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Family cooking pizza around an Ooni pizza oven

15 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 present!) First of all, congratulations and welcome to the Ooni community. Now, let’s get you off to a good start. Here are 15 things you should know when getting your oven up and running: 

  1. You need a table. Unless you’d like to lay 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. Don’t already have an outdoor kitchen? Our modular tables were created specifically for our ovens.
  2. You have to cook outside. We can’t emphasise this enough. For safety reasons, Ooni ovens are certified for outdoor use only. Give yourself three feet (one meter) of clearance around the sides and nine feet (three meters) of clearance above the oven for safe pizza making.
  3. Season your oven before you want to use it. “Season it? You mean like a cast iron pan?” Sort of! When we say, “Season your oven,” we mean you should run it at top temp for 30 minutes, let it cool completely, and then wipe it down with a paper towel. (This gets rid of any oil and remnants left over from the manufacturing process.) If you do this the day before your first cook, you’ll save about an hour in cooling time, but it’s not required. You do you.
  4. Set yourself up for success. Think like a chef with their mise en place (all equipment and ingredients in their proper places, for you non-French speakers). You’ll want to set up, think through your process and arrange all of your pizza-making tools before you start cooking. Yes, you’ll have a table for your oven, but you’ll also want to think about where you’ll shape and top your dough, where you’ll store your peels between uses, and how you’ll serve your pizzas to family and friends. Our modular tables and topping stations are great for these steps. 
  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), Pro (gas, wood, or coal), Koda (gas), Karu (gas, wood, or coal), but you'll want to review our Getting Started guides or consult the Essentials Guide that came in your box for detailed instructions. No matter the fuel, you’ll want it to be quality. In the same way that fresh ingredients make for better food, quality fuel burns better and produces more delicious pizzas. We source high-quality pellets and logs that are designed to work with our ovens at their very best. 
  6. Practice firing up. 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 give you a chance to see how quickly the fuel burns, figure out how much smoke to expect, and learn how to manage the fuel supply.
  7. Preheat your stone. When it comes to pizza, the stone is the surface that has the most immediate impact on the finished pie. The stone is what actually cooks the pizza and initially helps the dough to rise. A hot baking stone is key to a good pizza, and the Ooni version, made of cordierite (a naturally occurring mineral composed of iron, aluminum, magnesium and silicon), is able to withstand high, high temperatures.. Want to know more about why stone temperature matters? Watch this video.  
  8. You need a peel (or two). Getting your pizza in and out of the oven without a peel is darn near impossible. You’ll need at least one peel for launching, turning, and retrieving your pizza. We recommend a perforated or aluminum peel for stretching, launching and retrieving, and a turning peel for spinning the pizza mid-bake to ensure even cooking. Find out how to use them in this video
  9. Try things out before the big party. We get it, you’re excited about your new pizza oven. And since you’ve been talking it up, your neighbour, second cousin and first-grade teacher have all already invited themselves over. Before the crowd joins you for pizza night, give yourself a trial run. Even if you make top-notch pizza in your conventional oven, you’ll still have a few things to learn when cooking with an Ooni oven.
  10. Hotter is not always better. We know we just told you that your baking stone needs to be hot, and yes, Ooni ovens can get up to 500°C, but that’s not always the temperature you want to cook at. We find 400-450°C to be ideal temperatures for cooking a neo-Neapolitan pizza. We offer an infrared thermometer so you can quickly and easily check the temperature inside your oven and find that sweet spot for your pie.
  11. Make extra dough. You’re going to screw up. We do, too. Don’t get discouraged if your first pizza isn’t perfect. At Ooni HQ, we embrace imperfection and experimentation. Even  a team of Ooni experts sometimes produces a flop:. a little too much char, a misshapen pizza, a hole in the base. These are all normal parts of the learning curve. Don’t give up! There’s a simple way around it, though: Make a little (or a lot) more dough than you think you’ll need. And if you still have issues you can’t solve with a little trial and error, give our customer service team a shout. They’re excellent. 
  12. Don’t load up on toppings. If you’re looking to cook a pizza in 60 to 90 seconds, you don’t want a pie that’s loaded down with too much cheese and heavy toppings. Overloading the dough can get in the way of a quick cook and make it harder to launch and retrieve your pizza. Go light on those toppings; it will still be delicious!
  13. Flip your stone. Expect your stone to change colour. The cordierite stones in our ovens usually  turn brown or black in a few spots. That doesn’t mean something’s gone wrong or your stone is unusable, just that your oven is hard at work. Simply flip the stone (only when it’s cool!) before your next cook. The high heat  inside the oven will clean food debris and burnt flour from the bottom so you’ve got a fresh stone every time you fire up.
  14. When cleaning up, don’t use water. Using water to put out a fire in your oven is unsafe and can cause damage or injury. 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. 
  15. Step outside of the pizza box. Though we’re obviously pizza lovers, we also cook lots of other things in our ovens. Expand your Ooni repertoire: Cook fish, vegetables, casseroles, steaks. Heck, we even flame cook pineapple wedges for our cocktails in our own Ooni ovens!
Previous article Fuels, Explained: Wood Pellets 101
Next article 8 Simple Tips From Dan Richer and Katie Parla’s “Joy of Pizza”

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