Pizza is so popular that people who take pride in their cooking are bound to try making one from scratch at some point. And one of the first questions they ask, as they begin to research recipes, will probably be, “Exactly what is a pizza peel?”
This overview will answer the question what a pizza peel is, the different types, and how to use them.
What is a Pizza Peel and Why Do I Need One?
A pizza peel is similar to a big paddle, and it’s used for moving pizzas in and out of an oven. It has a large flat area to put a pizza on, which is called a blade or carrying surface, and a nice long handle. There are a few reasons why you should have one if you’re making pizza from scratch.
First, there is a very good chance that you have nothing in your kitchen that is big enough to hold a large round pizza. Second, when you slide a pizza into the oven, the separate ingredients aren’t blended together the way they are on a cooked pizza, so there is a danger of some of them falling off.
This is particularly true with pizzas that are loaded with several different types of ingredients, such as shredded cheese, chopped olives, pepperoni, and more.
The long handle on a pizza peel also means you can slide your pizza all the way to the back of your oven without having to put your hands into the hottest area. That will help to prevent you from burning your hands or fingers as you slide pizzas in and out of the oven or rotate them while cooking.
Types of Pizza Peels
The main difference between pizza peels is the type of material they’re made from. You can choose from three different kinds, depending on which best suits your needs.
Wooden Pizza Peels
The advantages of wooden peels are both practical and aesthetic. You can serve the pizza directly from the peel, because not only can you cut the pizza on it, but it looks wonderfully authentic. In fact, it looks so good that you can store it out in plain sight and it will be an excellent décor accent in your kitchen.
Also, wooden peels tend to be more inexpensive than other types of peels, and pizza dough doesn’t stick to it. However, they do have some major disadvantages, as well:
- Stain and absorb odors easily
- Not fireproof
- Warped by moisture
Wooden pizza peels are not the best if you plan to make pizza over open flames or are not a fan of high-maintenance cookware.
Metal Pizza Peels
Most metal pizza peels are made from aluminum. This allows them to be very thin, which makes it easy to move around. They are also low maintenance and easy to clean.
The only real disadvantage of using an aluminum peel is that pizza dough tends to stick to it. However, some metal peels are perforated, which significantly helps with that issue.
Composite Pizza Peels
Composite peels, made of wood and resins, are not exactly a crowd favorite. They’re certainly easier to clean than wooden peels, but not nearly as attractive, and metal peels are even easier to clean than these. They’re fairly thick, and the handles tend to run pretty short.
Unless you absolutely need a pizza peel with a shorter handle for some reason, you may want to steer clear of these. If you want something that looks really good, then wood is a better choice. If you prefer a low-maintenance peel, then you’ll probably be happier with a metal peel.
What Size Pizza Peel Should You Get?
Two main criteria are used to determine the size of pizza peel you should get:
There is no question that metal peels are much easier to slide under pizzas to turn or take them out of the oven. If you really want a wooden peel, look for one with a beveled edge.
If you are cooking pizza in your home oven, you will most likely need a shorter handle on your peel so it will fit. If you are cooking with a pizza oven, grill, or pizza stone, then a longer handle will do a better job of protecting your hands from burns.
How to Use a Pizza Peel
Some people make their pizzas on a cool countertop, such as granite or marble, before sliding it onto a pizza peel. But whether you do that or make it directly on the peel, you just need to follow these simple steps:
- Dust a little flour or cornmeal on the pizza peel before putting any pizza dough on it
- Shake the peel to make sure the pizza is not stuck to it, but gently enough so the pizza doesn’t slide off
- Add the sauce and whatever toppings you wish
- Gently shake the peel once more and then slide it off the peel and into the oven
- Slide the peel completely under the pizza and remove from the oven
If your pizza dough does stick to the peel at any point, you can use a spatula or dough scraper to loosen it from the surface.
5 Most Useful Tips for Using a Pizza Peel
- Don’t use too many toppings: it will make your pizza heavier and more likely to stick
- Don’t use too much flour or cornmeal on your peel: it can make the bottom of the pizza bitter
- Try not to get any type of moisture on the peel, including tomato sauce: it can make the pizza stick
- If you prefer not to use cornmeal, rice or semolina flours are often recommended for less sticking
- When using a pizza stone, put parchment paper on the peel before the pizza and slide the paper onto the stone, along with the pizza
Sometimes the tools you use to make a particular recipe are just as important as the ingredients. A pizza peel is a great tool to have around for making authentic, delicious pizzas. They protect you and enhance the experience, and some even enhance the look of your kitchen!