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So, you’ve bought a brand new outdoor pizza oven and now comes the next step. Actually making the pizza!
Outdoor pizza ovens are made different ways. You’ll see some that are fueled by gas, some by charcoal, and some by wood. A lot of models actually can be fueled by either of those 3 sources or a combination thereof!
Wood fired pizza is without a doubt superior to the other fuel methods though. The reason is, when done properly the wood burns very hot (perfect for pizza) and imparts a delicious wood smoked flavor that you just can’t replicate without the real thing.
You may not know but the wood you choose matters for making the best pizza. Each type of wood has different properties and will pass along a different flavor profile to your food. In this article, we’ll go over the best wood for pizza ovens to get you started on the right track for making delicious pizza at home.
Best Wood For Pizza Oven – Overview
Really the only type of woods that should be used for any cooking, grill, pizza oven, or otherwise, is pure hardwoods.
Hardwood burns hotter, longer, offers better flavor, and is way safer than using softwood types of wood. There’s just simply no reason to not use hardwood – especially when there’s no shortage of great options to choose from.
You also want to make sure that you aren’t buying wood or logs that use fillers. We want to use real, pure wood when heating up our pizza oven! If you don’t, you’ll be able to tell the difference in the flavor of your food.
Oak (Overall Best Wood For Pizza Oven)
Oak is an all around solid cooking wood gets our top pick for overall best wood for pizza ovens for a few reasons.
On a practical level, it’s really easy to find and super common across pretty much all US states. It’s also very cost friendly and won’t break the bank each time you have to go to resupply your wood.
One thing you’ll learn as you smoke with various types of wood is that each one has a slightly different strength and flavor profile. As far as oak goes, it’s kind of in the middle – which makes it versatile and great for pizza since you might have to make a bunch of pizzas with all different kinds of toppings.
It has a lighter flavor than hickory or mesquite but is a little stronger than fruitwoods like apple or cherry. Oak will provide plenty of delicious flavor without overpowering the taste of your artisan style crust, sauce, and toppings.
The other great thing about oak is that it’s a perfect wood to use in a blend. So if you want to mix with cherry, apple, pear, maple, or anything else – oak is a perfect base to do that.
When you think about the flavor of apple wood, it’s easy to associate the taste of apple the fruit. In reality, apple wood makes a fantastic companion and is one of the best woods for a pizza oven because it gives off a lighter, delicious smoky flavor.
Apple wood is a great choice for complimenting super cheesy pizzas for precisely that reason. The flavor profile that comes off of apple wood is a complex light smoke with almost a little bit of sweet.
If you’re just starting out and new to making wood fired pizza, apple is also a great option because you’re highly unlikely to overpower your pizza with smoke flavor when using apple.
Cherry is one of the best woods for pizza ovens for many of the same reasons that apple is. It’s on the lighter end of the smoke spectrum flavor so it definitely won’t overpower your pizza’s flavor.
Compared to apple, cherry wood is a little more robust and deep in flavor. The sweetness is still there, but it’s just overall a more “full” tasting smoke. It’s truly a versatile wood for pizza, but because of the robustness it’s probably a slightly better fit for pizzas with meat on them.
So if you’re the type that loves sausage, pepperoni, bacon or other classic meats, be sure to give cherry wood a try!
Hickory is one of the overall most popular woods used for smoking all kinds of foods. In fact, it got our top vote for the best wood for smoking ribs.
It’s also great for pizza! As far as flavor goes, hickory probably provides the most traditional BBQ smoky flavor with sweet and savory notes. It’s on the stronger end of the spectrum though, so you don’t want to over do it when using hickory in a pizza oven.
With that in mind, hickory is probably not ideal for pizzas without meat – a margarita pizza for example could be a little over matched for hickory.
The types of pizzas that pair great are the ones that have meats on them that can hold up to the hickory flavor. So if you’re into hamburger beef, pepperoni, bacon, or any other stronger meats then hickory is a great choice.
Hickory is also a great candidate to blend with other lighter woods like cherry or apple to soften the amount of smokey flavor.
Pecan is actually a part of the Hickory family – so these types of woods both share quite a few qualities.
Pecan is a nice choice though because it falls in between hickory and fruitwoods in terms of smoky flavor strength. So if you’re finding hickory to be too strong and cherry to be not quite enough for example, pecan might be a winner.
Its flavor profile is darker and very much akin to the “traditional” smoky flavor you’d find on smoked ribs or BBQ. It works best pizza wise with meat toppings like chicken or pepperoni.
Maple is another fruitwood that’s lighter and less robust than cherry and apple woods. It has a light, sweet flavor that works really well with most pizzas and on a practical level is pretty easy to find.
It works great with chicken, ham, pork, and sweet BBQ sauces outside of pizza, and the same holds true for pizza toppings. Maple is my wood of choice in the pizza oven for making BBQ chicken pizzas, and it also goes great with bacon and ham.
Alder is traditionally a wood used for seafood and veggies, so if you’re into veggie pizzas or have some seafood on your pizza (no judgement 😉 ), then give alder a shot.
It’s a pretty light flavor profile and won’t overpower the pizza, but the downside is that the flavor doesn’t have a ton of character compared to some of the others on this list of the best wood for pizza ovens.
That being said, I know plenty of people who love using alder in their pizza oven – so don’t be afraid to give it a shot!
Peach is yet another fruitwood that has a really nice and light, sweet flavor profile. It’s perfect for pork, and makes a great blending component with some of the other woods on this list.
Honestly, it would be higher on our list of the best wood for pizza ovens if not for one thing. It’s pretty hard to find due to seasonality. When it’s in season, it can be a little expensive too. So if you ever come across a box of peach wood for smoking don’t be afraid to snag it and try it out, especially if the price is right!
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Definitely Don’t Use These Woods In Your Pizza Oven
If you haven’t picked up on this by now, you can’t just throw any type of wood into your fire for making food. In fact, using the wrong types of wood will likely ruin your food or worse, could cause bad chemicals and toxins to contaminate your food.
Stay away from these:
This list is by no means exhaustive, so if you are curious about trying a wood not on this list then you should check to make sure it’s safe before use. Remember, no softwoods!
Quality Is Your Friend
You want to make sure you are buying pure, high quality hardwoods. If you buy a bag of wood chips that also includes fillers, it’s only going to take away from the taste of the end result.
Make sure any wood for smoking pizza you buy is high quality and at a reasonable price. There are a lot of wood chip bags on the market for less than $10. I certainly appreciate that you might be on a budget – but often times these deals are too good to be true.
Don’t Be Afraid To Mix With Charcoal (If Your Pizza Oven Is Built For It)
Charcoal and wood can be a great combination. Charcoal fires are typically more predictable and easier to manage, whereas wood is the superstar of flavor.
If you can find the perfect balance, you can make incredibly delicious flavored pizzas by harnessing the positives of these two fuel sources.
Of course, flavor comes down to preference a lot of times – so you may not like how charcoal fired pizza tastes. That’s ok! You just might love it though.
Best Wood For Pizza Oven – Wrap Up
I hope this article helps you on your journey do delicious at home wood fired pizza. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our post on the best outdoor pizza ovens if you need a new one or an upgrade!
Let us know which wood you chose and how it went! We’d love to hear about it in the comments section.