How To Make The Best Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

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January 22, 2018 (Last Updated: June 6, 2018)
Chicago Deep dish on a table with parmesan cheese in the lower corner and it all on a napkin

Can we make the perfect Chicago deep dish pizza? YES. We have been covering the Chicago deep dish for a few weeks now and I think I found my pizza. One that takes all of the elements of a great Chicago deep dish and brings it to fruition in a great pizza recipe. Somewhere I channeled my Chicago deep dish muse and found THE recipe. This is our best Chicago deep dish that I feel captures the essence and heritage of this pizza. Go straight to the recipe.

The Basic Construction of the Best Chicago Deep Dish

We previously looked at the elements of a great Chicago deep dish, so you can dive a bit deeper there, but here is the basic rundown. One of the defining characteristics of a Chicago deep dish is that the cheese is not on top. It is constructed with the crust, then the mozzarella cheese, THEN the ingredients, and then the sauce. You might find parmesan on top or some high moisture ingredients on top, but the bulk of the cheese is on the bottom.

The Pizza Dough

I really struggled with the dough on this one. I made several pizzas trying to get this down (the struggles of a food blogger, right?). When you look into it, it seems that there are so many opinions on the Chicago deep dish dough and what makes it great. Some claim that the Chicago deep dish pizza should be bready and huge, but this is wrong. This pizza definitely has some bulk to it, but the crust should not feel like a loaf of bread. The crust should actually be thin, but strong enough to hold the ingredients of this pizza. There is a debate on whether a Chicago deep dish should contain cornmeal or semolina flour. I chose to make my best Chicago deep dish without either.

A great Chicago deep dish dough should be thin, but able to carry quite a bit of ingredients. It should be golden brown, as though it has been fried just a tad. The edges should not be loaves of bread but have a crisp, golden brown flakiness to them.

a picture of the dough in a deep dish pizza pan

We tried so many recipes and tweaked them in so many ways, but just couldn’t get it right. Then, I found inspiration. It was getting really frustrating until I found Real Deep Dish and deep dish 101.  My best Chicago deep dish is a modified version of this recipe.

If you have gotten serious about bread baking before, you know that measurements matter. One thing I really appreciate about Deep Dish 101 is that he gives exact measurements. That can really make a difference. Just a few tablespoons of water or flour can really impact the rise and the final product. So, I have to give credit to Deep Dish 101 on the dough recipe in helping me make the best Chicago deep dish.

The Pan and a Pizza Stone

The other element that Deep Dish 101 used and helped level up my deep dish pizza abilities was the use of a pizza stone. I had originally wondered why I would need a pizza stone, as I am not cooking directly on the stone like other pizza styles. When I cook a Neapolitan, it goes directly on the stone, but Chicago deep dishes are already cooked in a pan. For this recipe, the pan goes directly on the stone. It turns out that this helps create a nice golden brown crust on the bottom and contributes to the bake of the whole pie. Make sure to give your stone enough time to warm up!

Originally, I was using my 14-inch cast iron to cook my pizzas. I think this would continue to work, but I decided to splurge and get a 12-inch pizza pan. I was also thinking about getting a spring pan, as that could make slicing much easier, but most had a rough bottom and I did not want that.

The Pizza Sauce

As indicated in my elements of a great Chicago deep dish post, the pizza sauce for this style is super simple. I used a simple 28 oz. can of petite diced tomatoes, garlic, and herbs. VIOLA! Unlike my other pizza sauce that I cook in a pot and simmer to reduction, this is baked right on the pizza. I had tried some other crushed tomatoes and crushed my own from San Marzano canned whole tomatoes. The Cento petite diced tomatoes worked best for me.

Finally, it is important to strain these guys. We want as little loose liquid floating around in here as possible. I found out early on that too much moisture can result in pooling of liquid in your pizza when baking. That is no fun.

The Cheese

Whole milk, low-moisture mozzarella is the cheese to use. Do yourself a favor and get it sliced from the deli or slice your own. I am sure shredded will work, but it is not in the tradition of this style. Additionally, as we covered in our Macaroni and Cheese series, pre-bought shredded cheese has chemicals added. We are trying to keep in the tradition of making a GREAT dish, so I would recommend going au natural, rather than pre-bought shredded cheese with mold inhibitor and chemicals to prevent sticking.

adding mozzarella to the deep dish dough in a deep dish pan

Toppings for this Deep Dish Pizza

Well, this is completely up to you. I am going to keep in Chicago tradition and make this a sausage pizza. For any ingredients that are high in moisture, I drain them. For example, my wife likes pepperoncini and pineapple. Of course, I try to cook to her taste.  I will throw these high moisture ingredients in a strainer for a while to get as much of the moisture out as possible.

Cutting and Serving the Pizza

The deep dish can be a little tricky to cut and serve (hence, why I was thinking about using a spring pan). What I did was cut the best I could using my pizza cutter. Then, using a knife, I cut the small corners to ensure that the pieces were separated before I tried removing the slices. When everything was cut, I used my pie server to move the pieces to the plate. Remember, this is a bulky pizza and is best served on a plate.

Products I Used In This Recipe

  1. 12-inch Chicago Deep Dish Pizza Pan
  2. KitchenAid Professional Mixer
  3. Pizza Stone

The Best Chicago Deep Dish Recipe

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Chicago Deep dish on a table with parmesan cheese in the lower corner and it all on a napkin

How To Make The Best Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

  • Author: Ben Myhre
  • Prep Time: 2 Hours 30 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 Minutes
  • Total Time: 3 Hours
  • Yield: 8 Slices
  • Category: Pizza
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Chicago

Description

This Chicago Deep Dish is the best recipe there is and it is easy. So, make your family happy today and make this pizza!


Ingredients

  • 283 grams bread flour
  • 170 grams lukewarm water
  • 54 grams peanut oil
  • 2 grams active dry yeast
  • 2 grams salt
  • 1 gram sugar
  • 1 pound of whole milk low-moisture mozzarella, sliced
  • 14 ounces of Italian Sausage, uncooked
  • Other Toppings (Optional)
  • 1 batch of the best Chicago deep dish sauce
  • ¼ cup of freshly grated parmesan

Instructions

  1. In large mixing bowl, add water, sugar and salt
  2. Mix
  3. Sprinkle yeast on top and let sit for 5 minutes
  4. Add ¼ cup of flour and oil to bowl
  5. Mix
  6. Continue adding ¼ cup of flour and mixing until it is of batter consistency
  7. Add rest of flour and mix until combined
  8. Use your mixer and dough hook to mix on medium low for 1 minute OR knead by hand for 2-3 minutes
  9. Form into ball and place in bowl
  10. Lightly cover ball with oil
  11. Place plastic wrap over bowl and place in warm place for 1-2 hours OR until
  12. dough size has doubled
  13. While dough is rising, place pizza stone on bottom rack and heat oven to 500
  14. Allow stone to heat appropriately (40 minutes to 1 hour)
  15. Once dough has doubled, place dough into lightly oiled 12 inch deep dish pizza pan
  16. Spread dough to cover bottom. It should be flat and even all along the bottom.
  17. Using your pointer finger and thumb pinch up along the sides of the entirety of the pizza, creating the side crust of your pizza
  18. Add sliced mozzarella to the cover the bottom of the crust
  19. Add Italian sausage and any other ingredients you may want. Spread evenly
  20. Add deep dish pizza sauce and spread evenly
  21. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over top
  22. Place pie in oven and cook for 35 minutes
  23. Remove and and let rest for 5 minutes
  24. Enjoy!

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    Catherine
    January 22, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    Your deep dish pizza looks out of this world! I’ve never had one but I’ve always wanted to try it.

  • Reply
    Regina
    January 22, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    I can totally get behind your deep dish pizza! Thin crust with a load of toppings sounds absolutely perfect to me

  • Reply
    Lauren
    January 22, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    You are totally speaking my language! This looks incredible!

  • Reply
    Elizabeth
    January 22, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    OMG YES! I’m obsessed with deep dish pizza but have never tried making my own. This looks incredible!

  • Reply
    Veena Azmanov
    January 22, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    These definitely look interesting. Something I might have to try.

  • Reply
    Gina
    January 22, 2018 at 6:11 pm

    My brother in law is Italian he will be very pleased with this recipe!

  • Reply
    Cathleen @ A Taste of Madness
    January 22, 2018 at 8:37 pm

    I love me a good deep dish pizza. Loved how you broke it down into manageable sections. Now I can freestyle a pizza with your instructions 😉

  • Reply
    Jenna
    January 22, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    Looks great, when do I get a slice?

  • Reply
    Mary
    January 22, 2018 at 9:13 pm

    Wow. This looks incredible. Chicago style pizza is king! 😊 Love the post – thank you!

  • Reply
    Amy Nash
    January 22, 2018 at 10:35 pm

    Such a thorough look at an iconic pizza! We love Chicago deep dish and make it frequently on Fridays when we have family over for movie night, although I tend to stick with plain old cheese. That first picture makes me want to dig right in!

  • Reply
    Alicia Taylor
    January 23, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    I haven’t had deep dish pizza in a long time. I’m like your wife – I like Pinapple on my pizza – but usually with mushrooms. I’ve never had it with pepperoncini. That sounds interesting. My husband would love your sausage version, though.

  • Reply
    Elaine @ Dishes Delish
    January 24, 2018 at 7:44 pm

    Chicago Deep dish pizza is one of my favorites!! I simply adore sausage in my deep dish pizza! Your recipe looks perfect! Simply perfect!!

  • Reply
    Ashley @ Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen
    January 25, 2018 at 9:35 am

    This looks SOOOO good! I lived in WI about 1 1/2 hours from Chicago for many years and loved getting pizzas like this when I’d visit. I’m going to have to try this one at home – my stomach is growling over here!

  • Reply
    Jeff the Chef
    January 26, 2018 at 12:12 am

    I agree with you about the crust. It shouldn’t be thicker than it needs to be. The deep dishes I’ve had here in Chi-town use a crust that seem biscuit-like to me. I think that’s what you’re referring to when you say “flaky,” but I usually find them to be heavier than what I’d think flaky would describe. (Flaky would be fantastic!) I also agree with you about the plate, although I tend to carve away at a slice with a knife and fork until I’ve whittled it down to the point that I can finish it off by hand.

  • Reply
    Patti @Patty Cake's Pantry
    January 26, 2018 at 1:27 am

    Ben, I would pity you for all of the pizza you’ve had to eat to achieve this perfect recipe, but…..It’s PIZZA! I think you’re right about the crust, and I love those slices of whole milk mozzarella in the bottom, too. I’m seriously drooling. Excellent recipe.

  • Reply
    Jenni
    January 26, 2018 at 6:17 am

    We love Chicago Deep Dish! Its so great, and I love that the cheese is hidden inside! Love how you break down the steps into easy and manageable parts!

  • Reply
    dixya @food, pleasure, and health
    January 27, 2018 at 6:23 am

    on that note, its time to invest in a pizza stone. i love making homemade pizza and your version looks too good not to try it.

  • Reply
    Abby @ WinsteadWandering
    January 28, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    One of the toughest parts of being a food blogger is being forced to try so many variations of a recipe like deep dish pizza. It’s taxing, I tell you. But thanks for taking one for the pizza-loving team and sharing your secrets!

  • Reply
    Lynette
    January 29, 2018 at 1:01 pm

    Yeeeeessss! We make pizza every Friday night but I’ve never made deep dish. I’m going to try this recipe this weekend. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Chicago Deep Dish Meat Lover Pizza - Ramshackle Pantry
    January 29, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    […] meat. I am not going to lie to you and say that this pizza is that much different than the original best Chicago deep dish recipe, but I needed an excuse to make this monster pizza. So here we […]

  • Reply
    Karen
    May 16, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    Deep dish – I always say you gotta go big! This looks incredibly good.

    • Reply
      Ben
      May 16, 2018 at 3:20 pm

      I tell you what, it is incredibly good. I just made this 2 days ago at the request of my wife. Still good.

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