Detroit vs. Chicago-Style Pizza: What’s the Difference?

difference between detroit and chicago pizza

Are you excited to dive into the age-old debate of Detroit versus Chicago-style pizza? Food enthusiasts have hotly contested these two iconic dishes for decades.

Die-hard fans on both sides fiercely defend their favorite. But what makes each style so unique and delicious? Read on to learn more about these two iconic pizza styles.

What is Detroit-style pizza?

What is Detroit-style pizza

Are you curious about what makes Detroit-style pizza so special? Let me break it down for you.

First, it’s known for its rectangular shape, which is a bit different from the round pizzas you’re used to seeing. The crust is thick, crispy, and golden brown. It’s made by baking the dough in a square or rectangular pan coated in oil, giving the crust a crispy, fried texture.

But that’s not all that makes it unique. The cheese on a Detroit-style pie is usually smeared up to the crust’s corners, where it caramelizes. It gives it a delicious, crunchy texture. Lastly, the toppings are on top of the cheese rather than underneath it, like on a traditional pizza.

How did it originate?

As you might guess, its name hails from the city of Detroit in Michigan. It’s believed that Gus Guerra, owner of a restaurant called Buddy’s Rendezvous, invented it in 1946.

He was trying to develop a new type of dish that would be unique to his restaurant. He landed on the idea of baking the pizza in a rectangular pan. It has a thick crust that’s crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. He also added cheese until the edges, creating a caramelized crust that was crispy and delicious.

People loved this new menu offering. It quickly became a town favorite. Today, you can find it all over the country. However, it’s still most closely associated with its birthplace in Motor City.

What is Chicago- Style Pizza?

What is Chicago- Style Pizza

Chicago-style pizza has a thick and flaky crust, making it different from traditional pies. It may take up about 45 minutes to bake, but the wait is definitely worth it! You’ll notice the toppings’ reverse order as you take a bite.

The cheese lies at the bottom. Then, followed by sausage, vegetables, pepperoni, and thick tomato sauce. This method helps to prevent the crust from becoming too soggy. The result is a delicious, filling, and flavorful meal.

What’s the history of Chicago-style pizza?

In 1943, Chicago Pizzeria Uno’s owner Ike Sewell dreamed of creating a new item on the menu. So, he thought of using a deep dish, giving the pizza its distinct pie-like appearance. He also innovated in layering the ingredients to prevent the crust from getting too soft.

This unique method quickly became popular, and other restaurants began making their own versions. Today, many people from the US and other parts of the globe enjoy eating it.

Differences in Cooking Methods and Ingredients

Detroit vs. Chicago-Style Pizza

Are you excited to know how one pizza varies from another? The following details reveal the nitty-gritty between the two.

Cooking Technique

Detroit-style pizza cooks in a rectangular pan, a unique feature compared to most other styles. The dough is first stretched and then placed into the oiled pan. It gives it a crispy and golden crust. After that, the toppings are added in this order: cheese, meat and veggies, and a thick layer of tomato sauce.

Chicago-style. on the other hand, is baked in a deep dish. The dough is pressed into the pan and layered with cheese, toppings, and sauce. These ingredients are in the opposite order of a traditional pizza.


Detroit-style pizza typically uses bread flour, which gives it a chewy and crispy crust. On the other hand, Chicago-style pizza often uses a combination of all-purpose flour and cornmeal, making the base crunchy and slightly sweet.


A rectangular pan is used for baking Detroit-style pizza. Meanwhile, cooks create Chicago-style pizza using a deep dish. It’s taller and has sloped sides, creating a pie-like shape.

Baking Temperature

Detroit-style pizza is usually baked at a high temperature of around 500-550 degrees Fahrenheit. Chicago-style cooks at a slightly lower temperature of about 425-450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Baking Time

Baking Detroit-style pizza usually takes around 20-30 minutes. With its deeper dish, Chicago-style pizza can take up to 45 minutes to bake.

An Overview of Differences in Cooking Technique and Ingredients

Detroit-style Chicago-Style
Cooking Technique Cooked in an oiled pan Baked in a deep dish
Flour Bread Flour All-Purpose Flour
Pan Rectangular Deep dish
Baking Temperature 500- 550 F 425-450 F
Baking Time 20-30 minutes 45 minutes

Differences in Appearance and Flavor

detroit vs chicago pizza

The battle between these two pizzas is getting interesting. Now let’s dissect their variances better by comparing their appearances and flavors.


Detroit-style pizza is typically thicker than Chicago-style. It has a thick, rectangular crust that’s soft yet has crunchy parts. On the other hand, Chicago-style pizza is known for its deep-dish style. It means it has a thick and tall base that’s more bread-like in texture.


Detroit-style pizza has a unique crust made with a special fermented dough. It gives it a slightly sour taste and a chewy texture. It’s also baked in a well-oiled pan, creating a crispy outer layer. Meanwhile, Chicago-style pizza has a buttery and flaky base- similar to a pie.

Type of Cheese

Both Detroit-style and Chicago-style pizzas typically use mozzarella. However, the former also use brick cheese – a mild, semi-soft dairy originating in the Midwest. It gives the Michigan classic its distinct flavor and texture.

Meanwhile, Chicago-style pizza may use a blend of cheeses, including mozzarella, provolone, and Parmesan.


Detroit-style pizza typically has a thick, sweet-tasting sauce spread in a stripe down the middle of the dish. It’s often made with canned tomatoes and seasoned with herbs like oregano and basil.

On the other hand, Chicago-style pizza has a chunky sauce made with fresh or canned tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil. It’s often placed on top of the cheese and toppings.


Both Detroit-style and Chicago-style pizzas offer a wide variety of toppings. They include sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions. However, Motor City’s pride often has them under the cheese, creating a more intense flavor.

On the other hand, Windy City’s favorite often has add-ons placed on top of the cheese. It creates a colorful and visually appealing pizza with a crispy and caramelized top.

A  Summary of Differences in Appearance and Flavor

Detroit-style Chicago-style
Thickness Thick and rectangular Thick and tall
Crust Chewy and crispy Buttery and flaky
Cheese Brick cheese Mozzarella and provolone
Sauce Thick and sweet Herby and chunky

What are the similarities between the two pizzas?

difference between chicago and detroit pizza

Do you want to know the common traits these two dishes share? Read on to discover.

  • Both Detroit and Chicago-style pizzas have thicker crusts compared to traditional thin-crust pizzas, with generous fillings.
  • They use tomato sauce as a base, creating a classic flavor we all know and love.
  • These pizza styles offer various toppings – from classic sausage and pepperoni to more unique options like barbecue chicken or roasted vegetables.
  • Both variants are delicious! Many pizza enthusiasts rave about them and reveal they’re among the best in the US.

Best Detroit and Chicago-style Pizza

Are you excited to try the country’s best Detroit and Chicago-style pizza? We asked fans for their glowing recommendations.

  • Buddy’s Pizza – It’s been the original Detroit-style place since 1946. It features a crispy crust, thick slices of pepperoni, and a perfect blend of mozzarella and brick cheese.
  • Loui’s Pizza – Their signature pie features a crunchy crust, tangy tomato sauce, and plenty of gooey cheese.
  • Jet’s Pizza – It has a crisp outer base that’s chewy on the inside. Its unique square shape allows for maximum cheese and toppings.
  • Giordano’s – This Chicago institution has been serving its famous stuffed deep-dish pizza since 1974. Their specialty is so thick and cheesy that it resembles a decadent pie.
  • Lou Malnati’s – Another beloved Windy City pizza chain- it’s known for its deep-dish varieties with a buttery, flaky crust, chunky tomato sauce, and plenty of cheese and toppings.
  • Pequod’s Pizza – It’s a local favorite that has gained national recognition for its unique caramelized crust. The sweet, crunchy, soft base pairs perfectly with an array of savory toppings.

Your Quick Guide to Pizza Restaurants

Restaurant Location Specialty
Buddy’s Pizza  Multiple Locations in Michigan


Loui’s Pizza Hazel Park, Michigan


Jet’s Pizza Multiple Locations in the US Detroit-Style
Giordano’s Multiple Locations in Chicago and the US Chicago-Style
Lou Malnati’s Multiple Locations in Chicago and the US


Pequod’s Pizza Chicago, Illinois



Most of these pizza joints have been around for a long time. In fact, Buddy’s is the birthplace of the Detroit style. It would be great to drop by any of these places. You’ll get a front-row seat to wonderful food innovation.


So, how do you choose between Detroit and Chicago-style pizza? Both have unique and delicious qualities that make them stand out from other styles. While both have their strengths, it ultimately comes down to personal preference. So, why not try them both? Then, decide for yourself which is your favorite.

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