Detroit vs Chicago Pizza: 3 Delicious Differences

So why do we say Detroit vs Chicago Pizza? What’s the difference between them? Or are they similar? Make sure you read to the end to find out all the recipe details.

Everyone knows that pizza is a classic dish from Italy, but Detroit and Chicago have managed to create something new.

Detroit vs Chicago Pizzas: History

Chicago and Detroit-style pizza appeared in 1930-1940 during the time of Italian immigration to the United States. Italian Americans had to try new recipes by experimenting with local products. American ingredients and Italian culture in one combine gave us special ‘Americanized’ pizzas including Chicago, Detroit, and New York-style pizzas.

And here we are to compare Detroit vs Chicago Pizza.

Detroit-vs-Chicago-Pizza Comparing

But unusual ingredients weren’t the only reason to look for something new. Hard life in a new place pushed to the search for a hearty and filling meal.

The Idea of deep dish pizza

The real idea of the deep dish pizza was that you could fill yourself up with just one slice. It’s a pizza and a pie at the same time. Since there was no exact recipe, the filling was cooked with any suitable ingredients, that made the food affordable.

Strong crispy crust allows for more toppings, cheese, and sauce. Today we do not burn so many calories, so this pizza is a real guilty pleasure, but it’s definitely worth it.

It’s a long story but now we have an iconic recipe of Chicago deep dish and Detroit style pizzas. And it has remained unchanged for more than 70 years.

The History of Detroit style pizza

Traditional Detroit style pizza is very popular not only in Metro Detroit and Michigan but all over the country. Invented by Gus Guerra and Connie Piccinato in 1946 the Detroit-style pizza was first time served at Buddy’s Rendezvous.

Detroit vs Chicago Pizza: Buddy's Rendezvous

Buddy’s Rendezvous 75 years ago

This deep-dish Detroit pizza was originally baked in rectangular industrial pans straight from Motor City factories. Today, a specially designed 14 x 10-inch square shaped pan is used. Thanks to it we have that perfect crunchy crust crispy from edge to edge.

Creating Detroit pizza Gus Guerra and Conny Piccinato were probably inspired by Sicilian cuisine with its airy focaccia. True or not, the factory workers really appreciated this square-style pizza for its light but crispy crust.

The History of Chicago style pizza

When we talk about deep dish pizza, the first thing we mean is Chicago style pizza.

It’s believed that deep dish pizza first appeared in the Windy City in the late 1930s with Neapolitan immigrants. The Second World War was approaching, so it was necessary to prepare a hearty meal from a limited number of ingredients. For the first time deep dish pizza was officially served at Pizzeria Uno, founded in 1943.

Pizzeria Uno was owned by Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo. Rudy Malnati was a hired employee but a key figure in this story. It is Malnati who is considered the author of Chicago style pizza, although businessmen disputed it.

Detroit vs Chicago Pizza UNO Pizzeria

UNO Pizzeria

Sometime later, the Malnati family opened their own pizzerias. It was pizzeria Lou Malnati in 1971 and Pizano’s – in 1991. It is said that Patriarch Malnati passed on the original recipe only to Pizano. Though that is only said by Pizano pizzeria itself.

Oh yes, it’s a twisted story, but Chicago takes the top prize – more and more pizzerias in style deep dish. Some tourists even do Chicago pizza tours. It includes not only Chicago’s deep dish but Chicago tavern style pizza also.

Detroit vs Chicago Pizza – How Do They Do It?

First of all, Chicago style and Detroit style are both deep dish pizzas. They both have much more toppings than New York style pizza with its thin crust, so it takes them a longer time to bake. In both, the sauce is applied on top to keep the food from drying out in an oven.

The main difference between Chicago style deep dish and Detroit style pizza lies in how they are made.

Detroit Style Pizza

Pizza in Detroit style is unique. It’s a deep dish pizza cooked in a blue steel pan of square shape. Detroit pizza is known for its caramelized crust around the edges and corners.

Detroit Pizza

Detroit uses special double proofed pizza dough to get airy and fluffy crusts even on the bottom. Then the toppings are layered in reverse order:first pepperoni, followed by the cheese, and finished it off with tomato sauce.

To fill the dough with flavor, pepperoni slices are placed first. Next, the entire base is covered with Wisconsin cheese. Then three wide stripes of sauce complete the pizza.

Another recipe calls for mozzarella cheese first, then pepperoni and other toppings, and sauce last again. The goal is to have a little bit of everything in each bite. Sometimes vegetables or mushrooms are added. But be careful because too many toppings make the pizza doughy. It takes about 20 minutes to bake Detroit style pizza well.

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

No trip to Chicago is completed without a slice of cheesy saucy deep dish pizza. Chicago style deep dish pizzas have something for everyone. Some people prefer the gooey cheese, while others are in love with the golden crust with butter flavor and hearty robust sauce.

Chicago Pizza

Chicago deep dish pizza starts with the dough being patted out in a round deep pan greased with olive oil and sprinkled with flour. Then the dough is brought up around the sides to create a solid base for the toppings. Next, the cheese and the sausage blend are layered down. then everything is covered with tomato sauce. To eat this pizza pie, you really need a fork and a knife.

Some recipes have so much cheese that the pizza becomes stuffed with it. Stuffed pizza may have pepperoni, sausage blend, fresh onions, mushrooms, peppers, or other vegetables. On top of this, place as much grated mozzarella as your pan can hold. The melted cheese will soak through the filling and keep it fit. An additional thin layer of dough covers the cheese and serves as a base for the sauce. This extra layer of dough forms a chewy crust and keeps the cheese from drying out, so it stays gooey.

Chicago Tavern Style Pizza

Tavern-style pizza is not deep, but it is worth saying a few words about it. Like a New York style pizza, Tavern style has a thin crust. The difference is that there is no empty ring around because the cheese comes out to the edges. Another feature is that the Tavern pizza is usually cut into slices across. It’s very comfortable to keep one hand clean and free while eating.

Chicago Tavern Pizza

Detroit vs Chicago Pizza: The Table of Differences

Guess you’re a little bit hungry for now, so let’s put the differences between the styles in a table for brevity.

Detroit StyleChicago Style
doughthick, buttery, airythick with a solid crunchy crust
fillingpepperoni, cheese, three strips of sauce on topcheese, pepperoni, sausage, sauce on top
featurecaramelized crustmelted cheese
Detroit vs Chicago Pizza: Differences

Where to go for the best pizza

Let’s find out who makes the super crust, who stands out in filling, and who has the best sauce ever. Here some top restaurants are collected.

Detroit’s places

  • Buddy’s Rendezvous

Buddy’s is where Detroit pizza was born with recipes guarded and passed down over 5 generations. This place is a must if you want to experience Motown style.

  • Loui’s Pizza

Another classic Detroit pizzeria is Loui’s and of course Louis started his pizza career at Buddy’s. Loui’s carefully keeps the spirit of true pizza right from the 70s.

  • Little Caesars

Started as a little pizzeria in the suburbs of Detroit, today Little Caesars is the third largest pizza chain in the country. In addition to the deep dish, they make signature crazy bread with the irregular shapes of the sticks.

  • Cloverleaf

Known since 1953 Cloverleaf has carried the same Detroit pan pizza recipe 69 years. The pizzeria was founded by Gus Guerra and remains family owned to this day.

  • Jet’s Pizza

Jet’s Pizza started as a local place and has expanded to 19 states. Most likely you will find a Motown-style pizzeria near your home.

Chicago’s places

  • Lou Malnati’s

Lou Malnati’s – a classic choice for a Chicago deep dish that has around 50 locations throughout the area. Continuing Uno traditions Lou Malnati’s has its own secrets how to make signature crust with buttery taste.

  • Pequod’s

Pequod’s is very popular not only among tourists but also among locals. It was nominated for best deep dish in Chicago multiple times. A unique pan design that allows the cheese to caramelize on the crust is their feature.

  • Giordano’s

Giordano’s is famous for its big deep dish stuffed with an insane amount of cheese. One of their pizzas called Chicago classic has approximately 2 pounds of cheese and strong crust to hold it. The Classic Chicago recipe is the gold standard for a deep dish.

  • Gino’s East

Opened in 1966 the restaurant chain is considered to be of the most iconic deep dish pizzerias. Their pizza with meaty sausage remains unbeatable.

Home Cook – Tips and Tricks

  1. Cooking Chicago deep dish, be careful with how many fillings you put in. If the layer is too thick, the pizza dough will be undercooked.
  2. For Detroit style make sure you cover the entire dough with cheese, this is the only way to achieve a crunchy base and corners.
  3. Both for Chicago and Detroit pizzas tomato sauce is added in the last order. This creates a moisture barrier to protect cheese and other ingredients from drying out.
  4. If tomato sauce is too sour, a little milk or sugar will help.
  5. Put pepperoni and sausage blend in such a way that there is always a piece of something on the fork.
pizza sauce

Detroit vs Chicago Pizza: FAQs

How is Detroit-style pizza different?

First, Detroit-style pizza differs from other styles with its square shape. Next, it has a thick crust that crunches on the bottom, along the edges, and especially in the corners. And finally, it has a special dough texture – light, airy and fluffy.

What is the difference between Detroit-style pizza and deep dish pizza?

Detroit pizza is also a deep dish pizza baked in deep rectangle pan. But often saying deep dish pizza people mean Chicago style with its round pie and stuffed pizza. The main difference are pizza’s shape and the way of cooking.

Is Detroit-style pizza a real thing?

Surely yes, it is. Everyone who has been to Metro Detroit and Michigan can attest to that. The current popularity of Detroit style is causing restaurants to open across the country. It’s hearty, delicious, and really has iconic caramelized crust on the corners.

What makes Chicago pizza different?

Chicago-style deep dish has more toppings than other styles. Some recipes have so much of topping that they are called stuffed pizza or pizza pie. To deal with huge filling Chicago deep dish has solid base and thick crunchy crust.

Is Detroit-style pizza a real thing?

Chicago-style deep dish has more toppings than other styles. Some recipes have so much of topping that they are called stuffed pizza or pizza pie. To deal with huge filling Chicago deep dish has solid base and thick crunchy crust.

Detroit vs Chicago 1

Detroit vs Chicago Pizza style – which is better?

They differ in shape, dough, and standard fillings. But the delicious taste is what they have in common. So, there’s only one way to pick a winner – to try both pizzas. Now listen to your heart (and your stomach too) and make your own choice!

Malena Miller

“If you love pizza as much as I do, then I think we can get along.”

I run this blog and I love making pizza. I have 150 pizza recipes. I want to share with you the secrets of cooking pizza

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