Tips for Using a Pizza Stone

Pizza cooked in the oven on a pizza stone

Like most people, I love pizza. Takeout pizza, homemade pizza, grilled pizza – you name it, I’ll take them all. While I do make pizza at home frequently, I didn’t own a pizza stone so I took our Gourmet Pizza Making Gift and gave it a test drive to see if I prefer pizza on the stone or how I’d been cooking it all along (either in a sheet pan or directly on the grill grates). Given that I’d never used one before, I thoroughly read the instructions included and did some Googling so I think I have some good tips for all of you out there who are in the same boat I was.

In the Oven

First, I made a pizza on the stone in my oven (even though it’s the dead of summer and it heated up the house insanely – see how much I love you readers?). In this case, I let the dough rise and once I was ready to start assembling the pizza with toppings, I placed the pizza stone in the cold oven and heated it to 450° Fahrenheit. You must ALWAYS place a pizza stone in a cold oven and slowly let it come up to temperature – if you place it in an oven that’s already preheated, it will crack and we don’t want that. I saw other sites suggest 500 degrees or even to just put it at the highest your oven will allow, but the stone we carry said 450 and I found this to work just fine.

pizza-prepYou want the stone to preheat for at least 15 minutes before you try to cook the pizza to ensure the stone is good and hot and will cook the crust properly. I’ve seen sites that tell you it has to be in the oven for an hour and that just seems unnecessary. I found that the 15 minutes was plenty.

I do not own a pizza peel so I rolled out my dough on a heavily floured, large cutting board so I could sort of slide it off onto the stone when I was ready to pop it in the oven. Let me tell you, this method is challenging and a pizza peel would have been EXTREMELY handy. I think the hassle of getting the dough from the floured cutting board to the hot stone would be a cinch with this. Even without it, I managed to get it on there.

Another tip – the pizza stone in our kit is 12” and my dough went almost to the edges – this isn’t a huge deal, except the sauce leaked over the stone and onto my oven. Luckily, I had the foresight (thanks to my husband) to put a sheet pan underneath the stone to catch the drips so I would recommend either making sure you have a pan under it, or try not to have the sauce go anywhere near the edges. I did try to mound the crust part of the pizza up so to limit the run-off, but this apparently did not work the best so learn from my mistakes 🙂

The stone instructions said that it would take 10-12 minutes and to watch for the edges of the crust browning – this was right on the money and took about 10 minutes in my oven.

On the Grill

grilled-pizza I will start by saying the pizza stone instructions did say not to cook over an open flame, but I have seen so many articles and information about how to use a pizza stone on the grill so I gave it a try and I’m here to tell you that nothing broke and the pizza came out fabulous.

Just like when in the oven, you need to slowly get the stone up to temperature to prevent cracking. Place the stone on the cold grill grates, then turn on medium heat, close the grill cover and let preheat for at least 15 minutes. Assemble your pizza on a floured cutting board (or ideally use a pizza peel!!) and slide onto the pizza stone after the stone has preheated. Let cook with the grill cover closed for 10-15 minutes – you want the edges to brown, and I found it took closer to 15 minutes to get the desired level of doneness.

I had less of an issue on the grill with toppings and sauce sliding off – I don’t know if this is because I used less sauce and learned from my oven mistakes or if less rising of the dough happens on the grill.

Cleaning Tips

Because pizza stones are so porous, do not soap to clean them or your next pizza will taste like Dawn dish detergent! Let the stone cool completely before you attempt to clean it and scrape off stuck on crumbs with a stiff brush and hot water. It’s normal for the stone to become discolored so do not worry about that – it’s kind of like caring for a cast iron pan, you want it to be seasoned. Also, the more you use your stone, the easier pizzas will remove from the stone’s surface when it’s ready to eat. Of course for me, these were my first two attempts and the oven one really got some sauce and cheese caked on so it will likely be a few more times before mine is really non-stick, but we’re willing to keep making pizzas to test this out 🙂

Overall, I had fun trying out our pizza gift set. I really love the flavor of a grilled pizza, and while I think I still prefer the taste of putting the dough directly on the grates, I enjoyed these pizzas, too. Of the pizza stone methods, I liked the grill better, but this is a matter of personal preference and taste. Get yourself one if you don’t have one stowed away in a cupboard in your kitchen and start making some homemade pizza on your pizza stone!