Best Firewood for Wood Ovens 2024


As the world spins further into 2024, the timeless charm of wood-fired ovens remains evergreen. From the ancient hearths of our ancestors to today’s sophisticated kitchens, the secret to that impeccable flavor and fiery magic often lies not just in the oven’s design, but in the heart of the fire itself – the wood. Dive in as we unravel this year’s top contenders for the best firewood, and discover how the right choice can elevate your culinary experiences from warm to simply wondrous!

Best Firewood for Wood Ovens List:

When it comes to mastering the art of wood-fired cooking, selecting the right firewood is akin to a chef choosing the finest ingredients. These woods not only fuel the fire but also elevate the flavors, texture, and overall culinary experience. Let’s delve into the nuances of some of the best woods for your oven:


Oak Firewood

Often referred to as the “king of hardwoods,” oak’s reputation in the world of firewood is nearly mythical. With its dense grain, oak ensures a consistent, roaring flame that lasts longer than most woods. Perfect for an array of dishes, oak’s heat output ensures even cooking. Moreover, its smoky undertone adds a layer of richness, enhancing the flavors without overwhelming them.

Ideal for: Slow roasting, grilling, and dishes that require consistent heat.


Ash Firewood

Among the unique attributes of ash is its ability to burn efficiently even when freshly cut, defying the typical requirement for seasoning. This makes it a favorite for those unexpected oven plans. Furthermore, its relatively straight grain makes it a joy to split, saving time and energy. When lit, ash produces a bright flame and generous heat, ensuring your food is cooked to perfection.

Ideal for: General cooking, especially when you’re out of seasoned wood.


Hickory Firewood

A favorite in the American South for barbecues and smoking, hickory has made its mark globally in wood ovens too. With its robust heat and deep smoky aroma, it’s perfect for giving meats a mouthwatering char and flavor. Its high heat output ensures crispy exteriors and juicy interiors.

Ideal for: Smoking, barbecues, and dishes that benefit from a strong smoky flavor.


Birch Firewood

This elegant white-barked tree offers more than just aesthetic appeal. Birch wood, when burned, produces a medium heat and a light, slightly sweet aroma reminiscent of its sap. This gentle flavor profile makes it perfect for dishes where subtlety is key.

Ideal for: Pizzas, bread, and desserts that could benefit from a hint of sweetness.


Maple Firewood

Celebrated for its autumnal foliage and the syrup it produces, maple also shines in the realm of firewood. It burns with a steady flame, emitting moderate heat. Its light, sweet aroma complements dishes without overshadowing their inherent flavors.

Ideal for: Delicate dishes, seafood, and baked goods that require a mild, aromatic touch.

Beyond the Flame: Special Mentions

While the mainstream champions of charring often steal the limelight, there are some unsung heroes in the world of firewood who deserve their moment in the sun. These woods, with their distinct characteristics, offer a tantalizing twist to the usual wood-fired fare.

Apple and Cherry – Fruit-bearing trees like apple and cherry have long been treasured in the culinary world, not just for their delicious produce but also for the aromatic wonders they bring when burned. Fruitwoods are known for their subtle, sweet, and slightly fruity smoke, which can enhance the flavor profile of a dish without overpowering it.

Apple and Cherry Firewood
  • Apple Wood: With a delicate hint of sweetness, apple wood’s smoke infuses dishes with a nuanced aroma that’s especially harmonious with white meats. Think of a tender chicken or turkey, its skin golden and crisp, carrying an understated apple-infused aroma.
  • Cherry Wood: Slightly stronger than apple but equally aromatic, cherry wood imparts a beautiful reddish hue to the smoke, and with it, a tangy touch of fruitiness. It’s a dream pairing for fish, especially salmon, lending it a color and taste that’s truly delectable.

Ideal for: Dishes that thrive on a gentle infusion of flavors – poultry, fish, and even some vegetables and cheeses.

Mesquite Firewood

Native to the arid regions of the Americas, mesquite wood carries the spirit of the Wild West. More familiar to the BBQ pits and smokers, its robust and earthy flavor is unmistakable. When used in wood ovens, the results can be quite dramatic. Mesquite burns hot and fast, making it perfect for searing. Its flavor, however, is where opinions might divide. The intense, almost tangy smokiness can be a delight for some and overwhelming for others.

Ideal for: Adventurous palates looking for a bold flavor punch. Excellent for grilling steaks, robust veggies, and dishes that can stand up to its potent smokiness.

Hardwoods vs. Softwoods

The choice between hardwoods and softwoods is akin to choosing the main ingredient in a recipe. It will define the character of your flame and influence the final dish.

Hardwood and Softwood

Hardwoods: Derived from deciduous trees that shed their leaves annually, hardwoods such as oak, ash, and hickory have a compact cellular structure. This denseness allows them to burn with a steadier, hotter flame. They produce coals that retain heat for extended periods, ensuring consistent temperatures perfect for cooking dishes that require more time.s


  • Consistent and prolonged heat.
  • Richer, smoky flavor to dishes.
  • Less sap, reducing creosote buildup.

Softwoods: Originating from coniferous trees that retain their needles all year round, softwoods like pine, cedar, and spruce have a looser cellular structure. They tend to ignite rapidly due to their resinous nature, making them excellent kindling to start a fire. However, their faster burn rate and lower heat output make them less ideal as the primary wood for cooking.


  • Quick ignition.
  • Pleasant aroma when burned.
  • Ideal for kindling and initial fire starting.

Choosing the right wood type for your oven is pivotal. While softwoods lend themselves to a roaring start, hardwoods are the marathon runners, ensuring your dishes are cooked evenly and imbued with a delicious smoky essence. Before you light your next fire, consider the culinary journey you want to embark on and choose your wood accordingly.

Avoid at All Costs!

In the grand theatre of wood-fired cooking, not all woods are worthy of a starring role. Just as the right wood can elevate your culinary creations, the wrong choice can have detrimental effects, both on your dish and your oven.

Pine, Spruce, and Cedar – At first glance, these softwoods might seem like a viable option. They’re readily available in many regions and ignite with ease. However, this is where their benefits end and the drawbacks begin.

Pine Spruce and Cedar Firewood
  • High Sap and Resin Content: Trees like pine, spruce, and cedar are replete with sap and resin. When burned, this sap can release compounds that impart a strong, sometimes acrid flavor to food. Instead of the delightful smoky nuances you aim for, you might find your dish tainted with an unpleasant taste.
  • Creosote Culprits: Beyond just the immediate impact on flavor, these woods have long-term repercussions for your oven. As they burn, the high resin content can lead to the production of creosote, a thick, tar-like substance. Over time, creosote can accumulate on the walls and flue of your oven, reducing its efficiency and even posing a fire hazard.
  • Quick to Burn: Another drawback of these softwoods is their rapid burn rate. They might flare up impressively, but they’ll burn out just as quickly, offering neither the consistent heat nor the longevity you’d want for most cooking endeavors.

Seasoned vs. Green Wood

In the realm of wood-fired cooking, it’s not just about the type of wood you choose, but also about its condition. The age-old debate between seasoned and green wood brings to light the nuances of wood preparation, and how it impacts the very essence of your cooking experience. Here’s what you need to know:

Green Wood

Freshly cut from the tree, green wood is aptly named for its high moisture content. This moisture has several implications:

Green Wood
  • Struggle to Ignite: The water content in green wood makes it resistant to catching fire easily. You might find yourself using more kindling and spending more time trying to get a stable flame going.
  • Smoke Signals: Once it does light, green wood tends to produce a lot of smoke. While some smoke is desired for flavor, excessive smoke can result in a sooty residue on food and a less pleasant, sometimes even bitter, taste.
  • Inconsistent Heat: Green wood doesn’t burn as hotly or as consistently as its seasoned counterpart. This can lead to uneven cooking and difficulty in maintaining the desired temperature.
Seasoned Wood

Seasoned wood has been allowed to dry, usually for at least six months to a year. As it dries, it undergoes changes that make it superior for burning:

Seasoned Wood
  • Easy Ignition: The reduced moisture means seasoned wood catches fire more readily, ensuring you spend less time preparing and more time cooking.
  • Clean and Hot Burn: Seasoned wood produces a hotter and cleaner flame, essential for achieving that perfect sear on meats or the crispy base on a pizza.
  • Flavorful Without Overpowering: While it still produces smoke, seasoned wood offers a more balanced smoky flavor without the risk of tainting your food with excessive sootiness or bitterness.

Size Matters

For wood ovens, logs shouldn’t be too large. Typically, logs around 3-4 inches in diameter and 16 inches long are ideal. This ensures they catch fire easily and burn efficiently.

Final Thoughts

In the world of wood ovens, the wood you choose truly is the “soul” of your culinary creations. Understanding the nuances of each type can elevate your dishes from ordinary to extraordinary. So, the next time you’re stoking the flames, remember: it’s not just about the fire, but the flavor. Happy cooking!


  1. Why do some chefs swear by specific wood types for certain dishes?
    Just like herbs and spices, different woods impart unique flavors to dishes. For instance, hickory might enhance a ribeye steak, while apple wood can elevate a salmon fillet.
  2. I’ve heard of wine pairing, but is there such a thing as wood pairing?
    Absolutely! Just as you’d pair a robust red wine with steak or a light white with fish, certain woods complement specific foods. Oak, for instance, works wonders with red meat, while fruitwoods like cherry or apple pair delightfully with poultry and fish.
  3. How can I tell if my wood is seasoned without using it?
    Seasoned wood is typically darker, has cracks on the ends, and sounds hollow when knocked. It’s also lighter in weight compared to green wood due to the reduced moisture content.
  4. Is there a “sommelier” equivalent for firewood?
    While there isn’t a formal title, many chefs and wood-fired oven enthusiasts develop a deep knowledge and intuition about wood types, flavors, and burns. Engaging with such enthusiasts or communities can provide insights akin to what a wine sommelier offers for vino.
  5. I’ve seen blue or green flames in my wood oven. Is that normal?
    Certain minerals in wood can cause flames to turn colors. For instance, the presence of copper can result in green flames. While it’s a fascinating sight, it doesn’t necessarily impact the cooking process or flavor.
  6. Why is pine not recommended when it smells so good?
    Pine, along with other softwoods, contains high amounts of sap and resin. While it does have a pleasant aroma, it can lead to creosote buildup in ovens and impart an undesired flavor to food.
  7. Can I mix wood in my oven for a unique flavor profile?
    Absolutely! Combining woods, like apple and oak, can produce layered, nuanced flavors. It’s an art, much like blending wines or crafting a unique spice mix.
  8. What’s the best way to store firewood to maintain its quality?
    Firewood should be stored off the ground, ideally under a shelter that protects it from rain and snow but allows for airflow. This prevents rot, and mold, and maintains its dryness.
  9. Can I use wood from a tree that’s been treated or painted?
    It’s essential to avoid using treated, painted, or stained wood. These can release toxic fumes when burned, which can be harmful to health and taint the flavor of your food.
  10. Do different woods produce different ash profiles?
    Yes, different woods produce varying amounts and types of ash. For instance, hardwoods typically produce a fine, powdery ash, while softwoods might produce a more flaky, coarse residue.

We hope you found value in our exploration of the best firewood for wood ovens in 2024. Your experiences and insights matter to us. Feel free to share your thoughts or personal recommendations in the comments. Let’s keep this conversation burning bright!

David Murray
David Murray
Forestry Author

I'm David Murry, a forestry equipment specialist with a focus on chainsaw operation. With over 13 years of experience, I've honed my skills in operating and maintaining a wide range of machinery, from chainsaws to log splitters. My passion for the outdoors and commitment to sustainable forestry drive my work, which emphasizes safety, efficiency, and staying updated with industry advancements. Additionally, I'm dedicated to sharing my expertise and promoting environmental awareness within the forestry community.


Like working in the outdoors with wood

Daniel Adams
September 21, 2023 3:32 am

I loved this article. I'm very interested in "wood pairing" and think this is a great way to enhance the joy of outdoor cooking. I enjoy farm to table type cooking on locally cut logs. How fun! I need better chainsaw maintenance skills, but I'll learn. Thank you for the article.

Daniel Adams
Jake Kolander
September 21, 2023 2:08 am

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