And this one from Nordic Ware is her personal favorite because it’s made from “a heavy-duty aluminum with solid rims that prevent warping.” Elena Lesser, chef and TV host, likes it “because of its even heating, allowing food to be properly roasted and baked with nice contact crisping and browning.” She even thinks these are the “closest brand to the industrial baking sheets” she used as a chef at Missy Robbins’ Lilia. Eric King, food photographer and baking blogger at Easy Gay Oven, likes it because it “cooks steadily, so it doesn’t burn the bottoms of cookies,” and “unlike some other baking sheets, it has a lip to catch any leakage from, say, buttery croissants.” Admiral Kassel, founder of New York City’s Flour Shop, describes it as the “perfect nonstick” that has “some sort of magic in there that makes for the perfect bake every time,” though she hypothesizes that it’s due to the weight from the aluminized steel and ceramic-based coating.
The metal is thick enough that it won’t warp, and she thinks these are “relatively easy to clean, unless things really get burnt onto the pan, which can necessitate more intense scrubbing, even enlisting steel wool.” But to prevent that, she recommends cooking with parchment paper or some sort of layer, especially since these aren’t nonstick. They have “no bells and whistles” but they’re made from heavy aluminum, so they’re less prone to warping, and they’re not nonstick, so you’ll want to use parchment paper with these, too.
This isn’t a traditional sheet pan, because the sides are much higher than most and it’s coated in enamel, but Shelly Westerhausen, cookbook author and owner of Vegetarian ‘Ventures, swears by it. A pizza stone is the best tool for baking up crispy pies that’ll rival those made by your favorite restaurant, but it can also do so much more.
But near-perfect pizza isn’t the only reason we chose the Filament stone as our top pick. It’s an all-purpose baking surface that can help you make airy croissants, light flaky biscuits, and pies with golden bottom crusts.
If you want the best possible chance at creating a pizza with the black-spotted crust of a brick-oven Neapolitan pie, the -inch-thick Original Baking Steel is your best bet. It conducts heat better than any ceramic stone we tested, yielding pizzas with dark and puffy crusts.
And unlike the Filament, this durable steel plate is safe to use under any broiler and on the grill. They had a slightly paler, softer crust than pizzas we made with the Baking Steel or the FibraMent-D, though they were still delicious and satisfying.
And its gentler heat made it even better than the Filament for baking croissants, which turned out so uniformly golden you’d have thought they came from a professional bakery. Then I hustled my way into a vegetarian restaurant kitchen six months later, after embellishing my expertise in vegan pastry arts (I had none but quickly learned).
Before I knew it, I was baking at two restaurants and a catering company to save money for culinary school. Since then, I’ve worked in restaurants in three major cities, as well as in the test kitchens at Martha Stewart Living and Everyday Food, and written numerous guides for Wire cutter.
And I spent many hours scrolling through the extensive forums on The Fresh Loaf, Breadtopia, and Pizza Making to hear what home bakers have to say. If you’ve ever baked a pizza on a cookie sheet, you probably noticed the crust wasn’t as crisp and browned as a pizzeria pie.
That’s because A) your home oven can’t get as hot as a commercial one, and B) a cookie sheet is too thin to hold enough heat to produce a superbly browned pizza crust. A baking stone or steel won’t actually make your oven hotter, but it does store heat.
When you bake bread or pizza directly on the hot surface, that concentrated warmth results in crustier breads and crispier pizzas with puffier oven spring (the expansion of dough during the first few minutes of baking) than you’d get from just hot oven air and a cookie sheet. Ceramic stones are versatile because they conduct enough heat for a puffy oven rise, but they won’t blacken the bottoms of pastries, biscuits, cakes, and tarts.
Cordite ceramic, a material commonly used in commercial bakery ovens, is great for baking stones because, as William Party told us, “It’s rather insensitive to rapid changes in temperature” (so it won’t crack when you drop a cool piece of dough on the hot surface). Ceramic stones are great for baking not only pizza and bread but also biscuits, scones, and tarts.
Compared with steel, ceramic transfers heat more moderately and won’t torch the bottoms of delicate baked goods. Susan Reid, editor for Sift Magazine, bakes a lot on her stone: “Ninety percent of the time it lives in the oven on the middle shelf.
The hot stone could cause glass plates to shatter due to thermal shock.) Scott Mixture, professor of materials science, explained “The heat conduction in the steel is probably 100, 200, or 300 times faster … so that’s a dramatic difference”.
At ¼ to ½ inch thick, baking steels are also much thicker than a baking sheet or even a cast-iron pan, and therefore they hold a lot more heat. Ultra-thin-crust pizzas, like New York- and Neapolitan-style pies, bake very well on steel because the intense blast of heat is crucial to get proper browning and oven spring in a short amount of time.
Good air circulation not only promotes even baking but also boosts your oven’s longevity and performance. Comparing the thicknesses of the ½-inch Old Stone Oven (top), -inch Baking Steel (middle), and ¾-inch FibraMent-D (bottom).
Photo: Sarah Ionosphere’s a sweet spot when it comes to stone and steel thickness. Depending on the season, that means that by the time the stone is ready, you could be stretching dough in an unbearably hot kitchen.
If you’re worried about lifting your creations, stone is a good choice because it weighs significantly less than steel. A visual comparison of surface texture (clockwise from top left): Old Stone Oven, FibraMent-D, Emile-Henry (glazed), and Pizza craft.
The pizza we made on a glazed stone turned out surprisingly golden, but the crust was limp and had the mouthfeel of a steamed bun. Surface texture of a baking steel probably isn’t as important since it has higher conductivity than ceramic.
But the baking steels we tested, while not as rough as our favorite stones, do have the coarse texture of a Lodge cast-iron skillet. Photo: Sarah KobosOur first round of testing, and arguably the most important, focused on pizza.
Others made a great first pizza but couldn’t hold enough heat for multiple bakes, which is important for feeding a crowd. For this test, we used the King Arthur No-Knead Crusty White Bread recipe because it’s easy and forgiving, and the dough can live in the fridge for seven days.
It’s also one of the few no-knead recipes we found that doesn’t require baking the bread in a Dutch oven. We proofed the loaves in a basket (called a Bannon), then turned them onto a semolina-dusted pizza peel, and launched them onto the preheated stones and steel.
It made the puffiest and crispiest pizzas of all the ceramic stones we tested, and it’s more versatile than a baking steel. You can tackle breads, tarts, biscuits, pastries, and pies on the FibraMent-D stone and avoid any excess browning, because ceramic doesn’t conduct heat as well as steel.
We believe that the craggier surface provides channels for steam to escape, which is one of the reasons why the Filament stone produced pizzas that were crusty, dark, and chewy, with outer rims chock-full of big air pockets. Both the wheat and white versions had chewy, crisp crusts and an airy crumb.
Compared with the Old Stone Oven, the Filament was better for cooking consecutive pizzas because it held more heat, which resulted in a shorter recovery time between bakes. But if you’re making pizza, you’ll get better oven spring and browning the longer you let a baking stone preheat.
We found that all of our picks performed and recovered heat better between pizzas when they preheated for 1½ hour. The Filament stone produced pizzas that were crusty, dark, and chewy, with outer rims chock-full of big air pockets.
So whether you have a tiny apartment oven or a big high-end range, you’re likely to find the perfect size for your needs. For maximum versatility, we recommend a rectangular stone that’s roomy enough for oblong loaves or large batches of bread and rotating pizza as it bakes.
But we don’t think that’s a deal breaker, since the Filament also works for delicate pastries, making it more versatile than a steel. But Filament sells kits for the grill that include the stone (three size options) and a metal shield to divert the flames for $8 to $12 more.
This heavy steel plate delivers a big wallop of instant heat that in our testing let us bake up the best pizza of all the competition. And unlike the FibraMent-D, the Baking Steel is flameproof, so it’s safe to use on a grill or under a flame broiler.
While it’s great for pizza, its heat is very intense and will burn the bottoms of bread, buttery pastries, pies (the sweet kind), biscuits, and cookies. Of the available Original Baking Steel models, we tested the ¼-inch and -inch thicknesses, and we ultimately preferred the latter.
Although an eighth of an inch might not seem like much of a difference, the extra steel means more stored heat for crispier pizzas. The Baking Steel produced pies with puffy, pleasantly charred crusts.
The Baking Steel produced pies with puffy, pleasantly charred crusts. Luckily, it’s okay to just leave it in there, as long as you don’t bake delicate items directly on the steel.
Scott Mixture, a professor of materials science and engineering, told us that the thick steel mass works well at evening out the temperature variation in the oven. We found that thickness didn’t hold enough heat for multiple bakes when we tested the rectangular version.
The warranty on the Original Baking Steel is only 30 days, much shorter than the Filament’s or Old Stone Oven’s. For something that costs $110, that can feel like a leap of faith, but a thick, solid steel plate is as durable as it gets.
In our tests, the Old Stone Oven baked the most evenly golden croissants and made rustic bread on a par with the FibraMent-D. And even though it produced pizzas with lighter color and less oven spring than anything made on the Filament or Baking Steel, it still browned the crust better than the rest of the competition. That in-between texture translated to pizzas that were crisper and darker than those we baked on smoother stones, but still softer than what we could produce with the FibraMent-D.
We recommend springing for the rectangular stone, as long as you can fit it in your oven with at least 1 inch of air gap around the perimeter. Our Old Stone Oven pick comes with a limited lifetime warranty (excluding misuse and accidents).
The Epicurean peel, made from a wood-fiber composite, is more durable than wood and less sticky than metal. Photo: Sarah KobosWhile pizza peels aren’t required equipment, a good one will make your life easier.
A great pizza peel won’t stick to the dough as you’re dressing and launching your pie onto the stone (within reason, of course). If you need proof, just watch the cook at your favorite pizzeria throw a raw pie in the oven.
In our testing, we tried a wooden pizza peel that we used twice before it split, and we wiped it down with only a damp cloth. It’s lightweight, thin, dishwasher safe, and stood up to making 50 pizzas in two weeks for our tests.
To avoid any risk of sudden temperature change that could cause a ceramic stone to crack, always put it in a cold oven before preheating. When you’re finished baking, let the stone cool completely in the oven, again to avoid dramatic temperature changes.
Both Cast Elegance and Pizza craft cordite stones have smooth surfaces that produced pale, soft pies in our tests. The Emile Henry Pizza Stone would make a gorgeous platter for an epic cheese and meat spread, but the brilliant shiny glaze isn’t ideal for baking pizza, since it traps steam underneath the pie.
The pizza we made on this stone had a crust that, while golden in spots, had a gummy crumb and little structure. But the second pizza had a much fainter golden hue and floppier crust, proving that the -inch steel is worth the extra cost for its ability to retain more heat over multiple bakes.