Happy [Deep Dish Pizza] Pi[e] Day!

March 14, 2013
When I was a kid, we used to go to our neighborhood pizza place at least once a week.  You see, every Tuesday and Sunday, our local pizza place had a family special:  one deluxe sized (XL) deep dish pizza and a pitcher of pop for a special price.  Really, it was just an excuse for our family to regularly consume the deliciousness that is Chicago style deep dish pizza.  Our order was always the same, stuffed spinach on a whole wheat crust with a pitcher of good old Coca-Cola.  Occasionally, if we had friends visiting we would branch out and order sausage or pepperoni, or be extra boring and just get cheese!  To this day, though, the taste of that pizza from our local Chicago pizza place is one of the many flavors that I associate with my childhood.
Pizza slice, 1
I set out to learn how to make deep dish pizza about three years ago, not ever thinking that I would leave Chicago.  It seemed like an interesting challenge and a cool skill to master.  I also wanted to create a good recipe that I could send to my loved ones who didn’t have the awesome privilege of living so close to amazing pizza places like I did!  It took quite a bit of trial and error but I finally got the recipe down.  Fast forward three years and I now live 2200 miles away from the land of delicious deep dish and I am so grateful to have created (and written down!) this recipe.  After all, it’s hard to break years of training that deep dish is something that I should be eating at least once a week!

Making the Pizza Dough, 1

The crust is an enriched pizza dough with some cornmeal added in for both flavor and texture.  And, sorry Papa Hathi!  It’s made with all-purpose flour.  I’ll work on a whole wheat one soon, I promise!  It’s easy to bring it together, but it is important for it to be kneaded enough for the gluten to develop really well, otherwise the pizza crust will take more cake-y and less crust-y.  A stand mixer is very handy here.  So is allowing the dough time to rest.

Making the Pizza Dough, 2

The sauce is something that I took a little bit of liberty with in terms of flavor.  After my trial and error resulted in one too many pizza ‘soups’ instead of solid pizza, I learned to use canned crushed tomatoes instead of canned whole tomatoes.  To this I add some herbs and garlic to amp up the flavor.


Other things I’ve learned is that fresh mozzarella is not the way to go (see aforementioned pizza soup).  I tend to use either blocks of mozzarella that I shred or pre-shredded mozzarella if I’m pressed for time.  Low moisture and high ‘meltability’ are key here .  The topping options are endless, but it is super important the sauce be on top!  That’s the mark of deep dish pizza!  The assembly is variable based on the topping.  Spinach pizza is rich with spinach and cheese, so the spinach goes on top of the crust, the cheese on top of the spinach and the sauce on top of the cheese.  The pizza that I made for this post was sausage, and thus assembly goes crust then cheese then sausage then sauce.  Most toppings work really well on top of the cheese, except for spinach which must go under the cheese.


The pizza is really quick to come together once the crust is done and it’s fully assembled.  And it’s baked in it’s own pan, so no worries about sliding it off of a peel onto a stone.  25-30 minutes in the oven and you are rewarded with an incredible treat.  Cheesy, tangy, crunchy all in one bite.  A whole meal in one piece.  A little taste of Chicago in your own home.  Even if you live in Chicago, you should try making this once, just so you know you can do it!  It’s worth it.
So happy Pi day to all!  Maybe go savory today and make yourself a deep dish pizza pie to celebrate.  You can always finish off your meal with a dessert pie as well.  Pi[e] squared.  Yum yum!

Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza

From at

Prep: Cook: Yield: 1 10 inch pizza, feeds 4Total:

An almost perfect Chicago style deep dish pizza pie with a cornmeal crust, plenty of cheese, and an herb filled pizza sauce. It's ready to top with any flavor that you like!

You'll Need...

  • For the Crust:
  • 2 cups (250 g) all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/3 cup (55 g) coarse yellow cornmeal
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 1 ¼ tsp. instant yeast
  • 2 ½ Tbsp. olive oil
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • For the Sauce:
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes, drained
  • ¼ tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh basil (or 2 tsp. dried basil)
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh oregano (or 1 tsp. dried oregano)
  • ½ Tbsp. fresh marjoram (or ½ tsp. dried marjoram)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced (or 1 Tbsp. garlic powder)
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Toppings:
  • 2 cups shredded low-moisture mozzarella
  • 1-2 slices provolone cheese, torn into medium pieces
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • Optional toppings:  sausage, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach, etc.  The sky is the limit, but take a look at the notes first!


  1. Make the crust:
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, instant yeast.  Mix well with the paddle attachment to blend.  When all the dry ingredients are well incorporated drizzle in the olive oil while beating with the paddle mixer.  Drizzle in the water while mixing on low speed with the paddle mixer.  When all the water has been incorporated, and the dough begins to come together, switch to the dough hook on the stand mixer.  Mix the dough on medium speed for 4-5 minutes.  If the dough still seems wet after this, add a bit more all purpose flour and mix again for another minute.  Repeat as necessary until the dough forms a nice soft ball that isn't too wet or sticky.  Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, mix on medium speed for two minutes.  Take a small portion of the dough and stretch it with your fingers.  If it breaks easily, mix again for 2 minutes until the dough easily stretches without breaking until it is quite thin.
  3. Rub a large bowl with some olive oil and transfer the dough to that bowl to rise.  Allow to rise for about 2 hours or until doubled in size.  After the dough has doubled, preheat the oven to 400F.  Turn the dough out onto a well floured counter top.  Roll until it is about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.  Gently transfer the dough into a very, very, very well buttered 10 inch cake pan, spring-form is easiest but standard cake pans will work quite well.  The dough should be about 1-2 inches tall along the sides, see picture above for reference.  Prick all over with a fork and bake in the oven for 4 minutes.  Remove from the oven.
  4. Make the sauce:
  5. While the pizza crust is rising, open up the crushed tomatoes and empty into a medium mesh sieve.  Allow excess fluid to drain from the tomatoes.  Transfer to a bowl and add all of the other ingredients to the drained crushed tomatoes.  Set aside until ready to assemble the pizza.
  6. Assemble the pizza:
  7. Place the shredded mozzarella and the provolone directly on top of the par baked crust.  Add your other toppings on top of the cheeses (unless using spinach* which should be directly on top of the crust).  Carefully spread the sauce on top of the toppings.  You should not use all of the sauce, there will be some left over.  Sprinkle the parm on top of the sauce.  Admire your creation.
  8. Bake the pizza:
  9. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and has pulled away from the edges of the pan.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Slice, serve, and devour.

Additional Notes

For toppings that leak a lot of fluid like mushrooms, cook them first.

If you plan on using spinach, I recommend using frozen, chopped spinach.  Allow it to thaw, squeeze to drain as much liquid as you can, and then layer on top of the crust.



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  • Reply kruti r zaveri March 15, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    hi tanviben.. i can actually smell it and i still remember the taste of spinach pizza which you used to get all the way to india … wow .. motimummy please get it whenever you come next .. birju must try this … such a mouth watering .. love you ..

  • Reply ruchikala March 25, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    I was just talking to my roomie about how much I miss proper deep dish pizza, and here this is. I'm so on it!

    (I can just imagine Srini grumbling and groaning while you make him wait to eat it until you get the perfect shot, Brandon would be whimpering like a puppy if I made him wait for that one.)

  • Reply divyesh September 26, 2013 at 9:37 am

    Oh this sounds so good..must try this week!Our fav in Chicago was a place called Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder company on Clark…Heaven must look and feel like it

  • Reply Anonymous October 5, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    Your recipe is not correct. In authentic Chicago deep dish pizza there is no cornmeal–this is a myth promulgated years ago on the Internet by an entirely wrong recipe. The buttery flavor of Chicago deep dish comes from the use of corn oil, not butter (although some pizzerias grease their pans with butter). Your recipe doesn't have nearly enough oil–you need 3 Tablespoons for every cup of flour. Mix for 1 minutes, then knead for 2 at the most–the whole point is to make a biscuit-like dough (as little gluten formation as possible)–so you will need to pre-proof the yeast in warm water (I recommend regular yeast and let the dough rise for as much as 8 hours to develop flavor). If you knead for 5 minutes, your result will be closer to bread than to authentic Chicago deep dish. For the sauce, use a high-quality brand of ground or crushed tomatoes (6-in-1, Pagliacci, etc.) and DO NOT COOK. Use a half-and-half mix of part-skim and whole milk mozzarella (again, a quality brand, like Stella or Frigo).

    • Reply tanvilu@gmail.com October 23, 2014 at 11:38 pm

      Glad to see you're so passionate about your deep dish! I'm from Chicago, and I agree that most places don't use cornmeal in their crust. But, certain places like Art of Pizza and Giordano's do use cornmeal. I happen to like the nice texture that it adds, so I'm standing by it. You'll see that I do not cook my sauce because I agree, it's more delicious that way. Enjoy your pizza!

    • Reply tanvilu@gmail.com October 23, 2014 at 11:40 pm

      Oops! Meant to say Gino's, not Giordano's.

  • Reply Karina Beazer November 24, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    I absolutely love deep dish pizza, and your recipe looks amazing! I have never had it better than when I ate it in Chicago. My favorite thing about deep dish pizza is the tomato sauce! There is always an abundance of it. It is a hearty meal and good for the soul!


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