Having a hard time choosing the right wood for your pizza oven? Well, congrats because you’ve reached the right place! Trust me, I’ve gone through my fair share of trial and error to find the best woods for that ultimate wood-fired flavor.
In my experience, there are a few top contenders when it comes to Best wood for a pizza oven:
I’m talking about hardwoods like oak, maple, and fruitwoods like apple or cherry. These woods pack a punch in terms of flavor, burning hot and slow. This is what helps create a smoky aroma that’ll make your taste buds dance with delight.
But wait, before you go chopping down that old oak tree in your backyard, there are some key things to consider. In this article, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about pizza oven firewoods.
Without further ado, let’s fire it up and get started!
🥇 Best Wood for Ooni Pizza Oven
- Ooni Assorted Oak Pack: (For Ooni Karu 16 Only)
- Ooni Premium Hardwood Pellets: (Ooni Fyra 12 & Ooni 3 pizza ovens)
- Ooni Premium Lumpwood Charcoal: (All barbecue grills and Ooni pizza ovens)
🆚Wood Pellets Vs. Wood Chips and Wood Chunks
This is a very common and obvious confusion people face when picking wood for a pizza oven.
To help you make an informed decision, I’m here to share my insights on these three options.
What Are Wood Pellets?
Wood pellets are simply compressed sawdust or wood shavings. They form into small cylindrical pellets and are easy to store. These qualities make them a convenient option for fueling your pizza oven.
The compression process increases their density. This improves combustion and results in cleaner-burning fuel with less ash production.
What Are Wood Chips?
Wood chips, on the other hand, are small pieces of wood that are larger than sawdust but smaller than wood chunks. They burn faster than wood chunks due to their smaller size.
What Are Wood Chunks?
Wood chunks, as the name suggests, are larger pieces of wood. These are perfect for a slow, steady burn in your pizza oven. They are typically dry, seasoned hardwood logs that are split or cut into chunks.
Wood chunks are known for producing more smoke, which can infuse your pizza with a rich, smoky flavor. They are best suited for long, slow-cooking sessions. And their larger size allows for a longer burn time. This results in a consistent heat source for your pizza oven.
🤔So, Which One Should You Choose?
Wood pellets are particularly ideal when cooking for a few people in a small oven like Ooni. However, when it comes to maintaining high temperatures for extended periods, wood pellets may fall short. That’s due to the smaller size and density of wood pellets.
This creates the need for more frequent fuel replenishment during prolonged cooking sessions.
When cooking for a larger crowd, I need to add pellets every few minutes to sustain the desired temperature. However, I’ve found a workaround:
Take a small portable fan and place it directly behind your Ooni to blow more oxygen into the oven. More oxygen means better combustion.
Wood chunks are a better option than pellets and chips any day if you are going to be making multiple pizzas. They are also ideal for slow cooking a dish in the oven as longer cooking imparts more smoky flavor into the food.
However, it’s difficult to use wood chunks in small ovens like Ooni. So unless you have a traditional-sized brick oven, stick to wood pellets. Add a handful of wood chips to the fire occasionally to ramp up the temperature, if needed.
🔍Types of Wood for a Pizza Oven
Not all firewood is created equal. So, it’s important to learn about the different types of firewood to make an informed decision.
Using high-density, super-dry hardwood is the best option for pizza ovens. Hardwood burns slowly and produces consistent heat. This is crucial for achieving that perfect crispy crust. Moreover, it generates less smoke and creosote buildup. This makes it a clean and efficient choice for my pizza oven.
Fruitwood like apple, cherry, and peach, is also a great option for adding a unique flavor profile to my pizza. A well-seasoned and dry fruitwood can provide a pleasant smokiness without being overpowering. You can ensure proper combustion by using dry fruitwood.
I love using a combination of charcoal and hardwood pellets for thin-crust pizzas. The combination of both fuels creates a dynamic cooking environment. It helps me create restaurant-quality dishes with authentic wood-fired flavors.
The charcoal adds an intense heat that helps achieve a crispy crust and fast cooking times. The addition of hardwood pellets adds a rich and smoky flavor to the toppings.
I don’t think that softwood, like pine, cedar, and fir, seasoned or not, is the right choice for cooking. That’s because they tend to contain more resin and sap. These lead to excessive smoke which is bad for both your oven and lungs.
🧾Factors to Consider When Selecting Best Firewood for Pizza Oven
Several factors come into play while determining the right fuel for a pizza oven. The wood you choose can greatly impact the flavor, heat, and overall performance of my pizza. So make sure to keep the points below in mind before you get the fire going:
The moisture content of the wood is a critical factor to consider here. I always make sure to use well-seasoned firewood with low moisture content. Ideally, the moisture should be around 20% or lower.
Using wet or green wood can result in poor combustion, excessive smoke, and lower heat output. All these will only result in a severe headache and tons of mess to clean up.
Hardwoods like oak, hickory, and maple are denser and heavier. This means they can produce more heat and burn longer compared to softwoods like pine or cedar. Dense hardwoods are ideal for achieving and maintaining high temperatures. This is helpful, especially when baking multiple pizzas.
Hardwoods like fruitwood, apple, cherry, or peach can add a sweet and smoky flavor to the pizza. If you want to deepen the flavor profile of your pie, choose hardwood. Softwood produces a more resinous and pungent flavor. You don’t want that in your pizza, do you?
Size and Thickness of the Logs
You also need to ensure that the logs you use are of the appropriate size and thickness for your pizza oven. Failing to do so can severely affect the airflow and heat output.
You don’t need to worry too much about incorporating a smoky flavor into your pizza. Smoking food properly takes a while. And wood-fired ovens can cook a pizza in a minute. That’s not long enough for what you have in mind. Hardwoods have a low smoke production and, therefore, are ideal for this purpose.
👌Best Wood Options for the Ultimate Wood-fire Oven Baking Experience
Let me help you speed up your decision-making. Below, I’ve listed down some of the best wood options to choose from for pizza oven:
First up is the classic Oak, known for its dense grain and slow burn rate. Oak produces a steady and consistent heat that results in a perfectly crispy crust. Its subtle smoky flavor adds a delightful depth to pizzas with a wide range of toppings. It’s truly a versatile option that’s sure to impress.
If you’re looking for a bolder flavor, then Hickory is the wood for you. With its distinct smokiness, Hickory adds a robust taste to the crust. It’s perfect for those who enjoy a more intense flavor profile. Its slow-burning nature and long-lasting heat help form the charred spots on the crust.
Birch is a top choice for pizza oven firewood due to its excellent burning properties. It ignites quickly. This helps create a roaring fire in minutes. Birch also has a pleasant aroma that enhances the flavor of the pizza. Its low moisture content ensures a clean and efficient burn.
For a milder flavor, Maple is a fantastic choice. Known for its sweet and delicate taste, Maple wood produces a consistent heat that allows for precise temperature control. Its subtle sweetness pairs beautifully with vegetables and lighter cheeses.
Mesquite has an intense and distinctive smoky flavor to pizzas. However, due to its potency, Mesquite is best used sparingly or blended with milder woods to avoid overpowering the toppings. Its hot and fast-burning nature makes it perfect for quickly cooking thin-crust pizzas.
With its light color and dense grain, ash is another excellent choice for wood-fired pizza ovens. It burns hot and evenly, resulting in a consistent heat that’s ideal for achieving a crispy crust.
As a fruitwood, appl wood is known for its sweet and slightly fruity flavor, which infuses delicately into the pizza. It burns slowly and produces mild smoke. It’s perfect for enhancing the taste of pizzas with light toppings like chicken, turkey, zucchini, olives, and so on.
Last but not least, cherrywood is another fruitwood that’s prized for its sweet and fruity flavor. It also burns slowly and produces a mellow smoke that imparts a pleasant aroma and taste to the pizza. Cherry wood is particularly well-suited for pizzas with rich or tangy toppings. It exudes a balanced sweetness that elevates the overall flavor profile.
⚠️Which Wood Should You Avoid in Pizza Ovens?
Now, I’m no wood specialist but from what I’ve seen, softwoods make for subpar firewoods.
Softwoods like pine or cedar as they release resin and sap when burned, giving my pies a bitter taste and filling the air with unpleasant smoke. I also stay away from painted or treated wood, as they can release toxic chemicals when heated. Nasty stuff!
📝Importance of seasoning Wood (With Tips on How to Season Wood Correctly)
Seasoning wood is a critical step in woodworking to ensure the durability and stability of the final product. Seasoning is the process of drying the wood to remove excess moisture. This step is essential to prevent warping, cracking, and rotting.
- One key tip for seasoning wood is to do it slowly and naturally. Rapid drying methods, like using high heat or microwaving, can cause the wood to dry unevenly.
- Instead, air drying in a well-ventilated area for several months or even a year. I’ve learned this the hard way after ruining a beautiful oak board by trying to speed up the process with artificial heat.
- Also, make sure to stack the wood properly with spacers to allow air circulation and prevent mold growth. Stacking wood too closely together can lead to mold growth and wasted time and effort.
- And while you’re at it, don’t forget to check the moisture content of the wood with a moisture meter before using it. Properly seasoned wood should have a moisture content of around 6-8% for indoor use and 12-15% for outdoor use.
🙋Storage Tips That’ll Help You Maximize the Shelf-life of Your Firewood
Correctly storing firewood will help maximize burning efficiency. Here are a few ways I have adopted over the years to store firewood:
- Keep firewood off the ground by using a raised platform or pallets. This prevents moisture from seeping into the wood and promotes air circulation, which helps to dry the wood faster.
- It’s also crucial to stack the firewood in a neat and orderly manner, allowing for proper airflow between the logs. This helps to prevent mold growth and encourages the wood to dry evenly.
- I always make sure to store firewood in a well-ventilated area with protection from rain and snow, such as under a roof or tarp.
- Store firewood against the house or other structures. It prevents pests from infesting the wood and potentially spreading to the building.
- Regularly rotate the firewood stack and use older wood first. It helps to maintain a steady supply of seasoned firewood for efficient burning.
⭐Best Wood for Ooni Pizza Oven – My Two Cents
You’re almost nearing the end of the article. But before I wrap up, here are my top 3 wood recommendations for Ooni ovens:
1. Ooni Assorted Oak Pack (For Ooni Karu 16 Only)
I recently tried the Ooni Premium Assorted Oak Pack for my 16” oven. And I must say, I’m impressed! The wood burns incredibly clean, leaving my pizzas with just the right amount of light smoky flavor that enhances the overall taste. The mix of kindling, large pieces, and starters in the pack is perfect, making it easy to get the fire going and maintain a steady burn.
One of the best things about this wood is its size. I broke down a few pieces for kindling for a more efficient urn. The price is also fair for the quality of the wood you get, which is a definite plus.
I love using this wood not only for pizzas but also for grilling and braising meat, seafood, and veggies. Dishes like smoked ribs and baked salmon benefit from the smoke of oak.
2. Ooni Premium Hardwood Pellets
Although these pellets are quite expensive, I find the benefits in terms of performance and convenience to be well worth it. I love using these pellets to cook a variety of dishes. From classic Neapolitan-style pizzas to smoked chicken wings, you name it. The hardwood smoke adds a delicious depth of flavor to my food, elevating my outdoor cooking to the next level.
One of the biggest positives is how quickly these pellets heat up my oven. Within 15 minutes, I’m able to reach the desired temperature, allowing me to start cooking faster compared to other pellets I’ve tried. The bag also lasts a long time, providing great value for the price.
3. Ooni Premium Lumpwood Charcoal
This lump wood charcoal has become my go-to fuel for my outdoor cooking adventures. It’s a perfect complement to firewood, helping me achieve the right amount of flame for my cooking needs.
This charcoal is super easy to use. It lights up easily, allowing me to quickly get my fire going and start cooking. I loved the fact that the flavor it imparts on the food is also neutral. This prevents the natural flavors of the food from being masked by charcoal. The coals last a while, providing consistent heat for a prolonged cooking session.
While there have been some small pieces in the bag, which can be inconvenient, the overall performance of the charcoal has been excellent. It does take a bit of time to heat evenly, but once it’s up to temperature, it provides reliable and consistent heat for my cooking needs.
Experimenting with different wood types can be a fun and rewarding experience. I would highly suggest opting for high-quality hardwoods for optimal flavor and consistent heating. That’s all for today. Happy baking!
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