What We Like
Cooks pizza quickly
Pre-seasoned for immediate cooking
Large size accommodates more food
What We Don't Like
No handles for lifting or moving
Best left in oven until cool
We took the NerdChef Steel Stone for a tour of all of our cooking surfaces, from the oven to the grill to the stovetop, making pizzas and other pies. We baked bread and buns, and we tested its worthiness as a stovetop griddle. We bought pizza crusts and made batch after batch of our own, including thin crust pizzas and thicker pizzas and with a range of toppings. After cooking a lot of pizzas and burning a few, we’re pretty sure we know exactly what this steel is good for.
Design: What’s big and flat and really heavy?
This pizza “stone” is essentially a flat piece of quarter-inch-thick steel with rounded corners and two holes cut out near two of the corners. It’s not fancy or pretty. Aside from the holes in the corners, the only design feature is the company name and “Made in USA” stamped in one of the corners. While the corner holes were handy for lifting the steel when it was cool since we could slide a finger in each one, they didn’t help at all once the steel was hot. With oven or barbecue gloves on, our fingers were simply too bulky to fit into the holes, so we had to pry the steel up and then grab the sides of the steel to lift it.
Because of the shape, weight, and lack of handles, this steel is a bit awkward to move, even when it’s not hot. When it’s hot, we felt it was too much of a risk to move it very far, since contact with any body part would result in a burn. While it could have been a useful way to keep our pizza hot after cooking, we opted to remove the pizza from the steel and leave the steel in the oven until it was cool enough to handle safely.
Because of the shape, weight, and lack of handles, this steel is a bit awkward to move, even when it’s not hot.
Beyond pizzas, this cookware can be used to prepare pastries in the oven or as a griddle on the stovetop. We were happy with the pastries we baked, although we had some trial-and-error to get the right temperature and cooking time. We faced some awkwardness when it came to the griddle tests, too: Because there’s no lip, it limits the foods that can be cooked on it, since any liquids would be likely to run off the steel and onto the stovetop.
Material: Steel, with a nonstick coating
This cookware is made from steel and has been seasoned to thwart rust. More use and more seasoning improves the nonstick ability and makes it even more rustproof. After some serious use, the coating began to darken, and after some spills and burns, the surface started showing its use, with dark splotches and a variety of colors ranging from brown to blue to black.
Since this pizza pan is made from steel, it’s about as indestructible as it could be. It shouldn’t warp or crack, even with abuse. While it could rust if the coating got scratched, the rust could be scraped off and the steel could be re-seasoned. This steel is likely to be a piece that a cook could use for a lifetime, then pass along.
Heating Capacity: Takes time, but it stays hot
According to the instructions, this requires 45 minutes to heat completely, and we found that was accurate. Once it was hot, it stayed hot, which was great for our pizza crusts. We were able to cook multiple pizzas in a row with just the small time in between for us to stretch the dough and add the toppings.
Since this pizza pan is made from steel, it’s about as indestructible as it could be. It shouldn’t warp or crack, even with abuse.
Just how hot does the steel get? In between cooking pizzas under a high broiler, some bits of cornmeal left behind on the steel spontaneously caught fire. Nothing was damaged, but it was a bit of a shock. And because the steel retains heat so well, we found that it should only be transferred to a heatproof surface such as the stove grates, a thick wooden cutting board, or a very heavy-duty cooling rack.
This steel can also be used for serving chilled foods, simply by freezing it or by storing it in the refrigerator for a while—if you have sufficient space in either place. If the steel has been used for cooking and has acquired a patina, it may not be an attractive serving surface, but covering it with foil shouldn’t disrupt the chilling ability. The manufacturer also notes that you can place it on top of dry ice to make ice cream—after scraping off any pizza residue, of course.
Cleaning: Just like cast iron
This steel should be treated like cast iron. It should be hand washed and not soaked in water, and care should be taken not to scrape the coating. After more use and additional seasoning, the coating should become more and more durable. However, care should still be taken if the steel is scraped on the oven racks or stove grates. When we lost cheese or other bits of pizza toppings onto the steel, they usually ended up sufficiently burned that they were easy to scrape off, and a scrubbie sponge took care of the rest. Because of the size of this steel, it didn’t fit very well in our sink, but that’s more of a problem with the sink than the steel.
This steel isn’t terribly expensive, and it’s pretty much indestructible. Given that this is something that will last a lifetime, the price is very reasonable for anyone who makes a lot of pizza. If pizza making is limited to frozen pizzas, other options might make more sense.
NerdChef Steel Stone vs. Pizzacraft 20" ThermaBond® Pizza Stone
Before pizza steels became popular, cordierite was the material that home pizza makers were talking about, and it’s still quite popular. The Pizzacraft 20" ThermaBond® Pizza Stone is longer and a little narrower than the NerdChef steel, but they both have enough space for pizzas that home cooks might make. The Pizzacraft stone can be used in the oven or on the grill, but isn’t recommended for stovetop use, and, like the Nerdchef, it doesn’t have handles. The Nerdchef gets points for being unbreakable, but the Pizzacraft earns a gold star for weighing about 10 pounds less than the Nerdcraft. While the performance won’t be identical, either of these should produce good pizzas with the right recipe.
- Product Name NerdChef Steel Stone
- Product Brand NerdChef
- UPC 799928940979
- Price $65.00
- Weight 16 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 16 x 14.25 x 0.25 in.
- Material Coated steel
- Warranty Lifetime