What’s the Difference Between a Pizza Steel and Pizza Stone?

updated Jun 17, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Most of us don’t have wood-fired ovens in our backyards. (Maybe you don’t even have a backyard to begin with?) That would be your best best bet to getting crispy pizza that rivals your favorite takeout place. Your next best option? Cooking your pizza on a pizza steel or pizza stone. These pizza-making tools are used for the same purpose and share some similarities, but there are a few important difference that sets them apart.

Let’s take a look!

Credit: The Kitchn

Pizza Steel vs. Pizza Stone: What’s the Difference?

Pizza steels (also known as baking steels) are made purely from steel. Pizza stones (sometimes called baking stones) are made of clay, ceramic, or cordierite. 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

Because they’re made from steel, pizza steels 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.

More About Pizza Stones

While pizza stones are also good conductors of heat, they don’t transfer heat nearly as quickly as pizza steels. That means that foods cooked on a pizza stone will bake up evenly, they’ll just require a little more time to finish up.

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.

Related: Why I’ve Become a Pizza Steel Convert

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. (For what it’s worth, we suggest rectangular ones over round ones because the shape gives you more space to work with when making pizzas or anything else.)

Should You Get a Pizza Stone or a Pizza Steel?

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.

Some of Our Favorite Pizza Recipes

Do you have a pizza stone or a pizza steel? Tell us about it in the comments below!