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The Ooni Volt Pizza Oven Is a Game-Changer for Making Perfect Pizza at Home

The Ooni Volt is a powerful appliance that took my home pizza game to unexpected new heights.
I Tried the Ooni Volt Electric Pizza Oven (and Now I Go By Chuck E. Cheese)
Composite by VICE Staff

The annals of history will remember 2020 for many things, but as far as home cooking goes, it was the year of sourdough starters, learning how to make cocktails, and backyard pizza. And as I predicted shortly before the vaccines landed—when we were beginning to fantasize about re-entering social life—the post-COVID era would be even more the epoch of endless pizza parties, of slinging pies with your buds and enjoying being (mostly) freed of our domestic prisons. While some of us definitely went ahead with that dream, others were left behind, often due, I think, to two reasons: No amount of pizza daydreaming can change the fact that not everybody has a functional backyard or patio (especially if you live in a big city and aren’t rich); and beyond that, some people just aren’t comfortable with burning wood or cranking gas fires. And who could blame them? Anybody who’s seen William Shatner’s PSA about the danger of deep-frying turkey knows how quickly backyard cooking can get out of hand (at least when you aren’t doing it right).


Granted, ovens like the (really excellent) Breville Pizzaiolo were out there, but they were simply ahead of their time—when the home ‘za wave hit, people were looking forwards, not backwards. Fortunately, Ooni heard the call, and dropped an all-electric pizza oven this summer that can be used indoors and outdoors. As someone who has actually spent a lot of time making and writing about pizza, I was extremely keen on trying it out. Baking at home can be daunting, because it’s a process that requires you to be very precise, meaning you have to understand and trust all your gear. With indoor home ovens, even if they seem calibrated and can hit that sweet 550 degree Fahrenheit ceiling, you never really know what’s going on in there (unless you literally get in there with a thermometer to find the real temps and hot/cold zones, which, respectfully, most regular home cooks are simply not going to do). Luckily, Ooni is highly aware of what’s been going on in our kitchens and backyards, and is here to deliver us from mid pizzas with burnt edges and undercooked cheese. 

First impressions

The Ooni Volt is gorgeous. There’s zero setup involved; you basically take it out of its (understandably enormous) box, unwrap the separately packaged pizza stone, plug the oven in, and you’re ready to cook. The adjustable dials make the whole thing feel like an Apple product from 2050 (or like the pizza hydrator from Back to the Future 2), and one quick breeze through the manual tells you what each of the knobs do: There’s a timer, a temperature dial, and one to change the heat distribution between the hot and bottom coils. I love the fact that for a Neapolitan-ish pizza, you can set it to heat from the top, replicating the heating of a traditional wood-fired oven. On that note, you can even lift your ‘za up at the end to give it a fiery ‘lil kiss at the end, the same way you might by broiling it in its final minutes in your regular home oven. Before you cook, all you have to do is “season” the pizza stone by rockin’ it at 850 for 20 minutes. Since the Volt has a triple-paned glass door, even at full heat, this baby doesn’t roast your whole kitchen the way a regular oven does, which is a big win for your dough (and your guests).

$999 at Amazon
$999 at Ooni
$999 at Amazon
$999 at Ooni

Cooking with the oven

Listen, I don’t have to tell you that there are countless paths to great pizza (just as there are numerous ways to even pronounce it). I live in Chicago, you live in New York City, your friend lives in St. Louis, her family’s from Detroit—and we’re all right that our beloved cities’ storied pizza style is the best. (But also New Haven-style pizza is probably the best, right?) What’s so sick about the Ooni Volt is that it’s not only set up to turn out incredible versions of every kind of pizza, but it actually encourages that. The oven can hit any temp up to 850, and the accompanying literature gives temps and cooking times for everything from grandma pie and New Haven pie, to tavern, New York, and Neapolitan-style (you can save your comments about the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, bro, thanks).

Just as there are dozens (if not hundreds) of great styles of pizza, each one has its own diaspora of recipes. I went down the rabbit hole of Neapolitan-ish books and recipes earlier in life, and, frankly, am no longer that interested in uncovering some holy grail perfect pizza recipe (which doesn’t exist, since the actual best pizza in the world is whatever passable pie you can pull off at home and enjoy with your friends, IMO). To that end, Ooni actually includes its own recipe for classic pizza dough in the manual. Seeing that it only used flour, water, salt, and yeast (not to mention that it specifies 00 flour), I took the recipe seriously and decided that while testing this oven, I would only use that recipe. 


Things got off to a rocky start on my first bake. I mixed a dough quickly, as I have many times before, and didn’t follow the Ooni recipe exactly. Instead of placing two-thirds of the water in a large bowl and boiling the remaining third to reach the right yeast blooming temperature, like it asked me to, I decided to go rogue and just use 92 degree water from my faucet. Then, I was rushing to meet a friend, so I didn’t knead the dough for the whole 10 minutes I was supposed to. (Unfortunately, by doing this, I broke my one New Year’s resolution, which was that if I’m making a recipe, to follow it as closely as possible.) I also proofed it in the microwave, which can sometimes yield a nice, warm temp; but since I’m cooling my apartment like a MF (since, you might have noticed, it’s fucking hot out), it wasn’t very warm in there. As a result of all of these faults, the dough was underproofed (read: it didn’t fully develop) at the allotted two hours. I baked five pizzas with it; surprisingly, they were all damn good for a first run, and pleasantly tasty and fresh for dough that wasn’t up to my standard. The bottom of the pizzas were crispy, with some pretty attractive leoparding (aka black spots), and did achieve a somewhat airy texture, with the crust somewhat pillowy inside. But I knew I could do better.


Margherita pizza. Photo by the author.


Marinara pizza. Photo by the author.

This morning, I did a second batch, but was extremely precise in my prep. I boiled one-third of the water, and actually timed out my knead to hit 10 minutes on the dot. I let the dough proof on my coffee cart next to the window, and clocked the ambient temp at just over 70 degrees. At one hour, the dough was beautifully proofed. (Shocking that I’m not smarter than a recipe developed specifically for this device!) I fired up the oven to 850 degrees Fahrenheit and cooked a pizza that was simply insanely good—the crust was majestically charred and chewy, and the bottom had the ideal crispy flop. The perfectionist in me says that the crust could have bubbled a bit more, and the cheese could have gotten slightly meltier, but that’s why you keep fine-tuning your technique and try new recipes. Even still, to think that this is only the starting point is very exciting.


Margherita pizza. Photo by the author.


Crust. Photo by the author.

TL;DR: The Ooni Volt makes incredibly good pizza, and I can’t wait to experiment with other styles. Nothing in your home is going to take you to wood-fired heights (and flavors), but this thing can get you fairly close if you hone your skills with it. Whether you’re a seasoned home pizza pro or a newbie who’s done nothing more than DiGiorno (I stan), the Volt will absolutely level your game up beyond what you thought was possible. If you love pizza, you deserve this.

Buy the Ooni Volt on Amazon or from Ooni.

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