So you have finally built a wood-fired pizza oven or bought an outdoor pizza oven, and now it is time to master making excellent homemade pizza. But first, you need to master getting a perfect fire going.
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The best type of fire for a wood-fired pizza oven is a slow-burning high-heat fire that cooks a pizza quickly. The best woods for a pizza oven are seasoned hardwoods that are dense and dry.
Softwoods like pine and cedar are not suitable for cooking or smoking food because they’re too resinous, which unfortunately causes flare-ups and gives weird flavored smoke that just doesn’t go well with pizza or any other foods.
Ok, so what exactly is seasoned firewood? Seasoned firewood is wood that has been dried and has a moisture content of around 20% or less. Seasoned firewood is available to buy usually by the cord, which is defined as 128 cubic feet of wood. It’s a lot of wood and will take up quite a bit of space.
So if you only use your outdoor pizza oven a few times a year, you might want to buy smaller amounts of firewood. But if you also have a fireplace or wood stove, then you probably already have a place for seasoned wood, and you can use the same for your pizza oven, as long as its a hardwood.
There are also flavored woods for a pizza ovens that work great too. Flavored woods give off a nice aroma, and certain flavors pair well with heavier meat like on a pepperoni pizza. Some flavored woods have a fruitier flavor better suited for a veggie pizza.
But before we get into the best-flavored woods for a pizza oven, let’s first look at how to know if the firewood has been seasoned. Because if you get wet, unseasoned wood, there won’t be any fire for your wood-fired pizza oven.
How to Know if Firewood Has Been Seasoned
If you prepare your own firewood, you have the luxury of knowing when it was cut, how it was stored, and how long it has been drying or seasoning.
But when you buy firewood for your wood-fired pizza oven, you don’t always know that information, and not every seller is forthcoming, so here are a few little ways to gauge if the firewood you are buying is actually seasoned or not.
- Color – unseasoned wood has green and yellowish spots, and seasoned wood is a grey-ish or dark brown color.
- Cracks – unseasoned wood has small cracks, and the bark is still attached, while seasoned wood has deep cracks and the bark has fallen away.
- Mold mushrooms – are the result of not properly storing and allowing moisture on the wood.
- Smell – ell-seasoned wood doesn’t smell. And green wood has a fresh earthy scent.
- Touch – cold and damp firewood is unseasoned, and seasoned firewood is warm and dry.
If you are still struggling to know if the wood is seasoned you can invest in a moisture meter, a tool that detects moisture in building materials and wood.
Ok, so now we know what to look for in the woods for a pizza oven. Let’s dive into the ten best-flavored kinds of wood. Of course, it depends on where you live for some of these to be readily available.
And if you use a pizza oven that burns wood pellets, there are flavored wood pellets available in most hardware stores and even on Amazon. But how you source your wood will really depend on where you are in the world and the trees that are available.
10 Flavored Fire Woods for a Pizza Oven
We’ve linked out to various brands on Amazon that can be delivered straight to your home. But we highly recommend finding a locally-sourced firewood distributor. If you know any friends or neighbors with wood-burning pizza ovens, be sure to check with them where they get their wood as well.
Applewood has a sweet & fruity profile. And works with most types of foods, and its mild flavor makes it great for pizza with white meats like chicken and pork.
Best Pizzas with Apple Wood: Chicken Thai Pizza, BBQ Pulled Pork Pizza
This is the easiest-to-find wood and probably the most common wood used in smokers and pizza ovens. It gives a deeper flavor than the fruity woods. It has a smoky, rich aroma and is perfect for pizzas with beef and sausage.
Mesquite has a concentrated earthy, smoky flavor. It has an intensely deep flavor that might be a put-off to some. Think of mesquite BBQ chips on a pizza. It’s best for bold, strong flavors like beef.
Smoker biscuits are a simple way to throw in a tiny bit of flavor if you can’t find the full-on flavored logs.
Peach wood is another fruity light wood that works well with seafood and fish. Remember to keep in mind that the fruity flavors are really light and should never overpower the tastes of your homemade pizza.
Best Pizzas with Peach Wood: Garlic Prawn Pizza, Shrimp Asparagus Mushroom Pizza, Chile Lime Shrimp Pizza
Pear wood is another fruity wood. You could lean into the fruitiness or mix with another darker wood to balance. We like the fruity aroma, so we pair it with a light fruity complement.
You can also buy these small canisters in a kit with a variety of other flavors you’ve found on this list.
Walnut wood has a distinct pleasant aroma. It’s light, and complements vegetables especially root vegetables like potatoes well.
Remember, flavored woods for your pizza oven require a lot of testing and re-trying. Play around with all tastes, if you’d like! There are literally no limits.
Best Pizzas with Walnut Wood: Chicken Pesto Pizza with Mushrooms, Potatoes Rosemary Pizza with Parmesano Reggiano, Grilled Eggplant, Mushroom, and Pepper Pizza
Alder trees are flowering bush trees that are part of the birch family of trees. They give off a nice aroma that compliments veggies, herbs, and lighter proteins like fish and poultry.
Reasons to Season Woods for a Pizza Oven
Ok, so now we know what type of wood works best for which types of pizza. And just to reiterate the importance of using seasoned woods. Here are the four main reasons to always use seasoned wood in your pizza oven.
- Well-seasoned wood is easier to start a fire. When wood is wet, it creates too much smoke as the moisture seeps out.
- It will burn hotter and longer, making the temperature perfect for homemade pizza.
- Wet wood leads to build-up in the chimney.
- Wet wood can have mold and rot, which you don’t want on your pizza.
Avoid These Woods for a Pizza Oven
Using the wrong wood not only affects flavor, but there are some strong reasons to avoid certain types of wood like:
- Woods that have high sap content because they release creosote which can build up in the pizza oven over time.
- Woods with high moisture content cause excessive smoke and not enough heat.
- Woods that are too dry because create excess smoke.
- Treated woods because they can contain chemicals.
How to Store Firewood for a Pizza Oven
So you have the right wood but now you need to store it. Here are some great tips on how to properly store your wood so that it is ready any time you want to fire up your pizza oven and get cooking.
- Invest in a high quality firewood rack.
- Split the wood before you stack it. Or hire someone to do it, if you don’t have time or muscle.
- Stack the wood in a criss cross pattern for airflow an to ensure it stays dry.
- Store wood 6 inches off the ground for airflow and to keep out moisture.
- If you live in a rainy area consider purchasing a firewood cover to keep it dry.
- Store firewood away from your house or kid’s play area. Firewood attracts spiders.
The absolute best way I’ve ever seen firewood stored was at our friend’s cabin up in Cornucopia, Wisconsin. The father had an entire shed built just to keep his wood dry.
He had sections throughout that were split and stacked beautifully. And sorted by date. Yes, he wouldn’t burn any wood that hadn’t been drying at least 10 years. What a professional. You could also look up covers for your specific pizza oven.
Pro Tips For Using Flavored Wood
Here are a handful of pro tips to help you make the most of your flavored woods for your pizza oven.
- Start your fire 3-4 hours before you plan on making pizzas.
- Monitor the oven temperature with a no contact infrared thermometer. And here’s our list of the 5 Best Infrared Thermometers for your pizza oven.
- Get the pizza as close to the flame as possible but not too close that it will burn. This is where trial and error and practice come in.
- Use your pizza peel to rotate the pizza while it’s cooking.
- Right before the pizza is done, use the pizza peel to lift it up near the dome of the oven for a great charred crust. The dome is a concentrated heat source, and it only takes a few seconds. Again practice.
- Always let the pizza oven cool down before cleaning it. And clean it every single time.
- Start a compost bin because if you make a lot of pizzas in your wood-fired pizza oven, you are going to have a lot of ash which is great to feed your compost pile.
Wood-fired or wood-burning pizza ovens are so much fun to use. And the more you practice, the better home pizzaiolo you will be. An important part of caring for your wood-fired pizza oven is using the suitable wood to make a great pizza. You want to keep you pizza oven healthy and in excellent condition.
Of course, in the end, the flavored woods are fun to use and it just comes down to preference for which flavored woods is best for your tastebuds. What is your favorite wood to use in a wood-fired pizza oven?