Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza Recipe

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Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza



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Chicago-style deep dish pizza stands out in the world of pizza for its unique preparation, thick crust that lines a deep pie pan, and the reverse order of ingredients, with cheese directly on the dough followed by toppings and then sauce. This hearty, comforting dish is a staple of Chicago cuisine, and with this recipe, you can bring a slice of the Windy City into your home, no matter where you are.


For the Dough:
2 ¼ teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 ½ cups warm water (110°F)
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
½ cup cornmeal
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
For the Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
Salt and sugar, to taste
Fresh basil leaves, chopped (optional)
For the Toppings:
2 tablespoons olive oil, for greasing the pan
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 pound Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled (optional)
Additional toppings: pepperoni, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, etc. (as desired)
Grated Parmesan cheese, for finishing


Preparing the Dough:

Activate the Yeast: In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, or until frothy.

Combine the Dry Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, and salt.

Mix the Dough: Add the yeast mixture and melted butter to the dry ingredients. Mix until a dough begins to form.

Knead the Dough: Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour.

First Rise: Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Making the Sauce:

Sauté the Onion and Garlic: Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute.

Add the Tomatoes: Pour in the crushed tomatoes. Season with salt and a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add basil if using, then set aside to cool.

Assembling the Pizza:

Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C).

Prepare the Pan: Grease a 12-inch deep-dish pizza pan or cast-iron skillet with olive oil.

Shape the Dough: Punch down the risen dough and press it into the prepared pan, pushing the dough up the sides.

Add the Cheese: Layer the shredded mozzarella cheese over the dough.

Add the Toppings: Place your desired toppings over the cheese. For a traditional touch, add cooked, crumbled Italian sausage.

Top with Sauce: Spread the sauce evenly over the toppings. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on top.

Bake the Pizza: Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly.

Cool Before Serving: Let the pizza cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

Chicago-style deep dish pizza is best enjoyed with a knife and fork, embodying the essence of comfort food with its thick, buttery crust, gooey cheese, and rich tomato sauce. Whether you’re a Chicago native longing for a taste of home or a pizza enthusiast eager to try a new recipe, this deep dish pizza is sure to satisfy. Enjoy the process of making it and the delicious outcome!

Serving and Enjoyment Tips:

Once your Chicago-style deep dish pizza is out of the oven, here are some tips to make your pizza experience even better:

Let it Rest:

Cooling Time is Crucial: After baking, allow the pizza to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing. This rest period helps the cheese set and prevents the toppings and sauce from spilling out when you cut into it.


Use the Right Tools: A sharp chef’s knife or a deep-dish pizza cutter will help you make clean cuts through the thick layers. Rock the cutter back and forth instead of dragging it to keep the layers intact.


Serve Warm: Chicago-style deep dish pizza is best served warm. If you have leftovers, reheat slices in the oven to maintain the crust’s crispness.

Pair with Sides: Complement your pizza with a simple side salad dressed with vinaigrette to cut through the richness of the pizza. A light, crisp beer or a glass of red wine also pairs wonderfully.

Customizing Your Pizza:

One of the joys of making Chicago-style deep dish pizza at home is the ability to customize it to your liking. Here are a few suggestions:

Vary the Toppings: While Italian sausage is a popular choice, feel free to experiment with various meats, vegetables, and even unique ingredients like anchovies or capers for a salty kick.

Cheese Variations: Mozzarella is traditional, but adding layers of provolone, ricotta, or a sprinkle of feta can add interesting flavors and textures.

Spice it Up: For those who enjoy a bit of heat, incorporating spicy Italian sausage, jalapeños, or a dash of chili flakes into your toppings can add a nice warmth.

Chicago-style deep dish pizza is more than just a meal; it’s an experience. From the preparation of the dough to the layering of cheese, toppings, and sauce, each step contributes to the creation of a pizza that’s hearty, satisfying, and distinctly Chicagoan. Whether you’re sharing it with family, enjoying it with friends, or savoring a slice on your own, this deep dish pizza recipe is sure to bring a taste of Chicago’s culinary tradition to your table. So, grab your ingredients, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to dive into a delicious, deep-dish adventure.

Given the rich and hearty nature of Chicago-style deep dish pizza, it’s no surprise that it packs a significant nutritional punch. Below is a general breakdown of the nutritional value for a typical slice of homemade deep dish pizza, keeping in mind that actual values can vary based on specific ingredients and portion sizes.

Estimated Nutritional Value per Slice (1/8th of a 12-inch pizza):

Calories: Approximately 600-800 calories

Protein: About 20-30 grams

Fat: Roughly 30-40 grams, with saturated fat making up about 15-20 grams of this total. The use of meats like sausage and cheese contributes to the fat content.

Carbohydrates: Approximately 60-80 grams, largely from the flour and cornmeal in the crust, as well as the sugars in the tomato sauce.

Fiber: Around 4-6 grams, depending on the types and amounts of vegetables used as toppings.

Sodium: This can be quite high, often exceeding 1000-1500 mg per slice, due to the cheese, cured meats, and added salt.

Cholesterol: Varies significantly based on ingredients, especially the type and amount of cheese and meats used.

Considerations for Healthier Variations:

While traditional Chicago-style deep dish pizza is a delicious indulgence, those monitoring their diet for health reasons can consider several adjustments to make it a bit lighter:

Crust: You can make a whole wheat version of the crust by substituting half (or all) of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. This increases fiber content but might slightly alter the texture and taste.

Cheese: Opt for low-fat or part-skim mozzarella cheese to reduce the saturated fat content.

Using cheese sparingly or blending with other lower-fat cheeses can also help.

Meat: Choose leaner meats like chicken sausage or turkey pepperoni, or skip the meat altogether and go for a vegetarian pizza to lower both the fat and calorie content.

Vegetables: Adding more vegetables not only boosts the vitamin, mineral, and fiber content but also adds flavor and bulk with fewer calories. Consider spinach, bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions as nutritious toppings.

Sauce: Making your own sauce allows you to control the amount of salt and sugar added, making it a healthier option than many store-bought varieties.

Chicago-style deep dish pizza is a hearty and satisfying meal best enjoyed on special occasions or in moderation. For those concerned about nutritional content, making thoughtful ingredient choices can help align this indulgent dish with your dietary needs without sacrificing the joy of a warm, cheesy slice of deep dish pizza. Remember, balance and moderation are key to enjoying all your favorite foods, including this iconic Chicago delicacy.


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