Pizza Stones – which creates the best crust?

I’ve been collecting pizza stones in order to recommend the best ones to you and because I have never met a piece of kitchen equipment I could resist. I have been surprised by some and disappointed by others. Here is my review…the stones are in random order.

1. Here is the workhorse of the group, 14-Inch by 16-Inch Baking Stone. I’ve owned it for well over 8 years and it always produces a great crust, as long as it is properly preheated. Because this stone is thicker than any of the rest it requires a 30-40 minute preheat to get a nice crisp crust on my breads and pizzas. (If I let it preheat for just 20 minutes it produces a pale and lackluster crust.) It is heavy weight so it is not prone to cracking and retains heat well and holds-up to temperatures of 550 degrees.

I also love the size since I tend to bake lots of loaves at once. I can fit about 3 boules or baguettes on here at the same time.

2. This is not a stone at all, but a disk of iron, Lodge Cast-Iron 14-Inch Pizza Pan. I was introduced to this pan by my mother, who bought it after her thin round stone cracked. She decided to try the Lodge because it was indestructible. She loved it and now that I have one I love it too.

It is thinner than my heavy duty stone (above) so it preheats in 20 minutes and still creates a very crispy, caramel colored bottom crust. Because iron conducts heat well, but doesn’t retain heat for long, it cools off quicker. You can also stick this into a super hot oven, which is a NO NO for stone and ceramic pizza pans.

The only thing I don’t like about this pan is that it has a lip on it, which makes it more challenging to clean. With all my other stones I use a bench scraper to clean off any extra cornmeal or flour (see bottom of post for more info.) With the Lodge I have to carefully take it out of the oven and use a brush to clean it, which is a pain in the butt when I want to bake multiple breads or pizzas. But, this doesn’t stop me from using it often.

3. The PizzaQue is a stone made specifically for the grill, as long as your grill is large enough to handle the stone and base. I thought it was clever to have the stone sit up above the grates so that the flames wouldn’t hit it and the toppings would have a chance to cook before the bottom crust burned. It also has a built in thermometer, which I figured would be more accurate than the one on the outside of my grill. My assumptions were mostly wrong.

The stone, which sits on a thin metal frame, is so thick that it takes 30+ minutes to preheat in my grill. The built in thermometer is attached to the thin metal frame so it reads 700 degrees after just 10 minutes, which is not long enough for the actual stone to reach that temperature. I highly doubt this stone ever got to 700 degrees or the pizza would have been baked in less than 10 minutes.

This stone is wonderful when used in my home oven, but the frame is useless since it won’t fit in my oven. Wanted to love this, but don’t!

Update: I just read the glowing reviews on Amazon and decided to give it another shot. After a 35 minute preheat…I baked a pizza and it came out much better than I remembered from the first attempt. The bottom crust was crispy and the toppings were just caramelizing after 10 minutes, this is the benefit of having it sit up higher on the metal frame. Still not in love, since my Lodge (see above) does a nicer job and takes less time to preheat.

4. For those of you who are just getting started and want to try the bread/pizzas without investing in a pizza stone, I suggest using a heavy gauge baking pan. I like the industrial strength version, 18-by-13-by-1-Inch Jelly-Roll Pan or this non-stick dark sheet 12-by-17-Inch Rectangular Nonstick Jelly Roll Pan. You will not get as crisp a crust, but it is a great way to start out. Just preheat the pan and put the bread or pizza directly on the pan, no parchment or silpat to get the crispest crust. If you want to use parchment or Silpat (11-5/8-by-16-1/2-Inch Nonstick Silicone Baking Mat) be sure to remove it for the last few minutes of baking to crisp up the bottom crust. You can even remove the pan from the oven and crisp up the crust directly on the oven rack.

5. This was the most surprising to me of the bunch. I suspected that this Emile Henry Flame Top Pizza Stone was too pretty to be useful. I stand corrected, it produced a gorgeous crust and is really easy to clean. It also comes in several colors (This one is Figue). One thing that made me nervous was that this stone was glazed, which we have always avoided because we suspected that the porosity of the stone (its ability to absorb moisture away from the dough) was a key factor in a crisp crust. It turns out the intense, even heat is what seems to drive away the moisture in the bread, producing a great crust. I tested it at both 450 and 550 degrees.

This is the only stone I wash with water (see below for washing advice).

6. Here is my traveling Pizza Stone. It was about $10 (a few years ago) and I bought it to take with me when I taught classes where there was no stone. I also used it on the grill, just in case the intense flames would crack my more expensive stone. I’ve had this stone for a few years and so far it is holding up well to all temperatures. My mother on the other hand had the same one and it cracked after 2 years. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it drove her to the Lodge (see above).

To clean the flat stones: I use a Bench Scraper and just scrape off any excess flour, cornmeal or cheese that escapes the pizza. I don’t wash them with anything, but if you have to AVOID SOAP or your stone will taste of soap, just hot water and let it dry slowly in a very cool oven to avoid cracking.

7. I didn’t review Unglazed Terra Cotta Garden Tiles because I don’t own any, but I have baked on them successfully. They are very inexpensive, but thin and small. You will want to push several together in your oven. You tend to get much more flour or cornmeal on the bottom of your oven as a result, which can mean smoke when baking pizzas. You can find these at most Garden or Hardware stores.

8. I just have to mention that the only stone we have had numerous complaints about it cracking is the one made by Pampered Chef. I have never personally tried this stone, but it seems it is a bit fragile from what I hear. Anyone have an opinion? Update: there are lots of very good reviews in the comments (below) for this stone, along with a few not so glowing ones.

Which stone do you use and do you love it?

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308 thoughts on “Pizza Stones – which creates the best crust?

  1. I just broke my second stone in less than a year. While searching for a replacement, I came across some claims that stainless steel is the new thing for pizza. I’d like to get something for bread and pizza making. Have you ever tried it? The one I was looking at was at bakingsteel.com

  2. Tonight I broke my second stone this year. It was a well seasoned, well loved Pampered Chef stone this time around, and I’m so disappointed, as I’ve used it often for bread baking. I suspect that it broke because the oven was too hot when I put it in–I usually start with it in the cold oven so it heats up with the oven, and then leave it in the oven to cool off, removing only the bread when baking is over.

    The last stone that broke may also have been PC–I can’t remember–but I’m sure that one broke because I took the stone out of the oven with the bread–it cracked on the cooling rack.

    Guess I’ll be looking into some alternatives, as I don’t want to lose another PC stone.

  3. Hi
    I bought a pampered chef pizza stone which is rectangular and it works fine. It lives in my oven and I heat it from cold every time I put the oven on so it is well seasoned as well.
    Fatemah

    • So glazed pizza stone ok for bread, too? Can’t wait to try your recipe. Have been successful with Lahey no-knead and love it, but working makes it tough to do!

      Thx

      • Hi Camille,

        Yes, the glazed pizza stones seem to work just as well for bread. I have the Emile Henry and I love it for bread.

        Thanks and enjoy! Zoë

  4. I have a thin, round stone that I bought many years ago in a local dept store. It came with its own cooling rack & cost about $20. It is beautifully seasoned to dark brown. I always put it in a cold oven, let it cool until it I can take it out bare-handed & let it cool completely before wiping off crumbs & then rinsing it. Then let it dry on its rack. No thermal shock.I have both artisan bread in 5 min a day & healthy bread in… Love them both!

      • Off subject of baking stones… From Artisan bread in 5 min a day, I regularly make light whole wheat bread,page 74,1/2 recipe, sometimes adding 1/2 cup dried cranberries, always as free form. Looking at KAF catalog,I have seen an ingredient called Hi-maize natural fiber. It increases the fiber content of baked goods.this seems like a great idea. Do you know anything about using this in your recipes? I haven’t purchased it yet.

      • haven’t used it but I bet it will work; may have to compensate for the extra “hydrophilic” substance with a little extra water or it’ll be drier than you’re used to.

  5. Thank you,Jeff. I bake by weight & have been using 4 3/4 oz for 1 cup of flour. Have since read here that I should have been using 5 oz. My bread came out fine! The only recipe in the book I ever had trouble with was the chocolate bread. It was a mess.I tried it twice & the second time was worse than the first, wet & under done. That may have been where flour amt mattered although my book says 1 3/4 cups water. That’s the only problem I’ve ever had. The rest of the recipes I’ve tried have been wonderful & consistent!

    • I’m going to order the Hi-maize natural fiber from KAF to try! I will def take your advice & add extra water to compensate.I guess I will see what KAF reccomends & increase slowly & take notes. Thank you!

    • Hmm. I bet you’re just not going to be crazy about that recipe. There are some corrections that apply to certain printings of that 2007 book, at http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/2008/01/01/errors-in-the-first-printings-of-artisan-bread-in-five-all-were-corrected-in-later-printings

      … but I don’t think this is going to help the problem you reference. You’d use 5 oz/cup, but the water’s a little higher. And the honey will have more liquid, not less, so you see the problem.

      If you committed to trying this recipe, you could decrease the liquids…

      • I might try it again & ignore my previous notes. Start from scratch. The idea of chocolate bread intrigues me. The choc that I used is labeled cocoa solids 54% min.Could that impact the outcome? Thank you!

      • Well… a higher cocoa solids product might (and I mean might) create a more solid dough. Try decreasing the water, and consider something cupcake sized– easier to bake through.

        The dog story is funny!

  6. On an unrelated note, my dog,a miniature schnauzer named Shayna comes running when she smells or hears bread dough mixing. When it’s in the oven she naps, then wakes up when it’s out of the oven & sits in kitchen “talking” until the bread is cool enough to cut.She doesn’t react this strongly to chicken cooking.

    • My husband also loves the bread. My brother-in-law stops by to pick up bread when I text him that I’m baking cranberry bread.I bake 2 loaves at once.( dog only gets plain, not cranberry). Thanks again for this wonderful method. I’ve used others & sometimes I don’t feel like baking the day after I make the dough & your method offers that flexibility.

    • Haven’t done that– I know the manufacturers don’t tell you to do it that way. We’re always at our own risk with these stones if they crack! Though I’ve had good experience with the Old Stone product.

  7. Help. I’ve tried 3 times making bread only for it to come out dense, too moist and it doesn’t rise very much. I’ve followed the directions HB in 5 Minutes a Day.. It looks good on the outside but too dense inside.

  8. The cast iron pizza pan–Lodge Pro–seems to be oven-proof to 400 degrees, officially. Do you find that it works fine at 450+ for the bread recipes?

    • Hi Melissa,

      Really, that is so interesting. I bake with it at 550°F all the time for pizzas with fantastic results. I bake bread on it at 450°F almost daily. I’m curious why they suggest such a low temp for cast iron?

      Thanks, Zoë

      • This is what was listed on the mass marketing site where I first viewed it. I did purchase this pan and the included materials from Lodge seem to indicate that much higher temps can be sustained.

    • It’s 400 degrees for the seasoning. Otherwise the cast iron can withstand much higher temps; I regularly use mine at 500 degrees+ and then under the broiler to give the pizza a quick char.

      • I use a well seasoned cast-iron griddle that I have had around for years. Absolutely no problems. I set an oven thermometer on it, because the oven reaches the desired temp silghtly ahead of the griddle surface. I remove the loaf and leave the griddle in the oven to cool slowly, then wipe away the excess meal and store.

  9. What kind of stone is it you are using I have been looking for a baking stone but nobody here know what kind of stone to make it out of.I want to biuld a stone pizza oven but i want to fire the oven from under the stone not from in the oven but under it so i need a stone that will not brake from the heat. Can you help me with any ideas thanks Chris

  10. I have used a Pampered Chef stone for a couple of years in the oven in my house but the first time I used it in the oven in my RV it broke in half.

  11. Please excuse me for commenting so late. We have two 14-Inch by 16-Inch Baking Stones. One lasted for eons before breaking into three pieces (we store it propped against the wall in the kitchen and it fell). The second slightly thinner stone snapped in half when we made the mistake of using it in the gas barbecue and then removing it to rest on the slightly damp patio. We heard the crack.

    But. We still use the broken stones. We simply shove the pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle on the rack before preheating the oven. The two piece stone is fractionally easier to use than the 3 piece stone.

    We LOVE our round $10 pizza stone for the barbecue. It works brilliantly.

  12. Excuse me for commenting twice in succession. We have a cast-iron flat griddle. It never occurred to me to use it in place of a stone. What a great idea!

  13. I have been using the Emile Henry stones for year (I own 3) and they are wonderful for baking bread and pizzas. Easy to clean….my workhorse in the oven! I’ve owned other stones but they always break after a couple of years. I was wondering if I could bake two loaves in one oven on two different stones but would I have to add more water to the pan for steam? Thanks!

    • Hi Barbara,

      I often bake two loaves on the same stone, as long as they have plenty of room to rise. You don’t need any additional water for steam.

      Thanks, Zoë

  14. Great article on stones……I have 4 pampered chef stones and find them fabulous!! I heat my oven to 450, keep the stone on the bottom and they work well. I have had them for years and use them all the time. I have 2 “jelly Roll” with the lip pans, which are harder to clean and tend to have pizza crust come out a bit thicker. I have a round one with built in handles, may not fit in so e ovens. I recommend the rectangular one with no lip. I love your first large square and the iron pan plan to buy both now!! And yes guilty of washing my stones in soap and water, forgive me I am a nurse…germ avoider and I sometimes I give them a light olive oil wipe…I think I am breaking all the RULES and my pizza comes out crispy and delicious!!!!

  15. My electric oven’s heating element exploded, and we think my steam baking may have been a factor. My husband replaced the element and the melted wire, and the oven works again. My new 14″×16″ stone (Old Stone brand) came with instructions to use it on the bottom rack of the oven, but your HBin5 Whole Grain Rye Bread recipe instructs us to place the stone on the middle rack. I’m planning to try the inverted roasting pan method for trapping the steam for my oven’s sake. Which stone placement instructions should I try first to minimize the chance of my bread riding a jet propelled stone magic carpet through the oven door?

    • The steam from the bread itself, trapped inside the roasting pan, isn’t any different than if the steam escaped into the oven air– it’s the same amount of water escaping into the larger space by the end of the baking time. I’d go near the middle of the oven– only because the breads seem to bake more easily that way in most ovens. Pizzas seem to do better near the bottom though (those don’t get the steam treatment).

      I’ve been baking with steam in the same electric oven since 1993 and haven’t had any problems with the heating element or the wiring supplying it. I wonder if it was something else, but yes–you’ll get good steaming results this way too.

  16. I wonder if a large cast iron skillet could substitute for a stone?

    I have another one (not so large) that is entirely dedicated to cornbread. It’s over 60 years old, well seasoned. I won’t risk it on an experiment!

    • I actually used my well seasoned big cast iron skillet before my friend gave me a stone. I used parchment paper sprinkled with semolina or cornmeal for resting the shaped loaf while the skillet preheated in the oven. I then grabbed the corners of the parchment paper to lift the prepared loaf and put the whole thing in the skillet. Make sure the bottom of the skillet is kept well seasoned with regular oiling to prevent rust from the steamer pan below. Also, there is a reason why Ray Bradbury named his sci-fi novel “Fahrenheit 451.” Read the temperature limit advice on the parchment paper’s box.

      • Yes– they can really blacken. I’ve used cast-iron without parchment; so long as its well-seasoned, a nicely dusted or cornmealed loaf won’t stick to it.

  17. I posted a comment here over a year ago lamenting the fact that no one seemed to be making a large rectangular cast iron “stone”, without a lip…this was shortly after my expensive, very thick, and relatively new cement stone (which was supposed to be the stone to end all stones)cracked right down the middle.

    Well about 10 months ago I found out about the bakingsteel.com!

    They have standard sizes but I decided to spend a bit extra for a *custom* sized steel 20″ x 14″ x 1/4″ thick. I LOVE the large size and no annoying lip to get in the way either! It is heavy, but not excessively so…I am an average woman who has not been to the gym in years but I can easily move it from one rack to another if I need to.

    It heats up in 20 min or less in my 550F oven, and makes fabulously baked (top and bottom) thin crust pizzas in about 4 min.

    The 1/4″ thick steel retains the heat perfectly well between pizzas IMO, so I don’t think there is much to be gained from going with a thicker, heavier one.

    There are no complicated seasoning requirements like a cast-iron frying pan. The steel comes pre-seasoned and I give it a very thin coating of lard or similar every once in a while, just to ensure it is protected from moisture in the oven.

    The thing is bullet proof…I will never need to buy another stone again!

    Zoe and Jeff, you have just got to try one! I know you will love it!

  18. The Emile Henri instructions say to prepare the pizza ON the stone and place it in the preheated oven. Why would that be different that other stones where the stone needs to be preheated ?

    • Hi Gary,

      In all the years I’ve been using my Emile Henry stones I have never noticed that instruction. It is not what I would recommend, but may be worth a try just for curiosity sake. If you get to it before me, let me know what you think of the results. This approach does work with the Cloche for bread baking, but that is a much longer bake time.

      Thanks, Zoë

      • I got a burnt crust. I will try it next time without preheating it. I did see a demo somewhere where the cook did not preheat it and it looked good. But I think she used a pre-cooked crust. I sent an email to Emile Henri asking about this. EVERYBODY says it must be preheated. Maybe I had too much topping on my pizza……

      • Hi Gary,

        I didn’t realize you were baking on the grill. Go light with the toppings and the pizza should bake in under 5 minutes with the stone preheated on the grill. I just did this for a big party and the pizzas were done in a flash.

        Thanks, Zoë

    • Interesting. Traditional bakers used to say that the moisture-absorptive properties of unglazed ceramic were the key to success– but that’s obviously not true, since we’ve had great results on cast-iron and on glazed stones, as you have. It’s just the thermal mass that’s important.

  19. I have been baking my pizzas on the floor of the roasting oven on my cast iron Aga, this oven operates at 220 celsius (425 F) they are ok, but whilst talking to an italian Pizza chef recently he told me to get a Pizza stone and preheat it in the oven for a better crispier base. Thats all very well but now I realise of course, my oven is on 24/7, its never gets turned off so any stone would go onto a very hot metal oven floor, surely this would crack it!!! Are there any stones out there which would cope with being put directly into a very hot oven?

    • Hi Lyn,

      The floor of your oven is acting like a pizza stone, so adding a stone isn’t going to make the difference. The issue is the temperature. To get a nice crust on the pizza you need to bake it in a very hot oven. We recommend in the book to set the oven to 550°F, but it sounds like your oven won’t go that high.

      If you’d like to try a baking “stone,” I recommend you get a baking steel or one that is made of cast iron. The stone will only get as hot as the oven, so it won’t change the situation with your pizza, but it will keep the bottom of your oven cleaner.

      Thanks, Zoë

  20. My second question of the day, sorry but I am so excited since finding your blog whilst looking for a Pizza stone. I am in the UK and have just found your British version of Artisan Bread in five, Does this book have many gluten free recipes in it? I am not coeliac but I am Wheat intolerant so I use Gluten free recipes a lot. Would your Gluten free book be ok for me?

    • Hi Lyn,

      The UK version of our first book doesn’t have any GF recipes. The new Gluten-Free Artisan Bread book has all the recipes in grams, so it will be easier for you to use. I am not sure if you can find all the same GF flours in the UK?

      Thanks, Zoë

      • Thanks Zoe, it woulds like I should just save the money and carry on using the oven floor as its cast iron and you have found stones made of cast iron work well. The oven just needs sweeping out now and then, any residue just burns off as its on all day every day.
        I will buy the Gluten free book and experiment.
        Lyn

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