A pizza stone is a square, rectangular, or circular slab that you place in your oven, preheat for 30 minutes, and use as a portable surface for baking pizza, bread, and pastry. The stone conducts heat and holds on to it, usually at a temperature of 475-525°F (245-275°C), drawing out excess moisture from the dough and producing crispy, well-browned pizza.
Pizza stones are a must-have for anyone who makes pizza and bakes bread at home often. In this post, I’ll tell you the “why” and “how” of using a pizza stone. I’ll also share my best pizza stone picks with you, along with everything else you need to know about owning one.
Why Use a Pizza Stone?
Simply said, it helps you make pizza that’s airy on the inside and crispy on the outside.
By using a pizza stone, you emulate the effects of a masonry oven. “Masonry ovens” are made of brick, concrete, stone, clay, or cob, and are fired by wood or coal.
If you’ve ever looked around inside a 19th-century house, Neapolitan-style pizzeria, or old-school bakery, you’ve probably seen a masonry oven built next to one of the walls.
Unlike home ovens, which work at temperatures of up to 575°F (300°C) and get hotter at the top, masonry ovens provide a hot surface that bakes the pizza on the bottom and a flow of hot air that cooks it on the top.
Wood-fired pizza ovens work at temperatures of 800°F (425°C) and coal-fired pizza ovens get as hot as 1,000°F (540°C), cooking a pizza pie in as little as 60-90 seconds.
The cooking surface of a masonry oven gets really, really hot—producing very crispy and perfectly browned baked goods fast. It gives your pizza dough an initial burst of heat, puffing up the crust and pulling out moisture from it.
A pizza stone won’t turn your home oven into a masonry oven. But it will give you a hotter surface to bake your pizza on, which will puff up the crust and draw out excess moisture from the dough in a very similar way.
What Are Pizza Stones Made Of?
Generally, pizza stones are made of ceramic or cordierite.
Ceramic pizza stones are made of a mixture of clay, earthen elements, powders, and water that’s poured into a mold and baked in furnaces called “kilns.” Modern kilns reach operating temperatures as high as 2,400°F (1,315°C).
Ceramic pizza stones are the most affordable. They typically retail for $20-$30.
However, these savings come at a price. Ceramic pizza stones are known for cracking and fracturing too easily because ceramic doesn’t handle thermal shock all that well.
“Thermal shock” is a term for sudden fluctuations in temperature, like when you place a room-temperature pizza stone inside a preheated oven.
Cordierite pizza stones are cut from cordierite, a mineral found in igneous rocks, typically in the form of crystals or grains.
Compared to their ceramic counterparts, cordierite pizza stones can be twice as expensive. They’re mostly sold for $50-$60 depending on the manufacturer and retailer.
Cordierite has a low thermal expansion and low thermal conductivity, which makes it very resistant to thermal shock. If you want a durable pizza stone (and, let’s admit it, who doesn’t), cordierite is a better option than ceramic.
Both ceramic and cordierite pizza stones have porous surfaces that absorb moisture. This means that they shouldn’t be washed with soapy water and are not safe to clean in the dishwasher.
Glazed pizza stones are made of glazed ceramic or cordierite. They give you the same benefits of using a pizza stone, but allow you to clean them by soapy water or in the dishwasher.
|Ceramic Pizza Stone||Cordierite Pizza Stone||Glazed Pizza Stone|
|Thermal shock resistance||Poor; the stone will crack or fracture easily||High; the stone won’t crack or fracture easily||High; the stone won’t crack or fracture easily|
How Much Do Pizza Stones Cost?
Ceramic pizza stones can cost anywhere between $20 and $30. Cordierite pizza stones are sold at twice the price, selling for $50-$60.
As the saying goes, “I’m too poor to buy cheap things.” When you consider how susceptible ceramic pizza stones are to breaking, cordierite stones are definitely worth the extra money.
Even if you’re really careful with your ceramic pizza stone, there’s a high chance that, sooner or later, it will break. Which means you’ll most probably end up paying for a second stone, which will end up costing you as much as a single stone made of cordierite.
Which Pizza Stone Is the Best One to Buy?
See my best two picks below.
- Crispy Crust: Make restaurant-quality pizzas at home without the need of a bulky wood-fired or brick pizza oven. Our 5/8th inch thick (0.625...
- Extreme Versatility: Clean with a damp cloth (no soap or water) when finished. Our Pizza Stones are odorless and food safe; great for both...
- Superior Durability and Heat Retention: Thermarite is durable, strong, and has superior thermal shock ability making our stone safe for both...
This Cast Elegance Pizza Stone is made of Thermarite, a blend of minerals consisting mostly of cordierite that’s been engineered for strength and durability.
It comes in two sizes, 14 and 16 inches. The smaller size weighs 5.7 pounds and measures 14 x 14 x 0.63 inches, whereas the bigger weighs 9.85 pounds and measures 12 x 12 x 1.2 inches.
Is it in your oven or on the outside grill (gas and charcoal). The stone is heavy and durable, which means you don’t need to worry about it cracking or fracturing.
Don’t clean it with soapy water and never put it in the dishwasher. It will soak up the chemicals from the detergent, causing your next dozen pizzas to come out inedible.
- Made in France. Made of all natural materials and manufactured using Emile Henry proprietary flame Technology
- Designed to use in the oven or on a BBQ grill. Safe to use on gas, Charcoal and natural wood grills up to 900 degrees F; can be used in all...
- Glazed pizza stone is durable and scratch resistant. Cut directly on the glazed pizza stone without damaging or scratching the surface....
This Emile Henry Glazed Pizza Stone is made in France and can be cleaned just like any other piece of cookware in your home. Cook with it at temperatures of up to 900°F (480°C) in your oven, broiler, gas grill, or charcoal grill.
The glaze contributes to a crispier crust, but also protects the stone from absorbing moisture. Which makes this stone dishwasher-safe and cleanable with soapy water.
This pizza stone isn’t my top pick because, unlike the Cast Elegance Pizza Stone, it’s less capable of handling thermal shock, which makes it generally susceptible to cracking.
How Do You Use a Pizza Stone?
Here’s how to use a pizza stone in the oven, on a gas grill, and on a charcoal grill.
To use a pizza stone in the oven, place it on the lowest rack, then preheat the oven for 30 minutes to a temperature of 550°F (290°C). Slide the pizza on the stone using a pizza peel (if you don’t have one, substitute it with an upside-down baking sheet or a cutting board) and bake it for 10-15 minutes.
Ceramic, cordierite, and glazed stones are safe to use in your home oven.
Make sure to always put the pizza stone on the lowest rack, but never directly on the bottom heating element. The aggressive heat from the heating element can crack your stone, especially if it’s made of ceramic.
Use a pizza stone on your gas grill by putting it in the cold grill, then turning on all the burners. Preheat the stone for 30 minutes, keeping the lid closed, so that it heats up to a temperature of 500-600°F (260-315°C). Bake the pizza for about 10 minutes.
To use a pizza stone on a charcoal grill, place the stone on the grill grate and use indirect heat. Position most of the hot charcoal near the stone, putting only a few lumps under it, so that it heats up good, but not too much. Slide the pizza on the stone, close the lid as soon as possible, and let it cook for 10-15 minutes.
Don’t use a ceramic pizza stone on the grill, gas or charcoal. It’s better to use a cordierite stone or a glazed cordierite stone, since cordierite is a material that’s highly resistant to thermal shock.
Will Dough Stick to a Pizza Stone?
In general, dough won’t stick to a clean and preheated pizza stone.
To keep pizza from sticking to your pizza stone, sprinkle your pizza peel with some flour or cornmeal before picking up the pizza pie with it. The flour or cornmeal will adhere to the bottom of the pie, preventing it from sticking to the stone once it comes into contact with it.
Burnt pieces of leftover dough can make your next batches of pizza stick to the stone. If you see any baked-on food residue on your hot pizza stone, scrape it off using a metal scraper and continue baking with it.
Pizza can stick to your pizza stone if you made dough with too much water and too little flour. Make dough with a hydration of 70-75% when baking pizza in your home oven, which means that you should use 70-75% water and 30-25% flour.
Most pizza dough recipes will tell you to make a dough with a hydration of 60%. While that’s the correct hydration when using a masonry oven, which will cook your pizza pie for 60-90 seconds, it will result in a dry and crusty pizza in a home oven, which takes approx. 10-15 minutes.
If your pizza dough has holes in it, the sauce can leak out and burn on the stone, causing the pizza pie to stick to it. Other than scraping off the burnt sauce from the pizza stone and making sure that your next pizzas don’t have any holes in them, there’s not much else that you can do.
Does It Work With Frozen Pizza?
Yes, you can bake a frozen pizza on a pizza stone. Simply preheat the oven for 30 minutes, with the stone placed on the lowest rack, at a temperature of 550°F (290°C). Then slide the frozen pizza onto the stone and bake it for 7-8 minutes.
No more soggy pizza! Thanks to its porous surface and ability to conduct and hold on to heat, the pizza stone will draw the excess moisture out from the frozen pie—and the crust will come out browned and crispy.
Can You Put Baking Paper on a Pizza Stone?
Never use parchment paper on a pizza stone. Parchment paper is oven safe up to 420°F (215°C). Most pizza stones heat up to a temperature of 450-500°F (230-290°C), which will burn a sheet of parchment paper placed on it.
Above all, that’s a fire hazard that you should avoid at all cost. Also, you have no good reason to use parchment paper in the first place! If you’re worried that your pizza will stick to the stone, make sure your stone is clean and preheated for at least 30 minutes instead.
Can You Leave Your Pizza Stone in the Oven?
If you’ve owned a pizza stone, you know that it’s not the easiest thing to carry around. The average pizza stone made of clay, ceramic, or cordierite weighs between 5 and 7 pounds. Which leaves some home cooks asking… Can you just leave it in the oven?
Yes, you can leave your pizza stone in the oven, even when you’re not baking pizza on it. Keep the pizza stone on the lowest rack of your oven and wrap it well with aluminum foil, so that liquids from other foods don’t drip down on it and burn on top of its cooking surface.
Never leave your pizza stone directly on the bottom heating element of your oven. The next time you turn up the heat, the thermal shock caused by the hot element and the cold air in the oven can crack or fracture it—and render it unusable beyond repair.
Can I Put a Wet Pizza Stone in the Oven?
Never put a wet pizza stone in the oven. Your pizza stone should be completely dry before every use. Otherwise, it won’t bake your pizza correctly. It could also crack or fracture beyond repair because of the thermal shock from the hot air of the oven and cold water inside it.
If you cleaned your pizza stone and now it’s soaking wet, here’s what to do instead. First and foremost, forget about using it in the next 24-48 hours. You should let it air dry completely before exposing it to the hot air of a preheating oven.
Soak up as much of the moisture as you can from the stone using a dishcloth or towel. I once found myself in this situation and used paper towels—they worked really well as I need to absorb all I could from the wetness of the stone fast.
Then find a cool and dry place to position the stone and let it air dry for one to two days (ideally, for as long as you can). The next time you need to clean the stone, follow the cleaning technique that I shared with you in this post.
Can a Pizza Stone Go in the Dishwasher?
Never put your pizza stone in the dishwasher unless the manufacturer has explicitly stated that it’s dishwasher-safe. Most pizza stones are made of ceramic or cordierite, both of which will absorb moisture. If you put them in the dishwasher, they’ll soak up the chemicals from the detergent. Which means your next dozen batches of pizzas will come out inedible.
Glazed pizza stones, a rarer kind of baking stones, are dishwasher-safe. The glaze keeps the stone from absorbing moisture, which means it won’t end up soaking up the salts and chemicals from the detergent.
How to Clean a Pizza Stone
The best way to clean a pizza stone is to let it cool down completely, use a pizza stone cleaning brush to scrape off burnt-on foods from the cooking surface, then wipe it using a damp cloth (with just water and no soap).
The best tool for the job Cuisinart Pizza Stone Cleaning brush, which will set you back just under $15.
- 18" LONG BRUSH: The 18-inch-long brush is the perfect size for brushing off debris from your pizza stone while it is in your grill or oven.
- PALM STALK FIBER BRISTLES: The palm stalk fiber bristles are tough on caked-on messes and provide and safe and natural alternative to steel...
- ERGONOMIC HANDLE: The 13-inch-long handle features a rubberized grip and ergonomically shaped handle to keep your hand comfortable and far...
This brush has bristles made of palm stalk fibers that cleans a ceramic or cordierite surface without the need for soap or water. The stainless-steel scraper with notched ends will help you remove extra-stubborn pieces of pizza from the stone.
Never use a pizza stone cleaning brush on a hot stone. The heat from the stone will damage the bristles for good. To clean a hot pizza stone in-between pizzas, use a metal scraper.
Can You Use a Pizza Stone on Your Stovetop?
Don’t put a pizza stone on your cooktop. Pizza stones are intended to be used only in ovens, broilers, and outside grills.
The stone, with its rough surface and heavy weight, can damage cooktops made of glass or ceramic. Also, the direct heat from the flame on gas stovetops or the burners on their electric counterparts can cause a thermal shock to your stone, fracturing it in two or several pieces.
Can You Use It on an Outside Grill?
Yes, you can use a pizza stone on an outside grill. Pizza stones made of cordierite as best for use on outside grills, gas or charcoal. Unlike ceramic, which is susceptible to thermal shock and can easily crack on the grill, cordierite is a highly-durable material.
Even better, consider buying a pizza steel. It’s a slab of metal that behaves very much like a pizza stone, but, thanks to the toughness of steel as a material, is virtually indestructible.
Why Is Your Pizza Stone Smoking?
Your pizza stone can start to smoke when it gets up to heat if it has absorbed fats and oils from the meat and cheese toppings of previous batches of pizza.
I’ve had this happen to my pizza stone once when making Pepperoni Pizza. Fat from the pepperoni had dripped down onto the stone through a small hole in the dough. The stone heated the fat above its smoke point, which caused it to start smoking.
If the same happened to you, you need to clean the grease stains from the stone. Here’s how I did that.
- Clean your pizza stone as usual by allowing it to cool down completely and scraping off any burn-on foods using a pizza stone cleaning brush.
- Make a homemade cleaning paste that consists of 1 part baking soda and 1 part water. Scrub the solution on the cleaning paste on the stains until they come off.
- Wipe the pizza stone with a damp cloth with just water and no soap, then allow the stone to dry completely (ideally, for 48 hours) before using it again.
This cleaning technique does wonders whenever you need to remove grease stains from your pizza stone.
This concludes my list of pretty much everything you need to know about pizza stones.
Do you have any secrets or techniques to using a pizza stone that you’d like to share with me—and the rest of this post’s readers? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
For your convenience, here’s a recap of my three product picks in this post: