6 Tips for Making Woodfired Pizza at Home

Make lightly charred woodfired pizza at home, just like your favorite restaurant! Learn how to recreate a smoky pie at home using these tips and tricks.

When you imagine woodfired pizza, you probably think of the huge, wood-burning ovens at pizza restaurants, and the giant paddles used to slide the pies in and out of the oven. But with a few tips, you can have (almost) the same experience at home, minus all the special equipment. You don’t have to have a giant pizza oven to make woodfired pizza at home—you can do it with a charcoal grill, or even your regular oven. The key to getting a nice char on the crust is using high heat, and burning wood to give the pizza a hint of smoky flavor, so when in doubt, keep those two tips in mind.

Roasted Garlic-Goat Cheese Pizza
Matt Armendariz

Tips for Making Woodfired Pizza on a Charcoal Grill

If you have your own pizza oven, that’s your best bet for making woodfired pizza at home. But even if you don’t, you can set up a charcoal grill to achieve similar results using a few tricks.

Use Wood for Smoky Flavor

Adding wood to your grill will create a lot more smoke than charcoal. But that doesn’t mean you need to replace the charcoal entirely—using charcoal helps maintain consistent heat as you grill. For the best of both worlds, use half wood and half charcoal for the right combination of smoke and steady heat. Using wood in combination with charcoal also helps the grill get even hotter, which creates the bubbly, charred crust you want from a woodfired pizza. Start by lighting the charcoal just as you would for traditional grilling, then top with chunks of wood (larger than wood chips). The wood will catch fire and create smoke for the pizza.

Choose the Right Kind of Wood

Different types of wood can impart a variety of flavors. Typically, seasoned and dried hardwoods such as oak, maple, and hickory are the best for making woodfired pizza. Hardwoods burn hotter and longer than softwoods (like pine and spruce), which is great for quickly cooking pizza crust.

Use a Pizza Stone

Place a pizza stone on the grill grates and let it heat up before you start cooking. Pizza stones easily retain heat, making it a great hot surface for cooking the dough. Let the stone preheat for about 30 minutes, and prep your pizza off to the side while it heats up.

Use a Yeast Dough Recipe

Because the pizza will cook at a high temperature, it’ll cook faster. That also means you want to avoid ingredients that will burn, like oil. Instead, for a puffy woodfired pizza, be sure to use a dough recipe that includes yeast. This will help create the bubbles of air in the dough as it cooks. Using more water than a traditional dough can also help, because the moisture will evaporate as the pizza cooks, creating a crispier crust.

Consider Using a Special Attachment

If you’re planning to make woodfired pizza only on special occasions, your charcoal grill can do the job just fine. But if you’re looking for the best woodfired pizza, and want to regularly make it yourself, you might want to invest in a pizza grill attachment. These accessories slightly raise the grill’s lid during cooking, and have an opening in the side to slide your pizza in and out, just like a traditional pizza oven. These attachments can be a little pricey, but will help you make a classic woodfired pizza with charred crust and smoky flavors. If you aren’t ready to purchase one just yet, cook the pizza with the grill lid closed to help maintain high heat.

Tips for Making Woodfired Pizza in an Oven

An oven won’t give you the same smokiness as a grill, but if you’re craving the woodfired pizza experience in the middle of winter, you can make something similar in your regular oven.

Get the Heat as High as Possible

There’s no wood to burn in your oven, so to get as close to woodfired pizza as possible, your oven needs to be super-hot. Preheat a pizza stone in the oven for 30 minutes to an hour before you start baking, at 500°F or 550°F. To help it get as hot as possible, place it on a rack in the top third of the oven. You can even turn on the broiler for a few minutes to really help heat up the stone. Prep the pizza on a separate sheet pan or piece of parchment paper. When you’re ready to bake, slide the pizza on top of the prepared stone, and bake until the crust is golden and the cheese melts. You won’t see the same charring as you will on a grill, but if you notice the top of the pizza isn’t cooking as quickly as the bottom crust, you can always turn the broiler on for a few minutes to help melt the cheese and cook the top of the dough.

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