When it comes to baking the perfect pizza, everyone has their own specific preferences. For some, their quest is for the crispiest crust, while others may be searching for the most user or budget-friendly option.
Whether you want to create the hot and fiery temperatures of traditional Italian pizza ovens or simply want a delicious homemade pizza to satisfy your cheese cravings, deciding what cooking surface to use can be confusing.
Pizza stone vs steel is the hot topic of debate in most kitchens because most pizza connoisseurs swear by the pizza stone, claiming it is far superior to other methods of baking a pizza in a conventional oven.
However, what about the pizza steel? Does it measure up to the pizza stone in terms of ease of use, the cleaning method, and most importantly, pizza production?
Unfortunately, not many people have access to a handy pizza oven in their backyard and so using the home oven is the only option. A conventional oven cannot produce the perfect pizza on its own and requires a little help to create the high temperatures needed.
This means it’s imperative to choose the correct baking equipment to ensure your pizza creations meet your needs and kitchen preferences. To help you navigate this difficult culinary decision, this article will investigate the pros and cons of pizza steel vs stone. Once you have all the information at your fingertips, the decision is ultimately yours!
What Is A Pizza Stone?
When considering the pizza stone vs pizza steel, it’s best to understand what these are in terms of material and how they work. A pizza stone is usually made from clay or stone. Ceramic pizza stones come in various shapes and sizes and are appreciated in most kitchens for their ability to create a crispy pizza crust.
How Does It Work?
A baking stone is an ideal piece of pizza baking equipment to have. This portable cooking surface is meant to copy the cooking effects and extreme temperatures seen in a traditional brick oven. How does it do this?
First, it provides the pizza with the direct heat it needs to instantly crisp the base and cook the pizza faster without drying out the topping. This is really good news if you are considering purchasing pizza stone vs steel.
Secondly, combined with the oven’s heat the stone absorbs excess moisture from the pizza dough producing a dry, crispy crust on the outside but a soft, chewy center. The even cooking results seen when baking on these ceramic stones means that the pizza is cooked to perfection and bake time is reduced.
However, even the best pizza stones require preheating to boost their heat capacity before they can provide their best results – a great pizza! Traditional pizza stones should be preheated at 450-500 degrees Farenheight, for a minimum of an hour.
This process should start in a cold oven to prevent thermal shock, resulting in a cracked pizza stone.
- Many options to choose from.
- Inexpensive DIY solutions such as quarry tiles can be used.
- Perfect pizza production, moist toppings, and crispy crust.
- Replicates the cooking effects of a brick oven (high heat transfer).
- Boosts the oven’s high temperature.
- Even heat distribution and faster cooking times.
- No oiling or seasoning is required.
- Long periods of preheating are required – one hour and more.
- Brittle and easily broken.
- Susceptible to thermal shock (too hot/too cold).
- Bulky and difficult to store.
- Specific cleaning methods are required.
Caring For A Pizza Stone
Pizza stone care is relatively simple and if you follow a few golden rules they can last a long time. These are in no particular order.
Firstly, allow the pizza stone to cool down before attempting to clean it. This will prevent thermal shock (cracking) from sudden temperature changes from hot to cold and prevent you from burning your hands. Once the stone is cool, scrape the excess food particles off it using a plastic scraper or spatula.
Finally, use a clean, damp cloth to wipe the stone down and allow it to air dry completely before using it in the oven again. Avoid using soap or excessive amounts of cold water when cleaning the stone as these can be absorbed by the stone’s porous surface and leach into your food the next time it’s exposed to heat.
Traditional pizza stone care can be tricky when compared to the pizza steel. Although the cleaning process is simple and no oiling is required, it can be pretty temperamental and crack easily if exposed to high heat or sudden cold temperatures.
Storing the stone can also be challenging. Most people tend to keep it in the oven on the bottom rack, but smaller home ovens might not be able to accommodate this.
Furthermore, a stone exposed to accidental knocks or bumps can easily break.
What Is A Pizza Steel?
Also known as the baking steel, the pizza steel is a relatively new concept compared to the long-standing and much-loved pizza stone. Made from food-grade steel, the baking steel is typically 1/4 inch thick and weighs around 15 lb; however, size and thickness can vary depending on your personal preference and oven size
Although relatively new to the pizza game, the pizza steel easily gives the pizza stone a slight jog for its money! There are some very mitigating factors to consider when considering the pizza steel vs pizza stone.
How Does It Work?
Much like the baking stone, the basic idea behind the pizza steel is to conduct, retain and maintain the high temperatures of the home oven. However, it is also capable of transferring heat quickly and stabilizing the cooking temperature.
This means although the pizza is exposed to high heat, as seen when using a pizza stone, it’s the pizza steel’s retained heat rather than just the hot temperature of the oven that cooks the pizza faster snd provides a crispier crust!
- Conduct and hold heat more effectively than other materials
- Better cooking experience
- Enhanced heat retention, faster bake time
- Made from food-grade steel, not easily broken
- Not susceptible to thermal shock
- Lightweight and easily stored
- Easy to clean
- Shorter preheating requirements – 30-40 minutes
- Can rust if left to air dry
- Requires specific cleaning process and oiling
- It can be heavy or bulky if thicker varieties use
- Requires oiling
Caring For A Pizza Steel
Like the pizza stone, the pizza steel requires proper care. However, cleaning a pizza steel does require slightly more effort than seen with the pizza stone.
While you don’t need to worry about thermal shock (rapid changes in temperature), when cleaning, the tray should be completely cool to prevent accidental burns. Remove the pizza steel from the hot oven and place it on a heat-resistant surface. Once the steel is cool to the touch, scrape the excess food matter off using a dough scraper or spatula.
Next, use warm water, soap, and a soft sponge to wash off the steel.
Dry both sides of the pizza steel thoroughly to prevent it from rusting. Air drying a pizza steel is not recommended as this can cause it to rust. Lastly oil the steel using neutral food-grade oils such as canola oil, flaxseed oil, or coconut oil. This will maintain the non-stick surface and prevent any rust from developing.
With proper care, a pizza steel could literally last a lifetime! Wipe a thin layer of oil onto the steel, and remove any excess oil with a paper towel. Then pop into the oven, close the oven door and bake at 350 F for approximately one hour. Allow the baking steel to cool and then store in the oven or storage bag.
Similarities And Differences
Pizza steel vs pizza stone are very different materials, yet both are beneficial to the cooking process. However, here are some things that may influence your final decision.
Both the baking steel and pizza stone comes in varying shapes and sizes. When looking at the pizza steel vs pizza stone consider the size of your oven, storage capacity, and usage requirements.
The thicker the pizza steel or stone the more heat it will retain, however, this can make it very heavy. A thinner pizza steel or pizza stone may the best option for the smaller home kitchen. Pizza steels are generally lightweight when compared to the heavier, easily broken pizza stone. The pizza steel can also be heavy and difficult to store if you select heavy-duty varieties.
Size and Shape
An important factor when considering a pizza stone vs pizza steel is shape and size.
Select an appropriate size or shape suited to your kitchen and oven size. The pizza stone vs pizza steel both come in various shapes and sizes. Pizza steels can be round or square-shaped and range from large to small to suit the dimensions of your oven. While the pizza stone is also available in a range of sizes and shapes
Cooking time between the pizza stone vs steel is one area that stands out in terms of their differences. While both are excellent at enhancing the heat of your oven, both are not equal when it comes to heat retention.
When compared to the pizza stone, the pizza steel heats up faster and retains its heat more effectively, thus reducing both preheating and cook times.
Ultimately most things boil down to price and the same can be said when considering the pizza stone vs pizza stone.
However, both can be quite pricy depending on the brand, size, and shape. If you are only an occasional pizza maker, you may want to consider cheaper pizza stone options. However, if baking a top-notch pizza using high-quality materials such as pizza steel, then this may be the better option for you.
Finally, the faster bake times seen with the pizza steel mean a reduced amount of energy used or wasted. So not only do you get your pizza faster but it also benefits those looking to reduce their energy bills. Now, that’s an eco-friendly pizza!
So Is A Pizza Steel Superior To A Pizza Stone?
The pizza steel is definitely a more efficient baking surface than the pizza stone.
Made from low-carbon steel, the baking steel is capable of higher temperatures than the pizza stone. It also heats up quickly and has a faster heat-transfer rate than the traditional pizza stone. As a result, the pizza steel retains heat obtained from the oven temperature better than the pizza stone and produces gorgeous crusts from the very first pizza.
In fact, when comparing pizza steel vs stone, it’s the steel’s superheat conductivity that is the significant difference between the two baking surfaces. Its superior surface temperature generates the intense heat required for a quality pizza. All that’s required on your part is lashings of tomato sauce and an ice-cream dessert to follow!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Clean A Pizza Steel?
The pizza steel is very easy to clean using a few simple tools. Once you have allowed the steel to cool, scrape off the excess food and wash using warm water and soap. Dry thoroughly (both sides) to prevent rust and oil using a food-based oil. You can also use a cleaning brick to remove rough spots and marks prior to oiling.
Should I Oil My Baking Steel?
To maintain the non-stick surface of the baking steel, you should oil the steel using neutral oils such as coconut, flaxseed, or canola oil. This also prevents rust from developing on the tray.
However, olive oil is not a good option to use to season your pizza steel as it has a low smoke point. This means your kitchen will be very smokey the next time you use your pizza pan, it’s not a good idea to overheat oils past their smoke point (highest temperatures) as they can release toxic fumes and vapors.
What’s the Best Way to Store A Baking Steel?
You can store a baking steel in two ways.
Firstly, in the oven on the bottom rack – this is an ideal storage solution for a pizza steel as the oven is dry and will prevent rust from forming. Alternatively, you can purchase a basking steel storage sleeve, some pizza steel models come with these storage bags as standard. Once your baking steel is clean, pop it into the storage bag until you decide to bake your next pizza
Do I Need To Use A Pizza Peel With A Pizza Steel?
A pizza peel is one of the most essential tools for baking a good pizza. Whether you are using a pizza steel or pizza stone. It helps to transfer the pizza in and out of the oven without the need to remove the pizza steel or pizza stone. A further reason to use a pizza peel is the fact that it protects you from the heat of the oven, pizza steel, or stone and ensures your pizza remains intact.