I remember hearing the term “pizza peel” some time ago for the first time and thinking “what is that?” Since then, I’ve grown to love mine for a whole lot of reasons.
At first, the reason to own one of these bad boys may not be obvious. I mean, it’s just a big pie lifter or spatula right? Well, kind of, but it’s meant for a specific purpose, and it does it very well – much better than anything in your kitchen at the moment! It makes life in the kitchen easier, and if you’re serious about pizza, you’ll use it constantly for pizza, and most often for anything else you bake on a stone or in a pizza oven (bread, cakes, loaves, etc.). Reaching in and out of your oven is easier with this tool (assuming you’re using a pizza oven, a baking stone of some kind, and not using a pan)
Peels come in HUNDREDS of options online with prices from $5 to several hundred dollars! Let’s look at a few goods and bads about the basic styles, and then you can go nuts on your Amazon search til your head spins! It’s actually kind of fun though!
Wood peels have a warm, folksy, nostalgic aura about them, and some chefs like them mainly for creating the pizza on, and then using it to slide the pie in the oven. Fresh pizza dough tends to stick less on wood. They look great on display as well, so why are there even other options for wood? Well, for one thing, wood needs more care. You’ll probably have to add some food-safe oil (walnut, hemp, etc.) to keep it from getting too raw and rough over time, and it could possibly even WARP if you don’t dry a really wet board. It’s also pretty thick, which makes it really tough to try to jab under a ready pizza in the oven, and nearly impossible to rotate the pizza with any degree of accuracy. So what other options are there?
Metal pizza peels have some distinct advantages, but they usually take a back seat to pizza oven purists. Metal peels however are the choice of professionals in every single restaurant we’ve been to, for turning the pie during the baking process. Metal is so thin that it easily slides under the pizza, while the chef twists it around a bit to slide the pie around to move the darker side away from the flames for a more evenly baked pie. Metal cleans up easier and with the professional perforated models, it’s almost completely unnecessary to coat the peel with flour or cornmeal before you make or place the unbaked pizza on it, which is a necessity for solid steel peels and most wood peels.
I Can’t Decide!
The need to decide may be a moot point since most chefs suggest any serious pizza baker should have both! The prices are very reasonable online and it won’t break anyone’s bank to have 2 short-handled peels (one in each material) for different purposes. Wood is a nice option upon which to make your pie (remember the cornmeal sprinkle first) and place it in the pizza oven, while steel is better to move it around in the oven and then extract it. A long-handled peel is necessary if you have an authentic or large-ish pizza oven, not only for food handling but also potentially for cleaning the oven (wrap a damp cloth around the peel and use it as a “brush” to wipe down the baking surface).
Ok, So What’s the Best One or Ones to Buy?
We’ve (Deb and I that is) included a quick overview of 6 very different, but very good options (mostly I believe!) for a peel. Please note, that if you check out any of these, you could get sucked into the Amazon vortex where you’ll find hundreds of other very cool options. I’ve included a cross-section of cheaper models along with higher quality ones to give you a basic idea of what’s out there. These are all good options but remember, you can get them for under ten bucks (not sure what to expect of the quality – yikes!) or you can pay $300 for a pro kit of long-handled pizza masters! Please check out whatever works for you, and if I can answer any other questions, please let me know in the comments section! Have Fun!
We love the composite construction (won’t split or warp like wood can) and the unique technology that allows you to NEVER slide your pizza at all. You’ll use way less cornmeal and it’ll hold 16” pies! The reviews on this one are stellar!
Hmm, let me think …. Well, um, maybe it’s a bit big to fit in your cutlery drawer?
This one looks beautiful and it has beveled edges to allow for easier sliding under your pizza or loaf. We like the round shape that pros use for turning a pizza in the oven (though I’m not so sure I’d use a wood peel for that). We included this one in our review because the price point is REALLY affordable (under $30 as I write this)
It’ll need some TLC occasionally, and there’s always a chance it will warp. The customer reviews are not super great – 3 out of 5 stars because it’s not a super hardwood, which means your pizza cutter will leave noticeable grooves on the surface, which is more than just ugly and annoying. Those grooves will eventually come so close together that the wood between them will start chipping and falling off which means you’ll need to do a LOT of TLC with a belt sander and lots of oil!
This Italian-made beauty is meant to get serious! It has a large enough head to make a big pie, it’s round so it’s great for moving the pizza around in the oven (typically a large or medium-sized wood-fired oven) and it’s perforated to greatly reduce the amount of cornmeal you use to minimize sticking. There are lots of options from this company with lots of different heads and handle lengths.
This one may be overkill for your kitchen if you have a small countertop oven or a portable outdoor grill.
Great looks, sturdy construction, great price and perfect reviews! I like all those things – very much!
The short handle makes it unusable for deep ovens, but that’s to be expected for any of the short-handled models
This may be the best value out there. For the price of a good long-handled metal peel, you get a short-handled metal peel, short-handled wood peel, pizza slice server, pizza stone with carrying frame, rocking pizza slicer and a mesh screen!
If you need a long-handled peel or have way too many pizza gadgets already, this might not work for you.
While you’re cruising for peels, check out some really cool options for your peel like a wall rack! (I know, who has room on their wall right? Well, it’s a thought!)