What Makes the Best Pizza Oven Wood Around? You’re About to Find Out!
When you buy a wood-fire pizza oven, one of the most important choices you’ll make is what wood fuel to use. There are a lot of factors to consider. Everything from taste to heat content to smoke production to size comes into play when choosing the best pizza oven wood.
So, what is the best wood to use in a pizza oven? To make the perfect leopard-crust Neapolitan pizza, you need wood that checks off these four boxes:
- It’s a hardwood fuel source.
- The wood size is extra split.
- It’s kiln-dried to perfection.
- It fits easily inside your pizza oven.
Keep reading to learn why each of these is essential and how you can get them all in one convenient package!
1. Hardwood is the Best Wood for a Pizza Oven
There are two different kinds of firewood: hardwoods and softwoods. The difference between these two kinds of wood is the trees they come from. Hardwoods come from trees that lose their leaves every year, like oak and ash trees. On the other hand, softwoods come from trees that don’t lose their leaves, like cedar and pine trees.
Which makes better pizzas: hardwood or softwood? The answer is hardwood!
Hardwood is better for cooking wood-fired pizzas for several reasons. First, hardwood burns cleaner than softwood. What we mean by “clean burning” is that hardwood burns with less smoke and leaves less creosote in your pizza oven. This is because softwood tends to have a higher sap content than hardwood, making for a messier burn.
Second, hardwood burns longer than softwood since it has a higher density. These long burns create consistent rolling flames. These rolling flames across the dome of a pizza oven cook the top of the pizza and give it the famous “leopard” style crust. To achieve the perfect flame, you must use hardwood to deliver a consistent, rolling flame.
There are many types of hardwood for pizza ovens to choose from. For example, maple, Ash, Hickory, Mesquite, Cherry, and Oak are all prime choices for cooking pizzas. At Hot Box Cooking Wood, we chose to use oak in our first box because it’s the choice of most gourmet pizza chefs. Oak provides a subtle smoky flavor and burns for a very long time, making it perfect for most wood-fire recipes.
2. Extra-Split is the Best Size for Pizza Ovens
Size matters a lot when it comes to wood. And it’s not just the length that matters; it’s also the girth.
All jokes aside, the size of pizza oven wood is a critical part of making the perfect wood-fired pizza. This is because two parts of the pizza oven heat it properly: the dome and the stone.
The Dome: The top of the pizza oven, called the dome, is what cooks the top of the pizza and the pizza toppings. Flames across the dome of the pizza oven radiate downward and help to circulate hot air throughout the oven. This combo is what cooks the top of and toppings on the pizza. To properly heat the dome and get those rolling flames, you need a fuel source that creates rolling flames.
The Stone: The base of the pizza oven, where the pizza sits, is called the stone (or base). This part of the oven cooks the bottom of the pizza. It takes longer to heat than the dome does and is heated by coals from your fuel source that radiate heat.
For the perfect pizza, you need to heat the dome AND the stone properly. The best pizza oven wood size to do this is extra-split, which measures 1”-2” in diameter.
Extra-split wood provides a proper balance of flame and coals. When ignited, this provides a large rolling flame and gets to the hot coals relatively quickly. The result is an evenly heated dome and stone for perfect pizzas every time.
3. Kiln-Dried Wood Provides the Best Cooking Experience
When you’re cooking with wood, it needs to be dry. Dry wood ignites easily and burns hotter with less smoke than “green” or non-dried wood. Kiln-drying is the best way to achieve this level of dryness.
Kiln-drying involves putting split wood into a large kiln at 260 degrees for about 48 hours to remove most of the moisture in the wood. It is the most consistent, reliable, and efficient method of drying wood.
Kiln-drying has other major benefits beyond drying the wood. It also kills any pests, insects, mold and fungi on the wood. Since wood is an organic product, it is occasionally home to things you don’t want anywhere near your food. Some of these pests are also extremely invasive, capable of infesting and harming large portions of forests. Wood that hasn’t been properly kiln-dried can carry these pests, making it bad for cooking and dangerous for local tree populations.
So, if you plan to purchase pizza oven wood online or plan to transport wood, be sure to use kiln-dried wood for pizza ovens. Kiln-drying helps protect urban and natural forests and is a more environmentally safe option than non-kiln-dried wood.
4. The Wood Needs to Fit in Your Pizza Oven
Wood has to fit into your oven to work with it. Don’t waste your time and risk your safety trying to chop tiny pieces of wood to fit into your portable pizza oven. There’s no use trying to jam a large log into a small hole.
Instead, look for wood, like Hot Box Cooking Wood, optimized for portable pizza ovens so that it fits into the tiny openings.
It’s Time to Get Cooking!
There you have it. If you want to cook with the best pizza oven wood around, then you’ll need extra-split, kiln-dried hardwood designed to fit in your pizza oven.
Not sure where to find this wood? We might be able to help you with that. Hot Box Cooking Wood checks off all these boxes and is available with free shipping nationwide. You can visit our product page to learn more.
What kinds of wood do you cook with? Tell us on Instagram @hotboxcookingwood. We’d love to hear from you.