Whether you’re starting your own pizza business or simply interested in having the correct tools for every job, you’ll need things like a wooden pizza peel to get things going. But what’s the best wood for a pizza peel?
Pizza peels come in many different wood types, the most popular being Cherry, Maple and Mahogany. You can decide which is best for you based on the criteria of weight, appearance, durability and cost value.
This article looks at different woods used as pizza peels, and the pluses and minuses of each.
What Characteristics Do I Look for In My Wooden Pizza Peel?
Thin but Durable:
Wooden pizza peels are generally thicker than their metal counterparts, but you want one that is fairly thin. So you’ll want a wood that can take the weight and be durable.
You want your pizza peel to be smooth, so that the pizzas slide free easily into the oven or the cooling rack. The peel should be almost polished, but without a chemical finish that might affect the taste of the pizza.
When shopping for tools for any profession, you may need to consider your budget, and which pizza peel will give you the best value for your dollar.
What Woods Are Used in Pizza Peels?
Professional carpenters and enthusiastic DIY pizza peel crafters have made pizza peels out of just about every wood possible. Some of the choices include:
There are other woods out there that can be – and often are – used in professionally made pizza peels, such as basswood.
On the DIY side of making pizza peels, implements have been made out of just about everything, including plywood!
Maple Pizza Peel
Maple is considered some of the hardest and smoothest wood used for pizza peels. The color looks very clean and light.
More importantly, maple wood has small pores, which means it’s less likely to absorb bacteria or moisture.
As a harder wood, it’s more scratch resistant than some other woods might be.
It comes in both harder and softer maples, so you can choose the conditions you want.
Hard maple is considered the industry standard for solid, long-lasting, and dependable pizza peels.
Cherry Pizza Peel
Cherry wood is fairly lightweight, making a cherry wood peel easier to manage.
It’s fairly durable, and can last for a long time with minimal maintenance required.
Properly shaped, it doesn’t absorb or retain liquids.
It’s a hardwood that doesn’t take as much damage as softer woods might in the heat of an oven.
It can add a subtle flavor to the pizza, much like cooking with cherry wood pellets might.
Mahogany Pizza Peel
Mahogany is a durable hardwood which makes for a solid construction.
Many people choose mahogany for its color, and the way the colors can deepen over time, as opposed slowly burning in the heat.
It’s elegant enough to do double duty as a serving tray, fresh from the oven.
It doesn’t require much maintenance to stay strong and avoid warping, just an occasional oiling.
Fairly lightweight and easy to handle.
Downside: Mahogany can be more expensive than some other woods.
Acacia Pizza Peel
Acacia is a natural hardwood, and one of the most popular woods for making pizza peels.
It’s a highly durable wood, and holds up well to heat, and to the cutting implements used for slicing pizza into desired segments.
Light color looks nice, and allows the peel to also be used as a serving tray for your pizza.
It’s easy to clean and maintain. It can be maintained by being lightly oiled every so often to keep from cracking, and wiped down after each use.
It’s a fairly inexpensive material to make a pizza peel from.
Many professional grade implement makers recommend this one as a good balance between durability, appearance, and cost.
Bamboo Pizza Peel
Bamboo is fairly easy and inexpensive to use.
It’s a very lightweight material, but it’s also more durable than most hardwoods.
Bamboo is somewhat porous, and has plenty of anti-microbial properties, more than many other woods.
It’s also very easy to maintain and eco-friendly.
It doesn’t require much effort to keep clean and prevent cracking or warping.
This is something you can grow and harvest in your backyard.
Bamboo is not a traditional material for a pizza peel, but it is gaining popularity in the industry for its economical and ecological properties.
Poplar Pizza Peel
Poplar is an inexpensive wood to make pizza peels.
The light color can be paired with contrasting hardwoods for an elegant design.
Easy to use, also easy to shape if you want to make your own DIY pizza peel.
It’s used in many industry grade pizza peels as one of the less expensive materials.
Alder Pizza Peel
Alder is a lightweight wood, which makes it easier to handle.
It doesn’t really require much maintenance.
Downside: It’s very porous and one of the softer woods, which means it may absorb more moisture, and it burns fairly easily. Alder is more often suggested as a wood for burning in ovens, rather than a tool used in high temperature cooking.
What Are the Benefits of a Birch Pizza Peel?
Birch has a reputation for being both very durable and very affordable.
Birch is a lightweight wood that makes for a pizza peel that is easier to handle.
It’s easy to maintain, just a light wiping off after cooking and a slight oiling and sanding if the surface gets rough.
It’s one of the more popular woods for restaurant grade pizza peels.
Birch pizza peels are made both in the traditional manner, and out of birch plywood, both of which are fairly smooth and easy to care for.
Why Would I Make a Pizza Peel Out of Plywood?
There are both professional grade and DIY pizza peels made out of plywood, simply because it’s a durable and very cheap source of wood.
It can be cleaned up and smoothed out to make an easy-to-produce pizza peel, and it’s fairly easy to shape.
The layers make it hard and not too absorbent.
What Are the Problems With Plywood?
It’s difficult to be certain what type of wood you’re getting in your plywood.
It’s often rough in texture, which can require a lot of smoothing and sanding before it’s ready to be used for pizza peel.
Plywood is often chemically treated during production to seal the layers together. These chemicals can create a noxious aftertaste in your pizza, or may release elements that are unsafe to consume.
Are There Other Materials That Are Poor Choices for Making a Pizza Peel?
Softwoods are often a poor choice to make pizza peels, because they burn too easily.
Some woods are actually not safe to use because they have components that are not healthy to consume, and cooking with them can release these components as fumes.
Woods like pine or hickory or cedar, even if they could be made hard enough to make reasonably durable implements, produce a strong odor and flavor that will permeate your pizza. These woods don’t really add a flavor you want in a pizza, so they aren’t good choices.
What’s the Best Wood for a Pizza Peel?
Most manufacturers and professional pizza makers support maple, birch or other hardwoods when it comes to making or choosing a pizza peel.
Bamboo has been gaining a good reputation for most wooden kitchen implements, so it can also be considered one of the top choices.
In terms of affordability, the birch and poplar boards are among the top choices, with bamboo becoming more and more of a contender.
In terms of durability, rarer woods like mahogany or teak are sometimes suggested, or even ironwood. However, maple, specifically hard maple, remains the industry favorite.
All things considered, it comes down to this:
If you’re going into pizza as a business, the best wood for a pizza peel is maple. It’s a long term investment that will work well for you.
If pizza is a hobby or a personal pleasure, the best wood for a pizza peel is probably birch or poplar, which will serve you well and be fairly inexpensive.
If you’re not sure yet whether you’ll be making pizza for fun or a profit, then you might want to take a look at bamboo, which is making a reputation for itself as the best of both worlds and can give you an excellent balance between budget and durability.