Pizza Stone versus Baking Steel

Pizza stone in an oven

Ten years. That’s how long I’ve been making pizza on my Baking Steel Original. Time just flies.

I’ve lost track of how many pizzas I’ve made over the years, but it’s in the thousands. I feel like I remember them all, because every single pizza has been truly exciting to make.

I’ve had both successes and epic fails, but of those thousands of pizzas, every single one of them has been made either on an original Baking Steel or one of the Baking Steel Griddles. (Sometimes I’ll place a pizza pan or sheet tray on top of my Steel. But there’s always a Baking Steel product in the mix.)

Before the era of the Baking Steel began, I would make almost all of my pizzas on a pizza stone.

I used to work at Todd English’s renowned pizza restaurant, FIGS. When I left, I took a few recipes with me – including Todd’s dough recipe. Then I would recreate the dough at home and make pizza for my friends and family using a pizza stone.

I was left disappointed, because the quality of the pizzas I made on the pizza stone was mediocre at best. I didn’t have a wood-fired oven with its extreme heat of 800+ degrees Fahrenheit to work with. Add to this that the pizza stones often would break. An overall frustrating experience, since I knew how good pizza was supposed to taste.

Then, almost a decade ago, when the Baking Steel era began, I never looked back. Finally, I was able to achieve the kind of results with my pizza-baking I had been hoping for.

“Bye-bye, pizza stones,” I said. “No more soggy crusts" 

 

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 PIZZA STONE    VS.    BAKING STEEL

The fairest possible showdown

This week, however, I decided to finally try out a pizza stone again. With the experience of having baked thousands of pizzas on a Baking Steel, I felt much better equipped to do a proper side-by-side comparison of the two.

I made sure everything was equal – the ingredients on the pizza, the weight of the dough (250 grams), the heat of the oven (500 degrees), and the duration of the preheat (an hour).

Obviously, I didn’t have a pizza stone at hand, since, you know, mine all broke. So, I went to World Market and picked up a round one for $25. For the fairest possible comparison, I picked the Baking Steel Mini Griddle to be its competitor.

During the preheat phase, I placed the pizza stone on the top rack and then the Baking Steel underneath. Not to serve as a thermal battery – simply to preheat. There was no convection in the oven I used, which was fine.

After an hour, I used my infrared thermometer and could detect that both the stone and the steel had reached 510 degrees. It’s not surprising that the pizza stone got just as hot as the Baking Steel, but, in the spirit of fairness, it’s worth noting.

The pizza stone test

I launched the first pizza onto the pizza stone and set my stopwatch. I anticipated about a 10-minute bake time, based on past experience.

My observations while the pizza was in the oven:

· The pizza stone looked pretty in the oven, because it was brand new. It had not yet acquired neither the stains nor the odor that they always seem to do after a while.

· The stone was very light compared to the 15 lbs Baking Steel. Merely a few pounds, which means very limited thermal mass – giving the pizza no chance to cook well or fast.

· I would open the oven every three minutes to rotate the pizza a little – something I do for every pizza I make. But after the first rotation, part of the pizza got stuck to the stone. I don’t remember that happening with a Baking Steel – ever. Because when a Baking Steel gets hot, it stays hot, whereas a pizza stone gets hot, but then quickly cools down once it comes into contact with the pizza dough – which also explains the longer baking time it needs.

My observations after the pizza came out of the oven:

· The pizza looked pretty decent at first glance. The undercarriage was solid, if a little pale.

· The 10-minute bake time had resulted in a quite dry pizza, however. It clearly needed more sauce than I anticipated.

· The crust was not delicious and crispy at all, even after 10 minutes. Soggy bottom came to mind.

· The temperature had fallen to 450 degrees, meaning it would take another 10-15 minutes to get it back to 500. Thankfully, I had no guests waiting and only made the one pizza on the stone, so I didn’t have to worry about that.

The bottom crust a little pale using a pizza stone

The Baking Steel test

Before proceeding, I carefully switched the pizza stone and the Baking Steel around, so that the Baking Steel would also be on top. It was a nerve-wracking experience, since I was all too familiar with the risk of the pizza stone cracking due to the sudden change in temperature.

My observations while the pizza was in the oven:

· The Baking Steel Mini did not have any significant temperature drop upon greeting the pizza dough, the way the pizza stone did. That means there’s no rebound time, when you want to make several pizzas in a row.

· Even though the Baking Steel that I used is over five years old, it has absolutely zero aroma. Because it’s non-porous, it does not carry odors the way a pizza stone does. A big bonus for sensitive noses like mine.

· There was no sticking at all, when I rotated the Baking Steel pizza every few minutes.

· I tried to bake the pizza for the same 10 minutes I had baked the one on the pizza stone, but I definitely had to remove it after 8 minutes. The pizza was done.

My observations after the pizza came out of the oven:

· The crust came out beautiful and crispy at the bottom.

· Bake time had been reduced by more than 20% – as expected.

· Because the bake time was shorter, the dough had not dried out.

· The flavor of the pizza was richer and simply better all around.

crust of a pizza cooked on a baking steel
 the undercarriage of a Baking Steel Mini cooked pizza.  

Conclusion

I am biased, you say? Of course I am. I love the Baking Steel Original, and I believe it’s in a class of its own. But I am confident that any pizza lover would prefer the Baking Steel pizza over the one made on the pizza stone. I've said this before, any of our Baking Steel products will take your home pizza game to an entirely different level.  Whether you are pro or a just getting started homemade pizza maker.

It’s simply crispier, richer and saucier – and significantly quicker to make, too. Plus, if you’re making more than one pizza in a row, you will really see the Baking Steel shine. The rebound time on a Baking Steel is just a few minutes.  Meaning, once its hot it stays hot and pizza at home is better because of it.

So, if you already have a Baking Steel – congratulations.

the tops both side by side, not much a difference here
Pizza stone on the left, Baking Steel Pizza on the right.

If you’re still stuck with a pizza stone, it’s probably time to upgrade to a Baking Steel. Either right now – or in a short while when the pizza stone is probably going to break anyway.


10 comments


  • Baking Steel Team

    @Nora thank you for reaching out! I hope football and pizza season comes soon enough for you!


  • Mark Karlsberg

    I have three kids ( grown ups) who live in three cities. I’ve purchased baking steels for them. They are blown away by how good their pizzas turn out. They had to experience it for themselves. And they are total believers.


  • Scott Allmendinger

    My UN-biased opinion as a long-time cooking professional and former test-kitchen director: This is a highly accurate description of my experience with stones and my Baking Steel. Plus, my Baking Steel Griddle has much greater functionality, from English muffins to lavosh and beyond. It goes from oven to stove top to grill for multiple uses and effects, including misting it to add steam to oven cooking. Next up: I’m going to try out your method for turning my grill into a pizza oven with a couple of fire bricks and the steel. Count me a big fan.


  • Michael Dean Michel

    Can you give us the recipe making pizza dough. .Thanks


  • dean

    I have a very old pizza steel. When I bought it, the recommendation was to heat with the broiler which is how I’ve used it with good results. You comment that the stone and steel both got to 510. Is this using the oven or broiler for heating? What do you set the temp control to?

    Thanks— I’m just curious.


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