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After having read most of serious eats' recommendations for better home oven pizzas, I still have a question regarding the surface to be used to achieve a better and crispier crust.

I am on a budget an hesitating between a pizza crispier such as: Airbake-Nonstick-15-inch

or a pizza stone like this one: Fox-Run-13-Inch-Pizza-Stone

Both are under $20 and I was wondering which is a better performer to achieve the crispiness in the pizza crust?

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The pizza stone, used properly, will work far better. The heat stored in the stone will help brown and crisp the bottom crust.

The perforated pan just allows some better air circulation into the bottom, which has little effect. Its only true value is that it is fairly dark, and will therefore absorb the radiant heat of the oven better than a shiny pan would.

Recently, it has become apparent that the extremely high thermal capacity of a small steel slab, preheated and used as a cooking surface much akin to the pizza stone, actually performs the best, providing an effective blast of heat to the bottom crust. Sadly, these are currently being marketed at a much higher price point than the products you mention.

See also: The Pizza Lab: Baking Steel, Lodge Cast Iron Pizza

  • I'll second everything @Jefromi said. Pizza stone for sure, and the new tech regarding baking steel has me quite excited. – franko May 12 '14 at 1:54
  • @franko I didn't say anything, I just made a tiny edit! – Cascabel May 12 '14 at 1:56
  • Any old slab of steel will do, no need for some fancy 'marketed" rubbish – TFD May 12 '14 at 1:59
  • And is there any inexpensive pizza stone you would recommend? The bigger the better, of course. Thanks! – samyb8 May 12 '14 at 2:15
  • Pizza stones also give the benefit of helping to keep a stable temperature in your oven, I keep mine in even when I'm not using it directly. – GdD May 12 '14 at 8:10
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As far as large stones, this brand has won the hearts of America's Test Kitchen Baking Stone.

stone

Another thing to consider, especially if you're on a budget, is using an overturned cast iron skillet as a baking stone. Like the stone, it will work for bread and for pizza (just not very large pizzas) and it has the added advantage as working as a skillet! I use my 12" skillet as a baking stone all the time. For use as a baking stone, you need to be sure that it lays flat upside down. I've never seen one that doesn't, but that's something to check, if the handle is at any point higher than the rim of the skillet, it wouldn't lay flat. The skillet works great for pan pizza too. Here's a picture of a recent pan pizza I made in my 12" Lodge cast-iron pan using the Serious Eats Recipe

pizza

The skillet will run 20-34 dollars Amazon Skillets. Treat it right and it will be something your great-grandchildren can use. As a matter of fact, mine belonged to my grandmother. I recommend Lodge brand. I didn't know they had this one, I'd buy this before buying a stone 17" Lodge Skillet especially considering the multitasking benefit.

BTW, I have one of those pizza pans as in your first link. It's useless. I keep meaning to throw it away.

EDIT: I need to add a caveat to the idea of the 17" skillet. I just discussed it on Amazon, and I realize that it might not fit in my (or most others') oven. The 12" works great though. If you do end up buying a stone or big skillet, be sure to measure your oven rack first.

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The heat source in my oven is below the oven. To crisp my pizzas I bake them for several minutes simply on the bottom of the oven.

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A stone absorbs moisture from the crust bottom. For roughly the same price above I bought a new kiln shelf at a pottery supply store. They're thicker and take longer to heat, but they retain heat well and work great.

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