Detroit Style Pizza Recipe with Pickled Tomato Sauce

This Detroit Style Pizza Recipe has an irresistible crispy and chewy crust, tons of gooey cheese, and a zesty pickled tomato sauce. 

Rectangular deep dish pizza on wooden pizza board with pizza cutter and basil leaves on table.

It’s the first day of October, and let me be the first to wish you a happy National Pizza Month! If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know that homemade pizza is an absolute staple meal in our household. And we rarely make the same pizza twice.

We truly love all different kinds of pizza, and it’d be hard to pick a favorite. But since we’re here in Detroit, of course we’re partial to an iconic Detroit style pizza. If you ask us, it’s the best variety for a few reasons, which we’ll get into below.

It seems like Detroit style pizza has really spread across the country the past few years, and we’ve heard about it popping up on menus from coast to coast. But if you haven’t had a chance to indulge, let me try to explain it.

Dark tabletop with pepperoni, pizza dough, roasted tomatoes, basil and cubed cheese.

What is Detroit style pizza?

Don’t go into making or eating a Detroit style pizza with preconceived notions of what a pizza is or should be. In fact, just leave those notions at the door. It’d be best if you thought about CHEESE BREAD with a little bit of other stuff. The best cheese bread on the planet. That’s what Detroit pizza truly is.

Detroit style pizza has a  thick, chewy crust, reminiscent of focaccia. It’s baked in a rectangular pan with plenty of olive oil on the bottom. The dough kind of fries in the olive oil as it bakes, making it irresistible.

The cheese is spread all the way to the edge of the dough so that the edges get crispy and cheese-ified. Make sure you have a good pizza cutter (with crust cutter!) on hand, because the edges can be tricky to cut through without the right tool.

This pizza is built a little bit backwards compared to most American pizzas. First, you layer the pepperoni on top of the dough, and then a thick layer of cheese. And then, just a few little smears (racing stripes!) of pizza sauce across the top. It’s so simple and so good.

Detroit style pizza recipe, before baking.

You’ll need the right pan for this Detroit style pizza recipe:

The history of Detroit style pizza is that the pizza was originally baked in rectangular steel trays designed to be used as automotive drip pans (Motor City, baby!). In fact, many of these original 50- to 75-year-old-pans are still in use by local restaurants. 

Don’t have a crusty old drip pan that you want to use for food? Don’t sweat it, neither do I. Pampered Chef has us covered with their new stoneware collection. I have a small Pampered Chef stoneware pan that is an absolute workhorse in my kitchen. I couldn’t tell you where I got it (a gift?) or how long I’ve had it (10-15 years?), but I use it almost every day to cook small portions for my family of three. The more I use it, the better it cooks.

That’s why I’m so excited about their new Stone Bar Pan. It’s the perfect size for a classic Detroit pizza. It’s oven safe to 500 degrees F, which is important because a VERY HOT oven is essential for Detroit pizza. And it’s dishwasher safe, which is crucial for busy day cleanup ease.

Along with the right pan, you’ll also need to transfer the pizza to a cutting board or pizza peel after it finishes cooking to be able to get the leverage you need to cut through the crispy crunchy cheesy edges.

Detroit style pizza recipe, after coming out of oven.

What kind of cheese is used on Detroit style pizza?

Traditionally, Detroit pizza is topped with Wisconsin brick cheese, which is a medium-soft cheese with a mild flavor. It can be hard to locate, especially outside of the Midwest, so feel free to use mozzarella. 

You DON’T want the fresh ball of mozzarella here (always delicious, but not right for this type of pizza). You also don’t want to buy pre-shredded mozzarella. You’re looking for a block of whole milk low-moisture mozzarella cheese that you can cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Detroit style pizza almost always uses cubes of cheese, not shredded!

Closeup shot of Detroit style pizza topped with roasted tomatoes, parmesan cheese and basil, on wooden cutting board.

What’s up with the pickled tomato sauce?

Whenever I’m eating something rich (like this decadent, olive oil soaked bread topped with a mountain of cheese), I like to have something very acidic to cut through the richness. Inspired by the pickled tomato appetizer at one of my favorite restaurants, I made this quick “pickled” tomato sauce by blistering grape tomatoes and including a serious dash of red wine vinegar.

Congratulations to Pampered Chef for celebrating their 40th anniversary this year! Be sure to connect with them on Facebook and Instagram.

Yield: 4 servings

Detroit Style Pizza Recipe with Pickled Tomato Sauce

Detroit Style Pizza Recipe with Pickled Tomato Sauce

This Detroit Style Pizza Recipe has an irresistible crispy and chewy crust, tons of gooey cheese, and a zesty pickled tomato sauce. 

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

For the Dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon fast rise yeast 
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Olive oil, for oiling the bowl

For the Pickled Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces grape tomatoes
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

For Building the Pizza:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces sliced pepperoni
  • 12 ounces whole milk low-moisture mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 

For Garnish:

  • Basil leaves
  • Parmesan

Instructions

    1. Make the Dough: In bowl of stand mixer fitted with bread hook attachment, stir together flour and yeast. In liquid measuring cup, stir honey into 1 cup warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water. Add water mixture to mixer and mix on medium-low speed 1 minute or until ball forms, scraping down sides of bowl with spatula as needed.
    2. Let dough rest in mixer bowl 10 minutes, then add salt and mix for 30 seconds. Place dough in a large lightly oiled bowl. Cover with clean towel and proof in warm spot 2 hours or until dough doubles in size.
    3. Meanwhile, make the Pickled Tomato Sauce: Heat medium skillet over medium-high heat 2 minutes. Add oil and tomatoes to skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes or until tomatoes are charred all over, shaking pan frequently.
    4. Transfer half of tomatoes to bowl of food processor fitted with knife blade attachment. Add vinegar and garlic; process until smooth. Transfer remaining half of tomatoes to medium bowl; lightly crush with fork. Stir in pureed tomatoes. Sauce will be thinner than traditional pizza sauce - this is OK.
    5. Build and Bake the Pizza: Position two oven racks on bottom two slots of oven. Place large rimmed baking pan on bottom rack. Preheat to 500 degrees F.
    6. Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into 9x13 stoneware pan. Place dough in pan and stretch dough to edges of pan until it starts to shrink back and won't stretch farther. Let dough rest for 10 minutes, then finish stretching dough to edges of pan.
    7. Place pepperoni in even layer over dough. Spread cheese in even layer over pepperoni, all the way up to the edges of the pan. Spread Pickled Tomato Sauce in three lines, lengthwise, across cheese.
    8. Transfer pizza to second lowest oven rack and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until crust is very crispy and golden brown (or dark golden brown, if you prefer). Using a metal mini serving spatula or small knife, loosen edges of pizza from pan and transfer to cutting board. Cut into 8 squares. Garnish with basil and Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Notes

Home Chef Note: The rimmed baking pan placed on the rack beneath the pizza is to protect the bottom of your oven from a mess. Detroit style pizza often bubbles over with olive oil or cheese - that's just the way it is! If you choose not to use the rimmed baking pan (if you have something else protecting the bottom of your oven), your pizza may cook faster (because there won't be a pan between the heat source and pizza). Check on it after 15 minutes and watch carefully.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 650Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 1761mgCarbohydrates: 69gFiber: 3gSugar: 8gProtein: 19g

More great pizza recipes:

Collage of images of deep dish pizza with overlay: DETROIT STYLE PIZZA with pickled tomato sauce

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pampered Chef. Sponsored posts help me pay for the costs associated with this blog (groceries…lots of groceries), and help support me as I pursue a career in recipe development and food photography. All opinions are 100% my own.