The Biggest Improvement to My Camp Kitchen Is a Mini Pizza Oven (But Not for Pizza)


It goes without question that pizza is one of the greatest foods on the planet. And after a long day on the trail or the slopes, nothing quite satisfies hunger cravings like salty, cheesy, saucy pizza. 

I have tried to make pizza while camping before (Exhibit A), however, it was extremely tedious and came nothing close to what you would get at outdoor mainstays like Miguel’s (for climbers) or Hot Tomato (for mountain bikers).

And then it hit me: What if I take a pizza oven camping? Is such a thing even possible? Indeed it is — the Ooni Koda 12. It is the smallest pizza oven model on the market, so it fits into your car and runs on propane. So it’s permissible during some fire bans.

But then an even bigger question arose: What if I cook everything I make camping in the pizza oven? I mean, the Koda gets hotter than my two-burner stove and can cook things like an oven, making meals like baked dishes or larger cuts of meat possible. I wanted to see if I could ditch my old two-burner stove and solely rely on the Koda.

So, I decided to find out!

In short: I tested the Ooni Koda 12 on a number of dishes, including things you would make camping, but also some very noncamping meals. At the end of my test, I realized I had unlocked an entirely new level to my camp cooking. The Koda impressed me with its versatility to not only brown meat and cheese excellently, but also handle lower cooking for simmering. It’s not perfect, but it brought me one huge step closer to replicating my at-home cooking setup in the outdoors.

Ooni Koda 12 Gas Pizza Oven


  • Weight 20 lbs.
  • Dimensions 24.4" x 15.5" x 11.7"
  • Temp Up to 950F
  • Fuel LPG / Propane
  • Price $399


  • Browning meat and cheese.
  • Simmering sauce and lower temperatures.
  • Folding legs, portability, and propane fuel source.
  • Cooking pizza.


  • Only one heat source (makes juggling dishes challenging).
  • Cooking area doesn't fit large pots.
  • Heat concentrates in back of oven, requires constant rotating.
  • Integrated baking stone feels fragile.

Ooni Koda 12 Pizza Oven for Camp Cooking Review

The Ooni Koda 12 sets up simply by unfolding three legs and connecting its hose to a propane tank.

Heat is controlled with a dial in the back. This dial has an integrated sparker to ignite the fuel, and offers adjustability from high heat to low heat.

The dial resembles what you would find on a stovetop.

stove size comparison
Stove size comparison to a two-burner stove; (photo/Nate Mitka)

Over the course of testing, I made breakfast hash with potatoes, bell pepper, onion, egg, and cheese. I consider this a classic camping dish, and one I make all the time on a two-burner camp stove.

I also cooked pizza with it. (As expected, it excelled at this.)

But I chose dishes that involve cooking techniques that apply to a number of other dishes — like sauteing, simmering, searing, and boiling.

The Good: Luxury French Cooking

I am no stranger to pushing the limits of camp cooking, having cooked things like gnocchi from scratch, fresh-pressed tortillas, and beef bulgogi all while camping.

However, larger cuts of meat can be a challenge on a two-burner stove. Cold air temperatures plus minimal heat from the average 10,000 BTU stove can cause meals to take a while to cook.

For my primary test, I wanted to push the limits of what the Ooni could make. I chose a dish that incorporated multiple cooking techniques, with simmering and boiling a sauce, plus searing and cooking a large cut of meat. 

In one of my favorite French cookbooks is a recipe for pork tenderloin with red wine prune sauce. It is fancy, complex, and oh-so-delicious to make at home.

If the Ooni could create this dish, it would vastly expand the limits of what somebody could make while camping.

Making Sauce on Ooni Kada 12 Gas Oven
(Photo/Nate Mitka)

I started with the sauce, which involved simmering carrots and shallots in butter. Then I added some red wine and red wine vinegar, plus thyme and a bay leaf.

To my surprise, at the lowest heat setting, the Ooni actually managed to simmer the sauce. The simmering happened in the back half of the cast iron that was closest to the flame. But with some stirring, I was able to cook the sauce as instructed in the recipe.

Then I added some chicken stock and brought it to a boil, before simmering some more. I cranked the Ooni to its highest setting and it managed a boil fine. Then, I added the prunes and the sauce was complete.

Next, I cooked the pork tenderloin. I had to cut the tenderloin in half to fit in my cast iron, and then placed it into the Ooni with butter, olive oil, and some garlic.

The pork browned fairly quickly, so again I lowered the heat and continued to cook. The recipe calls for cooking this for 10 minutes, so I checked its doneness then. I sliced into the pork, and it was undercooked. So I put it back into the Ooni for roughly 10 more minutes.

ooni kada 12 cooking chicken
(Photo/Nate Mitka)

Because of how much the pork stuck out, I had to constantly rotate these so that the tops didn’t brown too much. After 20 minutes, I again sliced the pork and it was cooked. Success!

Needless to say, this meal was extremely delicious. While making something like this at camp might be a little absurd compared to hot dogs or burgers, I am all for pushing the limits of camp cooking and it was undoubtedly good eating.

The Bad: Just Desserts

For my next meal, I ventured into something impossible to make while camping: brownies. I used a Ghirardelli brownie mix and followed the instructions on the box. The recipe called for baking these in a 325-degree oven for 45 minutes, so I was a bit nervous about how the Ooni would handle this.

I mixed the brownies directly into the baking tin, crossed my fingers, and placed them in the oven. Almost immediately, they started burning. I checked them after 5 minutes and the tops were way too blackened for this stage of cooking.

Panicked, I ran across the street to a gas station, praying they would have tin foil so I could hopefully salvage what was left of the brownies. Thankfully, the Phillips 66 had tin foil so I sprinted back to my truck at the trailhead, covered the brownies in the foil, and continued to cook them, rotating them every 10 minutes or so.

After 45 minutes, I took the brownies out and fortunately, the tops hadn’t browned anymore. The tinfoil had done its job.

Unfortunately, the brownies did not turn out well. I cut into them and placed them on the pan. The inside was fairly gooey and the brownies were difficult to get out of the pan.

making brownie on Ooni Kada Oven
(Photo/Nate Mitka)

Although, biting into them was not terrible. It is just brownie mix, after all. They were fairly chewy and cakey in the middle and tasted like brownies.

While this test was a failure, I’m not discounting brownies the next time I go camping. I think if I were to cover them in tin foil from the start, cook them for 10 minutes longer, and use a thoroughly greased pan, they would have turned out much better.

Conclusions: Should You Take the Ooni Koda Camping?

Ooni Kada Gas Powered Oven
(Photo/Nate Mitka)

I don’t know why it took me this long to think about using a pizza oven while camping. But the results completely surprised me and inspired me to continue to use this thing while camping.

After using the Koda for a number of meals, yes, I did notice some drawbacks. The main drawback of the Koda is obvious, it only has one cooking source.

So, while you may be able to cook two separate things at the same time with a two-burner stove, with the Ooni you have to cook things one at a time.

It’s also only able to cook things that would fit into the cooking slot. So larger pots, boiling water, or coffee are out of the picture. Finally, at $399, it is certainly an investment.

However, given its versatility at camp and at home, I believe the benefits of cooking with a pizza oven outweigh the negatives. This will not replace my two-burner camping stoves outright, but I imagine it will accompany my two-burner on most camping trips. And occasionally, I plan to camp with just the Ooni.

And yes, I may even use the Koda at home for pizza.

Check out the Ooni Koda 12 on the Ooni website for more product information.

The post The Biggest Improvement to My Camp Kitchen Is a Mini Pizza Oven (But Not for Pizza) appeared first on GearJunkie.

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