Even if you are new to the world of home pizza-making, you have probably learned how helpful pizza peels are and are wondering what kind you should get for yourself.
What’s the difference between metal vs wood pizza peels? Wood pizza peels are best for launching and they have fewer issues with dough sticking to them, but they are harder to care for. Metal pizza peels are easier to use for turning and easy to clean, but they do have more issues with sticky dough.
Making pizza at home can be a lot of fun and allow great creativity to topping selection.
There are a few tools you will want to get to make the process easier. A pizza peel is one of them. Read on to learn about the differences between metal and wood pizza peels.
What Is a Pizza Peel?
A pizza peel is a culinary tool used by pizza makers, and some bakers, to remove pizza or bread from the oven.
They are usually made of wood or metal, but there are some other materials on the market. Those are few and far between and will not be discussed in this article.
Pizza peels are designed with a flat surface attached to a handle, almost like a shovel. Sometimes the flat surface will have slots in it (more on that later) as well.
There are a few things to look for in a good pizza peel. You want one that is durable, heat resistant, and easy to clean. You also want one that will stop your pizza from sticking.
The handle must also be sturdy and well attached, but the ideal handle length for your peel will depend on the size of your oven.
If you are using a commercial size oven, are at the very least an oven that is very deep, you will want a pizza peel with a longer handle.
For most home pizza ovens, a long handle will be awkward to use. In this case, a short-handled pizza peel will be more suitable.
As we have mentioned, pizza peels are most commonly made out of wood and metal, but there are also two different types of pizza peels.
Each serves a different purpose in the cooking process. Most pizza cooks like to have both, but that’s not always necessary.
The Two Types of Peels
There are two different types of pizza peels that have a different role in the process. The most common and most recognizable pizza peels are the large, flat, shovel-like peels that you can see at most pizza restaurants.
This type of pizza peel is known as a launching peel. If you are only going to buy one type of peel, you will want to buy a launching peel.
The other type of pizza peel cannot help you get pizza out of the oven; they are only for turning pizzas in the oven.
Launching peels are used to “launch” pizza into the oven and to remove it. It is best to quickly slide pizzas into the oven in order to reduce the chance the dough will stick to the peel. Launching peels are usually made from wood or metal.
Launching pizza peels are sometimes used as part of the turning process. They can be used to pull the pizza out of the oven enough that it can be rotated by hand.
The downside is that this involves removing the pizza from the heat and can interfere with the cooking. Even the best pizza ovens require that the pizza be rotated in order to cook evenly.
Using a launching peel to pull the pizza out and turn it by hand is a common method but can interfere with the quality of the cooking process, especially in high-heat pizza ovens.
The best way to rotate a pizza is by using a turning peel. These peels have a smaller head, which is usually circular and made with slots to help keep the pizza from sticking.
Turning peels are always made from metal and often have a wood or rubber handle to reduce heat transfer. Depending on your pizza cooking situation, you may find you need to have one of each peel.
Turning peels are not big enough to remove pizza from the oven, while launching peels require you to use your hands to rotate the pizza. Since turning peels are only made from metal, choosing a turning peel is less involved.
You will want to find one that is durable, has good heat conductivity so you won’t burn your hands, and one that has slots to help keep pizza from sticking to it.
The slots are very important, as they allow steam to escape. If steam builds up between the peel and the pizza dough, there is a high chance the dough will stick to the peel.
This can still be an issue even with loads of flour on the bottom of the pizza. Unlike turning peels, launching peels come in both wood and metal, and both materials have some advantages and disadvantages.
Determining which option is best for you depends on the value you place on the differences. Read on to find out more.
Most metal pizza peels are made from aluminum. Aluminum is very durable. It is easy to clean and does not hold onto heat. Metal pizza peels are also usually lighter than wood pizza peels.
Aluminum is also very strong, which means metal pizza peels can be very thin and still be sturdy. This is one of the main advantages of metal pizza peels. Being so thin, they are easier to get underneath a pizza when it is in the oven.
Metal pizza peels are easier to clean as compared to wood pizza peels. They can be washed with soap and water and do not need to be fully dry before being put away.
They should be dry, however, and drying them as is easy as using a towel or cloth. The downside to metal pizza peels is that they tend to have the most issues with dough sticking to them when launching the pizza into the oven.
This has to do with the way heat and steam get trapped on their surface. Steam build-up underneath a pizza can result in sticking.
There are a lot of horror stories out there about people trying to slide their pizza in the oven only to find that they left the ingredients in the oven and removed the uncooked crust that was stuck to their pizza peel.
This makes for a difficult cleanup and can leave a burnt smell in your oven for some time because those toppings can fall into hard-to-reach places in the oven and leave you with no other option but to let them cook off.
Using flour or semolina on your metal pizza peel can reduce the chance of sticking but metal pizza peels will always be more prone to sticking.
Wooden Pizza Peels
The biggest difference between wood pizza peels and metal pizza peels is that wood pizza peels have substantially fewer issues with sticking. With or without additional flour, wood pizza peels are great for launching.
Another notable difference between metal and wood pizza peels is their weight. Wood pizza peels tend to be much heavier. This is so they don’t burn in the oven.
Wood pizza peels can handle just as much heat as metal ones, but the end going into the oven must be thicker. This increased thickness not only makes the peel heavier but can make it harder to slide under the pizza.
Most wood pizza peels have an angled tip to help solve that issue. Some people may not take issue with the added weight, but it is worth mentioning.
The last important thing to note about wood pizza peels is that they are usually harder to clean and require more work to maintain.
Most wood pizza peels cannot be scrubbed, as the water can damage the peel, or worst yet, promote bacterial growth.
The best way to clean a wood pizza peel is by using a vinegar solution. Spray or wipe vinegar onto the pizza peel, wait a few minutes, then wipe it off.
If you have to wash your wood pizza peel in water, make sure to leave it out to air dry thoroughly.
While some of the best pizza peels are made from wood and designed to last a long time, like some expensive high-quality cookware, you have to take steps to maintain a wood pizza peel.
Periodic treatments with food-grade mineral oil will keep the wood sealed. This keeps the wood from warping or splintering, and also creates a layer that acts as a sort of shield for bacteria.
This added effort may be more than some people want to commit to for making pizza at home.
If a wood pizza peel sounds like it’s right down your alley, take a look at our buyer’s guide for the 5 best wood pizza peels on the market.
Which Type of Pizza Peel Is Best?
Despite some of the extra work associated with cleaning and maintaining a wood peel, most professionals prefer using wood launching peels.
The decreased potential for a pizza sticking to the peel seems to outweigh the need for easy maintenance. It should also be mentioned that a lot of professionals prefer wood pizza peels for their rustic look.
While looks are not everything, it is understandable to consider them for a tool that is visible at all times. Especially at restaurants that feature centerpiece wood-burning ovens.
The peel that is the best for you will really depend on how frequently you intend to use it and how much you value the ease of cleaning metal pizza peels. For professionals, it seems that not losing a pizza to the oven has the most value.
This makes sense when you consider that the smoke from burnt ingredients in a large commercial oven can impact other pizzas as well. This may be something to think of for your home oven.
Up Next: Can You Put a Pizza Box in the Oven?