What Is A Pizza Peel?
A pizza peel is a great specialty cooking tool for a pizza maker that is used to transfer or move a pizza with ease from one location to another. It’s called this because, in effect, you’re “peeling” the pizza away from a surface. In summary, the peel is best used to put the uncooked pizza into the oven and back when taking the pizza out. If you’re making pizza at home or getting ready to venture beyond making pizza in a baking sheet or pizza pan, then you’re at the right place. Also, if you’re looking to improve what your using a pizza peel for, here’s the latest information. Here are some examples that certain types of pizza peels can be used for:
- to remove a pizza from off a countertop
- to remove a pizza from a cooking surface in an oven.
- to remove a pizza from or insert onto the cooking surface in an oven
Popular removable cooking surfaces examples are a pizza stone or a pizza steel. Permanent surfaces in specialized or commercial ovens might be a shelf screen, ceramic, or fire bricks.
If you want to learn more on usage of pizza peels, read our article on how to use a pizza peel.
You don’t have to work at a pizza parlor in order to need a peel for your home oven or grill. All home cooks who make pizza and bread should be looking for a pizza peel that’s best for their own needs. Not all types of pizza peels can do all things you might want one to do. So, that leads us into the next topic of materials certain peels are made from and designed for.
A complete list of pizza recipes and steps of how to make homemade pizzas are available in the “Homemade Pizzas Recipes Complete Guide“.
What Are Materials Of A Pizza Peel?
A pizza peel is usually made of wood or metal, and has a long, flat surface (paddle) that can be dusted with flour or cornmeal to prevent the pizza from sticking. Composites are appearing as they’re easier to clean and often quite durable. However, there are some that I have seen reviewers comment about “chunks” or “chips” that have broken off after some extensive usage so, the jury’s still out on this material. However, if I was going to ever consider one, with what I have seen from many reviewers, I would choose the Epicurean Pizza Peel that is a composite. It seems to be a very good one to look into.
Regarding metal, the preferred is aluminum, as it’s lighter. You’ll appreciate the lighter peel made of aluminum when transferring a fully topped large pizza that can be quite heavy by itself. Some are still avoiding the composite peels for home but it will be looked at in the future as they improve in durability and longer life. There are definite uses for both wooden and metal peels. You might want to consider a metal peel but also a wooden one.
Best Wood for Pizza Peel
Wooden pizza peels are what existed for centuries before metal ones came onto the market. It’s durable, can withstand high temperatures, doesn’t react with food, and is biodegradable. The material that’s best is routinely debatable but currently, the top preferences are shown here.
What else is there to look for in selecting a pizza peel? Read further to learn more.
What to Look for in a Pizza Peel
Wood and Metal Pizza Peels
When finding the best pizza peel, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you’ll discover that most pizza peels are made of either metal or wood. Metal peels can be more durable and less likely to stick, but wooden peels can be used for cutting or serving the pizza slices on directly.
Consider the Handle Length
In choosing a peel, consider the handle length that will work best for you and your cooking environment. You’ll want a peel with a long enough handle to reach the back of your oven, but not so long that it’s too difficult to control and you’re hitting against cabinets or items on the countertop work surface.
Since the handle can vary in length, you want it just long enough to handle raw pizza dough as well as a hot pizza. A short handle is about 12-inches long and a medium long handle is about 18-24-inches in length. There are some that are longer but those are generally for commercial kitchens where the volume of pizzas is high and the distances from the work surface to the ovens is much further apart. Sometimes a peel with a long handle is beneficial for inserting the pizza(s) into a deeper hot oven that might hold several pizzas at once. Regardless of the length, you will need to adjust how you work in positioning the handle on the work surface, during pizza transfers, and in storage.
The Pizza Peel’s Surface
The pizza peel surface is what will hold the pizza when you scoop it up. Sometimes, you’ll be scooping up a raw dough pizza and the other times will be for the cooking or cooked pizza. With that said, the peel’s surface plays a crucial role in your selection process.
Difference between a Pizza Peel and a Pizza Paddle
Technically, a pizza paddle is a little different from a pizza peel, in that a pizza paddle is heavily involved with loading items frequently in and out of the ovens. It’s also good for scraping the oven stone (or steel) layer to keep it somewhat clean. The pizza peel can’t handle a large load like a pan pizza in an oven and it isn’t used to scrape off foods from the pizza oven’s stone. The peel is designed for lighter, routine work that is best for moving pizzas from a countertop into and then out of the oven. There are some similar functions shared between a peel and a paddle that both can do. The term “pizza paddle” however, is used sometimes even in professional circles as referencing a peel but the real pros know the difference.
Wooden peels will need to have a good beveled edge for using to remove a pizza from the oven. Wooden peels aren’t good for scooping up raw dough pizzas because there’s a limit to the thinness of the beveled edge. However, some will drag their pizza without toppings onto a wooden peel and then top it from there. That avoids the need for scooping it off from the work surface. However, if you take too long in topping the pizza, moisture tends to creep into the wooden paddle and then starts to stick. So, the workaround for that is to “shake” the pizza dough during the topping process once a minute to ensure it’s not sticking.
Metal peels will be great for keeping an uncooked pizza from sticking to the work surface. And, the concept of being metal itself will avoid the absorption of moisture, which is a key issue of wooden peels for sticking. The metal peels will have a very thin edge and the better ones will also have a slightly beveled edge as well. There are 2 key aspects to the metal peels that are desired. You’ll want some opened slits across the surface and you’ll want some raised “channels” of the surface. The slits (not just a bunch of holes) will allow cornmeal and flour to fall through but it will also reduce the amount of surface contact. Regarding having some raised channel portions on its surface, this helps reduce sticking due to reducing surface availability to have full contact. In other words, the pizza dough won’t be completely flat on the peel’s paddle surface so it reduces the possibility of sticking. This is another reason you won’t want a peel that uses an entirely flat surface.
Finally, think about how often you’ll be making pizzas, calzones, and other related bakery products. If you’re making pizza occasionally, either a metal or wooden peel should suffice. But, whether you’re making pizzas in your everyday oven or using a pizza oven regularly, you may want to invest in a good metal lightweight peel that works specifically designed for that purpose. And, if you’re wanting to improve your experiences overall, you’ll actually want to have two peels. Don’t forget, you can cut or serve the slices of a pizza on the wooden peel.
The Pizza Peel Size
Most peels are made perfectly for a 12-inch pizza and not a 16 inch. You can be a little undersized for getting a pizza out of the oven but not so much to transfer the pizza inside the oven. So, in deciding what size pizza peel do I need, the basic “formula” is to go with one that is 2 inches smaller than the size of your pizza stone. As you may or may not have a stone (or pizza steel), I translate that to be you can get one that is 2 inches smaller than the biggest size pizza you anticipate making. For example, my pizza stone and pizza steel can handle a 16-inch pizza. So, I chose a 14-inch peel for the metal one. And, for the wooden peel, I chose a 16-inch size because that will be used for also cutting the slices of a 16-inch pizza so I don’t want the pizza sides hanging off for that.
What’s the Difference Between Wood and Metal Pizza Peels?
Wood and metal pizza peels are both tools that are used to place a pizza in the oven. A metal peel is a thin, flat piece of metal with a handle that is used to slide the pizza into the oven. A wood peel is a thicker, more sturdy piece of wood with a handle that is also used to slide the pizza into the oven. Both peels have their own benefits and drawbacks.
A metal peel is more lightweight and easier to maneuver than a wood peel. However, because it is thinner, it can be more difficult to use to slide the pizza into the oven without dropping it. A wood peel is thicker and more sturdy, making it less likely to bend or break when sliding the pizza into the oven. However, because it is thicker, it can be more difficult to maneuver than a metal peel.
Some prefer to use a metal peel because it is lighter in weight and easier to handle. Others prefer to use a wooden peel because it is more sturdy, less likely to bend or break, and you can cut the pizza slices on it. Wooden peels require the raw pizza (topped or not topped) to be drug onto it since it can’t “scoop” up the pizza from the work surface. Ultimately, it is up to the individual cook to decide which type of peel they prefer to use.
Our Choices for Best Pizza Peels
These are the best pizza peels, in our opinion, that you can have in your home kitchen. They are the best pizza peels for making pizza, calzone, or other related dishes. We did consider costing as well and did not include any $300 and higher options that generally are reserved for the commercial chefs. We did look at some and felt that the ones we chose had the same benefits and are the most optimum for those cooking at home, whether you make these Italian cooked pies daily or monthly. We talk a bit about each of them and sometimes make reference to the pros and cons but most of those aspects have already been covered in the earlier part of this article when deciding on wood or metal peels.
Best Wooden: New Star Foodservice Restaurant-Grade Wooden Pizza Peel
New Star Foodservice has a lot of restaurant-grade items available that are for both commercial and home use. This item, in particular, is of a very good quality and has proven itself long term reliability by reviewers. You’ll want to get also a food grade oil for long term protection. Generally, you’ll want to get either a 14-inch or a 16-inch wooden peel for handling 14 to 16 inch pizzas.
Best Metal Aluminum Pizza Peel: Ooni Perforated Peel
This aluminum peel is best for all transfers of pizza, especially for uncooked pizza dough. It has all the desired options in a metal pizza peel and is known for its super reviews for many of its products, and particularly for this item. It can easily transfer an uncooked pizza onto the peel directly from the work surface as well as from the oven. It doesn’t generally come with a wooden handle but this isn’t necessary as its handle will be insulated regardless. Here’s a link to the Ooni site for its “Pizza Peels” collections which include all their pizza peels and related items.
Best for Beginners: EXO Non-Stick Super Peel Pro Composite
This type uses something like a conveyor belt and the base is made of a composite material so, cleaning is easy. It solves a problem that other peels might have on removal of the pizza from the countertop work surface. It has a little video of its usage on the site. It is considered by some, however, to be problematic in changing it out between getting off the countertop vs getting it out of an oven. Another consideration is that it does use moving parts, which the others do not. Moving parts are required to always work in order to function so, the durability of that is a consideration for long term usage and overall reliability. However, this is the best for people that are just starting out or for those who consider making pizzas about 6 times a year or so.
Best for Turning Pizza Peel: Ooni 7-inch Pizza Turning Peel
The Turning Pizza Peels are another specialized tool for pizza cooks who use a specialize oven, known as a pizza oven or a pizza fire oven. Those are the ones that can go to the higher temperatures over 500 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s not uncommon to be 800 degrees F or higher. The pizzas cook so fast, e.g., about 4 minutes, that they can very often cook unevenly. So, the need for turning it once or twice during the cooking process justifies the need for a turning peel. These have medium to long handles with very small paddles. A normal size paddle would be about 7-9 inches. This particular turning pizza peel received healthy reviews in all areas, including for sturdiness.
There was a 2nd place contender for this. It was the Chef Pomodoro Aluminum 9-Inch Turning Pizza Peel with Detachable Wood Handle. While it was great for everything overall, it was sometimes worrisome on its sturdiness by a number of reviewers. This is a common issue with handles that are foldable or removable for easier storage. However, having a removable or sectioned handle is very popular in pizza turning peels so that might be an acceptance for many.
FAQ About Using Pizza Peels
Here are some commonly asked questions about pizza peels and choosing one.
Can you cut pizza on a pizza peel?
You don’t cut anything on a metal pizza peel. You can cut or slice on wooden peels only if they’re somewhat thick and made of a good quality wood. Some composite materials may allow it as well.
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. Here are some example pizza recipes where a pizza peel is used for pepperoni and sausage pizzas.
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.
In conclusion, when looking for a pizza peel, it is important to consider the material. Wood and metal peels are both great options, but each has its own advantages. Metal peels are lighter and easier to use, while wooden peels are more affordable and have a better grip. While there were other factors to consider, ultimately, the choice depends on the individual’s needs and preferences.
A pizza peel is a great tool to have in the kitchen. It makes handling pizza much easier and can help transferring it more manageable. Be sure to consider the factors mentioned when shopping for a peel, and see which one is the best fit for your needs. Another very good article on “How to choose a pizza peel: the guide” comes from usscienceeducation.com.