There was a Detroit-style pizza place down the street from where I used to live in Chicago and it had the fluffiest crust with the most delicious cheesy crisp edges. I haven’t been back in four years so it was only right that I made my own! This version is made in a skillet with a super fluffy crust, puddles of marinara, thick cut pepperoni, and a drizzle of hot honey. Its spicy, sweet, savory, and so addicting. I’ve also included a gluten free version!
What is Detroit-style pizza?
Detroit-style pizza is another variation of the many many mays to make pizza. There’s deep dish Chicago-style, thick and giant New York-style, or a more rustic Tuscan wood-fired style.
What makes Detroit-style pizza stand out is its signature fluffy focaccia-like crust and thick cut pepperoni.
It starts off with a very wet and sticky dough, very similar to focaccia, which rises to create tiny air bubbles all throughout. The end result is a pillowy crust that leans more towards bread than thin crust.
Detroit-style pizza is also known for its pepperoni. It uses thick cut slices that bake into little cups. They basically hold all the grease that runs off the pepperoni, but in the best way. It’s much more flavorful and savory this way!
Another key factor is the cheese. It’s the first ingredient to go on the crust and it’s sprinkled all the way out to the edges. As the pizza bakes, the cheese crisps up and creates this ring of crunchy burnt cheese all around the edge. It’s….incredible.
All together, the pizza has a fluffy crust, thick cut pepperoni cups, and crispy golden cheese edges. What’s not to love?
How to make Detroit-style pizza
The dough is very simple to make, but does take some time. In this case, it’s important to start making the dough 2 hours before you’re ready to eat. Trust me, it’s well worth the wait.
Here are my top tips for making the dough:
- Flour – Make sure to gently spoon the flour into the measuring cup and rake off any excess with a flat edge. If too much flour is used, the dough will struggle to fully rise and the crust will likely be a bit too dense and chewy.
- Water – The water should be warm to the touch, but not too hot. Warm water will activate the yeast which allows the dough to rise. If the water is too cold or too hot, it will either kill or not activate the yeast.
- Kneading – Using a stand mixer makes this part really easy, especially because the dough is very sticky. It’s important to really work the dough for a full 5 minutes. This encourages gluten formation, leading to a strong and sturdy crust.
- Plop – After kneading, just plop the dough right into the center of a well-greased skillet. No need to fuss with it as it’s loose enough to spread out on its own. As the dough rises, it will naturally fill the pan.
- Pressing – When the dough has risen, it’s time to add focaccia-like imprints. Lightly drizzle the dough with olive oil and lightly coat your fingers with some as well. Gently press into the crust, but don’t press all the way down to the bottom. Just press enough to nudge and spread out any uneven spots in the dough.
- Resting – After pressing, do not wait more than 30 minutes before topping and placing the pizza in the oven. It will continue to rise during this period, so if it rests too long the dough can become unstable. That’s why it’s important to start assembling the pizza 20 minutes after the second rise, that way it can be ready to bake in those following 10 minutes.
Detroit-style pizza toppings
The Cheese – Mozzarella cheese is best, specifically low-moisture mozzarella that’s freshly grated. This will melt and brown the best, but will not add any unnecessary moisture to the crust. So go with a hunk of mozzarella that you can grate yourself. It makes a world of a difference!
The Sauce – I find most jarred pizza sauce falls pretty flat in flavor. I prefer a hearty marinara for this recipe, Rao’s being my personal favorite. It’s not too smooth but it is FULL of flavor.
The Pepperoni – Don’t buy the pre-sliced packages of pepperoni. They just don’t cut it here! Pepperoni in natural casing comes in a sausage packaging that needs to be sliced. This allows full control over the thickness of the pepperoni, and this pizza requires about 1/8 inch slices. Any thinner and they’ll easily burn.
Hot Honey – If hot honey isn’t available, drizzle regular honey and add a few extra sprinkles of crushed red pepper. But for the best spice payoff, hot honey really takes this pizza over the edge.
Can this pizza be made in a different pan?
Yes, in fact traditional Detroit-style pizza is baked in an alloy steel 9×13 dish. To bake in this type of pan, follow these instructions:
- Pressing – When pressing into the dough after the 90 minute rise, really work the dough out to the edges of the pan.
- Assembly – Follow all of the same instructions for the topping, but more pepperoni may be required as there is more surface area to cover.
- Bake – Bake at 500F in the lower third of the oven for about 16-18 minutes. If making it gluten free, par bake the crust for about 5 minutes, then add toppings and continue to bake for about 12 minutes.
Can the dough be made overnight?
Yes, after the dough has been pressed like focaccia, cover the pan and chill the dough overnight. Then remove the pan from the refrigerator right when the oven starts to preheat. This will give it some time to warm up.
Then top and bake just as instructed.
Have fun with the toppings
Pepperoni is the classic and only topping for Detroit-style pizza, but feel free to add your favorites. Really anything goes! But when it comes to sliced veggies, try slicing a bit thicker as the high oven temp could burn them to a crisp if sliced too thin.
- Sliced bell pepper
- Sliced red onion
- Crumbled cooked sausage (these would get extra crispy and so delicious)
- Giardiniera (after baking)
- Banana peppers (after baking)
For more savory recipes, check out my:
Make sure to tag me @butternutbakery on Instagram and leave a review below if you make this Detroit-style pizza. To pin this recipe and save it for later, you can use the button on the recipe card, the buttons above or below this post, or on any of the photos above. Happy baking!Print