Deep Dish Chicago Pizza: The Definitive Guide

The Pizza Show is pretty much accountable for the making of this post. Never have I seen a warmer, more genuine show about pizza than the latest series from the people at Munchies. What the show basically does to me, is portray the humble, down to earth people that are responsible for maintaining the culture that revolves a simple slice of pizza.

I think you can relate when I say that the best pizza places always have the best atmosphere and people. That goes for both the people working there and the people who sit beside your table. Because actual pizza-making relies on the energy and spirit of the house it gets made at. When people care and love, it definitely reflects on the food they make – and that’s what The Pizza Show reflects so damn well.

It gets deep. And “deep” is, of course, the perfect segway to the start of this guide. Because I am still high from their latest episode about the deep dish Chicago pizza. That episode opens minds and broadens horizons. Shout out to you for introducing people to this delicacy who has been living under the shadow of New York-style pizza for too many years.


1. Chicago-style pizza is actually an array of pizza styles made in the windy city.

2. Without a doubt, the most celebrated of these is the deep dish style.

3. This type of pizza has a high edge and a deep surface from the pan its made with,

making way for large pieces of cheese and tomato sauce as toppings.

The History of the Deep Dish Chicago Pizza

The origin of the Chicago pizza pie is documented but not-so-documented at the same time. Basically, it’s not well enough documented.

Pretty weird, but let us get to the details: The official cultural historian of Chicago, Tim Samuelson, once said that there’s simply not enough proof to be certain about who exactly invented the deep-dish pizza style that Chicago has been known for.

One claim is that Pizzeria Uno in Chicago, through its owner Ike Sewell, invented the style in 1943. But an article from the Chicago Daily News in 1956 claims that it was the Uno’s pizza chef Rudy Malnati who developed the recipe.

With conflicting stories, legend takes over.

Samuelson says he now has enough documentation to prove the pizza emerged from a restaurant that opened in the early 1940s in the mansion on East Ohio at Wabash, originally built by Chicago lumber baron Nathan Mears.

But reading that article from the Chicago Tribune left me with the sensation of yet another food item that simply no one will ever agree on its origins.

How To Prepare Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza

The Pizza Crust

The best deep dish pizza is made when you bake the pie in a round, steel pan that resembles a cake pan. Oil the pan so that the pizza can be easily removed, but also to make that fried effect on the crust’s exterior.

Apart from regular flour, the deep dish pizza dough usually has semolina, corn meal or straight up food coloring so it gets that distinct yellow tone. The dough forms a bowl when pressed up onto the side of the pan so you get a pretty thick layer for toppings.

The Toppings

There’s one thing every deep dish pizza maker knows about the toppings. Since the thick layer takes a longer time to bake, dangers are the cheese used as the top layer of the pizza could burn. That’s why the toppings are assembled upside down. 

The crust is covered with sliced mozzarella, followed by various meat variants like pepperoni or sausage, the latter of which is sometimes in a solid patty-like layer. Other toppings such as onions, mushrooms and bell peppers are used as well, but of course that varies from all the pizza makers’ preference.

An uncooked sauce, typically made from crushed canned tomatoes, is added as the finishing layer; though sometimes, a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese is added for extra flavor.

Famous Chicago Pizza Places

Browsing through the comments section of an open thread at Serious Eats, a curated list of the best chicago pizza places would be something like this:

  • Art of Pizza
  • Bacino’s
  • Bartoli’s
  • Burt’s Place
  • Edwardo’s
  • Gino’s East
  • Giordano’s
  • Lou Malnati’s
  • Louisa’s
  • My Pie
  • Pizano’s
  • Pizzeria Uno
  • Tortorice’s

…hereby added to any real pizza lover’s bucket list.

Now, knowing the controversial story of the deep dish Chicago pizza, how to make one and where to try them if you’re the city – it’s safe to say you’re prepared for whatever comes your way. Check out The Pizza Show’s episode below, and get familiar with a true American pizza.

Categories Recipes