What to look for in a pizza stone
Here are some considerations to think about when looking for a pizza stone:
Shape: One might think that since pizza is round, a pizza stone should be too. But we actually think you’ll get much better pizza out of a rectangular stone. “With a round stone, if you miss that target by a little, [the pizza] is going to hang off the edge,” said Janjigian. “You don’t have to aim perfectly with a rectangular stone.” Rectangular stones are often larger, so they also hold more heat, which can make a pizza with better browning. Finally, rectangular stones are more versatile. “I want the real estate for things that aren’t perfectly round,” said Janjigian, who also uses a pizza stone to bake bread. The only time we see a round stone having an advantage is for grilling since larger rectangular stones sometimes don’t fit, especially on circular grills. For almost all uses, rectangular is the way to go.
Size: “I want my stone to be as big as my oven rack, minus some space for airflow,” says Janjigian. A larger stone not only holds more heat but provides plenty of real estate for larger pies and long baked goods like baguettes. We found a stone that is about 16 inches by 14 inches to be the ideal size for most home ovens. If you’re looking for a cordierite stone, thicker is also better, says Janjigian, because thicker stones are less prone to cracking. Our favorite cordierite stone measures ¾ inch thick, and we found this size to be a good compromise between durability and maneuverability.
Weight: While lighter stones may be easier to transport in and out of the oven, Janjigian says that heavier stones will produce better pizza. “The lighter it is, the less mass it has, and the less it can heat the pie,” he says. A heavier stone will hold a lot of heat, and make a well-browned pizza. Pizza stones usually weigh about nine pounds, but most of our top picks are 13 to 16 pounds because they’re thicker or made with heavier material like steel or cast iron.
Material: We looked at stones made from steel, cordierite (a heat-resistant mineral), and cast iron, all of which have different thermal properties, and thus, different uses. Of these, steel absorbs and transfers heat the fastest, which makes it ideal for pizza in the home oven. If you’re serious about good home pizza, we recommend opting for a pizza steel. Cordierite stones make decent pizza but have less thermal mass than steel, so the crust tends to be paler and less developed. However, cordierite is a great choice if you plan on using your stone to bake bread since other materials tend to burn loaves. If you hate the idea of a unitasker and have a robust baking repertoire, a cordierite stone will absolutely do the trick. Finally, cast iron offers a happy medium between steel and cordierite in terms of heat conductivity. However, we have yet to find a rectangular cast iron stone, only circular pans, which are trickier to use. We think circular cast iron pizza stones are a good option if you’re interested in grilled pizza, especially if you have a round grill.
Price: Pizza stones are basically just slabs of material so be wary of any stone priced significantly more or less than competitors made from the same material. Expect to pay about $40 to $60 for a cordierite or cast iron stone and $70 to $90 for a steel one. You won’t get a significant increase in performance from something priced higher.