Whether you have an outdoor grill or a kitchen oven, baking with a pizza stone will always have its own advantages. It is fast, saves you money, and perfectly replicates the baking characteristics of a fully-heated-up wood-fired oven! How to season your baking stone, however, is a question under lots of debate and is something that beginner bakers will have to deal with once they buy their first stone. In this article, we will answer the question of whether you should season your stone in the first place and then go through the steps of how to generally season any baking stone or steel.
If you’re still debating what type of baking stone to get and are having a hard time choosing a good model, head over to my full guide on the best pizza stones currently on the market! Before we dive into the individual seasoning steps, let’s try to answer the most important question here…
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Should You Season Your Pizza Stone?
Almost anyone who owns a baking stone has had this internal debate of whether to season their baking stone (or steel) or not. Now, it is important to note that most stones will “season themselves” over time by just being exposed to food and heat. Still, regardless of what some manufacturers recommend, there are universal facts and benefits that come with manually seasoning your stone. Some of the most important ones are:
- It makes the stone look better. While seasoning is essentially a matter of time for most stones, doing it yourself will definitely make your stone look aged faster.
- It makes it easier to cook with. The more flour and oil go through the porous surface of a baking stone, the less sticky it becomes. While glazed stones and pizza steels are inherently less sticky, they will still benefit from occasional seasoning and constant cooking on them.
- It makes the stone season itself faster. As I already mentioned, seasoning is a natural process that every baking stone goes through. Doing it on your own, however, speeds up this process.
- Gives the stone better thermal performance. The layer that you will eventually add by seasoning the stone time and time again will allow it to capture more heat. It will also protect the stone from the sudden changes in the temperature both when you put it in the oven and when you take it out.
- Makes for a more delicious pizza. Seasoning your stone will also pack it with added flavors that will help with the cooking process and will allow the stone to bake some delicious pizzas!
- Gives the stone more durability. The more you season the stone the more scratch and break-proof it becomes. The added layer will also reduce thermal shock damage. That will prevent the stone from cracking if you put it on a grill, for instance.
That being said, not doing this task properly can also damage your stone. This is why we are going to go through the actual step-by-step process now…
Seasoning Your Baking Stone or Steel
In order to season your pizza stone/steel, you need to go through the following steps:
- Check with the manufacturer’s recommendations
- Clean the stone
- Dry and wipe it properly
- Apply oil to the baking stone
- Bake it in the oven
- Let it cool down
Check with the manufacturer’s recommendations
Before you even think about doing anything with your new baking stone, make sure you check your owner’s manual. Manufacturers know exactly what their stones need and oftentimes their stones or steels don’t need seasoning. These stones will come ready to bake and will only require a rinse or a wipe down. In cases where the stone could handle initial seasoning, there are often clear step-by-step instructions on how to do it, so make sure you follow those.
Clean the stone
The first thing we have to do with any baking stone or steel is to clean it. There are a few major rules that you have to follow in order to not damage your stone. First, never use soap as that can leave a soapy aftertaste. Second, don’t submerge the stone. Instead, use a wire or a stone brush to clean it thoroughly and then wipe it down with a damp sponge or cloth.
If you want to learn how to properly clean and take care of your pizza stone, head over to my detailed article on the topic!
Dry and wipe it properly
No matter what you do, always make sure that your stone is fully dried out before you move on to oiling it and putting it in the oven. If there is any remaining moisture, it might expand (to steam) and crack the stone once the oven fully heats up. The best way to dry the stone is to use a dry towel and then let it air dry for an hour or two.
Apply oil to the baking stone
Apply a thin layer of oil of your choice (most preferably vegetable oil). Avoid using paper, as it can leave fibers behind. An oiled cloth is the best way to do this. Applying too little oil can make the whole process worthless while applying too much can trap water in the stone or worse – it can make the stone impenetrable to moisture, which will prevent it from evenly baking the pizza dough.
Bake it in the oven
Once you’re done oiling the stone, put it in the oven and turn it on. Heat it up to around 450 degrees and let it stay like that for about an hour. This will allow the oil to “set in” into the stone.
Let it cool down
After you’re done seasoning the stone, give it some time to naturally cool down in the oven before you take it out. When you take it out, make sure it is completely cooled off. If it is cool to the touch, you can now safely store it in a drawer until the next time you need it. Alternatively, you can start baking with it right away.
To find out more about some of the best outdoor pizza ovens on today’s market, click here!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have to season a baking stone?
While older baking stones typically needed a good seasoning before you started using them (and a good re-seasoning every now and then), newer models will come ready to go. That means that you will only have to clean them thoroughly before you start baking.
Can you use nonstick sprays on your pizza stone?
Almost all stones are going to get damaged or discolored over time if you use aerosol nonstick sprays like cooking sprays on them. They are super fine and will get into their pores. That on its own might lead to cracks and other types of damage.
Should you use parchment paper on your baking stone?
While non-glazed models will seem rough and sticky at first, they do quite a good job at not sticking to your pizza. Using parchment paper is okay and will spare you some cleanups but is generally not needed on pizza stones.
Learning how to season your baking stone is something that every home-pizza chef will have to go through when first getting one. While pizza steels and certain stone models won’t require an initial seasoning per se, there will be times where the stone will perform better if you season it properly. If you’re set on keeping your stone in tip-top condition, try seasoning it at least once per year. Baking steels won’t require seasoning, although using a bit of oil on them and putting them in the oven for an hour won’t hurt either!