Pizza. It’s one of America’s favorite foods. How much do Americans love their pizza? According to The Atlantic, 13 percent of Americans eat pizza on any given day, and pizza sales contribute nearly 37 billion dollars to the national economy each year. American expenditures on pizza account for roughly one-third of global spending on pizza.
Those numbers don’t include people who make their pizzas from scratch. With that in mind, it is safe to say that Americans are fairly obsessed with the consumption of pizza.
Besides, what’s not to love?
Pizza offers delicious carbs that satisfy comfort cravings, piles of cheese and tomato sauce goodness or countless other delicious sauces. Pizza also offers an endless variety of toppings allowing pizza eaters to choose healthy topping options with plenty of delightful vegetables or turn their pizza into a carnivore’s delight.
Making Your Own Pizza at Home Using a Pizza Peel
Some might describe pizza as the world’s most versatile and nearly perfect food — which is why many families are bringing pizza night home and making their own pizzas.
There are plenty of benefits for choosing this option, not the least of which is the ability for every person in the house to get his or her perfect pizza without stray ingredients landing on the wrong slice.
Of course, you’re going to need to make sure you have the right equipment to make your home-baked pizza experience as close to authentic as possible. That brings us to the pizza peel. It may be something you’ve never heard of before, but it is one of the essential tools you need to have in your kitchen if you want it properly stocked for baking pizzas at home.
So, what is a pizza peel?
A pizza peel is a tool you use to place pizzas in the oven without spilling any of the ingredients off the top of your pizza. Some describe this nifty tool as a giant spatula upon which you can build your pizza then place it in the oven.
There is more to it than that, however. A pizza peel also allows you to remove your pizza from the oven as well, without the risk of burning your fingers in the process.
Why Every Pizza Enthusiast Needs a Pizza Peel
If you consider yourself a true aficionado of pizza, your goal in making homemade pizza is to replicate the restaurant experience — like here at Giordano’s — when cooking pizza on your grill or in your oven.
A pizza peel allows you to do exactly that, offering a genuine pizza-making experience in the process by doing the following:
- Allowing you to place your pizza dough directly onto a flaming hot surface like your grill or a pizza stone and retrieve the pizza when finished cooking.
- Providing you with an easy surface for turning your pizza to ensure even cooking.
- Reducing charring from hot spots because turning is easier.
- Impressing your guests and makes you look like the pizza expert in your neighborhood. Especially when you invite them over for pizza, and they see you in action with your pizza peel.
You can prepare pizza in your home without a pizza peel. It’s true. But if you’re looking for an authentic pizza-making experience, you need a pizza peel to recreate the flavor, texture, and experience of making a pizza in your oven or on your grill.
What Size Does Your Pizza Peel Need to Be?
Size does matter when you’re shopping around for a pizza peel. Not the size of the surface itself, per se, though it does need to fit in your oven or on your grill, but the size of the handle matters.
Many pizza peels exist on the market today, and some manufacturers sell them for purely aesthetic rather than practical purposes. But one of the primary purposes of using a pizza peel is to prevent burns. The goal is to purchase a peel long enough to reach the back of your oven or grill while allowing four to five inches of clearance on the outside so that you have no risk of burning your hands.
You can burn your hand during the following processes:
- Placing pizzas in the oven.
- Rotating pizzas during cooking.
- Retrieving pizzas from your oven.
You have a choice of two main handle sizes for your pizza peel:
- Short-handled pizza peels: People use short-handled pizza peels to prepare the pizza because the shorter handles are more comfortable to work with on limited countertop space. This is especially helpful if you have multiple people preparing their own pizzas.
- Long-handled pizza peels: After using the short-handed pizza peel, some people then transfer to the pizzas to a long-handled pizza peel when placing them into the oven, turning or retrieving them. Be warned, however, that the opportunities for spills and slips increase when transferring pizzas from one peel to another.
Some people choose to use both long and short-handled pizza peels for different purposes.
The bottom line is that more extended handles usually provide a better experience, reduce your risks of burns and allow your peel to be useful in a wider variety of situations.
How to Best Use Your Pizza Peel
Everyone has his or her method for using a pizza peel, and you’ll develop your long list of reasons to love your peel as you become more efficient using it.
One of the most basic methods of using a pizza peel to make pizza consists of a few basic steps.
- Flour the surface of the peel.
- Flour and shape the dough.
- Toss the dough for luck and a vivid display of culinary skill. (This step takes practice.)
- Place the dough on peel.
- Make a jerking motion with the peel so that the dough slides around on the peel, but not so much motion that it slides off the peel.
- Add sauce and toppings.
- Jerk the peel slightly again. Do this consistently and routinely until you place the pizza in the oven or on a grill.
- Place the pizza in the oven allowing it to slide off the peel and directly onto your grill or heated pizza stone.
- Bake the pizza.
- Slide the peel beneath the pizza to retrieve it from the oven.
Fantastico! Pizza is ready to slice and serve.
Types of Pizza Peels
Pizza peels are made of one or more three basic materials. Different materials are more attractive to different people. The more you learn about the materials available, the better you’ll be able to choose the most appropriate peels for your needs.
1. Wooden Peels
Wood is one of the more aesthetically pleasing choices for pizza peels. This is especially the case for those who plan to display their peels and want an authentic Italian or Tuscan look for their kitchens.
Wood is also useful as a cutting board for the pizza directly out of the oven. Plus, you can serve directly from the wooden peel without subtracting anything from the experience. However, there are some considerations to keep in mind too.
- Wooden peels are high-maintenance items. Not only do they tend to warp with exposure to moisture, but they also absorb odors and are prone to staining.
- Wood is not fireproof. This could lead to charred surfaces or burn marks when used anywhere near open flames, like on grills or wood-burning ovens.
- Wood isn’t as thin as other options. The thicker wooden peels make sliding underneath pizzas for turning or retrieval a little trickier and could lead to messes in your oven or on your grill. It also increases the risks of burns that peels are designed to eliminate in the first place.
2. Composite Peels
While easier to care for than wooden peels, composite peels continue to have a couple of basic problems.
- They are still too thick for practical use as pizza peels.
- The handles for most composite peels are too short, again increasing the risks of burns.
Combine that with the fact that they aren’t nearly as pretty as the wooden options available and composites are generally not the best choice for pizza enthusiasts who intend to use pizza peels well and often – unless you want a shorter handled pizza peel for the preparation process. In which case, wooden peels may still be the preferred choice for aesthetic reasons, despite their high maintenance requirements.
3. Metal Peels
Of the metals, aluminum is the most common material of choice for pizza peels. Among the benefits of aluminum pizza peels are the following:
- Metal peels are thin, making them easy to move your pizzas into, around, and out of the oven or grill.
- Metal peels are easy to clean.
- Metal pizza peels require very little maintenance.
The downside to metal is this — it is sticky. Raw dough loves to cling to the smooth surface. We’ll discuss solutions for this problem in the tips section below.
Tips for Using Your Pizza Peel
Pizza peels are wonderful additions to any kitchen. The more often you prepare pizza at home, the more essential they become. Using them, however, takes a little practice. The more you work with them, the more natural they begin to feel. Soon, you’ll be wielding your pizza peel as efficiently as a spatula or your most trusted wooden spoon. These tips will help you get greater value from your pizza peel.
- Store your pizza peels on a guitar mount. They aren’t exactly cabinet friendly, and a guitar mount allows you to display them in an out-of-the-way manner while providing easy access when you need them.
- Use cornmeal or flour on your peel to prevent the dough from sticking. Check out our other tips below on sticking on pizza peels.
- Consider parchment paper if you’re using a pizza stone. You can place the parchment paper on the peel, before the dough, then slide paper and all from the peel to the stone.
Now that you know a few helpful tips for preventing dough from sticking to your pizza peel, it’s time to learn what to do when it does stick.
What to Do If Your Pizza Gets Stuck on the Pizza Peel
Mishaps in the kitchen are integral parts of the cooking process, whether you’re making a pizza or cooking a turkey. Even the best chefs have disastrous days in the kitchen. Pizza dough sticking to pizza peels is one of those things that can happen at any time.
While there are some steps you can take to avoid it, humidity and other factors can still leave you with a doughy, sticky not-so-hot mess on your hands. A few tips you can try to reduce or eliminate stuck dough or baked pizza on a peel include:
- Conducting your dough prep work on a surface other than your peel. Also, don’t dilly dally once you transfer your dough to a metal peel. You only have several minutes before your dough starts to stick to a metal peel because it absorbed the flour.
- Leaving the pizza in the oven for a minute or two if using a metal pizza peel. This allows the dough to cook a little so it’s not as sticky and should allow it to slide right off.
- Placing the dough in the fridge or freezer for a couple of minutes, so it gets cold if you’re using a wooden or composite peel. Some believe this will make it easier to maneuver.
- Use a back-and-forth motion to help pry it loose if the baked pizza has stuck to the peel.
Using a pizza stone allows you to mimic the brick oven experience of pizza making in your own home. Pizza stones are porous and provide users with crispier crusts. It is the perfect choice for thin crust pizzas and absorbs the flavors, or seasonings used on it, adding to the flavor of your pizza.
One of the biggest benefits is that the stone helps to balance the heat, so you don’t have spots on your pizza where it is charred or overcooked. It also bakes faster than a pan for pizzas so keep this in mind and adjust your cooking time accordingly.
Take great care to follow the care instructions that come with your pizza stone, and avoid using soap on the stone at all costs. It will remove the seasoning that is essential for flavoring foods.
Some people become alarmed when their stones begin taking on a black color. Don’t be. This discoloration occurs naturally, over time, and is a sign of a well-seasoned stone.
How Do Pizza Peels and Pizza Stones Work Together?
Because you heat the stone with the oven and place the pizza directly on the stone, it is essential to use a pizza peel when cooking with a pizza stone. Both work together to make the pizza-making process as safe and authentic as possible and are essential tools to have in your kitchen if homemade pizza is a frequent menu item in your household.
The Many Ways to Get Giordano’s Pizza
Keep in mind that great homemade pizza is a labor of love. Emphasis on the labor part. Not up for using a pizza peel tonight? Want to have it peeled for you instead? Visit a Giordano’s pizza location near you for authentic pizza that’s ready to eat, order a Giordano’s pizza for delivery or carry out or ship a Giordano’s pizza right to your doorstep.