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Best Wood For Your Pizza Oven

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What Kind of Firewood for Pizza Oven Use?

Welcome to the ultimate guide on choosing the best wood for your pizza oven! If you're tired of struggling to get your wood-fired oven up to temperature or wondering why your homemade pizza lacks that signature smoky flavor, you're in the right place. 

In this post, we'll delve into the world of wood-fired cooking and uncover the best choice of woods that will take your pizza game to the next level. Get ready to transform your backyard pizza nights with the perfect wood selection along with perfect recipes for your wood-burning oven!

Best wood for a pizza oven

This article contains information on the following topics related to cooking wood:

1. Woods to Avoid When Cooking in Wood Fired Oven

2. Best Pizza Oven Wood

3. Where to Buy Wood for Pizza Ovens

4.  Does Moisture Content Affect Wood Fired Cooking?

5. Why Is My Pizza Oven Smoking?

6. How Much Wood for a Pizza Oven?

7. Best Wood for Wood Fired Pizza Oven Cooking

8. Flavored Wood for Pizza Oven

Woods to Avoid When Cooking in Wood Fired Oven

Not all wood is fit to use in a wood fired oven and not all firewoods contribute to the savory blends of wood fired cooking flavor.  

Cooking in wood-burning pizza ovens is a healthy choice so don’t negate that by using firewood that is dangerous to your health.  Laminated woods, pressure treated and painted woods, or any wood that has chemicals are never to be used in a good pizza oven.

Why does this matter?

These woods have hazardous chemicals that can be toxic.  Also, avoid woods that have high sap content, like pine. Sap produces soot and creosote which coats the oven floor and is bad for humans.  This is especially important when using various woods in commercial wood fired pizza ovens.

Best Pizza Oven Wood

Now that you know the types of wood that you don’t want to use, you may be asking “what is the best fuel for pizza ovens”?

Wood burning in a large pizza oven

The best woods for cooking are seasoned and dried hardwoods. Hardwoods, which usually contain broad leaves on the trees, are a better option than softwoods, which usually have needles and cones.

One reason hardwoods are better for cooking in a pizza oven is that they are the wood that burns hottest.  Great choices of hardwood are oak, hickory, maple, ash, walnut, birch, beech and fruitwoods such as apple or cherry.

These hardwoods have a higher density and lower moisture content, allowing them to burn hotter and longer compared to softwoods like pine or fir. Hardwoods also produce a clean, consistent heat source that is ideal for achieving the high temperatures needed for perfect pizza crust in wood-fired ovens.

That's not all...

If you love the aromatic effect wood has on your food then fruitwood has excellent options that can greatly affect your meal. Fruitwood, as the name implies, comes from several fruit-bearing trees.  

Fruitwood includes apple, plum, almond, pear, hickory, maple, pecan, mesquite, chestnut, avocado, alder, apricot, nectarine, and cherry wood.  These woods can really add to the flavor of your next dinner!

If you want to learn about the different types of wood and recipes to go with them, skip to Flavored Wood for Pizza Oven.

Where to Buy Wood for Pizza Ovens

There are many types of cooking wood. Always try to find the best wood for cooking in your pizza oven.  If searching online for firewood, you can search for "where to buy wood for pizza oven" or "firewood pizza". 

There are online specialty stores like Cutting Edge Firewood that sell premium firewood for residential pizza ovens.  We also carry a nice selection of Apple wood, and Oak firewood that is perfectly cut for use in outdoor pizza ovens.

 Wood for cooking in a pizza oven

If the shipping costs prohibit you from purchasing from an online store, you can usually find wood locally by checking your local Craigslist or through word of mouth.  Just make sure to ask if it's a hardwood for cooking that has been seasoned and dried.

Does Moisture Content Affect Wood Fired Cooking?

Did you know that the moisture content of your firewood affects not just your food but also your wood-fired oven? YES, it does!  When your wood has too much moisture in it, your oven has to spend more time drying the wood and less time heating your oven.

The ideal moisture content of the best wood used in wood-burning ovens is less than 20% moisture. This means that under-dried woods are not recommended. There should be a nice balance, not too dry but not totally green wood.

Why Is My Pizza Oven Smoking?

One of the main complaints we hear from new wood-fired chefs is that they have too much smoke coming from their pizza oven.  While this may be perfect when smoking meats, this isn't what you want when having a pizza party.  Even the best wood fired pizza oven will smoke if you are using the wrong wood.   

Pizza cooking in a smoky brick oven

Using good cooking wood is imperative for an indoor pizza oven installation for several reasons:

  1. Safety: High-quality cooking wood is typically free from chemicals, additives, and contaminants that can pose health risks when burned. This is especially crucial for indoor installation where proper ventilation might not be as extensive as outdoor use.

  2. Flavor: Good cooking wood, such as hardwoods like oak or fruitwoods like apple or cherry, imparts a distinct and pleasant flavor to the food. This flavor is an essential component of the wood-fired cooking experience, especially for pizzas where the crust can absorb the smoky essence of the wood.

  3. Efficiency: Quality cooking wood burns more efficiently and consistently, providing a steady heat source with better temperature control that is crucial for cooking pizzas evenly and achieving that perfect crispy crust without burning the toppings.

  4. Equipment Longevity: Using good cooking wood reduces the risk of creating excessive soot or creosote buildup in your indoor oven, which can lead to damage or decreased efficiency of the equipment over time. Clean-burning wood helps maintain the longevity and performance of your indoor pizza oven.

  5. Environmental Impact: Choosing sustainable and responsibly sourced cooking wood contributes to reducing environmental impact. Look for certifications like FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) when selecting cooking wood for your indoor pizza oven.

Overall, using good cooking wood not only enhances the flavor and quality of your pizzas but also ensures a safe, efficient, and enjoyable wood-fired cooking experience indoors.

Here's the deal:

Greenwoods are those that have been just cut recently and not had the chance to dry yet. This type of wood is NOT what you want. It doesn’t produce the right amount of flame needed inside the oven and will produce lots of smoke.  

To avoid too much smoke, use hardwood that is kiln dried to ensure the balanced moisture and dryness of the wood you use.

Using information from an article, the following table shows the basic smoke, embers, and burning energy for the various types of fruitwoods. 

Wood Type Smoke Energy Embers
Stack of Alder Wood
Alder Mild Low Fair
Apple Wood Logs for Cooking Apple Medium High Excellent
Hickory Wood Logs for Cooking Hickory Strong High Excellent
Maple Wood Logs for Cooking Maple Mild High Excellent
Mesquite Wood Logs for Cooking Mesquite Strongest High Excellent
Oak Wood Logs for Cooking Oaks Medium High Excellent
Peach tree or Nectarine wood for cooking Peach Medium Medium Fair
Pecan Wood Logs for Cooking Pecan Strong High Good
Pear wood logs for cooking in a wood fired oven Pear Medium High Fair
Walnut Wood Logs for Cooking Walnut Strong High



How Much Wood for a Pizza Oven?

So, how much wood do you really need when cooking in your oven?  Here comes the dreaded answer... it depends.  Usually, you can start with about 5 small pieces of wood to get your fire going and your oven up to temperature. 

The typical length of wood used for cooking in a pizza oven is 12 inches.   It's usually easier to start your fire with smaller pieces of wood before adding larger pieces.

Length of wood for cooking in pizza oven

Depending on your oven's heat retention (ie, brick ovens hold heat better than stainless steel ovens due to their exceptional heat retention), you may only need to add a few other pieces of wood to maintain the temperature. Or, for maximum temperatures, you might need to continually add a piece of wood as necessary while you are cooking authentic wood-fired pizza.

When purchasing large amounts of wood, it is usually sold as a "cord".   A full cord is when the wood is stacked four feet high by four feet wide by eight feet long (4 ft. x 4 ft. x 8 ft.).

Measurement for a cord of wood

The cord of wood size comes from the use of a cord or string to measure it. A “cord” is traced back to the 1610s when wood was sold in bundles tied with a cord. Usually stacked on a pallet, the wood pieces are arranged so they are parallel, touching and compact, so they occupy a volume of 128 cubic feet.  

Best Wood for Wood Fired Pizza Oven Cooking

Great food depends on the wood you use when it comes to outdoor cooking in your wood-fired pizza oven. Cooking in your pizza oven with hardwood brings other benefits as well;  every wood fired oven seasons differently over time, just like a cast iron skillet, so each will produce food with subtle differences.

Basically, your wood burning oven will acquire its own environment and personality, infusing your pizza oven recipes with wood-fired flavor you can't find anywhere else.  

Other factors including the quality of your meat, oven temperature, spices used, and any added sauces will impact the final taste of your meal as much as the type of wood used.  So, spend time experimenting with different woods in addition to all the other factors.

Flavored Wood for Pizza Oven

According to The Forest Encyclopedia, often the wood flavor is influenced more by the climate and soil in which the trees are grown rather than the species of wood.  This means that the differences between maples grown in Tennessee and maples grown in Colorado may be greater than the differences between maple and pecan that are grown side by side in a region.

With that caveat, different fruitwoods have different smells so they season your food in a different way. Therefore, some fruitwoods are a better match for certain types of food.  Below are some popular fruitwoods and the most popular types of food to cook with them in your wood fired oven.

Alder Wood 

Alder is a genus of flowering trees and shrubs belonging to the birch family.  

Alder is very mild with a subtle, slightly sweet flavor making it the perfect go-to smoke flavor. Some people like to mix Alder with other types of wood to create custom flavors. Alder works well with fish, poultry, vegetables, lamb, and sausage as it provides a light flavor.

Alder Wood Smoked Salt Salmon Recipe

Try this recipe for Alder Wood Smoked Salt Salmon

Apple Wood

While very popular in the US, the Apple tree originated in Central Asia.  European colonists brought the Apple tree to North America.

Apple is often used by pizzerias to enhance aroma and flavor because this wood burns very hot. Foods can also be smoked for longer periods of time due to the mildness of this wood. This makes Apple wood an excellent choice for cold smoking cheese and meats.

Applewood Smoked Chicken Recipe

Try this recipe for Applewood Smoked Chicken

Hickory Wood

There are approximately 18 species of Hickory throughout the world.  It is believed that as many as 12 Hickory trees are native to the United States.

Hickory has a strong aroma that is slightly sweet but not too bold. Hickory is popular for cooking bacon and sausage dishes but it also pairs well with beef and chicken. Since Hickory has a very strong smoke flavor, it can overpower some dishes.

Hickory-Smoked Chicken Recipe

 Try this recipe for Hickory-Smoked Chicken

Maple Wood

The Maple tree is one of the most recognized with it's large colorful leaves.  There are approximately 128 species of Maple with most native to Asia.

Maple has a sweet flavor and mild aroma reminiscent of Maple syrup. With that smoky sweetness, it naturally pairs well with pork but is also commonly used with poultry and vegetables.  One item to note with Maple is there are multiple species with each containing varying levels of sap content. This sap will caramelize when burning (more sap = more caramelization) so it can affect your food's taste. The higher the caramelization, the higher the possibility of a slightly bitter taste.

Maple Bourbon Smoked Ribs Recipe

Try this recipe for Maple Bourbon Smoked Ribs

Mesquite Wood

Mesquite trees are native to Mexico and the southwestern United States.  These trees can survive in desert conditions because they have extremely long roots allowing them to find water very far underground.

Mesquite is a popular choice for smoking because it is a very hot burning wood. It is a favorite when cooking steaks or pork as it gives a bold flavor to meats.  It is also a stronger wood so some think it can be a bit bitter or harsh. 

Recipe for Mesquite Smoked BBQ Ribs

Try this recipe for Mesquite Smoked Bbq Pork Ribs.

Oak Wood

There are approximately 600 species of Oak trees with the largest number of Oak species in North America.  Mexico boasts 160 species while China contains approximately 100 species. 

Oak is one of the most popular of all the woods used in wood-fired ovens as it is usually readily available in most areas. It burns for the longest time and gives off a great aroma for your food. Oak wood is typically used for ribs, lamb, and beef as it is the perfect complement to most meat seasonings.

Oak Smoked Prime Rib Recipe

Try this recipe for Oak Smoked Prime Rib

Peach/Nectarine Wood

The Peach tree is native to Northwest China.  The Peach tree belongs to the genus Prunus which also includes the plum, apricot, almond, and cherry trees.

Peach gives a fruity and slightly sweet flavor to white meats, seafood, and fish so it often used by competition Pitmasters. It is often combined with Oak or Hickory when cooking beef, chicken, or pork. It is commonly used to smoke game birds.

Recipe for Whiskey Peach Smoked Pulled Chicken

Try this recipe for Whiskey Peach Smoked Pulled Chicken

Pecan Wood

Well-known in parts of the United States, the Pecan tree is often cultivated for its fruits as well as its wood.  This species of Hickory is native to the Southern United States in the region of the Mississippi river and also can be found growing in northern Mexico.

Pecan is widely used for wood-fired ovens. It gives a sweet flavor that is a little smoother than hickory. Because it is not as strong and doesn't burn as hot, it is great for smoking larger pieces of meat, such as pork roasts and Thanksgiving turkey.

Pecan Wood Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwich Recipe

Try this recipe for Pecan Wood Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwich

Walnut Wood

Walnut trees can grow extremely large with many being as tall as 131 feet.  Half of the world's total number of walnuts are produced in China.

Walnut is the perfect match for cooking fruits and vegetables. It brings out the flavor of vegetables and fruits, especially mushrooms and potatoes. If you love your food to have a great aroma, this is a great wood to use! 

Texas-Style Smoked Brisket Recipe

Try this recipe for Texas-Style Smoked Brisket

Experiment with different woods and various flavors to find what tastes best.  Trust us, your family and friends won’t mind being guinea pigs for the delicious meals you are creating in your own backyard! 

Click here for our full collection of cooking wood.

Comment below with your favorite wood you use for your wood fired recipes!

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