quarry tile = pizza stone?

ohioamyMay 24, 2005

This is my first time posting here in the cooking section, hope someone might be able to help me.

After countless soggy homemade pizzas baked on cookie sheets, I'd really like to have a proper pizza stone. I have the Alton Brown book "Alton Brown's Gear for Your Kitchen," in which he mentions that he uses a "well-placed, unglazed quarry tile---ninety-nine cents---from a building supply store" rather than a forty-dollar pizza stone.

At first glance I thought the stone he was referring to would be a piece of actual rock---like flagstone---since he used the word 'quarry'---but he also writes that the "thick slab of unglazed ceramic stoneware provides an evenly heated, very hot baking surface for dough and the porous clay absorbs moisture," and that "Unglazed pavers, or quarry tiles, aren't actually designed as pizza stones but will work well and for a fraction of the cost of composite stone." He says to use one that's at least an inch thick and that you don't ever have to remove it from the oven. Is he referring instead to the inexpensive clay circular/square pavers that can be had for a couple of bucks? All of the actual stone I checked out was selling for $8/square foot, which would end up being $30 or $40. Just want to make sure that I'm buying the right thing, don't want it to explode in my oven!



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Yep....tile as in pottery/stoneware baked in a kiln tile.
Linda C

    Bookmark   May 24, 2005 at 10:12AM
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I started using quarry tiles a few months ago when I bake bagels in the oven. I put the dough directly on the tiles and there is a definite difference in how they turn out. When I made them the last time I put the quarry tiles on the bottom and middle shelves (4 fit per shelf). It just happened that I only put the dough on the tiles in the middle shelf. I'm thinking (because of how my oven heats) that they turned out better this way.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2005 at 10:24PM
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Thanks! I think his use of the word 'quarry' is what was throwing me off. When I hear quarry, I think of stone, not of those orange clay things (which is what he's referring to, correct?).


    Bookmark   May 24, 2005 at 10:29PM
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Yes, it is one of those orange clay things. Mine are only 1/2 or 5/8" thick.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2005 at 11:36PM
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yup, that's what i use too. i learned the tip from Julia Child's The Way to Cook and i also get mine for less than 50 cents each.

blogging at:

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 9:18PM
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I've been looking at every nursery/building store/etc. that I go to (about half a dozen so far) and have yet to find what I need . . . all of the clay tiles I've found have had 'bricks' or other designs stamped into them and aren't smooth. Where'd you guys find yours?


    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 9:25PM
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Amy, look for saltillo-style Mexican tiles. Check the tile flooring section.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2005 at 3:55PM
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I bought mine at a carpet/tile store. I got lucky because he had these left over from a job where he installed these tiles. I don't remember what I paid but it was really cheap.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2005 at 7:03PM
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My concern is how do I know that the unglazed ceramic tile is not made with, or if nothing that is toxic was added during the manufacturing process? Could something have been added during the process that will make this toxic or poisonous to people who eat pizza that was cooked on such tile? How can I tell? Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 1:12AM
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If the tiles are not glazed (i.e. not shiny or colored) then you can be pretty assured that the unglazed, clay/terracotta tile has nothing in it it that can be toxic. Bring them home, wash well in cool water to get the dust off. Put them on the bottom oven rack - but NOT ON the BOTTOM surface of the oven. Be sure that you have at least an inch or more space around the outside edge of the tiles for good air circulation. Heat them on low for an hour or so, then just leave them in the oven to heat whenever you use the oven.

When baking a pizza on tiles or a pizza stone, you need to preheat the oven for 30-45 minutes or an hour to get it really hot. I use the highest temp on my oven and the pizza cooks very quickly and gets a nice crispy, charr on the bottom of the crust.

If spills occur on the tiles, I scrape off the spills with a metal spatula and then wipe down the tiles when they have cooled. I had one tile (out of six) crack after years of use, so I just pulled out an extra that I had bought for just such an occasion. They were less than a dollar apiece at Lowe's.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 2:43PM
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As far as I'm concerned, pizza should be its own food group. That being said, I searched high and low for quarry tiles with no luck. I wound up purchasing unglazed travertine tiles, and while they were more than $2 each, the 6 that I got were still cheaper than a "pizza stone" and were well worth the price. I keep mine on the bottom rack, crank up the oven to 500, and let 'er rip. Fabulous pizza! Now if I can get a decent sauce recipe, I'll be set.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 7:25PM
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I thought I posted a question/reply but it seems not here so here it goes again. I can only find terracotta red tiles. Those are the only unglazed I can find but I can not find any thing else like Alton Brown has. I thought Alton Brown says get a quarry tile at least 1 inch thick. The terracotta tiles I see are all about half an inch think. Does anyone else have tiles that are only half an inch think and how well do they do, shouldn't they be thicker to absorb the heat?

I want to cook pizza on the charcoal smoker I have. It's a barbecue with the side box. If you put the tile on the grill on top of fire it will crack I'm sure but if you put it away from the direct fire to the side it should be fine. I plan on using some wood, maybe oak or hickory to get woodfire pizza at home. Any of you try this?

I have a pizza stone for the gas bbq, it comes in a metal frame and has a temp gauge. It was 100 but I think they come down in price some. I didn't want to use that one in the charcoal BBQ but get a tile.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 6:49PM
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I use the thinner (half-inch) quarry tiles in my oven, but it only gets up to 500F. Your smoker may get hotter than that and cause the tiles to crack. You might want to "temper" them by putting them in the oven and gradually heating them a time or two before you put them in the smoker to do your pizza.

Do you know how hot your smoker gets? Since I've only done the thinner tiles in my gas oven, I can't guarantee that they won't crack. But....they are cheap, so if they do, it's not an expensive loss. Besides, if they just crack in a couple of large pieces, you may still be able to cook your pizza on them if they don't fall through the grill grate.

You need to know how hot that side box gets. If it doesn't get hotter than 500F you might be just as well off baking the pizza in the oven.

Why don't you want to use the pizza stone you have for the gas bbq?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 4:54PM
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Hi teresa, the whole smoker doesn't really get that hot. It's because I can regulate the temperature by putting a lot or a little charcoal and wood in. So I can make it roughly 250 or 500 or 375. So because of that I think I'm safe. Well the only reason I don't put the pizza stone I have in the bbq is in case I mess it up like crack it by not regulating the temperature out I won't be out that expensive stone. I don't think I'm going to mess it up but I rather not risk it. I did tho find at Osh hardware something that might be a thicker stone like Alton Brown had on his show. Not sure but it seems unglazed and like his so I might go back and check it out and if I think it is then wash it with water only to get any dust off or whatever and try that or do like you get the half inch terracotta and I'm sure it works. In the stores thick pizza stones are like 40 bucks but they sell these thinner ones tho that are round and sometimes have handles for 12 bucks. Not sure why the big diff in price between the two but the 12 buck ones altho slightly thinner probably should work fine. Not sure but I think so. I want to make my very own woodfire pizza but I don't have time no but maybe next week. Thanks for your input.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 2:42PM
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I was at Home Depot and found a tile that looks like the one Alton Brown used on his show. It was by Classic Stone Corp. I called them and asked what the tile is made of and if it is unglazed. It is made of some sort of cement. I was thinking it was made of clay but he said cement. He said it's unglazed. I asked if there is lead in it. He said not to his knowledge but he said if I was concerned about lead then I should not buy their stones because they make no guarantee that there is no lead in it. They basically are not sure, or the guy who I spoke to. He said it's unlikely there is lead in it but he said he can not guarantee it. I asked if they use a dye to make it the color it is and he said yes. So I fear that there might be some chems in the dye that might be harmful. Too bad because that was a great looking stone just like Alton Browns but I rather not take a chance. I might get a terracotta stone that's about 1/2 inch thick that should work fine. Or I might get a pizza stone, the thinner ones are like $12 but the big thick ones are about 50 which is too much. The one I saw in question was 1 inch thick and came in 12 by 12 and 16 x 16. If I knew it was safe I'd get it.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 1:22PM
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I just bought a 15 inch pizza stone. It was 10 bucks at a kitchen supply outlet at the outlet malls. I think the one from Home Depot would have been safe, but then again it's made of cement and I'm cautious that cement is made with lye and could lye be toxic? So I was afraid the one at Home Depot might be toxic for that reason. The terracotta that they sell at the Depot is safe tho but just thought I'll get a pizza stone for 10 and be done with it. Funny thing is the big square deep pizza stones are about $40 but the round thinner ones are a lot cheaper for some reason so I went with one of those.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 6:51PM
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Today I made wood-fire pizza at home. As noted above I bought a pizza stone for 10 bucks at a kitchen supply store at an outlet store. Not an expensive think one for 40 but you get my drift. Loaded the barbeque/smokerput with charcoal and wood for smoke and fire and cooked a pizza. I made the pizza from scratch by making the dough but I used canned pizza sauce. I could make my own but the sauce I normally just use the canned stuff because it's good, cheap and quick and clean. This is my first wood-fire pizza that I have made but I have made pizza on the gas barbeque and it was great too but this takes the cake, or in this case this takes the pizza pie! Come on over and have some!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 5:40PM
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Don't use anything except a pizza stone, terra cotta, or a quarry tile. Maybe slate. Travertine is full of imperfections (holes) and the manufacturer fills in the holes with a cement. Granite and perhaps other stones can emit radon. You know absolutely nothing about anything with cement in it. Do not use it. And definitely don't use a glazed ceramic tile. The only things you want to use are tiles made of clay that is certified lead free. And that means quarry tile. People have been baking bread on slate for hundreds of years, so that might be okay too. But don't take my word for it.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 11:50PM
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