It’s hard to think of a time where pizza wasn’t a staple food in my diet. Even with my sporadic shifts in food preferences, my cravings for pizza always remained constant. Who on earth can’t get on board with bread and melted cheese?
But just like anything, once you’ve experienced true quality, it's hard to settle for anything less.
Confronted with this dilemma, you have 2 choices...
- Find a local pizzeria that lives up to your standards.
- Become a home pizza chef and meet your own damn standards.
But how can you create quality pizza without the hefty investment of a brick oven?
You get the next best thing for a fraction of the price...
A pizza stone.
Here is a full detailed synopsis of the best pizza stones on the market to offer you the closest thing to brick oven pizza. I’ve also done my best to provide you with a one-stop-shop to buying, using, and caring for your pizza stone.
Top Rated Products
1) SOLIDO 14" x 16" Cordierite Pizza Stone - Best Traditional Pizza Stone
2) Dough-Joe 15" x 15" Baking Steel - Best Steel Pizza Stone
3) California Pizza Stones 18" x 18" Industrial Pizza Stone - Best XL Pizza Stone
4) Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Pizza Pan - Best Cast Iron Pizza Pan
5) Weber 8836 Gourmet BBQ Pizza Stone - Best Pizza Stone for the Grill
6) Best Choice Pizza Stone Kit - Best Pizza Stone Kit for Beginners
What is a Pizza Stone?
A pizza stone is a round, rectangular, or square slab of stone used to cook pizza. Yes, it is pretty much as simple as it sounds. The pizza stone absorbs heat from a heat source and then delivers that heat to whatever rests on top of it.
Designed to mimic the old masonry brick/stone ovens, these pizza stones can deliver massive amounts of heat to the bottom of your pizza, producing that unique crisp crust every pizza enthusiast strives to achieve.
Stone thickness usually varies between ½” to 1 ½” and materials can include different variations of clay or stone. Pizza stones are primarily used in ovens and grills, but any heat source can suffice, given it provides enough heat.
How Does a Pizza Stone Work?
A pizza stone works like a stove. The only difference is that a stone isn't the primary heat source. It absorbs the heat from a heat source, like a battery absorbs energy from an electrical source, and then distributes that heat to whatever rests on top of it.
Why is this better than other methods?
In order to fully understand why a pizza stone is superior to other alternatives, we need to know what qualities make a pizza attractive, and how a pizza stone can deliver those qualities where others fail.
Obviously, this is a very subjective matter, and personal taste will vary from person to person. Just keep in mind, these are the qualities many of our most famous pizzerias strive to achieve.
Worthy Pizza Qualities
- 1Crust and bottom of pizza: Crunchy, dry, crisp (low moisture level)
- 2Inside bread: Good leavening with bubbles of varying sizes (this will depend on dough type and desired bread thickness)
- 3Top bread: Slight char (if desired)
- 4Sauce: Hot, not scorched
- 5Cheese: Sufficiently melted without burning, high moisture
The obvious challenge here...
A dry bottom, with a moist top
This is where a pizza stone can work its magic
Oven Rack vs Pizza Stone
Conventional and convection ovens work by indirect heat waves. A heating element heats the air inside the oven and this air is circulated naturally (conventional oven) or with a fan (convection oven).
In either case, all sides of the pizza are getting somewhat even, indirect heat (assuming we put the pizza straight on the rack). This would be awesome if we wanted to cook the top and the bottom of the pizza equally and to the same degree.
But usually, we don’t.
This is where the pizza stone comes in.
The pizza stone is placed on the heating element and allowed ample time to absorb heat energy. Once it is properly heated, the food item is placed on the pizza stone and the hood/ door is closed.
The pizza stone transfers massive amounts of heat directly to the bottom of the pizza (to encourage crisp crust and proper leavening), while the radiating heat of the traditional oven melts the cheese without burning it to a dry, tasteless crisp.
This also makes a pizza stone the superior tool to reheating pizza.
With this in mind...
All pizza stones are not created equally. There are some critical factors you should consider when buying a pizza stone.
How to Choose a Pizza Stone
There are 3 things you should consider when buying a pizza stone:
Pizza Stone Material:
There are several different pizza stone materials to choose from. While most pizza aficionados will try to convince you there is only one way to go, we're a little more open minded.
It completely depends on your own taste.
If you are hellbent on making fantastic pizza no matter the price, then steel is the way to go.
But if you wish to remain traditional and purchase an authentic stone, then clay/ceramic is your best bet.
Here's a layout of the 3 main stone types used today and what makes them unique (although, you could argue that steel and cast iron are not technically pizza "stones," they are used in the same manner).
Summary: Clay and ceramic are words used interchangeably in regards to pizza stones (if you feel differently, comment below and send me some evidence). It usually refers to a mixture of clays kilned at extremely high temperature to achieve a desired strength. True pizza stones have long been praised for their porous nature. The tiny pores help to absorb moisture from the bottom of the pizza to help provide the crispy crust.
2) Cast Iron
Summary: Cast Iron is a carbon iron alloy commonly found in indoor and outdoor pots, pans, and utensils. It has been well known for its ability to last a lifetime as well as contribute small amounts of iron to food.
Summary: Steel is somewhat of a new type of “stone." I think people were hesitant in calling this material a stone until it outperformed its predecessor in just about every respect. When created correctly, steel can absorb and transfer heat at an incredible rate. People will have varying opinions here, but as far as the research has revealed, steel is the superior surface when it comes to home cooking pizza (check out the videos below).
Pizza Stone Size (Diameter)
Pizza stone size will vary. My advice to you is to buy a size that will keep your options open in terms of what you can cook on it. In other words, if you're questioning whether you should go large or small, go large.
Even if you plan on sticking with small pizzas, it always behooves you to keep your options open.
The price difference is negligible and it wont make a difference in the quality of your pizza (as long as you preheat the stone sufficiently).
Pizza Stone Thickness
Thickness is an important variable. Go too thick, and it will take forever to preheat your pizza stone. Go too thin, and your pizza stone won’t absorb enough heat to cook the bottom of the pizza sufficiently.
We’ve found that ¾”-1” acts as the perfect medium between the two.
If you're unsure about thickness, always go bigger. A longer preheating time is usually not a huge setback, but buy too thin and you risk not getting the quality of pizza the stones were made to offer.
1) Best Traditional Pizza Stone
SOLIDO Pizza Stone Rectangular 14"x16"
The Solido baking stone is the apex where tradition and modern technology meet. This pizza stone fixes all the recurring problems traditional stones face while still remaining, well, a stone.
Made from thermal shock resistant cordierite, this pizza stone is far tougher than what you may be used to. The two largest concerns with pizza stones is how heavy they are and how prone they are to cracking. Well, rest easy, because Solido believes SO much in the material of their pizza stone, that they offer a limited lifetime warranty (granted the pizza stone was used correctly).
It also has an awesome spiral bottom design to help distribute heat evenly throughout the stone so you aren't left with an uncooked center (not very familiar with the science here, but if anything, it offers a cool design on the bottom).
The porous nature of the stone helps to draw out moisture from the bottom of the pizza to give you the desired crisp crust.
It also doesn't hurt to have over 250 reviews on amazon, maintaining a 4.7 star review. Place this portable pizza stone on the grill, oven, or BBQ to significantly increase the quality of your home-cooked pizzas.
2) Best Pizza Baking Steel
Dough-Joe Pizza Steel Baking Sheet The Samurai--15" x 15" x ¼
The creme de la creme of pizza stones. Yes, I say pizza stone, even though it's technically not a stone (alright, I’ll cave). Steel pizza pans made their debut a little over 5 years ago and they have not only proven themselves capable, they are undoubtedly the best way of baking a pizza to perfection.
The Dough-Joe Pizza Steel comes with a 15 sq. inch cooking surface with 3 options of thicknesses: ¼”, ⅜”, and ½”. All of which are more than capable of supplying enough heat to get as close to restaurant quality pizza as possible.
If you don't believe me, look at the reviews on Amazon. With over 250 reviews, this thing has maintained a staggering 4.8/5 stars. I think we can all agree that when you get 250 people in a room to evaluate a product, there are always going to be some folks with CRAZY expectations. And yet, this pizza pan has somehow satisfied even the most critical.
So, I went ahead and inquired about the warranty on Amazon.
Within a few hours, 5 Dough-Joe pizza steel owners skeptically laughed at me for questioning a warranty on a huge chunk of steel (hopefully you catch the irony here).
So if you are willing to pay the price for true professional pizza quality, the steel pizza stone is definitely for you.
3) Best Heavy Duty Family Size Pizza Stone
18 X 18 X 1 Square Industrial Pizza Stone
Got a big family? Or maybe you’re the frequent party host who strives to bring quality food to the group? Either way, the bigger the instrument, the more important the quality. The industrial pizza stone doesn't shy away from the challenge. With 18” of cooking space and a nice 1” thickness, this bad boy can hold a ton of heat.
Made in the USA, this stone is unleaded, non-glazed and certified nontoxic. An unglazed pizza stone ensure that the stone remains porous and capable of ideal moisture absorption (glazing can clog pores).
If you're still concerned about cracking for any reason, this company offers a 100% guarantee against thermal shock or baking cracks.
4) Best Cast Iron Pizza Pan
Lodge P14P3 Pro-Logic Cast Iron Pizza Pan, 14-inch, Black
Who isn't an avid cast iron lover? I think I speak for all of us when I say I would never get rid of my cast iron skillet. Cast iron is one of the most dependable, easy cleaning cooking surfaces on the planet.
Cast iron has long been recognized for its unparalleled ability to transfer heat effectively and evenly, while still being freakishly indestructible. Cast iron also donates a fraction of iron to all foods cooked on it to help get you closer to your daily mineral intake (depending on if you need more iron in your food).
If you want to expand your cast iron arsenal while taking your home-made pizzas to an entirely different level, this is the pizza pan for you.
5) Best Pizza Stone for Grill
Weber 8836 Gourmet BBQ System Pizza Stone with Carry Rack (14" diameter)
Even with the proper pizza stone, without a sufficient heating element, the pizza will never reach the temperatures a true masonry oven reaches.
you use your BBQ!
Barbecues can reach upwards of 650 degrees Fahrenheit if heated correctly. So, if transferring the greatest amount of heat to your pizza is your goal (which it should be) then using a bbq pizza stone is the way to go.
Although it was specifically designed for a BBQ, this pizza stone has no problem sitting on an oven rack. Just FYI, most of the pizza stones I've outlined can be used on the grill, this one just happens to be modestly priced, well reviewed, and include handles.
6) Best Pizza Stone Kit For Beginners
3-Piece Kitchen w/Cordierite Ceramic Baking Stone (13"), Foldable Peeler, and Slicer
Taking a stab at this pizza making business can be a lot of fun. A lot of us won’t know if we’re into it until we give it a try. But like most hobbies, the investment can be a little daunting. Especially if we aren't sure whether it's for us or not.
With this pizza making kit, you have access to all the necessities to make a perfectly good pizza. A pizza stone, a pizza peel, and a pizza slicer. The quality of each is nothing to brag about, but it gets the job done. And for the price, you really can't beat it.
If you're interested in giving pizza baking a try, best to start out with the bare essentials without making a huge investment. This pizza making kit has some awesome reviews and is selling for a stupidly low price.
Where to Buy a Pizza Stone?
These days most people settle for Amazon, but there are still some walk-in shops worth checking out. William Sonoma and Bed Bath and Beyond will offer higher end models, while places like Walmart and Target can provide some budget pizza stones.
How to Properly Use a Pizza Stone
Pizza stones are pretty simple to use. Follow these steps and you shouldn't experience much trouble along the way. Keep in mind, pizza may appear a simple dish to make, but perfecting it is extremely time consuming. Give yourself time to develop the skills.
-Pizza Stone Seasoning (curing)
Like most things online, you are going to get a massive amount of conflicting opinions here. To season or not to season? Pizza stone seasoning is basically oiling the pizza stone prior to its first couple uses in order to eliminate sticking.
Pros of seasoning:
- Helps pizza to not stick to pizza stone.
Cons of seasoning:
- Tends to give off a rancid smell when cooking.
- If the oil contributes something unappealing to the pizza, it would be near impossible to extract the oil out of the stone.
My advice is to avoid seasoning unless you absolutely have to. Placing some coarse cornmeal onto the pizza stone seems to do the trick without the rancid smell.
Plenty of pizza enthusiasts don’t use anything at all. The repeated use of the pizza stone allows the oils from the pizza to progressively seep into it. This effect tends to not give off such unappealing smells.
If you do decide to season your pizza stone, try using a very small amount of oil, and try to use an oil that is relatively odorless (vegetable oil works well).
If your pizza stone changes color after seasoning, this is completely normal. Don’t be alarmed if it turns a much darker shade than its original color.
-Pizza Stone Parchment Paper
Should you put parchment paper on your pizza stone to avoid sticking?
Most parchment papers are not used at such high temperatures. Like most things, if you don’t need to use it, it’s probably not necessary.
But again, if you find the pizza sticking continuously, parchment paper is a good alternative to seasoning, as it will have no effect on smell or flavor (with any parchment paper I’ve run into).
Cooks Illustrated touched on this subject: Using Parchment paper at temperatures above 450 Degrees Fahrenheit
Preheating the Pizza Stone
- 1Make sure your pizza stone is completely dry and at room temperature (same temperature as the oven).
- 2Place your pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven (for faster preheating) or on the top rack (for a last minute broil).
- 3For ½” or thinner pizza stones, preheat the oven to somewhere between 475-550 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or more.
- 4For ¾” or thicker pizza stones, preheat the oven to somewhere between 475-550 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes or more.
- 5Even if the oven is sufficiently preheated, your pizza stone takes a lot longer to preheat. Preheating for the time intervals mentioned above allows the pizza stone to match your oven temp (you can buy an infrared thermometer to double check yourself, but it's not necessary).
Cooking with a Pizza Stone
- 1Once the pizza stone and oven are at a similar temperatures, slide the pizza onto the pizza stone using a pizza peel or any edgeless surface (easier to do with modest amount of cornmeal on pizza peel).
- 2Cook the pizza anywhere between 4-10 minutes. This will vary depending on your oven and the pizza qualities you're after. This is where experimenting comes in.
- 3Once the pizza is finished, open the oven and slide the pizza back onto your pizza peel, place on the counter to cool, cut, and enjoy.
Pizza Stone Cool Down
- 1Turn the oven off and leave your pizza stone inside to cool down with the oven. Taking the pizza stone out while it is still hot can result in thermal shock and cracking.
- 2Once the oven and pizza stone have reached room temperature, you can take the pizza stone out, if desired.
Pizza Stone Care
There are a few ways you can ensure your pizza stone stays clean, functional, and intact. This care is only referring to traditional pizza stones, so it doesn't include the cast iron or baking steel mentioned above. Follow manufacturer guidelines for other materials.
Keep your pizza stone in the oven at all times. This allows heat from frequent oven use to pull off stuck food particles. Every time you finish using the oven, scrape the pizza stone with a plastic spatula to free up grime build-up.
Rinse (do not submerge) with lukewarm water and scrub with non-metal brush or sponge. DO NOT USE SOAP OR DETERGENTS.
Your pizza stone is porous (if it's true stone) and can absorb chemicals. Chemicals can burn off in the oven and seep into food or into the air. Stay away from chemicals if you decide to go this route.
Dry completely before next use. Rapidly heating up a moisture filled pizza stone can result in cracking, due to gas pocket formation and expansion.
Placing it in your dish rack for a slow dry works fine.
Should I Buy a Pizza Stone?
For some of us, home cooking is just about providing our bodies with basic nutrition. But for the rest of us, the kitchen is an arena; a place where we push the limits of what is possible at home. A place where we can hone our skills to make meals that border on restaurant quality (or better).
But sometimes we are limited to what we can pull off by the equipment we have access to. So we find ways to moderate by getting the next best thing.
A pizza stone is just that.
A pizza stone is the best way to heat up a pizza without the costly investment of a brick oven.
So, whether your highly involved with your kitchen projects, or just want a simple switch to create higher quality pizzas, the pizza stone is a worthy investment. I would personally recommend it.
Personally, I'm always on the hunt to find techniques to make my cooking more spectacular. Pizza stones are just one of the many avenues we can take to make higher quality meals. My goal is to give you all the knowledge to make these improvements to your kitchen game.
If you have any questions or recommendations, leave a comment below. We'd love to hear from you.
Founder of Robust Kitchen