10 Things You Should Know To Get Your Pizza Oven Up and Running
Are you the lucky recipient of a new Ooni oven? (We’ll count it as a gift even if it was a “from me, for me” kind of gift!) First of all, congratulations and welcome to the community. To help you begin your pizza-making journey, here are ten things you should know when getting your oven up and running:
1. Invest in a good table
Unless you’d like to lie on your stomach and launch your pizzas Superman-style, you’ll want to set your oven on a sturdy metal, stone, or wood table. Aim for something between waist and chest height for maximum comfort. Don’t already have an outdoor kitchen? Our modular tables were created specifically for our ovens.
2. Cook outside…unless you have a Volt!
For safety reasons, our ovens are certified for outdoor use only unless you have a Volt, which is electric and works for both indoor and outdoor use. A good rule of thumb is to give yourself one metre of clearance around the sides of your oven and three metres above it for safe pizza making.
3. Season your oven before you use
When we say “season,” we mean you should run it at top temperatures for 30 minutes, let it cool completely, and then wipe it down with a paper towel. Why? Because it helps to get rid of any oil and remnants left over from the manufacturing process. We recommend doing this the day before your first cook, and then you’ll be good to go!4. Set yourself up for success
Think like a chef; before you cook, have your mise en place (all equipment and ingredients in their proper places, for you non-French speakers). Yes, you’ll have a table for your oven, but you’ll also want to decide where you’ll shape and top your dough, where to store your tools and how to serve your pizzas to family and friends.
At a minimum, you’ll need an infrared thermometer and a pizza peel for launching (you can use a chef’s knife to slice your pizzas, but a nice cutter wheel can be helpful, too). It's also handy to have a pizza topping station for ingredients, and a digital scale makes it much easier for prepping dough. Note: If you’re making dough from scratch, be sure to allow the time needed for your recipe. Some can be prepared the day of, and others need or require more than a day to allow flavour to develop. You should always make more than you need for any pizza mishaps (we’ve all been there!) or to send your friends home with leftovers.
5. Sort out your fuel
Depending on which oven you have and/or the kind of pizza you want to make, you’ll need to figure out what kind of fuel to use. The short answer is Fyra (pellets), Koda (gas), Karu (gas, wood, or coal) and Volt (electric), but you'll want to review our Getting Started guides or consult the Essentials Guide that came in your box for detailed instructions.
In the same way that fresh ingredients make for better food, quality fuel burns better and produces more delicious pizzas. And just like having more dough on hand than you need, be sure to have more fuel than you need as well!
6. Practice firing up and preheating your stone
Consider it a dry run: Practice getting your oven up to temperature once or twice without launching any pizzas. If you’re working with wood, charcoal, or pellets, you’ll get a feel for those fuels without sacrificing your dinner to a cold stone or ripping hot flames. It will also allow you to see how quickly the fuel burns, figure out how much smoke to expect, and learn how to manage the fuel supply.
When it comes to pizza, the stone is what cooks the pizza and initially helps the dough to rise, and having it hot is the key to a good bake. Our version is made of cordierite (a naturally occurring mineral composed of iron, aluminium, magnesium and silicon) and can withstand super high temperatures (up to 500 °C!). That being said, not all pizzas need to cook at temperatures that high (take the Detroit-style Pizza, for example), so always check the recipe for precise temperatures.7. Try experimenting before you have a pizza party
There’s nothing worse than having your guests over with the oven fired up and ready to go only to discover that the dough isn’t proofed enough, you don’t have any fuel, or you didn’t buy enough cheese. Give yourself the gift of time and spend a day or two experimenting with different pizza toppings and dough styles.
8. Don’t load up on toppings
If you’re looking to cook a pizza in 60 to 90 seconds, you definitely don’t want it to be weighed down with too much cheese and heavy toppings. Overloading the dough can get in the way of a quick cook, making it harder to launch and retrieve your pizza. Go light on those toppings and trust us – it will still taste delicious! 9. Step outside of the pizza box
Though we love pizza, we also like cooking other things in our ovens. Once you’re comfortable with making pizza, why not get into grilling? We’ve got a stellar cast-iron collection and recipes like succulent steak, crispy and tender salmon, or roasted vegetables. You can even flame-cook pineapple wedges for cocktails in an Ooni, not to mention decadent and tasty desserts.
10. Give your oven some TLC
As you continue on your pizza (and more!) making journey, it’s perfectly normal for your stone to change colour. The cordierite stones usually turn brown or black in a few spots, but that doesn’t mean something’s wrong or that it’s unusable, just that your oven is hard at work. Simply flip the stone (when it’s cold!) before your next cook. The high heat inside the oven will clean food debris and burnt flour from the bottom, so you’ll have a fresh stone every time you fire up.
When it comes to cleaning up, most parts of your Ooni will clean themselves and don’t need soap or water. If necessary, you can use a damp cloth on the outside of your oven, but we never recommend using soap or water inside your oven or on your stone. And if you want more info on cleaning, we’ve compiled a whole host of tips.
Practice, cook, eat and most importantly, enjoy your new Ooni!