Good pizza stones are not cheap, so cracking one is frustrating because it means you've got to buy another one. On top of that, you've probably gotten a bit attached to your trusty stone after using it for so many delicious pies.
There are many ways to avoid cracking pizza stones in general, but once you start cooking pizza outdoors on your barbecue, you need to start looking into pizza stones you can use on a barbecue grill to prevent heartache as well as wallet-ache.
In general, here are some common tips for preventing a cracked pizza stone:
- Don't heat or cool your stone too quickly
- Don't heat a wet stone
- Don't handle the stone too roughly
- Don't use direct heat or too high of temperatures
The last one is where regular pizza stones get in trouble with a barbecue. When working with charcoal, there's a good chance that you'll end up spilling some charcoal or wood chunks under the pizza stone, so it could be heated by direct flame. When making pizza on a gas grill, hopefully you have an infrared setup, so it can evenly heat the stone, but even then, you'll have high heat coming from the bottom of the stone, without the option to raise or lower the stone like in a traditional oven with racks.
Unfortunately for me, I did not know any of these things when I started making pizza on the barbecue. I just tossed my stone on the grill and started cooking. Lucky for me though, I got a pizza stone that was made for the grill, so after 20 or so pizzas I still haven't cracked it. Only afterwards did I discover that you can actually crack a stone quite easily, so I did some research to find which brands of stones are grill safe.
The ones on this page have a variety of positive an negative reviews, and come in a range of prices. To get started, I'll just let you know which one I own and am happy with.
The pizza stone I own is from KettlePizza. Lucky for me, this stone is designed to resist thermal shock (getting hot/cold fast), and can resist temperatures up to 1000ºF. These are going to be your main battles when cooking wood-fired pizza! This stone is made of cordierite, which is quite a common material for making pizza stones, but this particular style is made exclusively for KettlePizza. I trust this brand of stone because this company is dedicated specifically to making pizzas on barbecue grills, and so far their product has not disappointed me!
I also own several of their other products and am happy with the construction, so this pizza stone would be my #1 recommendation for those looking to barbecue their pies, regardless of gas or charcoal fuel. The downside to this stone is that it only comes in a 15-inch size.
It's good for a medium pizza, but for large pizzas, it won't work. For most people a “medium” size is good enough, especially if you're making your own dough and cooking in the backyard. Still, many other brands have 16-inch options that may be more suitable for your cooking needs.
I looked it up, and thermarite doesn't seem to be a kind of special stone, as I previously thought. As far as I can tell, it's just a trademarked word that the Cast Elegance uses to describe a special style of, or way to specially formulate cordierite. This style of marketing is not uncommon, but it is a bit confusing!
Regardless, this particular stone has racked up numerous amazing reviews. Its marketed as being safe for ovens and grills, and many users have reported using it safely on their barbecues. It is a little more expensive than other brands though! It comes in a 14-inch or 16-inch round, or 14 x 16 rectangular.
==> Get It Here
Stopper AKA “No Spill” Stones
This is actually a really useful style of pizza stone particularly for people using accessories to turn their charcoal grill into pizza ovens. I have found that bending over and trying to angle your pizza peel into the mouth of a grill insert accessory can be a kind of balancing act. More than once, I have accidentally pushed the pizza off the stone, and onto the grill grates, burning the crust on the wood/coal flames.
Using a “stopper” prevents this. It's basically a typical round pizza stone other than it has a raised edge on one side of the stone. This acts as a stopper, and prevents pizza from falling off the edge. This particular stone is 16 inches in diameter and almost a full inch thick, so it's a very robust stone. The reviews are in, and people love it.
==> Get It Here
This is a rectangular shape, if you prefer it to round or square. The measurements are 20″ by 13.5″ with a thickness of .67 inches. Personally, I prefer the round ones, but if you're making Sicilian style pizza then this one could make more sense. ==> Get It Here
Round 16.5 Inch
Sixteen and a half inches is quite large, so if you're looking to make extra large pizzas, then this is a good stone to get! It's been treated with “Thermabond”, which makes it temperature shock resistant, so it should be safe to use on the grill where temperatures can swing more rapidly (especially with gas). ==> Get It Here
This is a pretty small pizza stone, measuring only 13 inches in diameter! Maybe you can make some personal pan pizzas with this. ==> Get It Here
Though technically there is not cooking advantage to having a black glaze on top, there are two advantages. One, is that it looks cool. It also prevents the look of having a “stained” pizza stone which may turn some people off. Most pizza stones get quite charred after a few cooks, from dropped cheese, toppings, etc. The other advantage is that the glaze makes it easier to clean. Ingredients and water will not soak into the pores of the stone. ==> Get It Here
Island Grillstone Brand
Island Grillstone is a brand that makes grilling stones made porous volcanic rock. The ideas is that fewer juices drip through the grilling grates, and smaller items won't fall through as well. For grilling things like veggies on barbecue, it makes total sense!
For grilling pizza, I'm not sure there's a real advantage other than the look. The stone doesn't impart any flavor, and it seems to be a bit finicky about how to heat it up so it doesn't cracked. Reviews are mixed, with lots of people complaining about cracking stones.
I have seen videos of people making pizza on these stones, but I'm not sure they are worth the extra cost and extra weight. ==> Get It Here
Colored Pizza Stones
I was just surprised to learn that there were black pizza stones out there and though it was pretty interesting looking. There's not advantage to having a specific color other than having something unique looking, but each of these individual stones do have unique qualities worth looking at.
Available in both 15-inch round as well as 15×13 inch rectangular, this is a black pizza stone. It's supposed to heat up 50% faster than other pizza stones, and comes with a lifetime guarantee. I'm curious to see the quality of the crusts baked on this – a lifetime guarantee is hard to beat with so many cracked stones out there! ==> Get It Here
Emile Henry (Made In France)
This one can stand temperatures of up 900 degrees so will be good for Neapolitan style pizzas. Available in a variety of colors, including black, red, granite, and gray. Comes with handles on each side for carrying, and surprisingly, it's made of clay instead of cordierite ==> Get It Here
There's not a whole lot to say about this one other than it comes with a free pizza cutter! Fifteen inches, and has two handles for easy carrying. ==> Get It Here
Thick Pizza Stone
Others on this page are thicker, but this one is thicker than average at 3/4 thick. Grill appropriate, and 15 inches in diameter. ==> Get It Here
I'll continue to add to this list as I discover more.
So what's been your experience with making pizzas with a pizza stone on your barbecue? Have you cracked a stone yet? What brand did you buy and how do you like it?