Pizza stones are one of a home cook’s best friends. They’re inexpensive, easy to use, and capable of creating one of our favorite foods. If you’ve tried using one yourself, you will know what a difference they can make.
For those who already own one, are you taking proper care of your pizza stone? Just like cast iron or carbon steel pans, pizza stones can be seasoned to enhance their effects. Doing so takes just a bit of time and effort, but it can make a significant impact on your pizza.
In this guide, I’ll go over the benefits of seasoning a pizza stone and provide a step-by-step guide for getting it done. Take a look below and see for yourself.
Why It’s Important to Season Your Pizza Stone
Generally, seasoning cookware helps prevent sticking and adds flavor. However, pizza stones (also known as baking stones) work differently. Unlike pots and pans, pizza stones are often made of stone or ceramic and have a more porous surface.
Is it Necessary?
It is not necessary to season your pizza stone before using it. They won’t rust like cast iron pans and don’t pose much risk of sticking. In most cases, you can use a pizza stone right out of the box.
In reality, your pizza stone will build up a natural seasoning over time. This comes from the oils present in whatever dough you put on them. As they cook on the hot stone, these oils chemically bond with the porous cooking surface.
Also, some manufacturers may specifically tell you not to season your stone. This is because some store-bought pizza stones come coated in a specialized sealant. If your pizza stone came with instructions advising you to refrain from seasoning, it’s best to listen.
Benefits of Seasoning
So why season a pizza stone at all? Well, while seasoning a pizza stone isn’t strictly necessary, it can offer a few important benefits.
First, even though pizza stones aren’t known for sticking, the seasoning process can improve their surface even more. The extra coat of polymerized oil makes it a bit slicker. This can be beneficial when working with particularly sticky doughs.
Also, seasoning adds flavor to your dough. Indeed, the natural seasoning will also impart flavor, but preseasoning will allow you to control the process. This gives you more of a say in the final flavor of your crispy crust.
Finally, a well-seasoned surface is easier to clean. The thin coating of oil will prevent food from sinking onto the porous surface. Since oil repels water, it usually only takes a quick wash to get it clean.
How to Season Your Pizza Stone, Step-by-Step
Technically, since pizza stones naturally develop a seasoning naturally over time, the process below is known as preseasoning. This just means that you are seasoning your stone before it has time to soak up natural oils.
Preseasoning a baking stone isn’t difficult. All you need is a pizza stone, a lint-free cloth, some neutral oil, and an oven.
1. Dry and Clean Your Pizza Stone
First, it’s important to ensure your pizza stone is perfectly dry and clean before beginning. Any moisture or food residue on the surface can repel the oil you’re trying to layer it with.
The best way to do this is to wipe the surface of your stone down with a damp cloth. Doing so removes any residue or debris from the surface.
Then, place your stone in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for fifteen minutes. During this time, all of the moisture in the stone will evaporate.
Once your stone is fully heated, turn off the oven and wait thirty minutes for it cool completely.
2. Cover in a Thin Coat of Oil
When your stone is completely cooked, take it out of the oven and place it on a clean countertop. Then, wipe a small amount of oil over the pizza stone’s top, bottom, and sides using a clean cloth.
It is crucial to avoid putting too much oil, as this will create a sticky surface that you will have to clean off. Generally, if you think you’ve used too much, you probably have. When the stone is fully coated, wipe off all the excess oil with a separate cloth and place the stone back in the oven.
3. Heat Your Oven
Now, with the stone in your oven, set it to 425 degrees once again.
It is important never to put your pizza stone in a hot oven or remove it from one. Instead, always allow it to heat and cool before you move it. Failing to do so can cause your stone to crack and break.
4. Bake the Stone
Leave the stone in the 425-degree oven for a full hour. During this time, the coat of oil will darken, noticeably changing the color of your stone. This is the oil polymerizing and bonding with the stone’s porous surface.
It’s also a good idea to turn on your oven’s fan during this time as the stone will start to smoke. This is normal, though it may have an unpleasant odor. After an hour, the smoke will subside.
Repeat the above process at least two more times. This will strengthen the seasoning’s protective coating and enhance its benefits. With each layer you put on, the stone will darken slightly in color.
Seasoning Your Pizza Stone Naturally
While preseasoning your baking stone offers several benefits, it’s not for everyone. If you prefer to cook with your stone unseasoned, be sure you understand how the process works.
Simply put, a pizza stone (or any cookware) will naturally develop a protective layer of oil as you use it. However, this is only true if you allow it to happen.
Specifically, avoid washing your pan with soap or other chemicals after use. It’s also a good idea to keep away from stiff scrub pads or brushes. Either of these can scrape off any oil you’ve built up.
Instead, simply rinse your stone with some water after each use, then dry it in the oven. Over time, the oils from your crusts and bread will sink in. If you want to speed up the process, you can try cooking very oily bread or cookies.
Maintaining Your Pizza Stone’s Seasoning
Once you season your stone, you need to understand how to maintain the oil coating. Be sure to keep all of these tips in mind to keep your pizza stone seasoned for years.
As mentioned above, you should keep any seasoned cookware far away from soap and cleaning chemicals, steel wool, and abrasive scrubbers. These can all degrade your oil coating and undo your work.
Usually, a bit of water or a damp cloth will be enough to clean the surface of your stone. You can scrape off larger bits of food with a soft spatula. Ignore any dark stains on your stones, as these are simply additional layers of seasoning.
In rare cases, you may find that some food residue has baked onto the surface of your stone. If it doesn’t come off with water, try using the baking soda method.
Simply sprinkle a bit of baking soda onto the surface of your stone. Then, using a soft brush, gently scrub the area of the stain. The baking soda should eat away at the food while leaving your seasoning intact.
Frequently Asked Questions
Want to learn more about how to season a pizza stone? See some of these frequently asked questions.
When seasoning a pizza stone, it’s best to use a natural oil with a high smoke point. This will ensure no extra flavors are added to the stone and prevent burning. Flaxseed or rapeseed oil are ideal, while canola or vegetable oil will work just fine.
While you can use olive oil in pizza dough, it’s best to avoid using it for seasoning as it has a low smoke point.
Even a well-seasoned stone can stick to your pizza on occasion. However, this is usually due to a problem with the pizza itself.
If your dough contains too much moisture, it will stick. Generally, you want pizza dough to be tacky to the touch but not sticking to your hands.
Also, your pizza may stick to your stone if there is a hole in the crust. Sauce and cheese can leak through the hole, sticking to your stone.
If you frequently have problems with your homemade pizza sticking, try using a pizza peel.
Soap is the natural enemy of oil, which is what your seasoned surface is made out of. Too much soap will eat away at your seasoning until it is eventually gone completely.