What is the secret to the great pizza, every time? Cheese? Bacon & ham? The specific type of tomato sauce? Or the way it is baked?
None of that, actually.
Friends, the secret to amazing pizza is a good pizza stone.
Raising two boys, and spoiling one great husband, I have optimized my cooking so that I can deliver the best possible meal, no matter the occasion.
One of the first stepping stones in my experience in the kitchen was pizza. The kids always liked pizza from the pizzeria more than the pizzas I made. No matter the effort, my pizza wasn’t “as good”.
I wondered what I was doing wrong, and start doing some research on the pizza-making process. It turns out there’s a thing that changes the entire concept from the ground up – the pizza stone.
I’ve started researching and testing them until I bought the best one considering my research.
The next attempt using my new pizza stone was a great success, my husband and kids ate it with delight and didn’t believe I made the pizza.
If you follow my advice, you can have the same scenario in your home. But to make the perfect decision, you have to know some essential things.
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What is a pizza stone?
A pizza stone is a cooking surface, used in baking.
The stones can be made of clay, stone, ceramic, cordierite, cast iron or steel. Because of the build material, food is less likely to burn.
The pizza stones are used to mimic the baking of a pizza in a masonry oven.
Benefits of a Pizza Stone
Unlike metal bakeware, pizza stones can handle extreme heats, and they will still cook evenly. These stones are also used in restaurants or hotels, to make the best quality pizzas for customers.
They can also be used in home ovens to produce crispier and healthier crusts, and prepare delicious pizzas faster as well.
The reason for this lies in the structure of the stone which absorbs the moisture from the pizza dough (or other types of dough used – yes, they’re multifunctional as well), making the unbelievably crunchy, tasty crust.
Baking pizzas on these stones will produce an evenly baked pizza, without hotspots.
Furthermore, these stones are incredibly easy to use and maintain.
How to Choose an Ideal Pizza Stone
Picking the right pizza stone depends on your kitchen needs.
First of all, you should measure your oven and select the stone accordingly.
Next, you should consider the types of pastry you’ll bake on it; if you’re buying a stone just for pizza, you should pick the round stone.
If you’re going to bake bread and other pastries on the stone, a rectangular shape is a better option for you.
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Update: Experienced home cooks always buy multipurpose stuff. Therefore, I recommend getting a round, and thick stone, even if you don’t plan on baking anything but pizza. These absorb the moisture and keep the heat for a longer time, and are less prone to cracking. I promise you’ll want to bake more stuff on your stone to try it out when you see it in action!
Types of Pizza Stones
Stone/Clay Pizza Stones:
The stone and clay pizza stones are the best for baking pizzas because they are the best at absorbing moisture. They are superb for mimicking the masonry oven.
The traditional stone absorbs moisture as the pizza cooks, resulting in a crispy crust. They come in a variety of shapes, and some people even make their own at home, if you are interested, here is how to do it.
The downside about these stones is that you have to preheat the oven 30 minutes before cooking, they can crack or break, and can be difficult to clean.
Ceramic Pizza Stones:
Ceramic stones might not be as good as the ones mentioned above, but they are damn close. They are the most cost-efficient choice, and the material is the lightest of them all which means they are very easy to handle.
They are made of clay and fired in a kiln, so they are ideal for conducting high heat evenly, and that makes them great for baking pizza. They are easy to clean, and if properly cared for, they can last for years.
Cordierite Pizza Stones:
Cordierite stones are the best option if you want to bake more than just pizzas. They are very durable and thermal shock resistant so handling them is very easy.
They mostly come in rectangular shapes, so they are a perfect fit for your ovens – you don’t have to bother taking them out when not using.
Cordierite stones are a bit more expensive, but extremely durable while having all the qualities of a regular stone or clay. You can take a cordierite stone from low temperature to a very high temperature without the risk of them breaking since they are very thermal shock resistant.
Bonus: Cast Iron Skillet as a Pizza Stone
Pizza stones are the best way to bake a pizza, but they can take up a lot of space and sometimes aren’t affordable.
With cast iron stones you can cook your pizza right in the skillet, and flip your pan over to use the underside to make your dough crispier.
Cast iron skillets are usually small, so there isn’t a possibility of making bigger pizzas. Still, this can be a viable option to try the technique out. (I actually did this to test before getting into stones testing).
In the end, the best baking stone is the one which fulfills your specific needs:
- If you are looking for a very broad choice of stones, stone or clay should be your material of choice.
- If you are on a budget and have a more easy-going approach to pizza, ceramics is the best option.
- If you are more serious about baking, very durable cordierite stone is an excellent choice.
- If you are home pizza professional, baking steel is the logical choice.
Whichever baking stone you choose, you will have a crispy, good looking pizzas coming out your oven, and if you take good care of them, they will keep coming for long years.
What is the best way to use a Pizza Stone?
To use a pizza stone to its full potential, I place a cold pizza stone in a cold oven, on the lowest rack, and allow it to heat up to 600°F for about 30 minutes before baking.
I let the dough warm up to room temperature before placing it on the stone by putting the tip of my pizza peel on the stone, and sliding it down.
I bake the pizza for about 5 minutes until the crust starts getting slightly brown.
After being finished, I remove the pizza by sliding it back with my pizza peel.
After turning off the oven, I let the stone cool down before washing it since they are prone to cracking or breaking while hot. Here is a video example of how to use it.
Most Recommended Pizza Stones: Detailed Reviews 2020
If you’re looking for a product to enhance your kitchen, going through reviews of the popular products on the market is simply the best thing you can do.
To make it easier for you, I’m sharing my reviews of the five most attractive and popular choices with you. I tested and compared these and picked my winner easily, and you will too.
Check them out:
As far as the looks go, this stone has a practical look. It is a simple beige colored square stone, measured 18 x 18 inches. The stone is 5/8 of an inch thick, which is significant compared to others on the market. This makes it more thermal shock resistant, and it serves as a better heat sink, and also means that the stone is very durable.
The weight is 11.2 pounds, which isn’t a joke when you handle it with bare hands, especially if you haven’t used one before.
I don’t often use a paddle, which means that I have to take it in and out once or twice a week. On the other side, the stone had a very unpleasant chemical smell, but it went away after about a month of use and was completely odorless after.
Aside from baking pizzas, I also used this stone for baking bread and baguettes; they turned out perfectly every time. The length of the stone makes it very versatile, you can bake pretty much anything on it. This stone also requires no seasoning or conditioning, so all I had to do is clean it after use.
Things I liked
- Large surface area
- Extremely durable
- Half an inch thick stone
- Handles significant temperature changes well
- In heat distribution
Things I didn’t like
- Dough sticks to the stone very easily
- The stone has a very unpleasant odor while baking
- It smokes a lot
This pizza stone looks huge, at first I was afraid that it might be too big for my oven, but luckily it was a perfect fit. It is also quite thick – 2/3 of an inch, and weighs 10.9 pounds. Handling it is quite a feat, so it’s a good thing that it doesn’t require conditioning or seasoning so I can just leave it in my oven and just clean it after I’m done.
The few times I had to move it, it cracked on a few spots, and I had to change it because I was afraid it would break. It isn’t very porous, yet it still absorbs water very well. It has smaller pores than any other stones I used, but it feels very smooth in hand.
This stone has an awful smell, and for me, it didn’t go away during the testing period of usage, which is very unusual for cordierite stones. The dough doesn’t stick even if you don’t put any flour or cornmeal on the surface, and the pizza comes out with a nice crispy crust.
Things I liked
- The stone is pretty large and thick
- Serves as an excellent heat sink
- The dough doesn’t stick to it
- Makes high-quality pizza
Things I didn’t like
- Very heavy
- The smell while baking is almost unbearable
- Doesn’t handle high heat well
- It is very brittle for a cordierite stone
The 14″ x 16″ size fits the most ovens perfectly, so with this stone, you won’t have to take the stone out. 1.1-inch thick, it distributes the heat perfectly. The stone has a heat spiral in the bottom side to distribute the heat evenly and absorb it. This system works perfectly, and it makes the heat distribution impeccable, which makes it the best pizza stone I have used.
On the other hand, its weight is really significant; 13 solid pounds of tough stone is not something you’ll handle with ease.
It bakes the finest-quality pizza; it is very close to the ones made in professional pizzerias. The rectangle shape is excellent because I cook other stuff than pizza, and I don’t ever have to switch my stones in between baking, which is very useful because the stone is massive and not easy to handle.
Cleaning is very easy, I just scrape the residue off, and scrub it with a damp cloth. While the grease does leave stains on it, it doesn’t affect the baking efficiency.
Things I liked
- Perfect size for any oven
- Very thick stone, which means better heat distribution
- Bakes best quality pizza
- The rectangle shape is splendid for baking other pastry
Things I didn’t like
- Very heavy
- More expensive than other stones
Beautifully round, thick and sturdy, and with ridges on the bottom, Old Stone Round Pizza 16 is a great option for a pizza enthusiast. While the price of the stone is high, the crust of pizzas made with this stone are fantastic.
This stone is perfect for family pizzas due to its size, but I have a problem with it because it’s massive (10,4 pounds to be precise), and it stays hot for quite some time after baking. A skilled chef can utilize this to keep the pizza leftovers warm for a significant amount of time without electricity expenditure. The stone is relatively soft, and scratch fairly easily, so it’s advised not to use steel cutlery. The stone may crack due to quick temperature change, so it has to be put in the oven to preheat. Furthermore, it has to be completely cooled down before cleaning, which is not ideal for pizza baking.
It is very easy to clean, with just a splash of water and a scrubber.
If you’re a seasoned pizza aficionado, you’re going to love this stone. It requires careful handling, but it produces exceptional results. Not recommended for beginners.
Things I liked
- The stone is sturdy and thick, won’t break easily
- Perfect for family size pizzas
- Very easy to clean
Things I didn’t like
- High price
- The stone is massive and hard to move
- Stays hot for a very long time
- Doesn’t handle temperature change well
If you are shopping for a pizza stone that will last for years and will withstand daily and weekly use without breaking or getting damaged, then this 14 x 16 Ultimate Rectangular Pizza Stone is one of the best options you can find in 2020.
It has a generous cooking space of 14 x 16 inches, which is small enough to fit a standard oven, but large enough to make a large pizza or large batches of cookies, bruschetta, or bread.
This top-rated pizza stone is designed and made with a unique ThermaShock technology, which paired with its Core Convection technology will ensure that it stays safe and whole no matter the temperature deviations.
Thanks to the latter technology, this stone will concentrate the heat in its core, and then spread it out evenly throughout the surface for even baking, and a crispy pizza crust.
It is rectangular shaped, with a thickness of 0.8 inches, and a weight of 8 lbs. so it is easy to handle, wash, and will fit in almost any oven.
The pizza stone has another unique feature – the no-spill stopper on one of its sides. This nifty addition will prevent the pizza, pie, or cookies from spilling when you are putting the stone in or taking it out of the oven.
The pizza stone comes with a useful e-book with more than 100 Pizza recipes and is sold with a 60-day satisfaction, money-back guarantee, and a lifetime warranty.
What I liked about it
- Its durability and ability to withstand temperature changes without breaking
- Thanks to the ThermaShock technology, you can heat it up to 1500 degrees
- The innovative Core Convection technology for even baking and crispy crusts
- The large cooking area
- The no-spill stopper which keeps the food safely on the stone while handling it
- Its ability to fit in just about any oven
- It is made of safe, FDA approved materials
- It comes with a useful recipe book
- The fact that it is sold with a 60-day money-back guarantee and is backed by a lifetime warranty
What I didn’t like
- It is not recommended to use soap to wash it because it can absorb the aroma which can make washing it harder
- Some people may find it more cumbersome and harder to handle than other lighter and thinner stones
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The Pizza Stone I Recommend
After all the reviewing and comparison, it’s not quite easy to declare a single winner.
The reason for this is obvious – not everyone has the same skills and experience baking pizza, and not everyone can utilize a pizza stone well right from the start.
Perfect heat distribution and retention, and absolutely fantastic pizzas and pastry that came from it every single time are reasons enough for me to ditch the others and use it forever.
Still, I am not a beginner, and if you’re just starting to explore the world of pizza stones, you might want to use Pizzacraft Square Cordierite Pizza/Baking Stone 15″, which will provide more than decent results from the start, and improve as the time passes by. 🙂
Last update on 2020-09-29 at 13:03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API