Baking Steel or Baking Stone for Pizza Perfection?

beautiful crisp pizza cooked on baking steel

For us home cooks, making amazing pizza can feel like one long experiment that will never be solved. The secret weapon behind many professional pizza kitchens is a super hot baking surface, often in a large oven that costs thousands of dollars.  Luckily for us, a small investment in a baking steel or baking stone can solve most of our problems with home ovens, providing crisp crusts and melty toppings.  

Both baking steels and baking stones will get the job done for you, but which one should you choose to elevate your home pizza the highest level? Let’s explore the world of baking steels vs. baking stones to help you pick the champion for your kitchen.

Stone vs Steel: The Material Difference

The key difference between a baking steel and a baking stone lies in their density and conductivity. 

Essentially, the more dense a material is, the more heat it can carry per cubic inch.  The more heat or energy it carries, the more energy it has to release when a pizza is placed on the surface.  

Conductivity refers to how fast a material can transfer heat or energy. The more conductive a material is, the faster a material can release that energy to other materials contacting its surface.  In this case, how fast can this energy be released into the crust of the pizza. 

A Baking Steel wins in both categories, having higher conductivity and higher density.  So, what does this mean for baking pizzas? 

  • Faster preheating: Baking steels heats up faster per pound of material. This does not mean baking steels will heat up faster as a unit, as baking steels usually weigh quite a bit more.  So… I would still heat up a Baking Steel or a Baking Stone for over 1 hour in the oven.  This is a tie for me. 
  • Superior Crisp Crust: The rapid heat transfer from steel sears the bottom of your dough more quickly, giving you a crisper crust and more color as well.  A clear win vs baking stones. 
  • Recovery Time Between Pizzas: Generally, the heaviest stone or steel will have the quickest recovery between pizzas.  A thick 3/8″ or 1/2″ baking steel will always out perform a similar size baking stone, due to its overall thermal mass (how much energy it holds).  
Pizza Launched on Baking Steel
Pizza launched on a baking steel in a home oven
Pizza on a baking stone or ceramic stone
Pizza being cooked on a Baking Stone

Durability: Stone vs Steel

From my personal experience, I can tell you that baking stones can me fragile instruments, often cracking when exposed to high temperatures or cold temperatures during the winter. And if you handle them roughly… they will crack.  

Baking Steels, on the other hand, are pretty much indestructible.  You would have to do something special to crack a baking steel. 

For durability reasons alone, I have  to recommend baking steels over stones.  A baking steel should last forever! 

What Size and Thickness?

OK, so you have decided to buy a Baking Steel for its performance and durability… what size should you buy? 

For the home oven, I would buy a 16″ x 16″ baking steel with a thickness of 3/8″.  I purchased a 14″ x 16″ baking steel to start, but quickly regretted not having the extra room on the steel for larger pizzas.  Affiliate links for several baking steels I recommend are below: 

Either one of those will get you closer to the perfect pizza you have been trying to make at home.  Below are some pizza photos from recent cooks on baking steels in my home oven…. 
bottom of pizza cooked on a baking stone
pizza cooked on a baking steel

More Links for Pizza Lovers

Below is my short list of dough recipes and pizza shortcuts…. tested and created at home… 

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Contact Keegan

Hi, my name is Keegan Lare. I love to create delicious grilled and smoked food, bursting with bold flavors. I also love to see my friends and family try something tasty and new. It is in this spirit that I created Seared & Smoked. Leave me a message and i’ll get back to you as soon as I can.