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The Best Baking Stones and Steels
For professional-level pizza at home, you need a baking stone—or steel. There are plenty of styles and materials, but which model works best?
What You Need To Know
The blazing-hot oven of a real pizzeria can produce pizza with flavorful, crisp, deeply browned crust; melty, bubbling cheese; and hot, savory-sweet tomato sauce all in a matter of minutes. At home, though, pizza rarely reaches those heights. While a professional brick oven can reach temperatures upwards of 800 degrees, home ovens typically top out at 500 to 550 degrees. We’ve learned over the years that heating a good baking stone or steel in a 500- to 550-degree oven for an hour turns out pizzas that come closest to those produced in restaurant ovens.
But which stone or steel performs best? There are plenty of choices on the market, most of them round and about the size of a pizza. In our previous testings, we preferred models with a larger, more generous rectangular shape, for a bigger landing zone plus more versatility when baking oblong pizzas and even long loaves of bread. We also preferred an unglazed, thick slab of synthetic high-temperature ceramic to hard-to-lift steel because of the ceramic’s easier handling and, frankly, slower baking. Especially for inexperienced home cooks, having several extra minutes of baking time can provide a little more margin for error. Ceramic also gave us more predictable, repeatable results: In the test kitchen, we sometimes found that a steel’s extra-speedy cooking overbrowned the bottom of our pies before the cheese on top had time to fully melt. We ultimately recommended models of both styles, though.
Recently, our longtime favorite baking stone by Honey Can Do, a 16 by 14-inch rectangle made of a type of ceramic called cordierite ceramic, was redesigned in a way that removed a feature we’d liked, particularly the raised feet that made it so easy to grab and lift. We decided to take a look at new options. And since our previous testing, our test cooks have continued to experiment with baking steels, learning to accommodate their superior heat transfer and faster cooking with a few tricks (see “How to Optimize a Baking Steel”).
So we went back to the drawing board, testing a range of models, including the new version of our former winner. Several models were made of ceramic and others were made of steel, and all the models were rectangular or square in shape. They ranged in thickness from ¼ inch to more than 1 inch thick. Some were simple flat slabs, while others featured built-in handles, holes, or raised feet designed to make them easier to grab and pick up from a flat countertop or oven rack. One model we tested was a set of four small, lightweight tiles (less than 1½ pounds apiece) that are meant to be positioned side by side to make a 15-inch square on the oven rack. The...
Everything We Tested
Reviews you can trust
Reviews you can trust
The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.