Any avid pizza lover and homemade Italian aficionado knows just how important it is to use a pizza stone to get the perfect cook on your pizza.
We’re not saying you can’t make a good pizza without a pizza stone, but it’s definitely a lot harder.
A real, authentic wood-fired pizza oven can reach temperatures of up to 900°F, which is what allows the pizza to cook quickly and come out crispy and delicious. However, the standard oven you get with most home kitchens only gets up to around 450°F.
This means it generally takes the pizza slightly longer to cook in a home oven, which is one of the reasons restaurant pizza always tastes so much better.
Thankfully, pizza stones can be used to recreate the conditions of a wood-fired oven and get your homemade pizzas closer to that authentic taste and texture.
It’s important to use your pizza stone correctly to get the best results, so this article has all the information you’ll need to properly preheat your pizza stone.
You’ll be making world-class pizza from your home kitchen in no time!
How Does A Pizza Stone Work?
The basic purpose of using a pizza stone is to recreate the scorching hot conditions of a real wood-fired oven that pizzerias use.
In your regular oven, the majority of the heat rises to the top, meaning things on the higher shelves get cooked faster than on the lower ones. By placing a pizza stone in the oven, below the pizza, it creates a source of heat that better surrounds it.
This is great for creating an even cook for your pizza and avoiding ending up with one said properly cooked and one side raw and soggy.
Much like in a traditional, wood-fired oven, placing the pizza directly onto a very hot stone or brick surface will start to cook the crust as soon as they touch. This is a really good way to recreate the crispy scorch marks on the base of a restaurant pizza to give it some versatility and depth of flavor.
Do I Need To Preheat My Pizza Stone?
For a pizza stone to carry out its job properly, it really does need to be preheated properly.
If you neglect to preheat the stone enough and put a raw pizza on top of it, the pizza will come out raw and soggy.
Also, placing a cold pizza stone into an already hot oven can be very dangerous for your equipment. The sudden change of temperature can cause the stone to crack. Not only is this a disaster because you won’t be able to use your stone anymore but shards and fragments of the stone can end up going into your food if you’re not careful.
That’s why it’s essential to follow these steps for preheating your pizza stone for a perfect pizza:
Step-by-Step: How To Preheat A Pizza Stone In An Oven
- First, place the pizza stone into a cold oven. You want your stone and your oven to heat up at the same time to avoid damaging the stone.
- Next, turn your oven all the way up to the highest setting. Don’t worry about the oven being too hot, there isn’t a single home oven out there that could get too hot for a pizza stone. Remember, the point of using the stone is to try and recreate the conditions of a wood-fired oven, which can reach temperatures twice as high as a standard home oven.
- Let the pizza stone sit in the hot oven for at least 45 minutes. This can seem like a very long time to preheat something but remember, your stone will take longer to come up to temperature than the rest of the oven. Pizza stones are designed to get up to very high temperatures and it’s crucial that you wait enough time for it to do that. The best way to do it is to start your cooking by preheating the oven and stone, then getting on with all the other prep you need to do.
That really is all it takes to preheat your pizza stone properly. So many people go wrong by being impatient and putting their pizza on the stone after only 15 minutes.
It’s definitely worth waiting for the full amount of time it’ll take for the stone to come up to temperature because the result will be a very disappointing pizza.
How To Preheat A Pizza Stone On A Grill
We’ve looked at preheating a pizza stone in an oven, but plenty of people choose to use an outdoor grill or BBQ to cook their pizza. Thankfully, you’ll still be able to use your pizza stone to get a similarly authentic pizza, even on a grill.
The process of preheating the stone is essentially the same as what we’ve outlined for an oven. You want to put the stone in while it’s cold, turn on the grill and leave it in there for at least 45 minutes.
The only difference is the way you heat the stone. Blasting direct heat onto it can cause it to heat up too quickly, causing the same cracking effect as if you put a cold stone into a hot oven.
If your grill has multiple burners, you should turn them all onto full power, except the ones directly under the stone. This will cause the stone to heat up more evenly with indirect heat and avoid damaging it.
Similarly, if you’re using a grill or BBQ with coal, try to avoid putting too much coal underneath the stone, which will apply too much direct heat. Instead, build up your coal around the stone (not on top of it) to create a hot environment that the stone will heat up in evenly and effectively.
How To Care For Your Pizza Stone
Other than preheating it properly, there are a couple of other things you should do to look after your pizza stone and keep it working properly for years to come.
In this section, we’ll go over how to season and clean your pizza stone effectively.
Seasoning Your Pizza Stone
You may have heard of seasoning a cast iron skillet or some other types of cookware and the same can be done with a pizza stone.
Seasoning happens when the oil and grease from foods you cook with leave behind a natural non-stick surface on your cookware. When you cook numerous times on your pizza stone, it becomes better seasoned over time and it will become easier to slide your pizza on and off it.
However, it’s a good idea to season the stone once before you use it for the first time, as it won’t have had time to build up this layer yet.
Before we explain how to do it, it’s very important to bear in mind that some stones, such as Pizzacraft stones, will come to you already treated. Trying to season a pizza stone that has already been treated at the factory can lead to smoked and other harmful fumes being blown around your kitchen.
Make sure you check if your stone has already been seasoned or treated, and is ready to use straight away before going through these steps:
- Wipe a thin layer of vegetable oil.
- Place the stone into a cold oven (remember, placing a cold stone in a hot oven can cause it to crack).
- Turn your oven up to about 425°F, or to the highest temperature you have available.
- Leave the stone to bake for one hour
Once you’ve done this, you’ll find the first time you use the stone to make an actual pizza, it should slide easily on and off. This effect will also get even better the more you cook with it!
Cleaning Your Pizza Stone
Properly cleaning your pizza stone is absolutely essential for ensuring it has a long, healthy life. However, there are a lot of things about pizza stones that make them slightly different to clean than a regular pot or pan.
These are some of the things you should bear in mind when cleaning your pizza stone:
- Always use a small stream of hot water from the tap, never fully submerge the stone into a sink full of water. You only want to clean the outside of the stone, not soak the centre.
- Ideally, use a stone brush or, if there are some really caked-on bit of food stuck to the stone, use a heavy duty pizza stone scrubber.You should never use an abrasive metallic cleaning implement like steel wool on your pizza stone.
- Never use soap on your pizza stone while washing it. Hot water will do the trick just fine and soap can weaken the stone over time.
- Always air dry the pizza stone once you’ve washed it. Some people make the mistake of trying to bake their stone dry in the oven and end up cracking it.
Best Types Of Pizza Stone
There are four main types of material used for pizza stones, so if you don’t have a stone already and are thinking about buying one, these are the things you should keep in mind.
Ceramic stones are very good at radiating heat evenly, producing a well-cooked pizza. These stones are super durable if you treat them properly, however if you do get something wrong, it’s very easy to crack or damage this type of stone.
Cordierite pizza stones are less susceptible to damage problems like this as the material is more reliable. It’s also worth bearing in mind that cordierite is better at absorbing moisture, which can draw out some of the oil and grease from your pizza to leave a nicer, crispier crust.
Clay is a similarly good material to use for drawing out moisture from the pizza. It does take a long time to preheat fully and is prone to being damaged if it’s not treated properly. However, it is one of the best materials for producing consistently good pizza.
Steel pizza stones have some different characteristics to the other three we’ve mentioned. Namely, it’s super indestructible and very convenient to use. You won’t have to worry about it cracking during use or waiting forever for it to preheat and it takes way less time to clean than the other materials.
It does provide a good level of even heat distribution and is probably the best material on the list. However, it is also the most expensive, so bear your budget in mind when deciding what to buy.
Hopefully, you’ve learned a thing or two from this guide about how to preheat your pizza stone and how to properly take care of it.
If you’ve searched for this article, it’s pretty clear already that you know a thing or two about making great pizzas from home. Now, it’s just a case of putting this knowledge into practice and cooking up some delicious feasts!