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What Makes Chicago Style Pizza Special?


If pizza is one of your favorite meals and you haven’t tried Chicago style pizza yet, you might want to go and buy one or take that deep dish pizza pan out of the oven and bake one. For starters, we recommend you opt for a readily made pizza so that you can get a real feel of what this dish should look and taste like. If you want to know what to expect from this yummy meal, read on and discover what makes Chicago style pizza special.


What Type of Pizza is Chicago Style Pizza?

If you are used to eating out and the places where you normally go for a steamy pizza are Italian restaurants, be aware that your expectations should differ when it comes to Chicago style pizza. The typical Italian pizza is usually characterized by a thin and crispy layer.

However, as this palatable meal has started to become popular in other countries, different cuisines have reinvented the original pizza, and we now have different variations that deviate from the original standard. Chicago style pizza is one of them as it actually has a considerable thickness since it is baked in a deep dish pizza pan.

If you haven’t seen Chicago style pizza before, and especially if you look at it from a distance, you might be tempted to believe that you are actually dealing with a pie. This pizza has a generous thickness, with an average height of approximately two-three inches.

Regarding its composition, Chicago style pizza is typically filled with sauce, vegetables, meat, and cheese. A peculiar fact about this pizza is that, despite its thickness, the crust itself doesn’t exceed that of any regular pizza, being medium-thick or even thin. Its thickness comes from the lavish filling. 

Another aspect that distinguishes this dish is that it usually gets a little bit fried due to the fact that oil is added when baking it. Further on, we are going to walk you through several other distinguishable features of the Chicago style pizza, and also tell you more about how it was invented and how it is prepared.

How to Make Chicago Style Pizza?

In order to prepare the typical dough for this irresistible pizza, you will need wheat flour. In some cases, according to the cook’s choice or the preferences of the one who will delight his or her palate with the result, semolina flour can be used and it will give the dough a different yellow nuance.

Some pizzaiolos also like to add butter to the recipe, and if you taste a pizza that was made with this ingredient, you will surely notice the difference as it will have the typical flavor of pastry that is baked with butter.

If you wonder what tools you need in order to bake this reputable pizza, let us start with the essential item – the pan. The ideal pan for baking Chicago style pizza is a round one that’s made of steel. This type of pan is more similar to the one used for pies than the typical pizza pan.

When you lay the dough in the pan, you have to press it firmly in the middle and extend it onto the sides of the pan so that it can leave the proper space in the middle, which is where you will add a generous amount of ingredients. Remember that this pizza’s thickness is due to its ingredients and not to the crust.

Before you add the dough, make sure you oil the pan as this accounts for the crunchy and fried texture that defines a well-made Chicago style pizza. Moreover, there is a practical reason why the pan needs to be oiled – this is how you avoid struggling to take the pizza out once it is done. To oil the pizza with ease, you can use a brush.

When it comes to adding the ingredients, the Chicago style pizza always follows a precise order as the layers are not randomly placed. You should start by putting a considerable amount of cheese on top of the dough.

In many cases, cooks use mozzarella for this dish and there are plenty of varieties you can choose from. This will be your first layer and it will be followed by meat and vegetables. At the very top of the pizza, you will add the tomato sauce.

This order might sound a little bit strange if you are used to the traditional Italian pizza which sees the ingredients laid differently, with the cheese often added on top – think about that yummy warm mozzarella that’s the first thing your palate gets in contact with.

Nonetheless, there is a logical explanation for this filling and it is linked to the fact that the Chicago style pizzas are baked for a longer time than regular pizza that can be taken out of the oven in as little as 10 minutes.

The more time the pizza stays in the oven, the more prone the cheese is to get burnt, thus ruining its overall aspect and taste. Therefore, by placing the cheese at the bottom, you prevent such consequences. The sauce on top will also protect the ingredients from the high temperatures. A wide range of tomato sauces can be used for this pizza. 

Before you put your pizza in the oven, you should preheat it at a temperature of 475 degrees. The baking time may vary from case to case and depending on the oven you use, but the average duration to get a good Chicago style pizza is 30 minutes.

The signal that your pizza is ready to be taken out of the oven is the top that should have a golden-brown color. Theoretically, by the time the pizza gets this hue, the temperature inside of it will reach a value of 180 degrees. Once the meal is out of the oven, you must let it cool down for a few minutes.


What Makes a Good Chicago Style Pizza?

Each cook who specializes in this recipe might have his or her secret and specific recommendations based on the results they’ve achieved so far. However, according to most opinions, the dough is essential in obtaining a quality pizza.

On the one hand, it should not be very thick because it will otherwise contradict the recipe, but on the other hand, it should be resistant enough to be able to support that heavy filling. Also, a good dough for Chicago style pizza is one that has a buttery texture which makes it feel light and doesn’t burden your digestion.

Furthermore, you should avoid taking this pizza out of the oven before the entire crust is properly baked in a uniform manner. One of the common mistakes associated with Chicago style pizza is that the central part of the dough remains raw.

Another essential aspect is the choice of ingredients. These will basically dictate the taste of your pizza and, therefore, the better these are, the more palatable your meal will be. Try to opt for quality ingredients, although they might be pricier.

When and How Was Chicago Style Pizza Invented? 

What we know for sure is that this delicious pizza was prepared for the first time at Pizzeria Uno in Chicago, according to most sources in the year 1943. Yes, it is that old! Despite knowing its birthplace, opinions are divided when it comes to identifying the parent of this dish as there are at least two potentially valid options.

According to some sources, the Chicago style pizza was invented by Ike Sitwell who was a famous football player of the University of Texas and also the founder of Pizzeria Uno, together with his partner Ric Riccardo.

Others believe that the real inventor of this specialty was actually Rudy Malnati, a former employee who used to work at Pizzeria Uno in that period as a pizza chef. Some even support the idea that the pizza was actually invented by Alice May Redmond, a cook who worked there. 

Regardless of who might have been the first one to pull out of the oven this appetizing pizza, one thing is for sure – they had the necessary inspiration to create a dish that would be appreciated by generations to come. Up to date, this reputable pizza is still one of the highlights guests can enjoy at Pizzeria Uno and not only.