Do you really need to search for the best pizza stones and baking steels?
The short answer is: yes.
I’m pretty sure you caught on to that since I’m writing an article reviewing the best pizza stones and baking steels.
There’s so much more to this subject.
Pizza Stone: What Is It?
Wooden oven pizza is still one of the most delicious things on the planet.
What do you do when you can’t use a wooden oven?
You go for the second best choice: you use an oven stone for pizza or a baking steel.
It’s the only solution to getting a crispy crust even though it won’t have that rustic flavor.
But it’s still going to be delicious because a stone or a steel radiate intense heat so the crust will get crispy in a brief period of time.
How does an oven stone for pizza work?
The heat is transferred to the bottom of the stone without lowering the oven temperature.
These baking aids don’t make the oven hotter, they store the heat, concentrate it – that’s why the pizza/bread is baked directly on the surface.
They can also be used on a grill but that’s not true for all so, make sure of that.
It’s pretty fascinating if you’re interested in baking amazingly delicious pizza at home.
Pizza Stones vs Baking Steels
You might have noticed that I’ve mentioned both pizza stones and baking steels. Some of you might not even know what a baking steel is but it’s exactly what the name suggests.
Baking steels are rectangular sheets made entirely of steel.
Traditional pizza stones are made of ceramic or cordierite (a highly durable type of ceramic).
You bake the pizza directly on them just like you would do on an oven stone for pizza.
There are a few differences when it comes to pizza stones vs baking steels:
- Andris Lagsdin is actually the inventor of the baking steel, the company is called exactly that – Baking Steel
- there are other manufacturers who have launched their own steels
- the baking steel is a favorite tool for many chefs
- steel conducts heat a lot faster and more evenly, it gets hotter than a stone and that’s why they’re so great for pizza baking, for getting the perfect crispy outer crust combined with the perfectly-cooked tender crust underneath that can support multiple toppings
- thin-crust pizzas are done in a few minutes
- it’s perfect for pita bread, as well
- being made of steel means that they won’t break, they’re indestructible but still require maintenance, pretty much like a cast-iron skillet, if you have experience with those you’ll know what I’m talking about
- they can rust, especially in humid weather
- to prevent rusting, you need to season it
- being made of steel, they’re also quite heavy, it’s not easy to move them in and out of the oven
- stones break after a few years, it depends on how well you handle them, they’re a few tips to follow if you don’t want your stone to crack too soon
- pizza stones are a lot cheaper, they’re the most cost-effective, baking steels are quite expensive for the average buyer
How to Choose the Best Pizza Stones and Baking Steels
When it comes to choosing the best pizza stones and baking steels there are a few things that you should keep in mind:
- there are 3 materials to choose from: ceramic pizza stones, cordierite stones, and baking steel
- the cheapest best pizza stones are made of ceramic
- the most expensive are baking steels
- cordierite stones are extremely durable – this material handles extreme temperatures without a problem or a crack (going from a low temperature to a high temperature), unlike ceramic stones, which have to be handled with more care if you don’t want them to break
- a porous stone is better because it allows moisture to escape from the crust, it won’t turn soggy
- the ceramic and cordierite ones can handle not only pizza but also breads (except breads with lot of sugar, they can burn), pastries, pie baking, and so on
- however, the baking steel is mostly for pizza baking and certain breads – since it transfers so much heat, it will blacken the bottom of pastries
- if you’re just casually baking and you are just getting into things and you don’t want to spend too much money in the beginning then a ceramic can be the best pizza stone for you
- if you won’t settle for anything other than the actual best, regardless of the cost (which is pretty high, on average about $100) then the baking steel is the way to go
- neither is the same as a brick oven but the results are pretty close for all 3 materials
- read the instructions carefully and follow them precisely
- whichever model you might end up buying, all require a high level temperature, they need to be preheated for a long time starting from 45 minutes up to 2 hours – it depends on the thickness of the stone and it also depends how many pizzas you plan on making in a row
- as you can see, these baking tools require quite a bit of energy to heat them up
- the size is important – there still needs to be some airflow around the stone, about 1-inch between the stone and oven walls is perfect
- the rectangular shape is prevalent and it offers plenty of space for maneuvering – well, if you have a tiny oven, a round stone would be the best option
- the steel options are the heaviest and the most difficult to move around, they are usually kept in the oven permanently
- thickness: there are different options here as well, the thicker the stone the longer it will take to preheat, it will make your kitchen very hot, it’s good to have an air conditioner around, especially in the summer, which I always use when cooking
- the thickness differs, too, they start from 1/4 inch thick, some are 3/8 inch thick, up to 1/2 inch thick or even 3/4 inch thick
- in the case of back-to-back baking, if you have a slightly less thick stone or baking steel just let it heat again for 5-10 minutes, the high heat level will be restored, and then it can be used efficiently again – it’s also a good idea to preheat it for 1.5 hours instead of 1 hour
If you’re keeping all that in mind, the choice won’t seem so difficult.
I’ve also reviewed what I consider to be some of the best pizza stones and baking steels, that’s a very good place to start, it will give you a clear idea about what’s on the market.
Top 5 Best Pizza Stones and Baking Steels
The prices for these best pizza stones and baking steels range from about $30 to almost $100 to a bit over $100.
These 5 best pizza stones and baking steels cover all budgets but they will last a very long time if you handle them properly so, they can be totally worth it.
1. Old Stone Oven Round Pizza Stone
The Old Stone Oven Round Pizza Stone is one of the best pizza stones without a doubt and of the most affordable.
It’s incredibly popular due to so many reasons:
- first and foremost, this is a cordierite stone – a type of ceramic that is much more resistant than simple clay, this is a mineral known for its ability of handling extreme temperatures without cracking
- it’s a round stone, it looks great and it will fit perfectly in most ovens
- 16-inch diameter
- because it’s so resistant, you don’t have to be so concerned with handling it but still, take good care of it, it will be totally worth it
- it can also be used on a grill and under a gas broiler
- you’ll get delicious pizza but, more than that, it’s perfect for all sorts of pastries and breads without any risk of burning the bottom
- the affordable price is one of the features that makes it so popular, besides the great quality
- it has a pretty ideal thickness, it’s 1/2 inch thick, you can easily perform consecutive bakes
- the most difficult thing about it is the cleaning – you have to thoroughly wash it with water before using it for the first time, let it dry/dry with a towel not with paper because it will get stuck to the porous surface, and then heat it in the oven for 30 minutes, if there is no smell coming out then it’s ready
- there are quite a few users who have complained about the smell and ended up not using it at all
- after each use, clean it only with water and then let it dry, you can leave it in the oven, store it there permanently on the bottom
Taking all that into consideration, the Old Stone Oven Round Pizza Stone is my first recommendation for the best pizza stone – it’s an investment for many years to come and the price is pretty accessible for everyone plus, it’s incredibly versatile, there are so many recipes that you can bake on this thing.
2. Baking Steel – The Original
From one extreme, meaning a low price, we’re moving to the other extreme: a pretty high price tag.
My second choice is a baking steel, the original one.
It had to be a baking steel, after all this is a list for the best pizza stones and baking steels.
It’s unbelievable but expensive.
If you think about it, this baking steel can last for a lifetime, just like a cast-iron skillet. Once you put it that way, the price can be justified.
But only as long as you’re really passionate about frequently making pizza at home.
There won’t be any weird smells coming from it – that seems to be a problem for some users with a lot of the pizza stones made of ceramic/clay.
- it’s a 14 by 16 inches rectangle
- made completely of steel
- quite heavy, it weighs 15 pounds
- 1/4 inch thick – it’s quite thin, but it can handle back to back bakes, just give it a few minutes
- amazing for pizza and pita baking but it can also be used for baking artisan breads – just don’t try any pastries
- it can also be used on a grill not only in an oven
- it’s pre-seasoned with the manufacturer’s proprietary oil
- this baking steel doesn’t need to be handled with care, it’s definitely not as stressful as an oven stone for pizza
- the cleaning is pretty simple, just make sure to clean it after every use
- let it cool and then you can use a dough scraper to remove any food debris, then you can wash it with soap and water but don’t let it air dry, it can rust, dry it completely with a towel every time it gets wet
The Baking Steel – The Original is fantastic, simply one of the best cooking surfaces to have in a kitchen, if you can afford it.
A slightly cheaper alternative to this one is the baking steel from Artisan Steel.
The one from Artisan Steel is just as good and that’s why I mention it on my list for the best pizza stones and baking steels. You should check it out, make a comparison between the two.
3. NerdChef Steel Stone
I mentioned that the above baking steel is a bit on the thin side at 1/4 inch thickness.
If you want a thicker baking steel, at 1/2 inch thickness, there’s the NerdChef Steel Stone.
This is one heavy piece of polished steel that’s ready for as much baking as you can through at it.
It weighs an impressive 32 pounds, I’m not even 4 times heavier than this thing, it would definitely be a challenge for me to handle it and clean it so this is not the cooking surface for me.
It’s also incredibly expensive.
It’s a 14.25 by 16 inches rectangle.
It’s definitely great, an amazing baking steel and that’s why I included it on my list for the best pizza stones and baking steels but all that weight weighs it down.
4. Solido Pizza Stone
As my second recommendation for the best pizza stones (made from ceramic), I’ve chosen the Solido Pizza Stone.
It’s a lot more expensive than the Old Stone model, like almost double the price so, let’s see what’s so good about it.
- 14 by 16 inch rectangular
- 3/4 inch thickness, very thick, that’s really impressive and it definitely explains the high price
- it’s made of cordierite, it’s going to be very durable
- since it’s made of ceramic, even though it’s really thick, it only weighs 13 pounds, it’s a manageable weight for pretty much all users
- it can be used on the grill and bbq, as well
- another plus is that this one doesn’t seem to give off an unpleasant smell, which is something some people have complained about with the Old Stone
- the cleaning is the same as for any other pizza stone, it’s best not to wash it at all because it will be really hard to dry, use a damp cloth and store it in the oven
- it’s going to help you make crusty flavorful pizza but can also be used for breads, pastries, pies, and so on
If I were to describe the Solido Pizza Stone, I would use the words durability and excellent quality, you should definitely check it out if you’re willing to spend a bit more for getting one of the best pizza stones that can be used for all sorts of baking.
5. Lodge P14P3 Cast Iron Baking Pan
You might be wandering what’s up with this cast iron baking pan on a list for the best pizza stones and baking steels?
The reason is very simple: the Lodge Cast Iron Baking Pan is fantastic for pizza baking and more.
It highly deserves being among the best pizza stones and baking steels.
If you get it on sale, it’s pretty affordable. The full price is quite expensive but it’s also high quality.
If you manage to find it on sale, seriously consider buying it.
It’s insanely popular.
- 14 inch diameter, smaller than all the above best pizza stones and baking steels
- it’s already pre-seasoned with vegetable oil, ready for you to make the most of it
- there are side loop handles so you can easily carry it, very nice addition, considering that it can also be used on the grill
- it also weighs only 9.5 pounds, easy to handle by anyone
- very easy to clean, wash it by hand with dish soap and dry it completely with a towel to avoid rusting and then rub it with vegetable oil
- being made of cast iron, it will last a lifetime, no concerns there
- it handles temperatures well over 700 degrees, it gets hot incredibly quickly, it will reach 400 degrees in 4 minutes, there’s no reason to preheat it for an hour in the oven like you would do with a stone or baking steel
- put it in the oven, turn it on, and preheat the Lodge Cast Iron Baking Pan for about 10 to 15 minutes
- you can bake back-to-back pizzas
- once you’re done, turn the oven off and let the pan inside the oven until it’s cooled down
The Lodge Cast Iron Baking Pan will help anyone get a crispy crust pizza, it’s also easier to use and maintain than a stone, plus there’s no smell.
All in all,
There’s nothing to complain about, isn’t that fantastic?
How to Use a Pizza Stone
- put the stone in the cold oven – if you put it in a hot oven, the thermal shock can crack it
- preheat for at least 45 minutes at 400-500 degrees Fahrenheit
- if you plan on baking multiple pizzas back to back then 1 hr and a half preheating would be best – the instructions vary with the stone
- once you’re ready to bake, you can sprinkle the stone with cornmeal to prevent the dough from sticking to the stone
- once you turn off the oven, leave the stone inside until it has completely cooled off
How to Take Care of a Pizza Stone
There are a few tips that you must follow in order to prevent your pizza stone from breaking.
If you follow these instructions, you’ll be able to use it for many years to come:
- place the stone in a cold oven, never in a hot oven
- it’s best not to wash it but if you do wash it, dry it completely and use only water, no soap
- the baking steel can be washed and even scraped with a dough scraper, just make sure to dry it thoroughly with a towel to prevent rusting
- never use oil on a pizza stone
- once again, I just want to repeat this, don’t oil your stone
- let it cool in the oven once you turn it off
- handling it too much can weaken the stone, it’s best to keep it in the oven all the time
- don’t cut the pizza on the stone
With all that’s been written in this post, in the end, what do you think?
Are the best pizza stones still preferable to baking steels or, maybe, you don’t need either? Which ones do you consider to be the best pizza stones and baking steels?