An essential and multifunctional baking tool for home chefs. A pizza stone replicates the way a traditional brick oven bakes pizzas for an amazing, crisped-up crust.
An oven that can reach high temperatures, a well-made dough, and delectable toppings—there, you seem to have all the right supplies to make your staple food.
And we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but, no matter how skilled a home chef you are, it’s nearly impossible to get that nice, crispy crust. Beyond a high-temperature oven and a mastered skill of slinging dough, you’ll need a solid pizza stone.
It’s due to the fact that most residential ovens don’t have enough heating capacity to effectively cook specific types of pizza. Many home chefs struggle to bake thinner crusts like Neapolitan and New York-style pizzas since home ovens have lower maximum temperatures.
Such low temperatures make it impossible to cook them right without using a pizza stone. And this is true regardless of how meticulously you prepare your dough.
A pizza stone is a must-have tool. It provides you with a simple solution to make better crusts in no time. If you don’t already have one for your home oven, this simple cooking accessory will change your pizza making.
But before using your pizza stone, you need to make sure that you know how to use it properly. Doing so lessens the risk of damaging your pizza stone and making low-quality pizza. Once you get the hang of it, you should be able to make delicious homemade pizzas like a true pizzaiolo.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to use a pizza stone to experience that preppy, delicious bite.
What Is a Pizza Stone?
A pizza stone is essentially the “cooking floor” of an oven. While it’s robust, heft, and heats up like a stone, it’s actually not a stone. It’s a flat slab of unglazed clay or ceramic that sits in your oven and it’s where you directly lay the dough as it cooks.
Pizza stones are typically an inch thick and are designed to fit within a residential oven, making it small enough to cater to a regular oven rack. The main function of a pizza stone is to conduct, transfer, and retain heat, which allows for evenly cooked pizza every time.
Pizza stones are a subset of baking stones. What makes a pizza stone different from baking stones is that it typically comes in a round shape while the latter is more likely in a rectangular form. All pizza stones are obviously baking stones, however, not all baking stones are pizza stones.
Can you bake pizza with a rectangular baking stone? Sure!
Pizza stones also come in varying thicknesses. If you go for thicker stones, expect a durable, better-performing baking tool that will last you a long time. But depending on what it’s made of, a thicker stone may be pricier and can take forever to heat up.
How Does a Pizza Stone Work?
So, how exactly does pizza stonework?
Well, it’s relatively simple science. The main function of a pizza stone is to transmit heat beneath it to your dough. It conducts and holds heat, allowing the operating temperature to remain consistent, even when you add an uncooked pizza. This ensures that the pizza cooks evenly while also allowing the bottom to crisp up.
Speaking of a crispy bottom, it’s common knowledge that a pizza stone delivers such a result due to its porous surface that absorbs moisture. But, that’s not entirely true. Cooking your dough on a pizza stone to 500 degrees Fahrenheit absorbs little moisture since liquids quickly turn to steam and evaporate.
Pizza stones are inherently porous, which allows steam to evaporate more efficiently, making it a better option than a metal baking pan. Metal surfaces simply do not have the tiny pores and crevices required for such a reaction to happen. They will likely trap moisture, resulting in a soggy crust.
The heat the pizza stone transfers to the dough is why pizza stones work so perfectly in creating thin, crispy pizza crust that we all love.
Although metal surfaces are great heat conductors, baking stones get extremely hot, too. They are capable of mimicking the heating capacity of a traditional brick oven. So, there’s not much to lose by using pizza stones over metal ones.
How To Cook With Your Pizza Stone
A pizza stone could make your home oven adaptable and operate like a brick oven. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to cook pizza using your new baking stone:
Step 1: Preheat your pizza stone.
You can start by setting your pizza stone on the bottom rack of your cold oven. It’s an important step since placing a cold pizza stone in a hot oven causes thermal shock, and this could break or shatter it. Make sure to set the pizza stone in as soon as you start your oven.
Then, allow your pizza stone to preheat for at least 30 minutes at 500 degrees Fahrenheit or as high as it can go. Because the stone absorbs heat, the longer it preheats, the better it will work.
It is critical that you preheat your pizza stone correctly to replicate the high heat conditions of a wood-fired brick oven in pizzerias. Your pizza stone needs to be super hot before placing your pizza on top.
Step 2: Place your dough on the hot stone with a pizza peel.
Once the stone reaches the desired temperature, you can now slide your pizza onto the heated stone using a pizza peel or paddle. Using a pair of oven mitts to slide your pizza on and off the stone is also fine, though we don’t recommend it since it’s not always safe.
The hot stone stays inside the oven, so you can’t take it out as you would a baking pan or a baking sheet. Pizza peels or paddles are the best tools for this. Using them is simply the safest way. When you buy a pizza stone, it may come bundled with a pizza peel.
Don’t forget to flour your pizza peel or sprinkle some cornmeal, making sure that the dough doesn’t stick to the peel when you slide it onto the stone. Then, layer your pizza dough with sauce and your choice of toppings and it should be ready for baking.
Alternatives to a pizza peel
While handy, if you don’t have a pizza peel, there are still other ways to transfer your pizza to and from the hot stone. You can opt for either a rimless plate or a large cutting board.
When placing the dough from the cutting board or plate onto the stone, make sure to pull out the oven rack where the stone is. Sprinkle cornmeal or flour as you would a pizza peel.
Step 3: Bake your pizza. Monitor your pie as it cooks.
Here comes the exciting part!
How long you’ll be baking your pizza depends on the size as well as the thickness of your crust. If you preheat your oven and pizza stone properly, it shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. As soon as the cheese starts melting and the crust turns golden brown, then your pie is ready.
You may need to rotate your pizza often or you can take it out a few minutes earlier to avoid burning your food. This is particularly important when cooking thinner crusts.
Keep in mind: Pizza stones are porous in nature so you need to be cautious about the contents of the toppings you’ll be putting on your pies. There’s nothing wrong with exploring different ingredients, but you should also be mindful of the flavorings you use as the purpose surfaces will absorb flavors and odors.
Step 4: Slide your pizza out of the oven.
Once it’s cooked, use the pizza paddle to slide your pizza out of the oven. Make sure to turn off your oven before taking the stone out of the rack.
And that’s it. You can now enjoy your pizza!
Caring for Your Pizza Stone After Use
When it comes to cleaning and maintaining your pizza stone, we recommend that you follow the manufacturer’s caring instructions. Generally, keeping it dry and in the oven is a safe option.
Seriously, don’t take it out. After all, keeping it in the oven lessens the likelihood of your pizza stone breaking. You also won’t have to carry it around and clean it.
Pizza stones are prone to thermal shock which occurs when sudden temperature fluctuations end up causing them to shatter. And this is why you shouldn’t put a cold or room temperature stone in a hot oven or remove it from the hot oven to a cold surface. Cooking a frozen pizza on it is also a bad idea.
Keeping the pizza stone in the oven also helps offset the temperature in the oven, and this can reduce hot spots. However, preheating the pizza stone can take longer if you keep it in the oven. That said, we still think it’s ideal to just leave it inside your oven so there’s no need to worry about quick changes in temperature.
The best advantage of constantly heating and letting your pizza stone cool down in the oven is that it can help produce a nonstick surface with time. This will make it much easier for you to make beautiful pies.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you should never season your pizza stone. If you’re using a cast iron skillet or carbon steel pan, fine. There’s just no advantage in oiling your stone and it will only make your oven and pizza greasy.
If you notice any stains and burn marks over time, know that this is completely normal. But, it’s not an indication that your stone is dirty. It just comes with repeated uses.
Should you clean your pizza stone, anyway?
It’s not a good idea to clean your pizza stone with soap and water. Anything that comes into touch with the porous surface absorbs it. If you must clean it, there are odd yet intuitive approaches to cleaning a pizza stone without using soap and water. You don’t want soapy flavor in your food, do you?
Remove any food residue with a scraper. Always make sure that your stone cools down to room temperature before cleaning and let it dry on the counter, away from your oven. Then, peel away any baked-on food or residue. With this, you can use a plastic spatula, a bench scraper, or any non-invasive scrubbing pad.
Wipe clean with a wet towel. Not too wet though since you don’t want the stone to absorb the water from the towel. Wipe away any residual food using a delicate cloth dampened with hot water after scraping food off of the pizza stone.
Use baking soda paste. This has been a go-to solution for cleaning and deodorizing kitchen appliances in many households. And it works well for cleaning your pizza stone!
Make a cleaning paste by dissolving a tablespoon of baking soda in some warm water. Then, spread onto the surface and scrub with a gentle dish brush. Next, wipe away any excess with a damp towel. Let your pizza stone dry in a very low oven for up to 2 hours or until thoroughly dry before using it.
This solution is great for removing burned-on or crusty patches on your pizza after cooking and it’s food safe.
Pizza Stone: A Multipurpose Tool
Besides baking pizza, there are other ways you can put your pizza stone to use. However, due to its purpose, there’s not much you can use the stone for. Aside from acting like a sponge, you need to remember that pizza stones are prone to breaking if mishandled.
When you’re searing a steak or roasting vegetables, for example, the oils and fats from the dish will seep into the stone. This can increase the likelihood of it shattering. Also, cooking steak on your pizza stone means that you’ll have to wash it.
Again, washing or submerging it in the water is not the smartest good idea. You might succeed at getting rid of the smell of the steak, but you also don’t want your next pizzas to smell like dishwashing soap.
So, how else can you use your pizza stone?
If you’re into baking flatbreads, quesadillas, or homemade crackers, then your pizza stone will come in handy.
Got any questions in mind? We might have the answers below!
Do you put the pizza directly on the stone?
It’s recommendable to put your pizza on a pizza stone for consistently great results. First, roll out your dough, place the toppings, and with the help of a pizza peel, place your pie on the baking stone. But if you’ve never used a pizza stone prior, you may refer to our step-by-step guide above.
How do you keep pizza from sticking to pizza stone?
The reason the dough may be sticking to your pizza is likely because it’s not floured. One of the best ways to remedy this issue is to sprinkle either flour or cornmeal on the baking stone. The flour or cornmeal will create a barrier between the pizza stone and your crust, keeping it from clinging.
Don’t make the mistake of overdoing as flour might burn or create a mess.
Perhaps you could slightly reduce the water content of your dough. We recommend making your own dough instead of getting it from the store since you’ll have more control over the water content.
Do you heat the pizza stone up before putting the pizza on it?
Of course! This is a must-do when baking pizza. It is critical to place the pizza stone in a cold oven since placing a cold stone in a hot oven will cause thermal shock. Make sure that the stone is nice and hot and will thoroughly bake the crust by preheating it for at least 15 to 30 minutes before cooking the pizza.
Should I oil my pizza stone?
Pizza stones don’t season like cast iron skillets due to their porous surface. There’s no point in oiling the pizza stone as it has no advantage.
How long do you cook pizza on a stone?
It depends on the oven you use and the type of pizza you want to cook. Generally, a pizza stone can cook most pizzas in around eight to ten minutes, excluding the preheat time. Higher-end ovens can even cook as fast as 90 seconds, which is ideal for classic Italian pizzas.
Is it OK to use parchment paper on a pizza stone?
Don’t use parchment paper on your baking stone. When baking, the oven needs to be as hot as possible to crisp up the crust, and most types of parchment paper cannot withstand high temperatures.
Ovens usually reach a temperature of 450 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Parchment papers could normally survive up to 430 degrees Fahrenheit.
Can you put raw pizza dough on a pizza stone?
Yes, of course. It is completely fine to use raw dough on a pizza stone. The pizza stone is specifically designed for baking raw pizza dough and bread dough.
You can start by placing parchment paper on a flat surface and generously flour it. Then, lay the pizza dough and stretch it out to your desired size. If you like, you can also add your toppings and sauce. Next, place your pizza on the pizza stone using the two opposite edges of the parchment paper.
Can you put frozen pizza on a pizza stone?
When it comes to baking a frozen pizza, putting it on the stone should be the last thing you’d want to do. Cooking a frozen pizza on a hot baking stone will cause thermal shock, which can break or crack the stone. This holds true since most frozen pizzas aren’t supposed to be thawed prior to cooking.
You can go for a baking sheet as it’s the safest way to place frozen pizza in the oven.
Why is my pizza stone smoking?
The reason your pizza stone may be smoking is due to the absorbed fats and oils. Remember, pizza stones have porous surfaces and many oils can put out smoke at high temperatures. If you leave the pizza stone for an extended period of time, it may go rancid. They’ll end up producing foul odors or a burning stench.
Why is my pizza crust soggy on a pizza stone?
This may be a result of a pizza stone that’s not been properly preheated. Make sure to allow the stone to preheat to your oven’s maximum temperature. This is paramount since the stone has to soak up the heat from your oven in order to deliver a scorching hot surface that we’re striving to have for baking pizza.
Can you use aluminum foil on a pizza stone?
No. You can’t use foil on a pizza stone as it keeps moisture from being drawn away from the pizza while it cooks. What it does is it steams the pizza from underneath since the water has nowhere else to go but up. Since foil is a great reflector, it will direct heat away from the pizza stone.
Ready To Cook Delicious Pizzas?
With the right approach, you can definitely trick your home oven into working like a wood-fired brick oven. A pizza stone allows you to cook fast and deliver delicious pizzas that are baked to perfection. It’s a very handy and versatile tool if you use it correctly.
We hope that this guide will help you make the most out of your pizza stone. Make sure to follow cleaning and care instructions from your manufacturer. Pizza stones are robust but they can still break. So proper handling and maintenance will require some information.
You can always refer to the care guide we’ve curated above. And when baking, always ensure that you put your safety first.