What is a Pizza Peel?

wood-pizza-peelWhat is a pizza peel and how can it help you bake pizzeria style pizzas?

A pizza peel or pizza paddle, as it’s sometimes referred to, is an authentic Italian tool that professional bakers use to slide the prepared dough into a hot oven for baking.

This popular baker’s tool is also used for removing pizzas, artisan breads, flat-breads and other foods from a baking stone or oven rack.

It’s usually made of wood or sometimes metal and is also called a pizza shovel. Both wooden and metal pizza peels have their own advantages and disadvantages. Wood can burn or warp if not cared for properly; metal is thinner, but may transmit heat easier which may also increase the danger of burns when using to remove the finished pizza from the hot oven.

Transferring pizza dough to the oven is generally easier with a wood peel than a metal one.

pizza-crust-recipe-toppingsSome pizza makers prepare the pizza crust directly on the peel, which is smart if there is limited cooking space. This is also more efficient since it eliminates the extra step of getting the prepared crust onto another surface for transport to the Outdoor Pizza Oven or preheated baking stone.

The surface of both metal and wooden pizza peels should be coated to prevent raw pizza dough from sticking to it. Some cooks substitute cornmeal or semolina (pasta flour) for all-purpose flour because they feel it adds a crispy texture to the crust.

We recommend purchasing a pizza peel with tapered edges to make it easier to slide the peel under the pizza when removing from the oven or baking stone.

Also, it’s best to get a pizza peel or paddle with a handle thick and wide enough to provide the proper leverage when lifting and carrying the pizza. Wood pizza peel handles are most popular, as they are less likely to conduct heat than those made of metal.

For most people who are new to using a peel, the biggest challenge is actually getting the pizza from the peel to the stone without dropping it or losing half of the toppings to the oven floor. For most homemade pizza cooks with a regular domestic oven and average storage space, the best pizza peel to choose is a shorter-handled wood one that fits a 12-14 inch pie. Why? Basically, because most people find it easier to slip uncooked pizza off a wood peel.

pizza-oven-stoneSome Pizza Making Tips:

  • Make your pizza just before you bake it. Pizza dough that has been sitting on the peel for too long is more likely to stick.
  • Start off small. A smaller pizza (10- 12 inches) will slide on to the stone more easily, so hold off on the 16 inch pies until you’ve mastered your technique. A thinner crust is also easier.
  • Don’t overdo the toppings. I know it’s tempting but less really is more with a quality pizza. You’ll also find that sliding a heavily laden pizza is quite a task, especially if you are a newbie.
  • Using a pizza stone can make a big difference to the results you get with your homemade pizza crust. Stone-baked pizza is light, crisp and has a really authentic pizzeria appearance (perfect for showing off). And, is another essential tool for home pizza making.

pizza-paddle-image-smWood Pizza Peel Tips:

  • Make sure to air-dry them completely after washing and before storing. This is very important if you don’t want your peel to warp. If you don’t want to take time air-drying, rub your wood pizza peel with white vinegar instead of washing it. Vinegar is a great disinfectant and stain remover!
  • Wood peels may be nice to use as cutting board for your cooked pizza, but will get marks. Your Pizza Rocker Knife or pizza wheel will leave cutting marks on your wooden pizza peel which will result in a unevenly textured surface. This may cause raw dough to stick to your pizza peel and thus preventing it from sliding easily. (what we do with ours is use the back side of the peel for cutting and serving and the front side for preparing and sliding our pizzas)
  • In order to prevent odors or stains from sticking to your peel, some recommend that it should be rubbed with mineral oil. However, that’s not absolutely necessary and some people believe pizza dough slides off easier with un-oiled peels.
  • No matter how great they are, wooden peels are obviously not fireproof and not intended to be placed in the oven or on a hot stove top. This will avoid accidental burn marks on your peel.

With proper care and use a wood peel will give you many years of enjoyment!

Purchase the wooden peel shown in this article at a discounted rate on Amazon

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