It’s typical for most home ovens to have low maximum temperatures, making it hard to achieve a better crust. A pizza stone can trick any home oven into working like your favorite pizzeria’s brick oven.
They are a simple addition to your baking arsenal. But, they play a crucial role in producing uniformly cooked pies and they do so in no time.
Pizza stones evenly absorb heat from your oven, providing the ideal cooking temperature for your dough. Their porous surface pulls moisture from the dough while baking, which will give you a crisper pizza crust than a regular baking sheet does.
However, caring for these tools may require some knowledge—no, seriously.
They may be tough and heavy, but they actually go into a fragile mode when exposed to sudden temperature changes. Not only that, but pizza stones are often made from a porous material such as cast iron, ceramic, or unglazed clay. This means that anything you use to clean it will soak it up, altering the flavor of your food.
The cardinal rule to properly clean and care for your pizza stone is to never use soap and water. Again, these stones are porous in nature. Their small pores and crevices make it act like a sponge, absorbing anything that comes in contact with them (well, unless you want that soapy pizza flavor!)
So, you might be wondering, how to clean a pizza stone sans the soap and water.
The good news is that you almost don’t have to clean it. Since they can withstand super high temperatures, the heat will just kill off bacteria.
However, although not having to clean your stone spares you from dealing with the aftermath of cooking, you should probably give your stone a good cleaning after use. I’ll show you how!
Things You’ll Need
Remember what I said earlier? Pizza stones are porous in nature, whether it’s crafted from ceramic or cast iron. They will absorb anything that comes into contact with their surface. But their tiny pores and crevices actually serve a purpose.
When you’re cooking or heating pizza, the stone absorbs moisture from the dough, resulting in a crispier crust that we all love. Without the moisture that’s trapped in the stone, it will not crisp up the crust.
However, when you clean it with soap and water and it absorbs the cleaning chemicals, the same thing happens, except that it just leaks a soapy flavor into your pizza. This is why cleaning your pizza stone with dish soap isn’t advisable.
To scrape away residual grime, you may start with a small and flat tool that you can easily slip through trapped food crumbs or anything gritty and lift them away.
Here’s a list of cleaning items that are good to have:
- Bench scraper, and rubber or plastic spatula – for removing extremely tough gunk
- Scouring pad, stone brush, nylon dish brush, or sandpaper – for scrubbing baked-on food
- Baking soda – for cleaning stubborn burnt food and deodorizing the stone
- Dishcloth – for wiping the stone clean
Keep in mind that some of these cleaning tools can still scratch your pizza stone. The safest option for me is making a baking soda paste since it deodorizes my stone as well. Obviously, you’ll need some water to make the paste. Make sure to use water sparingly.
If you can, stay away from a scraper unless you absolutely need to use it. When using sandpaper, go for medium-grit ones.
What Not To Use for Cleaning a Pizza Stone
When it comes to cleaning your pizza stone, you should avoid the following:
- Dish soap – I know I’ve already said not to use soap, but I don’t mind repeating myself. Pizza stones develop a seasoning over time, making them nonstick. Not only can soap seep into the porous surface, but it can also strip the natural nonstick properties of your stone while adding a soapy flavor to your pizzas.
- Oil – This is just not the right solution for lifting away stubborn food residue.
- Too much water – When you clean your pizza stone, you should use as little water as possible because they require a long time to fully dry. When you make a baking soda paste, add just enough water for the powder to dissolve.
How To Clean a Pizza Stone: A Step-by-Step Guide
By ditching soap and water, you are reducing the risk of your pizza stone absorbing chemicals and leaking them into your food. You can follow the easy steps below to clean your tool.
Step 1: Let it cool down. This is a crucial step. Before cleaning your pizza stone, you must first allow it to completely cool. Pizza stones get very hot in the oven and you don’t want to burn your hands or accidentally drop and break them. Also, it can break if it’s hot and gets in contact with water.
Step 2: Light scrape off the pizza stone’s surface. Using the spatula, try to lift up any melted cheese or stuck-on crumbs. Metal spatulas and knives are also fine, but if you can, avoid them since they can scratch your pizza stone.
Step 3: Wipe away. Using a damp cloth, wipe the stone of any food debris.
Step 4: Make a cleaning paste. Do this only if crusty bits remain on the pizza stone. You can spot-treat it by mixing 1 tablespoon of baking soda and some warm water to form a paste. Then, apply the paste to the surface and gently scrub it with a brush using a circular motion.
Step 5: Wipe it clean again. Using your damp cloth, wipe off any remaining food particles.
Step 6: Bake off any stubborn debris. Try this step if there is still remaining debris on your stone. Put your pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow it to cook for around an hour after it hits that temperature to melt off the tough bits.
Then, wipe it off with a clean damp cloth and allow it to thoroughly dry before cooking your next pizzas.
Keep in mind:
You can get your stone with some water but keep it as little as possible and don’t submerge it. But, if you can remove food chunks with the brush, then you may not need to wet the surface with water. It helps remove food debris but it’s not really recommended.
Getting Rid of Stubborn Stains off Your Pizza Stone
It’s not uncommon for pizza stones to darken, discolor, develop stains, or have a natural patina over time. When your stone arrives at this point, know that it’s normal with pizza stones. This does not mean that your stone is dirty and unusable. In fact, the stains provide more seasoning and better nonstick capability.
There is no need to remove pizza stone stains and most of the time, there’s just no way you can get rid of them. But, if you believe you can restore your pizza stone to its former glory, you can try to use baking soda paste.
First, scrape off any food debris using a plastic spatula or brush. Then, make a paste with equal parts water and baking soda. Next, scrub the paste into the stains and work it in circles with a brush until the stains are gone.
Wipe it down with a clean, damp cloth and let it dry completely.
To remove grease stains, apply the paste to the spot you want to work on and let it set for a few minutes. Then, apply the paste to the spot you want to work on and let it set for a few minutes, then scrub the paste away with a brush and wipe the stone’s surface clean with a damp rag.
The reason baking soda is preferable to soap is that the paste will help get rid of the stains from the stone without altering the flavor of your next homemade pizza.
A Bonus Tip:
If you have a new pizza stone, you may season it naturally but without slathering it with oil or grease. To begin the seasoning process, bake a loaf of buttery bread or some cookies on your pizza stone. Make sure not to cook anything that has a powerful odor like seafood. Again, the porosity of the stone will absorb the food odor.
Cleaning a Burned Pizza Stone
Burned food on the pizza stone can be a pain to remove and sometimes using a brush or a plastic scraper just isn’t enough. Bringing your home oven to its highest temperature is a good approach to eliminating burnt stuff from pizza (most residential ovens have 500 degrees Fahrenheit maximum temperature).
Then, position your pizza stone on the top shelf of the oven and let it bake for about an hour. Watch out for grease bubbles that are forming and popping on the stone. And once the bubbling has stopped, start the auto-clean cycle.
A stone that’s extremely dirty might put out some smoke, but the food should be burned off at this point. When the cycle ends, let your hot oven cool down and retrieve the pizza stone and wipe it with a clean cloth.
If this method doesn’t work, you can resort to scraping off stubborn food using medium-grit sandpaper.
Cleaning a Moldy Pizza Stone
Molds grow when your pizza stone has been exposed to too much moisture. They thrive where moisture is, so make sure to let the stone air dry completely to keep molds at bay.
Luckily, there are easy, effective ways to clean a moldy pizza stone. To destroy the mold, use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. These two ingredients, when combined, create a potent cleaning paste that can also remove stains.
Start by mixing some vinegar and about a teaspoon of baking soda and form a paste. Then, using a brush and the paste, scrape the mold. Wipe it clean with a damp towel.
If this treatment somehow doesn’t remove the mold, then perhaps it’s time that you get a new pizza stone. And sure, molds can’t withstand temperatures beyond 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but keeping the moldy stone may not be a risk worth taking.
Make sure your next pizza stone is always completely dry and not constantly exposed to a lot of moisture.
If You Must Clean Your Pizza Stone Using Soap…
Alright, I don’t know how many times I’ve said it in this guide, but using soap and water to clean your pizza stone is a big NO. But, if you must clean it the traditional way, there is a trick you might want to try.
If you have old bread, crust, or pop-can crescent rolls in your pantry, grab those and place them on your pizza stone. Then, bake the food according to the package directions or until it’s toasted.
As the dish soap cleans the stone, the food will cover the surface and act as a barrier, absorbing the soapy water. As a result, instead of soaking into your stone, the bread or crust will absorb the soapy flavor.
But if you can still smell traces of soapy residue, you can try and clean it with baking soda instead. I don’t see why someone would switch to soap and water when it can obviously ruin your future pizzas.
More Pizza Stone User Tricks and Caring Tips
Cooking with a pizza stone allows you to create delicious pizzas with a crust that’s crispier than ever. Other than that, here are some ways you can get the most out of your stone.
Transferring your dough to your stone with a pizza peel
A pizza peel is a paddle-shaped baking tool with a long handle. It slides under a pizza to make transferring easier. Other pizza peels also come in square heads, which does just as great as paddles when cooking pizzas at home.
When it comes to pizza peels, you have two options: wooden and metal pizza peels.
A wooden peel requires a little extra care than steel ones. If you have a wooden peel, make sure to dry it after washing to keep it from warping. You’ll need to also rub it down with a few drops of mineral oil on a regular basis to avoid stains and foul odors.
Thicker in size, wooden peels are more difficult to get under the pizza than traditional peels. But, what’s good about these peels is that you won’t have to take the extra prep of flouring it since your pizza dough is much less likely to stick to it.
Metal or steel peels, on the other hand, are the opposite. They can be tricky to use since raw dough tends to stick to them. To prevent sticking, you’ll likely need to sprinkle some flour or cornmeal on the peel to form a barrier between the dough and the peel.
What I like about steel peels is that they are easier to clean than wooden ones. And being on the thinner side, steel peels allow you to easily slide it under your pizza.
Whichever type of pizza peel you pick, pairing it with your stone makes cooking a lot easier.
Keeping your pizza stone from cracking
Every home chef should keep in mind that if these lovely slabs of stone are not handled with care, they can break. To avoid this situation, it’s important to know the most common reasons why your once sturdy, heavy stone is now split in half.
It’s not always a question of craftsmanship. But sometimes, it’s the negligence of the user.
Sudden change in temperature
As I’ve mentioned earlier, placing a cold stone in a hot oven may result in a thermal shock, causing your pizza stone to break. Make sure to always put the cold stone in a cold oven, then start the heating time.
Too much exposure to moisture
The stone’s porous surface shouldn’t be exposed to moisture constantly or if not at all. Excessive moisture from water or grease and fats can damage and finally shatter your pizza stone. It also invites bacteria and molds to grow. Keeping it dry at all times will lengthen the lifespan of your stone.
Cooking frozen food on it
You can still bake your frozen pizza in your hot stone but do so with caution.
Keep in mind that a high-temperature difference can crack your pizza stone. As much as possible, go for warm room temperature dough and just avoid placing a frozen pizza on your stone entirely.
In addition, don’t take the stone out of the oven too soon. Always allow it to cool down in the oven.
Preheating a pizza stone
Although pizza stones can withstand extremely high temperatures, it’s always ideal to place them cold in a cold oven and allow it to preheat before placing your pizza. If you preheat it to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, this process can take around 30 minutes to an hour.
While it heats up, you can prepare your pizza, by layering it with your favorite toppings. Once the stone gets hot enough, you can now slide your pizza onto the hot stone using a pizza peel. But if you don’t have a pizza peel in your kitchen, a large cutting board or a flat dish should do the trick.
The cooking time can usually take about 10 minutes. It varies depending on your preferred doneness or how brown you want the crust and cheese to be.
Storing your pizza stone
Other pizza stone owners prefer to take it out of the oven. Now, if you’re one of those people, make sure to find a safe place to store your pizza stone. You can store it in a clean place with good ventilation.
However, keeping it inside actually reduces the likelihood of it cracking between each use. You can also save time and effort by just keeping them in the oven rack since you won’t have to hoist the heavy stone.
Leaving it inside the oven also helps equalize the temperature in your oven. Your pizza stone will serve as thermal ballast to help keep the oven temperature stable, though it may take longer to preheat.
When should you not use a pizza stone?
Your pizza stone has a porous surface, which means it will soak up anything that comes into contact with it. We suggest that you don’t use it when cooking steaks or any juicy food. The hot stone will quickly absorb the juice from the food, which can be really hard to get rid of since you can’t submerge the stone in water.
Also, cooking frozen pizzas on a hot stone isn’t advisable. You shouldn’t be preheating the stone when cooking frozen food. The sudden temperature change will cause a thermal shock, which can result in your pizza stone breaking.
How do you get burnt stuff off a pizza stone?
First of all, no matter what, don’t use any abrasive cleaning tools to clean your pizza stone. You can use medium-grit sandpaper or a gentle scrubbing pad to take off any stubborn baked-in food.
One of the most effective ways to remove burnt food from your pizza stone is to just heat it up to your oven’s maximum temperature. As the stone heats up, it should form bubbling grease. Once the bubbling has stopped, begin the self-clean cycle. Then, allow the stone to cool before wiping it clean.
Making a baking soda paste with warm water is another excellent technique for getting rid of burnt food off our pizza stone. Rub the paste on the stone and scrub it gently with a nylon brush before wiping it with a damp towel. Again, let the pizza stone dry completely before use.
Can you wash a pizza stone?
You’re not supposed to wash your pizza stone with the traditional soap-and-water solution. The dish soap or other liquids can penetrate into the tiny pores and crevices of the stone and can leak into your pizza when you use it. Dishwashing detergent and high water levels can harm your pizza stone.
How to clean a pizza stone without a stone brush?
There are simple solutions to clean your pizza stone if you don’t have a stone brush on hand.
First, use a soft cloth to wipe off any leftover residue from the stone. Then, mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda and about a teaspoon of water to form a paste. This paste is useful for spot treatment and removing any lingering crusty bits. Baking soda also deodorizes the stone effectively. Before using it again, wipe it clean with a damp towel and allow it to dry.
Don’t make the mistake of using a metal spatula and a blunt knife since they can tear your pizza stone.
How do you get the black off a pizza stone?
Pizza stones are porous. They soak up fats and oils from your pizzas, which will discolor the stone with repeated use.
When this happens, know that it’s completely normal and just comes with overtime use. It won’t damage your pizza stone and doesn’t alter cooking efficiency. The darkening also won’t have a negative effect on your pizza.
Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s caring guide to keep your pizza stone in tip-top shape.
Can you leave a pizza stone in the oven all the time?
Yes. Although some people prefer to take them out and store them away when not in use, leaving them in the oven is actually good for your stone.
The best advantage of leaving your stone inside the oven is that it helps to regulate the temperature when cooking. This will help avoid hot spots, giving you an evenly cooked pizza every time.
In addition, you won’t have to carry them around, reducing the risk of breaking them. The only downside of keeping a pizza stone in the oven is that it takes longer to heat up.
Should I oil my pizza stone?
One of the common mistakes people make is seasoning or oiling their pizza stone. You should never season your pizza stone as you would with a cast iron skillet. Oiling your pizza stone will only produce smoke and make a mess. Seasoning your pizza stone serves no purpose.
Can you clean a pizza stone with steel wool?
It’s best to avoid using steel wool on a pizza stone, as the sharp metallic material will damage it. Alternatively, a bench scraper and sandpaper are good options for removing hard-to-remove food.
How long do pizza stones last?
Considering the constant wear and tear, pizza stones can survive it all. It is a very durable baking tool that, in most situations, will last for many years. If cared for and handled properly, a pizza stone can serve you for up to 10 years.
Can you ruin a pizza stone?
The darkening and discoloration are normal occurrences due to over-time use.
But yes, you can actually ruin your stone. Some of the things you might feel are helpful for your stone will do more harm than good. If you want to use your pizza stone for a long time, avoid soaking it in soap and water while running it in the dishwasher.