What are the benefits of preheating a pizza stone in the oven for a full hour?
Generally, the hotter the pizza stone, the better the browning and expansion of the dough. Since a pizza stone can match an oven’s highest temperature and store that heat, a stone preheated for an hour should make a better crust than one preheated for less time, or not at all.
To demonstrate the point, we cooked thin-crust pizzas on stones that had been preheated for 60 and 30 minutes and compared them to pizzas prepared on an unheated stone. The 60-minute stone produced the best pizza by far, with a tender, airy, well-browned crust. The 30-minute stone produced decent but not stellar results. As we expected, the unheated stone yielded a blond, dense crust, even after spending twice as long in the oven. Lastly, we baked pizza on an overturned baking sheet preheated for 30 minutes (ample time for the baking sheet’s lesser mass), our recommended substitute for a pizza stone. It performed reasonably well, but still not quite as well as a pizza stone.
Follow these guidelines: To achieve the best possible thin-crust pizza, preheat a pizza stone for a full hour. If you don’t have a pizza stone, preheat an inverted baking sheet for 30 minutes.