If you are wondering how to use a pizza stone for the first time then you should NOT miss this post. A pizza stone is crucial to cooking the perfect homemade pizza.
I use it every time I make pizza at home and if you learn to use pizza stone the right way, you can even make Neapolitan pizzas at home in a home oven.
I have used one for years and let me tell you, it will change your life for the better in terms of cooking.
When cooking pizza, you should keep in mind that you need a lot of heat to cook it properly. Not only from the top of the oven but also from the bottom surface where you cook the pizza.
I often resorted to other alternatives such as parchment paper or pizza pans back when I had no pizza stones.
Honestly, I even made pizzas without any pizza stone and the pizza had a bread-like texture that tastes like toppings and cheese on bread.
Once I used a pizza stone and now I use pizza steel because that is even better, I never went back to the others.
Pizza stones help create the ideal temperature for the crust and the temperature within the oven.
Using a pizza stone for premade crust helps make the pizza crust crispy while also helping in cooking the pizza evenly throughout.
There is a huge difference when it comes to cooking with a pizza stone and without one.
You get a much better crust while also helping the oven get to a balanced temperature to cook.
It is quite challenging to use a pizza stone for the first time. Using a pizza stone for the first use is a good habit to practice.
That is why I have to share this post with you as we get into the details of everything that you need to know about pizza stones.
What Is A Pizza Stone?
A pizza stone is usually a circular baking surface or a stoneware for pizza that you can use with your oven.
Pizza stones are usually made from ceramic, natural clay like Pampered Chef’s, or cordierite like Weber pizza stones to create a hot cooking surface for the pizza.
Cast Elegance also has a special thermarite pizza stone while Pizzacraft stones are made out of Thermabond materials.
My favorite type of pizza stone is the ones made from cordierite like Weber pizza stones. Most of these can be used to cook on both sides of the pizza stone.
These are more durable types of pizza stones and are also smooth despite the porous surface which gets rid of the moisture.
Cordierite pizza stones are perfect for cooking pizzas because the crust glides smoothly on the surface. You can also use whichever side of the pizza stone you need.
These pizza stones are also more durable and less prone to breaking due to heat.
One important thing that you should know about pizza stones is how fragile they are.
I have learned this the hard way as I was careless with handling my first pizza stone.
Try to avoid putting a hot pizza stone on a cold surface. Pizza stones can break easily due to thermal shock or the sudden temperature change so be careful handling them.
When Do You Need A Pizza Stone?
If you plan to cook pizzas at home and get the perfect crispy crust, you will need to purchase a pizza stone to help you get the perfect crust even when you cook frozen pizzas.
You need a pizza stone when your home oven does not reach the required temperature for cooking pizzas. Most home ovens cannot reach that so a pizza stone is a huge help.
Also, ovens cook evenly through the pizza whereas you need to have a higher cooking temperature at the bottom of the pizza than the top.
This gives the nice crispy crust on the pizza and pizza stone is one way to get this result with a home oven.
I have made pizzas without a pizza stone and the results were not that impressive.
You can always cook the pizza on the stove once you cook it in the oven to get the crispy crust, but that does not do the trick, at least for me.
It is difficult to get the crispy crust without a pizza stone and hence I highly recommend you get one as you will use it often.
You also need a pizza stone if you end up with soggy pizza crusts every time. Using a pizza stone with premade crust can help make a difference.
Well, soggy pizza crust can also result from using too much pizza sauce, but yes, 90 percent of the time, the base of the pizza doesn’t cook as fast as the toppings.
You can also use it to help you get a more even finish on the toppings or melt the cheese on your pizzas.
How A Pizza Stone Works
The main purpose of a pizza stone is to recreate the hot cooking surface possible with wood-fired pizza ovens. It helps your regular home oven to reach and regulate the oven temperature.
A pizza stone tries to attain what brick pizza ovens or stone ovens do with pizzas.
That is to create a crispy crust while also leaving the inner parts of the crust airy or fluffy once it cooks.
When you preheat a pizza stone in your regular home oven, you allow it to gather heat and distribute it within the oven to create a balanced environment for cooking pizzas.
The hot earthy material conducts a lot of heat and retains it for a very long time.
The pizza stone then helps regulate the oven temperature in your home oven and cook your pizzas perfectly.
This works better with fire as the heat is reflected onto the pizza stone to regulate the oven temperature. This works on whichever side of the pizza stone you use.
With home ovens that use convection heat, the heat usually comes from the broiler set on top of it.
So, the temperature is not hot enough at the bottom of the pizza crust to get a perfectly good pizza.
This is where the pizza stone comes in the picture, when you place it below the pizza, it cooks the crust faster and making it crisp in comparison to the toppings and cheese.
Once the pizza stone is heated enough, you can cook the pizza directly on it.
Using pizza stone with premade crust produces heat that will immediately evaporate the excess moisture on the crust to create a crispy finish.
Another great thing about them is that you can cook on both sides of a pizza stone so there is no need to clean only one side. If you cook on both sides of the pizza stone, it will also season it better.
How To Use A Pizza Stone For The First Time
It is really simple how to use a pizza stone.
If your pizza stone is pre-seasoned and does not need any other heating processes anymore, then you can use it right away and make pizzas on the pizza stone.
You will need to clean the pizza stone first before using it for the first time.
Use a damp cloth and warm water and wipe off any impurities or dust from the pizza stone to make sure it is clean.
Whenever you are cleaning the pizza stone, make sure never to soak it in water.
The pizza stone can absorb water and the water will expand, putting the pizza stone at risk of breaking.
Soap is also a big NO when cleaning the pizza stone before using, this is a really helpful pizza stone tip.
Since the pizza stone is porous, it tends to absorb anything to absorb soap and its chemicals.
Once you have cleaned the pizza stone with plain water, you can preheat it in the oven. But why preheat a pizza stone? It is important to preheat a pizza stone so it can regulate the heat.
It usually takes around 30 minutes to an hour for the pizza stone to preheat so do this.
You need to preheat the pizza stone because it takes a long time for it to heat up enough for cooking pizzas.
It is also harmful to the pizza stone if it is not preheated. Another reason why you preheat a pizza stone is to prevent it from thermal shock.
As I have already mentioned above, pizza stones can easily break due to thermal shock.
So avoid placing a cold pizza stone inside a hot preheated home oven so it does not break. That is why you preheat a pizza stone along with the oven.
I use a pizza steel and it never breaks since it is made of steel and it is probably one of the best investments since mine has lasted me 5 years and it is still as good as new.
Once you have preheated the pizza stone, you can then put your pizza on the pizza stone and allow it to cook. Your pizza will surely turn crispy with the toppings perfectly cooked.
There is also another factor that you might want to consider. You need to season a pizza stone if it is not pre-seasoned before using it for the first time.
Which side of the pizza stone do I use?
Many pizza stones are double-sided, so you can either side of the pizza stone. However, if you see there is a clear indication on which side to use or if there is none then use the smoother side.
You need to make sure that you heat the pizza stone to a really high temperature before you cook anything on the pizza stone.
This was my question when I started cooking pizzas that which side of the pizza stone do I use, so I hope this answers it well.
If you have any other inputs leave them in the comments below!
How to season a Pizza Stone
I will be keeping it simple here, but I have another post explaining how to clean and season your pizza stone properly.
I will just go through the basics here but go through the post if you want detailed information on whether should you season the pizza stone.
Seasoning a crodierite pizza stone, or any type of pizza stone, is essential unless the manufacturer told you otherwise. The process of seasoning a pizza stone allows it to develop a non-stick coating.
If you are wondering should you oil your pizza stone, then yes you have to but before that, you need to clean your pizza stone with plain water.
So once you have cleaned your pizza stone with water and a clean cloth, you can then allow it to dry completely.
From there, use a paper towel to wipe a really small amount of oil.
The most common type of oil used when seasoning a pizza stone is flaxseed oil.
However, you can use any high smoke point oil, such as olive oil, vegetable oil, and canola oil.
Just remember to put a very very thin layer of oil. Place the pizza stone in the oven and set the temperature to 425 degrees Fahrenheit or around 220 Celsisus and allow the pizza stone to bake for at least an hour.
Turn off the oven and then allow the pizza stone to cool down inside the oven.
Once you do this, cooking in the pizza stone frequently will season a cordierite pizza stone, or nay stone, naturally so seasoning it will no longer be necessary.
Using A Peel To Place Pizza On The Pizza Stone
Making pizza on a pizza stone is almost impossible without the help of a good quality Neapolitan pizza peel.
Using the pizza peel is easy as you just need to transfer the pizza from the table to the pizza stone.
The tricky part is that the pizza dough is usually sticky.
That is why you need to know the proper way of handling the pizza peel when transferring the pizza to the pizza stone.
Usually, you need to be quick when you transfer the pizza on the peel and if your dough is elastic and well made, it should transfer without any issues.
You can use oil to make the pizza peel more slippery but I recommend using extra flour.
I barely use anything since I make it a point to use enough dough while stretching the pizza dough. Knowing the best surface for stretching pizza dough is also essential.
It is a practice I prefer since it is very effective and it makes it easier to slide the pizza onto the peel.
You can then try the pizza peel by jerking it back and forth and see if the pizza is moving without any parts sticking to the peel. I will explain this further later in the post when we make the pizza.
From there, you can repeat the jerking motion to transfer the pizza onto the pizza stone. The same goes with how you get the pizza from the oven when it has been cooked.
If you are wondering how to use pizza stone without a non-stick pizza peel then you might want to get creative and place the pizza on the back of the baking tray and then slide it onto the pizza stone.
Similarly, you can get creative and use any other flat surface but the idea here is to transfer the pizza to the stone without touching the pizza stone.
You can even make the pizza on parchment paper and place the paper on top of the pizza stone and then pull the paper out and leave the pizza on the pizza stone.
This is easier than it sounds but these are the two methods that I have tried on how to use pizza stone without a pizza peel.
The best surface for stretching the pizza dough is on a smooth countertop, preferably marble so the non-stick pizza peel can slide easily underneath.
Best Temperature To Preheat The Pizza Stone
I feel the best pizzas come out when the pizza stone has reached 550 degrees Fahrenheit or a little under 300 Celsius.
This temperature is achievable for most of the home ovens and you can easily get your pizza stone to that temperature.
Based on my experience, the best temp to preheat the pizza stone is 500 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 30 minutes.
This gets your pizza stone hot and that is what we need to make a nice Neapolitan pizza at home.
This is a temperature that most home ovens can reach, allowing the pizza stone to preheat at this temperature usually cooks the pizza properly and also, at a faster pace.
Using IR Thermometer To Determine The Temperature Of The Pizza Stone
I usually use an IR thermometer or Infrared thermometer to determine the temperature of the pizza stone.
This helps me understand the exact temperature of the pizza stone, and when I feel the pizza stone has reached 550 degrees Fahrenheit or 290 Celsius, I know it is time to place my pizza on the pizza stone inside the oven.
Some might argue that the oven already has a temperature setting and you can set the temperature there, but that is the temperature inside the oven and not the pizza stone.
IR thermometers are crucial in determining the temperature of the pizza stone temperature.
Even if you own a fancy Ooni oven, I recommend you invest in a good quality IR thermometer to know the best time for making pizza on the pizza stone.
It is essential to measure the temperature of the pizza stone itself. Infrared thermometers measure the surface temperature of an object, so you need them for pizza stones.
It is very simple really, all you need to do is point the Infrared thermometer to the surface that you want to measure and then press the button. The display will show you the temperature.
Most IR thermometers have lasers that help you guide your aim.
It measures the temperature from a distance so you do not have to go too close to the very hot surface.
IR thermometers are the best invention ever for pizza makers, as I often use them while making pizza recipes at home.
You can easily get a good one for 30 bucks off amazon, I mean you also have the expensive ones but a decent one can come with that price and it works just fine for me.
Pizza Stone Or Pizza Steel – The Difference And Better Option
The alternative that I use is pizza steel. It is a better option in terms of durability as it does not break no matter the temperature.
Pizza steels or baking steels are cooking surfaces that are made from, well, steel.
They are more durable than pizza stones and are less likely to break from thermal shock.
The main difference between the pizza stone and pizza steel in terms of performance is the amount of time it takes for the pizza stone or steel to absorb the needed heat.
Pizza steels absorb heat faster which is beneficial but can also be unsafe.
I still believe that using pizza stones is better than pizza steel since I am more familiar with how pizza stones work.
Depending on the thickness, pizza stones also tend to retain heat longer. So if you plan on cooking more than one pizza, I recommend that you use pizza stones instead of steel.
Do You Stretch The Pizza Dough On Pizza Stone?
You might think the main benefit of stretching the pizza dough directly on the pizza stone is that you get the correct size of pizza crust you will need.
However, I NEVER recommend stretching pizza dough on the pizza stone. One of the best surfaces for stretching pizza dough is also on a marble counter, but I understand that we do not all have that.
When you stretch pizza dough, you will need to put flour on the work surface so the dough does not stick.
It is impossible to stretch the dough on the pizza stone since it is already hot in the oven because of all the preheating.
This is an impossible thing to do, but if you have the pizza stone out and plan to stretch the pizza dough on it then you need to STOP doing it because the stone is not going to reach a high temperature
When you are stretching the pizza dough, you should already be preheating the pizza stone. So always do the dough-stretching on a clean work surface as it is easier and more practical.
Rolling vs stretching the pizza dough also makes a huge difference. If I were to judge rolling vs stretching pizza dough, I still prefer stretching it by hand as there is some shrinking when rolling the dough.
There is a slight shrinking when rolling a pizza dough because the dough comes back to its shape. Why does my pizza dough shrink, you might ask? It is because it has not developed enough.
When you roll instead of stretch the pizza, this can also answer why does my pizza dough shrink as the rolling pin just presses down on the bubbles and dough that will eventually go back to their shape.
In order to avoid the shrinking when rolling the dough, you still need to stretch it by hand so it just doubles the workload.
How To Transfer The Pizza On The Pizza Stone Without Using A Pizza Peel?
I am also one of those late-to-the-trend people and I usually struggled with transferring the pizza from the work surface to the pizza stone as I did not have a pizza peel back then.
The most convenient and easiest technique that I usually do is to use parchment paper apart from using a pizza peel to transfer pizza.
Lightly flour a piece of parchment paper and then do the stretching of dough on the parchment paper. This works best when you cook frozen pizza as it is easier to transfer.
Arrange the pizza toppings as well and then once your pizza is ready to be cooked, grab the two ends of the parchment paper and then carefully transfer the pizza to the pizza stone.
Once you lay the pizza on the pizza stone, use your other hand to pull the parchment paper out while holding one end of the pizza so that it does not slide along with the parchment paper.
You need to be quick here else you can mess up the whole pizza and since the pizza stone is hot, you cannot go around fixing it with your hand.
Where In The Oven Should You Place The Pizza Stone?
Again, the main concept here is that you need the pizza stone to absorb as much heat as possible.
That means that you will need to place the pizza stone near the heat source.
Some would recommend placing the pizza stone at the bottom rack to radiate the heat towards the oven. However, I found a better area in the oven to place the pizza stone in.
The main thing when cooking pizzas is to cook the crust and the toppings quickly but also at the same time.
So getting heat from both the bottom part and the top part is necessary.
Most home ovens have broilers or grill functions like in BBQs. If your oven has grill functions or heat functions like in BBQs, then you can take advantage of that.
By placing the pizza stone near the broiler, you heat the pizza stone quickly and it will help cook the toppings as quickly as the crust.
So place the pizza stone on the top rack nearest to the broiler and preheat it. This is the Broiler method of cooking pizzas and it makes really good pizzas.
From there, your pizza will cook properly with melted cheese on top and a crispy crust at the bottom.
How To Avoid The Pizza From Sticking To The Pizza Stone
One of the main problems with transferring the pizza to the pizza stone is the dough.
Pizza dough is usually stickier than most types of dough used in baking processes.
I guess I can tell other bakers that pizza dough does not stick to the pizza stone if you preheat it properly and use it the right way.
One thing you can remind yourself is to never use parchment paper over the pizza stone.
Parchment paper usually starts to char or even catch flames at 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
You need more heat than that to make a crispy crust on your pizza. So place the pizza directly on the pizza stone once the pizza stone is preheated and the heat will do the rest.
Contrary to what most people think, using cornmeal is also not beneficial to this process.
Cornmeal can also burn quickly and it has ruined so many pizzas I made.
The burnt cornmeal gets into the crust of the pizza and adds a very unpleasant bitter taste. Remember that the pizza stone needs to be very hot so that the dough does not stick to it.
Use the proper flour for making the dough so it does not tear. The holes on a pizza dough can cause the crust to stick to the pizza stone.
Putting too many toppings on the pizza can also make it stick to the pizza stone.
The heavy and moist pizza toppings can be too overwhelming for the pizza stone, so use a thin layer.
How to cook Pizza on a Pizza Stone
Now that you know everything about pizza stones and how to use them properly, let us put that in action and cook pizza on a pizza stone.
Believe me, once you learn how to use a pizza stone for the first time, you are never going back to anything else. The results are amazing.
Preheating The Pizza Stone
Preheating the pizza stone is very easy. Just clean the pizza stone, place it in a cold oven, and then set the oven’s temperature to the highest temperature setting.
Leave the pizza stone to preheat for at least 45 minutes up to an hour.
The longer, the better the heat will also help burn off any contaminant left on the pizza stone.
15 minutes within the preheating process, turn the broiler of your oven.
Do not turn the oven broiler right away as it might cause thermal shock and break the pizza stone.
Transfer The Pizza From The Countertop To The Oven
Once the pizza stone is preheated, get your pizza peel ready and transfer the pizza to the pizza peel.
Put some flour on the pizza peel to stop the dough from sticking to the pizza peel. Using a perforated pizza peel will also help stop the dough from sticking to the pizza peel.
The dough needs to stop sticking to the pizza peel so you can safely transfer the pizza to the oven and you can do this by using flour or cornmeal but cornmeal should be your last resort.
Slowly and carefully transfer the pizza to the pizza stone and then close the oven immediately.
I have baked so many pizzas in my life and this part of the process is still challenging.
It will take some time to learn how to properly do it so do not be too hard on yourself if you failed the first time.
Slowly jerk the pizza peel back and forth so that the pizza slowly falls off of it.
Once it has transferred onto the pizza stone, use the pizza peel to adjust the position of the pizza.
Make The Pizza On The Countertop
- 1 ball of dough
- 2 tablespoons of pizza sauce
- Half cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
- Toppings of your choice
Start by shaping or stretching the ball of dough on a floured surface.
Make sure that it will fit the pizza stone, do this by pushing the ball of the dough outwards to create a circular shape.
Use a spoon to palace the pizza sauce on top of the pizza dough and then use the back of the spoon to spread the sauce. Place the toppings on top evenly and sprinkle the cheese over it.
Move The Pizza Into The Oven Using A Pizza Peel
If you are learning how to use a pizza stone for the first time then you probably are using a pizza peel for the first time as you cannot place a pizza on top of the stone without a pizza peel.
You can try using a flat steel tray if you are cooking in a home oven but if your oven gets really HOT then it is best to use a pizza peel.
Now that you have your pizza stone preheated and the pizza ready, prepare your pizza peel so you can transfer the pizza properly from the work surface to the pizza stone.
Dust The Pizza Peel
I usually mix the flour I used in making the pizza dough with semolina on the pizza peel before I get the pizza onto the peel.
You need to dust the pizza peel so that the pizza would not stick to the pizza peel.
Semolina is a type of flour that is rougher or coarser than pizza flour.
Dusting the pizza peel with this and some extra pizza flour will make the pizza dough slide off the pizza peel easily.
I do not recommend using cornmeal to dust the pizza peel as cornmeal burns easily and can get into the dough. It can add a burnt color to it and an unpleasant bitter flavor.
Move The Pizza Onto The Pizza Peel
Using a steel pizza peel or a relatively thinner pizza peel will be easier as you only need to slide it underneath the pizza. If you use a wooden pizza peel, then that is a bit trickier.
You will need to lift the edge of the pizza and slide it carefully onto the wooden pizza peel.
I usually ask my siblings to hold the pizza peel leveled to the countertop so you can ask for help as well.
Once you get the pizza onto the pizza peel, give it a few jerks to test if the pizza will slide off the pizza peel easily.
If some parts stick to the pizza peel, lift that part and put more flour under it.
Slide The Pizza Onto The Pizza Stone
This is the trickiest part as you can easily ruin the pizza if you do not transfer it properly.
Position the pizza peel at the very back of the pizza stone and then tilt the pizza peel.
If the pizza is starting to slide off the pizza peel, that is a good sign as you can just pull the pizza peel off.
If, however, the pizza sticks a bit, give the pizza peel a few jerks back and forth.
Slide the pizza peel off to transfer the pizza. This can be hard but a few practices will get you to perfect this part of the process.
Cooking Pizza On A Pizza Stone
So now that you have transferred the pizza successfully onto the pizza stone, it is time to get cooking. These are the basic things that you need to know when baking pizza on a pizza stone.
How Long Does It Take To Cook A Pizza On A Pizza Stone?
If you are wondering how long to cook pizza on a pizza stone then the time varies. Authentic Neapolitan pizzas that are cooked in a pizza oven take only a minute to cook.
It is quite different from home ovens as they do not reach the same temperature as pizza ovens.
At the highest temperature (usually 550 degrees Fahrenheit), home ovens can cook Neapolitan pizzas in around 5 to 6 minutes to give the pizza a crispy crust.
That usually takes around 10 minutes without the help of a pizza stone.
The pizza stone helps a lot with the heat so, within 5 minutes, you will start to see the pizza crust start to brown.
Use your pizza peel to lift the pizza and check the crust underneath.
If the crust is brown and the cheese is melted, then your pizza is ready to be served.
How Long To Reheat The Pizza Stone If You Are Making More Than One Pizza At A Time
If you have a small home oven like mine but you need to serve many people, you might want to do it consecutively so that none of your guests would wait for too long.
Reheating the pizza stone for the next batch of pizzas should be done after every two pizzas cooked.
The pizza stone can retain heat long enough for it to cook at least 2 pizzas.
Use your IR thermometer to measure the surface temperature of the pizza stone.
Once it cools down, reheat it in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes before you cook the next batch of pizzas.
One trick I do with large pizza stones is I put the pizza on one side of the pizza stone so the free side continues to heat up and will be available to cook right away without reheating it.
Cleaning And Maintenance Of The Pizza Stone
Knowing how do you prepare and use a pizza stone is not enough as you have to clean your pizza stone.s
Cleaning the pizza stone is very easy and very important. You need to make sure that it stays optimal for cooking to use it for a very long time.
What To Avoid
The main thing when it comes to maintaining a pizza stone is to prevent it from cracking.
Even the smallest of cracks can easily develop into bigger damages and break the pizza stone.
Avoid thermal shock or exposing the pizza stone to sudden changes in temperature.
Always place the pizza stone in a cold oven before preheating it.
If the pizza stone is still hot, allow it to cool down in the oven.
Do not immediately take it out of the oven as it will be shocked by the colder temperature and cause it to break.
Do not store the pizza stone in a damp drawer. Make sure that it is always dry and do not put things over it as too much weight or pressure over it can break the pizza stone easily.
Again, do not ever soak the pizza stone in water when cleaning it.
Do not use soap, and do not use hard materials to scrub off the food residuals that might be stuck on the pizza stone.
Placing cold food on the pizza stone is also a no-no. Avoid hitting and dropping the pizza stone so it does not crack or even worse, break.
Cleaning the Pizza Stone after cooking a Pizza
Try to pyrolyze the pizza stone when you are done cooking. This is a process where you let the pizza stone stay in the oven at the highest temperature for an hour.
Pyrolysing is the best way to clean a pizza stone before use and probably one of the easiest ways to clean a pizza stone.
This process burns off the larger food residues left on the pizza stone.
Once it cools down, you can then scrub off the burnt food residuals and wash it like you did the first time.
Use warm water and a clean cloth to wipe off the rest of the dirt from the pizza stone.
Allow it to dry before you place it back in the oven so it is ready for your next pizza cooking session!
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