Food and Nutrition
Food and Nutrition
Food and Nutrition
Food and Nutrition

Detroit vs Chicago Style Pizza: Main Differences

Jump to RecipeA Detroit style pizza cut into pieces.

When it comes to iconic American pizzas, Detroit and Chicago styles stand out with their distinct characteristics. They each offer a unique culinary experience that has captured the hearts (and stomachs) of pizza lovers and enthusiasts.

Detroit and Chicago pizzas are both are a pan pizza with a thicker crust and loaded with toppings. These styles of pizza are know for being heavier that a traditional Neapolitan type of pizza. When you have this type of pizza you really only need a slice or two.

I am from Michigan and currently live there but I also spend most of my 20s living in Chicago so I have have my fair share pizza slices over the years. I love them both, but they each have their distinct characteristics.

What is authentic Detroit-Style Pizza?

Let's start with Detroit-style pizza, a relative newcomer to the pizza scene but gaining rapid popularity. Originating in the Motor City, this style is recognized for its rectangular shape and thick, airy crust. The crust is often crispy on the outside, yet soft and doughy on the inside, thanks to the pan it's baked in.

One thing that sets Detroit pizza apart is the cheese placement – it's spread all the way to the edges, creating a crispy, caramelized cheese crust. This type of pizza often uses a Wisconsin brick cheese to get that thick layer of cheesy goodness. This creates a delightful mix of textures, with a rich, tangy tomato sauce typically applied on top of the cheese.

Detroit stye pizza is often compared to a Sicilian pizza for it's iconic rectangular shape and thick airy crust. You can learn more about Sicilian pizzas in this post.

A Detroit style pizza on a wire rack.

What is authentic Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza?

On the other hand, Chicago-style pizza, notably the deep-dish variety, has been a longstanding favorite. Originating in the Windy City, it's characterized by its deep, buttery crust that lines a deep-dish pan. The crust serves as a sturdy foundation for layers of cheese, toppings, and a hearty tomato sauce, often chunky and flavorful.

Chicago-style pizza is a hearty and filling experience, with its thick layers making it more of a knife-and-fork affair than a traditional handheld slice. It is made in round pans and sliced in a traditional pizza slice style.

A slice of a Chicago deep dish pizza.

Difference between Detroit and Chicago Pizza?

While both styles have a thick crispy crust and generous toppings, the key differences lie in the crust texture, cheese placement, and overall presentation. Detroit style offers a unique combination of a crispy exterior and a doughy interior, with the distinctive cheese crust elevating its appeal. In contrast, Chicago-style pizza is renowned for its deep-dish indulgence, with a focus on creating a hearty, stacked masterpiece.

How to Make Detroit Style Pizza?

To start, you'll need the right equipment—a Detroit style pizza pan, which is typically a rectangular pan made from steel or cast iron.

When baking a Detroit style pizza you want to bake it at a high temperate around 475°F (245°C). This high temperature with ensure that it will create that perfect crust. Detroit style pizza bakes for around 20 minutes to make sure it cooks all the way through.

Next, prepare your dough. Detroit style pizza dough is slightly different from traditional pizza dough, as it often includes a blend of bread flour for chewiness and a touch of cornmeal for texture. After mixing and kneading your dough, allow it to rise until it doubles in size. Most Detroit style pizza dough recipes have at least a 24 hour rise to get that nice airy texture and flavor. The amount of time the dough will proof can really vary from recipe to recipe.

Once your dough is ready, spread it evenly into your greased Detroit style pizza pan, making sure to press it up against the edges to create that iconic crust. Then, layer on your toppings—start with a generous portion of shredded mozzarella cheese, followed by your favorite sauce, and vegetables.

How to Make Chicago Style Pizza?

Chicago style pizza is cooked at a slightly lower temperature at 425°F (220°C) but it is cooked for longer. Deep dish pizza can be cooked from 30-45 minutes. It really depends on how thick and large the pizza is.

Chicago style pizza dough is similar to traditional pizza dough but has a higher hydration level and often includes cornmeal for texture. Allow the dough to rise until it doubles in size. Then you want to place the dough in a deep dish pan.

For the toppings you start with a layer of sliced mozzarella cheese to create a barrier between the crust and the sauce, preventing sogginess. Then, add your desired toppings such as Italian sausage, onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Finish with a generous layer of chunky tomato sauce on top.

Detroit vs Chicago Style

Pizza Shape

Detroit pizza is rectangular or square shape while Chicago deep dish pizza is round. Detroit pizza is cut into squares and deep dish it cut into traditional pie slices.

Toppings

Both pizzas have a thick layer of cheese that are placed right on top of the crust. Detroit style has cheese all the way to the edges to get that cheesy crust element that Chicago pizza doesn't have. Chicago pizza often uses mozzarella cheese and sometimes provolone. Detroit style pizza is known for its use of Wisconsin brick cheese which is another soft cheese that melts really well.

As for the sauce, both pizzas have a layer of tomato sauce on top of the cheese.

Crust

The biggest difference is probably with the type of crust that these two pizza have. Detroit-style pizza crust is almost reminiscent of focaccia. It is a fairly thick crust but still airy. Detroit pizza also holds it shape really well.

Chicago-style pizza crust on the other hand is slightly softer. I would even say you might need to eat this one with a fork. It has a very buttery crust that melts in your mouth.

Do you need special pans for making Detroit or Chicago pizza?

There are pizza specific pans that you can buy for both Detroit and Chicago pizzas. There are a few reasons you might want a pizza specific pan for these styles. One is that you want a deep pan. Especially for deep dish pizza you want to have enough space to fit the thick crust, cheese and all of your toppings. The other reason is the non-stick properties of the pans. This Detroit style pizza pan and Chicago style pizza pan are both pre-seasoned. This means they are very well coasted so the crust will not stick to the pan. This really helps you get that crispy cheese crust without if getting completely stuck to the pan.

What about Chicago Tavern Style?

Another Chicago style pizza that is less popular, but may have crossed your path is the Chicago tavern style pizza. The tavern style pizza is a thin crust almost cracker crust pizza. These are hand tossed pizzas often cut into squares. If is also know as party cut pizza.

This is the pizza I found most people in Chicago enjoy on a more regular basis. While the deep-dish style is delicious, it is decedent and heavy. For a typically pizza night many Chicagoans reach for the tavern style pizza.

What about New York Style?

New York-style pizza is an iconic slice that embodies simplicity and flavor perfection. Characterized by its large, thin, and foldable slices, this pizza style focuses on quality ingredients and a classic preparation method. The crust is thin and crispy at the edges, yet pliable enough to fold without losing toppings. The tomato sauce is vibrant and tangy, complemented by generous mozzarella cheese.

New York-style pizza is a quick, on-the-go delight, often enjoyed while strolling through the bustling streets of the city. Its unmistakable combination of textures and flavors has made it a culinary symbol, earning its place as a quintessential slice of the Big Apple.

Pizza Recipes to Try

If you want to try and make Detroit or Chicago Style Pizzas at home here are a few recipes I would give a try.

if you really get into making pizzas you should try out some of the pizzas in this Perfect Pan Pizza cookbook. This was my first attempt at making Detroit style pizza and it walked through the process really well.

Whether you are enjoying a Detroit or Chicago pizza they are both delicious iconic pizzas. You can't go wrong with either one.

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