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What is Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza?


Lou Malnatis Chicago Deep Dish Pizza
Lou Malnati’s Deep Dish Pizza

Chicago has such delicious pizza that the Windy city is home to two iconic kinds. Chicago thin crust pizza with a crispy, cracker-like crust, and deep dish pies with a tall crust, chunky tomato sauce, and tons of toppings. Nothing hits quite like a thick, dense slice of Chicago deep dish pizza

Think you know Chicago-style pizza? We take a look at this tasty slice of Windy City culinary history.

History of Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza

Pizza was first brought to Chicago by Neapolitan immigrants who came to work in the Windy City’s factories. They brought their pizza tradition and a taste of home to the U.S. Their Neapolitan pizzas would later inspire local entrepreneurs to make deep dish.

It’s a toss up between who likely invented this iconic pizza. Two pizzerias are largely credited with baking the first deep dish pies, Pizzeria Uno and Lou Malnati’s. Either way you slice it, both took oil slicked pans, lined them with simple ingredients, and popularized pan pizzas.1BBC. The deep rooted history of Chicago’s deep-dish pizza. Accessed May 1, 2024.
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What Makes Pizza Deep-dish?

What makes pizza deep dish pizza is its signature thick crust. Deep dish is more bread-like, has a thicker volume of toppings, and has a crust that is two or more inches tall. Deep dish pizzas are baked in pans that resemble cake tins. 

Pans are lined with olive oil or butter and dough is pressed into the bottoms and sides of the pan. This creates a solid foundation for toppings, which are placed cheese first, followed by meat like sausage and/or veggies, and then generous amounts of red tomato sauce. When the pizza is baked, a buttery, crunchy crust is created that is an unmistakable taste of Chicago.

Deep dish pizza is not the same as stuffed pizza. Stuffed pizza is a tall pizza that looks similar to deep dish pizza. It has a distinct, thin top layer of crust that is placed atop the cheese. This top layer of crust is covered in tomato sauce and baked.

Is Deep Dish Pizza Just Thick Crust?

No, deep dish pizza isn’t just thick crust pizza and is thicker than thick crust pizza. Deep dish pizza is so thick and hefty that diners need to use a knife and fork to eat it. 

Chicago deep dish pizza is not pizza that you can pick up and eat with your hands. Deep dish pizza has high walls that are almost bowl-like to cradle all the toppings.

Thick crust pizza is a sturdy crust that can be handheld.  Both deep dish and thick crust pizza contain generous amounts of toppings.2The Takeout. The Difference Between Deep Dish Pizza and Stuffed Pizza. Accessed May 1, 2024.
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What’s the Difference Between Deep Dish Pizza and Pan Pizza?

The difference between deep dish pizza and pan pizza is the crust. 

Pan pizzas have a thicker crust that is soft inside and crunchy outside. The thickness of the dough is the same throughout the pie. The crust is the most memorable part of a pan pizza. Sauce, cheese, and toppings are added to the fluffy crust before it is baked.

Deep dish pizzas have a thick crust that is thinner in the middle and taller on the edges. This bowl-like crust is a solid foundation for the pizza’s toppings, which are loaded in reverse order, cheese, toppings, and then sauce.

Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Regional Pizza Styles

My Pi Pizza Deep Dish
My Pi Pizza | Chicago Deep Dish Pizza
Pequod's Deep Dish Pepperoni Pizza
Pequod’s Pizza | Pan-style Deep Dish Pepperoni Pizza

Most Iconic Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizzas

The most iconic Chicago-style deep dish pizzas are comin’ in hot from the Windy City.

Lou Malnati’s Pizza

Lou Malnati’s Pizza

Iconic Lou Malnati’s Pizza is an institution in Chicago. Lou made pizza with his father before opening his own pizzeria in 1971. Today, there are 59 locations in Chicagoland.

Gino’s East

Since 1966, Gino’s East has been making its iconic deep dish pizzas in the Windy City. Founded by two taxi drivers, Sam Levine and Fred Bartoli, the duo teamed up with chef Alice Mae, who created the first deep dish pizza.

Each Gino’s East pizza is topped with chunky tomato sauce and aged cheese plus toppings like pepperoni, a massive sausage patty, and spinach. Each 9-in. pizza is baked in a seasoned cast iron pan, yielding  thick, deep golden crusts. Try the Meaty Legend with two types of bacon, Italian sausage, and pepperoni.

Ginos East Chicago Deep Dish Pizza Box
Nancy's Pizza Chicago Stuffed Pizza

Nancy’s Pizza

Look no further than the folks who invented stuffed pizza for a fantastic Chicago-style pizza fix. Chicago’s Nancy’s Pizza was founded in 1971 by Italian immigrants Rocco and Annunziata (Nancy) Palese. These thick pizzas are based on Rocco’s mother’s recipe for “scarciedda,” a specialty pie usually only made on Easter. 

Each 9-in., 2 lb. pie is baked in a cake pan and has two layers of dough stuffed with Italian sausage or spicy pepperoni and loads of mozzarella and pecorino Romano.

Read More: The Best Chicago Pizza

Slice, slice baby! We’re all about delivery of the best Chicago deep dish pizzas nationwide on Goldbelly!

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