Many people don’t think of pizza when they think of Detroit, but I’m here to help change that.
As a native New Yorker, I hold thin-crust pizza near and dear to my heart. But now that I live near Detroit, I have a newfound appreciation for this style of pizza.
Detroit style pizza is thick like deep dish, but light and airy and far from heavy. The edges are nice and crispy thanks to the melty mozzarella cheese around the edges, and it’s just so darn tasty.
Typically this website is dedicated to healthy spins on recipes, but sometimes a regular recipe is just too good to mess with. This Detroit pizza is not necessarily a healthy dish in the sense that it isn’t low-calorie or protein-packed, but it’s a simple recipe that is delicious.
It’s time to do pizza Detroit style.
What exactly is Detroit style pizza?
When I first moved to Detroit from New York, I had no intentions of ever trying Detroit pizza. Yes, I am definitely a pizza snob, and I firmly believe that thin crust pizza is the best pizza there is.
So when I came across this square deep dish pizza that had sauce on top of the cheese, I immediately decided it was just some strange fad.
But I’m here to tell you that I was wrong. Detroit-style pizza is a very unique style of pizza, and when done correctly, it’s as good as any pizza I’ve had.
Detroit style pizza is set apart by its thick, chewy crust and square shape with crispy crunchy edges.
The origin of Detroit style pizza is actually really fascinating. It started in the 1940’s or 1950’s when local pizza restaurants in Detroit started using blue steel pans to cook their pizzas.
The pans were originally used in the automotive industry as part of the car-building process, since Detroit was the hub for all things automative, so they were used by pizzerias since they were so readily available in the area.
The deep blue steel pan gives Detroit pizza a crispy crust and allows for more toppings to be added, as the sides of the pizza rise up and create a sort of “pan” for the toppings to sit in.
And of course, the pan allows for the cheese to melt into the edges and create a crispy outer crust that has become iconic when it comes to Detroit pizza.
I won’t lie and say I quite understand the reasoning behind putting sauce on top of the cheese, but I can tell you that it definitely works. The crust stays soft and chewy without getting soggy, and there is still plenty of sauce in every bite.
Many people around Detroit credit Buddys Pizza as the birthplace of Detroit style pizza, so if you ever find yourself in the area, it’s worth checking Buddy’s out.
How to make your own Detroit-Style pizza at home
I had no idea that making this pizza was such a simple process, but now this Detroit style pizza recipe has become a staple in my house.
To start, I love using pre-made pizza dough because it helps simplify the entire process. Pizza dough can be found at most grocery stores, and you can usually buy dough directly from your local pizzeria as well.
If you want to make homemade pizza dough, I won’t fault you for that! In fact, I have a recipe for Neapolitan Pizza Dough, and that pizza dough will work perfectly in this recipe.
You can find that recipe here, but you’ll need pizza flour (or bread flour), yeast, warm water, and seasoning. It’s really that easy!
If you make your own dough, you’ll still be able to follow the recipe exactly the same way.
Remove the pizza dough from the fridge and add it to a container or bowl with a small amount of olive oil. Cover and let the dough rest in a warm place for 2 – 3 hours, or until doubled.
As you can see here, the dough should poof up really nicely.
I recommend turning the pilot light on your oven and letting the dough rest in the oven to keep it warm. Even though there is no heat in the oven, the light is enough to keep the temperature a bit warmer inside, and I’ve found that works much better than the countertop to help the dough rise.
Once the dough has doubled in size, we’re going to add a small amount of olive oil to a Detroit style pizza pan before adding the dough. We only need enough olive oil to coat the sides and bottom of the pan, which will help crisp up the edges of the dough really well.
I highly recommend buying a Detroit pizza pan as it will give you the best crust. However, you can get away with any deep rectangular pan you have in your home. For this recipe, I’m using an 8×10 pizza pan, but you can get away with a slightly different size.
Add the pizza dough to the pan and stretch it to the edges until it shrinks back away from the edges. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 15 minutes before stretching it to the edges once more.
After 15 minutes the dough should sit comfortably in the corners, but if not, you can repeat this process one more time by letting the dough rest for an additional 15 minutes.
Once the dough is ready to go, we’re going to cube up some mozzarella cheese and place the cubed cheese along the outside of the pan.
Traditionally, Detroit pizza has used brick cheese, but we’re going to stick with whole milk mozzarella here. You can definitely use brick cheese, but I’m going to assume that most people don’t just have Wisconsin brick cheese laying around.
Note: it’s very important to use cubed mozzarella cheese. If you try to save some calories by using light shredded cheese, you will not achieve that crispy edge.
That being said, we’ll use shredded cheese to top the rest of the pizza, since we only need it to cover the pizza and don’t need it to melt into the edges the same way.
Add any seasoning you’d like right on top of the cheese. I keep things simple with garlic powder and red pepper flakes, but you can add any seasoning you’d like.
Finally, add pizza sauce in rows right on top of the cheese. It may not seem like there’s enough sauce if you’re used to traditional pizza, but even with the pizza sauce on top, you’ll get enough in every bite. But, you can always serve your pizza alongside some tomato sauce or marinara sauce for dipping.
Once your pizza is topped and ready, place it on the bottom rack of your oven and bake at 500 degrees F for 12-15 minutes. I’ve made this recipe a handful of times, and I’ve found 13 minutes to lead to the perfect pizza crust every time.
Remove the pizza from the oven and allow it to cool in the pizza pan for 10-15 minutes. Since this is a thick pan pizza, the cooling time actually allows the interior of the pizza to finish cooking, so it’s important to wait before serving.
Carefully run a spatula along the edges of the pan to release the pizza, and transfer the pizza to a cutting board.
The outer edges of your pizza will be a little bit blackened, but will not taste burnt- that’s just the nature of Detroit-style pizza.
Top with some Italian seasoning and parmesan cheese, cut into 6 slices, and enjoy!
Can you add toppings to Detroit pizza?
Yes, you can add any toppings you’d like to Detroit-style pizza. However, since Detroit style is made with the sauce on top of the cheese, you’ll actually add your toppings before the cheese.
If you want to make a pepperoni pizza, you’ll line the pepperoni slices along the pizza dough to create a layer of pepperoni before adding your cheese. By adding the pepperoni and other toppings first, it ensures the cheese stays nice and melty.
Plus, you don’t want to risk losing those crispy edges.
More simple pizza recipes for your next pizza night
Everyone loves pizza, so you likely don’t want to stop with just one pizza recipe. I’ve got a bunch of pizza recipes here on my blog, so if you want to switch things up, I’ve got you covered.
- How To Make Homemade Pizza With Trader Joe’s Pizza Dough
- Protein Pizza with Over 60g of Protein
- Simple Sourdough Pizza Crust
- Healthy & Easy Pizza Muffins
- Hashbrown Crust Breakfast Pizza
- Mini Pizza Bagels Ready in Just 30 Minutes (No Yeast Required)
- 16oz Refrigerated Pizza Dough (see notes at the bottom of this recipe card to make your own dough from scratch)
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 75g Block or Fresh Mozzarella Cheese (cut into cubes)
- 56g Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (either lite or full-fat mozzarella will work)
- 1 Cup (240g) Tomato Sauce or Pizza Sauce of Choice
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- Parmesan Cheese & Red Pepper Flakes for Topping
If making your own dough from scratch, follow my pizza dough recipe here to make one dough ball, then follow the rest of the instructions here exactly the same.
- Add roughly 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil to a glass container or bowl to lightly coat the sides, then add your pizza dough. Cover and let the dough rest in a warm place for 2 to 3 hours until the dough has doubled in size.
- Drizzle another 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil into a Detroit-style pizza pan or comparable 8x10 baking pan and rub to coat the bottom and sides of the pan.
- Add the pizza dough to the greased pan and stretch it into the corners until it starts to shrink back away from the corners.
- Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the pizza dough rest for 15 minutes before stretching it again. It should stretch comfortably into the corners of the pan, but if you find it is still shrinking back, you can repeat it one more time.
- Gently press the pizza dough down with your fingers to release any large air bubbles that may have formed and to make the dough as uniform as possible.
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
- Cube the mozzarella cheese and place the cheese cubes along the perimeter of the pan. This cheese is going to melt to create the crispy edges, so they can be placed right against the sides of the pan.
- Cover the rest of the pizza with the shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Sprinkle garlic powder over the cheese for some additional flavor, and then spoon the sauce right over the cheese in two rows, or dollop the sauce throughout the pizza if you prefer.
- Place the pan on the bottom rack of your oven (to prevent the cheese from burning) and bake at 500 degrees F for 12-15 minutes. I've found that 13 minutes works perfectly for my oven, but you'll want to cook your pizza until the edges have blackened.
- Allow the pizza to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes. Since the pizza is thick, this will allow the interior to finish cooking inside.
- Carefully remove the pizza from the pan by first loosening the edges with a spatula. Top with parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, or any toppings of your choice, and cut into 6 slices.
- I've made my own pizza dough with great success using this recipe, but I've started buying Trader Joe's pizza dough and it has become my go-to! You can also usually buy pizza dough directly from your local pizzeria.
- To allow the pizza dough to double in size, my favorite trick is to turn the pilot light of the oven on (do NOT turn the heat on) and let the pizza dough rest in the oven. The light keeps the oven nice and warm and has worked significantly better for me than letting the dough rest on the counter.
- You don't have to use a Detroit-style pizza pan, but it will yield the best results. If you want a true Detroit-style pizza experience, grab yourself a good pan. You won't regret it.
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Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1 Slice
Amount Per Serving Calories 265Total Fat 8gCarbohydrates 37gProtein 10g