The best pizza stones, steels and pans for better pies than home delivery
Obtaining a pizza stone, steel, or skillet may not be one of your priorities in the kitchen. We’ve all cooked a lot of fresh or frozen pizza on wobbly baking sheets, but a bite of a stone-baked pizza pie will make you change your mind for good.
The best pizza stones are true workhorses, producing chewy bagels, browned flatbreads, and rustic, hearty breads (rather than dainty, egg-packed breads). They also enhance the crusts of fruit pies and patties, ensuring high marks for your resident baking judge. Some are even grill compatible, so you can take your pizza set outside. Using some of the best tools on the market, you’ll soon be making restaurant-worthy pizza with a deep golden crust right at home. There is a bit of a learning curve, but practicing will yield tasty results. Here are our seven favorites, plus features to keep in mind, and some expert tips.
Features to keep in mind
Round, square and rectangular options abound, and the choice of a shape depends mainly on your personal preferences. The eminent baker and instructor Richard Miscovich, author of From the wood-fired oven, prefers the square for easier storage and organization, but sees no performance or heating issues with round or recto-linear pizza stones. Be sure to consider your oven space and measure the interior before purchasing a stone: a 1 inch gap between the stone / steel and the oven wall will ensure good air circulation for a crispier crust.
Andrew Janjigian, writer and pastry teacher who runs the weekly bread-centric newsletter Word bread, advises the material is a key consideration when picking a stone. The main differences are in heat conduction and weight. Lightweight ceramic is good for beginners – it’s an affordable material and a good conductor of heat, although a bit brittle. Cordierite (an FDA approved compound mineral stone) is popular with serious bakers at high temperatures. Durable steel is hotter and faster than cordierite or ceramic, but it’s a hefty investment, both literally and in terms of price. Selecting a material means weighing your preferences for cost and performance, and Miscovich says maximum heat use will come with some weight. âIf it was light, it wouldn’t really do the heat transfer job very well,â he says.
Pizza Stone’s Worst Nightmare? Extreme temperature variations. Placing a frozen pizza on a hot stone, placing a hot pizza stone on a cold countertop, or dipping a hot stone in water are all recipe for disaster. To avoid thermal shock damage, always place stones and steels in a cold oven and preheat. (Be patient and allow yourself an hour for the oven and stone / steel to reach maximum heat.) Chips, âsays Janjigian. This will ensure that you are as close to the top of the oven as possible while still leaving room for your pizza to get in and out with ease. And don’t forget to protect your hands with protective oven mitts.
Care and maintenance
After transferring your baked pizza to a suitable cutting board, allow the stone or steel to cool completely before handling it. Besides the obvious risk of a nasty burn, dramatic changes in temperature can lead to damage. Then brush off any debris and dry scrape the surface using a stiff plastic scraper to remove stubborn bits.
Because stones are very porous and may crack if heated while wet, you not want to submerge them in water. Steel can also be damaged by water, although oxidation is the enemy here. For this reason, you should never leave the steel in the oven and wipe off debris instead of washing to avoid rusting. (If the steel looks dull or has rust spots, it needs re-seasoning: rub a little linseed or food grade oil on its surface, use a paper towel to evenly oil the stone and wipe off any excess.) With both stone and steel, there is no need to make the surface look “like new”. Over time, both will develop a natural patina.
Our top picks
Best Overall: FibraMent-D Home Oven Baking Stone
This pastry stone meets the needs of passionate hobbyists as well as dedicated professionals. It is a workhorse for cooking a variety of pizzas, pastries, bagels and breads. The 3/4 inch thick stone comes in an assortment of standard and customizable sizes, making it a great all-around cooking surface. This FibraMent-D stone offers ideal heat transfer, high thermal mass and has a dedicated audience.
Best value: Honey-Can-Do Rectangular Pizza Stone
If you’re hoping to bake on a large 14 x 16 inch area without breaking the bank, consider this rectangular option. Made from a combination of cordierite and a specially designed “thermal core”, this stone promotes consistent heat for a well-baked crust. It’s safe for the grill, opening up a future of outside pizza-ing. Plus, its moderate price makes it a great gift for lovers of homemade pizza (or bread).
Best ceramic: Emile Henry French Ceramic Rectangular Pizza Stone, Charcoal
A classic beauty, this glass-enamelled ceramic stone crafted from Burgundy clay is equally at home in the oven or on the grill. It works reliably and cleans well, with raised handles for easy maneuvering. But be sure to take these handles into account when measuring the stone against the width of your oven – the dimensions are 19.7 x 14 inches and it requires a bit more height clearance.
Best steel: Table top baking steel
âIf you really want to make the best pizza possible and aren’t interested in bread, choose thick baking steel,â says Janjigian. âSteel is the Cadillac of pizza cooking surfaces. This 100% recycled steel one from Sur La Table certainly does the trick – it’s ideal 1/4 inch thick and tips the scales at almost 16 pounds. Pizza and bread fanatics applaud the lightning-fast baking time of steel, which helps produce puffy crusts and a substantial increase in ovens and grills. Far sturdier than a stone, it is considered an essential tool for any serious pizza or baker’s arsenal.
Best light weight: set of four ceramic tiles by Outset
This set of four 7 1/2 inch square cordierite stones can easily be reconfigured in an oven or on a grill. These have the words “personal” written on them; perfect for individual pizzas, hand calzones or your own galette adventures. These lightweight, easy-to-store tiles are ideal for anyone who wants to dip their toes into the stone waters of the oven with an inexpensive, unobtrusive addition to the kitchen.
Best skillet: Le Creuset hardened non-stick pizza pan
Weighing just under two pounds, this generously sized non-stick silicone handle pan is constructed from heavy gauge carbon steel. The perforated construction promotes even airflow and its non-stick finish laughs at the toughest cheese melting. Hand washing and deep drying will help the longevity of the pan, but the Le Creuset Lifetime Warranty sweetens the purchase. It’s an easy-to-store addition in clean, well-stocked kitchens.
Best cast: 8 inch Lodge pan
Yes, recommending an 8 inch Lodge Cast Iron Skillet can be considered outside of the (pizza) box. But its high sides, paired with superior heat retention and distribution, deliver a heavy pie with a crispy crust that’s perfect for one or two people. It’s also a great pan for reheating a cold pizza when you have a few slices left. Janjigian cautions that cast iron is a different beast than traditional stones or steels, resulting in a different style of pizza with thick slices, crisp edges, and a puffy golden crust. âI’m a fan, but it’s a pan-pan pizza type – cast iron isn’t really a substitute for stone or steel,â he says.
Ask the pros
Can I use parchment paper on a pizza stone?
Parchment paper generally allows for easier transfer from your oven work surface, but your pizza stone should be too hot to support the parchment (which can scorch and burn over 450 degrees Fahrenheit). Believe me: charred parchment flakes won’t improve your homemade pizza experience. If you’re making a juicy fruit pie or other item baked at around 425 degrees Fahrenheit or less, a baking stone lined with parchment paper is a great way to minimize cleanup.
Should I oil a pizza stone?
It is a common misconception that it is necessary to oil a pizza stone. Although a very thin layer of oil can prevent a pizza from sticking, it does tend to smoke in hot ovens. A light dusting of semolina flour alone should suffice. Avoid adding cornmeal to the mixture – its natural oils will smoke and cause an unpleasant pungent taste.
When is the perfect time to put a pizza stone in the oven?
A pizza stone needs to be heated gradually and should be placed in a cold oven to heat up. Home ovens tend to take about an hour to reach the optimum cooking temperature of 500 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the make of the oven and the size of the stone, so plan accordingly.
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