Craving Chicago pizza, but don’t live in Chicago? Well good news — It’s super easy to make at home! This Chicago Deep Dish Pizza is without a doubt, the best in the world! With it’s flaky, buttery deep dish crust, layers of ooey gooey cheeses and customizable toppings, and a thick layer of the most flavourful tomato sauce — no other pizza compares!
I absolutely love pizza! I mean, who doesn’t? Thick and chewy crust topped with sweet tomato sauce, hot gooey mozzarella and tasty toppings — it’s definitely my top 3 favourite comfort foods! Now I don’t travel much, nor do I go around hunting for the best pizza in town, but the first time I tried a Chicago deep dish pizza, I fell in love.
So what makes Chicago Style Pizza so unique and superior to the others? Well, not only is it built differently than a regular pizza, but the dough is flakier, the sauce is thicker, the cheese is gooey-er (is that a word?) and all these layers combined create the greatest pizza anyone could ever ask for!
This is the textbook definition of a “pizza pie”. Instead of being baked on a regular pizza pan or pizza stone, it’s baked in a deep cake pan! This is so we can make the crust nice and high so it can hold in every delicious layer.
Speaking of the layers, they’re added in a completely opposite order from a regular pizza. First goes the deep dish crust, then on top of that we add the cheese, pizza toppings, and lastly, the sauce. I heard the sauce is supposed to be on top to prevent the crust from getting soggy. Whether that’s true or not, it’s completely genius!
There are two very important parts to this pizza: the crust and the sauce.
Chicago pizza dough is a bit different from regular pizza dough. It’s incredibly flaky, tender and buttery. Pizza crust pizza perfection! For the crust, I used my own Pizza Dough recipe and gave it a Chicago twist!
I reduced some of the flour and replaced it with yellow cornmeal. Cornmeal already does wonders when you dust it on a basic pizza pan or stone, because it gives the crust a nice, crunchy texture. This time we’re actually adding the cornmeal into the dough to get that perfect crunchy texture and authentic flavour all throughout the crust!
Let’s break down all the ingredients that go into my Chicago pizza crust!
Warm Water — The water should be around 110-115˚F. You don’t exactly need a thermometer for this, simply test the water by holding your hand/wrist under the tap. The water should be warm enough to keep your wrist there, it shouldn’t burn. If the water is too hot it will kill the yeast, preventing it from foaming up.
Yeast — Make sure your yeast is fresh. If you have to question it, I recommend buying a new package. Some recipes call for mixing the yeast and all of the other ingredients together, but I prefer to proof the yeast with the warm water and sugar. Doing this will allow you to see if your yeast is active or not. If it’s not, you can easily dump it out and try again with more water and a fresh new package of yeast.
Sugar — This is food for they yeast and helps it foam up.
Melted Butter and Olive Oil — this adds a lot of flavour and makes our crust extra soft and buttery! We also brush some olive oil onto the rim of the crust before baking. This makes the crust nice and golden brown.
Flour — I used unbleached all-purpose flour, but you can use bread flour or even whole wheat flour for a healthier version. Also, it’s very important that you measure the flour correctly. I remember my first time trying to make pizza dough. I didn’t measure the flour properly and my crust was pretty much the same texture as a cracker. To measure correctly, use a flour scoop or spoon to scoop and sprinkle the flour into your measuring cup. Fill the flour over the top of the measuring cup, then use the back of a butter knife to scrape off the excess flour.
Yellow Cornmeal — As I mentioned above, cornmeal adds flavour to the crust and gives it a nice crispy texture!
Salt — this is what gives the crust flavour and keeps it from being bland.
Garlic Powder — this is optional, but a small amount of garlic powder will add a lot of flavour to the crust, making it as tasty as your delicious toppings!
Another secret to this dough is laminating! What’s laminating? It’s basically rolling out the dough, slather some butter on top, rolling it up, then rolling it out to trap all that butter into the crust! This process creates those gorgeous, buttery and flaky layers and texture that’s key in a great deep dish pizza.
Thick and Flavourful Sauce
Moving on to the sauce. Another key to achieving Chicago Deep Dish victory is a thick and flavourful sauce. I used my recipe for The Perfect Pizza Sauce which is, luckily, very similar to deep dish pizza sauce! My homemade sauce works perfectly as a base for regular pizzas AND to top deep dish pizzas. Win – win!
This sauce requires 15 ingredients — but don’t let that scare you away! These are very basic ingredients that you may have on hand already:
Olive Oil and Butter — this is the base of the sauce. The olive oil is used to cook the onions and spices in, and it’s the best type of oil you can have in the sauce. The butter just adds some extra flavour to the entire sauce.
Onion — for this recipe, we don’t slice or dice the onions, we grate them. Even tho it’s an extra pain in the eyes, it’s necessary to add a ton of moisture and flavour to the sauce. I used 1 small onion which yielded about 1/3 cup.
Garlic Cloves — a flavour powerhouse that does great things in this sauce!
Spices — oregano, basil, Italian seasoning, onion powder, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper are all used to give the sauce a ton of flavour! You want the sauce to be incredibly flavourful, especially since we’re gonna be piling it on top of the pizza rather than spreading a little bit on the bottom.
Tomato Sauce and Tomato Paste — Make sure you choose the best-quality canned tomatoes for the most excellent flavour. When adding the tomatoes, I like to add a little bit of water to the can, swirl it around, and pour it into the sauce. I usually do this to clean the jars completely and get every last bit of tomato in the sauce. Even without the extra water the sauce will be watery, so to thicken it up we’re gonna add a can of tomato paste.
Parmesan Cheese — Yup, you heard right. Or read? Either way, we’re gonna add a few tablespoons of parmesan cheese to enrich and thicken the sauce! The flavour is very subtle, but it does wonderful things to the sauce.
Sugar — as with all tomato sauces, we add a tiny bit of sugar to give the sauce a little bit of sweetness and mask the acidity in the tomatoes.
It is very important that your sauce is nice and thick. For my first attempt at this recipe, I accidentally added too much water to the sauce and didn’t let it simmer longer to thicken up. When adding it to the top of the deep dish pizza, I could already tell it was way too thin.
After it was done baking and cooling, I cut into it and all the sauce slid off the top and pooled around the pizza. It still tasted great, but it looked horrible. You need to let this sauce simmer for at least 30 minutes, or longer if the sauce is still too thin. We want all the flavours to develop and meld together. Trust me, the extra time will totally be worth it in the end!
Cake Pan vs Springform Pan vs Deep Dish Pan
Let’s talk about the pan for a minute. This recipe makes two 9-inch pizzas, so you’ll need to use a 9-inch cake pan. Here’s the thing though, cake pans aren’t very deep so I used a 9-inch Springform Pan which is a lot deeper than a normal cake pan.
I also like using springform pans because I can unlatch the ring, making the pizza easier to slice into. There’s also deep dish pizza pans available that you can use to make a larger 12-14-inch pizza. If you choose to do this, don’t split the dough in half. The recipe will be enough to make one large deep dish pizza.
Alright, we got the crust and the sauce, now comes the fun part — stuffing the pizza with your favourite toppings! I started with two layers of two different cheeses, provolone and mozzarella. You can use shredded cheese if you want, but I decided to use sliced provolone and mozzarella because it tastes better and it creates the gooey-est cheese ever. I mean look!
I then topped the cheese with a generous layer of pepperoni and another layer of hot Italian sausages. The sausage doesn’t need to be cooked, just remove the casings, tear up the sausage and spread it on the pizza. The sausage will cook up perfectly in the oven so no need to worry!
Of course, if you don’t like pepperoni or sausage on your pizza, you can fill it with anything you want. Fill it with sautéed vegetables, tomatoes, chicken, mushrooms, anchovies, anything you like! You can also keep it simple with only cheese to make a plain deep dish cheese pizza.
Once you’ve added your toppings, pile on the thick sauce, sprinkle with a bit of parmesan and it’s ready to bake!
And there you have it! A delicious, authentic tasting Chicago Deep Dish Pizza made in the comfort of your own kitchen! Wait about 10-15 minutes before slicing into the pizza so the filling can set up and the sauce won’t slip off. Also, you gotta eat this with a knife and fork, there’s absolutely no other way. Enjoy!
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Find the step-by-step visual guide below the recipe.
SHOP THE RECIPE
These are the tools I used and recommend for making this recipe:
Kitchenaid Stand Mixer — Although you can knead the dough by hand, using the dough hook on a Kitchenaid Mixer makes the dough making process a million times easier!
Pro Smart Slicer — I used this for grating the onions. As everyone knows, grating onions is a pain in the eyes but the pro smart slicer makes the process quicker and simpler.
9-inch Cake Pan — This recipe yields 2 9-inch pizzas, so you’ll need to use a 9-inch cake pan.
9-inch Springform Pan — Cake pans aren’t very deep so I used a 9-inch Springform Pan which is a lot deeper than a normal cake pan. I also like using springform pans because I can unlatch the ring, making the pizza easier to slice into.
14-inch Deep Dish Pizza Pan — You can use a deep dish pan to make one large deep dish pizza, rather than two smaller ones.
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Optional Toppings for Both Pizzas:
For the Dough:
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Step by Step Visual Guide
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, or in a large mixing bowl, combine the water, yeast and sugar. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes or until the yeast is foamy.
Add the melted butter and olive oil.
Add 3 and 1/4 cups of flour, cornmeal, salt and garlic powder to the yeast mixture and mix on low speed, or by hand using a wooden spoon until combined, about 1 minute.
Increase your mixer speed to medium-low (2 on a kitchenaid) and knead the dough until it’s smooth, elastic and starts to pull away from the sides, about 7-10 minutes. If not using a stand mixer, turn dough onto a floured surface and knead by hand.
If the dough is too wet and sticky after 5 minutes of mixing, add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time. Test your dough by poking it with your finger, if it bounces back it’s ready.
Lightly grease a large bowl with cooking spray or olive oil. Remove the dough from mixing bowl and shape into a ball. Place into greased bowl and turn to coat it in the oil.
Loosely cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1-1 and ½ hours.
Once dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn it out onto a floured work space.
Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 15×12-inch rectangle. Spread remaining softened 1/4 cup of butter on top.
Starting on the long side, roll the dough into a tight log and pinch the seams to seal. Roll over the dough again to seal in the butter.
Divide dough into 2 equal portions and fold each half into thirds.As you can see, I didn’t exactly roll my dough tight enough, but it didn’t effect my crust in the slightest.
Pinch all the seams. At this point you can wrap the dough balls and refrigerate overnight or freeze until ready to use. Thaw out frozen dough in the refrigerator overnight and proceed with remaining steps.
If using the dough right away, shape both halves into balls and place back into the greased bowl. Lightly cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in the refrigerator for an additional 1 hour, or until doubled in size. The dough rises in the refrigerator so the butter can chill. Just like in a pie crust, it is important for the butter to be chilled because once we put it in the oven, the butter will melt. This will create multiple layers of pure flakiness.
Preheat oven to 425° F. Remove one ball of dough from the refrigerator and place onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll into a 13″-inch circle.
Carefully roll the dough over the rolling pin, lift it up and un-roll it over a 9-inch cake pan of a 9-inch springform pan.
Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. You may have to work it a bit to get the sides high enough. If your pan is deep enough, it may not reach all the way to the top. Repeat with the second ball of dough.
Brush the edges of the dough with olive oil. Fill each pizza with a layer of provolone, mozzarella (I used slice but if you use shredded you’ll need 2 cups per pizza), pepperoni and sausage. The sausage doesn’t need to be cooked, just remove it from its casings and tear it into pieces. Top both pizzas with the sauce, make sure the top is completely covered. Garnish the tops with a generous amount of grated parmesan.
Place pizzas onto a large baking sheet to catch any spills. Bake in preheated oven for 24-30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. I like to move my pizza to the top rack for the final 2-3 minutes to really brown that crust.
Remove pizzas from oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before slicing. This is super important! You want the filling to set up or else everything will spill out when you slice into it. Enjoy!