Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza
Sink your teeth into this authentic Chicago-style deep-dish pizza! Made with a flaky, buttery crust, melty cheese, and chunky homemade tomato sauce, this deep-dish pizza is the ultimate at-home pizza!
Deep dish pizza, also referred to as Chicago-style pizza, was invented in Chicago with various pizza parlors staking claim to the pie at early as 1926.
High-edged pizza crust topped with melty cheese, pepperoni or Italian sausage, and a chunky tomato sauce, this is truly a one-of-a-kind pizza pie.
Traditional Pan Pizza vs. Deep-Dish
Often confused with thick crust pizza, there are a few notable differences between a traditional pan pizza and a Chicago-style deep-dish.
- Pan: Traditional pizza cooks up on a pizza stone or a flat pan while deep-dish climbs to towering heights in a high-edge pan such as a cake pan or cast-iron skillet.
- Dough: Unlike traditional pizza dough, deep-dish features a laminated dough (similar to croissants) with butter folded in for a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth finish.
- Assembly: Traditional pizza pies follow the assembly of crust, sauce, cheese, and toppings. Chicago-style deep-dish pizza follows the assembly of crust, cheese, toppings, and sauce.
How to Make It!
Let’s break down how to make this cheesy deep-dish pizza into the main parts; the flaky pizza dough, the chunky tomato sauce, and assembling the ultimate deep-dish pizza.
Make the Dough
For the most part, you are looking at basic dough ingredients to make this deep dish crust. A few notable ingredients include the cornmeal and additional butter.
- Dry ingredients: Flour, salt, yeast, and sugar are part of the base of the dough which is similar to most pizza doughs.
- Cornmeal: A unique addition to pizza dough, the cornmeal gives the dough a deeper yellow color as well as makes it a little crispier.
- Wet ingredients: Water, melted butter, and olive oil help bind the dough together.
- Butter: Additional butter is used in the lamination process making the dough buttery, flaky, and delicious.
To make the dough:
- Mix dry ingredients: Whisk flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl.
- Add water and melted butter. Mix on low speed, using a dough hook, until fully combined, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl occasionally.
- Knead the dough: Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough is glossy and smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Move to bowl: Coat a large bowl with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Using a greased spatula, transfer the dough to the bowl, turning to coat the dough in oil; cover tightly with plastic wrap.
- Rise: Let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in volume, 45 to 60 minutes.
Laminating the Dough
The secret of this pizza 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). This creates a wonderfully flaky texture which is one of the key components to a great deep-dish pizza.
- Roll into rectangle: Turn the dough out onto a dry work surface and roll into a 15×12-inch rectangle.
- Spread butter on top: Using an offset spatula, spread the butter over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border along the edges.
- Roll up the dough: Starting at the short end, roll the dough into a tight cylinder.
- Roll into rectangle: With seam side down, flatten the cylinder into an 18×4-inch rectangle.
- Cut the rectangle in half, crosswise.
- Form into a ball: Working with one half, fold the dough into thirds like a business letter. Then pinch the seams together to form a ball. Repeat with the remaining half of the dough.
- Rise: Return the balls into the oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in the refrigerator until nearly doubled in volume, 40 to 50 minutes.
Homemade Pizza Sauce
While the dough rises, make the pizza sauce. You will need:
- Butter: Used to cook the onion and garlic and helps cut through the acidity of the tomatoes.
- Crushed tomato: Allows the sauce to be just a little chunky.
- Aromatics: Onion and garlic add a depth of flavor to the sauce.
- Seasonings: Salt, pepper, oregano, and sugar all add a little flavor to the tomatoes.
- Basil + Olive oil: Adds a fresh finish to the sauce.
- Melt butter: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
- Cook onion and seasoning: Once melted, add the onion, oregano, and salt; cook, stirring occasionally until liquid has evaporated and the onion is golden brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add tomatoes and simmer: Stir in tomatoes and sugar and increase the heat to high. Bring to a simmer.
- Cook to reduce: Once simmering, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to about 2 1/2 cups, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Stir in basil and olive oil: Remove from the heat and stir in basil and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Assemble the Pizza
Before assembling these deep dish pizzas, gather up the toppings you plan yo use for the pie. I typically pull these toppings to make Chicago-style pizza:
- Cheese: Shredded mozzarella is my go-to but you can also use fresh mozzarella, provolone, fontina, etc.
- Pepperoni: Optional, but a family favorite in our house!
- Sauce: You can use the homemade sauce described above or if you want to skip the homemade you can also use a store-bought pizza sauce.
- Parmesan: For topping at the end, optional but highly encouraged.
- Prepare for baking: Adjust the oven rack to the lower position and preheat the oven to 425°F. Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with 2 tablespoons olive oil each.
- Roll out the dough: Transfer 1 dough ball to a dry work surface and roll out into a 13-inch circle.
- Transfer the dough to the pan by rolling it loosely around a rolling pin and unrolling it into the pan.
- Press into the pan: Lightly press the dough into the pan, working the corners and 1 inch up the sides. If the dough resists stretching, let it relax for 5 minutes before trying again. Repeat with remaining dough ball.
- Add cheese: Sprinkle 2 cups of mozzarella cheese evenly over each pizza dough.
- Sprinkle on toppings: If you are using any meat or veggie toppings, add them now, on top of the cheese.
- Top with sauce: Spread 1¼ cups tomato sauce over the cheese (or toppings) and sprinkle 2 tablespoons parmesan over the sauce.
- Bake until the crust is golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes.
- Rest the pizza: Remove pizza from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
More Delicious Toppings to Try
While the most popular topping for pizza in the U.S. is pepperoni, Chicago’s most popular pizza topping is Italian sausage. Some other great toppings to add to your deep-dish pizza include:
- Meats: Sausage, bacon, meatballs, or chicken.
- Vegetables: Bell peppers, onion, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, and artichokes.
- After baking toppings: Olives, fresh arugula, basil, and red pepper flakes.
One of the most important things you need to do before serving this deep-dish pie, is allow it to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving. This prevents your cheese and toppings from spilling out onto your plate when you serve.
Looking to make this deep-dish Chicago-style pizza a full meal? Here are some delicious sides to dish out with your slices:
Deep Dish Pizza FAQs
The reason for the sauce on top has to do with the longer bake time. Most Chicago-style deep dish pizzas take anywhere from 20-40 minutes to bake. If the cheese and toppings were on top, they would potentially burn and not be the melty, gooey deliciousness you expect from a fresh slice of pizza.
Yes, you can use a cast-iron skillet to bake a deep-dish pizza. For this recipe, I would suggest using a 10-inch pre-seasoned cast-iron skillet and add butter to the pan to coat it (can’t go wrong with a little extra butter here). Follow the same instructions for assembly and bake for 20-30 minutes at 425°F.
No, you do not need to preheat the cast-iron skillet to bake the pizza.
One of the best ways to test and see if the pizza has cooked all the way through is to test the temperature. Using an instant-read thermometer check the temperature in the middle of the pizza. Make sure you stick it all the way through to the base of the crust. You are looking for a temperature of 190°F.
Perfect Pizzas to Make Next
Ditch over-priced deep-dish pizza from the restaurant and make this authentic Chicago-style deep-dish pizza instead! Perfectly flaky crust topped with gooey mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, and homemade chunky tomato sauce take this deep-dish pizza to the next level!
If you make this recipe and love it, remember to stop back and give it a 5-star rating – it helps others find the recipe! ❤️️
Chicago Deep Dish Pizza
For the Dough:
- 3¼ cups (406.25 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (79.5 g) yellow cornmeal
- 1½ teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2¼ teaspoons (2.25 teaspoons) instant yeast
- 1¼ cups (312.5 ml) 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 (40 g) grated onion
- ¼ teaspoon (0.25 teaspoon) dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) salt
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 28 ounces (793.79 g) canned crushed tomatoes
- ¼ teaspoon (0.25 teaspoon) sugar
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the Toppings:
- 1 pound (453.59 g) mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 4 cups)
- ¼ cup (25 g) grated Parmesan cheese
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- Laminate the Dough: Turn the dough out onto dry work surface and roll into a 15×12-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 18×4-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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Equipment: Two 9-inch round cake pans (or 10-inch cast-iron skillets)
- Topping Options: See post above for topping substitutes or additions.
- Serving suggestions: Stretch the meal for guests by adding one of the following: Italian pasta salad / Caesar salad / Garlic bread / Shaved Brussels sprouts salad
- Freezing the Dough: You can freeze the dough during step #4. After shaping the dough into balls, instead of allowing them to rise, wrap in plastic wrap, place in a freezer-safe bag, and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then rise at room temperature before proceeding with step #5.
- Leftovers: Store any leftover pizza in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Reheating: Pizza can be reheated in the microwave, toaster oven, on a griddle, or in a skillet on the stove.
- Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated
Photography by Lauren Grant.