What is the Best Wood for Pizza Oven?

If you have decided to buy or build your own wood burning pizza oven – congratulations! What you need at this point is to learn which wood you should use. What you specifically need is something that makes it possible to heat a smoky oven efficiently. The chosen wood needs to be chemicals-free. Remember that not all wood is fit to use in a wood-fired pizza oven. Your choice of wood influences the taste and cooking process of your meals. Which wood is worth using? How to find the best wood for pizza oven? When to use which one? Read the article and find out!

Why seasoned and dried hardwoods are the best for pizza ovens?

The best woods for wood-fired ovens are primarily seasoned and dried hardwoods, which last longer than softwoods. The difference between hardwoods and softwoods is that hardwoods usually contain leaves as trees, while softwoods usually have cones and needles. Hardwoods are cleaner. They burn hotter for longer. Thanks to them, the flavour of food is absolutely stunning. The best woods are beech, hornbeam, ash, alder, birch, hickory, and oak wood.

Oak firewood especially for lamb, beef, sausages

The last mentioned – oak wood – is especially appreciated, as the great majority of authentic Italian pizzerias choose oak as the best kiln-dried hardwood due to its subtle aroma, long burn time, and high heat output. It comes from the oak tree, and it’s available in different forms. You can buy it in chip, pellet, or chunk form.

Kiln-dried oak firewood is perfect for food that requires slow cooking in a wood pizza oven. Use it for different types of meat. Oak firewood is ideal for smoking lamb, which normally has a grassy and almost gamey flavour. Thanks to the oak wood, that flavour is enhanced, but not bitter. Try smoking beef and sausages with oak firewood, too!

Alder wood for different kinds of fish

Alder wood is a little underestimated. Many people don’t know that alder is one of the best choices when it comes to the woods that don’t overpower the natural flavours of food. This wood is delicate and earthy. The smoke is balanced, neutral, it can be said that it’s slightly sweet. Use alder wood for smoking trout, salmon, seafood, and many more types of fish and meat. Trust us!

Hickory for pork ribs, shoulders, chickens, turkeys

Previously mentioned alder is ideal when you look for wood with neutral characteristics. However, sometimes you might want wood that gives off strong and bold flavours to your food. It’s completely understandable! Hickory is the answer.

This is one of the most widely known cooking woods. It gives a rich and hearty tang to meats. You will love it for the pungent flavour and deep colour it adds to smoked foods. We strongly recommend using hickory wood for pork ribs, shoulders. It’s a good idea to use hickory planks for semi-soft cheeses like camembert and gouda. Hickory may also be used to add smoky flavour to nuts.

Fruitwood is always a good choice

You should definitely use fruitwood in your wood-fired oven, especially if you’re a fan of good-smelling food. Fruitwoods such as apple, plum, cherry, pear, avocado, nectarine, and apricot have an aromatic effect on your meals. Thanks to such fruitwoods, your food will smell even more beautifully!

Apple wood for pizzas and meat

The best pizza oven wood is apple wood from small and medium-sized apple trees. Such light brown or deeper red woods can be used for multiple purposes, however, we strongly recommend using them to smoke and grill food, especially pizzas, meats, poultry, and fish. Freshly baked pizza will taste so good that there are no words to describe it.

Apple wood burns very hot, slowly and evenly, which in practice means that food doesn’t burn. It can perfectly enhance the flavour and aroma of meals thanks to its mild, a bit sweet and fruity flavour. We strongly recommend using kiln-dried logs with a moisture content of under fifteen percent.

Apricot wood for vegetables, plum wood for shrimp

Apricot, plum, cherry, and peach wood produce a pleasant aroma, with a mild sweetness. Use them to smoke vegetables as well as different types of meat and fish. They work great with poultry, pork, and small game birds. Duck taken right from the cherry wood burning oven will taste amazingly good. Plum wood is perfect for smoking shrimp and mussels. Nectarine wood and chicken wings make the perfect match. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of fruitwood!

What types of wood should you avoid?

There are a few types of wood which you should definitely avoid: pressure treated and painted woods, laminated woods and wood that has chemicals – those can be dangerous to your health! Pressure treated wood has preservatives that are highly flammable and can give off toxic fumes. There is a risk of releasing harmful vapours.

Don’t use woods like plywood, particleboard, or chipboard. Dangerous chemicals added to such types of woods contain formaldehyde. In some cases, they contain dioxin or hydrochloric acid. You should also avoid burning (or trying to burn) damp wood – it won’t burn well. Another reason to avoid damp wood is the fact that it may cause creosote accumulation in the oven’s chimney. And, as we mentioned earlier, using softwood is not the best idea. Avoid the following: cedar, fir, pine, spruce, cypress, and redwood.

burning wood in a wood-fired pizza oven

The best wood for your pizza oven – Summary

We hope that our short guide will help you choose the right wood for your wood-fired oven. You always have a choice. Make the right one and don’t use softwoods. Choose dried hardwoods instead. Oak, hickory, alder, or some other appropriate hardwoods mentioned above are great for smoking certain types of food. The same applies to fruitwood – apple, apricot, cherry, plum, and peach are great for smoking different types of meat, fish, vegetables, and, of course, pizzas!


Vivian Le

Vivian Le, possessing a Master’s in Architecture from Harvard University, has been transforming living spaces with her DIY expertise for over 15 years. Since joining us in 2020, Vivian has shared her creative and practical solutions, inspiring countless readers. Her experience ranges from small home improvement projects to large-scale renovations. In her leisure time, Vivian enjoys pottery and exploring historical architecture. Apart from that she is also a passionate urban sketcher, often found capturing the essence of various cityscapes.

Leave a Comment