An oven that bakes unevenly -- say burning food on one side while leaving the other side underdone -- is SO frustrating. But there's a simple solution that doesn't involve a new oven!

Oven Baking Unevenly?

Does your oven bake unevenly? That’s one of the biggest complaints I hear from readers. And I get it, as my oven has a flame strip at the very back of the oven that burns one side of my food while leaving the other side underdone.

The causes vary slightly from brand to brand, but one solution helps almost everyone: a baking stone. Even with my one-sided flame, anything I use the oven for turns out well.

A baking stone — they’re also called pizza stones when they are round in shape — holds heat in and distributes it more evenly through the oven.

  • To a large extent, a baking stone will “insulate” your pan from hot spots over or adjacent to the flame
  • At the same time, a baking stone will spread the heat out to the cooler areas.

Another important function is to keep heat in the oven when the door is opened. A small oven loses almost all of its hot air when the door is opened. With a pre-heated baking stone in there, it will come back up to temperature much faster. This is particularly helpful in baking things that rise, such as cakes, cookies, biscuits and bread as well as foods that have short baking times.

A few things to keep in mind when buying a baking stone:

  • Thickness — it needs to be thick enough to actually even out the hot and cool spots and also to protect against breakage but thin enough that it does not take forever to heat up. A half inch is ideal, but anywhere from 3/8″ to 5/8″ will work.
  • Size — there needs to be at least 1″ of airspace between the baking stone and the sides, back and door of the oven for the hot air to circulate. So measure your oven and look for a stone that is at least 2″ smaller in both directions.
  • No Handles — handles take up a lot of space in a small oven. It’s best to get a stone without.

It can be almost impossible to find a baking stone with perfect dimensions. However, a tile shop — or anyone with a tile saw — can cut one easily.

A good baking stone for your boat oven is likely to cost $50 to $60, including cutting it to size. Here are several that meet my criteria for “a good one.”

For smaller sizes, but only 1/4″ thick and therefore more prone to cracking and breaking, you can try the following (I tend to think that getting a thicker one and cutting it down is better):

Another option is to get an unglazed tile (UNglazed is important — glazed tiles won’t work the same way) at a tile or home improvement store and cut it to your desired size. In general, however, it’s hard to find thick unglazed tile.

Not quite as good but often easier to find in remote locations is a thick sheet of stainless steel, steel (it’ll rust, though) or aluminum. You can often find one at a welding shop and have it cut to size.

How to store your baking stone? Right in the oven is easiest — I put a couple of small all-metal binder clips on the rack to hold the stone in place (use a little aluminum foil around the wire of the rack if the clip slips). Otherwise, it can shift with the motion of the boat and crack or break.

Leaving it in the oven all the time is great as you should heat the stone right as you are preheating the oven. Never put a cold (or room temperature) stone into a hot oven as it is likely to crack. Also, you want to stone to be hot when you put the food in! I use my stone with everything I bake and simply never take it out.

You can place your pan directly onto the stone or — if your oven has two racks — on the rack above the stone. Pizzas and bread may be baked directly on the stone for a crispier crust, but you’ll need a “peel” (those large wooden spatula-like things) to remove the hot item. I find it difficult to use a peel in a galley and bake my pizza and bread in pans which I set on the stone.

An oven that bakes unevenly -- say burning food on one side while leaving the other side underdone -- is SO frustrating. But there's a simple solution that doesn't involve a new oven!

Baking stones require absolutely no special care. They do best not washed (if not totally dry when heated they can break) — if food gets on one, just scrape off what you can and let the rest bake off. It’ll get stained as in the photo above, but that is fine.

Enjoy better baking results!

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13 Comments
  • Ruth Seifert
    Posted at 06 November 2017 Reply

    Why is UN-glazed important? We couldn’t find an unglazed tile at the building store and ended up getting a glazed tile.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 06 November 2017 Reply

      Everything I’ve read says that glazed tile does not distribute the heat as well — it’s my understanding that the glazing can either “insulate” that side or cause it to be hotter. To be honest, I’ve always used UNglazed so I don’t have personal experience.

  • Patrick S Shanafelt
    Posted at 06 November 2017 Reply

    I think you have a camera or microphone on our boat sometimes. This was incredibly timely. We were talking about this very thing last night.

  • Tim Woods
    Posted at 06 November 2017 Reply

    Just uneven would be fine with me. We burned everything on the outer edges. I went and bought a oven thermometer a few eeeks ago to check the true temperature. Our Hillerange is 150 degrees off.

  • Ger Tysk
    Posted at 07 November 2017 Reply

    I’ve found that wrapping a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil around the bottom rack of the oven works as well! A baking stone wouldn’t be feasible for my boat but the foil works amazingly.

  • JD
    Posted at 07 November 2017 Reply

    My oven has the flames on the back wall so I am always rotating whatever i am cooking in the oven. Would a stone help with this situation or does the flame have to be below the rack?

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 07 November 2017 Reply

      It helps considerably with mine which has the flame at the back bottom corner. I’d think it would help with yours too but I haven’t seen/tried one exactly like that to be certain.

  • Kirsten Schweizer Roos
    Posted at 08 November 2017 Reply

    Thanks for the tip! Wondering if it takes much extra propane to heat the stone. Also… do you use this in hot weather? If so, does it seem to cause the galley to be warmer?

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 08 November 2017 Reply

      It will take slightly longer to preheat the oven, but then it will take less propane to keep the oven hot. I find it doesn’t change my propane consumption noticeably, nor does it really change the amount of heat in the boat when I’m baking.

  • Sharon Whitefoot
    Posted at 08 November 2017 Reply

    My oven has a broiler which limits the height of the oven space. Would the stone still be effective if placed on the floor of the oven in the broiler section?

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 08 November 2017 Reply

      I’m not exactly sure how your oven and broiler are arranged. The stone can’t be right on top of the flame, but does need to be between the food and the flame. Does that make sense?

  • Sue Hansen
    Posted at 09 November 2017 Reply

    I bought 4 unglazed ceramic tiles at Home Depot, under $5 for all 4. I measured the inside of my oven and allowed for an inch all around. They work great! I use my oven quite a bit…I bake all of our bread. I’ve had them for 4 months and no breaking so far. Cheap to replace if they do break. I also bought an oven thermometer and I’ve found inconsistencies in temp depending on the power we’re using…shore power, 30 vs splitting a 50 or using the generator.

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