Chicago is a beautiful place not only known for its talented people but also for its unorthodox deep-dish pizzas. This post is here to give you the best Chicago-style Pizza Recipes out there.
For most New Yorkers or people who did not grow up in Chicago, deep-dish pizzas are often seen as unusual and sometimes treated as another dish and not actually a pizza.
Of course, we cannot blame those people from thinking that way since they have associated a great and authentic pizza as something with thin crust with just enough sauce and cheese.
The deep-dish pizza of Chicago is a very great topic to ponder and see whether it is truly a pizza or not. Spoiler alert! Deep-dish pizza IS still a pizza and most importantly it is delicious.
While not every one of us will agree to that, let us explain to you how it is treated as another kind of pizza and not just another kind of weird pie.
Chicago-style pizza or Deep-dish pizza is a concoction of sauce, cheese, and toppings that are labeled as ‘fillings’. If you come to think of it, those are the basic ingredients of a pizza.
Deep-dish pizza is a thick layer of the mentioned ingredients baked in a pan with at least 2 to 3 inches of crust that was lightly fried while baking.
At first glance, you are most likely to associate it with pie instead of flatbread. It is the unusually thick and deep crust of the Chicago-style pizza that separates it from other kinds of pizza.
It may look like a pie but the truth is, the crust is still pretty standard in making pizza with thin to the medium-thick crust which is just shaped in a different way to accommodate the other ingredients.
So here are the best Chicago-style Pizza Recipes that you can cook if you are into a lot of toppings while keeping the crust crispy.
History of Deep Dish Pizza
Deep-dish pizza is a pizza that is commonly known and originated in Chicago. It was introduced during the 1940s by a well-known Pizzeria called Pizzeria Uno.
Then it spread like wildfire and more and more pizzerias have patterned their pizzas with that of Pizzeria Uno’s. The Original Gino’s Pizza which is now closed also took part in making deep-dish pizzas.
Deep-dish pizza has the basic components of a pizza: The dough, Sauce, Cheese, and of course, the baking and cooking process.
The crust is relatively thicker than most pizzas but it is made that way so it can handle the overstuffed ingredients that are also arranged in an unorthodox pattern.
This kind of pizza is baked in a round, deep (as the name suggests) pan while the crust is spread throughout the surface of the pan instead of only the bottom.
How does deep-dish differ from stuffed pizza?
Both of these amazing pizzas originated in Chicago, they both have thick crusts and are cooked in a deep pan but they have components that differ from each other.
For one, the deep-dish pizza is a single pizza with a lot of sauce, cheese, and stuffing all put into one layer of crust.
While the stuffed pizza is basically a concoction of all the ingredients that are layered. So it is a combination of sauce, cheese, and toppings that are stuffed in between multiple crusts.
The stuffed pizza of Chicago is known as the thickest pizza in the world that started in the mid-1970s and is still popular up to this day.
Since both of these pizzas are a lot thicker than the ones we are used to, they are cooked for longer in the oven to attain crispiness of the crust and for the toppings to be cooked properly.
Deep-Dish Pizza Dough
When it comes to the crust of your pizza, you would definitely want them to be more crispy instead of soggy.
Now, since deep-dish pizzas have a lot of sauce, cheese, and fillings in it, you will need to have a thick crust to prevent leaks and it might cost you the crispiness if you do so.
However, the ingredients used in a deep-dish pizza is great for the thick crust and long periods of cooking time while maintaining the crispiness despite the huge amount of other ingredients.
Usually, the deep-dish pizza dough is made from wheat flour or semolina flour. The pan that is used is also coated with butter or corn oil which gives the yellowish color of the crust.
The oil or butter that is put in the pan before cooking is what also makes the crust crispy since the long period of cooking somehow fries the crust while the other ingredients are baking.
Best Deep Dish Pizza Recipe-
For the Sauce, you will need:
¼ Cup of chopped onions
2 or 3 minced garlic cloves
28 ounces of peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon of basil
Half tablespoon of Bay leaves
Salt and Pepper
For the Pizza itself, you will need:
1 pound sausage
2 tablespoon of virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of cornmeal
4 cups of mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoon of parmesan cheese (grated)
First, you should start off with the sauce.
1. Drain the water from the tomatoes and then chop them into smaller pieces.
2. Saute the garlic and onions in a pan with the virgin olive oil.
3. After the garlic and the onions have been cooked and are golden brown, add the tomatoes.
4. Add the basil and bay leaves as well as the tomato juice that you have drained from the can.
5. Add some salt and pepper and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
While waiting for the sauce, start prepping your sausage by removing the peel and shaping it into a huge circle big enough that it will fit into your cast-iron skillet.
Then, pick up the large patty of sausage and then fry it in a different pan until it is halfway cooked. You should also start your oven and preheat it to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once you have cooked the patty, start assembling the pizza in your cast-iron skillet, or in this case, a cheesecake springform pan will do.
1. Put some olive oil in the pan and brush it around until all the surface of the pan is covered with oil. One tablespoon will do for an average-sized pan.
2. Sprinkle some cornmeal into the pan so that the dough will not stick too much to the pan
3. Then place the dough in the pan. Push it down and make sure that it covers the pan including the sides.
4. You can poke some holes in the dough and then brush a little more olive oil on the dough before proceeding to the next step.
5. Then as generous as you can, put the mozzarella cheese on top of the dough. Spread it evenly on the dough’s surface.
6. Then place the sausage on top of the cheese. You do not need to disassemble it, the patty will be great on top of the cheese.
7. You can then proceed to put this in your oven for 10 minutes or until the crust has a light golden brown color.
Go back to your sauce and see if you have the preferred taste and consistency of the sauce. Add water if it is too creamy or let it simmer more if it is too watery.
The next step is to get the pizza out of the oven after you have seen the right color on the crust. Then proceed to step 8.
8. Put all the sauce on top of the sausage and spread it evenly.
9. Put the pizza back in the oven for another 7 to 10 minutes. Make sure that the crust is cooked properly before taking it out of the oven again.
10. Then sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top of the pizza, drizzle some olive oil, and then put it back in the oven for two minutes, just enough time for the parmesan to melt.
11. Finally, you can cut up your deep-dish sausage pizza and then serve while it is still hot.
If you want a more healthy option, you can put some vegetables in your deep-dish pizza and follow this video for the full recipe. You can also cook a regular meat deep-dish pizza and top it off with fresh vegetables.
For the fillings
-1 tablespoon of olive oil
-¼ cup of chopped onions
-2 minced garlic cloves
-1 large red bell pepper (sliced)
-1 bowl of spinach
-3 leaves of basil (chopped)
-1 teaspoon of dried thyme
-1 teaspoon of salt
-1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
Saute all of the ingredients starting with the garlic and onions. Put the red bell peppers next and then the spinach along with the rest of the ingredients.
One the spinach has reduced, remove the pan from the heat.
-1 cup of warm water
-1 tablespoon of active yeast
-1 teaspoon of sugar
-4 cups of all-purpose flour
-1 cup of semolina flour
-1 teaspoon of salt
-1 tablespoon olive oil.
Get the Dough Right…
1. Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl with the warm water.
2. Start off with the active yeast and then the sugar.
3. Add the flour and the rest of the ingredients.
4. Knead with hand until the mixture is even.
5. Cover the dough with a clean towel and then let it rest for at least an hour.
-1 cup Mozzarella cheese
-1 cup parmesan
-4 cups tomato sauce
1. Spread the dough in a deep pan by pressing it down making sure that the bottom and all the sides of the pan are covered.
2. Put the mozzarella on top of the dough.
3. Spread half of the sauce on top of the cheese.
4. Put the fillings in the pot and spread it evenly.
5. Add another layer of mozzarella and the parmesan cheese.
6. Put the rest of the sauce on top of the fillings.
7. Put as much black olives, fresh basil, and pepper flakes as you want on the sauce.
8. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes under 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
9. Take the pizza out of the oven and then out of the pan, slice, and then serve!
Tips on cooking the Perfect Chicago Style Pizza
Step 1. Prepare the Pan
Deep-dish pizzas all start with the right pan to be used in cooking. The common pan for deep-dish is a round cast-iron pan that has no handles.
The cast-iron pans usually resemble the tin pans that are used when you are making your homemade apple pie or any pie for that matter.
Since these pans are drizzled with oil or brushed with butter before cooking, they season very well and there is one little secret that comes to cooking the perfect deep-dish pizza.
The pans are never washed. That’s right, deep-dish pizza is cooked in the same pans that were only wiped after using and stored in a clean place.
The fact that the pans are not washed allows them to be seasoned beautifully and just a wipe of soft cloth will do the job for the cleaning of the pan.
Step 2. The Dough
Well for one, the dough does not differ much from the common pizza. The ingredients can be the same and the main difference is that you need to make it thicker.
Once you have kneaded your dough properly, shape it flat, and then push it down into the pan. Make sure that the dough can cover the pan fully up to the sides of it.
The dough that is pressed on the pan will be cooked first since it has direct contact with the heat from the pan and is fried by the oil or the butter.
Step 3. The Layers
Now, this might sound weird but weird is nothing new with deep-dish pizza. The layers of fillings are constructed in an unusual way and we will explain that later.
After you have placed the dough into the pan, the cheese follows right away. The cheese next to the dough will serve as a protective layer for the other ingredients.
Then, you can add toppings such as meat. If you are putting raw meat in your deep-dish pizza, make sure to put a thin layer so that it is properly baked inside.
If you have two types of meat, for example, sausage and pepperoni, you can arrange them like this: Dough – Cheese – Thin layer of Sausage – Cheese again – Pepperoni.
That should be the arrangement so all of them will cook evenly. The sausage should be placed at the bottom so all the fats will seep into the bottom of the pizza and be burned.
You can repeat that kind of layering until you have filled the pan three-quarters full. If you have vegetables with the pizza, you should put them in the middle so they do not get overcooked.
Finally, fill the remaining quarter of the pan with your sauce. As we have mentioned before, the layering is a little unusual because of the following reasons.
Not only does the cheese protect the dough from the wet sauce, but it is also placed at the bottom of the layering so it does not get burned in the long session of cooking.
Since the deep-dish pizza requires a lot more time in the oven, the sauce will serve as a protective measure so that the other ingredients do not get burned.
Because of this, the sauce that is used in deep-dish pizzas should always be fresh to avoid uneven bakes and burnt areas which is the purpose of the sauce in the first place.
Step 4. Baking
As you were preparing the pizza, you should have started the oven and preheat it to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. You can still let your pizza rest and wait for the oven to heat up if you forgot it.
Once the oven reaches this temperature, lift the pan carefully and place it in the middle rack of your oven. If you are using a portable pizza oven such as the Ooni Pro or Ooni Koda 16, make sure that you have it at the right temperature.
Under 425 degrees Fahrenheit, the deep-dish pizza should be cooked in less than 30 minutes. In the halfway mark of cooking, you can cover the pizza with aluminum foil.
The aluminum foil will let the steam cook the remaining ingredients while protecting the sauce. The aluminum cover should not be pressed down and you need to allow a little bit of air space.
Take the pizza out of the oven by using gloves or other tools to lift the hot pan out of the oven and then you can top it off with parmesan if you like.
Slice the pizza into the desired number of pieces and enjoy!
Step 5. Eating the Pizza
Once you have sliced the pizza, the layers should look perfect. The crust should have an L-shape and the layers are perfectly cooked.
Eating a deep-dish pizza is nothing less than a freestyle. You can use a fork, spoon, knife, or anything that cuts through the thick layers and the crispy crust.
You can also go in right away and use your hands and get as messy as you want. Either way, you can enjoy the pizza however you want, just be careful and make sure that you can handle the heat.
After one or two slices, you will be most likely full so in case you and your family have some extra slices, you can refrigerate them for up to five days.
Reheating the pizza will be easy. Just put the refrigerated slices back to the pan and then heat them up for 15 minutes under 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Always remember, you can mix up the fillings with whatever you want. If you are an all-meat person, you can watch this video on how to cook a deep-dish pizza with sausage.
Deep-dish pizza is considered as the top-tier pizza in Chicago and to be honest, you really cannot put Chicago-style Pizza without mentioning Deep-dish Pizza.
It may seem complicated at first but it is really easy. Just follow the steps mentioned above or use the videos that are embedded in this post for a hands-on guide.
Just remember to always observe your intake since a deep-dish pizza involves a lot of ingredients and along with the great taste, having too much might cause some health problems.
Try out the recipes above and see which one is best. Let us know what you think about the unorthodox yet amazing and tasty deep-dish Chicago-style pizza!