Detroit-Style Pizza

October 25, 2017
4 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Prep time 4 hours
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

This recipe is based off of one by the inimitable culinary Science Guy himself,: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt over at Serious Eats. The thing that really drew me in was the cheesy, crispy corners; this is almost more mind-blowing cheesy bread than pizza, in the best way.
While the classic iteration of this 'za is topped with pepperoni (or nothing at all), it would also be excellent with caramelized onions, roasted mushrooms, or sautéed greens. Just stick with tradition and put half the toppings under the cheese layer, half on top. —Catherine Lamb

What You'll Need
  • Dough
  • 300 grams bread flour (about 2 cups)
  • 5 grams instant yeast (1 teaspoon)
  • 9 grams salt (1 tablespoon kosher salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt)
  • 220 grams water (2 tablespoons shy of 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • Everything Else
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 dash red pepper flakes
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pinch Kosher salt
  • 12 ounces pepperoni, sliced, or any other toppings you want (just don't overload the pizza)
  • 12 ounces brick cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes. If you can't find brick cheese, a mild, high-fat specimen from Wisconsin, use a mixture of mild cheddar and low-moisture mozzarella.
  1. To make the dough: Combine flour, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Stir to combine, then add the water. Mix until dough just comes together, then let dough sit for 10 minutes. Mix at medium-low speed until dough forms a smooth, silky ball that sticks to the bottom of the bowl as it kneads, about 10 minutes more. Take out the dough hook, form the dough into a tight ball and set it back into the bottom of the bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  2. You can also do this by hand: Mix the flour, yeast, and sugar in a bowl with a wooden spoon and stir in the water until incorporated. Let rest for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Set back into the bowl, cover in plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  3. Once the dough is risen, prepare your pan(s). [If you don't have a Detroit-style anodized aluminum pan, the traditional choice, Alt-Lopez recommends splitting the dough evenly between two 8x8-inch square cake pans. I like this option because it gives you maximum edges.] Pour a splash of olive oil in your pan(s) and turn the dough around to coat it. Using your fingers, press the dough to the edges (it won't go all the way—don't worry about it). Let the dough rest for 30 minutes, then spread it again. The dough will shrink a bit, so stretch it up beyond the corners so that it will shrink to fit the pan. Once dough is stretched, cover with plastic wrap and set aside while you make the sauce, or for at least 30 to 45 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 550°F, or as hot as your oven will go. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add in the garlic, red pepper flakes, and oregano, stirring until the garlic is fragrant. Tip in the can of tomatoes, the onion powder, the sugar, and a few pinches of salt, and stir to combine. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced to roughly 3 cups.
  5. To Form the Pizza: Press down on the dough to get rid of any air bubbles. If using toppings, distribute half of them over the dough now. Top with the cheese, making sure to take it all the way to the edge (that's how you get the crispy edges). Add your remaining toppings.
  6. Put pizza(s) in the oven until edges are black and bubbly and the cheese is starting to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Take out of the oven and transfer to the counter or a trivet. Run a metal spatula around the edges to loosen the pizza from the pan. Carefully lift it out and slide it onto a wooden cutting board. Spoon the warm sauce over the surface of the pizza in three narrow rows. (Lopez-Alt says you'll only need half the sauce, but it depends how saucy you like your pizza.) Slice into generous squares, making sure to keep at least one corner piece for yourself.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Stephanie Dzieglo
    Stephanie Dzieglo
  • Conrad Suen
    Conrad Suen
  • Smaug
  • brushjl

10 Reviews

brushjl May 21, 2023
I used pizza dough from my local deli and spread it out over a sheet pan. Yes, I used all 1 2 oz of pepperoni and thought the cheese was just the right amount, mozzarella of course!
Stephanie D. January 4, 2022
I find that recipes online use far too little cheese in their Detroit recipes. I have been making Detroit-styles at home and have upped my cheese to 16oz at this point, for a traditional 10x14 pan and I honestly will probably up that by another couple ounces or so. This is a thick dough and it needs and can handle the extra cheese so that it's less cheese bread and more layered. And this helps support a heavier ladle of sauce which should only be put on top and not under the cheese. I also highly recommend the Buholzer Brothers brick cheese if you can get your hands on it. I have found it at Jewel in the Midwest so imagine other comparable grocery stores may have it.
Adam D. May 26, 2020
This recipe needs a few edits:

1. No way it's 1/4c olive oil in the dough. The original recipe on serious eats called for 2t for 400g of flour, but I used 2T here and it was good. Add it when you add the water (the recipe doesn't say when, just as it mixes up salt and sugar in the machine vs hand sections)

2. If you're using a dough hook, mix the dry and wet together by hand, let it sit for 10 minutes, then use the dough hook. If you're waiting for the hook to do the initial mix you're going to wait a long time :)

I ended up taking it out of the mixer and kneading it while adding maybe another 20g of flour (I didn't measure).

All that said, this was delicious. Nice open crumb, and putting the sauce on after baking was an interesting difference giving yummy chewy cheese that didn't slip off while eating. I used a 14" deep dish heavy steel round pan, so 5" less crust edge but a bit more interior.
VeraM March 9, 2018
I made this with 220 grams of water and the dough was very wet...it formed a dough that wouldn't stay as a ball but instead ran out into a thick puddle. I then weighed 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons and it weighed only 188 grams. I think the dough would probably be ok with that amount of water.
VeraM March 9, 2018
12 ounces of pepperoni would be an astonishing amount for a pizza. Maybe 12 slices?
Sarah L. November 18, 2017
Should it be salt or sugar? For mixer you said salt and recipe says salt but instructions for by hand says sugar.
Conrad S. November 21, 2017
I tried the recipe (using salt and no sugar), and the dough did not rise.
Sugar is needed to "feed" the yeast to make the dough rise, so I think the recipe should call for 1.5 teaspoons of sugar and then salt the crust to taste.
I might be wrong, but this was the first recipe using yeast that did not explicitly call for sugar.
Laura April 8, 2018
Hi Conrad, I know I'm 5 months late to the party but I've decided to put my 2 cents in anyway. ;) Yeast doesn't actually require extra sugar to rise, the addition only speeds up the rising process. Most artisan breads are simply flour, water, salt & yeast! As this recipe has a very long proofing time with basically 3 rises, it should be ok. So if your didn't rise, either your yeast is dead or it was killed it accidentally (it happens to all of us). The 'sugar' in the by hand recipe was probably a typo.
b November 18, 2017
As someone from Detroit I can say you got it right. A few quibbles though. A better pan would be castiron pan will work better, if you have a cast iron grill pan all the better. Use a mix of melted butter and olive oil to coat the pans for much better browning and crisp to the crust. You can use Montery Jack cheese as a substitute for the brick. The sauce should be Basil heavy.
Smaug January 30, 2021
The "Crispy Cheesy Pan Pizza" recipe so popular on this site is a Detroit pizza baked in cast iron- it does work very well. The traditional pan, though, is rectangular blued steel.