Great pizza needs high heat. Hotter temperatures lead to puffier crusts with more tender crumbs, but they’re hard to achieve at home. Most New York-style pizza ovens bake off their pies at 600ºF to 700ºF while the average home oven tops out at 550ºF (if that). All’s not lost, however—with a good pizza stone, a home pizzaiolo can replicate their favorite slice in the comfort of their own kitchen.
Pizza stones are usually made from ceramic or cordierite (a type of ceramic with a high mineral content), which contribute to your baking in two distinct ways. To start, they’re great at absorbing and holding onto heat—even as the oven temperature swings up and down when the burner kicks on and off, the stone itself will maintain a consistent temperature. But cordierite is also porous: It absorbs moisture from the dough as it’s baking, helping the bottom crust get crispier.
Pizza stones aren’t just for pizza either—they’re great for any type of bread baking, with consistent heat helping the yeast create a steady and consistent rise in the dough. We baked 24 pizzas and 24 loaves of ciabatta using 12 pizza stones to find out which models were the easiest to use, had the best heat retention, and baked the crispest crusts.
The Winners, at a Glance
The Unicook stone is 15 millimeters thick, which helps it retain heat when baking pizzas back to back, baking up puffy crusts and crisp bottoms. Its larger size also was more accommodating for a variety of pizzas (like rectangular sfincione) and also allowed us to bake two loaves of bread side by side.
At 22 inches wide, this stone had enough space to cook two smaller pizzas simultaneously, and because it was only nine millimeters thick, it reached 500ºF in just 30 minutes. It cooked great pizzas and baked big, open loaves of ciabatta.
This stone performed as well as all the others, but is slightly smaller at 16 by 14 inches. This makes it a great pick for people with narrow ovens, and it’s also more affordable.
With four individual 8- by 8-inch tiles instead of one large stone, this set allows you to arrange them in the best pattern for your bake. They’re also take up less storage space and, since you can move them one at a time, easier to load into the oven for people with limited mobility.
Serious Eats / Jesse RaubBack-to-Back Pizza Test: To test each stone’s heat retention, we baked two New York-style pizzas back to back. We checked the stone temperature with an infrared thermometer at 30 minutes and 60 minutes during the preheat, and then before and after each pizza was baked. We then evaluated each pizza’s crust, looking for deep brown bottom crusts with puffy, soft interiors. Ciabatta Test: We baked two ciabatta loaves side by side on each stone to see if they were large enough to accommodate both. We also checked the temperature with an infrared thermometer pre- and post-bake and evaluated each loaf for its oven spring and even browning.Usability and Cleanup Tests: We tested how easy each stone was to move in and out of the oven both with bare hands (while still cool) and while wearing heat-resistant gloves after baking. We also evaluated how well each stone fit on the oven rack, and how easy it was to clean off each stone after baking.
What We Learned
Why Only Square and Rectangular Pizza Stones?
Rectangular pizza stones could accommodate multiple loaves of bread at once.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub
When we were researching pizza stones to include in our testing, we had the choice between circular, square, and rectangular models. And while a circular stone certainly makes sense for most pizzas, we found the shape overall to be limiting. As we noted previously, baking stones that are square or rectangular are much more versatile, since there’s extra room in the corners when you’re launching your pizza. At the same time, they’re also more accommodating for other pizza shapes (like the rectangular sfincione) or for baking multiple breads at once (like baguettes). For that reason, we decided not to test any circular stones.
Pizza Stones Really Worked
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub
The biggest takeaway from all our testing is that every single model baked up delicious pizzas and excellent ciabatta loaves. As we noted in our comparison of baking steels versus stones, cordierite pizza stones have a lot of thermal mass, which means they absorb heat and retain it very well throughout the entire bake.
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub
Even after baking two pizzas and two loaves of ciabatta on each stone we tested, the results were so similar that we couldn’t make a judgment based on performance. Instead, we were more swayed by small design details that impacted usability when picking our winners—even though every stone baked just fine, not all of them were a dream to use.
Bigger Was Better
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub
The best results came from larger stones, like the Unicook Large Pizza Stone and Sur La Table Pizza Stone. Both took up nearly the entire oven rack, giving us ample room to launch pizzas and side-by-side ciabatta loaves. This meant we didn’t have to be as precise with our peels, and it was much less stressful to complete the day’s bake when we weren’t nervous about any dough sliding off the edge and spilling sauce all over the oven floor. The smallest stone we tested, the Ooni Baking Stone, was still able to accommodate our tests but it was a nail-biter: One of the ciabatta loaves started sagging, and the only thing that saved us from disaster was a quick yank on the parchment paper to recenter both loaves safely on the baking surface.
Thicker Stones Retained More Heat, but Thinner Stones Recovered Faster
Thicker stones had more thermal mass and retained more heat.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub
Most stones came in either a 15-millimeter or 10-millimeter thickness, and the 15-millimeter stones were much better at retaining heat between bakes. Both the Unicook and CucinaPro Pizza Stone only lost about 50ºF after the first bake, and each was able to recover to over 500ºF before the next pizza was ready. But even though thinner stones (like the Sur La Table and Outset Pizza Grill Stone Tiles) tended to lose closer to 60ºF to 80ºF after the first bake, they were still able to fully recover in just a few minutes. They preheated faster, too, with 10-millimeter pizza stones reaching 500ºF in 30 minutes, while 15-millimeter stones took closer to 45 minutes before they were ready to bake.
Handles Got in the Way
Handles cut into available baking space.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub
As tricky as it can be to pick a handleless pizza stone up off the counter, handles always get in the way. The ROCKSHEAT Pizza Stone has two sets of indented handles, one for either side of the stone, but neither is centered. This made it awkward to carry since the weight was always tilting forward, but it also cut into usable baking space. The Nordic Ware Deluxe Square Pizza Stone With Rack had a stainless steel cage that the stone sat in, but its handles protruded so much that it prevented us from being able to launch our pizzas with the peel. The handles also crowded the ciabatta loaves, preventing them from rising freely. Finally, the Emile Henry French Ceramic Baking handles were comfortable to hold, but they also felt precarious—it was the only stone we tested made from ceramic instead of cordierite, and picking it up by the handles made the whole stone flex slightly, making us worry about cracking.
The Best Stones Were Two-Sided
Two-sided stones offered twice the baking surface.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub
While we generally liked the King Arthur Bread and Pizza Stone and Honey Can Do Pizza Stone, both had a pattern of raised lines on the underside of the stone, advertised as “promoting even heating.” In our testing, we didn’t notice any heating advantages of these ridged patterns, but we did find that they prevented both stones from being two-sided. Two-sided stones inherently have an advantage because you have double the baking surface to use—if one side ends up with a lot of stains (which really isn’t that big of a deal; see below) you still have another side to use.
Stains Were Bound to Happen
While grease stains are common on pizza stones, they won’t affect performance.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub
Because cordierite is porous, any spills will quickly soak into the surface and turn into permanent stains. And while they may not look very attractive, there’s not much you can do to get rid of them. Most manufacturers encourage you not to wash the stones at all, since moisture can get trapped inside and weaken the stone over time (or even turn into mildew or mold). And you should definitely never use soap on a pizza stone—doing so runs the risk of your stone forever smelling like soap (and potentially imparting off flavors into whatever you’re baking). Instead, stones are best cleaned by wiping them down with a damp cloth after they’ve fully cooled. If there ever is a spill, scrape as much off as you can with a bench scraper and be prepared for the stone to smoke a little on your next preheat—any leftover bits of food will burn off and leave the surface ready to bake your next pie.
The Criteria: What to Look for in a Pizza Stone
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub
When it comes to pizza stones, size and shape are the most important factors since all the ceramic and cordierite stones we tested performed similarly. The best stones are wide enough to accommodate multiple loaves of bread and have flat, unimpeded baking surfaces. They’re also two-sided, so you can flip your stone between bakes.
The Best Pizza Stones
What we liked: This stone evenly browned both pizza crusts back to back, producing a tender, open crumb with a crisp bottom. Its 15-millimeter thickness had great heat retention, too, only dropping about 40ºF between the first bake and the second. It was roomy enough to accommodate both ciabatta loaves—which baked up big and puffy—but it’s still small enough to fit into most people’s ovens. And it’s heat-safe up to 1450ºF, which means you can use it on a gas grill, too.
What we didn’t like: At just over 11 pounds, it’s the heaviest stone we tested. This makes it harder to load into the oven, but it also makes it trickier to pick up from a counter if it’s lying flat.
Price at time of publish: $60.
Materials: CordieriteWeight: 11.22 poundsDimensions: 20 x 13.5 inchesThickness: 15 millimetersMax temp: 1450ºFPreheating instructions: Preheat to at least 500ºF for 40 to 60 minutesCare instructions: Wipe clean with a damp cloth, dry fullySerious Eats / Jesse Raub
What we liked: We loved this roomy, extra-wide stone—it easily fit both ciabatta loaves, and it could likely fit two smaller pizzas side by side, too. It preheated quickly, reaching over 500ºF in under 30 minutes, and even though the temperature dropped about 60 to 70ºF between the two pizzas, its 10-millimeter thick stone recovered before the second pizza was ready to launch.
What we didn’t like: While it doesn’t weigh as much as our top pick, it’s still one of the heavier stones we tested. It’s also wide enough that it was a little cumbersome to move it in and out of the oven.
Price at time of publish: $48.
Materials: CordieriteWeight: 9.4 poundsDimensions: 22.5 x 13.5 inchesThickness: 10 millimetersMax temp: 1400ºF Preheating instructions: Preheat to at least 500ºF for 30 minutesCare instructions: Wipe clean with a damp cloth, dry fullySerious Eats / Jesse Raub
What we liked: This stone matched performance with our top picks, but its 14- by 16-inch dimensions will fit in any oven—even the narrowest efficiency models—and also on most charcoal grills. It’s also slightly deeper than our top picks at 14 inches (instead of 13.5 inches), which means it can accommodate slightly larger circular pizzas. Plus, it’s pretty affordable.
What we didn’t like: It’s another heavy stone, and in our testing, we found models that were at least 20 inches were more versatile. But if you’ve got a smaller oven, or are looking for a slightly cheaper price, the CucinaPro fits the bill.
Price at time of publish: $40.
Materials: CordieriteWeight: 9.88 poundsDimensions: 16 x 14 inchesThickness: 15 millimetersMax temp: 1400ºFPreheating instructions: Preheat to at least 500ºF for 30 minutesCare instructions: Wipe clean with a damp cloth, dry fullySerious Eats / Jesse Raub
What we liked: If you’re short of storage space, or think you might have trouble carrying a heavier pizza stone, this set of four individual tiles from Outset might be for you. Each tile is around eight inches by eight inches and just over a pound, meaning you can set them up in your oven however you like. Whether that’s a big square, two rectangles, or some other pattern that works for what you want to bake, the choice is yours. They also heated up quickly and baked nice-looking pizzas and ciabatta loaves. When you’re done, you can stack them all in a pile for easier storage.
What we didn’t like: It was a little precarious baking a pizza on them, only because there could potentially be space between the tiles that sauce spills can drip through. We also wish the tiles were more rectangular, to mimic the overall size and shape of our top picks.
Price at time of publish: $27.
Materials: CordieriteWeight: 5.72 poundsDimensions: 8 by 8 inches for each stoneThickness: 10 millimetersMax temp: 1450ºFPreheating instructions: Preheat to at least 500ºF for 40 to 60 minutesCare instructions: Wipe clean with a damp cloth, dry fullySerious Eats / Jesse Raub
Honey Can Do Pizza Stone: This stone performed well in our tests but its ridged bottom means it can only be used one-sided.ROCKSHEAT Pizza Stone: The off-center handle divots on this stone took up too much of the cooking surface’s real estate, limiting the size of our bakes.King Arthur Bread and Pizza Stone: This stone also had ridges that made it one-sided only. Williams Sonoma Pizza Stone: Even though this stone performed well in tests, its higher price point kept it from being a winner.Emile Henry French Ceramic Baking: The glazed surface of this stone was easy to clean and crisped up breads well, but it’s made from ceramic which is more susceptible to cracking under thermal shock than cordierite. It’s also very expensive. Nordic Ware Deluxe Square Pizza Stone With Rack: The protruding handles on this stone’s stainless steel cradle prevented us from being able to launch directly onto the stone from the peel.Ooni Baking Stone: Though it performed just fine, this was the smallest stone out of every model we tested and it had trouble fitting two loaves of bread side-by-side. Pizzacraft Pizza Stone: We actually liked this stone a lot as an alternative to our top pick, but this size has been unavailable to purchase for over a month.
Do pizza stones really work?
They do! Pizza stones are made from cordierite, which is a mineral-rich type of ceramic that absorbs moisture and transfers heat directly to the crust, helping it crisp up better than a regular sheet pan. Once preheated, they act sort of like a battery for heat, continuously browning the crust even when the oven temperature fluctuates.
How long do you cook pizza on a pizza stone?
The length of time it takes to cook a pizza on a pizza stone varies by the style of pizza you’re making, the size of the pizza, and the temperature you’re cooking it at. For our New York-style pizza recipe, we suggest 12 to 15 minutes at 500ºF. It’s best to consult the specific recipe you’re making for the right time/temperature combination, but also keep an eye on how quickly the crust and cheese are browning.
Should I oil my pizza stone?
No—pizza stones are made from a porous material and will absorb any oil that lands on them. This will then burn and smoke the next time the pizza stone is used. It’s also unnecessary to oil pizza stones because they don’t need to be seasoned. If a stone is preheated properly, the dough won’t stick at all, though you can always use a piece of parchment paper if you’re worried about sticking.
Why is my pizza sticking to my pizza stone?
If your pizza dough is sticking to the stone, it just hasn’t been preheated enough. As the pizza stone heats up, the pores on the surface stone will start to shrink. When it’s hot, dough will immediately begin to cook and release from the surface. A pizza stone that’s too cool will grab onto the dough while it’s cooking, causing it to stick. We recommend preheating your stone for at least 45 minutes at 500ºF.
Why We’re the Experts
Jesse Raub is Serious Eats’ commerce writer and spent over 15 years working in the specialty coffee industry. He’s our in-house coffee expert and regularly tests baking gear, including reviews of the Solo Stove Pi Pizza Oven, proofing baskets, and bread lames.For this review, he spent over three weeks testing the pizza stones, dedicating an entire day to each stone and baking 24 pizzas and 24 ciabatta loaves overall.