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Detroit-Style Pizza

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My go-to recipe is my Detroit-style pizza. Growing up, we always had home made pizza on Friday nights. It was a fun, family tradition. And now I am passing on this tradition with my two grown daughters, son-in-law and grand daughter. When they come home, they request my Detroit-style pizza. Authentic Detroit-style pizza is thick and has a light and airy inside, yet crispy on the outside. It is similar to Sicilian-style pizza, not Chicago-style. Detroit-style is square and the sauce is ladled on after the pizza is baked. Did you know that we have the auto industry to thank for the square shape? Back in the 40's, square blue steel pans were used in the auto industry to hold nuts and bolts. That is why it is sometimes referred to as "Blue Pan Pizza". Gus Guerra discovered the steel pans, when well-oiled, were great heat conductors and helped to caramelize the cheesy crust. And voila, the Detroit-style pizza was born! I like to make mini Detroit-style pizzas and let my family choose their individual toppings. Everyone always fights over the corner pieces. If you make these mini pizzas, every bite is a corner piece. My "Mini Detroit-Style Pizzas" will be America's favorite new pizza to make with their family. This recipe should be in TODAY's Food Ultimate Cook-Off.

Detroit-Style Pizza

  • Servings: 1 slice
  • Yield: 8 servings


  • Sauce-
  • 1 head garlic, top third cut off
  • 1 red onion, halved, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Drizzle of olive oil and pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • ¼-cup fresh basil
  • ½-teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 ½-tablespoons sugar (depending on sweetness of tomatoes)
  • Crust-
  • 2 ⅓-cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • ½-teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (95-105-ºF)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • Softened butter, for greasing pans
  • 20-30 pepperoni slices
  • 1 ½-cups freshly shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1 ½-cups freshly shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Additional toppings, if desired
  • Fresh basil, for garnish


  1. Pre-heat oven to 450-°F.
  2. MAKE SAUCE - Place the entire head of garlic and one piece of aluminum foil. Add onions to another piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle both with oil, salt and pepper. Wrap foil packets tightly and place on a baking sheet. Roast in oven for 30-40 minutes. Remove garlic cloves from skins.
  3. In a food processor, add roasted garlic cloves, onions, tomatoes, basil, salt, seasonings, granulated garlic and sugar. Process for 2-3 minutes, or until well blended. Add mixture to a saucepan and bring to a simmer over over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and keep warm until ready to ladle over pizza.
  4. MAKE CRUST- In a mixing bow, add flour and salt.
  5. In a small bowl, add yeast and sugar to warm water and whisk together, vigorously, for 30 seconds. Let sit for 10 minutes to activate the yeast. After 10 minutes, you will see some foam on the top. Stir again and pour into the mixing bowl with flour. (If you don't see foam, the yeast didn't activate. Throw water out and start the yeast step over - the water temperature is key.)
  6. To mix by hand: Use a well-oiled wooden spoon. Mix until dough forms into a ball.
  7. To mix by using a stand mixer with a dough hook: Mix on low for 5 minutes. (Or until dough comes together.)
  8. Add 1 tablespoon oil to hands and knead dough on a lightly floured surface, about 15 times, or until elastic. Add remaining oil to the bowl and place dough back in bowl: cover and let rest for at least 30 minutes. (See note below to cold ferment and refrigerate dough for 1-2 days, if you aren't baking the pizza right away.)
  9. Liberally butter the bottoms and sides on the inside of the steel or aluminum pans. This dough is for one 11-by-14 inch pan, two 8-by-10 inch pans, or eight 4-by-5 inch mini loaf pans. Split dough into equal portions, depending on the pans. (One dough for 11-by-14 inch pan or split dough in half for two 8-by-10 inch pans or split dough into 8 equal pieces for the 4-by-5 inch pans.)
  10. Press dough into bottom of each pan, but don't press dough up the sides. The cheese is the crust for the sides. If dough pulls back, it needs to proof longer. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes or more. Proofing the dough longer will result in a better crust. The dough is ready when it easily presses into all 4 corners of the pan.
  11. ASSEMBLE- Arrange pepperoni slices on top of dough, then sprinkle cheeses over top. Make sure to go all the way to the edges with cheese. The sides on the pizza will be a cheese crust. This is when you can add extra toppings, if you wish.
  12. Bake at 450-°F for 13 to 15 minutes for the mini loaf pans. Or 15-20 minutes for the larger size pans, depending on toppings.
  13. Remove pizzas from pans and place on a cutting board. Cut into desired slices, then ladle sauce over top. Garnish with fresh basil and serve.

Recipe Tags


This dough can be made ahead. Place dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days, for cold fermentation. Take dough out of refrigerator at least 2-3 hours before you are ready to bake.

For authentic Detroit-style pizza, use some brick cheese if you can find it. It's hard to find, unless you live in Wisconsin. If you have it at your store, add it to this pizza. Use 1 cup sharp white cheddar, 1 cup mozzarella and 1 cup brick.

The cooking time above is for a pepperoni and cheese pizza. If you add extra toppings, I would recommend par-baking the crust. Par-bake for half of the time, then add the pepperoni, cheeses and toppings. Then bake the pizza for the remaining time.

You can buy authentic Detroit-style steel pans online. Don't want to order an extra pan? No problem, simply use an aluminum baking pan. Use loaf pans, mini loaf pans, 8-by-8 inch cake pans, 9-by-13 baking pans...etc. The key is to make sure the pan has a depth of at least a few inches and the shape is either rectangular or square.

I serve this pizza as an entree, but I have also served it as an appetizer when I make the mini pizzas. They are always the hit of the party!


Above are the are the mini loaf pans that I use.


Above is the authentic 8-by-10 inch Detroit-style pizza pan that I ordered from Detroit Style Pizza Company.


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