Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza

As you all know, I am a huge pizza fan. I could eat it every day of the week and be happy as a clam. Even though I have what seems like an army of relatives out in the Chicago area, I can’t remember ever eating authentic deep-dish pizza in Chicago. Up until now, I’ve gotten my fix of deep-dish pizza primarily from a Chicago-based deep-dish pizza chain, which has locations out here in the Pittsburgh area. A couple of weeks ago my Chief Culinary Consultant and I decided to watch a Pittsburgh Penguins practice that was open to the public on a random Thursday morning (love impromptu field trips!). On the way back we were trying to decide where to go for lunch when we spied one of the pizza chain’s restaurants and we knew immediately that’s what we wanted. It’s pretty much impossible to mention pizza to me and then not go ahead and feed it to me. I will become obsessed with having it. We always enjoy the deep-dish pepperoni, however we were shocked when the pizza came to the table. We hadn’t been there in awhile (probably a couple of years), and stared at our “regular size” pizza in awe. It consisted of six small pieces. SIX. Small pieces! For almost $19. Sheer insanity. There was no question that we needed a homemade alternative to that madness, even though it was delicious. Five days later, we had our homemade recipe. It’s fabulous, and I wanted more the second the leftovers were gone. The sauce is thick and chunky, the cheese is gooey, and, most importantly, the crust is buttery, flaky, and delicious. Goodbye overpriced pizza!

The secret to the dough is a process known as laminating the dough, which is similar to how you make croissants (although not nearly as involved or time-consuming). You basically roll out the dough, slather it with lots of butter, and then roll it and fold it in such a way that the butter ends up in thin layers within the dough, which creates a wonderfully flaky texture – one of the key components to a great deep-dish pizza.

As illustrated below, the dough is rolled out into a rectangle, smeared with butter, and then rolled up into a tight cylinder. You then flatten the cylinder slightly so you end up with a long rectangle.

Once you have your long rectangle patted out nicely, you’ll cut it in half (hello knife that still had some basil stuck to it!) and then proceed to fold each half into thirds, like a business letter. Then pinch together all of the seams to seal them up and form two balls. Those go into the refrigerator for a short while, and then you’ll be ready to assemble your pizza. The stint in the refrigerator chills the butter, which is essential for the texture. When cold butter hits a warm oven, it creates pockets of steam, which is how you end up with tons of flaky layers.

Once you’re done chilling the dough, you’ll roll it out into a 13-inch circle and fit it into your oil-coated pan. Next comes the cheese (mozzarella is a must!), throw on any toppings (we love pepperoni) or none at all, and then finish off with your sauce and a healthy dose of Parmesan cheese.

Bake it up, and before you know it, you’ll have crazy delicious pizza waiting for you!

This recipe makes two pizzas, so I decided to make one according to the recipe, and to tweak the second one. The reason? I am not a huge sauce fan and prefer my pizzas with a large cheese to sauce ratio, so I wasn’t sure that I would really like an entire layer of sauce on the very top of my pizza. So, for the second one, I made the pizza exactly the same except that I switched up the order of the toppings on the dough. Instead of cheese, toppings, sauce I did a traditional pizza of sauce, cheese, toppings. In the back of my mind I kind of figured that I would prefer it this way, but boy was I wrong!

Not that it was bad, of course. It’s hard to make a bad pizza, especially homemade. However, the original deep-dish provided a far tastier pizza, and my Chief Culinary Consultant agreed. I was honestly really surprised! However, I shook my head at myself for questioning a Cook’s Illustrated method in the first place – they are usually always spot-on, and this was no exception. I will definitely go all-in with the traditional deep-dish method from now on!

The experimental pizza, however, did provide a really nice gooey, cheesy picture :) Yum!

I’m thrilled to have an awesome deep-dish pizza recipe to bake up when the urge hits now. I’d love to try a version with sausage and maybe mushrooms, and a vegetarian one as well. Do you have favorite toppings for deep-dish pizza?

One year ago: Moon Pies
Two years ago: Allspice Crumb Muffins
Three years ago: Cucidati (Italian Fig Cookies)
Four years ago: Tiramisu

Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Prep Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 to 30 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours


For the Dough:
3¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup yellow cornmeal
1½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2¼ teaspoons instant yeast
1¼ cups water, room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon + 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

For the Sauce:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup grated onion
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
¼ teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

For the Toppings:
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 4 cups)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese


1. Make the Dough: Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Add water and melted butter and mix on low speed, using a dough hook, until fully combined, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping sides and bottom of bowl occasionally. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is glossy and smooth and pulls away from sides of bowl, 4 to 5 minutes. (You can easily make this by hand, mixing in the water and butter with a spatula and then kneading by hand.)

2. Coat a large bowl with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Using greased spatula, transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat the dough in oil; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in volume, 45 to 60 minutes.

3. Make the Sauce: While dough rises, heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add onion, oregano, and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and onion is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and sugar, increase heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to about 2½ cups, 25 to 30 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil and olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.

4. Laminate the Dough: Turn the dough out onto dry work surface and roll into a 15x12-inch rectangle. Using an offset spatula, spread the softened butter over the surface of the dough, leaving a ½-inch border along the edges. Starting at the short end, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. With seam side down, flatten the cylinder into an 18x4-inch rectangle. Cut rectangle in half crosswise. Working with one half, fold into thirds like a business letter; pinch seams together to form ball. Repeat with remaining half. Return balls to oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in refrigerator until nearly doubled in volume, 40 to 50 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower position and preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

5. Bake the Pizzas: Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with 2 tablespoons olive oil each. Transfer 1 dough ball to dry work surface and roll out into a 13-inch circle. Transfer dough to the pan by rolling the dough loosely around a rolling pin and unrolling into pan. Lightly press dough into pan, working into corners and 1 inch up sides. If dough resists stretching, let it relax for 5 minutes before trying again. Repeat with remaining dough ball.

6. For each pizza, sprinkle 2 cups mozzarella evenly over surface of dough. (If you're using any meat or veggie toppings, add them now, on top of the cheese.) Spread 1¼ cups tomato sauce over the cheese (or toppings) and sprinkle 2 tablespoons Parmesan over sauce. Bake until crust is golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove pizza from oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

(Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)


152 Responses to “Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza”

Comment Pages 1 2 3
  1. Cat Davis on March 5, 2012 at 12:19 am

    My heart ACHES for some Chicago Deep Dish pizza! Every time we visit Chicago the first place we stop is Giordano’s … the BEST. In fact, we’re heading up there for our anniversary in April.

    Until then I may just have to try my hand with your recipe … with lots of black olives.


    • Karen on March 7th, 2012 at 12:06 pm

      Try Lou Malnati’s or Uno’s. I think they are better. I grew up in chicago and now live in Duluth….not a good pizza in sight. Good thing I can make it. But I will try this version and see if it stacks up to the one i have. LOVE deep dish. and STUFED. sigh


      • Cat Davis on March 11th, 2012 at 1:43 am

        I’ve actually been wanting to try Lou Malnati’s .. I’ve heard good things. I hated Gino’s, their crust was soggy inside. ick. We’re just 3 hours south of Chicago and stuff with thin crust pizza … boring!


        • Kendra on July 24th, 2012 at 7:41 am

          Cat, are you by Springfield? I’m living there now, and I think we’re about three hours south of Chicago. If you want a REALLY good pizza, without the three hour drive, you could try Papa Dell’s in Champaign. It is AMAZING, and only 1 1/2 hours away.

          I’m looking forward to making this recipe in order to avoid the drive though!


        • Quinn on October 3rd, 2013 at 1:11 am

          I lived in Chicago for 25 years. I am a seasoned bread-baker. I lived above Gino’s East in Lakeview (by Wrigley) for 3 years. I moved to Montana. The pizza up here is just so so so indescribably bad. I am going to make this recipe and let you know how it stacks up. It looks like you could be pretty on the money though.

          Ps Chicago Pizza TRUMPS New York pizza.


      • anickh on October 29th, 2012 at 4:30 am

        my fam is going to chicago sometime soon. So I have definitely been wanting to hit up at least one of these pizza joints. Ive never tried any of them but I love Deep Dish Pizza. But I like a more chewier doughy crust. So of all of the places, which do u think I would like most. and BTW, which is your very favorite and why??
        (I’m from UTAH- no deep dish pizza joints out west)


        • Lee on November 20th, 2012 at 11:45 am

          Pizanos, downtown on Madison Street. Fantastic! Giordanos also very good.


    • lizzy on March 9th, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      I’ve never had it but my boyfriend lived in the states for 10 years and I want to give him a taste of home. In the oven now.


  2. Kristen on March 5, 2012 at 12:33 am

    This is great! My hubby and like homemade New York style but needed a good Chicago style recipe.


  3. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga on March 5, 2012 at 12:36 am

    I’m from Chicago but have lived in San Diego the past 10 years…and I am a thin ‘n crispy crust girl. Go figure.

    Your pizza looks stellar!


  4. Karenn on March 5, 2012 at 2:01 am

    Throw in a little bacon. wow.


  5. modernworkinggirl on March 5, 2012 at 4:56 am

    I love said Chicago-style pizza joint! But your pizza looks even better :)


  6. Blog is the New Black on March 5, 2012 at 5:38 am

    I adore deep dish pizza! YUM!


  7. Kiri W. on March 5, 2012 at 5:57 am

    Looks like it came out perfect! Deep dish pizza depends for me on the day – I was raised on thin crust in Germany, and sometimes there’s almost too much dough for me in the U.S. already. Other days I devour it, though 😉


  8. Villy @ For the love of Feeding on March 5, 2012 at 6:21 am

    Drooling here!! I’m a fool for thick bread pizza! Fantastic!


  9. megan @ whatmegansmaking on March 5, 2012 at 6:42 am

    I’ve been wanting to try this recipe since I saw it in CI! I’m glad you tested it out for me, can’t wait to make it now :)


  10. Katrina on March 5, 2012 at 6:56 am

    This sounds so awesome! I don’t have a deep dish pan, but I need to get out and buy one!


    • Michelle on March 5th, 2012 at 5:07 pm

      Hi Katrina, No need to buy a special pan! You can use 9-inch cake pans.


  11. Jessica @ Portuguese Girl Cooks on March 5, 2012 at 7:57 am

    This looks delicious! I’ve been wanting to make this recipe since I saw it in CI, now I will definitely make it!


  12. Erin @ Brownie Bites on March 5, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Why did I never think to make deep dish pizza in a cake pan? Love this idea.


  13. Ellen @ The Baking Bluenoser on March 5, 2012 at 8:25 am

    I saw the picture and my first thought was “ohhh..YUMM!!!” This looks amazing! Thanks for the helpful pictures too, I can’t wait to try this! I’m just like you, I could eat pizza every day, and these pictures make me want to! :)


  14. on March 5, 2012 at 8:45 am

    I also love pizza. Now I can cook it and share it with my family. Gorgeous pizza!


  15. Paula on March 5, 2012 at 9:19 am

    I love this recipe (CI rocks)! I lived in Chicago for a year and really do get a craving for this kind of pizza every once in a while. Unfortunately, my kids don’t care for it… So, I usually save it for a special meal for my hubby and I! It really is divine!


  16. Jen on March 5, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Well, I think I just found dinner tonight. :) Do you think half of the dough could be frozen?


    • Michelle on March 5th, 2012 at 5:08 pm

      Hi Jen, I haven’t tried it with this recipe, but I have done it with regular dough. I think you would be fine. Just thaw it in the refrigerator and take it straight from there to roll it, line the pan, etc.


      • Erin on July 24th, 2014 at 12:20 am

        I tried freezing the dough and it worked great!
        Thank you for the recipe!
        We made a fancy one with *real* carmelized onions and mushrooms and sausage. It was good, but I was surprised to find I preferred the second one- just sauce, cheese, and pineapple bits! Weird but very good.


  17. Cookbook Queen on March 5, 2012 at 9:25 am

    I’ve always wanted to try deep dish pizza. This looks like the perfect recipe!!


  18. Jennifer @ Not Your Momma's Cookie on March 5, 2012 at 9:26 am

    These pictures make me want pizza NOW. Too bad it is 9:30am :) Pizza brunch anyone?


  19. Kindra @ on March 5, 2012 at 9:28 am

    OMG I miss Chicago soooo much. This pizza looks like something I should try and make for my family who have never been there (and truely don’t understand what there missing out on”. This receipe looks pretty good and you did a great job of laying it out, maybe ill have to print it out to make this weekend!


  20. Tracey on March 5, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Deep dish is the only way to go for me, and this looks amazing!! I’m sitting here working on my menu plan for the week, and I think I know one thing I’ll be adding :)


  21. Mia on March 5, 2012 at 9:32 am

    next time you go to chicago, you MUST try Lou Malnati’s. It is by the best deep dish pizza in the city. The spinach and sausage (try them together!) are to die for.


  22. nicole on March 5, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Hey Michelle–Another amazing recipe from you! Question: can I cheat and use already prepared bread dough? I would still do the laminating step with it. I would love to make this pizza for tomorrow night but with 4 kids, school schedules, and laundry to fold I don’t think I can pull off making the dough! Thanks!


    • Michelle on March 5th, 2012 at 5:09 pm

      Hi Nicole, You can, but it won’t taste the same and I’m not sure how similarly it will rise. It will just pretty much just be like pizza (bread?) dough in the round pan. Which still might be good! It’s just that one of the biggest things about the Chicago-style deep-dish is the buttery, flaky crust.


      • nicole on March 5th, 2012 at 6:09 pm

        I ended up making the dough! Once I read the recipe I realized it wasn’t as hard as I thought. I really enjoyed the process and my family loved it! I also made your cream cheese brownies which were delicious! Thank you for all of your fabulous recipes!!!


        • Michelle on March 5th, 2012 at 6:55 pm

          Oh I’m so glad that you went ahead with the traditional dough and didn’t find it to be too difficult and loved it! Yay! Sounds like a fabulous dinner and dessert combo to me :)


  23. Marcia on March 5, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Oh my! This looks fantastic! I am from the Chicagoland area and will be making this asap! This pizza looks just like my favorite Chicago pizza and I can’t wait to try to duplicate it. Thanks for posting this recipe.


  24. Ally on March 5, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Oh my goodness I am seriously drooling – this looks HEAVENLY.


  25. Mercedes (Satisfy My Sweet Tooth) on March 5, 2012 at 10:05 am

    This looks so amazing! I am heading to Chicago for the first time this weekend and can’t wait to sample the deep dish!


  26. angela on March 5, 2012 at 10:06 am

    While I’m normally a thin crust type, this would be too good to pass up. I can see how crunchy and chewy that crust looks. A real crowd pleaser.


  27. sarah on March 5, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Looks amazing!

    Where can I find one of those mats w/ measurements you are using to roll the dough on???



  28. Martha in KS on March 5, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Pizza is one of my favorite foods too. But I’m an admitted “yeast-killer”. I recently found a great deep dish pepperoni pizza at Aldi for $3.99. Probably about the same size as the one you paid $19 for.


  29. Jennifer on March 5, 2012 at 10:23 am

    I just recently posted about the deep dish pizza I ate while in Chicago! Nice to know I can make it at home too.


  30. Heather @ Bake, Run, Live on March 5, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Oh that looks so good! I have never had a deep dish pizza, but have always wanted to try it. Multiple trips have been made to Chicago and still no pizza (that’s just sad). So thank you for this recipe- I think it’s time I took matters into my own hands!
    Straight up cheese and pepperoni for me. Boyfriend likes to add peppers, black olives, and mushrooms (shudder).


  31. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on March 5, 2012 at 10:32 am

    My mouth is watering! This looks fabolous!!!! My stomach is even growling! Just simply tasty!


  32. Fresh and Foodie on March 5, 2012 at 10:35 am



  33. Susan on March 5, 2012 at 10:36 am

    This looks amazing. I’m going to try it, however, can I freeze one of the balls of dough? There are only two of us at home and we could never eat two pizzas. If I can freeze it, how do I wrap the dough and how long can I freeze it?


    • Michelle on March 5th, 2012 at 5:11 pm

      Hi Susan, I think you would be okay doing this. I would chill the dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes, then wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in a freezer bag. To thaw, put it in the refrigerator the night before or morning that you plan to use it. I would say the dough would be good for 2-3 months.


  34. Patsy on March 5, 2012 at 10:53 am

    I like thin and crispy crust, but my hubby is in love with Chicago deep dish. We have a Chicago-based pizza store near us, and the pizza is good…but kind of pricey. I can’t wait to surprise him with this!


  35. Ambika on March 5, 2012 at 10:58 am

    I LOVE deep dish pizzas and this recipe looks perfect!!


  36. Miss McBooty on March 5, 2012 at 11:10 am

    I can’t wait to make this! A little piece of home :)


  37. Jamie on March 5, 2012 at 11:10 am

    I want to eat this RIGHT NOW! Thanks for sharing – this is definitely going on the meal list for this week or next. Mmmm……


  38. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts on March 5, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Oh my, this looks delicious! The crust sounds perfect for deep dish pizza! Can’t wait to try this.


  39. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel on March 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    I’ve been searching for quite a while for the perfect deep dish recipe to try out on the hubs. Thanks so much for this! I can’t wait to try the crust.


  40. Beth on March 5, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    I KNEW there was a reason we were BFF’s! I was going to ask if you could switch the order of the toppings, and you answered it as soon as the thought crossed my mind! Not that i don’t trust you, but I also prefer a higher cheese to sauce ratio so I think I might need to try the amended version.


    • Michelle on March 5th, 2012 at 5:12 pm

      Aw YESSS! We always were like one mind :) No surprise that you like lots of cheese too!


  41. Christy from Life of a Modern Housewife on March 5, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Yummy!!!! This looks delicious!!


  42. Jessie on March 5, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    I’ve made these before and LOVE them. Sadly, my hubby is not as much a fan but will thankfully eat whatever is in front of him. :)


  43. Choc Chip Uru on March 5, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    This pizza is so thick and crusty – looks so delicious!!! I just want to eat the entire cheesy dish 😀
    Great recipe!

    Choc Chip Uru
    Latest: Traditional Lemon Meringue Tart


  44. Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchen on March 5, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    I’m a thin crust pizza girl at heart, but this really does look delicious. My bf went to college in the Midwest and loves Chicago style pizza – I will definitely be making this for him at some point!


  45. Mireia on March 5, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    I’m pinning it right now, it looks fantastic!!


  46. Lauren on March 5, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Where did you find that pastry mat? I love it!


  47. Daisy@Nevertoosweet on March 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Yum 😉 I haven’t had a deep dish pizza for awhile now ~ seems like thing flat breads are the thing now lol this pizza looks amazing just like something from pizza hut!
    Thanks for sharing!


  48. Tracy on March 5, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Hooray, I was hoping you would post this recipe! I am familiar with the pizza chain you mentioned and how ridiculous their prices have become…so I am all over this and seriously cannot WAIT to try it. Love deep dish pizza and yours looks fabulous!!


  49. Barbara on March 5, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    I was in Chicago just this weekend and, to my great sadness, Chicago pizza never happened. Guess what’s for dinner? Thank you! :-)


  50. Sweettwist_Meg on March 5, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Do you deliver?? That looks amazing.


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