How To Use A Pizza Peel

How To Use A Pizza Peel

What is a pizza peel used for?

A pizza peel is used for moving a pizza around during its raw, uncooked state as well as during and immediately after it’s been cooked. There are many kinds of peels for each of these stages. Some can work for more than one pizza stage. Here are some example pizza recipes where a pizza peel is used for pepperoni and sausage pizzas. And, you can also use it for transferring calzone or bread.

Even after looking over hundreds of pizza recipes, videos, and articles, it was still difficult to understand certain things about making homemade pizzas. One of the key decisions of making a truly great homemade pizza was to no longer use the thin $10 round pizza pan. The pizzas might have been okay and good but, they were not incredibly great. So, the big change was to change the cooking surface to become a pizza stone (or a pizza steel).


Pizza Peel Wooden How to Use
Pizza Peel Wooden How to Use
Pizza Peel Metal How to Use
Pizza Peel Metal How to Use

So, when you’re going to bake a homemade pizza on a pizza stone (round or rectangle stone doesn’t matter), you will need to figure out a way to get the topped uncooked pizza off the countertop onto the preheated hot stone in the oven. And that’s where the pizza peel comes into play. It will serve as the tool to use for moving or “transferring” the pizza onto and off of the hot pizza stone in the oven.

Keep reading to learn more about how to use a pizza peel and how to keep your pizza dough from sticking to anything when you need to move it. We’ll also show how to use either a wooden or a metal pizza peel, as those are the 2 most popular types.



How to Choose a Pizza Peel

To decide how to choose a pizza peel is an entire topic in itself and we’ve covered it in our article about “Best Pizza Peels“. It covers the types of peels, materials they’re made of, pros and cons of each, and what our recommended ones to choose are. Next, we begin to discuss how to USE a wooden and metal pizza peel.

How to Choose a Pizza Peel

Build Your Pizza – Then Use The Peel

There are a lot of ways to build your homemade pizza and use your pizza peel. I’ve narrowed it down to the 3 most popular ways. So, the 3 most common ways to build a homemade pizza and use a pizza peel are:

  • Method 1: Par-bake the dough, top it on the pizza peel, transfer to oven
  • Method 2: Top the uncooked pizza dough directly on the pizza peel, transfer to oven
  • Method 3: Top the uncooked pizza dough directly on the countertop, transfer to oven

We’ll now cover each way and show how the peel is used for transferring it onto and off of the oven’s pizza stone. Each method is mentioned in detail and step-by-step.

Method 1: Par-bake the Dough and Top it on the Pizza Peel


Preparing to transfer to oven to par-bake pizza dough
Preparing to transfer to oven to par-bake pizza dough

The easiest overall use of the peel is this first method.

This is done by shaping your dough on a mildly floured countertop. When it’s of the desired size and shape, you sprinkle some corn meal (or semolina flour) onto your pizza peel. The amount to use is plentiful and spread out evenly using about 2 tablespoons. You then lift your shaped dough and place it centered onto the peel. You’ll move it around a bit to ensure it’s not sticking anywhere. If it is, you lift the dough where it’s sticking and sprinkle some more corn meal in that area. Reshape it as needed. You can pick up your peel and, while still over the countertop, give it a quick shake (forward-and-back) a couple of times, to ensure the dough will move and isn’t sticking to the peel. Prick the dough with a fork a few times, or follow your recipe, as desired for this.

You’ll then use the peel to mildly shake it to slip it off and onto your hot preheated pizza stone in the oven.

Then, after baking it partially, you use your peel to remove the dough from the stone. The stone remains in the oven. In using the peel for this, you utilize the peel’s beveled edge to forcibly “pierce forward” to lift a bit of the dough edge bottom onto the peel. Once that edge has been lifted onto the peel, the swifter forward scooping action takes place to get the entire par-baked pizza dough off the stone and back onto the countertop.

At this point, you leave the par-baked pizza dough on the peel and you top it complete with your pizza additions. About every 2 minutes, you lift the peel and give it a brief shake to ensure it isn’t starting to stick. Generally, this is never an issue with a par-baked dough, which is why this is the easiest method to use.

After the pizza is fully topped, you give it one last quick shake over the counter to ensure it’s not sticking. Then, you slip it back onto the stone for final baking. This time you’ll have to use extra caution to prevent the toppings from falling off when you shake it a bit to place it back onto the stone. This takes practice with matching your shake to a milder angle you’re holding the peel.

After the pizza is fully baked, you then use the peel to remove your completed homemade pizza from the stone. You’ll follow the same actions as you previously removed the par-baked dough. Since the toppings are more melded together now, you can use a more aggressive action to scoop it off the pizza stone.

Again, the stone remains in the oven, which can now be turned off.

The pizza is then put onto a surface you’ll be using to slice it. If this is a wooden peel, and you’re okay with cutting on it, you can leave it on it.

Method 2: Top the Uncooked Pizza Dough Directly on the Pizza Peel


Topping the pizza directly on the pizza peel
Topping the pizza directly on the pizza peel

This method is a little trickier than the first. This is because your initial inserting into the oven will be heavier and a higher tendency to stick. But, we’ll cover these aspects to make it much easier.

Shape your dough on a mildly floured countertop. When it’s of the desired size and shape, you sprinkle some corn meal (or semolina flour) onto your pizza peel. The amount to use is plentiful and spread out evenly using about 2 tablespoons. You then lift your shaped dough and place it centered onto the peel. You’ll move it around a bit to ensure it’s not sticking anywhere. If it is, you lift the dough where it’s sticking and sprinkle some more corn meal in that area. Reshape it as needed. You can pick up your peel and, while still over the countertop, give it a quick shake (forward-and-back) a couple of times, to ensure the dough will move and isn’t sticking to the peel.

Now, you top it complete with your pizza additions. You’ll want to top it somewhat quickly to reduce the amount of moisture collecting between the dough and the peel. So, about every 1 minute, you lift the peel and give it a brief, strong shake to ensure it isn’t starting to stick.

After the pizza is fully topped, you give it one last quick and strong shake over the counter to ensure it’s not sticking. If it is sticking some, it’s best to stop and put the peel back down. Lift any areas and sprinkle more corn meal down. Repeat until you get a good shake where the entire pizza moves easily. You now shift it onto the preheated stone for baking. You’ll have to use extra caution to prevent the toppings from falling off when you shake it a bit to place it onto the hot stone. This takes practice with matching your shake using a mild angle holding the peel. Basically, you’ll want your shake to be aggressive but with a short distance (forward-and-back) to prevent toppings from spilling off into the oven. However, this will happen at times. One tip is to put a large baking sheet under the pizza stone’s oven shelf to catch any droppings. You can then remove the baking sheet after a successful placement.

After the pizza is fully baked, you use your peel to remove your completed homemade pizza from the stone. In using the peel for this, you utilize the peel’s beveled edge to forcibly “pierce forward” that lifts a bit of the pizza edge bottom onto the peel. Once that edge is on the peel, the swifter forward scooping action takes place to get the entire pizza off the stone and fully on the peel

The stone remains in the oven, which can now be turned off.

The pizza is then transferred onto a surface you’ll be using to slice it. If this is a wooden peel, and you’re okay with cutting on it, you can leave it on it.

Method 3: Top the Uncooked Pizza Dough Directly on the Countertop


Building pizza on countertop
Building pizza on countertop
Scooping up Pizza with metal peel for transfer to oven
Scooping up Pizza with metal peel for transfer to oven
Transferring pizza to oven using metal peel
Transferring pizza to oven using metal peel

This method takes the most skill and requires the use of a metal pizza peel, as a minimum. However, it affords you the easiest way to build a pizza.

Shape your dough on a mildly floured countertop and then move it aside for the moment. Then, sprinkle some corn meal (or semolina flour) onto your metal pizza peel and also onto the countertop where your dough was. Ensure the amount to use is plentiful and spread out evenly using about 2 tablespoons each. Return your pizza dough to be on top of that. Reshape it, as needed. You’ll move it around a bit to ensure it’s not sticking anywhere. If it is, you lift the dough where it’s sticking and sprinkle some more corn meal in that area. Reshape it as needed.

Now, you top it complete with your pizza additions. You’ll want to top it somewhat quickly to reduce the amount of moisture collecting between the dough and the countertop.

After the pizza is fully topped, use your metal peel and its front beveled edge to slightly lift up the first edge of the pizza dough (about an inch or more) off the countertop. In a sense, that edge gets onto the peel with a piercing forward action coupled with a subtle lifting action. And then immediately thrust it forward to scoop up the entire pizza. This takes a skill to perform comfortably but is readily acquired.

After it’s fully on the peel, while still over the counter, give it a strong (forward-and-back) a couple of times, to ensure the dough will move and isn’t sticking to the peel. If it is sticking some, it’s best to stop and put the peel back down. Lift any areas and sprinkle more corn meal down. Repeat until you get a good shake where the entire pizza moves easily. You now transfer it onto the preheated pizza stone (or pizza steel) for baking. This time you’ll have to use extra caution to prevent the toppings from falling off when you shake it a bit to place the pizza onto the stone. This takes practice with matching your shake to a milder angle you’re holding the peel. Basically, you’ll want your shake to be aggressive but with a much smaller distance (forward-and-back) to prevent toppings from spilling off into the oven. However, this will happen at times. One tip is to put a large baking sheet under the primary oven shelf to catch any droppings. You can then remove the baking sheet after a successful pizza insertion.

After the pizza is fully baked, you use your peel to remove your completed homemade pizza from the pizza stone (or steel). In using the peel for this, you utilize the peel’s beveled edge to forcibly “pierce” to lift a bit of the pizza edge up. Once that edge has been lifted onto the peel, the swifter forward scooping action takes place to get the entire pizza out of the oven, similar to how you scooped it off the counter top.

The pizza stone/steel remains in the oven, which can now be turned off.

The pizza is then transferred onto a surface you’ll be using to slice it. This is where you can put the pizza onto any chosen cutting surface or to a wooden peel, if you’re okay with cutting on it. The wooden peel also can double as serving the pizza.

FAQ About Using Pizza Peels

Here are some commonly asked questions about pizza peels and their usage. Some of these items were mentioned in the previous methods on using the pizza peel but here they are if you’re looking for some brief answers to some popular specific questions.

How to use a Turning Pizza Peel

The Turning Pizza Peel is a unique peel that uses a small diameter platform (popular at 7-9 inches diameter) with a long handle. It’s used for primarily to quickly and frequently rotate (turn) pizzas when in a high heat specialized pizza oven. You just use it like a regular peel but, instead of using it to insert or remove a pizza, it’s only used to temporarily carry part of the pizza weight in order to rotate it for more even cooking. The pizzas in such ovens can cook 800 degrees F or higher so pizzas might only need about 4 minutes to fully cook. Due to this, they often tend to cook unevenly unless they are monitored and turned occasionally.

How do you keep pizza from sticking to the peel?

When using any pizza peel, you can dust it with cornmeal or semolina flour before using it to scoop up the dough. Some people don’t have to do this after much experience or with a heavily floured surface.

Also, I learned of a sticking issue that can occur if you take a long time in adding the pizza toppings onto the dough. This is due to a moisture buildup from the dough bottom. Wooden peels are especially susceptible to this moisture. So, after about every 1-2 minutes, I’ll pick up the peel and give it a quick shake to reduce the level of sticking to the peel. I’ve seen where some people can build the pizza fully on the countertop floured surface and then they lift and drag their fully loaded uncooked pizza onto a pizza peel (no scooping) but I can’t do that. My pizza dough just stretches too much when loaded. But, if you can pull your topped pizza onto your wooden peel for transferring, hurray!

What can I put under pizza so it doesn’t stick to the peel?

Preparing the peel with corn meal
Preparing the dough and peel with flour and corn meal

Just like the pizza peel, you can put flour and/or cornmeal under the pizza dough. Some chefs or other experts would prefer you use semolina flour, instead of cornmeal so it won’t have long term damage to your peel. However, this tends to hold true mostly for high volume food service locations as opposed to home use.

Can you cut pizza on a pizza peel?

Cut pizzas on a wooden peel
Cut pizzas on a wooden peel

Never cut anything on a metal peel. You can cut or slice on wooden peels and only if they’re somewhat thick and made of a good quality wood. Some composite materials may allow it as well. Ensure the peel is cleaned thoroughly after usage.


Why Use Perforated Pizza Peel

A perforated peel for allowing any excess flour or corn meal to fall through. It also reduces surface contact better. This will significantly reduce the level of sticking to the pizza dough. This is discussed more thoroughly on the “Best Pizza Peels” article.

Pizza Peel Care

Each pizza peel will come with its own pertinent instructions for care. Basically, the aluminum peels are to be wiped and hand washed clean. Although some may indicate being dishwasher safe, it’s not a common practice to submit them to such chemicals. Definitely, never submit wooden peels to a dishwasher.

Regarding wooden pizza peels, they can be treated similarly to cutting boards. Because they might be also used for cutting and acquire meat juices on their surface, it’s best to hand wash them with regular detergent and rinse thoroughly. Then, after wiping them dry, let them sit overnight to fully dry. After fully dry, it’s a good consideration to apply a light coating of a food grade mineral oil, and wipe it to remove any excess. But pulling isn’t necessary all the time.

What is the best oil to use on a wooden pizza peel?

The best kind of oil to use on a wooden pizza peel is a food grade mineral oil. This means the kind of oil that is safe to use of food related equipment or tools. They’re designed to be safe as surface coatings or protective layers during storage without needing any refrigeration.

Conclusion

In conclusion, following this pizza peel step-by-step guide offers you a great way to make it easier to get your pizza off or onto the counter and in and out of the oven. Considering both wood and metal peels, you can choose the one (or both) that best suits your needs.

Also enjoy this pizza dough recipe, along with a popular pepperoni pizza and a sausage pizza recipe.




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