The best pizza paddle or peel to buy for home use obviously depends on a few factors. These include how often you make pizza, whether you love big, big pizzas and what your storage options are.
For most people who are new to using a peel, the biggest challenge is actually getting the pizza from the peel to the stone without dropping it, losing half of the toppings to the oven floor or ending up with a squashed accordion-shaped pie! For most pizza-loving home cooks with a regular domestic oven and average storage available, I think the best pizza peel to go for is a short-handled wooden model like the one pictured above. Why? Basically because most people find it far easier to slip the uncooked pizza off wood than aluminum.
So as we said, most people find it easier to use a wood pizza peel to get the pizza into the oven. Unfortunately the snag is that you may just find it easier to get the pizza out of the oven with an aluminum peel. Professionals often use a wooden pizza peel for putting the pizza into the oven and an aluminum pizza peel for taking it out.
But unless you make a lot of pizza, buying two types of peel is probably overkill for a domestic kitchen. If you are going to choose one, I would opt for a wood pizza peel because learning to slide the pizza off the peel and into the oven when using a pizza stone is definitely trickier to master than getting it out. As the wooden pizza peel is best for this job, it is the first choice for most home cooks. A short handle is obviously more practical too for a small oven and for storage in your kitchen. Another advantage is that most short handled wooden pizza peels will double up nicely as a chopping board so it's a good buy overall.
On the other hand... If you need to make more than one pizza at a time, buying a second peel is a very good idea. While one pizza is cooking, you can assemble the next. This is important if you are feeding a crowd or you are thinking of hosting pizza parties.
The Ironwood peel shown above is 14 x 14 inches which is a size I like but if you like your pizzas BIG, you may want to go for a larger than average peel. A good choice for a family sized pie, measuring up at 12 x 24 inches is the Sassafras Pizza Peel. An attractive, weightier pizza paddle, it is ideal for larger pizzas.
As we've discussed, transferring the pizza to the oven is something that many people find tricky. Generally I think a little practice is all it takes but if you are struggling with perfecting your slide, the Super Peel is a foolproof alternative that has been met with rave reviews from amateurs and professionals alike since its arrival on the market a few years ago.
A clever take on a traditional pizza peel, the super peel works with a conveyor belt action to slide your pizza in and out of the oven. Take a look at this quick video to see it in action.
The Super Peel has consistently won top reviews because of it's exceptional ease of use. It was also selected as the best of all peels tested by Cooks Illustrated.