Pizza can look and taste very different depending on where you're from or what kind of pie you prefer. Neapolitan-style, New York-style, and Chicago deep-dish are all very popular pizzas nationwide, but have you heard of Detroit-style pizza? Ask anyone from Michigan and this is the pizza they have been devouring for decades. Read on to learn about Detroit-style pizza and how to make it at home.
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Detroit-Style Pizza
Credit: Chef John

What is Detroit-Style Pizza?


It's hard to pinpoint exactly where this style of pizza originated (it's hotly debated) but many believe it started in the 1940s at Buddy's Rendezvous, which is now the very popular Detroit chain Buddy's Pizza. The recipe was based on a Sicilian style pizza — with a thick but airy dough, almost the consistency of focaccia bread.

How to Make Detroit-Style Pizza

Try Chef John's recipe for Detroit-Style Pizza and watch the video below for step-by-step directions.

It's All in the Pan

A signature characteristic of Detroit-style pizza is its squared shape and crispy edged crust. So, in this case the pan is just as important as the other ingredients. The original pizzas were made in thick blue steel pans that were originally manufactured to store auto parts. Today, the same anodized steel style pan is used, sans the auto parts. A brand to check out at home is made by LloydsPans, which is the brand of pan Chef John uses in his recipe for Detroit-Style Pizza. (Yes, it's a rectangular pan, but the pizza is called "square." That's not confusing at all.)

The Dough and Crust

When it comes to making the dough, you'll want to use bread flour to achieve that airy, focaccia-like texture. You'll actually proof the dough in the pan you are cooking in, which makes it easier (at least for cleanup purposes).

As for the crust, it's one of the most important parts of this style of pizza. To achieve that crispy crust, you want to make sure that you have a well-greased pan. You'll want to take that pizza out of the pan to cool as soon as you can, so the crust stays crisp and doesn't get soggy. Another key to the crust is the way the cheese melds with it. Note that the cheese is placed all the way to the edges to achieve those coveted golden-brown cheesy crust corners.

The Cheese

The cheese is a key element of the pizza as well. True Detroit-style pizza uses brick cheese and mozzarella. Brick cheese is ideal for its high fat content but can be hard to find outside of the Midwest. Chef John uses a combination of Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese, and cuts the cheese into cubes to spread across the pizza. And unlike other pizzas, in this one the cheese goes BEFORE the sauce.

The Sauce

There are a number of different ways to make the sauce — Chef John uses a jar of prepared marinara sauce that he amps up with dried oregano, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder. (You could also make your own marinara.) Sauce is used more sparingly on this type of pizza, think drizzle or dollop instead of spreading it all over. You'll want to put it on top of the cheese either before or after you cook it (depending on your school of thought).

The Toppings

Toppings are not necessary but if you want to add them, pepperoni is the classic choice. Sometimes the toppings go under the cheese but many times you'll see these little toasty cups of pepperoni created when you place pepperoni slices on top of the sauce instead of underneath with the cheese.

One More Piece of Advice

To get the best crusts, bake your pizza on a pizza stone. Also, don't forget to preheat your oven before putting your pizza in. It makes all the difference.