Ooni Pizza Steel 13 Review – Pizzeria Quality Pizza Without A Pizza Oven
I’ve said it before—a good pizza steel is the only way to get a well-cooked pizza crust without a pizza oven. That’s why I’m excited to share with you that Ooni, one of the most trusted names in the pizza industry, just released the Ooni Pizza Steel 13 for $99. But is this pizza steel worth the cost, and how well does it work? In this Ooni Pizza Steel 13 review, I put it to the test to figure out just that.
The Ooni Pizza Steel 13 is a 13.46” x 13.46” inch baking steel designed to comfortably bake a 12 inch pizza, or about the size of a standard medium pizza. A pizza steel (also known as a baking steel) is a thick, solid slab of steel used for making pizza in a home oven. Pizza steels have many benefits, most especially the ability to cook pizza crust evenly, quickly, and with a deep charring that’s otherwise not possible in a home oven. This Ooni Pizza Steel 13 review will determine if it lives up to these expectations.
After using and reviewing the Ooni Pizza Steel 13 for several weeks now, I can comfortably recommend it to anyone looking to upgrade their homemade pizza game. The Ooni Pizza Steel 13 is well-crafted with smooth edges and a sand blasted finish that feels like a high quality product. The performance of this pizza steel is equally impressive, reaching its maximum temperature of 530F (280C) in just under an hour of preheating.
The pizza I’ve cooked on the Ooni Pizza Steel 13 are crispy and charred on the outside but still fluffy and soft on the inside—exactly how I like my pizza.
If you’re sold and want to check out the Ooni Pizza Steel 13 directly, you can head on over to Ooni using this link. Otherwise, if you want to hear more about my experience, and why pizza steels are so beneficial to making pizza in a home oven, keep reading.
|Produces amazing pizza crust in a home oven||Slightly smaller size than other similar pizza steels|
|Well-crafted with smooth edges and sandblasted finish||Takes almost an hour to reach maximum temperature (like all pizza steels)|
|Evenly cooks pizza crust with deep charring||$99 might still be too expensive for some people|
|Can reach maximum temperature in under an hour|
|Affordable price compared to professional pizza ovens|
|Compact and convenient|
|Textured surface offers more points of contact for heat conduction and cooking|
|Smooth, rounded edges for easier handling and sleek look|
What Is The Ooni Pizza Steel 13 (Review)
The Ooni Pizza Steel 13 is a pizza making tool designed specifically for use in a home oven. The release of this pizza steel in late 2022 marked the first foray by Ooni into the home oven pizza market, while previously they focused exclusively on premium quality dedicated pizza ovens. This is a big deal for anyone who wants to cook high-quality pizza at home but can’t fit a $300-$1000 pizza oven in their budget.
The Ooni Pizza Steel 13 costs $99, which puts it right in the range of other similar pizza steels, if not slightly cheaper. It’s also significantly less expensive than a professional pizza oven, or even the cheap Ooni knockoffs you can find all over Amazon.
The following chart shows you how the Ooni Pizza Steel 13 compares to other common pizza steels on the market.
|Brand||Size (inches)||Thickness (inches)||Weight (lbs)||Price|
|The Original Baking Steel||16 x 14||0.25||16||$119|
|Nerd Chef “Steel Stone”||16 x 14.25||0.25||16||$109.99|
|Ooni Pizza Steel 13||13||0.24||11.51||$99.99|
As you can see from the table above, the Ooni Pizza Steel 13 compares quite favorably to both the Original Baking Steel (which I own) and the very popular Nerd Chef “Steel Stone”. The biggest difference comes in terms of baking area, with the Ooni Pizza Steel being slightly smaller.
In my opinion, even though the other two options are slightly bigger, you’re only getting an extra inch out of them compared to Ooni, and I’m not sure that justifies the extra price or bulk. It isn’t a massive difference, so ultimately it’s a matter of personal preference, but I find myself reaching for the Ooni Pizza Steel over my other pizza steels because I like the way it feels and the fact that it’s slightly more compact and convenient.
Ooni Pizza Steel 13 Design And Build Quality
The Ooni Pizza Steel 13 is made from 430-grade stainless steel and features a sand blasted finish that promotes good heat distribution and airflow, all of which results in a crispier crust. The reason for this is simple—a textured surface offers more points of contact with the crust, which allows the bottom of the pizza to brown quickly without having to overcook it and dry out the crust.
Another aspect of the build quality of the Ooni Pizza Steel 13 that isn’t mentioned in their marketing that I appreciate is the smooth, rounded edges. Several of the pizza steels that I’ve owned and used previously were basically just large, unfinished slabs of steel with sharp corners and hard edges. This doesn’t affect how well the pizza cooks, but it makes handling the pizza steel itself a little difficult and prone to scratching the counter, shelves, and even my own hands on occasion.
By contrast, the Ooni Pizza Steel 13 has rounded, polished edges that are easy to handle and won’t scratch anything that gets too close to it. In fact, the edges are actually so smooth they’re shiny. This is something I really like about this pizza steel and a feature that sets it apart from many others on the market.
I will also add that the Ooni Pizza Steel 13 just feels better than other pizza steels I’ve used, regardless of how well the pizza turns out. The top surface of the pizza steel feels smooth even after several uses, and it also feels relatively light despite weighing 11.51lbs. Of course, this is just my subjective experience, but I think it makes a difference since this will be something you’re handling frequently, both to remove it from the oven and for cleaning between uses.
Ooni Pizza Steel 13 Performance
Now, for the part you’ve all been waiting for—how well does the Ooni Pizza Steel 13 make a pizza?
For this test, I’ve made several 12 inch Neapolitan-esque style pizzas with a thin base and a puffy crust. This style of pizza is my personal favorite, and also one of the most difficult to get right in a home oven. The characteristic char and puffiness of a Neapolitan style pizza is usually only attainable with a wood-fired pizza oven.
Just like many of the pizza steels I’ve used in the past, the Ooni Pizza Steel 13 does a superb job conducting heat and giving the crust the perfect amount of browning/charring on the underside. This pizza steel also does a fantastic job of promoting oven spring as soon as the dough hits the steel, causing the outer crust to rise during baking.
I will note, for those unfamiliar with pizza steels, that nearly all pizza steels perform the same when it comes to cooking pizza. After all, they’re all just solid slabs of steel that conduct heat when placed inside a hot oven for extended periods.
What sets the Ooni Pizza Steel 13 apart from competitors is the price, form factor, polish, and the brand name. I don’t usually shop by brand, but when it comes to pizza I trust Ooni to put an enormous amount of care into crafting a durable product with pizza aficionados in mind.
So while other pizza steels I own might do a great job making pizza, I’m still going to reach for my Ooni Pizza Steel because I like the build quality and size of it better. This is just my subjective opinion, but I think if you compare various pizza steels side by side you’ll agree.
Does A Pizza Steel Really Make A Difference?
If you normally make pizza in a pan, or even just a piece of parchment paper straight on the oven rack, you’re going to notice an immediate difference in the quality of your pizza.
The biggest difference between a home oven and a pizza oven is temperature—a pizza oven is about twice as hot as a regular oven. But heat isn’t the only benefit of a pizza oven, it’s also about form factor as well.
A pizza oven has a solid surface, usually made of stone or ceramic. This gives the raw pizza dough a flat, extremely hot surface that immediately starts cooking the underside of the crust the moment it makes contact. A hot, flat surface like this is why the underside of a pizza made in a pizzeria is crispy and dark.
By contrast, a regular home oven has grated racks that are designed for food cooked in pans. A pan is necessary for some styles of pizza (like Detroit or Sicilian), but for a traditional pizza it’s a hindrance. The time it takes for a cold pan to heat up enough to actually start cooking the bottom of the pizza is too long, which is why homemade pizza usually has burned toppings and a pale, soft crust.
A pizza steel is designed to make up for the shortcomings of a home oven by providing a flat, preheated surface that emulates some of the most important qualities of a pizza oven. Sure, it still doesn’t get nearly as hot, and you won’t get the same kind of leopard spotting as in a wood-fired oven, but the improvements are night and day compared to not using one.
Ooni Pizza Steel 13 Final Thoughts
If you’re making homemade pizza in a home oven, you need to get a pizza steel, and the Ooni Pizza Steel 13 is as good or better than most of the alternatives out there. You can also pick one up for less than $100, which is a great deal for a premium oven accessory.
A pizza steel is the only way to get a fully cooked crust with great color and texture in a home oven without burning your toppings or drying out the crust.
I recommend the Ooni Pizza Steel 13 specifically because it’s well crafted and designed with with polished edges and a smooth surface for those who will be handling it frequently between uses for washing and storage.
I also like the fact that the Ooni Pizza Steel 13 is only 13.5×13.5 inches, compared to some larger models. Realistically, most people are only going to want to make medium sized 12 inch pizzas in a home oven, and having a more compact option like this makes storage and handling a lot easier.
If you already own a pizza oven, or mostly make pan pizza, maybe you don’t need a pizza steel. But if you want to up your pizza game while still using your home oven, I can’t recommend the Ooni Pizza Steel 13 strongly enough.
Ooni Pizza Steel 13 Review Highlights
The Ooni Pizza Steel 13 is a 13.46” x 13.46” baking steel designed to comfortably bake a 12 inch pizza in a home oven.
- Pizza steels have many benefits, including the ability to cook pizza crust evenly, quickly, and with a deep charring that’s otherwise not possible in a home oven.
- The Ooni Pizza Steel 13 costs $99, making it an affordable option for anyone looking to cook high-quality pizza at home without a pizza oven.
- The Ooni Pizza Steel 13 is well-crafted with smooth edges and a sand blasted finish that feels like a high quality product.
- The pizza steel reaches its maximum temperature of 530F (280C) in just under an hour of preheating.
- The pizza cooked on the Ooni Pizza Steel 13 are crispy and charred on the outside but still fluffy and soft on the inside.
- The Ooni Pizza Steel 13 is made from 430-grade stainless steel and features a sand blasted finish that promotes good heat distribution and airflow.
- The smooth, rounded edges make handling the pizza steel easy and won’t scratch anything that gets too close to it.
- The Ooni Pizza Steel 13 performs well in conducting heat and giving the crust the perfect amount of browning/charring on the underside.
- The Ooni Pizza Steel 13 does a fantastic job of promoting oven spring as soon as the dough hits the steel, causing the outer crust to rise during baking.
Useful Ooni Pizza Steel 13 Accessories
You can use the Ooni Pizza Steel 13 without buying any accessories at all, but the following will make your life a little bit easier.
- Ooni Pizza Oven Brush: I use this brush in my pizza ovens, but it’s also very useful for my pizza steels as well. The long handle lets me brush away flour and debris between pizzas while it’s still in the oven, and the scraper at the end of it is perfect for scraping off burned organic matter when it’s time to clean it at the end.
- Ooni Pizza Oven Gloves: A pizza steel is very heavy and gets extremely hot, which makes taking it out of the oven almost impossible until its been cooled for several hours. Even with regular oven mitts, you can easily burn your hands if you try to handle the pizza steel too soon. On the other hand, these Ooni Pizza Oven Gloves are thick and heat resistant enough to be able to touch or carry a hot pizza steel without any problems. I also use these gloves to refuel my pizza ovens without the risk of burning my fingers.
What size pizza steel is best?
A pizza steel can be any size, as long as it fits in your home oven. However, I recommend getting a pizza steel that is at least 13 inches wide, which will give you plenty of room for a 12 inch or medium sized pizza.
Is a pizza steel better than a pizza stone?
A pizza stone and a pizza steel serve a very similar function, but a pizza steel is much more effective at conducting heat and producing a crispy, charred crust than a pizza stone. That said, a pizza stone is often much less expensive than a pizza steel, so don’t hesitate to buy a stone if a steel is out of your budget.
Both steels and stones are designed to emulate the features of a pizza oven, so whichever you choose will be a huge improvement.
What is the best thickness for a pizza steel?
There is no set best thickness for a pizza steel, but I recommend going for one with at least 1/4 inch thick. This is more than thick enough to conduct the kind of heat necessary for cooking a pizza, but not so thick that it takes forever to heat up. If you do go for a thicker pizza stone, just be sure to give it extra time to reach its maximum heat saturation.