Pizza is one of those innocent-looking dishes that can be intimidating to make from scratch. Not only do you need the perfect dough and sauce, but you also need to cook it at just the right temperature. And that’s where pizza screens come in. As someone who likes experimenting with all kinds of bakeware, let me tell you why a pizza screen is worth it.
Pizza screens are round metal trays with tiny holes all over them. These are designed to let heat through and evenly cook the crust. Made of lightweight aluminum or stainless steel, pizza screens help you achieve a super crispy crust.
If you’re ready to take your homemade pizza game up a notch, investing in a good-quality pizza screen is a must. In this blog post, I’ll explain everything you need to know about pizza screens and why you should get one. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s dive in!
Benefits of Using Pizza Screens
Pizza screens are a staple in many commercial kitchens due to their ease of use and ability to crisp up the crust. The perforated design and metal construction improve heat distribution and ventilation.
Although many professionals use the screen alone, you can use it on top of your pizza stone or baking sheet. This could prevent the toppings and sauce from falling through the openings.
Still not sure whether to buy a pizza pan or a screen?
Below I’ve highlighted the various benefits of using pizza screens:
3 Types of Pizza Screens
Most pizza screens available today are made from the following materials:
Aluminum Pizza Screens
These handy little tools are essentially aluminum sheets with a mesh-like texture. It allows heat to pass through while keeping your pizza in place.
Aluminum is a great material for making pizza screens as it’s a great conductor of heat. This ensures a pleasantly crunchy exterior every time. Plus, the lightweight construction makes it easy to release the pizza.
Moreover, aluminum bakeware also won’t rust or warp with use. So you can be sure that it will last for many years of baking. Aluminum pizza screens are non-stick, which makes it easy to remove the baked crust.
If you have been struggling with pizza crusts sticking to the pan, replace your pizza pan with a mesh screen. Thank me later!
Stainless Steel Pizza Screens
Stainless steel mesh pizza screens are an excellent alternative to the aluminum variety. Not only can they be used for baking, but also for cooling your pizza pies. The heat retention ability of stainless steel is unparalleled.
Plus, the extra durability of the heavy-duty stainless steel mesh offers better ventilation. This allows your pizzas to achieve a more evenly browned and baked crust. This makes them well worth the additional investment.
Insulated carbon steel pizza screens are the perfect tool for baking pizzas at high heat. The insulation helps to trap heat, allowing the pie to bake in 90 seconds tops! Unlike other screens, insulated screens also disperse heat quickly. This helps the dough cook evenly without overbaking or scorching.
Plus, insulated carbon steel is extremely durable. It means it won’t warp or bend when exposed to extreme temperatures. These innovative tools are designed with an extra-durable non-stick coating. It prevents the crust from sticking to the pan and ensures an effortless removal every time.
Size and Shape of Pizza Screens
Pizza screens are primarily available in two shapes:
Round Pizza Screens
Round pizza pans are the most popular choice for baking pizzas. This is because they provide an even heat distribution and an even crust all around. This helps to create that classic, crispy crust you know and love. They also make it easier to slide your pizza off the pan when it’s done since there are no corners or edges to catch on.
Plus, round pizza pans are affordable and easy to store. This makes them a more practical option for any home chef or budding baker.
Round pizzas come in multiple sites, ranging from personal-size 6″ screens to large 12″ screens. If you are going to make pizzas that can easily feed 2-3 people, a 10″ screen would be a good starting point.
Square and Rectangular Pizza Screens
If you are looking to make a Sicilian or Detroit-style pizza, you need to find yourself a square or rectangular screen. These screens are usually available in bigger sizes. This makes them a better choice of cookware for baking party-size pies.
You can easily find rectangular pizza screens in a size range between 14-28 inches. Square screens, on the other hand, have more options in small sizes. 10″ and 13″ are the most commonly found sizes, but some stores sell 7″ screens as well.
How to Choose the Right Pizza Screen?
Whether you’re baking at home or in a professional, choosing the right pizza screen can make all the difference. So how do you choose the correct pizza screen for your specific needs? Let’s see:
Choosing the Right Material
Heavy-duty restaurant-grade aluminum mesh screens are the best choice for baking pizza. Aluminum mesh screens are non-stick, lightweight, and easy to work with, making them ideal for baking pizza.
They also have an excellent heat distribution and retention capacity, which helps to ensure that the pizza is cooked evenly. To top it off, aluminum mesh screens are much more durable than other materials like stainless steel. o they can be used over and over again without any issues.
That said, if you want to bake at very high heat, insulated carbon steel or stainless steel would be a better option.
Choosing the Right Pizza Screen Size and Shape
When it comes to choosing the right pizza screen for your cooking needs, shape and size are supercritical factors to consider. Round pizza screens are perfect for baking traditional pizzas.
If you want to make Detroit-style deep-dish pizzas or calzones, square pizza screens are an ideal choice. It’s also important to factor in the size of the screen when purchasing a pizza screen.
Generally, if you’re baking one large traditional-style pizza at home, a 12-inch round pizza screen should suffice. However, if you have a large family or bake multiple pizzas at once, you may need larger screens that are available in sizes up to 20 inches or more.
Rectangular pizza screens are more easily available in party sizes (20, 24, 26, and 28″). So if your goal is to feed a crowd, your best bet would be rectangular screens.
Ease of Cleaning and Durability
In my experience, aluminum alloy wire mesh screens are both easier to clean and cheaper than stainless steel models. Aluminum screens have a non-stick surface that makes them easier to clean than other materials. On top of that, they don’t rust or corrode like their stainless steel counterparts, making aluminum the ideal choice for long-term use.
Furthermore, 6-12″ aluminum pizza screens are lightweight and take up less space when stored in a kitchen drawer or cabinet.
How to Clean Pizza Screens?
The key to making your pizza screen last for years is NOT TO wash it. On most days, all you need to do is burn off the screen in the oven on high heat for about 10 minutes.
Use a brush to remove any stuck-on residue afterward. Some manufacturers recommend using mild detergent to wash the screens. I personally find this step redundant. But if you absolutely have to wash it, I guess it won’t be the end of the world.
How to Season a Pizza Screen?
Seasoning a brand-new pizza screen helps to form a protective layer on the surface of your pizza screen. Doing so prevents food from sticking while also protecting it against corrosion.
To season your pizza screen, start by preheating the oven to 375°F (190°C). Then, lightly coat the surface of the pizza screen with vegetable oil or cooking spray, making sure to cover every inch of the surface evenly. Place the seasoned pizza screen in the oven for about half an hour, allowing all excess oil to burn off.
Once finished, remove the pizza screen from the oven and set it aside until it cools completely. Repeat this seasoning process twice more, using fresh oil each time – this will give you a strong non-stick coating that will last for many pizzas to come!
Tips for Using a Pizza Screen
The mesh design of a pizza screen allows for better air circulation and heat flow. Whether you’re a professional chef or a home cook, using a pizza screen will help you steer clear of sad, soggy crusts.
Here are some tips on getting the most out of your pizza screen:
- Preheat the oven to the desired temperature before placing the dough on the screen. This will ensure that your crust cooks evenly and quickly.
- Once your dough is on the screen, place it in the center of the oven and bake until golden brown. Depending on how thick your crust is, this could take anywhere from 8-12 minutes.
- To check if your pizza is done, use a peel, spatula, or pizza spinner to gently lift up one side of the crust. If it’s cooked through, it should be golden brown and crispy all over.
- Once your pizza is done baking, let it cool slightly before removing it from the pizza screen. Use two hands to carefully lift up each side of the crust and slide it onto a cutting board or plate. Buon appetito!
What’s better for pizza, a pan or a screen?
It depends. If you are using a regular oven and are struggling to crisp up the crust due to poor air circulation in the oven, I’d suggest using a pizza screen.
Can you use a pizza screen on a pizza stone?
Yes, you can place a pizza screen on top of your stone to allow the moisture in the dough to evaporate more quickly and create a light and crispy crust.
Can you use a pizza screen in an Ooni?
Yes, you can use insulated carbon steel, stainless steel, or restaurant-grade aluminum pizza screens in your Ooni oven.
Do you need to spray a pizza screen?
Yes, you need to use an oil-based spray to evenly coat your pizza screen before using it for the first time. This step is crucial as it will create a non-stick layer on the screen.
Don’t let the humble pizza screen be overlooked in your kitchen! With its insulation, even heat distribution, and non-stick surface, anyone can benefit from having this tool. So don’t be afraid to branch out and grab yourself a pizza screen for your next cooking endeavor – the result will be worth it!