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cast-iron skillet pizza stone
Credit: Marissa Wu

As someone who moves often, I try to keep my possessions to a minimum. In the kitchen, that means beyond my trusty red KitchenAid, Gertrude, and a small handful of essential cooking and baking tools (a Bundt pan, candy thermometer, scale, and wooden spoon that looks more like a shovel among them), I like to keep it simple. After all, there's only so much that I can squeeze into a tiny car.

That goes to say, a pizza stone isn't exactly on my list of can't-live-without-it tools. Although, I do admit that it's nice to use—my dad has one, and it produces some incredibly delicious, crispy-bottomed pizzas. So when a colleague mentioned that a cast-iron skillet could do the same job, my ears perked up. That was something I did have, if only by proxy thanks to my roommate.

We took it upon ourselves to test the theory. After picking up some fresh pizza dough from Hinkel's Bakery from The Market at Pepper Place in Birmingham, Alabama, and swinging by my trusty grocery store, Trader Joe's, we were ready to see if the hack would be a success…or a flop.

I'll spare you the suspense and say it was a roaring success. So much so that I, a cast-iron holdout, am ready to go buy one for my collection of can't-live-without-it kitchen tools. Read on, however, for tips on technique.

Preheat the Skillet Upside Down

Per the advice of a baking connoisseur and friend I call Bread Boy, I made sure to preheat the skillet along with the oven. To turn the cast-iron skillet into a pizza stone, simply turn it upside down and use the bottom as the surface.

Use a Baking Sheet

At first, the plan was to use just the skillet, but I then decided to have it sit on a baking sheet. That was a power move—the pan ended up catching some wayward cheese and oil. Plus, it was way easier to balance the pizza on the skillet without worrying everything would topple off.

Assemble on Your Skillet

If you are planning to assemble your dream pizza on the counter or cutting board and then transfer it to the skillet, don't. You will have regrets. Pizza-on-the-floor regrets. Instead, roll out the dough to fit the diameter of the skillet, and then place it on the cast iron before adding your toppings. (Be careful, the pan will be hot since it was preheating.)  

You Don't Need Extra Oil

If you treat your cast iron properly, the oil you rubbed on the skillet before you stored it will suffice. Thanks to my roommate's fastidious care for her pan, the pizza slid right off and onto our cutting board. If you find that you need to brush up on your cast-iron care, take a gander at this handy guide.

The process was so easy that I'm ready to have a supply of homemade dough in the fridge for impromptu pizza nights. I'm definitely no pizza-throwing champion, but turning the cast-iron skillet into a pizza stone did make me feel like I might give the average pie a run for its money.