Pizza cooked in a brick oven or over wood fire is by far the best way to enjoy it. The wood-smoked flavor really sets it apart.
If you’ve ever had wood-fired pizza, you know exactly what we mean. Pizza is good in other ways as well.
For this purpose, some woods are better than others. The wood will affect the flavor of your pizza, so make sure you choose the right wood when cooking it.
Using the wrong wood could ruin the flavor of your pizza.
What is the best wood for pizza ovens? For achieving the best results with a pizza oven, just about any hard wood will work. The best woods for achieving a flavorful pizza include hickory, oak, apple, maple, mesquite, and walnut. Ash and mesquite can also be mixed for a unique flavor.
For a pizza oven, you can choose from many different types of wood, so you don’t necessarily have to stick to one, and you can even change it up and enjoy a slight difference in flavor.
This guide will show you the 7 best woods for pizza ovens.
There are plenty of great options available. We will cover what makes each wood type great so you will know every detail. You might want to keep several different types on hand, or perhaps pick a favorite.
Discover the 7 best woods for pizza ovens in this article!
A Guide to the Best Wood for Pizza Ovens
Hardwood is the best wood for a pizza oven.
The density of hardwoods is greater than that of softwoods, so there’s more material to burn per square inch of hardwood.
Hardwood burns hotter because more material is being burned at once.
In a wood oven, pizza needs super high temperatures to bake.
Our top 7 choices are as follows:
The oak tree
It’s an apple
The maple leaf
The mesquite tree
Here is a table showing the different points about these woods and why they are good for this use:
In addition, higher smoke levels make for some delicious smoked pizza crust flavors! As you can see, these woods reach pretty high levels of embers and smoke when burned.
The 7 Best Wood Choices
After we cover what makes these woods such a great choice, we’ll talk about what you should look for when choosing your wood.
It’s a popular wood for cooking so it’s pretty easy to find, and it’s great for wood-fired pizza. Hickory wood has a great flavor and is great for wood-fired pizza.
Hickory hits all the high notes, producing lots of smoke, burning hot with lots of embers, and burning for a long time.
Hickory provides smoke, heat, and great flavor when cooking pizza.
Known primarily for its use in BBQ and smoking, hickory is one of the best flavors for any type of cooking.
Among the things we are looking for is that hickory burns cleanly and produces strong flavor and smoke.
Mixing oak with hickory is a good idea because oak burns well but doesn’t have a lot of flavor. They pair well together.
You were promised oak was coming, and here it is!
In addition to hickory, oak is another popular choice. Their flavors complement each other well because oak is subtle and hickory is strong.
This makes oak a good wood for pizza ovens because it burns hot and is very dense.
Due to its dense nature, it produces a decent amount of smoke, but not as much as some of your other options. It also burns hot and lasts for a long time.
As opposed to hickory, oak has a more subtle flavor. This may be why it is often paired with hickory. The earthy flavor will work well with pizza, but it may not add as much flavor as you’d like.
It’s easy to get hold of oak, too. It’s readily available and a popular choice.
Oak can also be paired with fruit woods, for example.
Red oak has a stronger flavor than white oak, but both types work well in most applications.
This fruit wood is just plain awesome for pizza!
While apple has a medium smoke level, it burns extremely hot with high embers, and it also burns for longer periods of time.
You can always combine apple with another wood that produces more smoke if you want a bit more smoke.
Apple wood is one of the most common types of wood that is used by pizzerias.
It won’t necessarily taste like apple, but it will have a subtle sweetness paired with a smoky flavor. This is a favorite for obvious reasons, but it can be more difficult to find than other wood options.
Those who research applewood find that the flavor and aroma make it so popular.
Use apple wood if you want your pizza to taste like your favorite wood-fired pizza joint.
However, apple wood has one small downside. It has a lot of embers and burns hot, but it also pops quite a bit when it gets hot.
A little bit of ash might fall over your pizza, but it shouldn’t be a big deal.
Sometimes a little sweetness goes a long way.
There is nothing quite like maple wood to produce a great pizza oven. While things like syrup and maple-flavored candies and such can sometimes be almost too sweet, maple wood is not like that at all.
You can use any maple wood that you want for this purpose since maple has more than 100 species.
One of the easiest woods to find is maple, although the variety that is available near you may vary.
As well as maple, oak and apple wood pair well together. The smoke will have a slight sweetness to it.
The smoke level is medium, but it burns hot with high embers and for a long time.
The midwestern United States is a great place to find mesquite, another common wood for smoking and BBQ.
Among woods that are reliable for cooking food, this wood has the highest amount of smoke, as well as embers that burn for a long time and provide high heat.
The wood is most popular in the Midwest and Texas, but it can be found throughout the United States fairly easily, especially during the summer months, when people are grilling and smoking foods regularly.
As a result of mesquite, you get a strong, sharp flavor, but it is not overpowering.
The flavor of BBQ mesquite is so intense that it’s actually recommended to mix it with a wood that has less flavor. Oak, walnut, and ash are good options.
6. Ash (Mixed With Mesquite)
When paired with other types of wood, ash makes the best wood for pizza ovens because of its mild flavor and moderate amount of smoke.
If you are cooking with a wood that has a strong flavor, such as mesquite, hickory, or apple, you can use ash to help moderate the flavor.
As ash produces a lot of embers, it burns hot, which is one of the qualities of this wood. It burns long and consistently so you don’t have to keep an eye on it as the pizza cooks.
It is popular not only for pairing purposes, but also if you are looking for something fairly neutral that won’t overwhelm your taste buds.
Last but not least, consider walnut as a wood for your pizza oven.
It has fewer flavors than cherry, but it has all of the important qualities for cooking pizza. Walnut doesn’t have much flavor, but it produces a lot of smoke, high embers, and a decent burn time.
It is great to pair walnuts with something that has a strong flavor.
In addition to neutralizing or bringing out bold flavors, it also adds smoke and heat to the cooking game, which is why it made our list.
Tips for Choosing Wood
When choosing wood, you need to consider a few details, and we used these details to pick our top 7 options.
Before you make a final decision, check out these tips.
If you want your pizza to have really great flavor, you need to use the right wood and avoid certain trouble points with wood.
Whether you use fruit wood or hardwood, you will always get flavor.
You might taste a hint of fruit flavor from fruit wood, but it won’t be overwhelming. For example, apple wood won’t make your pizza taste like apples in every way.
Smoke might give you a hint of sweet flavor, though!
You should avoid certain woods that will lead to bitter flavors or harsh tones. We’ll discuss these woods below.
Smoke, Embers, Burning Time
Using our chart above, you can see how each of our wood choices performs when it comes to smoke levels, ember levels, and the amount of time it takes to burn.
Pizza is best cooked with wood that produces more smoke, embers, and burn time.
It is the smoke that will add flavor to your pizza, so make sure there is a lot of it.
The more embers you have, the more heat you will have and the longer the wood burns, the less frequently you will need to stoke the fire.
Woods To Avoid
In addition to some really great wood options or categories, there are also some woods that you should avoid.
The thing is, some woods have awful flavors and some woods actually emit chemicals that you don’t want to eat.
Using wood that has been treated, laminated, painted, or containing a non-natural chemical can be hazardous to your health.
If you want to cook pizza or other things, don’t use woods with high levels of sap, such as pine.
Additionally, avoid woods with a high moisture content.
A lot of moisture in the wood will affect the cooking process, so you’ll want to use dried wood whenever possible.
If you burn wet wood, it will produce a lot of smoke, but it won’t burn hot enough to give you the results you need. Even dry hardwood won’t work.
While these are our top picks, there are some other options available as well, so we hope you find this guide to the best wood for pizza ovens helpful.
It just depends on your personal preferences whether you like pear, plum, peach, or pecan.
Check out the following question and answer section for some additional details that might be helpful to you.
How Much Wood Should I Use In A Pizza Oven?
It is important to understand how much wood you will need to make an excellent pizza when cooking it.
There are usually about five standard wedges of wood used as a starting point. These wedges are generally small, so fitting five shouldn’t be too difficult. You can always add more if needed.
There is no set amount of wood that works for everyone, depending on your oven, the size of your pizza, etc. You may want to start with the average amount and work your way up or down from there.
Is Too Much Smoke A Problem?
Even if you want plenty of smoke on your pizza, there is such thing as too much smoke. You want to avoid going overboard, if only so that you can breathe when you take the pizza out.
Smoke can be produced by wood that is too green, too wet, or too moist.
Alternatively, if you want to avoid smoke altogether for any reason (such as a respiratory issue), you can build a smoke-free pizza oven:
Can I Use Wood That Isn’t Completely Dry?
Wet or moist wood will not burn hot enough and will produce too much extra smoke.
Dry hardwood is the best type of wood.