One of the easiest ways to improve your homemade pizza game is to use a pizza stone during cooking. A pizza stone holds heat from the oven and then transfers that heat into the crust of your pizza. The result? A beautifully crispy crust!
Using a pizza stone correctly isn’t rocket science, but there are a few tips and tricks to get the best performance out of your stone.
How to Cook with a Pizza Stone
Pizza stones come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are relatively cheap to buy – at least, compared to constructing a brick oven in your backyard! I like square or rectangle stones because they fit well in my oven and offer a bit of room on either side of my pizza. (I used to have a round pizza stone, but I would occasionally spill pizza toppings into my oven because there wasn’t a lot of extra room around the edges.)
There are a few best practices when cooking with your pizza stone.
- Always preheat a pizza stone: The stone sucks up heat, so the longer you can preheat it the better it will perform. I preheat my stone for at least 30 minutes at whatever temperature I’m shooting for (usually 500˚F for pizza).
- Use a pizza peel: Get a decent pizza peel so you can easily slide the pizza on and off the stone. (Using your hands with an oven mitt is an awful idea.)
- Watch the pizza as it cooks: Pizzas cook faster on a stone. You may find that you need to rotate your pizza once during cooking or pull it out a few minutes early to keep it from burning.
- Don’t forget about calzones and flatbreads! You can cook more than just pizza on a pizza stone.
How to Clean and Care for a Pizza Stone
I do not believe in super-cleaning a pizza stone, and here's why:
Pizza stones are porous, which means they will soak up water. If you submerge your pizza stone in water to try to get it sparkling clean you will essentially create a rock sponge and it will take forever to dry out.
There are only two ways I recommend cleaning a pizza stone.
- Use a scraper: If cheesy bits get stuck to your pizza stone while cooking, use a sturdy spatula to scrape them off once your pizza stone has cooled. Spray a little hot water on the stone to loosen things if you need to, but don’t stick the stone directly in or under water.
- Use a baking soda paste: If something odorous spills on your pizza stone and you notice a funky smell, clean the stone with a baking soda paste. Combine 2 tablespoons baking soda to 1 tablespoon water, apply to the board, and scrub with a dish brush. Wipe the excess with a damp cloth, then put the stone in a very low oven for a 1-2 hours until it is completely dry. (For what it’s worth, I’ve only had to do this once or twice in my pizza cooking career, which has been fairly exhaustive.)
Never spray a hot pizza stone with water! The temperature difference will almost certainly cause the stone to crack. Let the stone cool gently to room temperature before trying to clean it.