A pizza peel is an essential tool for pizza baking. But how do you use one? And what is the best peel for your needs? They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but this guide will show you everything you need to know to up your pizza game!
What Is a Pizza Peel?
A pizza peel, or pizza paddle, is a tool designed to transfer the pizza from the working surface, where it’s assembled, into the hot oven. It’s also used to turn the pizza for an even bake, and to get the pizza out of the oven when it’s done.
Pizza peels consists of two main elements: a flat carrying surface and a handle.
The carrying surface, also called the blade, of the pizza paddle, is where you place the pizza. This area, therefore, has to be large enough to hold the pizza you’re baking. The carrying surface is usually made either from wood or metal. When we refer to a wooden or metal peel, it’s the material the carrying surface is made from we’re talking about.
The handle has two main functions: provide a stable grip and extend the reach of the paddle. Since a pizza peel is intended to be used in a hot oven, you need the handle to be able to push the pizza inside the oven without burning your hands.
Do I Need a Pizza Peel?
I often get this question, and yes, you need a pizza peel, if you’re serious about your pizza baking. It’s simply the easiest way to move pizza in and out of a hot oven.
If you bake pizza on a baking tray you don’t need a pizza peel. But if you’re baking pizza in a wood-fired oven, you can’t do without one. The same goes for baking pizza on pizza stones or pizza steels.
When I first started my pizza journey, and just got my first pizza stone, I didn’t own a pizza peel. I tried all kinds of methods to move the pizza on and off the hot stone, with varying results. An example is parchment paper, and almost burnt down my hose (you can read more about why that’s a horrible idea here). I also tried to move the pizza using an upside-down baking tray, that actually worked okay, but I still messed up a lot of pizzas.
I was in Italy the following summer and came across a cute, little metal pizza peel. So I got it as a souvenir. Little did I know, that this souvenir would be my first step to become the pizza enthusiast I am today. I now own a bunch of different peels, and could never go back to baking pizza without one!
Types of Pizza Peels – Find the Best Peel for Your Needs
Pizza peels come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. They can be round, squared, have long handles, short handles, and be thin or thick. What kind of peel you need depends on what you’re going to use it for, and what kind of oven you have. Different peels work better for transferring the pizza into the oven, some are better for moving and turning the pizza in the oven, and others for removing the pizza from the oven. Here are some of the things to consider to find the right peel.
Pizza Peel Carrying Surface
There are two main types of carry surface for pizza peels: solid and perforated.
A solid carrying surface is what you find in most pizza peels, a flat, whole surface without any hols, dents or groves.
A perforated carrying surface, on the other hand, is a surface filled with lots of small holes. The benefit of a perforated peel is that the holes will help you get rid of excess flour from the dough. You want to get rid of this flour, because the flour will burn in a hot oven, creating smoke and giving the pizza crust unpleasant flavors. Perforated peels are most commonly made from metal. But the added holes make pizza doughs stick less to the peel than a metal peel with a solid carrying surface.
Pizza Peel Thickness
How thick should your pizza peel be? In general, a thin pizza peel is better. The reason is that it’s both easier to move pizza from your working surface over to the peel if it’s thin, and it’s easier to get it under the pizza when you’re taking it out of the oven.
Most metal peels (with a carrying surface made from metal) are thin because the material allows making it thinner. However, you don’t want the peel to be too thin, because then the carrying surface can get flimsy. Ideally, you’re looking for something in the 1-3 mm (3/64-1/8 inch) range.
Wooden peels, tend to be thicker since you can’t make the wood as thin as metal. A wooden peel works great for transferring the pizza into the oven, but it’s less ideal to get it out. Wooden peels typically are too thick to easily slide under the pizza (without using any tools to lift the pizza). A thin, beveled edge can help, but in general, I recommend metal peels to get the pizza out of the oven.
You can find handles in all kinds of lengths and materials. Whether you need a long or a short handle depends on what kind of oven you bake your pizza in. For big, commercial ovens, the long handle will come in handy. The same goes for traditional wood-fired ovens, because of the size and heat. If you’re baking pizza at home, a pizza peel with a short handle is easier to use.
Besides the length of the handle, the most important feature is comfort. Handles are usually made out of either metal or wood, but can also come in plastic, rubber, or other materials for better grip.
When you’re looking for a peel, I recommend going for a long handle peel if you’re baking pizza in a pizza oven for and a short handle peel for home baking. The handle also has to be comfortable to hold in your hand, and have a good grip.
Pizza Peel Material
Wooden Pizza Peels
A wooden pizza peel is a traditional tool, that has been used for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The benefit of a wooden peel is that the pizza doesn’t stick to it as much as other materials. The reason is the rougher, more uneven, surface that allows airflow under the pizza. It’s, therefore, a great tool to transfer the pizza from the countertop, or baking surface, to the oven.
Another benefit of wooden peels is the price. They are fairly cheap to acquire. The downside of wooden peels is that they are not that easy to clean, and requires more maintenance. You also need to be careful with heat and water to avoid cracks and warping of the wood. Wooden peels also tend to be thick, which makes it harder to get under the pizza for turning or getting it out of the oven.
Metal Pizza Peels
Most metal pizza peels come in either stainless steel or aluminum. They’re more durable and easier to clean than wooden peels and generally need less care. Metal peels are also thinner than wooden peels, making them the perfect tool to get under the dough. Metal peels, therefore, works well to turn the pizza in the oven and to pull the pizza out when it’s done. The main drawback of metal peels is that raw dough sticks more easily to the peel.
To overcome this drawback, you can get a perforated metal peel. Dough sticks much less to these peels, due to all the tiny holes in the carrying surface. These holes allow airflow under the dough. This prevents a vacuum from being created between the dough and the peel, which is the main reason dough stick to a metal surface. If you want to know more about perforated pizza peels and their benefits, check out this article.
Should You Choose a Wood or Metal Pizza Peel?
Wood and metal peels both have their strengths and weaknesses. And to get the best from both worlds, I recommend having both. If you, however, just want one peel, your best bet is a perforated metal peel because it’s the most versatile option.
A wooden peel is the best choice when it comes to transferring the pizza into the oven. The reason is that pizza sticks less to a dusted wooden surface than a metal surface. The thickness of the paddle is however not ideal when you want to slide it under the pizza to either turn it or take it out from the oven.
A metal peel is thinner, making it easier to slide under the pizza. It also works for transferring the pizza from the working surface into the oven, but you have to be more careful. Pizza stick more to metal, you can however solve this by drizzling semolina on the paddle, in addition to minimizing the time for your pizza on the carrying surface.
The last option is to get a perforated metal peel, that will give you the best from both worlds. It both has a thin carrying surface, and pizza dough sticks less. A perforated pizza peel is therefore the best option if you only want to own one peel.
How to Use a Pizza Peel
The main purpose of a pizza peel is to move the pizza. The different stages of the pizza baking process requires different types of peels.
Transfer the Pizza in to the Oven
I love to use a wooden peel for this. As mentioned above, the pizza doesn’t stick as easily to wooden peels, therefore the wooden peel is the perfect peel for this. When you assemble the pizza you can either do it on the countertop or on the peel.
I like to both shape the pizza and top it on the countertop, to minimize the time on the paddle. The reason is that it will make it less likely to get stuck. If you’re worried about the shape of the pizza when you drag it over to the peel, you can always readjust it before it goes into the oven.
Before moving the pizza to the peel, dust the peel lightly with semolina. The Semolina flour really helps the dough slide off easier, as well as adding a little bit of texture. I recommend shaking the pizza on the paddle right before it goes in the oven, just to make sure it’s not stuck.
If the dough is stuck to the the working surface, simply use a dough scraper or a spatula to loosen it before it goes onto the peel.
If you choose to use a metal pizza peel for this, I recommend doing it the same way as with the wooden peel but dust the dough a bit more before you move it over to the peel. You may also need more semolina to be sure it doesn’t stick.
Turning the Pizza in The Oven
Whether you’re using a wood-fired oven or your kitchen oven, ovens usually don’t distribute heat evenly. If you need to move the pizza around in the oven to ensure even baking, a thin metal peel is the best option. There are special peels made for this purpose, but a regular metal peel should work fine for the home chef.
If you bake pizza in a wood-fired oven, you should place the pizza back on the same spot if you trun it, else the hot deck of the oven may burn the pizza. But the hot surface may bake the bottom of the pizza faster than the top. If the crust is done but the cheese is not melted yet, you can use the peel to lift the pizza closer to the dome of the oven, where the air is hotter, for a few seconds to finish it off.
Remove the Pizza From the Oven
Like for turning pizza in the oven, removing the pizza is easy with a thin, metal peel. You can use a wooden peel for this as well, but a metal pizza peel is a better option, because they are easier to slide under the pizza. And you don’t need to worry about sticking when the pizza is done baking.
The Best Pizza Peel: How to Choose the Right Type
In general, I recommend having two types of pizza peels: one made out of wood and one made out of metal. The reason is that they both have their strengths and weaknesses, and having both gives you the best of both worlds.
The Best Pizza Peel For Commercial Pizza Ovens
The most important factor for peels for wood-fired pizza ovens is the long handle. The reason is that these ovens are very hot, and usually pretty big. Therefore, you need a long handle to reach the back of the oven, and to be able to move the pizza in the heat. Another important thing is that the peel must handle heat well since these ovens get really hot. The Italian company Gi.Metal makes some of the best professional pizza oven accessories on the market, so if you’re own a Neapolitan-style pizza oven, I recommend checking out their pizza and turning peels.
The Best Pizza Peel for the Home Cook
There is no ‘the best pizza peel, actually, I recommend having two types of peels for the home cook: one wooden peel and one metal peel. It’s not strictly necessary, but having these two types will make your life easier. If you want to start off with only one paddle, I recommend going for a thin metal pizza peel first. The reason is that even though the pizza stick more easily, it’s important to be able to pull the pizza out of the oven. For baking pizza in your own kitchen, you don’t need a long handle, like for the big pizza ovens. It’s beneficial with a smaller peel with a short handle because it’s easier to maneuver. You want to make sure the peel is not too big to fit your oven.
The Best Wooden Pizza Peel
First off, the wooden peel. The best wooden pizza peel, in my opinion, is the Pizza Royale Ethically Sourced Premium Natural Bamboo Pizza Peel. One of the most important features of a wooden peel is that it’s made out of a hard, durable material. This ensures that it lasts a long time. You want a material that is durable and doesn’t scratch easily. Pizza Royale’s pizza peel is one of the most durable wooden peels I’ve seen because it’s made out of bamboo. That’s not a traditional choice, but it works really well because bamboo is a hardwood that will outlast most softer types of wood. The peel has a smooth, nice surface, and it’s easy to slide pizzas on and off. It’s also lightweight, and the handle is comfortable to use.
The peel comes in two sizes: large and extra-large. The large version is 12 inches (31 cm) wide, and the extra-large version is 15 inches (38 cm). The size of the peel determines how large a pizza you can bake on it. A larger peel allows baking bigger pizzas. In my opinion, the large-size version is a bit small, so I recommend the extra-large version. since that allows making larger pizzas.
Pizza Royale’s Bamboo pizza peel comes with a 180 days guarantee and is definitely my top choice for a wooden peel.
The Best Metal Pizza Peel
My choice for the best metal pizza peel is the Kitchen Supply Aluminum Pizza Peel. It’s made out of light, aluminum, and comes with a short, sturdy, and comfortable wooden handle. The most important feature of this kind of peel is that it’s thin enough to easily get under the pizza for moving it and pulling it out of the oven. This peel does a great job and slides under the pizza super easy because it’s so thin.
Another benefit of this peel is that it’s easy to take care of. You can clean it with soap and hot water, and don’t need to worry about rust, since it’s made out of aluminum.
This peel comes in three different sizes: 12 inches (31 cm), 15 inches (38 cm), and 16 inches (41 cm). The perfect size depends on the size of your pizza stone, oven, and how large pizzas you bake. For most people, I recommend the medium size, peel.
Because it’s comfortable to use, is of high-quality, and comes with a nice, aluminum finish, this US-made pizza peel is my top pick in this category.
The Best Perforated Pizza Peel
My top pick for perforated pizza peel for home use is the Homevibes 12″ Perforated Pizza Peel. This is a lightweight, aluminum peel.
The Komista pizza peel is a sturdy, well-made peel, with a nice smooth finish on the carrying surface. This combined with the holes makes it super easy to slide off pizza, and you don’t need to worry about sticking. And at only 1.7 lbs (770), it’s lightweight and easy to maneuver.
Homevibes 12″ Perforated Pizza Peel is a high-quality pizza peel that is easy to use and works great both for transferring your pizza into and out from the oven. This is my favorite pick if you’re looking for only one peel!
Pizza Peel Maintenance
Wooden Pizza Peel Maintenance
I would avoid cutting pizza on the wooden peel, as this will make scratches. When you’re cleaning you should avoid using too much water, especially hot water, because this can make the wood warp or crack. You should therefore never put it in the dishwasher! Before washing, I recommend using a plastic dough scraper to get rid of anything that is stuck to the peel. You can use a metal scraper as well, but it’s easier to scratch the wood if you’re not careful. You can then use a nylon brush or wet cloth to clean it. Make sure to wipe off any excess water before storing it in a dry place.
Mineral Oil for Wooden Pizza Peels
To make a wooden pizza peel last longer you should apply mineral oil. This isn’t strictly necessary, but if you have a nice, good peel that you want to have for a long time, applying oil is a good idea!
The benefit of applying mineral oil is that the wood stay hydrated, that prevents warping and cracking. To apply mineral oil, pour 1-2 tablespoons to the peel, and spread using a piece of cloth. It’s a good idea to re-apply oil every 3 months or so.
When picking a mineral oil, make sure it’s food-safe. My recommendation is Thirteen Chefs Food Grade Mineral Oil, which is an US-made mineral oil. This oil is also great for pizza cutting boards and other wooden kitchen tools.
Metal Pizza Peel Maintenance
For metal pizza peels, there is not that much to worry about. Since most metal peels are made from stainless steel or aluminum, you can use soap and hot water to clean them. Because of the smooth surface, it’s also often easier to wipe off anything that is stuck to metal peels.