I’ve seen a lot of people use parchment paper on their pizza stone to prevent the pizza from sticking, but this can be both dangerous and will not result in good pizza.
You should not use parchment paper on a pizza stone because most types of parchment can’t handle the heat. To get crispy pizza on a pizza stone, you need the oven to be as hot as possible. That means the oven will be 450 – 500°F (230 – 260 °C) or more, while parchment paper usually can’t handle more than 430°F (220°C). The parchment paper will therefore burn on the pizza stone.
How I Almost Burnt Down My House Using Parchment Paper on a Pizza Stone
This happened a few years ago when I just started getting serious about pizza. I had read a lot about pizza stones, and how they could improve my pizza by simulating a pizza oven. I, therefore, went ahead and got one. It wasn’t anything fancy, just a cheap ceramic pizza stone that you can find in most kitchen stores.
I had read that to get the best possible result, you need the stone to be as hot as possible. And therefore should pre-heat stone on the highest possible setting in the oven. So I did. Smoking hot. Then the first challenge emerged: how do I get the pizza into the extremely hot oven?
I had already stretched out and topped the pizza on a sheet of parchment paper like I always did when I was baking pizza on a baking sheet. But the pizza seemed to be stuck to the paper. I then got the idea to put the whole thing, with the parchment paper, on the pizza stone. It had to be fine, right?
Well, it wasn’t… I left the kitchen, for a few minutes, and when I came back it smelled burnt. I immediately checked the oven and saw that it was filled with smoke. So I turned it off, opened it, and was met with a cloud of smoke. The next thing that happened was that the fire alarm went off. After 5 intense minutes of opening all doors and windows to try to get rid of the smoke, I finally was able to investigate my pizza. The parchment paper was completely black. It had turned into ash… The pizza on the other hand was not even cooked through. So I ended up having to order pizza that night… But at least I learnt (the hard way) that you should not use parchment paper on a pizza stone!
Why People use Parchment Paper on a Pizza Stone
I have seen so many people use parchment paper when they’re baking pizza on their pizza stones. I’ve to be honest. But I’ve discovered that there are other ways to do it, that will make better pizza!
The two things people are struggling the most with when it comes to using a pizza stone is to transfer the pizza in and out of the oven, and that the pizza is sticking to the pizza stone. An easy way to solve both of these is using parchment paper.
Why You Shouldn’t use Parchment Paper on a Pizza Stone
The main reason you shouldn’t use parchment paper on a pizza stone is that it can’t handle very high temperatures. But why is this a problem? Can’t you just lower the temperature? To understand this we need to talk about how to use a pizza stone.
Baking Pizza on a Hot Pizza Stone
The reason you want to bake pizza on a pizza stone is that you want to replicate a proper pizza oven in your home kitchen. The two main differences between baking pizza in a home oven and in a pizza oven is that a pizza oven can reach higher temperatures, and the floor of the oven is much hotter, helping the baking of the bottom of the pizza.
It Should Be Hot!
Pizza ovens are much hotter than a regular home convection oven. A professional pizza oven can reach 800°F (425°C), and a wood-fired Neapolitan pizza oven can reach more than 900°F (485°C). But why do you want to bake it in an oven that is that hot? The answer is simply that’s how you make the perfect consistency of your pizza. At a high temperature, the crust gets crispy on the outside but is still soft and nice on the inside. The cheese will also melt nicely, and not burn. If you were to lower the temperature and increase the baking time, it’s much harder to get a crispy crust without making it dry. The cheese and other toppings may also burn if you leave the pizza long enough to get a crispy crust.
The second difference between pizza ovens and home convection ovens is that the floor is much hotter, something that makes the pizza crispier.
If you don’t have a pizza stone, you’re most likely using a baking sheet to bake your pizza. The problem with baking pizza on a baking sheet is that when it’s put into the oven it’s cold, and even when it reaches temperature, it doesn’t conduct heat that well.
When you put the baking sheet with the pizza on in the oven, it will take some time for the sheet to heat up enough to help bake the pizza. It requires a longer baking time to achieve a crispy pizza. Baking sheets are also usually very thin, and often made from aluminium, which doesn’t retain heat very well.
What the pizza stone does differently is that it retains heat much better, and gets really hot. This helps bake the bottom of the pizza, and you’ll end up with a crispier result.
So to get crispy pizza, you need to use a really hot oven. Ideally as hot as your oven can go. You also need to let the stone heat for at least 45 minutes to an hour to reach temperature. Using a pizza stone is a little bit like cooking in a cast-iron skillet. It takes some time to heat it up, but when it reaches temperature, it will retain heat, and bake the pizza evenly.
At What Temperature Can You Use Parchment Paper?
Some types can handle as much as 450°F (230°C), most parchment can however not handle more than 430°F (220°C).
Since you want to bake your pizza as hot as possible to emulate a proper pizza oven, you will most likely surpass these temperatures. It’s, therefore, a bad idea to use parchment paper on a pizza stone.
What Will Happen If You Use Parchment Paper in a Too Hot Oven?
If you’re using parchment paper at a higher temperature than what’s recommended, the paper will burn. It can catch fire, but from my experience, it mostly turns into black ashes.
Using Parchment Paper on The Pizza Stone Will Not Make Crispy Pizza!
Another reason you don’t want to use parchment on a pizza stone is that it will not make as crispy pizza. Baking pizza on parchment paper defeats the purpose of using the stone in the first place. The reason is that the paper created a barrier between the pizza and the stone that will both lower the baking effect from the stone, and trap moisture that will prevent crisping. In addition to that, you also have to lower the temperature of your oven to prevent the parchment from burning. Something that will make the pizza even less crispy.
How Do You Keep Pizza From Sticking to a Pizza Stone?
If we’re not using parchment paper to prevent the pizza from sticking to the pizza stone, what can we do? The secret is high temperature, not using too thin dough and don’t over-topping the pizza.
Use High Enough Heat
The most common problem is that the stone is not hot enough. With a hot pizza stone, the pizza will not stick, it will crisp up, and be easy to remove from the oven.
You should place the pizza stone in the oven before you turn it on to make sure it gets hot enough and to prevent cracking (read more about how to avoid cracking your pizza stone here). Then, let the pizza stone pre-heat with the oven for 45 minutes to an hour at the hottest setting possible before you attempt to bake the pizza.
Let the pizza bake without trying to move it. Give it the time it needs, depending on how hot the oven gets, it’ll take anywhere from 5-8 minutes for a thin-crust pizza.
Don’t use Too Thin Pizza Crust
When you make Neapolitan pizza, you want the pizza to be thin, but not too thin. If the dough is too thin, it’s easy to make holes in the dough. It’s also easier for moisture from the sauce to be absorbed by the dough, preventing it from getting crispy.
Don’t Use Too Much Toppings
If you add too much sauce, cheese and toppings, the pizza can get soggy. The reason is that the more liquids you add to the pizza, the longer it’s going to take to bake it. The dough will not turn crispy until enough of the moisture has vaporized. For that reason, if you add too much the pizza might not get crispy and can stick to the pizza stone.
Both sauces, cheese (especially mozzarella cheese!) contains a lot of moistures. When it comes to other toppings, the amount of moisture will vary, but vegetables tend to contain the most amount of water. In general, when it comes to topping a pizza less is more!
How to Transfer Your Pizza Without Parchment Paper
The last thing we need to figure out is how to transfer the pizza in and out of the oven.
Using a Pizza Peel
If you don’t already have a pizza peel, I highly recommend investing in one. It’s going to make moving the pizza in and out of the oven a lot easier.
Transfer Pizza Into the Oven
To transfer the pizza into the oven, I recommend using a wooden pizza peel. Pizza peels tend to stick less to wooden pizza peels than other materials. You can also add a little bit of flour either to the pizza peel or to the bottom of the pizza to make it slide easier. I often use semolina flour for this because it courser, thus making the pizza slide more easily.
I also recommend assembling the pizza on the countertop and then sliding it over to the pizza peel. It’s pretty common to assemble the pizza on the peel, but the longer you leave the pizza there, the more likely it is to stick. If you assemble the pizza on the countertop, and it gets stuck it’s easy to fix. You can use a spatula or a dough scraper to loosen the dough and add some more flour. But if you realize that the pizza is stuck to the pizza peel when half the pizza is already on the pizza stone in a really hot oven, there is not much you can do about it. Therefore, assemble the pizza on the countertop, drag it over to the pizza peel, and transfer it into the oven.
Many of the same problems with sticking to the pizza stone also apply to pizza peels. If the dough is too thin, and rips, the dough will stick. And if the pizza is too thick and heavy it’s hard to get it off the pizza peel and into the oven.
Transfer Pizza Out From the Oven
Then the pizza is done, just push the pizza peel under the pizza and lift it out of the oven. This should not be a problem if you have baked the pizza long enough, on a hot enough pizza stone! If you have a thin metal pizza peel this is even easier than using a wooden peel.
If you don’t own a pizza peel, you can also use an upside-down baking sheet to transfer the pizza, but I recommend doing yourself a favour and investing in a proper pizza peel if you’re serious about your pizza baking. Check out our article to learn more about pizza peels, and how to pick the best peel: Pizza Peel: Everything You Need To Know.
What About Pizza Steels?
Everything discussed in this article applies to pizza stones as well. Pizza steels work the same way as pizza stones but conduct heat even better than pizza stones. If you want to know more about the difference between pizza steels and pizza stones, click here.
It’s kind of a paradox because people use parchment on their pizza stone to prevent the very purpose of the pizza stone. To use parchment on a pizza stone, the stone and oven can’t be hot enough to make crispy pizza. But if you make sure both your oven and pizza stone are nice and hot, the pizza will not stick to the stone.
You can also easily move the pizza in and out of the oven using a pizza peel. Add some flour to make sure the dough doesn’t stick, and simply move the pizza, without letting the pizza sit for too long on the peel.