Want to make your pizza crispy and cooked evenly? Pizza Stone is what you are missing at!
A pizza stone works on the principle of heat conductivity which absorbs the heat to create high temperature which makes the crust of pizza crispy.
Why Crust of Your Homemade Pizza is Lacking:
Homemade pizzas are a healthier option, but homemade pizza can never meet the perfect texture and deliciousness of the professionally cooked pizza. Your dough becomes too soft or too hard and either sticky or soggy. A perfect crust of pizza can be achieved when baked at intense heat over a less time duration and right baking surface.
A domestic oven has a maximum temperature range of 500°F whereas a professional brick oven has a temperature of 700-800°F. The low temperature of your pizza oven is the prime reason that your pizza crust is not as crispy and succulent as you will get from a restaurant.
To recompense the problem of the low temperature of domestic ovens, pizza stones or baking stones are the tools that can be used effectively to get the perfect, crispy, and delicious pizza. A great pizza is one that is baked over a pizza stone!
What is a Pizza Stone?
A pizza stone is a small, flat, usually one-inch-thick piece of marble, clay tile, and composite material like ceramic or cordierite placed inside the oven over the rack. A pizza stone works on the principle of heat conductivity which absorbs the heat to create intense temperature which makes the crust of pizza crispy. Pizza stones come in different shapes like square, round, and rectangle depending on your desired pizza shape.
The surface of pizza stone is porous which absorb the excess moisture from the pizza dough while cooking. The stone retains the heat for a long-time duration just like a brick oven.
A pizza stone is meant to provide an extra hot surface and transmits the heat to the bottom of raw pizza dough to cook evenly. Intense heat reduces the baking time and provides extra crust and improved texture to the pizza.
Pizza stones are made from composite material either ceramic or cordierite. Both materials have their own properties and conducting rates. Cordierite is a natural material that conducts more heat in less time. Pizza stones made from cordierite are difficult to clean and maintain.
Ceramic absorbs heat much faster and retains the temperature if in the burning oven. It can crack when encounters cold air. Pizza stones made from ceramic are easy to clean and maintain as they don’t tend to rust.
Baking Stone Vs Pizza Stone
Baking stones are a traditional cooking surface used to cook many food items. They come in different sizes, shapes, and thicknesses depending on the type of food being cooked. Whereas pizza stone is a type of baking stone specifically designed to bake pizza only.
What is a Baking Steel?
Baking Steel is a round slab made from stainless steel which conducts heat more efficiently. Baking steel is placed inside the oven over the rack and raw food item is placed on it for intense heat transfer to the bottom of the food. Baking steels can endure thermal shock and don’t break in cool air.
What’s the Difference Between Pizza Stones and Baking Steels?
Heat Conductivity rate
Rate of conductivity of pizza steels is much higher than that of pizza stones. Heat is transferred readily to the pizza crust when cooking with pizza steels.
Pizza Stones are made from different materials such as ceramic and cordierite each with a different heat absorption rate. Choice of pizza stone material depends on the thickness of pizza crust and the cooking time of toppings you are using. Whereas Baking steel has a standard rate of conductivity for every type of cooking.
Pizza stones are lightweight as compared to baking steels because the difference in material from which they are made.
Pizza stones made from ceramic are non-resistive to thermal shocks and tend to break when they get exposed to outer air after being warmed up inside the oven. Whereas baking steels are made from steel which is shatter-proof and resistive to thermal shocks, so they do not break in any case.
Pizza stones are inexpensive and can be good for occasionally baking. Whereas, baking steels are bit costly.
Since steel is a good conductor of heat, it absorbs and transfers heat more quickly. So, the cooking time with baking steels becomes less than that of pizza stones.
Why Buy a Pizza Stone or Baking Steel?
Pizza requires a high temperature and uneven heating to crips up the edges and cook evenly. Pizza stones and baking steels keep the temperature inside the pizza oven high and consistent. Pizza dough is placed on the hot surface which enables the dough to cook evenly to give it a crispy bottom instead of soggy and hard. Your pizza stone or steel should be in size smaller than your oven tray so that it fits in the oven easily.
Should you Buy a Pizza Stone or Baking Steel?
Pizza stones and pizza steels both work the same to give your pizza a crispy base. The choice of buying any of them depends on your requirements, cooking style, and budget.
If you are someone who cooks occasionally at home, then pizza stone is the best option for you. It is lightweight and inexpensive. Pizza stone looks so attractive and can be used as a decorating piece for the kitchen counter.
But if you are a professional cook, then investing in baking steel would be the best choice that will cook your pizza in less time with crispy texture and charred flavor. These weigh as much as 20 pounds and are expensive which makes them suitable for professional use where spending that much would not be a big deal.
A Guide to Buying a Pizza Stone
There are two options of pizza stones from which you can choose. It is mentioned on the packaging either a pizza stone is glazed or unglazed
Glazed Pizza Stone
Glazed pizza stones are micro-glazed with non-stick oil and do not require to be seasoned before use. These are easy to clean and more expensive than unglazed ones.
Unglazed Pizza Stone
Unglazed pizza stones have a plain surface. These need to be glazed with non-stick oil before use. It needs some extra care to not drop some sauce while assembling the pizza. It becomes hard to clean if some residues get stuck to the surface of a pizza stone.
Factors to Look at When Buying Pizza Stones
Many tools have been used by pizzerias to enhance the flavor and texture of pizza; pizza stone is one of those tools. But choosing the right pizza stone can only make the perfect pizza which is very similar to the professionally made pizza in a brick oven. Therefore, you should look at some factors before investing in a pizza stone.
Material of Pizza Stone
Pizza stones are manufactured with different stones, clay, tiles, and metals. Each material has different properties and heating rates. Some of the materials are good conductors of heat, some are easy to clean, and some are resistive to thermal shocks.
For instance, ceramic is non-resistive to thermal shocks and tends to break in cool air. Cast iron has a porous surface and reaches a high temperature in less time than other materials. Steel is a good conductor of heat and does not break.
These properties make this material suitable for specific needs and use. So, the material is the first thing that you should consider before buying a pizza stone that best matches your needs.
Size and Weight of Pizza Stone
The size and weight of pizza stones vary depending on the material they are made of. The size of the pizza stone should not be too large that it becomes difficult to fit in your oven or it should not be too small that it does not cover the entire flame of your oven. Ideal-sized pizza stones are ones that fit into your pizza oven perfectly, cover most of the open flame, and get out of the oven easily.
The shape of Pizza Stone
Pizza stones come in different shapes including circular, square, and rectangle but the choice of shape depends on the personal preference and the size of your oven. A circular shape is considered a traditional shape and any type of pizza can be baked on it. However, there are many people who are more comfortable with rectangular designs including me. So, it is entirely dependent upon your liking.
The handle of Pizza Stone
Always go for the pizza stones with rubber or wooden handles. They provide a strong grip and make it easy to handle freshly baked, hot pizza when retrieving from the pizza oven.
How to use Pizza Stones
Pizza stones are placed inside the oven rack and preheated to 500°F for about 30 minutes. In meantime, pizza dough is assembled you sauces and desired toppings. When the oven gets pre-heat, launch the pizza inside the oven over that baking rack. After the cooking time, retrieve the pizza from the oven onto the kitchen counter. Here comes the freshly baked, crispy, and flavorful pizza.
There are certain cautions to be considered while using pizza stones. Don’t place the stone inside a preheated oven or take out the hot pizza stone into the cool air. This will lead to the breaking of pizza stones as these are non-resistant to thermal shocks. Preheat the pizza stone for maximum time as launching the pizza inside the under-heated oven results in inferior pizza which is soggy and sticky.
What does Pizza Stone Seasoning Mean?
Pizza Stone seasoning is the process of creating a protective layer on the pizza stone by adding oil or flour to the surface. The surface of the pizza stone is porous which makes the dough stuck to it. To prevent the stickiness, a layer of edible oil is added to the pizza stone surface to avoid stickiness. One thing worth mentioning here is that most pizza stones that are available now in the market do not require any seasoning process. Seasoning them does not do any good to them.
Seasoning makes the surface non-stick and easier to bake with an additional protective layer. This added layer of oil will hold the heat and cook the food better. When the added layer of oil encounters the pizza dough, it develops smokiness and enhances the flavor of the pizza.
How to Season a Pizza Stone – Step by step guide
Step1. Clean the Pizza Stone
Start by cleaning the pizza stone with water and a clean piece of cloth. Make sure to clean any residue from the previous cook. Since pizza stone has a porous surface, it is recommended to use a dry cloth or let the stone air dry to wipe out any water otherwise it can make your dough soggy. Using soap is prohibited as it can clog the pizza stone surface.
Step2. Oil the Pizza Stone
Take any type of edible oil and spread a few drops onto the surface of a pizza stone. Use a cloth to spread the oil by rubbing in a circular motion so that every pore of pizza stone is covered with a protective layer of oil.
Step3. Preheat Oven and Pizza Stone
Place the pizza stone on the baking rack inside the oven. Now set the temperature to a maximum 500°F and turn on the heating. Always preheat the oven and stone at the same time. Don’t put a pizza stone in preheated oven as it may crack the stone.
Step4. Bake the Pizza Stone
Bake the pizza stone at the same temperature for about 30 minutes. Now turn off the oven and let the stone rest until it is completely cooled down then remove the pizza stone from the oven. At this stage, the color of the pizza stone becomes slightly brown as the oil has infused into the surface.
Step5. Repeat the Process
You must repeat the process two more times to get the perfectly seasoned pizza stone. Again, use a few drops of edible oil and spread evenly onto the surface of the pizza stone with rubbing circular motion. Again, preheat the oven and bake the pizza stone for another 30 minutes on 500°F. On retrieving the pizza stone for the last time, you will notice that the color of the pizza stone turned brown. This is the perfectly seasoned pizza stone ready to be used to make crispy and flavorful pizza.
Best Overall Pizza Stone
FibraMent-D Rectangular Home Oven Baking Stone
If you ask me of one stone that perfectly serves the purpose without compromising even a little on its cooking results, it’s definitely FibraMent-D baking stone. Though pricey, this stone is made in USA and is worth spending the money.
Providing excellent value for money, this stone is easy to maintain and dos not require washing. You just have to scrape the excess spillage for it to clean.
Combination of heat resistive and conductive maters used in this stone are approved by NSF International, making it perfectly okay to be used in baking ovens without any harm.
You can choose between two size options depending upon the size of your oven. Moreover, you also get the option to choose between circular and rectangular shape of the stone
Best Budget Pizza Stone
Pizzacraft 15″ Square ThermaBond Baking/Pizza Stone – For Oven or Grill – PC9897
Pizzacraft ThermaBond is a frequently used pizza stone made from cordierite. Cordierite is a natural material that conducts more heat in less time. It is resistant to thermal shocks and does not crack or break at high temperatures. It is used in professional restaurants for making high-standard pizzas. Its size is 15 inches that are large enough to make any kind and shape of a pizza. Pizzacraft 15″ Square ThermaBond Baking/Pizza Stone got 4.8 stars with an 1144 rating from the Amazon website.
This stone is loved by many pizza enthusiasts due to its attractive affordable price and still delivering the best cooking results. This stone does not requires seasoning and the material used is FDA-safe.
You can choose between the rectangular and circular shape. Rectangular shaped stone comes in two different sizes. Choose wisely according to your oven’s size.
Best Trending Pizza Stone
Emile Henry French Ceramic Pizza Stone
Emile Henry French Ceramic Pizza Stone is made from ceramic and has a dark-colored baking surface. It tends to absorb more heat in less time best suited for professionals. This stone comes in various shapes and sizes. It takes 45 minutes to get completely pre-heated before baking pizza. This stone make is easy to clean and maintain and does not tend to rust. These stones don’t weigh much and are easy to work with.
They are made in France using Emily Henry’s own flame technology. The stones are glazed and scratch resistant.
Baking steel is the most frequently used tool as an alternative to pizza stones. Baking Steel is a round slab made from stainless steel which conducts heat more efficiently.
It reaches high temperature faster than a pizza stone. Baking steel is placed inside the oven over the rack and raw food item is placed on it for intense heat transfer to the bottom of the food.
Baking steels can endure thermal shock and don’t break in cool air. Baking steels can be the best alternative as they are a good conductor of heat, keep the temperature consistent, are easy to clean, and transmit heat more effectively than pizza stones.
Best Overall Baking Steel
Here is a tie between two of my favorites; Steels by Baking Steel and Nerd Chef.
Steels by Baking Steel
The results which I got by using Baking Steel steels were impressive. They have various steels in different sizes and shapes too.
Another interesting thing about them, they have introduced a steel that can also be used with Ooni pizza ovens except a few models.
I personally used New Baking Steel Pro and my experience was above all.
Here is the link to all their models.
Nerd Chef Baking Steel
The Nerd Chef baking steel comes pre-seasoned with flax-seed oil and has an extremely low friction surface. The company claims this steel to be twenty times more conductive as compared to ceramic baking stones. Not only his, it has twice the heating capacity as the ceramic stones have. Due to this, you get evenly baked super gorgeous crusts in no time.
Heat retention of this steel is also amazing. The material used in its manufacturing makes this steel unbreakable and is guaranteed for life. And why not, it’s proudly made in USA. This steel definitely won my heart but the only downside which I found when using this steel was its weight. Some people may find it to be slightly heavy. But for some, it works perfectly despite a little heavy in weight.
It comes in different sizes, so choose the one that fits according to the size of your oven.
Best Budget Baking Steel
Artisan Steel – High-Performance Pizza Steel Made in the USA – 16″ x 14.25″ (.25″ Thick)
Artisan Performance Steel Slab is a 0.25″ thick steel slab used in baking pizza. Its size is16x14.25 inches which can easily be used in cooking large pizzas. This baking steel can endure thermal shock and doesn’t break in cool air or intense heat. Since it is baking steel, it is easy to wash and maintain for a long-time duration.
The material of this steel is ultra conductive and has low friction surface. Made in USA, this baking steel is surely a great value for money.
Pizza Stone and Steel Alternatives
A pizza stone provides an even distribution of the heat with high temperature to the bottom surface of pizza dough. The transfer of intense heat reduces the cooking time and makes pizza crispier and more flavorful just like pizza made in a brick oven. But if you don’t have any pizza stones there is no need to worry!
Not having a pizza stone does not restraint you from getting a perfectly baked pizza. There are many alternatives of pizza stone that can cook as standard pizza as through pizza stone with perfect crust and flavor. Here are some best substitutes for baking stones that will produce great results.
For baking bread, the Dutch oven is the best substitute for a pizza stone. Just like pizza stones which maintain the high temperature, Dutch ovens are also required to pre-heat for about 45 minutes to reach the high temperature of 410°F before putting the dough inside the oven.
It maintains a consistent temperature and retains the moisture for evenly baked, perfect soft bread. The only downside of this alternative is that you can only bake a loaf of bread in a Dutch oven.
Terracotta Tiles – Unglazed
Terracotta tiles are another inexpensive alternative for pizza stones. They are used to bake both pizza and bread with a similar result as a pizza stone. Glazed tiles have lead in them so one thing is that you should make sure that the terracotta tiles should be unglazed so that your pizza is free from any chemicals.
They are required to pre-heat for 30-45 minutes to reach the desired temperature. It is recommended to buy 18 ‘x18 tiles because they are easy to place on a baking rack with fewer gaps between them for even distribution of heat.
Cast Iron Pan
Cast Iron pan is an alternative to baking bread. It is a flat surface made of cast iron which can reach a high temperature in less time than other materials. It has a porous surface with absorbs the excess moisture keeps the dough from sogging. The cast-iron pan can be used in pizza ovens and on stoves or boilers. In both the methods, cast iron pan is preheated for 45-60 minutes before placing the dough inside the pizza oven.
Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Baking Pan with Loop Handles, 14″, Black
Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Baking Pan is one of the most frequently used pizza stones. It is made from cast iron which is known to have a porous surface and reaches a high temperature in less time than other materials. It has a decent size of 14 inches with loop handles for a strong grip. It is not dishwasher friendly and is recommended to clean with hands. This pan is famous among the ones who love cooking.
Fire bricks are dense bricks made up of clay unlike concrete ones and are fire-resistant. These can endure intense temperatures without cracking easily. Fire bricks are used to bake both pizza and bread with efficient heat transmit ability for even cooking.
Before baking, you need to line fire bricks onto the baking rack and preheat them for about an hour. These are inexpensive and occupy less space but yield the same result as pizza stones.