What Is Chicago-Style Pizza?

Nearly everyone has opinions on Chicago Style Pizza. Whether you’re a lifelong Chicagoan who swears by its signature deep-dish style or a curious newcomer wanting to discover what all the fuss is about, Chicago’s take on pizza is one that certainly incites passion. 

As someone who has enjoyed many different regional pizza varieties across America, we once found ourselves in the Windy City craving a slice. However, rather than satisfying our appetite with just any old slice, we decided it was finally time to experience Chicago Style Pizza in its natural habitat and see what all the hype was about. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore what is Chicago-style pizza, where to find the best examples of this iconic dish, and, of course, dig into whether it lives up to its reputation. Buckle up because we’re taking a deep dive into what makes Chicago Style Pizza truly one-of-a-kind.

chicago style pizza

What Is Chicago-Style Pizza?

Chicago Style pizza is a deep-dish pizza with a thick, buttery crust that can hold an abundance of toppings. It is often referred to as “pizza pie” due to its depth and resemblance to a pie or casserole. 

Unlike traditional thin-crust pizzas, Chicago Style Pizza has cheese on the bottom, followed by toppings, and then sauce on top. This unique layering allows for the toppings to be cooked thoroughly and creates a distinct flavor profile. 

What Are The Ingredients Used To Make Chicago-Style Pizza?

The ingredients used in Chicago Style Pizza are similar to traditional pizza toppings, such as cheese, sauce, and various meats and vegetables

However, due to the thickness of the crust and unique layering, some pizzerias may use heartier toppings like sausage or roasted vegetables to ensure they are fully cooked. 

Additionally, Chicago Style Pizza often uses a blend of cheeses rather than just mozzarella, such as cheddar or Parmesan, to add depth of flavor.

sliced chicago style pizza

How Do You Make Chicago-Style Pizza?

Making Chicago Style Pizza is a process that requires some patience and skill. 

The key to achieving the perfect deep-dish crust is to let the dough rise twice, once in a bowl and once in the pan. This allows for a lighter, fluffier crust that can hold up to all of the toppings. 

Additionally, it’s important to use a good-quality pizza sauce and to layer the toppings in the correct order to ensure they cook properly. While it may take a bit longer to make than your average pizza, the end result is well worth it.

What Makes Chicago-Style Pizza Unique?

The crust of Chicago-style pizza is what sets it apart from other types of pizza. It is made with a special dough that is pressed into a deep-dish pan, creating a tall and sturdy crust. This crust acts as a bowl for the toppings, making it perfect for those who love to pile on lots of ingredients.

The dough used for Chicago Style Pizza is typically dense, chewy, and buttery. It is made with flour, water, yeast, and oil, but some recipes may also call for cornmeal or semolina to give the crust a bit of texture. This type of dough is different from the thin and crispy crusts commonly found in other styles of pizza.

One unique aspect of Chicago Style Pizza is that it is often eaten with a knife and fork due to its thick crust. The crust is usually around 2-3 inches tall and has a crispy exterior while remaining soft and doughy on the inside. This makes it a filling meal, perfect for sharing with friends or family.

Many toppings can be added to Chicago Style Pizza, but some popular ones include Italian sausage, pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers. The generous amount of cheese used on top of the toppings helps to hold them in place and adds a creamy and gooey texture to each bite. Chicago Style Pizza is not just limited to savory flavors – it can also be made with sweet toppings for those with a sweet tooth. 

Some popular options include using fruits like pineapple or apples or even adding chocolate or caramel drizzle on top. This versatility in toppings makes Chicago Style Pizza perfect for any occasion.

In addition to its delicious crust and variety of toppings, Chicago Style Pizza is also known for its long baking time. It can take up to 45 minutes to an hour for the pizza to fully cook due to its deep-dish nature. 

However, this wait is well worth it as it allows all the flavors to meld together and create a mouthwatering dish.

Does Chicago-Style Pizza Live Up To Its Reputation?

As someone who has tasted their fair share of pizzas, we can confidently say that Chicago Style Pizza definitely lives up to its reputation. The combination of a thick, buttery crust, hearty toppings, and flavorful sauce creates a truly unforgettable dining experience. 

However, like any food, its enjoyment is subjective – some may prefer the simplicity of a traditional pizza, while others will appreciate the indulgence of Chicago style. Regardless, it’s definitely worth trying at least once to decide for yourself.

perfect chicago style pizza

Types of Chicago-Style Pizza

While deep-dish is the most well-known variation of Chicago Style Pizza, there are a few other types worth mentioning, such as:

1. Pan Pizza

The classic version of Chicago Style Pizza is the pan pizza, featuring a thick, deep-dish crust that is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

It typically has a generous amount of cheese and toppings, creating a hearty and filling meal.

2. Stuffed Pizza

Stuffed pizza is an even more decadent variation of Chicago Style Pizza. Similar to a pan pizza, it has a thick crust but is stuffed with additional layers of cheese and toppings. 

This creates a truly indulgent experience that will satisfy even the biggest appetite.

3. Thin Crust Pizza

While not as well-known as its deep-dish counterpart, thin-crust Chicago Style Pizza does exist and can be found at certain pizzerias. 

It still follows the same layering technique with the cheese on the bottom but has a thinner and crispier crust similar to traditional pizzas.

Where To Find The Best Chicago-Style Pizza?

best chicago style pizza

Chicago is home to numerous pizzerias claiming to have the best Chicago Style Pizza, making it difficult to narrow down a definitive list. However, some of the top contenders include:

1. Pizzeria Uno (The Original Location): This iconic pizzeria is where it all started, with their signature deep-dish pizza that has been satisfying customers since 1943.

2. Lou Malnati’s: Another beloved establishment, Lou Malnati’s boasts a buttery crust and chunky tomato sauce that keeps customers coming back for more.

3. Giordano’s: Known for their stuffed Chicago Style Pizza, Giordano’s offers a unique twist on the classic dish with their famous “cheese pull” when slicing into the pizza.

4. Gino’s East: A favorite among locals, Gino’s East has been serving up its signature deep-dish pizza since 1966 and is known for its cornmeal crust and generous toppings.

5. Pequod’s: This hidden gem may not be as well-known as the others on this list, but its caramelized crust and perfectly balanced flavors make it a must-try for any pizza lover.

In addition to these popular pizzerias, there are countless other spots in Chicago that offer their own take on the iconic dish.

Why Is Chicago Style Pizza So Popular?

Chicago Style Pizza’s popularity can be attributed to its unique and indulgent flavor profile, as well as its role in the city’s food culture. As one of Chicago’s most iconic dishes, it has become a must-try for tourists and locals alike. 

Additionally, its thick crust and hearty toppings make it a filling meal that can easily be shared with friends and family. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a memorable dining experience, Chicago Style Pizza has something to offer everyone.  

So next time you find yourself in the Windy City, be sure to indulge in this beloved dish and experience its deliciousness for yourself.  

Tips For Making a Delicious Chicago-Style Pizza

delicious chicago style pizza

Making a Chicago style might be a bit more involved than making a regular pizza, but with these tips, you can achieve the perfect deep-dish crust and delicious flavors:

1. Use High-Quality Ingredients: This includes fresh toppings, a good pizza sauce, and quality cheese.

2. Let The Dough Rise Twice: Once in a bowl and again in the pan to achieve a light and airy crust.

3. Layer The Toppings Correctly: Start with cheese on the bottom to prevent the crust from getting soggy.

4. Don’t Be Afraid To Experiment With Toppings: Chicago Style Pizza is known for its variety of toppings, so have fun and create your own unique combination.

5. Bake At A High Temperature: This will help ensure that the crust gets crispy and the toppings cook properly.

6. Allow It to Cool Before Slicing: Although it might be tempting to eat immediately, letting the pizza cool for a few minutes helps the toppings set and ensures a cleaner slice.

7. Don’t Underestimate The Power Of Butter: Brushing melted butter on the crust before baking adds an extra layer of flavor and helps achieve that iconic golden-brown color.

8. Serve With Extra Sauce On The Side: Some people prefer more sauce than others, so having some on hand for dipping is always a good idea.

9. Enjoy With Friends And Family: Chicago Style Pizza is meant to be shared and enjoyed with loved ones, so make it a fun and memorable experience.  So go ahead, gather your loved ones, and create some delicious memories while indulging in this iconic dish! 


In conclusion, now you know all about the question of what is Chicago-style pizza. Chicago Style Pizza may have its critics, but there’s no denying its popularity and status as a beloved staple in the city’s food culture. With its various types, countless pizzerias, and unique flavor profile, it’s no wonder that this dish continues to stand the test of time. 

So whether you prefer deep-dish or thin crust, don’t miss out on the opportunity to try Chicago Style Pizza for yourself and see why it’s a must-try when visiting the Windy City.

Leave a Comment