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Mastering Detroit-Style Pizza: Tips and Tricks for Making it at Home

detroit style pan pizza recipe cooked at home
deep dish pizza recipe for the home oven

There is nothing better than deep dish pizza when it is done right, with a crisp cheesy outer crust and soft pillowy interior. This deep dish pizza recipe will give you an amazing dough recipe that you can use for deep dish pizza or thin crust pizza, as well as a robust pizza sauce that is perfect for any pizzas you make in the future.  This pan pizza recipe is Detroit Style, which means it will be rectangular and topped with sauce on the top of the pizza.  Frankly…this recipe is one of the best things we make in our house.  My wife loves it every week… and I think your family will really enjoy it. 

The best thing about this deep dish pizza recipe is you do not need any large fancy equipment to get it done right.  The only things you might need to buy is an appropriate sized pan and a bakers scale for the best results.  I recommend using 8″ x 10″ carbon steel pans from Lloyds Pans, which are made right here in the USA.  Buy a few of these, and they will last forever.  More importantly, they will crank out killer deep dish pizza for you in your home oven.   The bakers scale will ensure this recipe comes out great the first time, and will also make it repeatable in the future.  They are only $15, and it will be very useful for any future baking recipes. 

deep dish pan pizza topping at home pepperoni and mushroom

We are now going to go through the details of making great pan pizza at home, breaking it down into 5 easy steps: 

  1. Easy Dough Recipe for Pan Pizza
  2. Simple Pizza Sauce with a Kick
  3. Stretching your Dough for Pan Pizza
  4. Topping your Pan Pizza
  5. Baking Pan Pizza to Perfection 

Deep Dish Pizza Dough Recipe

The most important part of any quality pizza is the dough.  After several months of experimenting with several flours, methods, and cooking times… I have finally nailed the best combination for amazing deep dish pizza.  Ingredients needed are below: 

  1.  1000 g Bread Flour
  2. 670 g room temperature water
  3. 25 g fine sea salt
  4. 1 teaspooon Active Dry Yeast
pan pizza dough ingredients - flour salt water yeast

Mix all your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Then add your water and mix it together with a spatula or your hands.  After you mix it all together, bring it together in a rough looking ball.  At this point the dough does not need to be smooth, just mixed together.  The dough will be sticky at this point. 

mixing dough by hand for pan pizza
mixing dough by hand for pan pizza

After bringing together in a ball, cover your bowl with a towel and let it sit for 30 minutes.  This will let the dough come together and become easier to work with.  

After resting for 30 minutes, turn the dough out onto the counter or a large cutting board.  Work the dough with your hands, folding it onto itself and smashing it down several times.  Do this for just a few minutes and the dough will start to form a smoother texture.  

pan pizza dough ball after mixing

When the dough is nice and smooth in texture, clean your large mixing bowl coat it lightly with olive oil.  At this point form the dough into a nice ball and place it in the mixing bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap or other tight sealing lid and let it sit at room temperature for one hour.  

pan pizza dough ball resting after mixing

After 1 hour, place the dough in the fridge for at least overnight.  I typically like to shoot for 2-3 days of cold fermentation in the fridge.  Anywhere in the 1-4 days time should be fine though.  

On the day you want to make the deep dish pizza, remove the dough from the fridge and divide it into 300 gram balls, for the 8″ x 10″ pan size.  After you divide the dough into balls, you can freeze any dough balls you will not use that day.  Freeze on a pan with parchment paper, and then transfer to Zip-Loc bags for future use. 

pizza dough after it has risen in the fridge for 3 days
deep dish pizza dough divided into balls for pan pizza

You want the dough balls to rest at room temperature for at least 4 hours, from my experience.  This will make the dough nice and relaxed when stretching it for the pan pizzas. Typically, I will start the actual stretching of the dough 90 minutes ahead of the baking them.  

Simple Pan Pizza Sauce Recipe

Great pizza sauce must start with quality tomatoes of some sort.  I have found these San Merican Tomato Crushed Tomatoes to be perfect for all pizza sauces, with out spending a fortune.  They have a little texture and great flavor – a nice balance of sweetness and citrus.  After you find a great starting tomato base, it’s really easy to make a good sauce. 

Pan Pizza Sauce Ingredients

  1. 28 oz can of Premium Crushed tomatoes
  2.  Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon
  3.  Fresh Pepper – 1/2 teaspoon
  4.  Dry Sweet Basil – 1/2 teaspoon
  5.  Dry Oregano – 1/2 teaspoon
  6.  Garlic – 1 clove – finely chopped
  7.  Tomato Paste – 1 Tablespoon

Mix all ingredients together in a small sauce pan and simmer for 20 minutes mellow the garlic and thicken the sauce a little bit.  Cool in the fridge before using. This allows you to use more sauce on the pizza with out it being watery.  A good pan pizza needs more sauce in my opinion to balance out the thicker crust. You can use this sauce on any pizza though. 

Stretching the Dough for Pan Pizza

Stretching the dough is easy, as long as you give yourself enough time to work with.  The first thing you will want to do is spread some olive oil in the bottom and sides of the pan.  Just a nice even coating of the olive oil.  Then start pushing your 300 gram dough ball into an oval shape that fits the pan better. 

pizza dough in pan pizza pan
stretching pan pizza dough
stretching pan pizza dough

You will want to keep repeating this process every 15 minutes or so.  Start by pressing the dough out with your hands and then eventually picking up the dough to let it stretch out under its own weight.  I will pick it up on one side, letting it stretch out.  Then pick it up on the opposite side, letting it stretch out. 

Repeat this process until the dough fills the pan to the corners. 

Topping Detroit Style Pan Pizzas

Now, let me say this before I tell you how to top your pizza.  I am not from Detroit and this is probably not 100% detroit style.  However, it is damn tasty.  I would put this pan pizza against any recipe you can find from a book, internet, or anywhere else.  It is that good.  This is how I like it… 

  1. Now that your dough is stretched out, place thin slices of provolone across the pizza.  It can hit the edges of the pan a little.
  2. Then place little chunks of whole milk mozzarella or brick cheese randomly across the pizza.  
  3. Add the sauce in small spoonfuls across the pizza.  You can be random or deliberate.  I like a fair amount of sauce. 
  4. Top with a few of  your favorite toppings.  Keep it simple with just a few.  My favorite is Pepperoni and Mushroom or Green Pepper and Mushroom. 
  5.  Bake at 500°F , with the directions below. 
pan pizza topping at home

Baking Pan Pizzas at Home

After some experimenting, I have found the optimal temperature for baking pan pizzas to be 500°F in my home oven.  Your oven may vary a little bit, but I think this is a good place to start.  

Now that you have your dough stretched and topped with your favorite pizza toppings, place the pan on the bottom of your oven.  That’s correct, right on the bottom.  Not the rack… the actual bottom of the oven.   Leave it on the bottom of the oven for 5 minutes and then transfer it to the middle rack for another 10 minutes, for a total baking time of 15 minutes.  

The 5 minutes on the bottom of the oven is going to transfer a lot more heat to the pan quickly, allowing the bottom of the pizza to form that nice crisp crust.  The final 10 minutes will finish the entire pizza nicely, with a good balance of crispness on the outside and soft airy dough on the inside.  


amazing pan pizza recipe at home
cooked pan pizza at home
pan pizza crust

Let me know how you like this recipe if you try it!  If you are into Pizza, you might want to check out some of my other Pizza Blog Posts: 

Thin & Crispy Tavern Style Pizza Recipe

DIY Outdoor Pizza Kitchen Build

Review of the Gozney Roccbox Pizza Oven.