Last year I did a wild thing and got rid of my pizza stone. We have pizza once a week and I used that stone a ton! But I fell in love with another pizza cooking product that was easier to store, made for a crisper crust, and held more pizza: the baking steel. Here's why I ditched my pizza stone and became a pizza baking steel convert.
What Is a Baking Steel?
The Baking Steel was pioneered in 2012 by Andris Lagsdin, after a much-lauded Kickstarter campaign helped launch the brand and concept. Today similar baking steels or pizza steels are sold by half a dozen manufactures. These steels are made from food-grade steel. Metal conducts heat better than stone — where a pizza stone holds onto heat, a baking steel takes in and then pushes out heat making for a cooking surface that gets much hotter even at the same oven temperature.
The best way to use a baking steel for pizza is to place an oven rack in the second position closest to your broiler. Set the steel there so it's five to six inches from the broiler. Then heat your oven to 500°F. Right after you slip your pizza onto the baking steel, turn on your oven's broiler so that the top and bottom of the pizza cook quickly — in as little as four minutes for thin-crust flatbreads. The results are a crackled, crispy crust with lovely amber patches on the top and bottom that tastes just as good as the pizza from the fancy pizza place in your town.
3 Reasons to Love a Baking Steel
1. It's easier to store.
Baking steels are heavy, weighing between 12 and 15 pounds depending on their dimensions, while pizza stones can weigh as little as five pounds. The steel will require some muscle and caution to lift — especially when it's hot — but it does have a slimmer profile, which I find makes it easier to store.
2. It won't crack or warp.
There's nothing quite like the heartbreak of sliding a topped pizza onto your pizza stone and hearing the deafening crack of the stone. I cracked my mother's pizza stone once and I'm not sure she's fully forgiven me yet, and this was 15 years ago. Baking steels are virtually indestructible; much like cast iron pans, they do require a little oiling every so often, but that's it!
3. You can cook more pizzas at one time.
Most baking steels are about 11x17, or roughly the size of a baking sheet, meaning that you can bake two 10-inch pizzas side by side at the same time. Now, I know that larger pizza stones exist, but I'm pretty sure most of us have that 18-inch round version that was handed down to us from someone's Pampered Chef party circa 2000. You can bake only pizza and one at a time on those. The larger surface of the baking steel means you can also use it bake bread, cook a steak, and even bake a batch of cookies.