Pizza Stone vs Steel: Discover Which One You Need to Make the Perfect Pizza!

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Welcome to the epic battle of the baking surfaces! In the left corner, we have the tried-and-true champion, the pizza stone. In the right corner, we have the newer, superconductive contender, the pizza steel. Both are seeking the title of the “Best Baking Surface” for crafting the perfect home-cooked pizza.

Pizza stones have long held a solid reputation in home kitchens and pizzerias for their ability to deliver a consistently crispy crust. But recently, pizza steels have been gaining popularity, boasting faster cooking times and more intense caramelization of the crust. Each has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, but the question remains: which one is the right choice for you?

This post will delve into the key differences between these two formidable opponents, including their heat conduction abilities, durability, maintenance needs, and the quality of the pizza they produce. We’ll also discuss the factors you should consider when choosing between a pizza stone and a pizza steel for your home.

So, if you’re a pizza enthusiast seeking to level up your homemade pizza game, or just someone curious about the best ways to achieve that perfect, pizzeria-style crust in your own kitchen, then this post is for you. Read on to explore the pizza stone vs pizza steel showdown and find out which one emerges victorious!

Let’s get started!

Pizza Stone vs Steel

Pizza stones and pizza steels are both excellent tools for baking pizzas at home, but they offer different benefits and drawbacks. Pizza stones, traditionally made from cordierite or ceramic, are beloved for their ability to absorb moisture from the dough, leading to a crispy, evenly baked crust. They also retain heat well, ensuring a consistent temperature throughout the baking process. However, they can be somewhat fragile and require a longer preheating time.

On the other hand, pizza steels, made from ultra-conductive carbon steel, are known for their impressive heat transfer properties. This allows for faster cooking times, often resulting in a well-browned, beautifully caramelized crust. Steels are virtually indestructible and typically reach higher temperatures than stones. However, they can be heavy, more expensive, and may need extra care to prevent rusting.

When choosing between the two, factors such as your budget, baking preferences, and how often you plan to bake pizzas at home should be considered. Ultimately, both pizza stones and steels can help you achieve a delicious, pizzeria-quality pizza in your own kitchen.

Pizza Stone vs Steel Compared

FeaturesPizza StonePizza Steel
MaterialCeramic or CordieriteCarbon Steel
Heat RetentionGoodExcellent
Heat TransferModerateVery High
Preheat TimeLongerShorter (15-30 minutes)
Baking TimeLongerShorter
Crust QualityCrispy, Evenly BakedWell-Browned, Caramelized
DurabilityFragile, can crack if mishandledVery Durable, nearly indestructible
MaintenanceMinimal, but avoid soapRequires occasional oiling to prevent rust
PriceGenerally cheaperGenerally more expensive

Do You Need a Pizza Stone or Pizza Steel to Make Pizza?

A pizza stone and steels are significant options that kick your homemade pizza up a notch. The basic concept of these tools is that they conduct heat and hold it very well.

The conductive service of the stone or steel is meant to cook your pizza quickly and evenly. This process will result in a crispy and more flavorful pizza than other cooking methods.

Being able to make a fantastic pizza at home beats waiting on delivery. Making your pizza at home is relatively easy, and you can make it with the exact combination of pizza toppings you like.

After a few trials, you can nail your favorite recipe. Once you are ready to up your pizza-making game,  you will want to ditch the sheet pan and invest in a tool that will trick your taste buds into thinking your pizza just came out of a wood-fired oven. 

When making pizza at home, we are trying to get as close as possible to what you would find at your local pizzeria. Or better yet, what you get on the streets of Naples, the traditional Neapolitan pizza made in old-fashioned wood-fired ovens. 

Pizza Steel vs. Stone: Why You Need One?

Most people will tell you that you need to get a stone or baking steel to make pizza at home. But usually, they don’t tell you why you need it and what are the benefits of having one. 

Find why they are not just another kitchen gadget but the road to perfection.

pizza stone vs steel

Features of Using Pizza Stone or Steel

There are three features that you will accomplish:

Appearance – A defining feature of Neapolitan-style pizza is the appearance of little black burned spots on pizza, known as “leoparding” or “leopard spotting,” widely viewed as a desirable trait.

Leopard Spotting

Achieving true leoparding on a home oven is exceedingly difficult, but you’ll get close if you use a pizza steel.

Char or leopard spots on pizza

Texture – A good pizza results in a crispier, browner crust and superior flavor when compared to pizza made on a baking sheet.

Taste – This is not just about cosmetics; this is about taste. We want a noticeably crispier texture and a top-quality flavor.

The extreme temperatures reached by stones and steel cause chemical changes — not only in the crust but in the sauce and cheese layer— that make the pizza taste like more than just bread, sauce, and cheese and top of each other.

What is a Pizza Stone?

Also known as a baking stone, it is what it sounds like—virtually a piece of flat stone, clay, or ceramic that sits on a rack in the oven.

The stone will heat up evenly and retain the heat, leading to a more evenly cooked pizza with a crispier crust. A baking stone has a porous surface, allowing steam to evaporate, which ends up with a crispier pizza crust.

Pizza Stone

Baking stones can be round or rectangular and can also be used for cooking other items such as cookies or bread. Baking stones come in different thicknesses. The thicker stones tend to work better and are more durable; however, they are more expensive and take longer to heat up.

Baking Stone also knows as Pizza Stone

How to Use a Pizza Stone

Place your stone in a cold oven and allow it to reach a temperature as you are preheating your oven. You can try using your stone on different racks.

Typically, the lowest shelf or even the oven floor is best. However, you can play with it to get your desired pizza crust.

Steps to using a pizza stone:

  1. Place your stone into the lowest rack of the oven.
  2. Preheat the oven to 500°F in the “Bake” setting.
  3. Let the stone heat up for 1hr before using it.
  4. You will slide your pizza onto the stone and bake until the cheese is lightly browned.
  5. Remove the pizza and turn off the oven. Leave the stone in the oven to cool down slowly.

You can even leave the stone in your oven permanently when you are done.

Ooni Promo

Maintenance and Cleaning for your Pizza Stone

Pizza stones are more susceptible to cracking or breaking over time. The stone may also shatter if it is exposed to rapid temperature change.

The stone’s excellent advantage is that you can put it in the oven and never take it out, making for a low-maintenance pizza cooking solution!

Pizza Stone Storage

Leaving your stone in the oven will help equalize your heat and make it less likely to be damaged while taking it in and out of the oven.

Leaving your stone in the oven will cause your oven to preheat more slowly, which is a trade-off. You will not have to find a place to store it in your kitchen if you always leave it in the oven!

Cleaning your Pizza Stone

To clean your stone, make sure that it is at room temperature. Due to the porous surface, never clean your stone with something that would not be safe if you were to eat it.

Wipe your stone with a cloth, gently scraping off any stuck-on bits.

If you need to clean it further or get off a stubborn spot, make a paste of water and baking soda and delicately spot-clean the surface with a brush or a soft cloth.

What not to do with your pizza stone:

  • Please do not wash it with a dishwasher. 
  • Rinse to clean, and never use soap or detergent as it may be absorbed and affect the taste of foods. 
  • Never season the pizza stone with oil or grease. 

Things to Avoid with a Pizza Stone

Due to the baking stone’s susceptibility to thermal shock, you want to avoid placing the hot stone on a cold countertop. Cooking a frozen pizza (or other frozen foods) is also not advised. You should never add a cold stone to a hot oven, as this will cause it to crack.

You should also avoid cooking meats or other foods with high fat content. The moisture released during cooking will soak the stone’s porous surface and cause problems later.

Do not add grease or oil to your stone.

If you feel your pizza might stick to the stone, add a bit of cornmeal to aid you in taking out pizzas or loaves of bread. If possible, do not soak your stone, and be sure not to use metal utensils while cleaning as this can damage the stone’s surface.

Pro Tip

Adding course cornmeal to the pizza peel just before setting the pizza to the stone or steel makes it easier to slide on and off.

What is a Pizza Steel?

Baking Steel, also known for cooking pizza, was created by a steel mill operator who loves pizza. Steel conducts heat evenly and quickly, making it excellent for baking pizza. It is also almost indestructible, making it an excellent investment for a piece of kitchen equipment.

Pizza Steel

Baking steels come in a few different thicknesses. Thicker steel will hold more energy, meaning it will cook faster, regulate oven temperatures better, and be better when you use it for cold purposes. Just like stone, thicker steel will typically be more expensive.

Pizza steel

The steel heats very efficiently. The heat from the steel will move quickly to the pizza crust that is resting on its surface.

This heating method will shorten your cook time versus using a baking stone. You can also use the steel as a griddle on your stovetop or even try freezing it to try new cooking techniques.

How to Use a Baking Steel

Your baking steel is best used on the bottom rack of your oven. After preheating your oven, you can slide the pizza onto the steel.

About halfway through your cook time, you may want to rotate the steel 180 degrees. Remove your pizza when cooked and leave the steel in the oven to cool off gradually.

You can also use your broiler to give the top of your cheese a nice blast of heat before you pull it out.

Steps to using a pizza steel:

  1. Place your steel into the lowest rack of the oven.
  2. Preheat the oven to 500°F in the “Bake” setting.
  3. Let the steel heat up for 1hr before using it.
  4. You will slide your pizza onto the steel about halfway through your cook time, rotate the pizza 180 degrees, and bake until the cheese is lightly browned.
  5. Remove the pizza and turn off the oven. Leave the steel in the oven to cool down slowly.

Pizza Pun

Never date a pizza baker

They’re too kneady.

Maintenance and Cleaning of Your Pizza Steel

Caring for your new steel is relatively easy. Baking steels are very durable and can last a lifetime. You will appreciate that the material is strong enough to withstand an accident.

Steels also have an advantage over stones when it comes to thermal shock. Because they are immune to thermal shock, they will not shatter or break under these circumstances.

Clean your steel with hot water and a brush. Do not use soap to clean it. Dry the steel entirely and store it in a dry environment. Keep your steel away from moisture to prevent rusting. Your steel will take on a darker patine with extended use, which is normal.

Like other steel kitchen equipment, your steel is expected to take on a dark patina over time.

Occasionally seasoning your steel with a light oil coating is recommended from time to time, just like you would a cast-iron skillet.

Things to Avoid with a Pizza Steel

Avoid using soap on your baking steel; do not let it air dry. Water can cause rust on your baking steel, so always dry it thoroughly with a towel.

Do not put your hot steel into cold water; while it should not break under these circumstances, it can cause the metal to warp.

Pizza Stone vs Pizza Steel: Similarities and Differences

Both the stone and steel will give you a pizza with better taste and texture. These two alternatives heat evenly to ensure that your crust is cooked entirely.

Shape and Size

Baking steels typically come in only one or two sizes. Stones come in a wider variety of shapes and sizes, with more options for every budget.

Pre-Heating and Thermal Conductivity

The difference between the two is not as big as expected; the steel still requires a substantial preheating time to be at its best — about an hour, the same as with a stone.

Thermal conductivity for steels is about 14 watts per meter kelvin. For ceramics, it’s about four watts per meter kelvin. So, the thermal conductivity of metal pans is about four times higher than that of ceramics.

Thermal Conductivity

Thermal conductivity (often denoted by κ) refers to the ability of a material to transfer or conduct heat. It is one of the three methods of heat transfer, the other two being convection and radiation.

Pizza Stone and Pizza Steel Thermal Conductivity

Heat Retention

A downfall of pizza stones is that they have low heat retention and lose heat after baking a pizza. 

If you are baking more than one pizza, this could be a problem because you will need additional time and electricity to return the temperature to the stone. 

Pizza steels hold the temperature for extended periods.


Pizza steels are about 50 percent heavier than any particular stone, so even though steel conducts heat better, the extra mass just needs extra time to heat up.

Pros and Cons of Pizza Stones


  • Multiple Uses
  • Less Expensive
  • Lighter Weight
  • Easier Storage


  • Less Durable
  • Low Heat Retention
  • Low Thermal Conductivity
  • Softer Crust
Pizza steel

Pros and Cons of Pizza Steel


  • High Thermal Conductivity
  • High Heat Retention
  • Durable (Lifetime)
  • Requires Additional Storage


  • Pricey
  • Fewer Shapes & Sizes
  • Heavy
  • Crispier Crust

Factors to Consider when Buying a Baking Stone or a Baking Steel


Usually, a baking stone will cost around $30 to $60, depending on the size, thickness, and brand. Baking steel will run about $60 to $100, depending on the size, thickness, and brand.

While the two products have a price difference, they have different features. Pizza stones will have more uses for various cooking scenarios, while pizza steels can be used cold and are also the more durable of the two items.

Thickness and Shape

Another factor to consider is thickness. Both the stone and the steel have a couple of thickness options. The thicker ones will cost a bit more and take more time to heat up but they will cook more evenly than a thinner stone.

If you are leaning towards a baking stone, consider purchasing a rectangular-shaped one. This shape will give you more surface area to work with when making your pizza and be handier if you bake other things, such as cookies.

Pizza Stone or Baking Steel: Which is the Right Pizza Surface for You?

The pizza stone is probably the best option if you are looking for an all-around kitchen baking tool. In addition to pizza, you can use this tool for baking bread, and cookies, heating leftovers, and more.

Also, the stone is typically more affordable, even going up to a thicker width.

Among pizza baking surfaces, steel is a better option for you if you want to use it when it is cold, such as for a cold sushi platter or as an anti-griddle for quickly cooling down sauces, or to use to make your own rolled ice cream.

Being extremely heavy-duty makes up for the higher price point if you are concerned about dropping or damaging it.

If budget is a significant factor, choose the baking stone. It will make a great pizza without breaking the bank, and you can always upgrade to steel later.

However, if you make pizza regularly and are serious about the quality of your crust, pizza steel is the way to go.

Here’s What the PROs at Homemade Pizza Pro Use and Recommend

Our Top Pick
The Original Baking Steel

The Original Baking Steel is perfect for making high-quality pizzas at home. Stores 18 times more energy than traditional ceramic pizza stones. Perfect for crispier crusts and faster cook times.

Quarter-inch steel is virtually indestructible and won’t shatter or crack; cleans up quickly and easily with gentle soap and warm water. 16" Round, 16 Lbs. Manufactured in the USA.

Check it Out
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you!

Where to Buy a Pizza Stone or a Pizza Steel

Pizza stones and steels are readily available at most department stores, baking supplies stores, and online.  Here are our favorites from Amazon.

Thermichef by Conductive Cooking Thermichef by Conductive Cooking

Restaurant quality pizza is now achievable without an expensive brick-oven stove or stone. Introducing the ultra-conductive Square Pizza Steel from Conductive Cooking! We made the ultimate cooking plate for home chefs to help them create the perfect brick-oven like pizza.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you!
Our Top Pick
Unicook Heavy Duty Pizza Grilling Stone Unicook Heavy Duty Pizza Grilling Stone

 Unicook pizza stone is made of all-natural Cordierite, sintered in a 2100°F kiln for hours, with no odor under proper use. Feature of superior strength, durability, heat retention, and excellent thermal shock resistance, built to outlast all others. Heat resistant up to 1,450°F (787°C).

The special porous structure of the baking stone helps to distribute heat evenly and draw out the moisture from dough efficiently; Make pizza or bread with crispy crusts, avoiding the sogginess that often occurs with metal pans.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you!
Our Top Pick
The Original Baking Steel

The Original Baking Steel is perfect for making high-quality pizzas at home. Stores 18 times more energy than traditional ceramic pizza stones. Perfect for crispier crusts and faster cook times.

Quarter-inch steel is virtually indestructible and won’t shatter or crack; cleans up quickly and easily with gentle soap and warm water. 16" Round, 16 Lbs. Manufactured in the USA.

Check it Out
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you!

The Last Slice

In wrapping up the pizza stone vs steel debate, it’s clear that both options offer unique advantages and can significantly elevate your homemade pizza game. If a robust, long-lasting baking surface that heats rapidly and yields a gorgeously caramelized crust appeals to you, then steel might be your pick in the pizza stone vs steel match-up. Conversely, if you appreciate a crispy, uniformly baked crust and prefer a more budget-friendly, lighter alternative, then a pizza stone might win your vote.

In the grand scheme of pizza stone vs steel, the ideal choice hinges on your personal preferences, the frequency of your pizza-baking endeavors, and your financial considerations. Regardless of your pick, the key is to relish the experience of crafting and enjoying delectable homemade pizzas. After all, in the heart of the pizza stone vs steel debate, the joy comes from a well-made, homemade pizza, no matter the baking surface.

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