Detroit-style pizza. It’s one of the best kinds of pizza you will ever consume, yet it didn’t become wildly popular nationwide until the past few years or so. Whether you’ve had it at a restaurant, or you’d like to take a stab at it in the comfort of your own home, you’ve come to the right place.
What is Detroit-Style Pizza?
Detroit-style pizza is a rectangular-shaped pan pizza with a delightfully chewy, thick, and crispy crust (the absolute star of the show), adorned by toppings and cheese, with sauce iconically situated on top. It’s the ultimate cheesy and bready pizza fix, and has been popularized by iconic Detroit-style pizzerias including Buddy’s (the original in Detroit), Via 313 (Austin), Emmy Squared (NYC), and many others popping up around the country.
Detroit-style pizza isn’t fancy or pretentious. It’s the perfect family-friendly, game night-approved, wholeheartedly addicting pizza that everyone can’t seem to get enough of. Have a slice or two or three, dunk it in Ranch if that’s your thing, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself in a state of pizza euphoria with every single bite.
How To Make Detroit-Style Pizza
Making Detroit-style pizza can seem a little daunting, but with the right ingredients and a little bit of time, any home cook can do the job, and do it well! Here’s how to make Detroit-style pizza in a nutshell:
- Make the dough. You’ll use warm water (make sure it’s sitting around 95° F), yeast, salt, and bread flour. Bread flour has higher protein content, thus lending to more substantial, chewier crust.
- Let the dough rise for two hours. Your home should sit around 70 degrees for best results with this recipe. After the dough has doubled in size, place it on a floured surface, cut in half with a bench scraper, and form both balls of dough into rectangles, similar in size to your Detroit-style pizza pans.
- Let the dough rise one more time, but this time in the refrigerator. The cold, slow rise of dough helps develop the flavor of the crust. Leave it in the fridge for a recommended 4 hours, or up to 36.
- While the dough is rising make your pizza sauce and prepare your pizza toppings. The most popular Detroit-style pizzas are classic cheese or cheese and pepperoni.
- An hour before baking your pizza, place a pizza stone or pizza steel on the lowest rack of your oven, and preheat the oven and the pizza stone or steel at 550° F for at least one hour.
- Just before you’re ready to bake your first pizza (this recipe makes two), pull it from the fridge and assemble. Top with pepperoni (yes, before the sauce!), then cheese, then sauce, and then more pepperoni if desired.
- Bake each pizza for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and melted, and both the bottom and sides of your pizza are a deep golden brown. It’s okay if the crust/cheese has produce some char around the edges. Broil pizza on the top rack for 1-2 minutes, until your pepperoni is nice and crispy, and there are a few spots on the surface of your cheese.
- Remove pizza from oven and let it sit in the pan for a minute or two. Then, using two spatulas, transfer the pizza to a cutting board. Cut into 6 square slices and serve immediately!
Do I Really Need A Detroit-Style Pizza Pan?
For the very best results, yes- we undoubtedly recommend a proper Detroit-Style pizza pan. We’ve tested a few brands, and this one has simultaneously produced beautiful Detroit-style pizzas and held up very well. If you don’t have a Detroit-Style pizza pan, don’t fret. You can totally use a 9×13″ nonstick aluminum baking pan (or two for this recipe).
Favorite Topping Combinations
Similar to any other style of pizza, the two most popular orders will always be cheese and pepperoni. If you want to try something a little different, here are some flavor combinations we recommend, all made with the crust in this recipe:
- Olive oil, low-moisture mozzarella, prosciutto (placed on after baking), arugula (after baking), and balsamic vinegar reduction (after baking).
- Low-moisture mozzarella and cheddar cheese, sliced mushrooms, pepperoni, sausage, onions, green peppers, and tomato sauce.
- Low-moisture mozzarella, tomato sauce, grated parmigiano reggiano, and fresh basil.
Detroit-style pizza is easy to make, but it requires a little bit of planning ahead. Here is a proposed timeline for baking the pizza:
10:00- make the pizza dough
10:15- let the pizza dough rise until doubled
12:15- divide the dough and place in fridge for second rise
4/5 ish- preheat the oven and pizza stone for 1 hour
5:30- pull pizzas from fridge, assemble with toppings, and bake
5:45/6:00- serve pizza
How to Reheat Detroit-Style Pizza
Not all types of pizza make great leftovers, but Detroit-style pizza is the exception and tastes fantastic heated up. Heat 1-2 slices of pizza in a nonstick pan or cast iron skillet over low heat, until cheese is warm and melty and crust is nice and crispy. If cheese isn’t melting as quickly as crust is crisping up, cover your pan with a lid or cookie sheet to expedite the process.
- 2 Detroit style pizza pans (see notes)
- Pizza stone or pizza steel (see notes)
- 2 cups warm water (95° F), divided
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 4 cups plus 2 Tablespoons bread flour
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
- extra virgin olive oil for pan
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 32-ounce can whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 16 oz. low-moisture mozzarella, cut into small dice-sized cubes*
- 12 oz. medium cheddar cheese, cut into small dice-sized cubes
- 5 oz. sliced pepperoni (optional)
- In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and the sugar in 1 cup of warm water (water should be approximately 95° F). Let sit for five minutes. Mixture should be bubbly after sitting.
- In a stand mixer, combine the yeast/warm water mixture, the remaining cup of warm water, 2 cups of bread flour, and salt. Use the paddle attachment and mix until combined. Add the remaining 2 cups and 2 Tablespoons of flour, one cup at a time. Once the dough begins to come together, remove the paddle attachment and swap for dough hook. Once combined, let dough rest for 10 minutes.
- Mix the dough again with the dough hook until smooth (about 1 minute). The dough should be soft, but not super sticky. You may need to add an additional 2 Tablespoons of flour if you live in a humid climate, or it is humid on the day that you bake. Spray the sides of the mixing bowl with cooking spray, cover bowl with plastic, and allow dough to rise until doubled, about 2 hours (see notes on room temperature).
- Pour 2-3 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in each of the pizza pans and, using your hands, spread the oil until it coats the bottom and sides of the pans evenly. Set aside.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, carefully remove from mixing bowl and place on a floured surface. Lightly sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and divide in half with a bench scraper or knife. Carefully stretch each ball of dough with your fingers and the back of your hands (pulling outward as the dough sits on top of your knuckles ) to form two rectangles, roughly the size of your pizza pans. Place the dough in the pans and gently stretch the dough until it covers the bottom of the pan.
- Cover both pans tightly with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator for 4 hours, or until ready to bake (good for up to 36 hours).
- In a medium-sized saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, stirring occasionally- about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 additional minute. Add the San Marzano tomatoes and accompanying juices, crushing the tomatoes with your hands as you release them into the sauce pan. Add one teaspoon of kosher salt and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Use an immersion blender to blend the sauce for a few seconds, keeping some small pieces of tomato/onion visible. Add the oregano and stir. Taste the sauce and add more salt if needed. Set aside until pizza assembly.
Assembly & Baking
- One hour before you plan to bake your pizza, place a baking steel or pizza stone on the bottom rack of oven and preheat to 550° F for one full hour.
- Assemble the pizza just before baking. If using pepperoni, layer about 1 1/2 ounces of the pepperoni directly on top of the dough. Sprinkle 1/2 of mozzarella (roughly 8 ounces) and 1/2 of cheddar cheese (roughly 6 ounces) evenly on top. Make sure there is plenty of cheese situated on the border of your pan, which will help give you those iconic, crunchy, Detroit-style pizza edges.
- Spoon two parallel lines of pizza sauce down the length of the pizza, with 2-3 inches of space on either side. Use about 1/3 cup of sauce per line. If using pepperoni, sprinkle a few more pieces alongside and in between the sauce.
- Place the pizza directly on the pizza stone or baking steel if using, and bake for 10-15 minutes. Pizza is done when cheese is melted and bubbly, and the crust is a deep golden brown on the sides and bottom of pizza. You may have slight charring anywhere cheese has contacted the pan, which is completely acceptable. Turn oven to broil, transfer pizza to top rack, and broil for 1-2 minutes, until pepperoni and pizza edges are nice and crisp. Watch carefully and do not burn pizza. Adjust oven back to 550° F if you still need to cook your second pizza.
- Remove pizza from oven, allow to cool in the pan for 2-3 minutes, and repeat steps 2-5 for remaining dough. Using two large spatulas on either side of the pizza, transfer to a cutting board. Cut into square pieces (6 per pizza) and serve immediately.
- Detroit-style pizza is (unsurprisingly) best made in Detroit-style pizza pans. This is our preferred pan to use, which will give you beautiful, crispy crust every single time. You can also make Detroit-style pizza in a 9×13″ nonstick aluminum baking pan.
- If you have a pizza stone or pizza steel, make sure and use it for this recipe. Using one or the other will help produce the signature deep brown crust on the bottom of your pizza. Place it on your bottom rack, and let it sit there for a full hour as your oven preheats.
- This recipe makes two Detroit-style pizzas. If you’re going to all of the trouble to make Detroit-style pizza, we believe it’s in your best interest to make at least two (this pizza reheats really well btw). However, if you strongly prefer to make one, the recipe can easily be halved.
- Make sure that your room is sitting at about 70 degrees for the initial rise of the dough. If your house runs cold or it is winter, consider bumping up your heat a few degrees, or letting your dough rise in a warm part of your house (but not too warm).
- *Traditional Detroit-style pizza is made with a delightful cheese called Brick Cheese. You can often find it in the specialty cheese section of grocery stores, or you can even purchase it online. If you prefer to use brick cheese for this recipe rather than the combination of mozzarella and cheddar, use about 14-15 oz. per pie, totaling to roughly 28-30 oz. of brick cheese for both pizzas.