Unfortunately, most homes don’t come equipped with brick pizza ovens. Enter the pizza stone, a porous natural stone that retains even heat and combats moisture, creating foolproof, crispy crust every damn time. There are some basic dos and don’ts about pizza stones that you may already know. For instance, always wait until it’s completely cool before cleaning it, and let it preheat in the oven solo for one hour before baking your pizza on the bottom rack, where the heat is the most intense. And never wash a pizza stone with soap (because no one wants a lemony-fresh slice) or submerge it in water (pizza stones hold onto moisture for a ridiculously long time). So, how do you get it done without soap and water? Here’s how to clean a pizza stone like a pro.
What You'll Need
It might surprise you that you don’t need anything too fancy or special to clean a pizza stone. In fact, you probably have most of these tools in your kitchen right now. Soap and water aren’t on the list because pizza stones can withstand extremely high heat, which will kill any bacteria on the stone. Plus, they retain moisture and any chemical solution because they’re porous, meaning washing it in the sink as you would any other dish will lead to soggy, steamed, soapy-tasting pizza. Here’s what you’ll need to help your pizza stone last for years:
- Bench scraper: Don’t use anything metallic or sharp that could scratch the stone. We love this stoneware-safe pan scraper set from Pampered Chef. If you don’t have one, a spatula can work in a pinch; just try not to use anything sharp or metal that will scratch the stone. If your stone has an excessive amount of debris stuck to it, upgrade to fine- or medium-grit sandpaper.
- Cloth or towel: Wiping the stone off with a damp rag cleans it without soaking it through. Pizza stones take a long time to dry completely. Moisture in the middle of the stone = sayonara, crispy crust.
- Baking soda: If you’ve made a bunch of pizza with your stone already, odds are it’s stained. This is totally normal and won’t affect the flavor of future pizzas. Mixed with water, baking soda can spot-treat both stuck-on stains and stubborn crusty bits. It should have a consistency similar to toothpaste but a bit grittier. If you only have a few stains to tackle, start with 1/8 cup baking soda and add water 1 tablespoon at a time until it's just right.
- Stiff-bristled brush: Think a pan brush, produce brush or even a toothbrush. Use this to work in the baking soda solution. There are also scrubbing brushes especially for pizza stones.
How to Clean a Pizza Stone
Your margherita pie was a major success. Now it’s time to prep the stone for your next pizza night. Luckily, it’s not as complicated as you may think.
1. Make sure the pizza stone is completely cool.
Abrupt changes in temperature could cause it to crack, so letting it gradually cool down in the oven once its off for a few hours or overnight is a safe way to do it.
2. Use the bench scraper to loosen and remove stuck-on cheese, crust or food.
As long as it isn't made of metal or a sharp material, this won't harm the pizza stone.
3. Wipe the stone down with a lightly-dampened cloth or towel.
Be sure to use as little water as possible.
4. If the stone is still dirty, mix baking soda and water in a small bowl to create a paste.
Cover the stain or stuck-on food with a little bit of paste. Take the brush and gently scrub the paste over the stain or debris in a circular motion.
5. Wipe the stone down again with the damp cloth.
If it’s clean, it’s ready to air dry.
6. If there's still food stuck to it, heat the stone to 500°F in the oven and let it bake for about an hour.
Then, scrape off the remaining debris. Once it’s completely dry, store it in the oven.
How Often Should You Clean a Pizza Stone?
Over time, pizza stones will retain some stains and discoloration—it's plain unavoidable. It doesn't hurt to gently wipe it down after each use, when stuck-on cheese and other debris will be easiest to scrape off. As far as deep cleaning goes, just use your discretion: If you didn't clean it after the last few pizza nights and it's collecting debris, it's time to bust out the brush and baking soda.
Need some inspiration? Here are some of our favorite pizza recipes.
Chopped Italian Salad Pizza, loaded with everything from pepperoncini to ricotta, is destined for an alfresco dinner in the yard. Tired of plain red sauce and mozzarella? Same. Give Cheater’s Sicilian-Style Pizza with Jalapeños and Honey a go, which spruces up the classic combo with pickled jalapeños, crushed red-pepper flakes, honey and grated Pecorino Romano. Fire up the barbecue for two grilled beauties: one with summer peaches, chicken and ricotta, another with briny artichokes and fresh lemon. Or, bake them indoors on your squeaky-clean pizza stone. And for the ultimate treat-yourself meal, meet Potato and Burrata Pizza, finished with basil, thyme and a drizzle of olive oil. Pizza night, anyone?