What is the Best Wood to Burn in my Pizza Oven?

by Cheryl Dunn

When choosing wood to burn in your wood fire pizza oven, there are a few things to consider to ensure your pizzas turn out perfect every time. Here is your handy wood selection guide, including a list of things to avoid putting on your pizza oven fire.

The Right Wood

Depending on your location and your local wood supply, the wood species you have access to will vary greatly. Hardwood is ideal for getting your pizza oven fire to the right temperature, as it burns slowly and very hot.

To ensure that your wood is well-seasoned for optimal burning, store green wood in a dry location for a minimum of six months before use in your pizza oven. If you have purchased wood, speak with your supplier to confirm that it is aged sufficiently or, alternatively, you can purchase a wood moisture gauge to test the wood yourself.

Ideal Species

There are several Australian hardwoods suitable for burning in a wood pizza oven. Try to source a local supply of any of the following species:

  • Ash: Alpine, Mountain or Silvertop
  • Blackbutt: New England or Coastal
  • Gum: Flooded, Spotted, River Red or Sydney Blue
  • Ironbark: Grey or Red
  • Jarrah
  • White Mahogany
  • Tallowwood
  • White Cypress Pine

Fruit and nut tree woods are another great option, as they are both good burning woods and impart a wonderful fragrance and flavour to the pizzas. Give apple, almond, cherry or pear tree woods a try if you can source it locally.

Wood to Avoid

When working with food, the priority is always to keep the food preparation zone free from anything that may pose or cause a health risk. When putting wood on your pizza oven fire, the same principle applies. Don't burn any wood that may let off toxic fumes or smoke during the burning process, and always avoid burning wood that is:

  • Laminated
  • Treated with chemicals
  • Glued
  • Painted

If you are using building offcuts or pallet wood for kindling, ensure that it has not been treated or finished in any way.

Oily or sappy woods are not recommended for pizza oven use, as they produce too much smoke and soot, leave your food with an nasty flavour, and do not burn at a high enough heat to cook your pizza to perfection. Burning green or wet wood is also discouraged, as it will create excessive smoke and won't heat your oven to optimum temperatures.

Selecting the right wood for your pizza oven fire will guarantee that your fire burns hot enough and long enough to cook your gourmet pizza creations—and let you concentrate on concocting the perfect toppings! A local supplier, such as Zjelka Winsloe, will help you choose the perfect wood for the flavour you want.