Crispy Edges or Deep Delight?

Certain states in the U.S. take great pride in their homegrown pizza! 

With tons of big chains and small mom-and-pop restaurants alike, cities like Detroit and Chicago have no shortage of die-hard pizza fans due to the unique qualities of their home-state pies.

For pizza enthusiasts worldwide, the debate between Detroit Style Pizza vs. Chicago Deep Dish is a topic shrouded with immense controversy. 

Curious to find out which pizza is better? We’ll be taking a deep dive into the subject and provide comprehensive coverage to determine which pizza deserves to reign supreme over the other.

This article is the complete guide to everything you need to know about Detroit-style pizza vs. Chicago deep dish. It will break down the components of each pizza and explore the following aspects:

  • What is Detroit-style pizza?
  • What is Chicago-style pizza?
  • The major differences between the two.

Let’s get started!

What is Detroit-Style Pizza? 

Homemade Detroit Style Pepperoni Pizza

Detroit-style pizza is known for its rectangular shape, which starkly contrasts the typical round pizza. And unlike traditional pizzas, the toppings are placed on top of the cheese as opposed to under it!

Detroit-style pies have a golden brown, thick, and crispy crust with a delectably fried texture. To achieve this, the dough is baked in an oiled rectangular or square pan.

One of the most distinct features of Detroit-style pizzas is that the cheese is smeared and caramelized up to the corners of the crust. Each slice is covered with long streaks of sauce similar to racing stripes.

What is Chicago-Style Pizza?

Chicago Style Deep Dish Cheese Pizza

Chicago is most recognized for its famous deep-dish pizza. It is vastly different from regular pies because of its high-edged crust that allows ample room for chunky tomato sauce, layers of toppings, and plenty of cheese.

Chicago-style deep dish pizza deviates from the traditional pizza structure because the sauce is poured on top of the cheese and toppings. The overall construction of a deep-dish pizza is meant to prevent the crust from getting soggy.

To make a Chicago-style pizza, the initial step is to press the dough into a deep pan and place mozzarella slices over the crust. Then, the toppings are stacked and finished off with marinara before placing in the oven.

Origins and History of Detroit-Style Pizza and Chicago-Style Pizza

Detroit-style pizza and Chicago-style deep-dish pizza both have rich histories behind them that tell remarkable stories of places and people who have come to shape everyday culture:

Origins and History of Detroit-Style Pizza

Detroit-style pizza is very similar to and reminiscent of Sicilian pan pizza. 

It is known to have originated at a neighborhood bar and restaurant called Buddy’s Rendezvous in 1946. The establishment’s owner, Gus Guerra, was looking to develop a new dish that would set his place apart from others. 

He came up with the idea of utilizing a rectangular pan to bake the pie and adapting the Sicilian-style pizza to have more toppings like red sauce and cheese. 

The result was a deliciously thick crust that was fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside! 

Since then, the popularity of the iconic Detroit-style pizza has spread locally and internationally with various modern-day renditions.

Origins and History of Chicago-Style Pizza

Chicago-style deep-dish pizza was birthed by a collaboration between Ric Riccardo and Ike Sewell in the early 1900s. 

The two restaurateurs were exploring the idea of incorporating authentic Italian ingredients with a thicker crust to accommodate for a wide array of American toppings.

The duo would eventually hone in on their innovation of layering the ingredients in a deep dish. 

In 1943, the classic Chicago-style pizza premiered with the opening of their restaurant Pizzeria Uno and was an instant hit.

Today, the legendary Chicago-style deep-dish pizza continues to take the world by storm with countless devoted fans all around the globe!

Detroit Style Pizza vs. Chicago Deep Dish: Differences

Detroit Style Pizza Chicago Style Pizza
Crust Cheesy and crispy underside with a lighter, airier texture. Crunchy exterior. Thin flaky quality with a buttery richness.
Thickness Approximately 1 to 1.5 inches, sturdier and crunchier crust. Up to 2 to 3 inches high with a shallower crust.
Toppings Classic toppings include various options like pepperoni, sausage, veggies, etc. Traditionally topped with crumbles of sausage, cheese, veggies, and tomato sauce.
Appearance and Flavor Rectangular shape, browned cheese perimeter, savory flavors. Bulky, deep pan-baked, layered with cheese, fillings, and buttery flavors.
Cheese and Sauce Placement Blend of Wisconsin brick cheese and milder soft cheese. Sauce added after baking (optional “red top” variations). Creamy and mild mozzarella cheese. Sauce placed on top of cheese before baking.
Baking Method Rectangular or square pan. Tall round pie plate.
Baking Time Around 30 minutes. Up to 45 minutes.
Baking Temperature High temperatures (around 500°F). Lower temperatures (around 425°F).
Flour Bread flour for a crunchy and chewy crust. Mixture of cornmeal and all-purpose flour for a thick base.
Cooking Technique Dough stretched and placed in an oiled pan. Cheese added before or after baking. Sauce added after baking (optional). Dough pressed into a deep pan. Layered with cheese, toppings, and sauce before baking to prevent crust sogginess.

Detroit-style pizza and Chicago-style pizza are both extremely unique pies. 

But what exactly makes them different from one another? 

In this section, we’ll be dissecting each culinary element of both pizzas, from ingredients and preparation to cooking technique: 

leftover pizza crust heel


Detroit-style and Chicago-style pizzas both have bases that are thicker than a standard pizza, However, their crusts are vastly different! 

The crust of a Detroit-style pizza features a cheesy and crispy underside with a lighter texture. 

It has a softer chewy interior and a renowned crunchy quality on the outside. Compared to deep-dish pizza, Detroit-style crust is airer and more bready.  

Chicago-style pizzas are baked in a deep dish, so the crust has a thin flaky quality and foundation similar to a conventional pie crust. 

Because the dough has to be stretched over the sides of a round pie plate, deep-dish pizza crust has a certain buttery richness to it. 


Detroit-style pizzas can be measured up to about 1 to 1.5 inches with a sturdier and crunchier crust. 

Chicago-style pizzas, on the other hand, can be measured for up to about 2 to 3 inches high with a shallower crust. 


Although Detroit and Chicago-style pizzas have their classic toppings, a few common options can include chicken, bacon, green peppers, pineapple, black olives, mushrooms, ham, roasted garlic, artichoke, feta, anchovies, and more.

Detroit-style pizzas are traditionally topped with small and thick rounds of pepperoni that curl during the process of cooking.

Chicago-style pizzas, on the other hand, are traditionally topped with crumbles of sausage spread over the cheese before finishing off with tomato sauce. Other fillings like veggies and meats are also placed between the cheese and sauce.

Appearance and Flavor

Detroit-style pizzas have a rectangular shape with airy dough and a browned cheese perimeter. They are known for their highly coveted corner pieces and savory flavors.

A Chicago-style pizza, on the other hand, is a very bulky pizza baked in a deep pan with more buttery flavors. It is sequentially layered with cheese, fillings such as meat and veggies, and tomato sauce. 

Cheese and Sauce Placement

Detroit-style pizza is typically made with a blend of Wisconsin brick cheese and milder soft cheese. The texture of the cheese forms a crispy shell on the crust’s edges and remains gooey in the middle.

Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, on the other hand, is made with a creamy and mild mozzarella. 

Each slice of deep-dish pizza oozes with long strings of cheese because thick slices of mozzarella are used!

Both Detroit and Chicago-style pizzas go against the grain of traditional pizza by layering sauce on top of cheese. 

Although both pizzas utilize tomato-based sauces, they do have some differences in terms of application.

For some Detroit-style pizzas, the sauce is added after baking to prevent sogginess. This is called the “red top” variations Additionally, they are poured as thick lines known as “racing stripes.”

For Chicago-style pizzas, the sauce is always placed on top of the cheese before baking to prevent it from burning while baking.

Baking Method

When it comes to baking pans, Detroit-style pizzas use a rectangular or square pan for the moist dough while Chicago-style deep-dish pizza uses a tall and round pie plate. 

Baking Time

Detroit-style pizza generally takes around 30 minutes to bake, while Chicago-style pizza can take up to 45 minutes because of its deeper dish.

Baking Temperature

Detroit-style pizza is commonly baked at high temperatures of 500°F. 

On the other hand, Chicago-style deep-dish pizza is baked at generally lower temperatures of around 425°F.


Detroit-style pizzas are known to use bread flour for their crunchy and chewy crust, while Chicago-style deep-dish pizzas incorporate a mixture of cornmeal and all-purpose for their thick base.

Cooking Technique

Detroit-style pizza preparation begins with an unconventional rectangular pan. After stretching the dough, it is put into the oiled pan to create a crispy and golden crust. 

Cheese is added and followed with a layer before baking. If using the “red top” technique, the sauce is poured on after baking.

Chicago-style pizza preparation starts with the dough getting pressed into a deep pan. 

It is then layered with a base of cheese, then toppings, and finally, sauce before baking to perfection. This sequence is strictly followed to prevent the crust from sogging!

Conclusion: Detroit Style Pizza vs. Chicago Deep Dish

Choosing between Detroit-style pizza and Chicago deep-dish pizza is entirely up to your ingredient preference and what cooking techniques suit your tastes. 

Their most integral differences can be found in how the crust, cheese, and sauce ultimately come together in their final form.

If you like a light, crispy, and savory slice, go for Detroit-style pizza. But if you’re in the mood for a hefty and buttery pie filled with rich ingredients to the brim, a Chicago-style deep dish is your best bet!

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