How to Use a Pizza Stone

Love a homemade pie or even a frozen pizza? Anyway you slice it, learning how to use a pizza stone will up your at-home pizza game.

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Whether you reach for a frozen pizza or make pizza dough from scratch, having a pizza stone at home can change your at-home ‘za experience. Don’t have one of these pizza gadgets? Our Test Kitchen pros explain how to use a pizza stone and how it can transform your pie (even leftover pieces) into slices to savor.

What Is a Pizza Stone?

A pizza stone is a ceramic disc or slab that’s primarily used for cooking pizzas in conventional ovens.

Really good pizzas are often baked at high temperatures in brick ovens or special pizza ovens. However, conventional ovens can’t reach those temps (some brick ovens can hit 800ºF or more!). Ceramic pizza stones, however, can get very hot—up to 500º.

Using a pizza stone in your oven allows you to get the crisp crust on pizza that those specialty ovens provide. Without this piece of bakeware, you won’t get that crisp crust that we all crave when baking a homemade pizza.

Types of Pizza Stones

Pizza stones of all shapes and sizes are widely available at kitchen shops and big box stores. You’ll find most of these stones are unglazed ceramic slabs, though there are some options, like this Emile Henry pizza stone, that are glazed. These finishes can be easier to clean than an unglazed stone.

Stones also vary in thickness. Thin stones heat more quickly but won’t hit super-high temperatures. Thicker stones will get hotter, but be sure to budget extra time for the stone to preheat along with the oven.

How to Use Your Pizza Stone

Using a pizza stone in your oven couldn’t be easier. The only rule, according to Catherine Ward in the Test Kitchen, is to preheat the stone along with the oven. That means a cold stone goes in a cold oven. Do not place a cold stone in a hot oven. “The thermal shock of putting cold ceramic in a hot oven will shorten the life of the stone,” she explains. “It will cause it to crack eventually.”

When the oven and stone are preheated, just pop your pizza right on top. For frozen pies, that means setting the ‘za right on top of the stone.

If you’re making pizza from scratch, you can transfer the dough with a pizza peel—a super fun tool that makes you feel like a real pizzaiolo. You can also prep your pizza on parchment paper and then slide the pizza (parchment and all) right onto the stone to bake.

Use that same pizza peel (or even a cookie sheet) to remove your pizza from the stone when it’s done baking. Catherine recommends allowing your pizza stone to cool completely before removing it from the oven.

How to Use a Pizza Stone for More Than Just Pizza

While this piece of bakeware is known as a pizza stone, you can use this ceramic plate for more than just your Friday night pie.

The same heat that crisps up your pizza crust also benefits bakes like homemade sourdough and other rustic loaves, says Josh Rink in the Test Kitchen.

Use your stone for frozen foods as well. Frozen mozzarella sticks, chicken nuggets and more will all have a more satisfying crunch when baked on this slab.

The bottom line here: For crispy crusts and crunchy coatings, use a pizza stone.

How to Clean a Pizza Stone

Thanks to plenty of gooey cheese and baked-on sauce, pizza stones get dirty. However, when you go to clean these ceramic slabs, you’ll want to skip the soap—really!

“These stones are porous,” explains Catherine. “It will absorb and forever retain the taste of that dish soap.”

Instead, use a plastic or metal scraper to clean away any residue. Then wipe away any excess grease with a wet cloth. Allow the stone to dry completely before using it again.

Over time, these pale stones will get dark or even black, says the Test Kitchen’s Mark Neufang. But don’t fret. “Like cast-iron pans, the more seasoned these stones get, the better,” he says.

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa is also dedicated to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.