Main Course

Deep Dish vs. Thin Crust

October 23, 2015

Deep Dish vs. Thin Crust…For some it’s a preference, for others it’s a way of life, and for two cities—it’s an all out war! I personally can appreciate them as two separate entities.  After all, they’re prepared differently, baked differently, and contain an assortment of different ingredients.  Of course the commonalities are apparent: sauce, cheese, and dough—but the differences do exist and they are significant. So in the spirit of #PizzaWeek, I am going to break it down for you as best I can.


Photo Credit: Five Points Pizza

Deep Dish, or Chicago style pizza, is most obviously thicker than it’s counter part; the Thin Crust Pizza, also known as the Neapolitan or the N.Y. style pizza…but what else separates the two? For starters, the prep. Thin crust pizza is made with dough that has had plenty of time to rest, hence allowing the yeast to become “played out,” or less active.  In turn, the dough rises very little when baked. With a thick crust pizza there’s no wait.  You can go from making to baking the dough. With the yeast in a very active state, the dough will rise and become quite thick—attributing for a deeper pizza. 

Secondly, thin crust dough if stretched, or tossed to stretch.  That makes the edge-to-center thickness very similar in depth.  The outer crust may rise slightly more, given the lack of weight from the ingredients, but not much.  A thick crust dough is simply pressed into a pan, leaving about an inch of crust pressed snuggly against the wall of the pizza pan.  This creates that bowl, or quiche like structure of a deep dish pizza.  Perfect for holding in mounds of ingredients.


Photo Credit:

Secondly, they both use different variations of similar ingredients. What do I mean by that?  I mean a thin crust pizza not only uses a dough with little to no rise, but typically it’s made with a finely pureed tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella, and thinly slice meats.  A deep dish pizza is VERY different.

Deep Dish pizza is made using slices of cheeses (vs. shredded), often times a chunky tomato sauce, and large pieces of meat; like chunks of ground sausage. Why so much heartier? Simply put, because you can.  Deep dishes lend more available space to more ingredients.  If you were to put the same items on a thin crust pizza they would run off the side and create a less than appetizing mess. Even more importantly…bake time.


Photo Credit: John Della Vecchia

What makes these pizzas even more different than what’s in them, is the way these ingredients are layered and baked.  Thin crust pizza’s bake very fast.  In a traditional pizza oven that can reach upwards of 1000°F, pizza bakes in less than 2 minutes. Therefore everything has to be able to cook rapidly throughout; hence the thin crust, thin sauce, thinly sliced meat, and shredded cheese. This rapid way of cooking allows the outside of the crust to become charred and crunchy, while the interior of the dough remains fluffy and chewy. It’s the best of both worlds!

Since thick crust pizza uses a thicker dough, and thicker ingredients, it takes more time to cook.  That leads to an entirely different method of layering the ingredients.  Cheese cooks rather rapidly compared to large pieces of meat.  To avoid the cheese burning, traditional deep dish pizzas go: dough, sliced mozzarella, meat, and then sauce.  The moist sauce allows for the crust to have enough time to bake throughout and keeps everything else, the cheese and meat, from burning.

At the end of the day, it really is a matter of preference and they’re both delicious! That said…which do you prefer?

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  • Jeff the Chef November 12, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    Hey man! I just stumbled onto your blog, and I’m glad I did! I just read through your pizza week posts, and can’t figure out which one to make first! Except the deep dish. And I say this to you as a proud Chicagoan – if I wanted a lasagna, I’d make a freaking lasagna!