In every pizza lover's quest to approximate a fiery-hot brick pizza oven at home, a pizza stone is first on the list of necessary equipment. But of the variety of materials available — stone, cast iron and even steel — which one is the best pick for you?
Picking the right pizza stone depends on your personal needs and kitchen habits. Are you looking for a stone that produces an ultra-crispy crust? Does it need to move easily in and out of the oven? Are you a pizza professional, willing to pay any price for the latest equipment? Here are some of the pros and cons of each material.
Clay or Stone:
The classic pizza stone absorbs moisture as the pizza bakes, resulting in a crisper crust. Stones come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and some people even DIY stones with inexpensive unglazed quarry tiles.
• Pros: There are a wide variety of stones to choose from at various price points. Produces a crisp pizza crust.
• Cons: Must be preheated in the oven for at least 30 minutes (longer for thicker stones). Difficult to clean. Can crack or break.
If you want to make pizza without buying any new equipment, you can use a cast iron skillet to cook pizzas on the stove. Or you can try Lodge's cast iron pizza pan, which heats up in the oven quickly.
• Pros: Heats quickly. Easier to clean than stone. Has handles for maneuvering in and out of oven. Won't break or crack.
• Cons: Heavy. Lodge pan has a lip that some reviewers have complained about. Lodge pan is recommended only to 400°F, which is cooler than ideal for cooking pizza at home.
→ Find it: Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan, $46 at Amazon
The baking steel is a new product that we learned about through the folks at Serious Eats Pizza Lab, who give it a big thumbs up. (Watch for our own review later this week.) Baking steels conduct heat better than stone, and can cook food more evenly at lower temperatures.
• Pros: Cooks pizzas more quickly and evenly. Stabilizes at a lower temperature than stone. Won't break or crack.
• Cons: Expensive ($72 for the 1/4-inch version). Very heavy and does not have handles, so it can't be easily moved once it is hot.
→ Find it: Baking Steel, $72 at Stoughton Steel Company
What kind of pizza stone do you use?
Related: How Do I Take Care Of My Pizza Stone?