Too many cookware reviews take the tone that you absolutely have to have the item in question (pizza cutters) or else your kitchen is deficient and you’re missing out on something amazing.
This is not one of those reviews.
You can absolutely cut pizza with an ordinary chef’s knife and have a grand pizza-eating time, and I would never suggest otherwise. I’d argue, though, that a pizza cutter is a little bit better for the job, and that if you like to pull a pizza out of the oven on a regular basis, that you’ll appreciate having one around. They’re not expensive, and you’ll find that they do more than just cut pizza.
Check this out, and see what you might add to your tool kit.
Pizza Cutters Explained
The trouble with slicing pizza with a chef’s knife is that a chef’s knife needs to be beefy to stand up to the wide variety of jobs on which it’s called. The thickness of the blade pushes the soft top of the pizza down into the cut, harming the top of the pie and leaving gooey cheese sticking to the side of the knife.
This gets worse if your edge isn’t in top shape and you have to saw to get all the way through the crust. This situation calls for a thin blade that can slide through the pizza without wrecking it. You might consider a slicing knife, but you need enough force to get it through the crust, which is tough at a distance.
|1. OXO Good Grips|
|3. Mezzaluna Pizza Rocker|
|4. Totally Addict|
|5. Cuisinart CPS-104|
|9. Checkered Chef|
The roller cutter is the classic pizza cutter, and consists of a thin sharp wheel mounted on a central axle so it rotates freely plus some sort of handle so you don’t slice your hand off.
To use a roller cutter, start with the edge of the wheel flat on the cutting board outside the pizza and press down with enough force to keep it on the board. Roll the wheel into the edge of the crust and continue through without stopping. Make sure you keep enough downward force on the wheel that you aren’t left with a little bottom stratum of crust still attaching the slices together. Remember, the center of the wheel needs to get all the way through the other end — don’t stop early.
Roller cutters are useful in any situation where you need to make straight line cuts through something sticky. The larger the diameter of the wheel, the easier it is to keep a straight line. I use my roller cutter more on pie crust (cut strips for an easy lattice), pasta dough (the easiest way to cut ravioli), and brownies than I do on pizza.
The overhand wheels wrap the top half of the wheel in a case, putting your hand right over the center of the wheel for maximum power and control since your hand is right where the cut is happening. Overhand wheels are more complicated to clean, and usually have to come apart in a few pieces to clean both the wheel and the case.
Offset wheels are more common, with a handle extending back from the axle. These wheels grip easier, but aren’t as easy to control. Look for an offset wheel that lets you hold your hand at a natural angle without dragging your knuckles through the pie, and keep an eye on the area between the wheel and the arm. It can be hard to clean, so make sure you work a cloth through there when washing up.
Give it a try and you’ll find that scissors do a great job slicing pizza. They’re pretty common in Italy for both thin Neapolitan-style pizzas and thicker pizza al taglio. The biggest advantage of scissors is that they’re completely undeterred by the hard layer of crust on the bottom. As long as you close the scissors all the way, you always get a clean cut all the way through.
When buying scissors for pizza, look for something long enough to get through a reasonably-sized pizza in a minimum number of cuts. You’re going to have to clean them out carefully, including the area around the hinge, so look for something that’s easy to get into. Scissors that break into two pieces for cleaning are the best for this.
Remember when I said the problem with a conventional slicing knife is that you need power on both ends of the blade? Enter the mezzeluna. Literally translating as half-moon, this is a big curved slicing knife with handles at both ends. To use, grab both handles and line up the cut. Push one end of the knife into the pizza, then roll the curve through until the other end finishes the cut. The mezzaluna’s not just for pizza — once you get a good feel for how to handle it, you can mince anything (like a big pile of herbs, say) in no time flat.
Buying a mezzaluna is like buying a knife, mostly because you’re buying a knife. Look for a quality material and a sharp edge that you can maintain. You need a good grip, so make sure the handles fit comfortably in your hands and that the angle between them is comfortable for your wrists. A mezzaluna is pretty big, and I can all but guarantee it won’t fit in your knife block, so make sure it comes with a storage solution that protects the blade and your hands.
Some of our tests have us making several recipes to try out every facet of the product line. We’re testing pizza cutters for the purpose of cutting pizza today, so there’s one test: cut a pizza.
Specifically, we’ve got a pile of frozen pizzas that we’re cooking as per the package directions, then trying out each pizza cutter after letting the pizza rest on a cutting board for a few minutes. If one of the pizzas seems unrepresentative of the average crust, we’ll try that cutter on another pizza to be sure of our findings.
As a bonus feature, we’re also reviewing the frozen pizzas. Keep reading after the pizza cutter review to see how we separate the OK from the bad and the awful.
What We Were Looking For
A good pizza cutter should cut the pizza completely with minimal damage to the pizza slices. We don’t want to see cheese and toppings dragged away, and we don’t want to have to cut twice to get through the bottom layer of the crust. We want something that’s easy to use and easy to clean, with no fiddly spots that are hard to clean out. We’re also looking for overall quality of construction in hopes of keeping a cutter around for the long haul.
BEST OF PIZZA CUTTERS
[TESTED, REVIEWED & RANKED]
Here’s a surprise: all of these pizza cutters did a pretty good job. Any one of them is reasonable for the job of cutting pizzas, so we’re looking at the small differences that separate good from great. I wish I could say the same for the frozen pizzas.
The OXO is an offset wheel, and I love everything about it.
The first impression is of its weight. It’s heavy on the wheel end, and that weight keeps it on track and down into the crust. There’s a nice bolster/guard that puts the weight exactly where it needs to go, letting the wheel roll right through even a thick crust with authority. The handle is comfortable and the angle allows a comfortable arm position over the pizza.
Build quality is excellent.
The Kitchy is the better of the two overhand wheels in our test lineup.
It features a rubber grip on the top case and a plastic guard that latches open or closed around a sharp blade about 4 inches in diameter. The whole thing comes apart for cleaning: the hand-piece folds open (the thing that looks like a latch is actually the hinge), releasing the wheel and guard (which also folds open).
All the pieces are dishwasher-safe, but by the time you’ve got it all opened up, it’s easy enough to wash by hand. I wish it wasn’t such a production to clean it, but I’m happy that the guard is there, so I don’t mind the extra work.
The design is well thought out, and build quality seems high.
This thing worked so well we had to try it again on a thicker pizza just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. This 12” wide mezzaluna went through even the thicker pizza like nothing at all in a very clean cut. The handles feel perfectly natural, with a well-shaped finger-side for a good grip. The blade is nice and sharp, and comes in a flat storage box.
We looked at the KoBzA in hopes of finding a mezzaluna style cutter that would offer similar results without having to be stored alongside your cutting boards. No such luck here, the KoBza was not nearly as fun nor was it as effective. It required multiple cutting motions to cover the same ground the Medove’s mezzaluna did in one swoop.
There’s this great board game, Mouse Trap, where you build a complicated machine out of dozens of parts to trap an opponent’s mouse. Actually, the game is crap, but the machine is incredible fun. So it is with the Totally Addict (the company is French, and their English is a little dodgy) scissors.
The scissors are great, and the little special pizza bit on the side is crap. Fortunately, like the game, you can just ignore it and focus on the good part.
The Totally Addict scissors are long ordinary scissors with three rivets on one side and a little pie server that attaches onto those rivets. The idea is that you cut your slice with the pie server on the underside, then just pick it up in one move. That doesn’t work, but if you just take the pie serve bit off, the scissors work great.
They blow right through even a thick crust, and the long blades mean you only need one cut to get to the center of a medium pizza.
Cleanup is relatively good, with the stupid rivets getting in the way and offering crud-spots that need extra cleaning.
The Cuisinart is another adequate offset wheel that gets things reasonably good, but not quite right.
The wheel is a little wiggly and cut adequately, but no better. You’ve got to be pretty serious to get it through a tough outer crust.
The handle was pretty comfortable and puts your hand in the right place, but the wiggly wheel makes it hard to really line up your cut or track down the same line.
There are two cleaning problems with the Cuisinart: the tight gap between the wheel and the guard and the tight gap between the arm and the wheel. Both are thin enough that you’ve got to roll a paper towel through on the wheel itself.
This isn’t terrible, but the OXO is better on every measure.
The Zyliss is another overhand wheel, but this one has a solid casing instead of the rubber grip. The plastic case splits apart for cleaning, but the wheel likes to stay on one side so it all stays in one piece.
Like the Kitchy, the Zyliss zinged right through the pizza crust without any resistance, but I’ve got to knock it a little on the grip, which isn’t quite as sure as I’d like. Cleaning was a bit of an issue, mostly in getting a cloth around to the back side of the wheel since it doesn’t come out of the case easily. The alternative is to put on a glove and yank the wheel (which is all sharp edge) out from its mounting notch, followed by the trouble of pushing it back in.
Overall, the Zyliss works, but between the cleaning issue and the grip, I don’t love it. The build quality is also a notch down from what I’d like. The wheel has a little wobble, and all of the joints feel a little hinky.
The KitchenAid is an offset wheel that shows off the difference between OK and just right. The cut was good, but the small diameter of the wheel makes cutting a thick pizza difficult.
The handle is a little too straight-on with a big guard, so you have to elevate your hand significantly to keep the guard (and your knuckles) from ruining the top of your pizza. Most of the KitchenAid is easy to clean, but the gap between the arm and the wheel is very tight and hard to clean. There’s a gap for cleaning the inside of the wheel, but that doesn’t help the inside of the arm.
Everything about the Kitchenaid is almost right, and in a lot of test kitchen days, that would be enough. For this roundup, though, there are enough better choices to give this a pass.
The Scizza tries to make the case that you need a specialized pair of scissors to effectively cut pizza, but it doesn’t make it well enough for me. The Scizza has spring-loaded blades that latch closed for storage, a deeply offset handle, and a plastic foot to protect your pizza pan from the bottom of the blades. To use it, you open the blades, set the foot on the pan with the blades around the slice, and slice down, repeating as needed.
It works, but I do not like the foot. You’ve got to set the Scizza in a very specific posture for it to work, and use it exactly that way, which I find awkward. The blades don’t open wide enough, and they’re not long enough to cut a full slice in one cut.
Cleaning is tricky, too. There are a lot of bits to get to, and access is tricky around the fulcrum.
Overall, it’s not that bad, but the Scizza is expensive and overspecialized.
After the high of using Medove’s muzzeluna, the Checkered Chef was a bit of a letdown. Not quite a mezzaluna, this large rocker blade looks like a (very) oversized bench scraper. Instead of vertical handles, there’s a horizontal roll across the top.
It cut the pizza well (though not effortlessly), but it was difficult to position it just right. The handle was very sure when the blade was started in the pizza, but it’s harder to stabilize setting up the cut.
Cleanup is simple unless you get anything inside the handle (which is not that hard). Cleaning the inside of the handle is basically impossible. You can run water through it, or maybe get a bottle brush in there, but at 14”, it’s really tough to do anything in the middle. The blade has a plastic guard for storage.
Add it all up, and the Checkered Chef is pretty good as a pizza cutter, but doesn’t have the versatility of the Medove. Where that one was clearly a knife, with a shaped edge, the Checkered Chef appears to be just stamped.
With as much trouble as this is going to be to store, I’d stay away.
A surprise challenger appears!
Not originally in this roundup, we threw in our favorite kitchen shears to see what they’d do against a pile of pizza. The result was everything we wanted.
These scissors went right through even the tough crusts (no surprise, since they go right through chicken bones) without making a mess. Cleanup is a snap since the blades come apart, leaving no tough cleanup spots. I do wish they were a little longer, but the Messermeister scissors are great for pizza cutting and for around your kitchen.
The world of pizza cutters features an embarrassment of riches. Your best choice doesn’t come down to which one actually works, but what style you like and what other things you want your pizza cutter to do.The best part is: whatever you choose, you’re going to wind up with pizza at the end, and that’s a guaranteed win.
Written by: Nathan Crane