Short of installing a wood-fired oven in your backyard, cooking on a pizza steel or pizza stone is your best bet for making a crispy pizza that rivals your favorite takeout place. But while these pizza-making tools are used for the same purpose and share some similarities, there's an important difference that sets them apart.
Keep reading to learn the difference.
The Difference Between a Pizza Steel and Pizza Stone
Because they're made from different materials, the most significant difference between pizza steels and pizza stones is the way they conduct heat. There is also a pretty noticeable difference in the price tag for each.
More About Pizza Steels
As its name indicates, pizza steels (also known as baking steels) are made purely from steel, and they are extremely efficient at conducting heat. This basically means heat moves quickly from the steel to the pizza crust (or whatever happens to rest on its surface). In addition to transferring heat at lightning speed, pizza steels are also better at retaining heat than pizza stones. With these factors in mind, you can expect a pizza made on a baking steel to cook up a little faster.
While pizza steels are nearly indestructible and can last a lifetime, they do require some TLC and benefit from being seasoned from time to time (kind of like your favorite cast iron skillet). Unlike pizza stones, steels are immune to thermal shock and won't shatter or break. If you're into multipurpose tools, you'll appreciate that pizza steels can also double as a griddle on the stovetop.
Although you can find some budget options, pizza steels are generally more expensive than pizza stones.
A pizza steel we love: Baking Steel, $89
More About Pizza Stones
Pizza stones, sometimes also referred to as baking stones, are commonly made from ceramic or cordierite. While they are also good conductors of heat, they don't transfer heat nearly as quickly as pizza steels. While foods cooked on a pizza stone will cook evenly, they will require a little more time.
Perhaps the biggest drawback to pizza stones is that they are more prone to cracking or breaking over time (or if they're dropped). They are also prone to thermal shock, meaning they can easily shatter if the stone is exposed to a rapid temperature change.
Pizza stones come in a variety of shapes and sizes, offer options for every budget, and are a fraction of the price of pizza steels.
A pizza stone we love: Rectangular Pizza Stone, $36
So, Which One Should You Buy?
At the end of the day, both tools will help you cook up a totally tasty pizza with a crispy crust. When it comes to choosing which one to buy, go with the one that works best with your needs, cooking style, and budget. If you're an occasional pizza maker or don't want to drop a lot of cash, a pizza stone is a great start. And hey, you can always splurge on a steel later. If you're an avid pizza maker who's serious about making the perfect pizza crust, a pizza steel might be more up your alley.