You’ve followed a recipe and it says to heat your pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven for 45 minutes before you transfer your pizza. Now you realise you’ve somehow got to get your pizza dough onto this blisteringly hot object – but you don’t have a pizza peel to hand. Don’t worry, not is all lost – here are some ways you can get it from worktop to oven without burning your hands in the process.
What can I use as a pizza peel substitute?
- Use a rimless cookie sheet.
- Use a rimmed baking sheet flipped upside down.
- Use parchment paper to build and transfer the pizza.
- Use a stiff piece of cardboard as a pizza peel.
- Use a cutting board as a pizza peel.
- Use a serving platter as a pizza peel.
- Cook the pizza in a frying pan.
Remember that to make the best pizza you need to cook your dough on something very hot. A pizza “steel” conducts heat more efficiently than a pizza stone, and they don’t crack. I have this pizza steel and can fully recommend it (click to see on Amazon). If you’d rather get something a bit cheaper, then at least get a pizza stone made of cordierite like this one. It is less likely to crack like other pizza stones.
See all the essential tools I recommend on my pizza equipment list guide.
How To Use A Makeshift Peel
If you need a pizza dough recipe you can rely on then check out my best pizza dough recipe, which makes perfect pizza every time. Stretch the pizza to around 12″ or which ever size you need. Dust the “peel” with flour then pick up the dough and put it on top, stretching it right to the edges. Add your tomato sauce, cheese and toppings, then don’t wait too long otherwise it will stick.
Open the oven, pull the rack out with the pizza stone and use a swift back-and-forth wrist action to drop the pizza on the stone. Think of it like the magic trick with the table cloth – pulling back quickly and confidently. Try not to angle the peel down too much otherwise the edge of the dough will get caught on the hot stone, and your toppings will fall off.
You Must Dust The Surfaces To Stop Sticking
Using the baking sheet, cookie sheet, cardboard, chopping board or platter needs some help to stop the dough sticking to the surface. Otherwise you will transfer the dough to the makeshift peel and it won’t slide off into the oven.
The best thing to use is a 50/50 mix of flour and fine semolina. My guess is that if you don’t have a peel then you don’t have semolina to hand. So just use the same flour used for the dough. Cover the whole surface but you don’t have to go too thick (excess flour burns).
Tips to stop pizza sticking to peel:
- Stretch or roll the pizza on the worktop then transfer to the “peel” to add toppings.
- Work fast once on the “peel” as it will absorb the flour and stick to the metal.
- Shake the “peel” every now and then to ensure it isn’t sticking.
- If it starts sticking then lift the edge and add some flour and shake to release.
Things To Use As A Pizza Peel
1. A Rimless Cookie Sheet
A cookie sheet differs from a baking sheet in that a cookie sheet has 1 raised edge and the baking sheet has 4 raised edges. This is to allow the cookies to slide off easily when cooked.
This design also works well for the pizza – we want to slide the pizza off easily to the cooking surface in the oven. Cookie sheets are usually non-stick surfaces also.
2. Rimmed Baking Sheet Flipped Upside Down
As it has 4 raised edges, you have to flip this one upside down. This can be a bit problematic if the raised edges are too large. The pizza has a longer way to drop off so I’ve made a mess of a few pizza stones doing it this way. It can be hard to grip flat also, so harder to get your technique right. Recommend getting the thinnest sheet you can find, or using parchment paper.
3. Parchment Paper To Build And Transfer The Pizza.
This is called baking paper in some parts of the world, and is basically a disposable non-stick surface. This isn’t waxed paper though – you don’t want to put that in the oven as the wax will smoke and affect the taste.
Parchment paper is a mess free way to transfer the pizza and doesn’t involve any flour or semolina mixture.
Once you’ve stretched the dough, you can transfer it to the paper and continue topping. When ready, you open the oven and pull out the rack with the pizza stone and then put this directly on top.
The paper can withstand the heat but will darken and become brittle when touched. So you need some other equipment to retrieve the pizza – use a pair of tongs to pull it out to a plate and then dispose of the paper.
4. Use A Stiff Piece Of Cardboard As A Pizza Peel
This works well as the cardboard is so thin so is easy to transfer. But you do need to find cardboard stiff enough as it needs to support the weight.
Things like old pizza boxes, or online delivery packaging work well. Just cut a square out that is 14″ wide. It won’t last forever though.
If your pizza sauce touches the cardboard it is a nightmare because the dough will automatically stick to the wet card here, so be extra careful when topping the pizza.
5. Use A Cutting Board As A Pizza Peel
This can work well as most are thin and some have handles so actually resemble a pizza peel. They aren’t always the perfect shape as they are rectangular. This isn’t a problem though – just stretch your dough slightly length-ways so that it fits the shape better.
These can be wooden or plastic. Be careful not to touch the plastic board on the hot pizza stone as it will melt within seconds and ruin your stone.
6. Use A Serving Platter As A Pizza Peel
This is a similar concept to the cutting board. Check your kitchen for any wooden serving platters which don’t have a rim as these will work to slide off the pizza easily. Especially good if it has a handle.
7. Cook The Pizzas In A Frying Pan
This is a great alternative to cooking pizza without a pizza stone and peel.
The idea is that you cook the dough on the stove top first in the frying pan. This crisps the bottom while you put your sauce and cheese on top. You then transfer it to your oven and put it close to the broiler (that is the grill at the top of the oven).
This is either a gas flame or heating element and can get very hot – it will cook and char the pizza crust and toppings. Make sure this has been preheating so its hot.
How to cook a pizza in a frying pan:
- Pre-heat the frying pan and broiler until hot.
- Stretch the dough and drop into the dry pan. Cook until the underside starts to brown – only a few minutes.
- Add sauce and toppings.
- Move as close to the top of the oven as possible and cook until golden.
Buyers Guide For Your Pizza Peel
You will inevitably want to buy a pizza peel as they are such a fundamental piece of kit for making pizza. They can be bought extremely cheaply online now. Here are some tips on the best ones to buy, as there are some bad ones out there (I’ve made the mistakes!).
Wood Vs Metal
Wood pizza peels are better to transfer the pizza to the oven as the wooden surface is porous so absorbs moisture from the dough and stops it sticking. Metal peels tend to stick a lot more (which can ruin your pizza party), but they are thinner so are more suited to retrieving the cooked pizza. I would buy both sets, but if you can only get one then go for a wooden peel and move on to a metal one when you get more experienced.
Make sure to get one that is big enough as it is frustrating to buy a smaller one then be limited to the space when you want to make bigger pizzas. A 14-15″ peel is better than a 12″ peel, so aim for that.
If you are making pizza at home in a home oven, then a short handled wooden peel is fine. If you are cooking in a wood fired oven then you need to buy a peel with a longer handle so that you don’t burn yourself, and so you can reach into the back of the oven.
A wooden peel that is at least 14″ wide is a great option like this Update International peel from Amazon. You can get it different handle lengths – I would recommend a 24″ for the home oven, or 36″+ for a pizza oven so you don’t burn yourself. Get it here on Amazon.
As you can see, there are many substitutes for what to use as a pizza peel so not is all lost. You will hopefully have one of these in your kitchen already or can pick one up for next time.
Getting a good pizza peel and a pizza stone is one of the easiest ways to start making better pizza at home. You will have extra crispy crusts and they are easier to make, giving you the best results every time.