That’s the number one feature we looked at when selecting the best pizza stone.
If you want to get right to it, the Old Stone 14” x 16” baking stone was our favorite out of the bunch we reviewed. It cooked the perfect pizza again, again and again.
Pizza Stone Comparison
Old Stone 4467
Old Stone 4461
Pizza Stone Buying Guide
If you’re looking for a cost effective alternative to a brick oven, but still desire the most sumptuous quality pizza and baked goods, then a pizza stone is definitely the best option on the market. A well-made stone is the perfect option for those who have always wondered why their homemade pizza just doesn’t come out like they want it to. Almost always, the reason that a homemade pizza will fail is due to the crust. When using a metal baking pan, which is non porous, you will almost always end up with a soggy or just softened crust. We all know that when it comes to crust it’s all about crispiness, and a pizza stone is the only way to get it. The stone effortlessly absorbs moisture from the dough, helping to create that texture that is most appetizing. Also, using a pizza stone helps to eliminate hot spots.
What is a Pizza Stone?
A baking stone, otherwise known as a pizza stone, is a thick, flat piece of natural stone that is used for baking. This stone can be square, round, or rectangular in shape and ranges from 1/2 inch thick to a full inch of thickness. The stone is incredibly simple, almost primitive, and that’s why the results are so phenomenal.
To position the stone, simply place it on the middle rack or bottom of the oven. Be sure to preheat the oven for 30 minutes before placing the pizza on the stone. If you have a very thick stone, then you may want to preheat the oven for up to an hour.
What happens as the stone heats up is that it absorbs this heat evenly and maintains it for quite a long time. This amazing heat is then transferred directly onto your pizza dough for consistent and fast heating. Not only is this a great cooking method for pizza, but it also works wonders for calzones, rolls, breads, pastries, and so much more. All of these delicious breads will come out browned and crispy in no time.
Keep in mind that these stones can handle some seriously intense heat, and that means that they will be safe up to 600° Fahrenheit.
One thing that you need to know about before purchasing a pizza stone is what glazing is. Baking stones are made with various natural materials, the most common ones being clay, marble, tile, and firebrick. Most of these are sold “unglazed” because they’re meant to soak up moisture during the cooking process. That being said, there are some pizza stones that are sold “glazed”, but are said to be “micro-glazed” so that they still permit moisture to seep through the cracks. When purchasing a pizza stone, you want to look out for what the manufacturer states about the glazing of the stone, and lean more towards those that are totally unfinished.
What it really comes down to, in the end, is personal preference. People purchase a glazed baking stone because there are claims that it’s easier to clean and maintain. But, it’s possible to purchase an unglazed stone and simply spray it with a bit of cooking spray for similar results. In the end, the choice is yours.
Tips for Optimal Usage of Your Stone
Almost as important as purchasing the right stone is maintaining it in the proper way. Follow the manufacturers tips for properly cleaning and using your stone, and do a little research on your own to ensure that your pizza stone will stand the test of time. If you take care of it carefully, you’re going to get years of usage out of your stone.
When it comes to preheating your stone, the key is to get the stone heated perfectly so you can get that crispy crust that you desire. That means that you should never rush the preheating process. It is recommended by experts that you preheat for at least 30 minutes, and up to an hour for thicker stones. Just because your oven has reached its proper temperature does not mean that the stone is properly heated.
Also note that it’s important to put the stone into a cold oven, instead of a hot oven. When placed in a hot oven a pizza stone can crack due to the dramatic increase in temperature. So, be sure to put your stone in the oven before even turning it on to keep your stone in perfect condition. This cracking process is also known as thermal shock, and it’s definitely something that you want to avoid.
It’s a great idea to season your stone regularly with oil, as this prevents dough-based goods from sticking to the surface of your unglazed natural stone. It’s easy to do this just by rubbing some oil onto the surface of the stone, but be sure that you rub in a circular motion until it disappears. If there’s any oil left on the surface of the stone it will cause smoke when you heat it up later. Some people choose to spread bread crumbs, rice flour or cornmeal to prevent sticking, instead of using oil. With a little experimentation you’ll be able to find the method that works best for you.
Selecting the Right Baking Stone for You
It is not terribly difficult to find a pizza stone that is just right for you, as they really are simple in most regards. What you want to make sure of first is that what you’re buying is going to fit into your oven. Simply measure the depth and width of your oven cavity, and take these measurements with you when you go to purchase your oven.
If you own a natural gas oven then you’ll want to allow for at least one inch on each side of the stone when it’s placed in your oven. This is for the purposes of proper air circulation, and it’s similar to what you’d try to do with cookie sheets. Additionally, if you would like your dough to be extra crispy then opt for a thicker stone, between 3/4 and 1 inch thick. The reason why this works is because a thicker stone has better heat absorption and superior distribution of that heat directly to the food that is sitting on top of it.
If you want to go really big, then the largest single piece baking stone that you can find, and will still fit in a standard kitchen oven, is about 16 inches by 14 inches. This allows you to make some pretty big pizzas, which works great when you have a big family or you frequently entertain.
When it comes to shape, you can find pizza stones in square, rectangular, or round shapes. Rectangular stones are great because they provide you with an ample surface space, and also work best when you want to bake bread or other foods requiring a greater working area. If you’re just going to be baking pizza then you should simply opt for the round or square shape, dependent upon what shape of pizza you prefer.
How to Clean?
If you want to get peak performance from your pizza stone for years to come, it’s important that you clean the stone on a consistent basis to keep it in peak condition. Because the stone is made from porous material, you need to give it as much special care as you would with a marble or granite countertop, or any floor that is made from fine natural stone.
The porous surface of your pizza stone should never be cleaned with soap. The soap works to effectively leach into the surface of the pizza stone, and then your next pizza is going to taste like soap.
Only clean your pizza stone after it has completely cooled. If you put a hot stone into tepid water then it will weaken the structural integrity of the stone and it could go into thermal shock. This kind of shock will cause small fractures within the stone that can lead to eventual breakage.
Any unglazed stone is not sealed in any way, and that means that food and oils can creep below the surface. Be sure to always scrape off all spilled or cooked food with a stiff brush, scrubbing pad, or plastic scraper, and then simply wipe the surface of the stone with a damp cloth. Make sure the stone is completely dry before seasoning and using it again.
Please note that an unsealed surface will definitely get stained over time, but this staining does not effect the flavor or quality of your pizza. Since using a baking stone is beneficial because it absorbs moisture during the cooking process, it’s important to not use any chemical sealers, even if it’s a food-grade sealant. What happens during heating is that high temperatures will damage the natural stone by causing the sealer to expand and this process will crack the stone. The heated sealer can also possibly leach into your food.
Best Baking Stones for Pizza
There are various different kinds of baking stones out there, but when you’re only going to be cooking pizza with your stone then it narrows down your search to some specific characteristics. Be sure to look for quality brands that have a high level of customer satisfaction. One of the best pizza stone manufacturers is The Old Stone Oven brand. Their company uses firebrick, which is made from fire clay that is composed of fine-grained soil with clay minerals and traces of metal oxides. This is the same material that is used to line furnaces and fireplaces. This is a ceramic type material, similar to the material that Julia Child famously might have used on her pizza.
When finding the best baking stone for pizza, it really comes down to the materials, so do some research to find what works best for people. The most trusted brands will boast of a high level of customer satisfaction, and a successful history of only producing and specializing in these amazing baking stones.
Beware of Imitations
There are a lot of pizza stone imitations out there that do not have the natural material with absorbent properties that you need. These fake pizza stones are really just glorified pizza pans, and they will not yield the results that you crave. It’s quite deceiving because they really look almost exactly like traditional pizza stones. What you want to watch out for are models that are designed to move easily from oven to the table. The materials of these stones are questionable. Also be wary of highly glazed stones and “dishwasher safe” models. No authentic stone is ever dishwasher safe, and glazing ruins the stone’s absorbency.
Almost all baking stones come in a single piece, which has the added benefit of no moving, and no shifting or adjusting. You can also find some designs that have legs at the bottom to make it easier to get the stone out of the oven.
Please keep in mind that the thinner the pizza stone, the greater the likelihood of cracking or breaking over time. The difference in cost between a 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch model is quite nominal, and that’s why it’s important to spend a bit more for the thicker stone.
Lastly, keep in mind that natural stone is quite heavy, so before purchasing a stone online, check whether or not the shipping is included as this could be an exorbitant additional cost. In fact, it could cost more than a third of the price of the stone itself to have it shipped to your home.
If you’re a serious pizza lover and want to start making them within the comfort of your own home, there’s no better way to cook than with a pizza stone. Even if you’re a pizza lover who simply wants to eat the best frozen pizza on the market, the stone is a fine way to heat a frozen pizza to crispy golden perfection. Everyone loves pizza, and making it from scratch is fun as well. It’s a great activity for the whole family to have a pizza night so everyone can add their favorite toppings and customize their pizza to their unique tests. Having a pizza stone significantly cuts down on the time needed to cook each pizza, so you can pump them out in fast succession.
That being said, owning a pizza stone isn’t all fun and games. There’s a real method to using, cleaning and maintaining your stone to prevent damage, so be sure to do your homework before using your stone to not only ensure that you’re getting the best stone you can, but that you’re also taking care of it in the necessary way.
So in conclusion, owning a pizza stone is a fun and affordable way to take your homemade pizza to a whole new level.