Does a Pizza Stone Need to Be Seasoned?

Published Categorized as Kitchen
Does a Pizza Stone Need to Be Seasoned?urban_light /Depositphotos

No, you don’t need to grease or season your pizza stone. Unless your stone is actually a steel, in which case you do.

Pizza stones have been all the rage lately, and for good reason. Preheated long enough—usually an hour to an hour and a half—these thick slabs of stone will absorb heat and radiate it in such a way that your convection oven nearly turns into a brick oven.

The results speak for themselves: Airy and fluffy crust thanks to the intense heat and porous surface of the stone that pulls the moisture from the dough and makes it puff up. Well-browned, deliciously crispy, deeply flavorful pies to rival those at your favorite pizzeria.

For something as simple as a stone slab, a pizza stone can be surprisingly intimidating to handle!

Subject it to thermal shock, and it will crack. Clean it incorrectly, and it will soak up the taste of dishwashing liquid. Season it, and it will get sticky and yuck. The fact that much of the advice on using pizza stones has been written by people who’ve clearly never owned one doesn’t help.

One of the big questions in the pizza stone community is whether to season (or grease) the stone or not. To help you answer this question, we thought we’d share our thoughts on the matter and give you our best advice.

Don’t season your pizza stone; it can be counterproductive. The cooking oil will bake on the surface and turn into a sticky patina that ruins your doughs. Removing that patina takes ingenuity and elbow grease.

Seasoning—the process of rubbing a piece of cookware with cooking oil and baking it in the oven—is necessary only for cast iron or carbon steel cooking vessels. It forms a protective patina on their surface that protects them from corrosion and rust, and acts as a slick coating that sticky foods glide over.

But what’s necessary for iron cookware isn’t really necessary for stone bakeware. First, stone won’t corrode or rust, so it doesn’t need the same level of care and maintenance as iron does. Second, stone surfaces don’t react to oil the same way that iron surfaces do. They work best when they are dry.

How to Keep Your Pizza Pies From Sticking

I know what you’re thinking!

“But Jim,” you’d tell me were I here in the room with you, “if I don’t grease the stone, how will I keep the pizza from sticking to it?”

Ah, ain’t it a privilege writing for Home Cook World; our readers always ask the good questions. The fact of the matter is that there’s no need to grease (or season) your pizza stone to keep the dough from sticking to it.

Preheat the pizza stone in a 500°F (260°C) oven, on the middle rack and with convection turned on, for 1½ hours. This temperature and setting was found to consistently produce the best results by our colleagues at The New York Times’ Wirecutter, whom we deeply trust.

When the stone is hot enough to bake on, maneuver the pie from your countertop to the oven, place it on the stone with the help of a pizza peel, close the oven door promptly, and leave it there to bake uninterrupted.

At first, the dough will stick to the stone. Slowly but surely, the moisture will evaporate from the heat and the dough will crisp up until it gracefully releases itself from the baking surface.

The trick to making the most of a pizza stone, as it turns out, it not some secret seasoning technique, but patience. Ready the stone, shape the pie, top the pizza, then place it on the stone. The heat takes care of the rest, with or without the baker’s intervention.

Who would have thought that you can learn so much about humility from a ½-inch-thick piece of stone bakeware.

Unlike Pizza Stones, Baking Steels Need to Be Seasoned

A pizza steel, also known as “baking steel,” is a ⅜-inch to ½-inch thick steel plate, square or rectangular in shape and typically 14 to 16 inches in diameter, that can be used in place of a pizza stone.

Pizza steels, as their name suggests, are made out of steel. Nine times out of ten, that steel is food-grade but not stainless. Because of that, most baking steels need to be seasoned for protection against corrosion and rust.

If you’re a first-time owner of a baking steel you just found this out, don’t panic. Seasoning is much less daunting of a process than it sounds. Furthermore, many pizza steels are pre-seasoned in the factory, making them ready to use out of the box.

(When in doubt, check the product description or usage and care instructions for your steel to find out it came pre-seasoned or not.)

How to Season a Pizza Steel

In the backyard or on the balcony, lay the pizza steel on a log or table, with a heavy-duty plastic bag in-between, and spray generously on all sides with Easy Off Oven Cleaner. Leave outside, protected from rain or snow, for 24 hours.

The following day, wash the steel thoroughly with dish soap and warm water, giving it a good scrub down with a soft sponge or scouring pad. Pat completely dry with a few paper towels; you want the steel to be bone-dry for the next step.

Rub the steel on all sides with a tiny amount of flaxseed oil; just enough to grease the surface without dripping or pooling. Bake it in a 500°F (260°C) oven for 1 hour, then turn off the heat and allow it to cool down for several hours.

Once done, your pizza stone is seasoned and ready to use. Though you can skip the part with the oven cleaner, we recommend that you don’t, especially on a used steel. It does help to strip off any remnants of the old seasoning.

The Bottom Line

Pizza stones don’t need to be seasoned. Greasing or seasoning your pizza stone is a sure-fire way to make it sticky and yucky. Instead, keep it clean and preheat it for enough time before baking on it.

Pizza steels, unless they’re made of stainless steel, do need to be seasoned for protection against corrosion (in reaction to air) and rust (in reaction to moisture). Now that you read our guide, you know how to do it.

By Jim Stonos

When Jim isn't in the kitchen, he is usually spending time with family and friends, and working with the HCW editorial team to answer the questions he used to ask himself back when he was learning the ropes of cooking.

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