If you’re looking to make the best pizza you can, but you don’t yet have a wood fired oven, then you are probably considering buying a pizza stone. If you don’t know yet, the popularity of pizza stones is well obtained; they make great tasting pizzas in a kitchen oven that taste pretty close to what you get at a pizzeria.
However, now there’s another option in recent years; the pizza steel.
If you wondered what a pizza steel is, how they work, how to look after one, then this guide is definitely written just for you.
What is a Pizza Steel?
The aptly named pizza steel is exactly what the name implies; it is a treated plate of food grade steel, designed to be placed in an oven to cook pizzas on. The steel acts as a heat conductor, transferring the heat of the oven onto the base of your pizza in an even, distributed way.
A pizza steel allows you to cook a pizza so it has a great tasting crust whilst preserving the soft, chewy texture of toppings and cheese.
They are easy to maintain, small enough to store easily and don’t cost an arm and a leg.
Benefits of Using a Pizza Steel
As I mentioned earlier, what we all try to achieve when working with a kitchen oven for our pizzas, is to recreate that wood fired oven taste, without the wood or the wood fired oven. So the first benefit of using a pizza steel is purely the great taste it produces.
There are some other great benefits too. Let’s look at them.
A pizza steel is long-lasting: Some people worry that their pizza stone may become worn or break over time. Because the texture of stones is porous, there’s more opportunity for staining and damage. Not so when it comes to a slab of steel. The construction of a seasoned pizza steel is built to last.
A pizza steel ensures your pizza burns evenly: Most people put their pizza on a normal baking tray and throw it in the oven. The baking tray heats differently and unevenly, and traps the moisture from the dough within the confines of the tray.
A pizza steel, on the other hand, gives you the advantage of having an evenly heated, very hot surface.
A pizza steel means no more burning fingers: Juggling a baking tray in and out of a very hot oven takes skill and is always a risk. While using a pizza steel can also be dangerous, the art of sliding a pizza on and off it using a pizza peel is far safer, as you don’t need to put your hands in the heating area at all.
Just watch that you don’t accidentally get burned by the hot surface.
Buying a Pizza Steel: Things to Consider
Before buying a pizza steel, you should read as many reviews as possible, and get an understanding of what pros and cons are of the various popular pizza steel products.
Many pizza fans and chefs swear by pizza steel, because with a little care and maintenance (covered in a section further below), they will last a lifetime.
Most pizza steels are typically rectangular in shape, but you can find circular models too. The best pizza steels are those that are wide enough to fit a large pizza, and at least half inch thick. It is always worth measuring the depth and width of the internal section of your oven, just to make sure it fits before you purchase one.
A pizza steel is heavy, real heavy. The typical pizza steel, depending on the thickness, will weigh anywhere from 8lb (4kg) to 30lb (14kg). Make sure that you can easily lift and move that weight, especially when bent over, reaching into an oven.
The cost of a pizza steel is obviously an important factor as well. Some of these pizza steels range in price from $50 to $150, with the most expensive models typically costing over $100. While you may love the look of the more expensive brands, it’s important to keep in mind that a brand name doesn’t change the taste of making homemade pizza.
How to season a pizza steel plate
Before cooking with it for the first time, a pizza steel must be properly seasoned. Many already come seasoned, however you may wish to do your own just to be safe.
Seasoning a pizza steel involves rubbing it with oil and then letting it sit in the oven for at least 30 minutes.
You should use a quality cooking oil like olive oil, vegetable, canola, and corn oil, for seasoning.
Start by rubbing the oil all over, but then wipe it so thoroughly that the pan no longer looks even the slightest bit greasy. Even a small amount of excess oil on the steel can pool during seasoning, forming little hardened droplets on your cooking surface, or turn sticky if left unused for a few days.
Put your freshly oiled pizza steel in a preheated 450°F oven, and leave it there for at least 30 minutes. It may get a little smoky, so keep your kitchen well ventilated.
It’s during this time that the oil will set and create the first of several hard, plastic-like coatings you’ll be laying down.
After the time is up, let the oven cool completely before touching the pizza steel.
Wipe the steel completely once cool, and keep in a dry place.
When first used, the steel should be heated to its highest temperature; once used, it should be returned to its lowest temperature.
How to use a pizza steel
A pizza steel will certainly make your crusts extra-crispy, but it’s important to note that you need to care and maintain it well.
There is so much more to owning a pizza steel than simply being able to use your grill or stovetop to make delicious pizza.
These fantastic pizza accessories can be used on gas or electric ovens as well as charcoal grills.
Move your oven rack to the middle position in your oven, and then place your pizza steel on the rack.
Ensure there is enough room to place and remove the pizza.
Preheat your oven on bake at 500˚F for at least 30 minutes.
Lightly flour/cornmeal or breadcrumb your pizza peel to prevent the base sticking.
Put a rolled out pizza dough on the pizza peel (paddle). Add your toppings.
With a quick jerking movement, slide the pizza off the paddle onto the Baking Steel in your oven.
Cook for approximately 7-9 minutes or until the pizza is bubbly and charred but not burnt.
When removing pizza, you must use a pizza paddle. Your pizza steel is extremely hot and will burn your fingers within seconds. If you need, you can pull the rack out to access the pizza steel.
Once removed, close the oven door to keep the heat in.
Place your pizza on a cutting surface or pizza tray to then slice before serving.
At the end of your pizza cooking, and once the oven has been turned off, please allow your pizza steel at least one hour to cool. Always use an oven mitt or safety gloves to remove your pizza steel.
How to clean pizza steel
The best way to clean pizza steel is to let it cool entirely, then give it a quick wipe down with a damp cloth.
If there are dried ingredients or hard to move items, try using a plastic spatula to chisel it off. This way, it wont damage or scratch the steel.
Make sure to completely dry the steel afterwards though – any moisture will encourage rusting, so you need to always ensure it is totally dry before storing away.
If you are concerned it is still damp, you can return it to the oven for 10 minutes on a low heat to dry.
How to take care of a pizza steel
Cleaning: Although it’s generally recommended that you simply clean your pizza steel with soapy water after each use, if you want to make sure that your pizza steel is in the best shape possible for making delicious pizzas, then you should give it a thorough cleaning after each use.
Rinse and dry completely.
Apply a dab of organic cooking oil to your pizza steel. Take a paper towel and wipe the oil around the steel evenly. Use another paper towel and wipe off any excess.
Do this to both sides of your pizza steel.
Place dry, oiled steel into oven so it is ready for the next Pizza Night.
How to remove rust from a pizza steel
If your pizza steel encounters water, it will encounter rust. Slight surface rust isn’t the end of the world though – we can fix this!
To remove rust from your steel, mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda in with two cups of water.
Now, rub the baking soda solution on the rust area, using an old toothbrush.
Rinse and wipe the spot with wet paper towels.
DIY pizza steel
The above photograph shows a 3/8 inch steel, cut to size and being prepared for its first use.
Some people have asked if you can make your own pizza steel. The answer is absolutely! Here’s a quick run down on how.
Call your local steel merchants, and find one that will sell you a small sheet of hot rolled steel plate (or you can ask for A36 alloy).
Visit the factory or supplier, and check for the right thickness
Have your pizza steel cut to the right size (measure the insides of your oven!)
Take it home, and then carefully grind the edges, so they are smooth to the touch.
The steel plate is likely to be covered in a rust like material called “mill scale”. Before you can use the steel, you need to get the mill scale off. The easiest way to do that is with white vinegar.
Use an old plastic storage container, and leave your plate soaking for at least 24 hours.
After the soak, spray the sheet on both sides (and edges!) with your garden hose.
Further scrub your steel with the baking soda mix mentioned above.
Begin the seasoning process immediately. Your steel will start to rust again, the moment it is clean. So ensure that you have time to oil and season it quickly afterwards.
Voila! You have your own DIY pizza steel! Congratulations!
Pizza steel FAQ
Here are some frequently asked questions (and their answers, of course) about pizza steels.
How long should I preheat pizza steel?
Just like a pizza stone, a pizza steel should be preheated in an empty oven. You then use a pizza peel or another kitchen implement to move your pizzas on and off the steel, rather than take the steel out of the oven at all.
Is pizza steel microwave safe?
No, absolutely not. A pizza steel is metal. Metal and microwaves don’t play well together. Trust me, don’t try putting it into your microwave.
What temperature should the surface of my pizza steel be?
Before cooking, your pizza steel should have at least reached 400 degrees. The hotter the better of course.
How do I transfer pizza onto pizza steel?
Don’t try with bare hands! I always recommend using a pizza peel. If you don’t have a pizza peel, you can try to move it with parchment paper, which you can remove immediately afterwards (otherwise it will burn!).
Can I crack my pizza steel?
Unlike pizza stone, a pizza steel is a thick, solid and heavy piece of metal. Unless you own a lazer weapon, it’s unlikely your pizza steel would ever crack or break. Sure, maybe scratches, but not breaking.
What is better; pizza steel or pizza stone?
I believe in both, to be honest. Some people prefer one or the other, however I feel it’s more a personal preference. At the end of the day, if you enjoy the pizzas that you are creating, does it matter what equipment you are using to reach that outcome?
Final Words about Pizza Steel
If you’re planning to make homemade pizzas frequently, I highly recommend either a pizza steel or pizza stone. They really are a must-have in any pizza lovers kitchen. They help to produce a crispy crust while also retaining the chewy, soft texture of the dough.
Enjoy your pizza steel!
Featured image: Source