Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

I’ve been meaning to work out and eat healthier starting this month. Instead, I worked on this calorie-ridden deep dish pizza. It was worth it.

Never have I eaten Chicago deep-dish pizza, not in Chicago, not even in the DFW area, but the goddamn visual of it all had me craving it for YEARS. No one shared my enthusiasm for this pizza, and I wasn’t going to go finish off a whole pizza alone at a table, even for me, that’d be a tad too shameful, so my procurement of this beautiful pizza specimen had to be put on pause.

…until now. And let me tell you, even though I know I didn’t hit all the authenticity points, this pizza was still everything I imagined: a deeply flavorful saucy pizza pie with LOADS of cheese. Pizza snobs shouldn’t turn their heads on this; it’s its own thing you know.

I used Sally’s Baking Addiction’s recipe for the base with some adjustments that I’ve researched online from different sources. Because this recipe makes two 9-inch pizzas, I was able to fix the mistakes I had with the first one (too thick crust and watery filling) and apply that to my second one. A little bit of fish sauce was also added to the sauce; seriously, put a dash of fish sauce in any of your tomato sauces, and the result is umami heaven without the fishiness that you’d imagine.

The vegetables were sauteed to drive off water and I drained as much liquid as I could afterward. The sausage was also pre-cooked and browned to reduce the amount of liquid going in the pie and also to give it more flavor. Since my dough was too thick for the first pie, especially in the bottom edges of the pan, I made sure to press the dough out as thin as I could in the pan. Quite a lot of mistakes, but the sauce was perfect both first and second time around.

This recipe is more convenient to make if you do all your dough proofing the day before; the day after you would only need 2 hours to finish the pizza off. Otherwise, plan to spend most of the day on this pizza~

For visual reference (if you’re a visual learner like myself), check out my Instagram highlight for this recipe on my profile @pokethedough

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction


Makes two 9-inch pizzas

For the pizza crust (makes 2):

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1-1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

2-1/4 tsp Red Star Platinum yeast or other instant yeast (1 standard packet)

1-1/4 cup slightly warm water (about 90F)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, divided (1/4 melted, 1/4 cup softened to room temp)

olive oil for brushing

For the tomato sauce (for two pizzas):

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1/3 cup grated onion (about 1 small onion or half large onion)

3/4 tsp salt

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

4 garlic cloves

28-oz can crushed tomatoes

1/4 tsp sugar

1 tsp fish sauce

For the toppings (for two pizzas):

4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Optional but this is what I used:

1 cup of portabello mushrooms, sliced

1 green bell pepper, sliced

1 small onion or half large onion, sliced

2 jalapenos, sliced

2 Italian cased sausages

oil for sauteeing


Making the pizza dough (Day 1: proofing): Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. If you do not have a stand mixer, use your hand mixer and a very very large bowl. If you do not have any mixer, you will do this all by hand. Again, use a very large bowl.

Give those ingredients a quick toss with your mixer on low or with a large wooden spoon. Add the warm water and 1/4 cup of melted butter. The warm water should be around 90°F (32°C). Make sure it is not very, very hot or it will kill the yeast. Likewise, make sure the butter isn’t boiling hot. If you melt it in the microwave, let it sit for 5 minutes before adding.

On low speed, beat (or stir) the dough ingredients until everything begins to be moistened.

Switch to medium speed (or remove from the bowl and knead by hand if you do not own a mixer), and beat the dough until it is soft and supple and gently pulls away from the sides of the bowl and falls off of the dough hook- about 5-6 minutes.

Remove the dough from the bowl and form into a ball. Lightly grease a large mixing bowl with olive oil and place the dough inside, turning it around so that all sides of the dough are coated in the oil. Cover the bowl tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rise in a warm environment for 1-2 hours or until double in size.

(Sidenote: I found that the suggestion of putting the dough in an oven that was turned to 250F and turned off, was still a little too hot for my dough; this would probably be good for winter, but I found my dough was fine proofing in room temperature)

Once the dough is ready, lightly flour a large work surface. Remove dough from the bowl, set the bowl and aluminum foil aside (to use later). Gently punch down the dough to remove any air bubbles and roll the dough into a large 15×12 rectangle. Spread 1/4 cup of softened butter on top of the dough.

Roll it up lengthwise (the short end). Cut the dough log in half. Form the two pieces of dough into balls and place back into your greased bowl.

Cover with aluminum foil and allow to rise in the refrigerator (not in a warm place) for 1 hour until they are puffy as you make the sauce.

Alternatively, this is where you can refrigerate to make ahead the next day or freeze the dough to save for much later. After the butter and ball-forming, you can leave the dough in the fridge for up to one full day and gently punch it down when you’re ready to use the dough. Or you can freeze the dough; after the butter and ball-forming, you can freeze for up to 2 months. Allow the dough to thaw overnight and then rise at room temperature for 1 hour before continuing.

For the sauce: Place butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat and allow it to melt. Once melted, add the grated onion, salt, oregano, and red pepper flakes.

Once the onion has slightly browned after about 5 minutes, add the garlic, tomatoes, sugar, and fish sauce. Turn the heat down to low-medium and allow it to simmer until it’s hearty, fragrant, and thick- about 30 minutes. You’ll have about 2 and 1/2 cups of sauce at this point.

If you have more than that, keep simmering until the amount has reduced. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to be used. You may store the sauce in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days if planning to make the pizza another day. You may freeze this sauce for up to 2 months as well.

Preparing the toppings: Preheat the oven to 425F. Remove the sausage from its casing and form 1/2 inch pieces to drop into a pan prepared with 1 tbsp of oil on medium heat. Brown the sausage, drain the liquid, and set aside.

In the same pan, add another tbsp of oil, and sautee the mushrooms until slightly browned and a significant amount of water is let off. Drain and set aside.

Add another tbsp of oil to the pan and add the jalapenos, bell peppers, and onions. Sautee until slightly softened. Drain and set aside.

Forming the pizza: After the dough balls have risen in the refrigerator, they should be puffy. Keep one ball of dough in the refrigerator as you work with the first one.

Roll it out on a lightly floured work surface, working it into a 12-inch circle. Using your rolling pin as a guide (see photos below), place over a 9×2 inch deep dish cake pan.

Using your fingers, press the dough into the cake pan. Make sure it is thin and tight-fitting inside the pan. Trim any excess dough off the edges with a small knife. Repeat with 2nd dough. Brush the top edges of the dough with a little olive oil, which gives the crust a beautiful sheen.

If using sausage, press the sausage pieces into the dough. Fill each pizza with 1/2 of the cheese (about 2 cups per pizza), then top with all of the veggies.

On top of those toppings, pour about 1 and 1/4 cups of sauce on top of each. If you do not like that much sauce, you can reduce to 3/4 cup per pizza and have leftover sauce. Sprinkle each with 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese.

Baking the pizzas: Place the cake pans on top of a large baking sheet, which will catch anything potentially spilling over the sides of the pans. (Nothing usually does.) Bake for 25-28 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Feel free to loosely cover the pizzas with aluminum foil after the 15 minute mark to prevent any heavy browning and uneven baking.

Remove the pizzas from the oven and allow to cool in the pans placed on a wire rack for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, slice, serve, and enjoy. Place any leftover pizza in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.  Reheat leftovers in a 300°F (149°C) oven for 15-20 minutes or until hot.