A pizza peel is a large, flat shovel with a long handle used to place pizza in an oven and remove it when it's done. It's usually made of wood or sometimes metal and is also called a pizza shovel. Both wooden and metal pizza peels are thought to each have their own advantages and disadvantages. Wood can burn or warp and become stained; metal is thinner, but may transmit heat easier. A metal pizza peel may also increase the danger of burns, and some feel a peel made of metal is less authentic or visually pleasing than a wooden one.
Some pizza chefs prepare the pizza directly on the peel, which may come in handy if there is limited cooking space. For a home kitchen, it is thought best to buy a pizza peel with a handle that is no longer than 6 inches (15.24 cm). It is not advised to cut the cooked pizza on the peel, however, as that may damage the surface. When using a wooden pizza peel, some cooks recommend oiling it to keep the wood from cracking. It is also recommended that individuals dry it right away after cleaning, so it does not absorb water and swell out of shape.
The surface of both metal and wooden pizza peels should be floured to prevent raw pizza dough from sticking to it. Some cooks substitute cornmeal for flour because they feel it adds a desirable texture to the crust. A chef may also use a pizza stone made out of granite or terracotta clay. Pizza stones are supposed to conduct a lot of heat and distribute it evenly, but that may make it harder to take the pizza out of a heated oven. A pizza peel can be used to safely remove the cooked pizza from the stone, and some pizza peels are sold with a pizza stone as a set.
Many pizza chefs recommend purchasing a pizza peel with tapered edges to make it easier when placing the peel under the pizza to remove it from the oven or stone. Also, it is thought best to only buy a pizza peel with a handle thick and wide enough to provide the proper leverage when lifting the pizza and moving it to and from the oven. Wooden pizza peel handles are most recommended, as they are less likely to conduct heat than handles made out of other material.