A pizza stone is a game-changer for making crisp-crusted pizza at home. But not everyone has the space or wants to buy yet another kitchen gadget. Luckily, there is a easy pizza stone alternative you probably already have on hand.
Pizza Stone Alternatives You Already Own
With some clever improvising using sheet pans, cast iron, tiles, and more, you can mimic the heat distribution of a pizza stone without buying one. Read on for 5 creative alternatives for superb homemade pizza crust without a stone.
1. Sheet Pans as a Pizza Stone Alternative
The humble sheet pan turns out to be a great pizza stone alternative. Just like a stone, it provides an evenly heated flat surface ideal for pizza crust. And most kitchens already have several sizes of sheet pans on hand.
Standard 1⁄4 inch aluminum sheet pans are the best option. Thinner pans may warp under high heat. Opt for the larger “half sheet pan” which is about 18 x 13 inches to fit 12-14 inch pizzas.
Here are some tips for using a sheet pan as a makeshift pizza stone:
- Preheat your oven to the highest temperature for at least 1 hour before baking pizza. This gets the pan thoroughly hot.
- Place the sheet pan on the bottom rack, directly on the oven floor for most direct heat.
- Lightly coat the pan with olive oil or use parchment paper for easiest release. Flour can also work.
- Stretch or roll the dough directly onto the oiled pan. No need for cornmeal or semolina.
- Start checking pizza after 8-10 minutes. Turn as needed for even browning.
While sheet pans won’t get quite as hot as real pizza stones, they do a surprisingly good job of crisping up the crust. And you can make multiple pizzas by preheating 2-3 pans at a time.
2. Cast Iron Skillets or Griddles as a Pizza Stone Alternative
For deep dish or pan pizzas, using a cast iron skillet produces deliciously crispy, golden crust just like a pizza stone.
Cast iron maintains heat beautifully at high oven temperatures. The porous iron also absorbs moisture from the dough for fabulous crisping action.
For thin crust pizza, opt for a large cast iron griddle. Here are some tips:
- Preheat your cast iron at 500°F for at least 30 minutes before baking.
- For pan pizzas, oil the skillet well before adding dough.
- Let dough proof right in the hot skillet for a quick rise.
- For thin pies, flour the griddle surface well or use parchment.
- Check often and rotate pan for even browning.
Cast iron skillets excel at developing that coveted caramelized char. And like stoneware, the retained heat makes it easy to bake several pizzas in succession.
3. Unglazed Quarry or Ceramic Tiles as a Pizza Stone Alternative
Natural stone tiles conduct heat efficiently similar to pizza stones. Unglazed quarry or ceramic tiles work best as they won’t leach chemicals.
Pick tiles that are around 1⁄2 inch thick. Thinner tiles may crack under high heat. Tiles with a smooth surface make it easier to slide the pizza on and off.
Lay a few tiles side by side on a lower oven rack to create a large baking surface. Here are a few tips:
- Place the tiles directly on the oven floor or rack with no pan.
- Preheat your oven and tiles for at least 1 hour at max temp before baking.
- Flour the tiles well or use parchment for easy release.
The tiles hold heat for efficient browning like a pizza stone. Just be extremely careful handling the hot tiles after preheating. Use thick oven mitts to remove tiles and pizza.
4. A Pizza Screen as a Pizza Stone Alternative
While not a household staple like sheet pans, pizza screens are an inexpensive pizza stone alternative. The mesh steel screen maximizes air circulation under the crust for excellent browning and crunch.
Simply preheat a pizza screen in your oven before stretching or rolling dough onto it. Then add toppings and bake.
The raised grid means the crust cooks from both the top and bottom. And oil or flour isn’t necessary for easy release.
If you make homemade pizza frequently, a pizza screen is a worthwhile $10-15 investment. It lasts for years and makes pizza baking a breeze.
5. A Pizza Grill Pan as a Pizza Stone Alternative
For giving crust delicious sear marks, pizza grill pans are the perfect solution. These ribbed pans mimic a grill top for excellent crisping.
They are made from cast iron or aluminum to conduct high oven heat. Preheat your grill pan fully before cooking the pizza.
Oil the valleys between ridges to prevent sticking. Or place parchment over the pan for easiest release.
Pizza grill pans nicely combine the crisping power of cast iron and the air circulation of a screen. The rendered grill marks also make your homemade pizza look like a restaurant pie!
Tips for Alternative Pizza Stones
While the options above all work well, there are some adjustments needed from typical pizza stone technique:
- Fully preheat for at least 1 hour – the thicker the material, the more heat is needed.
- Use lower oven racks for most direct bottom heat.
- Expect slightly longer bake times than a thick pizza stone.
- Less oil or flour is needed with more nonstick surfaces like steel or parchment.
- Watch pizza closely and rotate as needed for even cooking.
- Carefully remove items from oven – cast iron and tiles hold heat very efficiently.
With a little experimenting and observation, you can absolutely achieve crisp artisanal pizza without a real pizza stone. Don’t be afraid to try out multiple materials to see what works best in your oven.
Now that you know which common kitchen items make great pizza stones, you can start baking gourmet homemade pizzas tonight! What will you try first – the trusty sheet pan or versatile cast iron skillet?
Frequently Asked Questions on Pizza Stone Alternatives
What can I use if I don’t have a pizza stone?
Some great alternatives include sheet pans, cast iron skillets, ceramic tiles, pizza screens, or grill pans. All of these conduct heat well to crisp pizza crust.
What kind of sheet pan works best?
Opt for a 1⁄4 inch thick aluminum half sheet pan (about 18 x 13 inches). Thinner pans may warp and smaller pans won’t fit larger pizzas.
Can I use glass or metal baking pans instead?
We don’t recommended glass or shiny metal pans. They don’t conduct heat as well and cause more sticking.
What size cast iron skillet should I use?
For deep dish pizzas, use a 10-inch skillet. For thin crust, use a 12 to 15-inch griddle. Always preheat at least 30 minutes.
What kind of tiles can I use as a pizza stone substitute?
Unglazed quarry or ceramic tiles that are around 1⁄2 inch thick work best. Be sure they are safe for oven use and preheat fully.
Should I flour or oil my makeshift pizza stones?
It depends on the surface. Avoid any sticking as this causes dough to pull away from the edges. Flour or parchment works for cast iron and tiles. Oil is better for sheet pans and screens.
How long do I need to preheat my DIY pizza stone?
Aim for at least 1 hour at your oven’s highest temp, ideally 500°F or above. The more time to heat through, the better it will crisp pizza crust.
Which oven rack should I place my pizza stone alternative on?
For most direct bottom heat place pans, tiles or screens directly on the floor of your oven. Use a lower rack if floor is not accessible.
How do I get my pizza on the hot surface safely?
Use a pizza peel to easily slide pizza onto any preheated surface. Wood or metal peels allow you to pick up formed dough without sticking.