Pizza has always been one of my major food groups. My dad would treat me to post-game pies to get through hours on the soccer field as a teen, and years later, I would take myself out to get over a hangover with dollar slice combos too often to count when I lived in Manhattan. I'll travel far and wide for a good slice, but lately, one of my favorite places to get pizza is somewhere I don’t have to travel to at all: home.
My life changed when my dad got a pizza oven recently. Now, I don't think I've ever had a bad slice of pizza—the trifecta of bread, tomatoes, and cheese can do no wrong—but perfecting your dough stretching skills and choosing toppings just makes every pie taste a little more special. Plus, it’s really fun and all you need is a reliable pizza stone and your grill (or just your oven!).
Ahead, the best pizza stones from our favorite home cooks and chefs.
1. Napoleon Rectangular Baking Stone, $45.99
One of the hardest parts about making pizza at home is getting the right ratio of crispy crust to chewy dough. It’s tricky to get the crunchy exterior that a hot pizza oven offers, but this pizza stone can get you one step closer. The porous stone pulls moisture away from your dough for a sturdy, bubbly, crispy crust.
Chef Randy Feltis of The Farmhouse Restaurant in Barrie, Ontario and the mastermind behind the popular TikTok page @katherinewants loves Napoleon's large baking stone. “It's perfect for a couple of small pies or one large pie. In the winter, I bring it inside and leave it in my oven,” he says.
To use, just place the cold pizza stone on the cold grill. Cold is the key word here! A hot grill and a cold stone are a recipe for disaster—the stone can crack, which is not only frustrating but can be dangerous. Turn on your grill or light your coals, and then close the hood so the stone heats up along with the grill. Once the temperature reaches about 425°F, you’re ready to get grilling.
2. The Original Baking Steel, $119
While some prefer cordierite or ceramic pizza stones, others like home cook and pizza connoisseur Jake Kern swear by pizza steels. “The ‘pizza stone’ I've been using for five years is a metal plate from Baking Steel, which I bought after a review by J. Kenji López-Alt when he was doing Pizza Lab,” he shared. “This thing is a tank—having cracked more than one traditional pizza stone, durability is never a concern with the steel. I also really prefer the rectangular shape over a round stone. The steel covers almost the entire rack in my oven, meaning I don’t have to worry about if my crust is going to droop over the edge, and it ensures incredibly even heating when I'm baking something else.” If a classic circle shape is more your speed, the brand has a variety of shapes and sizes.
So, what's the deal behind the steel? Invented by Andris Lagsdin, whose family was in the steel business, a pizza steel aims to solves three major problems with traditional stones: they can crack, they take longer to cook the pizza, and they’re not great at retaining heat. According to those on team steel, the material is more durable and serves as the perfect conductor for a bubbly, well-browned pizza crust.
3. Lodge 14” Cast Iron Baking Pan, $59.39
A cast iron pan is one of the most versatile pieces you can add to your cookware collection. You can use it to sear, bake, broil, fry, or grill everything from veggies over the campfire to a crispy pizza on the grill. The pan is pre-seasoned for a smooth baking surface that your dough won’t stick to, and boasts great heat retention and distribution for a crust that’s cooked through evenly. The best part though? Cast iron gets better with age and can last decades.
Lodge has been making cast iron cookware stateside since 1896, so you know it's doing something right. Denise Woodard, founder and CEO of Partake Foods, counts herself as one of the brands’ loyal users. “Friday nights are pizza nights at my house, and this is my go-to,” she shares. “I was first introduced to the Lodge brand when I received one of its pans as a bridal shower gift 11 years ago. My grandmother, who has since passed away, helped me season it, so I have a special place in my heart for this brand and still use that pan multiple times a week. My 7-year-old daughter, Vivienne, and I use Partake Pizza Crust Mix for pizza nights at our house, and the Lodge works whether we want to throw the pizza on the grill or in the oven.”
To use this pan for the perfect pie, you’ll want to pop it right over the flame on your grill and let it heat up for about five minutes. Adjust the flame to high or low depending on how quickly you are trying to crisp up your pie. While that heats up, stretch your dough and sprinkle your cheese and toppers. After the pan is preheated, place your pie on the pan and then back onto the grill. Be mindful that cast iron gets really hot, so remember to use a good oven mitt to avoid scorching your hands. The end result? A perfectly crispy crust and chewy dough—chef's kiss.