I know how you all feel about uni-taskers—products that are designed for one specific use and aren't great at much else—but pizza is one of those dishes that simply beg for specialty tools. Some of these just make the job easier (say, a pizza wheel or a food processor). But it's simply impossible to make some types of great pizza without certain other tools, like peels and some sort of baking surface. I've been making pizza professionally and at home for many years now, and have tested dozens upon dozens of tools and gadgets. Here's my list of the most useful products you can get right now to step up your pizza game.
Before we jump into the tools, here's a quick recap of some basic dough recipes to get you started.
- The Classic: Basic Neapolitan Pizza
- The New World: Basic New York Pizza
- The Crowd-Pleaser: Square (Sicilian-Style) Pan Pizza
- The Best Pizza for First-Time Bakers: Foolproof Pan Pizza
- The Extra-Indulgent Pizza: Detroit-Style Pan Pizza
If you've never made pizza before, these are the first tools you should spring for to start baking like a pro at home.
A Digital Scale
This is the one. A scale is the number one most important tool for making consistently good pizza from scratch at home.
Forget measuring cups and spoons; they simply aren't accurate for baking, and without accurate measurements, you can't make consistent dough. (Read more about why mass is the best way to measure for baking here and our in-depth review of kitchen scales here) The OXO Stainless Steel Scale features dual metric and imperial units (I make pizza almost exclusively with metric), an 11-pound (5kg) capacity, and a large, easy-to-read, backlit display that pulls out, so even the largest bowl won't block your reading.
The only downside is that the scale has an annoying auto shutoff that will not only turn off the display, but also re-tare itself if you leave the unit on for more than a few minutes. Just make sure you don't get distracted in the middle of measuring.
A Bench Scraper
A bench scraper will help you pick up random bits of dough stuck to your counter and clean up dustings of flour with ease. You'll be using this for so much more than pizza; it's also great for picking up chopped herbs or garlic and transferring them to a pot on the stove. The OXO Stainless Steel Scraper also has a relatively sharp blade that makes it ideal for splitting large balls of dough into individual pizza–sized portions. You can read more about why it was our favorite bench scraper (along with our second place pick) in our review.
A Baking Steel
When The Original Baking Steel came out, it completely changed how I cook pizza indoors. With greater conductivity and higher volumetric heat capacity than a baking stone, it'll produce pizzas with crisper crusts and deeper char, even in the same temperature range. More importantly, pizza stones tend to crack with use (as a heavy user, I went through about a stone per year), while a solid slab of steel will last a lifetime, or longer.
For even more versatility, I'd suggest going with the dual-sided steels, which have a pebbled surface for baking pizza and a smooth surface with a routed channel to use as a stovetop griddle. I keep a Baking Steel griddle on my stovetop at all times (when it's not baking pizza, that is) for frying eggs, searing steak, smashing burgers, and crisping potatoes and vegetables.
A Wooden Pizza Peel for Launching
Many first-time pizza makers try to save money by opting to purchase a single, metal-bladed pizza peel. This is a mistake. Raw pizza dough is much more likely to stick to metal than to wood, so, unless you're an expert and can get your pizza topped and launched into an oven in under, say, a minute, chances are you're going to run into sticking problems. Wooden peels absorb excess moisture and have a rougher surface, which means that your stretched and topped dough will remain loose and easy to launch far longer, saving you from potential pizza-spilled-all-over-the-oven accidents (and you know you've had those).
If economy is your goal, the New Star Foodservice pizza peel will work fine, though I personally love my Perfect Peel Baker's Board, handcrafted to last a lifetime from gorgeous solid cherrywood. They'll even put your initials or logo on it if you'd like!
A Metal Pizza Peel for Retrieving
Wooden pizza peels are for launching, but they're too thick to easily slide under a pizza once it's hit the oven. For that, you'll want a thin-bladed metal peel, like this basic Kitchen Supply model. These thin-gauge aluminum peels are just fine for the occasional baker, but they'll bend and warp eventually.
At this point, you might be thinking: Do I really need a third peel? But after cooking multiple pizzas and struggle-busing the requisite pizza turn (to evenly cook your pie), we vote yes. A turner peel is smaller than a standard fetching or retrieving peel. The head is round and is meant to slide easily under the crust of your pizza—and with a practiced flick of the wrist, it makes turning your pie easy.
A Pizza Wheel
When it comes to portioning pizza, a knife simply won't cut it. At least, not if you don't want to drag cheese and toppings all over the place. Those large, half-moon-shaped rocking blades work great, but are a beast to store. For my money, nothing beats a classic pizza wheel, like this one by OXO.
A Stand-Alone Outdoor Pizza Oven
We are due for an update on pizza ovens: the market has exploded, though there is one brand you may have heard of that seems to be cornering every neighborhood pizzaiolo who turns her backyard into an outdoor pizza kitchen. But which pizza oven is right for you, in the end, depends on a variety of factors: space, the size of your ideal pizza, whether you want to have the option for a wood-fired pie, and if you want to lug something heavy or slightly less heavy out of the basement. You can read our previous review (which, admittedly, is a teensy bit outdated) to get a general idea; in the meantime, having used the Ooni Koda (the brand's gas-only option) for about a month, we can say that it's a solid option for slinging pies. The 16-inch version is big enough to make it easy to slip peels (and pies) in and out of the opening, and the gas power makes it easy to start up (we didn't want to mess with wood).
Kenji Tests the Best Backyard Pizza Ovens
A Cast Iron Skillet (for Pan Pizza)
My Foolproof Pan Pizza is one of my most popular recipes of all time, and for good reason. It allows you to re-create crisp-edged, flavor-packed pizzeria-style pan pizza at home with no kneading, no stretching, and no real experience required.
The only thing you need is a pan to bake it in. I typically recommend a cast iron skillet. The only problem is that with a cast iron skillet, you'll most likely have to finish off the pizza on the stovetop to get proper crispness in the bottom crust. For a single-use tool that'll do the job better at the cost of less versatility, go with a dedicated pizza pan like this one.
Rimmed Baking Sheet for Square (Sicilian) or Grandma Pies
Making pizza for a crowd? Nothing beats a big ol' square pie (often referred to as a Sicilian) to feed a party with minimal effort and maximum deliciousness. Best part is, you don't even need a pizza stone or steel. All you need is an inexpensive rimmed aluminum baking sheet at Amazon (which, of course, is also the best tool for roasting chickens, vegetables, and, well, pretty much anything else).
Detroit Pizza Pan for Detroit-Style Pizzas
The classic Detroit pizza pan is a deep, 10- by 14-inch rectangle of metal with black surfaces (for better conduction) and sides that flare gently away from the bottom. While the original pans were made from blue steel, most modern pans are made from anodized aluminum and come with a nonstick coating. I tested a number of these pans and found that yes, the black surfaces really did make a difference in how well that cheese crisped.
The best one I tried was this one from LloydPans, which has been making these pans since the '80s. This is a specialty item for sure, but once you try this recipe, I can guarantee that you'll be using it with regularity.
A Food Processor
While large, industrial-scale stand mixers may reign supreme in pizzerias, the food processor is the best tool for making pizza dough at home. Its rapid blade movement creates a much stronger gluten network than the slow kneading of a stand mixer, and it also allows less oxidation of the flour, resulting in better flavor. Your dough will come out smooth, supple, and easy to stretch, even if you plan on making your dough the same day that you bake it.
If you're in the market for a new food processor, you should check out our latest review on the subject. After rigorous tests, we found that the Magimix produces the best 14-cup food processor. Its innovative dough blade kneads pizza dough better than any other machine we used.
A Guitar Rack for Storing Peels
Pizza peels are large and cumbersome to store. I keep mine hanging up against the side of my cabinet using a guitar hanger. They stay up and out of the way, but within easy reach whenever I need 'em. I can't seem to find the particular model I have anywhere, but there are plenty of options on Amazon.
A Dough-Proofing Container
I never thought I'd love my dough-proofing box as much as I do until I got it. Up until then, I'd been proofing individual balls in plastic containers or in plastic-wrapped bowls. Now I just shape my dough balls, plop them into the proofing box, snap on the lid, and walk away. The tight lid keeps them from forming a skin, while the smooth plastic surface makes them easy to lift onto your stretching surface. I bought mine at a restaurant supply store, though you can also find them on Amazon. Don't forget the lid.
A Pastry Cutter for Sauce
You want to get that perfect chunky-yet-saucy consistency out of your canned San Marzano tomatoes? You can use your fingers to squeeze them (messy) or a potato masher, but I recently started using a pastry cutter and haven't looked back. The stiff, sharp blades make quick work of tomatoes, chopping them as coarsely or as finely as you'd like, directly in the saucepan.
Plastic Squeeze Bottles
A drizzle of olive oil before and after baking gives your pie a great boost of flavor, and little plastic squeeze bottles are the easiest, most inexpensive way to store and dispense it.
What temperature do you cook a homemade pizza?
It depends on the style of pizza you're making, though generally, hotter is better. For a Neapolitan-style pizza, you'll want max heat (a good pizza oven can get you there, with some models reaching 900 degrees). For a Sicilian-style sheet pan pizza, you can get away with a slightly lower heat, around 550 (or 500 if you're oven maxes out there).
How do I make my own pizza dough?
We have a few recipes depending on what kind of pizza you're making: Neapolitan pizza, Sicilian pizza, and New England-style Greek pizza, among others. We also have some great recipes for spicing up your outdoor pizza oven 'za.
Do I need a pizza stone?
A good pizza stone can help crisp up the crust and make for a great pizza pie. Kenji also swears by this baking steel, which makes it easy to bake up an awesome pizza in your oven.