Classic Deep-Dish Pizza - Modernist Cuisine

Classic Deep-Dish Pizza

Recipe • November 30, 2023

Classic deep-dish pizza is pretty different from the rest of the pizzas in this book. Although it has a thin crust, the weight of the toppings far exceeds the amounts used on other pizza styles. And while Chicago is famous for its deep-dish pizza, it’s not the only place that has something like it. Both the Our Pizza Rustica (page 164 in Volume 3 of Modernist Pizza) and Our Pizza alla Campofranco (page 162, also in Volume 3), which hail from Italy, are very similar to deep-dish pizza, just with a second crust.

Whether deep-dish is really a pizza or not is the subject of many heated debates (based largely on where you call home). Some feel strongly that it is pizza while others feel just as strongly that deep-dish pizza is closer to a casserole. If pizza consists of dough, cheese, and tomato sauce, then yes, this is categorically a pizza (even though by this logic many things could fall under those parameters). In our opinion, deep-dish had to be included in this book because it is so iconic. Wherever it falls in the pizza/ casserole classification, the fact that it is delicious remains true.

It is a complicated style to get right, primarily because everything contained within it conspires to make the crust soggy. Its many toppings (they are more akin to fillings) can verge on too much but we don’t recommend underfilling. Because the pizza is baked in a deep pan, you can put a lot of things in there!

Through trial and error, we learned that the pizza bakes a lot faster without the sauce because the sauce is wet and acts as an insulator. Instead, we opt to add the warm sauce after the pizza has baked. You can make the sauce up to 4 days ahead of time and reheat it.

We recommend baking deep-dish pizza in a deep-dish pan with a removable base to make the pizza easier to remove. It will bake better on a hot deck oven or a baking stone. You want to try to get the crust as crisp as possible during the relatively long baking time.

Don’t miss out on our past recipes for deep-dish tomato sauce and deep-dish pizza dough.


Tips & Substitutions

  • Some people compare deep-dish pizza to a casserole, but we think deep-dish pizza has more similarities to a quiche, which is partly why we created the Quizza, a quiche with pizza toppings.
  • A properly baked deep-dish pizza tends to pull away from the pan, which makes it easier to remove from the baking pan.
  • Keep the cheese slices slightly shingled when storing in the refrigerator.
  • To drain the juices, you can place the pizza on a 30 cm / 12 in pizza screen after you’ve taken it out of the pan.
  • Check the bottom of the pizza and, if it seems blond, put it back in the oven without the pan to ensure that it is crispy.
  • When cutting the deep-dish pizza into wedges, we recommend using a long serrated knife but you can also use a mezzaluna.