Deep dish pizza is made with a tender, flaky crust that is topped with gooey cheese, Italian sausage, and lots of thick, flavorful sauce. Grab a fork and get ready to dig into something special!
The ongoing debate on whether Chicago-style deep dish pizza or New York-style pan pizza is best may never be settled, but one thing we can all agree on is that Americans love pizza! Both deep dish and pan pizzas are undeniably delicious, and despite being made with similar ingredients, they are two totally different things.
What makes a deep dish pizza different?
The crust: The crust for a deep dish pizza is made with a much higher fat content than traditional pizza. It's also thicker and more tender and flaky. Kind of similar to a pie crust. Because it's baked in a deep pan it has plenty of room for lots of toppings and plenty of sauce.
Toppings: The toppings are added in an order different from pan-style pizza. The cheese, typically low-moisture mozzarella, is spread over the bottom right on top of the dough and then gets covered with the toppings, followed by the sauce. Italian sausage is the most popular topping for Chicago-style deep dish pizza, but feel free to use any toppings you prefer.
Sauce: There's a lot more of it and it's also chunkier than regular pizza sauce. You can use store-bought if you prefer, but my homemade sauce is pretty dang good and always gets rave reviews!
Laminated dough: Another key difference in deep dish pizza is that the dough is laminated. Laminating dough creates lots of flaky layers, just like with croissants or biscuits. Fortunately, unlike making croissants which can take days(!!!), for pizza, the laminating process is extremely easy and takes like 5 seconds.
What You Need to Make Deep Dish Pizza:
- Pan: You can make the pizza in a round cake pan, but I highly recommend using a springform pan. If you don't have one you should definitely get one! They aren't expensive and you can make so many things with them like pies and cheesecake. I especially like them for deep dish pizzas because the high sides help contain the ingredients better, and the removable bottom makes slicing and serving 1000 x easier.
- Active dry yeast: Gives the dough texture and causes it to rise.
- Warm water: Warm water activates the yeast and binds all of the ingredients together. Just make sure the water isn't too hot or it will kill the yeast. It should be between 100-115° F or warm to the touch.
- Olive oil: Added to the dough plus more for coating the bowl and for greasing the pan.
- Butter: Unsalted, melted, and slightly cooled. You don't want it to be too hot or it can kill the yeast.
- Sugar: Sugar feeds the yeast causing it to ferment, it also makes the crust crispier and keeps moisture inside the dough.
- Salt: Crucial for flavor.
- All-purpose flour: All-purpose flour creates a tender and flaky crust that is standard for deep dish pizza.
- Cornmeal: Cornmeal in the dough makes the crust crunchy and flavorful.
- Butter: Unsalted and softened to room temperature. For laminating the dough.
- Mozzarella cheese: Freshly shredded or sliced.
- Mild Italian sausage: Cooked and crumbled. Or any pizza toppings you prefer.
- Sauce: Homemade sauce tastes so much better than store-bought, and my sauce recipe comes highly recommended! You will need about 2 cups of sauce, if using store-bought aim for one that's on the chunkier side.
Tips for Making Deep Dish Pizza:
- Make sure your yeast is alive. Let it sit and dissolve in the water with sugar, olive oil, and melted butter for a few minutes. Little bubbles forming on the surface are signs that the yeast is alive.
- Making pizza dough is generally easier in a stand mixer, but if you don't have one you can definitely make it by hand! Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands by pushing it away from you with the palm of your hand, then bring it back towards you and push it away again. Lightly coat your hands with flour as needed if the dough starts sticking. Form the dough into a ball and gently make an indent with your finger. If it bounces back then it's ready, if not, keep kneading until it does. Kneading by hand usually takes around 8-12 minutes.
- Grease the inside of your pan with olive oil before adding the dough to it. This helps the crust get nice and crispy.
- Let the pizza cool for a few minutes before slicing. This gives the sauce a chance to set a little. If you're using a springform pan you don't have to wait as long to slice it.
Note: This recipe makes enough dough for 2 - 9" deep dish pizzas. If you're making both then you will need to double the sauce and topping ingredients, or if you're only making one, wrap the second portion of dough in plastic wrap and place in a large plastic bag. Keep in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge when ready to use.
More Bread Recipes:
- Homemade Pizza Dough
- Homemade French Bread
- Rosemary Focaccia Bread
- Braided Easter Bread
- Homemade Bagels
- Jumbo Soft Pretzels
Deep Dish Pizza Recipe
- 9" springform pan* or cake pan
For the Dough: (Makes enough for 2 - 9" deep-dish pizzas)
- 2 and ¼ tsp. active dry yeast, 1 standard packet
- 1 and ¼ cup lukewarm water, not hot, 100-110°F
- 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1 and ½ tsp. salt
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for coating the bowl and pan
- ¼ cup cornmeal
- 3 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
Tomato Sauce: (For 1 - 9" deep-dish pizza) (Makes 2 cups of sauce)
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- ½ cup onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp. garlic, minced
- 2 (14.5 oz. cans) Italian-style diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 and ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. pepper
- 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
Pizza toppings: (For 1 - 9" deep-dish pizza)
- 8 oz. mozzarella, freshly shredded or sliced
- ½ lb. mild Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled
Make the Pizza Dough:
- Add the active dry yeast, warm water, sugar, olive oil, and melted butter to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Mix until frothy and let sit for a few minutes to activate the yeast.
- Add the salt, cornmeal, and flour and mix on low speed or with a wooden spatula until the dough starts to come together. If using a stand mixer: Turn the speed up to high and knead until the dough is coming off of the sides of the bowl. About 8 minutes If making by hand: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, coat your hands with flour and knead with your hands by pushing it away from you with the palm of your hand, then fold it back towards you and push it away again. Lightly coat your hands with more flour as needed if the dough starts sticking. Form the dough into a ball and gently make an indent with your finger. If it bounces back then it’s ready, if not, keep kneading until it does. Kneading by hand usually takes about 8-10 minutes.
- Form the dough into a ball and place in a bowl coated with about 1 tbsp. of olive oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 60-90 minutes.
- Punch the dough down to release the air. Lightly flour a clean surface and roll the dough out into an 18 x 10" rectangle. Spread the softened butter all around the dough and roll it up like you would cinnamon rolls into a long and skinny log.
- Cut the log in half then fold each half into thirds, like you would fold a letter. Form into a ball and place in a bowl coated with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for 1 hour or overnight.
Make the Sauce:
- Add the olive oil to a medium pot and place over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and saute until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and saute an additional minute. Stir in the drained canned tomatoes, brown sugar, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Cook for a few minutes and then pour the sauce into a blender or food processor. Pulse the sauce a few times until it's mostly smooth but still a little chunky.
- Pour the sauce back into the pot, reduce the heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Assemble and Bake:
- Preheat your oven to 425°F and grease a 9" springform pan or cake pan with olive oil.
- Remove one portion of dough from the fridge* and on a lightly floured surface roll it out into a 12" circle. Press the dough into the prepared pan and trim the edges, if necessary.
- Spread the shredded cheese evenly in the bottom on top of the dough, top with the cooked Italian sausage, then pour the sauce over the top.
- Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese, if desired.