culinary inventions (the balloon whisk, the cheese grater, the potato chip),Ooni Pizza Ovens resulted from one enthusiastic home cook’s frustration. Kristian Tapaninaho, an entrepreneur originally from Finland, was fed up. The pizza aficionado produced top-notch pies at home, but something was missing; for all his efforts in the kitchen, a blistered crust with a fire-kissed chew remained elusive. He searched for a suitable outdoor wood-fire oven, but everything was bulky or cost-prohibitive. So with nary an engineering or product design degree, Tapaninaho decided to build one himself, crafting prototype after prototype of the perfect portable pizza oven. When he had something close to just right, he did what so many aspiring CEOs do: He put the project on Kickstarter.
Needless to say, people loved it, and Ooni has grown from crowd-sourced darling to global sensation, expanding its U.S. headquarters to Austin, Texas, last year. (The pandemic didn’t hurt; sales skyrocketed as hobbyist chefs turned to their kitchens for entertainment.) “We were out of stock for four months at a time—of everything,” Darina Garland, Tapaninaho’s wife and business partner, told Fast Company. “People were willing to wait, which was amazing.”
Today the brand is sold in ninety nations around the world. Last summer, Ooni was named one of the fastest-growing companies in the United Kingdom. Any way you slice it, that many taste buds can’t be wrong.
So what makes a small alfresco oven so great? Portability and a petite frame (roughly the size of a carry-on suitcase) could only take Tapaninaho’s idea so far. Pizza pros love Ooni’s ability to get blazing hot—950 degrees Fahrenheit in order to cook a pizza in 90 seconds, to be precise. That intense heat allows users to go from tossed and topped dough to eating a piping-hot pizza in lightning-fast times. And with various shapes, sizes, and styles, there’s an Ooni for every exacting at-home pizzaiolo. While early models used wood-fuel canisters or gas adapters, the recently released Volt 12 is Ooni’s first indoor-outdoor electric pizza oven. Now even those without a garden space to cook in can enjoy fresh pizza.
The flame-friendly set, however, can look forward to the much-anticipated Karu 12G this spring. A reimagining of the popular Karu 12 model, it’s the Cadillac of Ooni Pizza Ovens and comes with all the bells and whistles a gearhead gourmand will love. A built-in thermometer, larger fuel tray, and optimized glass door that allows chefs to track a pizza’s progress make it especially attractive to serious home cooks. That includes those who like to think outside the pizza pan. Not surprisingly, a fast-cooking outdoor oven can prepare more than perfectly blistered pies. Users report that kabobs, focaccia, and even cobbler can all be made using this unique appliance.
Naturally, Ooni owners require accessories for supreme pizza success. Ooni’s answer to that is a recently released line of tools, including a handy portable folding table for those who like their hot-and-ready slices on the go; a dough tray for proofing; and a baking steel to get crispier bases on your pizzas made in a home oven.
For years, enjoying a great Neapolitan or Chicago deep-dish meant going out or ordering in, but Ooni changed the game, bringing the heat needed to make a truly great pie at home. Restaurant-quality pizza from your own backyard? Now that’s amore.
Find your Ooni Pizza Oven at ooni.com