I tested out this fantastic indoor pizza oven — and now I understand why it’s listed among Oprah’s favorite things

The experience I had when I organized a pizza night featuring the trending Ooni Volt 12.

I’m no stranger to pizza ovens. I’ve experimented with several over time, encountering the same issue. As the weather gets colder, my family and I reluctantly go months without savoring our homemade pies.

However, when Oprah Winfrey highlighted a $999 indoor pizza oven — the Ooni Volt 12 — as one of her preferred kitchen gifts this year, our winter blues, induced by the absence of pizza, vanished quicker than the setting sun. I promptly arranged to test it out, and while I’m in the process of crafting a comprehensive Ooni Volt 12 review, I can share my initial encounter with this indoor device that reaches 850 degrees for rapid pizza preparation.

It’s crucial to note that the Ooni Volt 12 isn’t your typical countertop appliance. In reality, I was taken aback by its size. Measuring 24.2 inches in length and 20.8 inches in width, I was relieved to have an ample island that could accommodate the oven without monopolizing all my preparation space. However, I’ve resided in apartments where it simply wouldn’t fit.

When you acquire a new pizza oven, the first step is seasoning the provided pizza stone. I cranked up the heat and, using my thermometer gun, monitored the oven’s internal temperature, which soared to nearly 800 degrees in just over 15 minutes. After allowing the stone to retain heat inside the Ooni Volt for a few minutes, I powered down the oven and waited for it to cool.

After the oven was preheated again, it was finally time for pizza-making. My family has a tradition of transforming our week’s leftovers into pizza toppings, leading to some inventive pie creations. This time, we had brisket, cranberry goat cheese, caramelized onions, chicken cutlets, pepperoni, and more to experiment with. My main concern was how this indoor oven would handle our diverse culinary concoctions.

Launching the pizzas into the oven was reminiscent of using the Ooni Koda 16 and other outdoor pizza ovens. I used a floured pizza peel to transfer the pies from the counter into the oven. However, unlike the Koda 16, which features an L-shaped flame, there was no need to rotate the pizzas in the Ooni Volt 12 while they cooked. Additionally, it boasts a door that traps heat and smoke, a crucial feature for indoor use. I appreciated how I could observe any escaped smoke being drawn back in through small vents around the oven door.

Once I sealed my pie inside, I refrained from opening the door until the pizza appeared ready. However, the transparent window allowed me to monitor its progress. To my surprise, just like my outdoor pizza oven, the pie looked beautifully browned and bubbly after just 90 seconds.

When I retrieved the pizza, I observed that it didn’t resemble the pizzas I typically make outdoors. The crust lacked the inflated Neapolitan pizza appearance, resulting in slightly flatter edges. Nevertheless, the underside achieved perfect crispiness, exhibiting a more uniformly cooked texture than what I usually achieve with the open-flame oven.

Needless to say, the pizza was delicious. What brought even greater satisfaction was knowing we could now relish pizza nights during winter—once we clear enough space in our garage to store it.

It’s worth noting that the Ooni Volt demands a substantial investment in both size and price. Its primary rival, the Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo ($999, Amazon), in our Breville Pizzaiolo review, also cooked pizzas at a comparable speed to the Ooni, albeit at a similar cost.

For those seeking a more affordable, compact indoor pizza oven, the Cuisinart Indoor Pizza Oven ($399, Amazon) serves as a budget-friendly alternative. However, it takes around 5 minutes to cook each pizza.

Stay tuned for my comprehensive review of the Ooni Volt. There’s plenty more testing ahead.