Pizza ovens get extremely hot, which is why it’s important to choose specific firewood for fuel. There are hundreds of varieties of wood for pizza ovens, but we narrowed it down to eight types that work best in a pizza oven.
The type, as well as the quality, of wood you use in your pizza oven, affects multiple factors:
Seasoned and dried hardwoods are the best woods to use in your pizza oven. Hardwoods are great for cooking because they are typically cleaner and burn for longer than softwoods. The most popular types of hardwood used in cooking are oak, maple, hickory, ash, birch, walnut, and beech. This wood is perfect to use with the wood-fired Ooni ovens.
Fruitwood is also great for cooking because it imparts more flavor into your food. This type of wood comes from numerous fruit-bearing trees like apple, plum, cherry, almond, maple, hickory, pecan, chestnut, mesquite, alder, apricot, avocado, and nectarine.
An important factor to consider when choosing which type of wood to use in your pizza oven is the moisture content. Wood with too much moisture forces your oven to use its heat to dry the wood, rather than heat the oven. You also want to avoid using wood that is too dry. To ensure your oven heats properly, use wood with less than 20% moisture.
Using certain types of wood in your pizza oven is not only bad for your oven, but bad for your health. Pressure-treated, laminated, and painted woods should never be used in a wood-fired oven because they contain toxic chemicals that can leach into your food.
You should also avoid using woods with high sap content. These woods, like pine, produce soot and creosote that builds up on the floor of your oven and is also bad for your health.
There are many different types of wood that work great in a wood-fired pizza oven. The type you choose will affect the flavor of your food, how much smoke is produced, and how much work is required based on the burn time of the wood.
|Maple||Light, sweet, smoky|
Maple is a flavor that is most commonly attributed to maple syrup. When it comes to firewood, maple has that signature sweetness with a hint of smokiness.
One important thing to remember with maple is that the amount of sap it contains varies depending on the species of maple you use. Sugar maple and black maple are referred to as hard maple. Silver maple, red maple, and boxelder are known as soft maple.
In general, maple is an excellent wood for smoking and cooking because it produces a moderate level of flavor. It works especially well with pizza toppings like chicken, pork, and most vegetables.
Oak is the most popular of all woods used in wood-fired ovens because it burns for the longest time and has a very mild aroma. It lacks a distinct flavor, which is the main reason people turn to other woods for cooking. Oak also produces little smoke and burns cleanly.
Hickory is among the most popular woods used to smoke meat. Because it burns for such a long time, it works well when slow-smoking large cuts of meat. It’s also a popular choice for pizza ovens that need to reach very high temperatures.
Hickory burns clean, with an intense flavor. Hickory is often paired with oak because the two types of wood have a similar burn rate and complementary flavors.
Pecan is a milder variety of hickory that works well in a pizza oven. Pizza cooked in an oven fueled by pecan wood has a pleasant, slightly nutty flavor. Unfortunately, this dense hardwood doesn’t have the same burn time as other hickory woods. Because of this, pecan is a great wood to burn together with other, longer-burning woods like oak or apple.
Alder is a member of the birch family and a popular choice for people who prefer a mild, slightly sweet flavor. Alder is native to the Northwest and produces a sweet, light smoke that makes it ideal for cooking fish, chicken, sausage, and vegetables. It is often used together with other types of wood to create unique flavors and aromas.
For authentic pizzeria flavor, applewood is the best wood to use in your home pizza oven. Applewood is a popular choice among pizzaiolos because of its hot burning temperatures and the flavor it imparts on pizza.
The apple tree is very popular in the United States but originated in Central Asia. Apple is great to use in pizza ovens because it burns very hot and enhanced the flavor of your pizza. It’s also an excellent wood to use when smoking meat for a long time because of its mildness.
Mesquite is a dense wood that burns hot and fast. It adds a distinctive, heavy kick of flavor to your food, which is why it is usually used when cooking pork and red meat. For some, mesquite smoke is overpowering and detracts from the flavor of the food itself.
Ash is a lesser-known pizza oven firewood, yet it’s regarded by many as one of the best for this particular purpose. Ash has a low moisture content, is easy to split, and produces a good amount of heat. Because of its mild, neutral flavor, ash is great to use in a pizza oven and is oven paired with other types of wood for a more complex flavor profile.
How much wood you should use depends on the oven you are using. It’s better to start with 3-5 small pieces of wood to get the fire going. As the temperature inside your oven increases, you can add larger pieces when necessary. You may only need to add a few more pieces to maintain your oven’s temperature or you might have to add a piece or two of wood during the cooking process.
To get the best results with your wood fire oven, the most important thing to remember is that dried and seasoned hardwoods are the optimal choice. Dense hardwoods provide a long burn time and high heat, which is what a pizza oven needs to churn out the most flavorful, evenly-cooked wood-fired pizzas.
As for what type of hardwood to use, it comes down to your personal preference in terms of flavor. Woods like oak and pecan impart mild, subtle flavors, while woods like hickory and mesquite produce more intense, earthy smoke. Consider what toppings you’re adding to your pizza and the flavor profile you are aiming for, then select a wood that you think would work best. Fortunately, you can always try a different wood the next time you fire up your oven if you don’t enjoy the results the first time.