If you love making pizza at home and want to elevate the quality of what you make but do not have a wood-fired oven, pizza steel and pizza stone are the best alternatives. Both make some fantastic pizzas with a crispy crust, but the problem often comes in picking one between them.
While these two tools are meant for the same purpose and have various other similarities, they are not the same. Therefore, it is crucial to know how each cooks and what sets them apart to ensure you choose the ideal one.
Pizza Steel vs. Pizza Stone
1. Structure: Solid Steel vs. Clay,Cordierite, or Ceramic
The structure or construction of the pizza steel and pizza stone is the most fundamental difference between the two, and it affects their functioning greatly.
As the name suggests, pizza steel is made from pure steel. Therefore, these tools offer superior heat conduction, meaning that more heat passes from the surface to the pizza much faster. The material is also much better at heat retention than pizza stones.
Pizza stones are made from either clay, cordierite, or ceramic, but regardless of the material, they often have the same texture and cook pretty much the same. Stone does not heat up as fast as steel, but it makes up for this by heating up more evenly.
2. Cooking Time: Pizza Steel Cooks Slightly Faster
Given how fast steel heats up and its superior heat retention capability, you can expect it to cook pizza relatively faster than stone. Typically, cooking pizza on a steel surface takes between 6 and 7 minutes, while making the same pizza using stone should take between 7 and 8 minutes.
However, it is essential to note the actual cooking time with both surfaces largely depends on factors like the oven temperature, pizza size, ingredients, and the doneness that you prefer.
3. Thermal Shock: Pizza Stone Cannot Withstand Thermal Shock
One of the most significant drawbacks of the pizza stone is that it is more prone to thermal shock. Putting the stone into a hot oven straight from a cold surface causes thermal shock, which typically leads to cracking or even shattering.
Unlike stone, pizza steel is more immune to thermal shock, meaning any rapid temperature changes will not cause it to shatter or break. However, rapid temperature changes are still not suitable for steel because, like any other metal, it expands and contracts in response to the temperature.
Therefore, regular exposure to thermal shocks can still cause damages to pizza steel as it can warp over time.
4. Ease of Cleaning and Maintenance: Pizza Stone Needs Some Extra Care
When it comes to cleaning and maintenance, the pizza stone comes with more work than a steel surface, but this is more subjective as it depends on the user.
For the pizza stone, you first need to season it as this makes it more nonstick and can help enhance the flavor. When cleaning it, you should not use soap and water as this can ruin your pizza taste given the material absorbs things. Instead, clean the stone with baking soda and a washcloth. Given how delicate pizza stones can be, cleaning is more hectic as you need to handle them with extra care.
Pizza steel also requires some seasoning with oil to help prevent rust, but the process is often more straightforward than seasoning a stone. Cleaning the steel is also much easier than you can wash it with soap and water in the sink without worrying about dropping it as it is almost unbreakable.
5. Cost: Steel Advantage Comes at a Cost
The actual cost for a pizza stone and pizza steel depends on the size, quality, and brand you are buying. However, the pizza steel is generally the more expensive of the two.
You can get a pizza stone for as little as $30, and even the larger, premium-quality ones hardly go past the $60 price point. On the other hand, prices for pizza steel start at around $80, and some top-quality ones will retail for hundreds of dollars.
Whether you get a pizza steel or pizza stone, you can be sure you have a tool that will help you make some delicious pizzas with a fantastic crust. But when deciding between the two, your budget and other things like cooking style should guide you.
However, the pizza steel is great if budget is not a constraint and you are looking for something that can make the perfect pizza consistently for regular use. Otherwise, if you are on a tight budget and make pizza occasionally, a pizza stone is more appropriate for you.