A proper pizza-stone preheating period is essential to produce perfectly browned pizza crusts.
A hot pizza stone is key to producing pizza with a well-browned, crisp bottom crust. To ensure that your stone is hot, we recommend placing it in the oven, setting the oven dial to 500 degrees, and leaving it there for a full hour. And yet many folks (even a few here in the test kitchen) question whether this lengthy preheat is really necessary. So what happens if you try to shortcut the process and preheat for less time?
To find out, we preheated four baking stones in four separate 500-degree ovens for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, and 1 hour, respectively. Once the stones were preheated, we baked pizzas for exactly 10 minutes on each stone and examined their undersides for browning and crisping.
To back up our browning observations, we also took infrared temperature readings of the stones’ surfaces right before sliding on each pizza. The results? Dramatically different. The pizza baked on the 1-hour preheated stone (which clocked in at 509 degrees) was well browned and crisp after 10 minutes, while the 45-minute preheated stone (451 degrees) produced only moderate browning in the same period of time. The pizza baked on the stone preheated for just 30 minutes (415 degrees) was anemic in color, and the one on the 15-minute preheated stone (291 degrees) was downright pale.
THE TAKEAWAY: While it may feel like overkill, it’s important to preheat a pizza stone for a full hour to ensure proper browning and crisping.