What Is A Deep Dish Pizza? The Ultimate Guide to Chicago’s Signature Dish

What Is A Deep Dish Pizza?
original pizza
Basil bowl for pizza

There’s nothing quite like sinking your teeth into a slice of Chicago-style deep dish. It is a personal favorite of mine and a culinary masterpiece that stands out in the world of Italian-American cuisine.

Known for its thick, buttery crust that’s rich in flavor and satisfyingly crunchy at the edges, this dish takes the concept of a traditional pie and takes it to new heights. The crust’s impressive depth allows for a generous layering of savory toppings, luxurious cheese, and a robust, hearty sauce.

If you want to learn more about Deep Dish Pizza, stay with me because I will share some interesting details along with some recipes and instructions on how to make this Pizza at home.

Deep Dish Pizza Guide

What Makes This Pizza Different?

What Makes Deep Dish Pizza Different

This pizza’s crust is one-of-a-kind – it’s super thick, over an inch deep! It’s made with a special mix of white flour, cornmeal and semolina. This gives it a texture and taste like no other crust.

Unlike thin, bendy slices from other pizzas, this crust stands strong and holds lots of toppings and sauce. And get this – they put the cheese on the crust first before adding meats like pepperoni or sausage and veggies like peppers and mushrooms.

They do it this way cause the thick crust takes longer to bake, so putting the cheese on the bottom protects it from getting burned. And the sauce on top is extra thick and robust, more so than regular pizzas. What they bake it in is also unique. Instead of a pizza stone, it goes in an iron skillet or round steel pan like you’d use for cake.

Seems like Deep Dish is super popular these days. Baking it this way ensures even cooking and makes the crust extra special. The result is a pizza you don’t just eat – you experience it! With all its height and richness, you’ll probably need a knife and fork to handle it.

“Did you know that the deep dish pizza’s roots are not just culinary, but also architectural? Inspired by the towering skyscrapers of Chicago, this pizza was designed to mirror the city’s famous skyline. Just as the skyscrapers rise high above the streets, the deep dish pizza stands tall on the plate, a nod to the city’s innovative spirit and bold architectural history.”

Why Is It Called Chicago-Style?

Pizzeria Uno - Story of Chicago Style Pizza

The story of Chicago-style pizza began in the 1940s, a period when the city was a melting pot of cultural and culinary innovation. Pizzeria Uno, located in Chicago, is credited with introducing this iconic style.

The founders experimented with a deeper and more substantial version of the traditional Italian pizza, aiming to create a dish that mirrored the robust character of the city itself.

The result was a culinary masterpiece that challenged the conventional thin-crust pizza, sporting a generous depth and an abundance of toppings, a reflection of Chicago’s hearty appetite.

The deep dish pizza is so ingrained in Chicago’s culture that April 5th is celebrated as Deep Dish Pizza Day in the city.”

Interestingly, while it carries the name “Chicago-style,” this pizza is often a novelty within Italy, where thinner crusts are the norm. Its uniqueness lies in its ability to combine the heartiness of a casserole with the traditional components of a pizza, creating a dish that is distinctly American.

There is huge rivalry between Chicago and New York, and one rivalries is related to who has the best Pizza, Chicago-Style or New York-Style.

What Are the Most Popular Types?

Spinach and Mushroom Deep Dish

First of all, I have to add that Chicago-style is a term used for a unique type of pizza, while there are different types of it. We can see a lot of variations like it is the case with standard pizza.

The Classic Deep Dish remains a crowd favorite. Its thick, buttery crust, layered with rich cheese, robust tomato sauce, and traditional toppings like sausage or pepperoni, captures the essence of what makes this style so beloved.

Another popular variant is the Stuffed Pizza. Similar to the deep dish, but with an added twist: a thin layer of dough above the cheese, sealing in the toppings beneath. This layer is then covered with sauce, creating a pizza that’s almost pie-like in its depth and richness.

The cheese varieties used in Chicago-style pizza play a crucial role in defining its rich flavor profiles. From the gooey mozzarella to the tangy provolone, each cheese adds its unique character to complement the hearty crust and toppings.

“The Stuffed Pizza, a celebrated variant of Chicago-style pizza, owes its invention to an interesting twist of fate. It was created in the early 1970s, when a popular Chicago pizzeria decided to experiment with leftover dough. The chefs added an extra layer of dough over the cheese, inadvertently inventing the stuffed pizza.”

Then there’s my personal favorite, the Spinach and Mushroom Deep Dish. This vegetarian option is a delightful divergence from the meat-heavy classics. The combination of fresh spinach and earthy mushrooms, nestled between layers of melted cheese and sauce, offers a lighter yet equally satisfying experience.

This version holds a special place in my heart, not only for its flavorful profile but also for its nod to the versatility of Chicago-style pizza.

How To Make Deep Dish Pizza at Home?

It’s a process that’s both fun and straightforward, allowing you to bring a piece of the Windy City into your home. As someone who enjoys cooking, I’ve found making deep dish pizza to be a delightful mix of art and science. Here’s how you can do it:

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Prepare the Dough: Start by mixing white flour, cornmeal, and semolina flour. Add yeast, sugar, salt, and warm water. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Let it rise for about 1-2 hours.
  • Shape the Dough: Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of a deep round pan, such as a cast-iron skillet or a deep-dish pizza pan.
  • Add the Cheese: Layer slices of mozzarella cheese directly on the dough. This helps prevent the crust from getting soggy.
  • Add Toppings: Place your chosen toppings like sausage, pepperoni, bell peppers, and mushrooms over the cheese.
  • Add Sauce and Cheese: Pour a thick layer of tomato sauce over the toppings. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese for extra flavor.
  • Bake the Pizza: Bake in a preheated oven at 425°F (220°C) for about 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.
  • Rest and Serve: Let the pizza cool for a few minutes before slicing. This allows the layers to set and makes it easier to serve.

Main Ingredients

Ingredient Quantity
White Flour 2 cups
Cornmeal 1/2 cup
Semolina Flour 1/4 cup
Active Dry Yeast 1 packet
Sugar 1 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Warm Water 1 cup
Mozzarella Cheese 2 cups, sliced
Toppings (your choice) To taste
Tomato Sauce 2 cups
Parmesan Cheese 1/2 cup, grated

Last Words

Deep Dish Pizza

Each style, from the classic deep dish to the stuffed and the spinach and mushroom variants, tells its own story, flavored with the essence of Chicago’s vibrant culture. These pizzas, much more than just a meal, are a celebration of innovation and tradition.

They remind me that food is not just about sustenance; it’s about the stories, the history, and the creativity that simmer together in every bite.

In the end, if you want to explore the world of Pizza to its core, you should start with the place where it all started and learn more about the legendary Authentic Neapolitan Pizza.