Homemade pizza is amazing. Not only is it more frugal and personalized than restaurant pizza, but it's also tons of fun to make with your family! My girls love to spread the sauce, sprinkle on the cheese and toss on the toppings. (We're working up to letting them shape the dough.) Pizza stones are awesome because they make your homemade pizza crust taste like crispy, delicious restaurant crust. But what's the best pizza stone material: stone/clay, steel or cast iron? We've got 16 tips to help you decide.
Homemade Pizza Tools: Clay and Stone
Clay or stone baking tools are the classic choice for homemade pizza. These stones work by absorbing moisture out of your dough while it bakes.
1. Pro: You can pretty much get a stone or clay pizza stone in any shape or size you can imagine. And, if you can't find the shape you dreamt up, you can make your pizza stone out of unglazed tiles.
2. Pro: It makes a super crispy and delicious homemade pizza crust (even for Paleo or gluten-free pizza crust, but you may want to use parchment paper with some varieties rather than cornmeal to prevent sticking).
3. Con: It gets that yucky black stuff on it and that's hard to clean off. Homemade pizza loves to drip. No matter how well you construct your pie, you're likely going to end up with at least some cheese or topping goo on your pizza stone. Once it's there, it's difficult to clean off. Plus, you have to wait for the stone to cool off to do any intense cleaning. That wait means the goop is just going to bake on even more.
4. Con: It's best to preheat your stone for at least half an hour before sliding your dough onto it. That means extra waiting time for the family and extra energy usage for your oven.
5. Con: Here's the biggie—stone is at high risk to break or crack. Even high quality (and thus often more expensive) pizza stones can fall prey to woeful breakage.
Homemade Pizza Tools: Steel
Pizza steel is a relatively new player in the homemade pizza baking game. The primary benefits lauded by pizza steel lovers are that steel heats quickly and bakes your dough more evenly than stone or clay. It lets you create crisp wood-fired restaurant pizza crust at home.
6. Pro: Steel is stable at lower temperatures than stone, so it can cook more quickly and evenly at lower temps.
7. Pro: Steel is not likely to break or crack. You'd probably need a chisel or even a jackhammer to break this puppy.
8. Pro: It doesn't need to preheat long since it warms up much quicker than stone.
9. Con: There's one big, fat con to steel homemade pizza baking—the price. A 16-inch by 14-inch version from Baking Steel costs a whopping $79. Eep! But if you're in the pay once and have a good product for a lifetime club, it may be the best choice for you. After all, if you end up breaking a couple of $30 clay pizza stones, you'll end up topping that $79 price tag in the end.
10. Con: It's pretty heavy and most varieties don't have handles, making it a bummer to move. When it's hot, it's pretty much an impossibility.
Homemade Pizza Tools: Cast Iron
Even if you don't own a specific tool to bake homemade pizza, you may be able to make your pizza crispy. If you have a trusty cast iron skillet, you can cook crispy restaurant-style pizzas on the stove top. You can also buy a cast iron pizza pan to use in the oven.
11. Pro: It heats up super fast.
12. Pro: Cast iron is crazy easy to clean. Just wipe it out with a clean towel, oil and season it occasionally, and you're done. Ahhh...kick those feet up and relax instead of scrubbing and scraping homemade pizza goop.
13. Pro: Handles, blessed handles. You can easily slide your cast iron around in the oven, and even take it out while it's still hot. Hooray for handles! Hooray, hooray, hooray for handles! (Too much Dr. Seuss for me this week.)
14. Pro: Like steel, cast iron is nearly impossible to break or crack. You could hold a cast iron-breaking contest atop your roof and probably never declare a winner.
15. Con: It's heavy. Duh. This is why movies show people thwacking villains with cast iron pans. They're heavy and they hurt! For goodness sake, do not drop these babies on your toes.
16. Con: If it's enameled cast iron (or cast iron with plastic, stainless-steel, or enameled handles) you'll only be able to use it at temperatures of 400 degrees F or lower. That's not the best temperature for homemade pizza cooking, which usually happens at about 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Cast iron without enameling can of course be baked at much higher temperatures, but most manufacturers recommend keeping it at 500 or below unless you're attempting to re-season it.
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