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Pizza, in almost everyone’s mind, is great. There are a variety of toppings and ways to dress pizza so there is something for everyone. But the toppings aren’t everything to a pizza, sometimes it all depends on how it is cooked as well. When it comes to cooking pizza, does it taste better in a regular oven or a pizza oven?
Pizza doesn’t taste better from a pizza oven or regular oven. Pizza can have a wider range of flavors in a pizza oven because of the way wood can affect flavoring in foods. Woods such as oak, maple, ash, hickory, walnut, birch, and beech can add extra flavors to make pizza taste better.
Below, we’ll go into the pros and cons of using a regular oven and a pizza oven. We’ll also look into the best woods for cooking in a pizza oven. Overall, you will discover the best way to cook pizza for you, and what will make the pizza taste the best.
Brick Pizza Oven
For this section, we will be focusing on a brick oven pizza that requires wood. We won’t be looking into gas or electric brick pizza ovens.
One of the major pros of cooking with a brick pizza oven is that you will get your pizza faster. No need to wait for 20 minutes to cook your pizza. Brick pizza ovens only take about 2 to 5 minutes to cook your pizza. This is great for parties when you have to make multiple pizzas at once because you can easily cook a new pizza every 5 minutes. You can also cook more than one pizza at any one time depending on the size of the oven. Usually, you’ll have your fire burning in the back, with room for multiple pizzas in front of it.
The reason the pizza cooks faster in a brick pizza oven is that it can reach higher temperatures than a normal oven. You can reach up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit in a pizza oven. This is great for speeding up the pizza cooking process. The way this is done in the oven is that when you light the fire, the heat will slowly spread to the rest of the oven. Brick and other stones absorb heat, making the heat distribute about the same throughout the oven.
Another great part of cooking with a brick pizza oven is that your food is going to taste a whole lot better and be cooked better. With a small fire, you can easily make the outside crispy, while keeping the inside soft. The cheese will be melted and gooey from cooking in such high temperatures. The toppings will also cook faster and if veggies are cooked fast enough they will maintain their nutrients more than if they are cooked over a long period of time.
One of the major cons of a brick pizza oven is that you have to wait for it to heat up and it takes a whole lot longer than a regular oven. First, you pick out your wood, kindling, coals, etc. Then you built it in the oven and begin to light it. You have to wait for it to catch fire well, before bringing it down to the correct fire level for the temperature you desire.
Speaking of temperature, you will need a thermometer of some sort to help make sure your oven is at the right temperature for cooking, which should be between 450 and 650 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t check, you have the chance of burning your pizza or making it too doughy.
Unfortunately, over or under-cooking your pizza is a high risk you take with a pizza oven. Yes, the heat spreads through the oven pretty evenly, but the pizza’s correlation to the fire can change things. If it is too close one side could get burnt, or the pizza could even catch fire. On the other hand, if your pizza is too far away from the fire, or the oven isn’t heated enough, your pizza could come out super doughy despite looking cooked on the outside.
This is going to be really difficult to clean. Most of the time, brick pizza ovens are outside, which means bugs and animals could get inside. You will have to clean it out often before and after you use it. Cleaning it will also be super difficult because it’s hard to reach all the way to the back and get to all the walls and roof. There are scrapers you can get and even using a pressure washer may work, but overall it is going to be difficult to clean.
For this section, we will be focused on a regular electric oven, not a gas one or even some outdoor grill. We are only talking about an electric oven because it is the most common type of oven in many households.
One of the biggest pros of using a regular oven for cooking pizza is convenience. Most homes, apartments, condos, etc have an oven that you can cook your pizza in. You don’t have to worry about going out and buying a whole brick oven pizza and then waiting for it to be built so you can use it. If you want pizza, just pop it in the oven.
Another great pro to regular ovens is that they are easier to clean than the brick oven. You can open up the door of the oven, take out the racks, and scrub it clean with a pumice stone. If something does go wrong while cooking in an oven, you can easily turn it off and then scrub out the mess that was made.
With a regular oven, you don’t have to worry about losing the whole pizza when you put it in. Ovens are usually wide and long enough for a pizza without you having to reach super far in. While brick ovens have the chance of the pizza getting too far back and stuck in the oven. Regular ovens are simple and easy to handle.
Regular ovens also have set temperatures and you can guarantee that you are cooking your pizza at the right temperature. This also means you are less likely to burn it or undercook it because temperatures are set.
One of the major cons of cooking pizza in a regular oven is that if the power goes out or your oven breaks, you can’t make pizza. Regular ovens are dependent on electricity and without it, no more pizza.
Time is not of the essence when it comes to making pizza in a regular oven. Usually, you must wait for the oven to heat up to the right temperature which can take 10 to 30 minutes. Then you will have to wait another 20-ish minutes for the pizza to cook. If you are making pizza at home, it is going to take a while.
Best Woods for Pizzas
For some people, the wood affects the taste of pizza in an oven and for others, it doesn’t. However, if you do use a pizza oven, your pizza is bound to taste a little smokier than normal. On the bright side, the wood you pick can add more or less smoky flavor to your pizza or even add flavoring that goes well with your toppings.
The worst type of wood you can use for cooking are woods that have any chemicals used on them. This includes laminated, pressure-treated, or painted woods. These woods when burned can release toxins into the air that may also get absorbed into the pizza. Both of which are bad for your health as the chef and those who eat the pizza.
Other woods that aren’t the best for cooking include woods with a high sap content like pine. The sap will fizz out and caramelize while it is cooking. This will create a whole lot of smoke which can make your pizza taste super smokey and a little like syrup. Any wet woods will have a similar smoking effect and are more likely to dry off and steam more than they will burn and cook. Greenwoods will also be very sappy and smoke more than it burns.
Make sure your wood is clean before you use it. Don’t pick musty, moldy, or fungus-covered wood. If you do, clean it off, and make sure there is nothing but wood. otherwise, your pizza will taste musty, moldy, or like fungus and nobody wants their pizza to taste like that.
Hardwoods are the best woods for your pizza oven. They are typically cleaner woods, less sappy, and tend to burn longer. The best hardwoods are maple, oak, ash, hickory, walnut, birch, and beech.
Hickory has a slightly sweet aroma and provides a stronger smokey flavor to your pizza. It tastes best with meats such as bacon, sausages, beef, and chicken. This one really compliments a meat lover’s pizza. Maple wood also has a slightly sweet flavor with a hint of syrup flavor. It tastes great with pork, chicken, and veggies. Both of these woods give off very strong bbq flavoring to your pizza. However, be careful with maple wood because if there is too much sap it will make the pizza taste a little bitter. It is best to drain your wood of sap and let it dry out for a while.
Oakwood is also great for meat pizzas. It tastes well with ribs, lamb, or beef. It is a little laid-back version of hickory, with less smoke and a weaker sweet aroma. Combining oak wood with hickory, or even peach and nectarine is a great way to provide a bbq taste to your pizza.
Walnut wood on the other hand is better for fruits and veggies, especially mushrooms and potatoes. It really heightens these tastes in the crust. Mushroom pizza or veggie lovers will taste great with walnut wood.
There are some other woods that will add some good flavors to your pizza without overdoing it. It all depends on what flavors you want added to what pizza. Below I have made a list of different woods and what pizza toppings they go well with.
|Alder||Fish, poultry, veggies, and lamb sausage|
|Apple||Cheese and meats|
|Mesquite||Steaks and pork (sometimes add a bitter and harsh flavor)|
|Peach||White meats, seafood, and fish (can combine with oak or hickory)|
|Nectarine||White meats, seafood, and fish (can combine with oak or hickory)|
|Pecan||Larger meats, fruits, and some veggies like bell peppers or tomatoes because of their sweet and nutty taste|
|Cherry||Sweeter flavors like fruits or some veggies like bell peppers or tomatoes|
There are other woods that haven’t been used for pizza ovens. Most of them are fruitwoods and add a strong fruity flavor. Feel free to try them if you are brave.
Some people will enjoy the flavor a pizza oven adds to their pizza. We’ll go into specifics later, but the type of wood you use for your pizza oven may add different flavors to the pizza to improve its flavor. Some people also really love that smokey pizza flavor and a pizza oven will naturally add it with whatever wood you use. While others just don’t like that extra smokey taste and worry the wood will ruin the taste of the pizza.
Some people love the aesthetic a brick oven pizza brings. It is something beautiful, fun, exciting, and a full pizza experience. While others will find it completely disgusting or pointless. In the video below, you’ll notice how one group, Jerry Seinfeld, loves the idea of brick oven pizza, while Kevin Hart found that it wasn’t that great. The point is that both a regular oven and a brick oven are good for pizza. They both have pros and cons, and overall bring out good pizza. Cook pizza how you want to cook pizza.