When it comes to cooking pizza in a wood-fired oven, the type of wood you use can make a big difference in the flavor and texture of your pizza. But what is the best wood for a pizza oven?
The best wood for a pizza oven is hardwood. Types like oak, ash, and hickory are ideal as they burn hot and long, imparting a delightful smoky flavor to your pizza. Ensure the wood is dry and untreated for optimal burning and flavor.
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Types of Wood for Pizza Ovens
Here’s a look at the different types of wood you can use in your pizza oven.
Hardwoods are the best type of wood to use in your pizza oven. They burn hot and slow, providing consistent heat for your pizza. Some popular hardwoods to use in your pizza oven include beech, maple, and oak.
When choosing hardwood for pizza ovens, make sure it is kiln-dried hardwood. Kiln-dried firewood has a lower moisture level, which makes it burn hotter and more efficiently. It also produces less smoke and ash than other types of wood.
While hardwoods are the preferred choice for pizza ovens, softwoods can also be used. Softwoods like pine and spruce burn faster and hotter than hardwoods, which can be useful if you need to quickly heat up your pizza oven for a faster cooking time.
However, they also produce more smoke and ash in that rapidly hot oven, which can affect the flavor of your pizza.
If you choose to use softwoods in your pizza oven, make sure they are dry and seasoned. This will help reduce the amount of excess smoke and ash they produce.
Fruitwoods like apple and cherry are another excellent wood option for your pizza oven wood. They burn hot and provide a sweet, fruity flavor to your pizza. If you’re not a fruity fan, don’t be deterred as it is a mild flavor.
Like hardwoods, make sure your fruitwood is seasoned and dried before using it in your pizza oven. This is important because it makes sure you can enjoy delicious pizza and maximizes the efficiency of the pizza oven’s wood-burning process.
Which Type Of Wood Should You Use?
Without a doubt, you’re going to find that the best pizzas come from using the popular types of woods listed above, with dry hardwoods being the ideal option. And here’s the thing when making your choice for wood they must be dried and seasoned for the best results.
Avoid using treated, painted, green wood, or laminated wood in your pizza oven, as these can release hazardous chemicals when burned. These are the wrong woods. You also don’t want any woods that have a high sap content due to toxins released when burning.
Pay attention to the moisture levels of the wood you are using, as too much moisture can cause the wood to smoke and produce more ash. That means super damp wood is a no-no.
Pro Tip: I experimented with various woods to fuel my woodfire pizza oven, seeking the perfect flavor. After trying maple, cherry, and hickory, I discovered that oak wood provided the ideal balance of even burn and rich, earthy taste. I gives me the flavors of authentic Italian pizza. Oak is my go-to choice.
Heat and Temperature in Pizza Ovens
Cooking pizza in a wood-fired oven, heat, and oven temperature are critical factors that can make or break your pizza. Achieving and maintaining the ideal temperature is essential for cooking the perfect pizza. Remember that softwoods heat up the fastest.
The heat output of your pizza oven will determine how quickly and efficiently it can cook your pizza. A high heat output is required for cooking pizza quickly and achieving that crispy, charred crust that is so desirable.
The temperature range of your pizza oven is also important. Most wood-fired pizza ovens can reach temperatures of up to 900°F (482°C), which is ideal for cooking pizza quickly. (And why wood-fired ovens tend to make better pizza than portable pizza ovens.)
You should note that the optimal temperature range for cooking pizza is between 575°F and 800°F (302°C and 427°C).
The even distribution of heat is also critical when cooking pizza in a wood burning oven. You want to ensure that the heat is evenly distributed throughout the oven to cook the pizza evenly.
This is where the design of your pizza oven comes into play. A well-designed pizza oven will distribute heat evenly, ensuring that your pizza is cooked to perfection.
Maintaining a consistent temperature is also essential when cooking pizza in a wood-fired oven. Fluctuations in temperature can result in uneven cooking, which can ruin your pizza.
A built-in thermometer is a useful tool for monitoring the temperature of your outdoor pizza oven and ensuring that it remains consistent throughout the cooking process.
Flavor Profiles of Different Wood for Pizza Ovens
When seeking to add that wood-fired flavor to your pizza, know that each type of wood has its own unique flavor profile and can greatly impact the taste of your pizza.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular woods for pizza ovens and their flavors:
Oak is a popular choice for pizza ovens because it burns hot and produces a smoky flavor that pairs well with most toppings. It’s a dense hardwood that is easy to find and has a mild smoke flavor.
Red oak wood is particularly well-suited for pizza, as it produces a milder smoke than white oak. If you want a dense wood that will give your pizza a classic, wood-fired flavor and mild aroma, oak is a great choice.
Hickory wood is another excellent choice for outdoor pizza ovens. It’s a hardwood that burns hot and produces a strong, smoky flavor. Hickory is ideal for pizzas with beef and sausage toppings. It adds a rich, smoky flavor that complements the meat. If you’re looking for wood that will give your pizza a bold, smoky flavor, this popular cooking wood is a great option.
Applewood is a fruitwood that burns hot and produces a sweet, fruity flavor. It’s a great choice for pizzas with fruit toppings, as it adds a complementary flavor without overpowering the other ingredients. Applewood also pairs well with pork and chicken toppings. If you want a wood that will add a fruity, subtle flavor to your pizza, apple is a great choice.
Cherry wood is another fruitwood that burns hot and produces a sweet, fruity flavor. It’s similar to apple wood in flavor but has a slightly stronger and more complex taste.
Cherry wood is an excellent choice for pizzas with fruit toppings, as well as pork and chicken pizza toppings. If you want a wood that will add a sweet, fruity flavor with a bit more complexity to your pizza, cherry is a great option.
Pecan wood is a fruitwood that burns hot and produces a sweet, nutty flavor. It’s a great choice for pizzas with nutty or sweet toppings, as it adds a complementary flavor without overpowering the other ingredients.
Pecan wood also pairs well with pork and chicken toppings. If you want a wood that will add a sweet, nutty flavor to your pizza, pecan is a great choice.
Maple wood is a hardwood that burns hot and produces a mild, sweet flavor. It’s a great choice for pizzas with mild or sweet toppings, as it adds a complementary flavor without overpowering the other ingredients.
Maplewood tastes great with pork and chicken toppings. If you want a wood that will add a subtle, sweet flavor to your pizza, maple is a great option.
Alder wood is a hardwood that burns hot and produces a mild, slightly sweet flavor. It’s a great choice for pizzas with mild or sweet toppings, as it adds a complementary flavor without overpowering the other ingredients.
Seafood toppings and Alder wood go well together. If you want a wood that will add a subtle, slightly sweet flavor to your pizza, alder is a great choice.
Choosing and Preparing Wood for Pizza Ovens
As discussed, the type of wood you use can make all the difference in how that pizza tastes. Choosing the right wood is essential to achieving that perfect crispy crust and delicious smoky flavor.
Here are some tips for selecting and preparing the best wood for your pizza oven.
The moisture content of the wood is one of the main things to think about. Wet wood can create a lot of smoke and cause your pizza to have a bitter flavor. That’s what you really need to use dry, seasoned wood that has a moisture content of less than 20%.
You can check the moisture content of your pizza oven wood by using a moisture meter or by knocking two pieces of wood chunks together – dry wood will produce a sharp, ringing sound while moist wood does not.
When it comes to firewood, hardwoods are the best choice for pizza ovens. Hardwoods like oak, maple, and hickory burn longer and hotter than softwoods, which means they can maintain the high temperatures needed for cooking pizza. Avoid using softwoods like pine, cedar, or spruce, as they contain a lot of sap and resin that can create a lot of smoke and impart a bitter taste to your pizza.
If you’re using a wood pellet pizza oven, make sure to choose high-quality wood pellets that are made specifically for pizza ovens. Look for pellets that are made from 100% hardwood and have a low moisture content. Some wood pellet manufacturers also offer flavored pellets, like apple or cherry, that can add a unique flavor to your pizza.
Before you start cooking, make sure to preheat your pizza oven for at least 30 minutes to an hour. This will ensure that the oven is hot enough to cook your pizza properly and will also help to burn off any residual moisture in the wood.
Drying Wet Wood
If you’re using wet wood, you can dry it out by storing it in a dry, well-ventilated area for several months before using it in your pizza oven. You can also speed up the drying process by using a kiln or a wood dryer. However, it’s best to avoid using wet wood altogether, as it can create a lot of smoke and ruin the flavor of your pizza.
For the perfectly crisp crust and smoky flavor of your pizza, you have to make sure that you’re using the right wood in the oven. Make sure to choose dry, seasoned hardwoods with low moisture content, and avoid using softwoods or wet wood.
Frequently Asked Questions
What wood do Italians use in pizza ovens?
Italians traditionally use hardwoods like oak, beech, and fruitwoods (such as cherry or apple) in their pizza ovens. These woods provide a consistent, high heat and impart a delightful smoky flavor to the pizzas, enhancing their authentic taste.
Is cedar good for a pizza oven?
No cedar wood is sappy, which means it contains natural resins that can become sticky and produce more smoke when burned. This sap can also create a mess and be challenging to manage in a pizza oven. For pizza ovens, it’s generally better to use hardwoods that have lower resin content and produce a cleaner burn with less smoke.
Can I use pine in a wood-fired pizza oven?
Using pine in a wood-fired pizza oven is not recommended. Pine wood contains a high resin content, which can produce excessive smoke and create an unpleasant taste in your pizzas. It’s best to stick with hardwoods like oak, beech, or fruitwood for your pizza oven, as they provide a cleaner burn and a more suitable flavor profile for pizza.
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