What Is a Pizza Peel?

A pizza peel is a tool that lets you place pizzas in an oven while minimizing the risk of burns or injury. Sometimes referred to as a pizza shovel, a pizza paddle, or a pizza slider, they are comprised of a flat carrying surface attached to a long handle. Commonly found in pizza shops, peels come in several different shapes and sizes, allowing you to find one that best fits your oven and the pizzas you offer. In this blog, we’ll investigate what a pizza peel is, how to use one, and how to keep dough from sticking to your peel.

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How to Use a Pizza Peel Video

Watch the video below for a comprehensive walkthrough of how to use a pizza peel.

What Is a Pizza Peel Used For?

A pizza peel is used to place pizzas in the oven without spilling any ingredients or toppings. It also lets you remove pizzas from the oven once they are cooked. Because of their long handle, these tools help to reduce the risk of injury or burns during the pizza-making process. While many associate pizza peels with brick ovens, they are good to have on hand while using any type of pizza oven.

What Are Pizza Peels Made Of?

Pizza peels are generally made from one of two possible materials: wood or metal. Below, we’ll investigate each type of peel and what sets them apart:

  • Wooden pizza peel: A wooden pizza peel is considered the traditional type of peel. Often made from a heavier wood, these peels have more weight to them. Their wooden surface is textured, reducing the risk of dough sticking to the peel and facilitating an easier transfer from peel to pizza stone. One significant tradeoff is that wooden peels can be difficult to clean and maintain. It's also important to note that their heavier constructions make them more cumbersome than other peels.
  • Metal pizza peel: In most cases, a metal pizza peel is thinner and flatter than its wooden counterpart. Typically made of aluminum or stainless steel, these lightweight peels make it easy to retrieve a pizza from your pizza oven. They are also easier to clean, saving time in the kitchen. However, their metal surface is easier for the dough to stick to, making it essential that you use them correctly.

How to Use a Pizza Peel

pizza peel sliding a pizza in to a pizza oven

Though using a pizza peel may seem straightforward, there are several steps one must follow to ensure the best results. Using a pizza peel incorrectly can have a significant impact on the quality of your pizzas. Follow the steps below to ensure you use yours the right way:

  1. Preheat the oven: To begin, bring your pizza oven to temperature and place a pizza stone inside.
  2. Prepare pizza: Before placing your pizza on the peel, make sure it is fully put together. This means that the dough, sauce, cheese, and any additional toppings must be in place.
  3. Place pizza in the oven: With your pizza on the peel, move it inside the oven. Using a back-and-forth wrist motion, place your pizza on the pizza stone. Use enough force to slide the pizza off the peel without compromising the dough.
  4. Allow the pizza to cook: Once the pizza is in the oven, allow it to cook as the recipe requires. You can make minor adjustments, such as stretching the dough slightly or making sure the dough fits the peel, but it’s important to be careful when doing so to avoid burns or injuries.
  5. Remove the pizza from the oven: When the pizza is fully cooked, use the peel to remove it from the oven.
  6. Remove the pizza from the peel: Do your best to slide the pizza off the peel in one singular motion. Avoid unnecessary movements or shaking, as this can interfere with the shape of the pizza.

How to Keep Pizza from Sticking to Peel

man sliding an uncooked pizza on to a pizza peel

You can use several methods to keep pizza from sticking to your pizza peel. We've listed some of the most common below:

  • Dusting: Many people dust their pizza peel to prevent dough from sticking to it. It's most common to use white flour to dust, though you can also use cornmeal or semolina flour.
  • Prepping dough separately: Make an effort to prep your pizza dough on a separate surface from the pizza peel. Kneading, stretching, or preparing the dough on the peel may seem convenient at the moment, but can cause it to stick to the peel later.
  • Switch peels: If you’re consistently having problems with dough sticking to your pizza peel, you may want to investigate getting a new one. Switching from a metal peel to a wooden peel can help to reduce the frequency of the issue or resolve it entirely.

Pizza Peel FAQ

cooked pizza on a wooden pizza peel surrounded by mushrooms and condiments

Since pizza peels are an essential type of pizza shop equipment, it's helpful to educate yourself on them. Below, we’ve answered some of the internet’s most commonly asked questions about using pizza peels.

Best Material for Pizza Peel

The best material for a pizza peel varies depending on your needs. If you’re looking for a more traditional pizza-making experience or want to limit the risk of dough sticking, choose a wooden pizza peel. Conversely, if you are looking for one that is easy to use and clean, a metal peel may be best.

What Size Pizza Peel Do I Need?

It’s best to choose a pizza peel that aligns with the size of the pizzas you serve and the size of your oven. For example, a large oven might necessitate a longer handle while a small oven may only require a shorter handle.

You should also take the shape of your pizza peel into account. Though they come in many different variations, there are generally two main shapes for a pizza peel: rectangular and round. We've included information on both below:

  • Rectangular pizza peels: This is the traditional shape of a pizza peel. It provides a large surface area and is typically viewed as the most convenient choice.
  • Round pizza peels: A round peel is designed to better fit your pizzas. When used correctly, these peels allow the edges of your dough to cook more directly, increasing the efficiency of your oven.

Why Is It Called a Pizza Peel?

The term pizza peel is derived from the Latin word pala, which means spade. It earned its name because traditional pizza peels had spade-like shapes.

What To Use Instead of a Pizza Peel?

If you don’t have access to a pizza peel, there are several substitutes that you can use in the short term. Keep in mind that if you plan on preparing pizza regularly, you should invest in a quality peel. Below, we’ve listed some of the most common pizza peel alternatives:

  • Rimless cookie sheet
  • Large wooden cutting board
  • Metal serving platters

Whether you’ve run a pizza shop for years or just got started in the industry, it's helpful to educate yourself on different types of pizza-making equipment. By adhering to the information above, you’ll be able to make an informed decision on buying a pizza peel and be prepared to use one correctly in the kitchen.

Posted in: Kitchen & Cooking Tips|By Jason Kurtz
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