How To Clean A Pizza Steel (And Season It, Too)

A pizza steel is key to making high-quality homemade pizza, but only if it’s properly maintained. For most people, that means keeping the pizza steel as clean as possible between uses. Let’s go over the basics of cleaning a pizza steel.

To clean a pizza steel (or baking steel), follow these steps:

  1. First, scrape off any baked on debris using a bench scraper or hard spatula with a flat edge.
  2. Next, scrub the pizza steel with hot water (no soap) using a scrubbing brush of medium to hard stiffness.
  3. Rinse off any loosened debris or soot and let it dry completely before using it again.

Note: If you need to re-season your pizza steel, follow the same process using soapy water then apply a thin layer of high smoke point oil (like this flax seed oil) and wipe it down with a paper towel. Let the pizza steel dry completely then use it as desired.

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Cleaning A Pizza Steel:

When your pizza steel first arrives, it’s glossy, shiny, and new. After the first use, though, it’s common to see large greasy circles speckled with burned-on cheese, crust, and toppings. Don’t worry—this is normal—but you will need to do some basic maintenance before you can use it again.

Without a proper cleaning, a pizza steel will smoke up and negatively affect the flavor of your pizza crust. A dirty steel will also prevent dough from making direct contact with the hot steel, completely negating the purpose of using the pizza steel in the first place.

So let’s get started cleaning your pizza steel so you can continue making great pizza for years to come.

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Photo: My pizza steel is in need of a light cleaning.

Caution: Before you clean your pizza steel, make sure the surface is completely cooled down to room temperature. This will likely take several hours as steel retains heat very efficiently. Cleaning a hot pizza steel is not only dangerous, the cold water can actually warp the steel as a result of thermal shock.

How To Clean A Pizza Steel—Step By Step

  1. The first step is to spot any baked on debris that stuck to the steel during the previous cook. You can easily identify these bits by running your hand over the steel—anything that feels rough or bumpy will need to be scraped off. If you see splotches of color that feel smooth, don’t worry, these are just harmless stains.
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Photo: Note the small bit of cheese baked on to my pizza steel.
  1. Using a bench scraper, or a stiff spatula with a straight-edge, scrape off anything raised above the surface you identified in the previous step. You don’t have to worry about scratching the steel, but don’t gouge it, or use unnecessary force, as this will just degrade the non-stick surface and require re-seasoning.
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Photo: Any tool like these will work fine for scraping debris from a pizza steel.
  1. Once you’ve scraped off any stuck on debris, it’s time to scrub the surface. Using a stiff brush, or even just a rough wash cloth, scrub the surface of the pizza steel until it’s completely clean on both sides. Remember: grease stains and other discolorations are normal and will not be removed by washing—we’re only looking to remove caked-on material from the surface.
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Photo: A stiff brush like this will easily scrub a pizza steel clean.
  1. Rinse the pizza steel thoroughly with warm water and dry it with a paper towel. I recommend placing it in the oven (or another dry place) to finish drying and avoid rust, then storing it somewhere safe. You can store it in the oven if you prefer, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
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  1. Once dried, the pizza steel is ready to use again. If you notice your pizza steel has taken on a dull grey color (compared to slick looking sheen), it might be time to re-season it. To do so, follow the steps below.
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How To Re-Season A Pizza Steel—Step By Step

Seasoning (or in most cases, re-seasoning) a pizza steel is quite easy. All it requires is washing the steel with soapy water to remove debris and previous seasoning residue, then applying a thin coat of high-quality oil (such as flax seed) and letting it set.

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Photo: When re-seasoning, I use soapy water to remove any residue from previous applications.

Required: Barleans Flaxseed Oil (or similar)
Useful: Elaziy Cleaning Brick (great for scrubbing, won’t scratch or absorb grease)

  1. Use a bench scraper or spatula to scrape off any baked-on debris from the surface of the pizza steel (for more details, see above).
  2. Using soapy water, thoroughly scrub the surface of the pizza steel with a stiff brush or cloth. Note: Unlike a regular cleaning (which is only to remove food debris), here we’re looking to remove debris as well as any old seasoning that’s left over from before. This is why we use soap—because it’s good at removing oil. This is also why we don’t use soap during a regular cleaning (so as not to remove any seasoning).
  3. Apply a couple of small dollops of oil onto the surface of the pizza steel and wipe it down with a paper towel. The aim is to get a thin, consistent layer of oil across the entire surface. Repeat the process for the both sides.
  4. At this point, place the freshly seasoned pizza steel somewhere where it won’t be disturbed for several hours to finish drying. Optionally, you can put the pizza steel in the oven at a low temperature for about an hour to help the seasoning set.
  5. Enjoy your newly non-stick pizza steel surface!
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Photo: Your pizza steel won’t look this pristine when cleaned, but don’t worry. Grease stains and discolorations are normal.

Tip: I use flax-seed oil to season my Baking Steel brand pizza steel, because it works great and is recommended by the manufacturer, but other oils will work as well. Make sure to pick an oil with a high smoke point, which helps to prevent it from smoking in the oven when using your steel. If you choose flax seed oil, make sure it’s good quality and not blended to get the highest smoke point possible. I recommend organic Barleans Flaxseed oil, available on Amazon.

“Baking Steel” Pizza Steels Works Great

If you’re reading this, you probably already have a pizza steel you’re working with. But if not, or you’re interested in getting a new one, consider a Baking Steel brand pizza steel. These pizza steels work great and come in different shapes and sizes to perfectly fit whatever kind of oven you have.

I use the “Original” Baking Steel which is 16 x 14.5 inches (big enough for an average home oven) and costs $119. I’ve made some amazing pizza with this steel and I fully recommend them.

You can browse Baking Steel’s many offerings here.

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Photo: My Baking Steel has produced some beautiful crusts, like this one.

Related Questions:

How Do I Clean My Pizza Steel (or Baking Steel)?

To clean a pizza steel, scrape off any debris then scrub and rinse it thoroughly with warm water. Only use soapy water if you plan on re-seasoning the steel as soap degrades oil based seasoning. Make sure the steel is dried completely before storing it away.

How Do You Clean Steel After Baking?

To clean your baking or pizza steel after baking, the most important thing to remember is to let it cool down completely before handling. Steel gets extremely hot in the oven and can retain scalding levels of heat for hours afterwards. Once the steel is cool to the touch, scrape off any raised food debris and scrub it down with warm water. Give the steel time to dry completely before storing to avoid rust.

How Do I Season A Pizza Steel?

To season a pizza steel, first clean it thoroughly using soapy water. When the pizza steel is completely cleaned and dry, apply a thin layer of high smoke point oil (I prefer flax seed oil) and wipe it down with a paper towel leaving the surface it with a visible sheen. Let the pizza steel rest in a dry space for several hours so the seasoning can set before the next use.

How Do I Remove Rust From My Pizza Steel?

To remove rust from your pizza steel, start by scrubbing off the rust using a brillo pad, steel wool, or an SOS pad. When the rust has been completely removed, wash the surface (both sides) with soapy water, dry it, then season the pizza steel with a thin layer of flax seed oil and wipe it down with a paper towel. Let the pizza steel rest for several hours while the seasoning dries before using.

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