Creating the perfect homemade pizza can be tricky if you don’t have a pizza stone or baking steel.
A good quality pizza stone or baking steel will be an essential tool if you’re a keen chef and want to create the finest pizza known to man right from the comfort of your own kitchen.
But why can’t you just use a regular baking sheet to cook your homemade pizza in your oven? That is exactly what we hope to show you below!
We’ll cover why you should always use a pizza stone or baking steel to cook your homemade pizza to really take it to the next level.
What makes the perfect homemade pizza?
What makes a truly perfect pizza that sets it apart from other homemade pizzas? A crisp crust, that’s what. A nice, crispy crust will give your homemade pizza that authentic Italian edge.
Homemade pizza cooked in a generic home oven won’t be of the same quality as pizza cooked in a commercial kitchen. But with the help of a pizza stone or baking steel, you can create pizzas with crisp crusts.
So why can’t you create a crisp pizza without a pizza stone or baking steel?
The key to the perfectly crisp crust is intense heat over a short period of time. Unless you have your own pizza oven stashed away somewhere, that’s something that will be tricky to achieve.
Think of your favorite pizzeria. What does it have that your kitchen doesn’t? That’s right - a brick fired oven. All the best pizzas are made in brick fired ovens because these ovens can get up to ridiculously high temperatures, making the pizza base nice and crispy.
Most commercial brick ovens can get up to temperatures of between 700℉ to 800℉. There’s no way your home oven will be able to compete with these immense temperatures. The most it can probably get to is around 500℉.
Pizza stones & baking steels
Unless you’re a truly devoted pizza lover, it’s very unlikely that you’ll have a brick oven installed in your home. Which means it can be trickier trying to reach those higher temperatures that truly beautiful pizza needs to cook properly.
But not all hope is lost! A good quality pizza stone or baking steel will be able to heat your pizza sufficiently to get that crispy crust you crave.
They have been specifically designed to compensate for the lower temperatures of traditional ovens. Meaning you can have perfect pizza every time if you use them correctly!
We’ve researched and reviewed the best 5 pizza stones and baking steels available on the market to help you achieve the perfect pizza at home.
Pizza stones vs baking steels
What is a pizza stone?
Pizza stones are ceramic or stone plates that you can put your pizza on to achieve better tasting food. Pizza stones typically tend to be made from clay, which can achieve a crispy pizza exterior, but these can also take longer to preheat.
Some pizza stones are made from cordierite to avoid them breaking from thermal shock.
- Easy to afford
- Minimal maintenance required
- Can maintain temperatures well
- Can burn hotter than baking steels
- Needs to be cleaned properly
- Can break because of thermal shock
- Can take a while to preheat
What is a baking steel?
Baking steels are metal pizza stones, but they’re made from steel instead of ceramic.
This means they can heat pizza quickly due to the conductive properties of the metal.
Quality baking steels are very durable and should last you for many years if cared for properly.
They will need to be seasoned now and again to keep their great flavor and workability.
- Long-lasting and durable
- Not susceptible to thermal shock
- Can be preheated quickly
- Can cool down quickly
- Quickly transfers heat
- Can be used in a variety of ovens
- Heavier than pizza stones
- Much more expensive
- Needs to be pre-seasoned before use
Circle vs rectangle
Pizza stones and baking steels are available in either circle or rectangle shapes. While a circle shape may seem the more obvious choice for cooking a circular pizza, it doesn’t make much sense in terms of surface area.
Instead of having to put a pizza in exactly the right place to fit it on the stone or steel, a rectangular shape gives you more surface area to play with.
How to choose between pizza stones & baking steels
There are benefits and drawbacks to both pizza stones and baking steels.
Pizza stones are more traditional and can achieve that crisp crust that you’re after. They are also lightweight and easy to remove from the oven.
Often pizza stones can get up to higher temperatures, however, they may need to be preheated for longer before you can use them. Pizza stones are also susceptible to thermal shock. This means that if a hot stone is exposed to cold temperatures or vice versa, it could crack and become unusable.
Baking steels are durable sheets of metal that should last you for a long time - as long as they’re cared for properly. These won’t take as long to heat and won’t succumb to thermal shock.
However, baking steels need to be seasoned with oil now and then to cook food properly. They are also heavier than the more traditional pizza stones, and may not be able to achieve as high a temperature.
It will come down to personal preference as to which one is better for you. Weigh up the pros and cons of each that we’ve listed above and think about which will be better used in your oven.
Best Pizza Stones & Baking Steels
The Unicook pizza stone is our top pick out of all the pizza stones and baking steels available. That’s because it covers many of the key features you need from a pizza stone to get the best-tasting pizza.
This particular pizza stone is constructed using cordierite stone. Cordierite stone is perfect for cooking pizza due to its high heat resistance. This pizza stone in particular is resistant to heat of up to 1,450℉.
Cordierite stone is also less likely to succumb to thermal shock. Its excellent thermal shock resistance will soon make it your favorite pizza stone.
There’ll only be crisp crusts with the Unicook pizza stone. This stone has been designed to draw out any unwanted moisture from your pizza dough. There’ll be no need to worry about any soggy pizza with this in your oven.
Heat is distributed evenly across the entire pizza stone. The large surface area of 14.9 x 11.8 inches will give you more than enough room to play with in terms of pizza sizes.
The Unicook pizza stone easily earns our spot of top pick because of the essential criteria it covers when it comes to getting the perfect pizza at home.
This pizza stone will be more than a match for the pizza you throw on it. It will be able to get to those higher temperatures that great pizza requires and is less likely to succumb to thermal shock.
The Unicook pizza stone is also super easy to maintain and care for.
The Hans Grill pizza stone is the ultimate must-have for pizza fanatics.
Not only does this pizza stone do a superb job of cooking your pizza to perfection, it even comes with a wooden peel to help you remove your food from the stone itself.
This pizza stone has been designed to give you even heat distribution.
This helps you to achieve that classic crispy crust that you’re after, as well as ensure all the toppings are cooked to perfection.
What’s great about the Hans Grill pizza stone is how versatile it is. This pizza stone can be used on a grill as well as in your home oven.
The surface of the pizza stone is 15 x 12 inches.
This will give you more than enough room to cook even the largest of homemade pizzas.
The pizza stone is made from ceramic. The properties of this lends itself well to even heat distribution and therefore giving you perfectly cooked pizzas every time.
This Hans Grill pizza stone is the ideal choice for those of you who want to have everything you need for cooking great pizza.
Thanks to the additional wooden peel, you won’t have to spend ages fussing about how you’re going to remove your cooked pizza from the oven.
The versatility of this particular pizza stone is another great feature.
You can use it on the grill as well as in the oven, and it also lends itself well to cooking other baked goods.
The even heat distribution will leave you with an evenly cooked base without a soggy slice of pizza in sight.
Out of all the baking steels that we found, the Dough-Joe baking steel came out on top.
This particular baking steel comes already pre-seasoned meaning it is ready for you to use straight out of the box.
The large 15 x 15 inch surface area gives you more than enough room to play with when it comes to your pizzas.
This large surface area ensures that the baking steel is hot enough to achieve that perfectly crisp crust.
What’s great about the Dough-Joe baking steel is that you can also choose the thickness of the metal you would like.
An important factor worth noting is that because the pizza steel is constructed using durable, hard-wearing metal, it will last you longer than a pizza stone will.
As long as you ensure to re-season your baking steel as needed, it should last you for many years to come.
If you would prefer a baking steel to a pizza stone, the Dough-Joe would be our top choice.
The large surface area will get your pizzas up to the high heat they need to be to achieve the perfect crispy crust.
It also lets you experiment with the size of the pizzas you want to make at home.
While baking steels are much heavier than their ceramic counterparts, the high conductivity of the Dough-Joe will be more than enough to give you perfect pizza.
Ideal if you want a baking steel that can quickly deliver the heat you need! This baking steel won’t take as long as a pizza stone to heat up.
You won’t have to worry about it breaking from thermal shock, either!
The ROCKSHEAT pizza stone is just the thing you need to withstand those high temperatures which are crucial for achieving a beautiful crust.
This particular pizza stone is heat resistant of up to 1,400℉.
ROCKSHEAT has designed this pizza stone to be resistant to any unpleasant odors. The stoneware has been fired in a kiln of 2,200℉ to avoid any horrible smells developing when you use it.
This particular pizza stone aims to deliver an even heat distribution for perfectly cooked pizza every time.
The great thing about pizza stones is that they can deliver arguably better pizza than baking steels because of their ability to burn hotter.
What’s unique about this particular pizza stone from ROCKSHEAT is that it features a double-sided design.
It comes with handles put onto both faces of the pizza stone to make it even more convenient to use.
This pizza stone has the perfect thickness to help you create beautiful pizzas. The thickness of the pizza stone itself measures 0.63 inches and keeps it lightweight.
Brilliant if you want to avoid lugging heavy baking steels around your kitchen!
The double-sided design of this particular pizza stone gives it an edge over other competitive products available.
This will be ideal for making the most out of your new pizza stone and creating tasty pizza to wow all the family!
The large surface area lends itself well to experimenting with different sized pizzas, too.
The high-temperature resistance of 1,400℉ makes this pizza stone ideal for any ovens which are capable of running at a higher temperature.
Even if your oven can only get up to the standard 500℉, this pizza stone will heat up enough to the temperatures required for truly crisp crusts.
The Artisan Steel baking steel is perfect for those of you who want a baking steel with an even larger surface area.
his particular baking steel measures 16 x 14.25 inches, giving you a vast area to play with in terms of potential pizza sizes.
The pizza steel itself is highly conductive and will heat up quickly. You won’t have to wait for the baking steel to preheat before it’s ready to be used as you do with pizza stones.
What’s great about this particular baking steel is that it features a low friction surface. You can easily slide your pizzas off the baking steel once they're cooked properly.
Another great feature of this baking steel is that it is impervious to thermal shock. So no matter if you expose it to a dramatic change in temperature, it won’t break.
This baking steel is easy to clean and maintain too. Plus you only need to reseason it occasionally for it to maintain its great functionality.
This is the perfect baking steel for larger pizzas or for those of you who plan on using your new pizza steel regularly.
It requires minimal maintenance and will only need to be reseasoned now and then, so you won’t have to worry about any lengthy maintenance procedures.
Thanks to the nature of baking steels, it won’t break if exposed to a change in temperature.
So even though it’s a little pricier than some of the other pizza stones we found, it will be well worth the investment in the long run.
You’ll be less likely to have to replace it! And it will give you wonderfully crisp pizza bases to boot.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I use my pizza stone?
The great news is that a pizza stone is super easy to use. The not so great news is that it will require patience to get the crispy results you’re after.
All you need to do is place your pizza stone in your cold oven, then turn the heat up as far as it will go - usually around 500℉. It’s important to remember never to place a cold pizza stone in a hot oven or a hot pizza stone on a cold surface as this will cause thermal shock.
Thermal shock is when the pizza stone has been exposed to a rapid change in temperature and cracks as a result, rendering it unusable in the future. You’ll want to avoid this as much as possible.
Even if your oven reaches its top temperature within 20 minutes your pizza stone won’t be ready to use just yet. You’ll need to give the stone time to get up to temperature so that it can properly cook your pizza.
We’d recommend leaving your pizza stone to preheat for an hour before you need to use it. While that might seem like a daunting wait, it will be worth it in the end.
A pizza cooked on a pizza stone that hasn’t been able to get up to temperature - even if you’ve only shortened the waiting time by as little as 10 or 15 minutes - won’t be as tasty.
The crust won’t have had the temperature needed to bubble properly, and that beautiful browning that you’re looking for on the base of the crust will be missing.
Once your pizza is ready to retrieve from the oven, use a paddle to remove it from the pizza stone. You should never remove the pizza stone itself from the oven while it’s still hot in case you cause thermal shock.
Allow the pizza stone to cool completely in the oven once you’ve finished cooking. If you’re worried about your pizza sticking to the pizza stone you can lightly cover it with cornmeal before you add the pizza.
How do I use my baking steel?
Baking steels are super easy to use. You also won’t have to worry about causing thermal shock if you remove it from the oven while hot, or adding a cold baking steel to a hot oven. However, remember that baking steels are much heavier than their ceramic counterparts.
There are two ways that you can use your new baking steel.
Similar to a pizza stone, preheat your oven to as high a temperature as it will go and allow your baking steel to preheat for an hour.
Lightly cover your baking steel with cornmeal to prevent your pizza from sticking to it before you start cooking. Add your pizza to the baking steel and cook it for around 8 minutes.
Halfway through the cooking time, you need to turn your pizza 180 degrees to ensure that it gets evenly cooked. Remember to use a paddle to do this and to remove the pizza once it’s finished cooking as the baking steel will be extremely hot to the touch.
The second cooking method makes use of your oven’s broiler capabilities. Once your baking steel has been preheated for an hour at a high temperature - usually around 500℉ - move the baking steel to the top rack of your oven.
Place your pizza on the baking steel and allow it to cook for around 5 minutes. Use your paddle to rotate the pizza 180 degrees, then change the setting on your oven to broil. Cook for a further 2 minutes to achieve that beautiful crispy crust.
The great thing about owning a baking steel is that you can try out both methods and see which one produces the better tasting pizzas for you!
Why do pizza stones crack?
Pizza stones can crack if they are exposed to thermal shock. This is when a cold pizza stone is placed in a hot oven, or a hot pizza stone is placed on a cold surface. The extreme differences in temperature send the stone into “shock” and cause the ceramic to crack.
Cracking can also be caused by being exposed to too much moisture. Pizza stones are very absorbent, and they will always absorb more water than they let out. This means that the more moisture your pizza stone is exposed to, the more it will weaken over time, and the more likely it is to crack.
So what can you do to prevent this?
We would recommend keeping your pizza stone in the oven while it’s in use. Use a paddle to remove your pizza and never remove a hot pizza stone from the oven to place it on a colder surface.
If you want to remove it from the oven, you should wait for it to cool completely before you do so. You may want to consider removing it from the oven before you turn it on if you want to cook things other than pizza.
Can I use a pizza stone for frozen pizza?
While you can technically use a pizza stone to cook all kinds of pizza, we wouldn’t recommend it. That’s because putting a cold, frozen pizza onto your hot, preheated pizza stone could cause it to go into thermal shock.
Remember that a frozen pizza will also have more moisture on it than a fresh pizza. If you want to cook a frozen pizza in your oven we’d recommend using your usual baking sheet to cook it properly.
Causing your pizza stone to go into thermal shock will only mean that you’ll have to replace it when the stone cracks.
How thick should a pizza stone be?
Look for a pizza stone that’s between 0.5 to 1 inches thick. This should help you to achieve the crispiest and therefore tastiest pizzas possible.
The ideal pizza stone will be as thick as possible. That’s because the thicker the pizza stone, the more heat it’s going to retain to give you those crispy crusts you crave.
How thick should baking steel be?
The ideal thickness of a baking steel will differ from the ideal thickness of a pizza stone. That’s because baking steels are made from metal and have a higher conductivity than ceramic.
So you won’t need to get a baking steel any thicker than 0.5 inches. The key to finding the right thickness for you will entirely depend on your oven.
The hotter the temperature your oven can achieve, the thicker the baking steel you’ll need.
Ideal thickness of baking steel required
0.25 - 0.375 inches
0.375 - 0.5 inches
Should I oil my pizza stone?
You should never oil your pizza stone. As it’s made from ceramic, it doesn’t have the same properties as steel, so doesn’t need to be seasoned with oil. It will be seasoned automatically every time you use it to cook pizza; this is all the seasoning you need to maintain it.
Pizza stones are porous, which makes them incredibly absorbent. Any oil that you put on them will be absorbed and make them more likely to crack in the future. Avoid adding oil to help increase the longevity of your pizza stone.
The great thing about pizza stones is that they naturally absorb oils from the food you cook over time, giving it the non-stick surface that you’re after.
How do I clean my pizza stone?
Cleaning a pizza stone is easy. Remember to treat it differently from your other cookware. Never put it in a sink full of water or dishwasher as this will damage it.
Ensure that your pizza stone has completely cooled before you attempt to clean it. Often the only cleaning needed is to scrape off any excess food that might have become stuck to your pizza stone with a spatula or scraper.
If it has any stubborn stains that you want to get rid of, you should make a paste with equal parts baking soda and water. Mixing 1 tablespoon of water with 1 tablespoon of baking soda will be perfect.
Next, you can use a brush to work the paste onto the stains. Make sure to scrub in circles. Scrub until the stains have been removed, then wipe with a damp cloth. Allow the pizza stone to dry completely before you use it again or before you put it back in the oven.
Never use soap or detergents to clean your pizza stone.
What happens if you wash a pizza stone with soap?
Using soap or detergents to clean your pizza stone will ruin it and make it useless for cooking pizza. The porous nature of the stone will absorb the soap. This means that every time you try to cook a pizza with it, all you’ll be able to taste is soap.
If soap has been used to clean your pizza stone you will have to replace it.
How do you season baking steel?
Unlike a pizza stone, your baking steel will need to be reseasoned occasionally to keep it in great shape. You are unlikely to have to do this when you first receive your baking steel as it will likely have already been pre-seasoned by the manufacturer.
You’ll know it’s time to reseason your baking steel when it appears dull gray in color, or if food starts to stick to its surface.
Wash your baking steel in the sink with hot soapy water. Dry it completely, then apply a dab of cooking oil or flaxseed oil to its surface. Spread this around the whole surface of the baking steel with some paper towel.
Use another paper towel to remove any excess oil, then repeat the seasoning process on the other side of the baking steel.
Next, you will need to preheat your oven to around 400℉. Place your baking steel inside and allow it to heat for an hour. After an hour, turn off your oven and allow the baking steel to cool in the oven.
Can you leave a pizza stone in the oven all the time?
You can indeed leave a pizza stone in the oven all the time, but it’s worth bearing in mind that this means it will take your oven longer to heat up.
Can you use parchment paper with a pizza stone?
You should never use parchment paper with a pizza stone. That’s because parchment paper can’t cope with the extreme temperatures needed to get crispy pizza and will become a fire hazard.
If you’re looking for something to help prevent your pizza from sticking to the pizza stone, opt for cornmeal instead. Adding a thin layer of this to your stone will prevent your pizza from sticking to it.
The more you use your pizza stone, the more the non-stick surface will build up, too.
Making your own pizza stone and baking steel
Can I make my own pizza stone?
It is indeed possible to make your own pizza stone. This will cost less than buying one, but it will require a little effort to put it together.
First, you need to head to the home improvement store and buy some unglazed quarry tiles. It’s important to choose unglazed tiles as glazed tiles will have lead in them.
Choose tiles that are between 0.5 and 1 inch thick. You may need to buy more than one tile to get the ideal surface area for making your pizzas.
You should have enough tile to cover a portion of your oven shelf, but leave about an inch or so of space around the DIY pizza stone to allow your oven to heat properly. Measure your oven beforehand to get the right number of tiles.
Wash your new pizza stone tiles thoroughly with water - remember, no soap - and allow them to dry completely before you put them in the oven. You may want to leave them for several hours to ensure they’re fully dry.
Place your dry pizza stone in the oven and preheat it to around 500℉ for an hour. Now it’s ready to use!
Can I make my own baking steel?
Baking steels are much more expensive than their ceramic counterparts, so making your own can be a nifty way to circumvent the higher-priced steels.
You will need to go to your local blacksmith or metal supplier and ask for an A36 plate. In terms of thickness, you should look for either 0.25, 0.375, or 0.5 inch thick steel. Any thicker and it will take too long to heat up.
The edges of the steel plate will be sharp. Ask your blacksmith or metal shop worker to grind these down for you until smooth, or you can buy a grinder and do it yourself.
The steel will be covered in mill scale. This simply protects the plate from rust, but you will need to clean and remove it if you want to use your new baking steel for pizza.
You can remove the mill scale by soaking your new steel plate in white vinegar for at least 48 hours in a container or bucket. Once the mill scale has been soaked enough it should come off by running your hose over it.
You will need to use a stainless steel brush to thoroughly remove the mill scale. Don’t worry if you have to do this stage several times to get all the mill scale off - it will be worth the hard work in the end.
Now that there’s no mill scale to protect the steel, it rusts quickly. You can dry it quickly in the oven before you season it.
Once dry and cooled down, you can crack on with seasoning your new baking steel. Use a cooking oil or flaxseed oil to season the steel. Dab it on your steel and ensure you spread it over the entire surface with a paper towel.
You should season both sides of the steel as well as the edges. It may need several coats to properly season it.
Finally, you can place your new baking steel in the oven. Set your oven to its highest temperature - generally around 500℉ - and allow it to bake. You may want to open a window to prevent any burning smell from lingering in the kitchen.
Now your baking steel is ready for you to use to create the perfect pizza!
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