Introduction to Brick Oven Cooking – The Masonry Oven

Cooking near open flame in a brick oven has to be one of the coolest ways to prepare food. Whether in the home or in a restaurant, these open wood-fired ovens cook in a way you just cannot get from a regular oven.

People often think of these ovens as being used for cooking pizza or artesian bread. The reality is that while pizza might be the most common food preparation in a brick oven, many other dishes can be prepared in one as well. From steaks to roasts to casseroles, these ovens are versatile and efficient.

Technically, an oven like this is called a masonry oven. More common names include brick oven and stone oven. The oven has a baking chamber that has been constructed of brick, stone, clay, or concrete.

Visually, these ovens often have a “beehive” appearance with a dome-shaped inside.

A common question that is asked when cooking this way involves choosing the right wood for a brick oven.

What Types of Wood Are Best for a Brick Oven?

If you are going to be using a wood oven to prepare food, it’s a good idea to consider the type of wood that you are going to use.

Seasoned, dried hardwoods like oak, ash, maple, and sometimes birch wood tend to be good choices. The most popular choice is oak because it is easy to find and get delivered.

When compared to softwoods, hardwooods are much heavier and are denser. These characteristics produce a fire that burns very hot, which in turn helps the brick oven or pizza oven retain heat. This creates a perfect cooking environment.

Some higher-end restaurants insist on using kiln-dried wood in their brick ovens. The belief is that when the wood is dried in a kiln, a precise method is used to remove the moisture content from the wood. This, in turn, creates a more consistent fire and heat.

Especially in the case of wood-fired pizza ovens, when the dry wood is burning hotter, the pizza will cook quicker. Many wood-fired pizza restaurants claim that quickly cooking pizza is the secret to a soft crust with a crispy outer layer.

Another benefit to burning hardwoods is that you will get the perfect amount of smoky flavor in the food. Now, if you are planning on smoking meats, like ribs or brisket, it is more appropriate to consider smoking woods like apple wood, hickory or mesquite. These woods will give the characteristic smoked flavor people expect from BBQ.

What Wood Should Not be Used in a Wood-Fired Oven?

We cannot stress enough that there are certain types of wood that you should never use in a masonry oven. These include laminated woods, pressure treated woods, woods from furniture, stained woods, any wood that has glue, or particleboard.

Burning these types of wood will release chemicals into the oven’s air and that will permeate the food being cooked. Those chemicals could cause those eating the food to become sick. That is a scenario every restaurant or home cook wants to avoid. Stick to professionally sourced hardwoods from a trusted company.

How can you find food-grade firewood in Long Island, New York, and northern New Jersey?

We have been providing restaurants and BBQs in Long Island, New York, and northern New Jersey with food-grade firewoodfor over 10 years. We deliver directly to the restaurant in reusable containers with wood pre-stacked. Our goal is to offer you an effortless experience when it comes to getting cooking firewood delivered directly to you. 

For our residential customers, we offer a similar service. We can deliver firewood for cooking in your indoor or outdoor pizza ovens. Please contact us to learn more about our delivery areas.

Also, a special note about safety. If you are using a wood-burning brick oven indoors, please be aware of carbon monoxide. Under normal conditions the amount of carbon monoxide produced is , but we always want our customers to be safe. Having a CO detector in your home is a good first step in carbon monoxide detection when using a wood-burning oven.