Chicago pizza vs. Detroit pizza

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Does discerning the differences between pizza styles make your head spin? This guide to Chicago-style pizza vs. Detroit-style pizza will help you become a pizza expert by breaking down the definitions of the two and examining the most notable differences between their main ingredients.

From Detroit-style pizza cheese to Chicago-style pizza toppings, you’ll discover everything there is to know about these famous pizza-making techniques. Keep reading to learn all the details you need to make a fully informed pizza decision.

What Is Detroit-Style Pizza?

Detroit-style pizza features a thick and chewy crust with a bright red tomato sauce and melty Wisconsin brick cheese in a rectangular shape. The cheese on a Detroit-style pizza is so overflowing that it extends over the edges, giving the bottom layer of the crust a crunchy, fried texture. While the outside is coated in crispy caramelized cheese, the center of the pizza’s bread base is still doughy.

Although the crust is a defining characteristic of a Detroit slice, the pizza style is also known for its long, vertical streaks of sauce, called “racing stripes.” A Detroit-style pizza can be finished off with whatever variety of toppings you’d like, but the most popular and traditional choice is pepperoni.

What Is Chicago-Style Pizza?

Chicago is most famous for its deep-dish pizza. The identifying feature of a Chicago-style pizza is its high-edged pie crust, which provides plenty of room for copious amounts of cheese, a chunky tomato sauce and layers of toppings. The deep-dish pizza gets baked in a circular pan with tall enough walls for the dough to expand.

Chicago-style deep-dish pizza also changes up the traditional structure of a pizza by pouring its sauce on top of the cheese. Making a Chicago-style pizza starts by pressing the dough into a deep pan, placing mozzarella slices over the crust, stacking on any desired toppings and finishing it off with marinara before popping the pan in the oven. After about half an hour or so, the pie will be piping hot and ready to eat.

Chicago-style pizza and Detroit-style pizza usually differ with regard to crust, sauce, and cheese.

Chicago-Style Pizza vs. Detroit-Style Pizza

Below, you’ll discover the basic differences between Chicago-style and Detroit-style pizza regarding the crust, sauce, cheese and toppings.

The Crust

Although both Chicago-style pizza and Detroit-style pizza have a deeper foundation than a thin-crust pizza, their crusts are distinct from each other. A Chicago-style slice is built upon a flaky, thin, deep crust similar to a traditional pie. On the other hand, Detroit-style pizza relies on a thick and fluffy crust reminiscent of focaccia.

A Detroit-style crust stands out among other crusts thanks to its airier texture and cheesy, crispy underside. To achieve its famous combination of a crunchy outside and chewy center, Detroit-style pizza requires a wetter dough than other types of pizza. When Detroit-style pizza dough finds the perfect ratio of water to flour, the resulting crust will be able to maintain its soft inside while developing a crispy exterior.

Because Chicago-style pizza is quite deep, the crust is sturdy and thick, yet flaky like pie dough. Therefore, a Chicago-style pizza crust is less airy and bready than a Detroit-style pizza crust. Instead, the crust of a Chicago-style pizza is buttery, rich and spread over the walls of a round pie pan.

The Sauce

Both Detroit-style pizza and Chicago-style pizza go against pizza tradition by layering their sauces over the top of their cheese. Additionally, both types of pizza use a savory tomato-based sauce to round out their flavor profile. Despite these base similarities, there are a few key differences between the sauces.

Detroit-style pizza sauce gets added as dollops or thick lines affectionately known as “racing stripes.” Sometimes, a Detroit-style pizza recipe calls for adding the sauce after the pizza finishes baking to protect the sauce from getting soggy as it cooks. This variation is known as a “red top” because the sauce becomes the pizza’s final topping.

On the other hand, Chicago-style pizza sauce is always scooped on top of the cheese layer before baking. Covering the cheese with a chunky crushed tomato sauce helps to keep the cheese from burning as the pizza bakes. Because deep-dish pizza requires a longer cooking time, the cheese in a Chicago-style pie needs this extra protection.

The Cheese

When it comes to cheese, Detroit-style pizza and Chicago-style pizza are vastly different. Detroit-style pizza is usually made with a mix of Wisconsin brick cheese and a more mild semi-soft cheese with a high fat content. The fat from the Wisconsin brick cheese gives the crust a delicious buttery taste, while the cheese’s texture stays gooey in the middle as it spreads over the edges of the crust and forms a crispy, cheesy shell.

Chicago-style pizza doesn’t need any extra buttery flavors, thanks to its already buttery pie crust. Instead, Chicago-style pizza cheese is traditionally a mild and creamy mozzarella. The thick slices of mozzarella used to make a Chicago-style pie create slices with long strings of gooey, cheesy goodness, as opposed to Detroit-style slices, which have a crunchy caramelized cheese casing.

The Toppings

A Detroit-style pizza is traditionally topped with pepperoni — but not the large, flat circles of pepperoni that typically come to mind when we picture a slice of ordinary pepperoni pizza. Detroit-style pepperoni pizza is made with smaller, thicker rounds of pepperoni that curl up into tiny cups as they cook. These bite-sized pepperoni cups hold onto their fat to boost the pizza’s flavors as it bakes.

The traditional topping for a Chicago-style slice is sausage. In a Chicago-style pie, the sausage crumbles get spread on top of the cheese before being topped with tomato sauce. Any other fillings included in a Chicago-style pizza, like meats or veggies, also get placed in the middle between the cheese and sauce.

While pepperoni and sausage might be the most common Detroit-style and Chicago-style pizza toppings, you can add nearly anything to jazz up your pizza. If you’re an adventurous topper, try one of the following Chicago-style and Detroit-style pizza toppings:

  • Chicken
  • Pineapple
  • Bacon
  • Green peppers
  • Black olives
  • Mushrooms
  • Ham
  • Feta
  • Artichoke
  • Jalapeno
  • Anchovies
  • Roasted garlic

Find the best Detroit-style pizza in town at Green Lantern Pizza

Find the Best Detroit-Style Pizza in Town at Green Lantern Pizza

Are you looking for a high-quality slice of Detroit-style pizza to compare with a slice of Chicago-style deep-dish? Order a pie from Green Lantern Pizza to find out what the best Detroit-style pizza in the Metro-Detroit area tastes like. Green Lantern Pizza has been slicing each of its ingredients by hand and making fresh dough and sauce every morning since the early 1950s, which means we have Detroit-style pizza down to a science.

You’ll be able to taste the difference that using high-quality ingredients makes in every Green Lantern Pizza slice. Get the full traditional Detroit-style pizza experience by ordering a pepperoni-topped pie and discovering why Green Lantern Pizza is known as the King of Pepperoni. For more toppings choices, explore the complete Green Lantern Pizza menu.

If you’re ready to discover what all the Detroit-style pizza hype is about, find a Green Lantern Pizza location near you or place your order today. If you’re still curious about Detroit-style pizza vs. Chicago-style pizza, contact Green Lantern Pizza and we’ll be happy to answer all your pizza-related questions.

3 Responses to “Chicago Pizza vs. Detroit Pizza”

  1. Corajean Shupe

    As a kid in the 50’s dad would take us to east Chi town, so we could watch the chef flip the dough by hand through a large window. The Chicago pizza was so memorable I can taste it still. I took my wife to Grand Central Station (Dads funeral) for Chicago pizza, beer, and crowd watching. Amazing! Don’t try to take something that makes Chicago Memorable! I also had pizza on the streets of NYC. Give me the Chicago.

  2. Loved this post! As a pizza lover, I’ve always wondered about the differences between Chicago-style and Detroit-style pizza. Your breakdown was super helpful, but I still gotta give it to Chicago-style – there’s just something about that deep dish crust that can’t be beat!

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