From a commercial wood-fired pizza oven to the backyard smoker or pellet grill — the best smoking woods to use remain the same. That is, by using 100% natural hardwoods that burn well and produce an amazing smokey flavor.
But, you can’t just use any old wood, as what burns as fuel for the fire plays a big part in the overall cook and the flavor of the food!
Here’s the full breakdown of the best woods for smoking pizza in a pizza oven, smoker, and pellet grill.
If you’ve got your own wood fired pizza oven, you can be a bit more lenient with the woods you choose to use. So long as you always use 100% hardwood, which has been properly dried and seasoned for use.
These range from strong smoking woods, such as hickory, mesquite, or oak, which are known for their strong savory and smoky flavor. They burn consistently and produce consistent clean smoke.
The other side of hardwoods you can use for your pizza oven include fruitwoods, such as apple, cherry, plum, maple, or peach. These typically produce a lighter flavored smoke, that’s much sweeter and fruitier.
For full details on all things smoking wood, check out our full guide to wood smoking.
Woods To Avoid For Your Pizza Oven
If you are looking to use other types of wood, just be sure they aren’t softwoods, treated, laminated, or painted woods. Remember: what goes in as fuel comes out as flavor.
Softwoods, like pine or redwood, contain a much higher amount of sap, which gives off a strong pungent smoke. This is considered to produce “dirty smoke” which will taint and stain your pizza oven, as well as end up on your pizza!
How Much Wood To Use For Pizza Oven
There are a variety of factors that will influence how much wood you add to your pizza oven, such as the pizza oven size, construction type (i.e. bricks vs. stainless steel), and size of the wood. You don’t need a roaring fire to get up to temperature.
The other good news is that a pizza oven can be quite forgiving, so long as the temperature isn’t too hot or too cold and remains reasonably consistent, between 650-900°F.
Usually, you’ll want to use as much wood as it takes to keep it within this range, starting the fire with some small pieces, and moving on the larger pieces and logs once it’s properly lit.
Best Woods For Smoking Pizza In An Offset Smoker
Smoked pizza on an offset smoker captures the same delicious smokiness that a commercially wood-fired pizza produces. For the most part, you can follow the same methods and use the same smoking woods too.
Crank up the heat to 500°F, and preheat your pizza stone. If you don’t have a pizza stone simply put down a tray lined with baking paper. You want to get your fire burning consistently. Hickory or mesquite will give you the best bang for your buck. If you love that smoky wood-fired pizza, these strong smoking woods will provide the most flavor in a short amount of time.
As offset smokers produce an ideal amount of flavorful smoke, you can get away with almost any hardwood here, including fruit wood. But, like always, avoid any wet, damp, or unseasoned wood.
Best Woods For Smoking Pizza In A Pellet Grill
When it comes to smoking pizza in a pellet grill, you really want to allow as much smokiness as possible to enhance the flavor of the pizza, over the short 12-20 minute cook time.
Because of this, the stronger smoking woods such as hickory, mesquite, or oak are the best woods for smoking pizza in a pellet grill. With the limited time you do have, you want to be sure you’ve got the smoke rolling consistently, and the pellet grill is up to temperature. This will maximize the amount of smoke flavor your pizza will absorb over it’s cook.
To be honest, there is nothing stopping you from using whatever wood pellets you like, including the lighter and sweeter flavored woods like apple, maple or pecan. At the end of the day you’re still going to be able to enjoy your smoked pizza.
We’ve done a lot of research and tested a lot of different brands of wood pellets here at GrillSimply. If you’re interested, check out our guide to the best wood pellets for smoking, or even our BBQr’s Delight vs. Traeger Wood Pellets breakdown.
Tip: when baking pizza in a pellet grill, it’s well worth it to invest in a decent quality pizza stone (or two). This makes up for the slightly lower maximum temperature of the pellet grill (450-500°F usually). A pizza stone will absorb and hold the heat, providing the perfect platform to get that well-cooked and wood-fired pizza base.
Best Woods For Smoking Pizza In A Charcoal Grill
If you’re using a charcoal smoker or grill, always use indirect heating in combination with a pizza stone and a few good wood chunks or a pile of wood chips.
Light your charcoal, arrange it using the two-zone method, and place your pizza stone on the indirect heat zone, that is, not directly above the charcoal.
Allow the grill to get up to temperature, and let the pizza stone get nice and toasty. Once it’s up to temperature, add 2-3 wood chunks of either:
- Hickory Wood: if you’re looking for a traditional, strong, barbecue smoke.
- Apple Wood: Apple wood burns hot, and produces a good amount of smoke, and is more subtle and sweet. Cherry wood produces a similar smoke too.
- Oak Wood: consistent & classic. When you want to have a nice smokiness but let the pizza be the star.
- Any other natural hardwood that has been properly seasoned. Depending on what type of pizza you are cooking, you could choose a strong, subtle, fruity, sweet, or nutty wood. There really isn’t a “wrong” choice here.
Once the wood is smoking, add your pizza to the pizza stone and cook for between 10-20 minutes depending on the size, thickness, and temperature.