Detroit-Style Pizza Recipe & History - National Pizza Day - The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures Detroit-Style Pizza Recipe & History - National Pizza Day
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RECIPE: Detroit-Style Pizza For National Pizza Day

February 9th is National Pizza Day. We’re making a new-to-us type of pizza: Detroit-style pizza. (After we wrote this article, we discovered that Detroit Pizza has its own holiday: June 23rd. So we’ll plan a Detroit-Style Pizza party for then.)

The style is known for its square shape and thick, crispy-edge crust. It’s very different from the pie-like style of deep-dish Chicago pizza.

Detroit-style pizza is a descendant of Sicilian-style pizza. It emerged in 1946 when Gus Guerra wanted something new for his neighborhood bar, Buddy’s Rendezvous.

He began with a Sicilian pizza dough recipe from his mother-in-law, topped with cheese and tomato sauce.

He chose to use brick cheese*, popular in the Midwest, instead of mozzarella.

However, rather than using the conventional round pizza pan, he baked his pizza in a square, blue, steel automotive parts pans—plentiful in Detroit (Motor City) at the time.

The thick pan with sides allowed the cheese at the perimeter of the pan to caramelize.

This formed a golden brown, crisp, cheesy crust around the pie: crunchy goodness that made Detroit-style pizza different. It’s known as a frico (FREE-co) edge.

This crunchy, cheesy edge is made by pressing shredded cheese around the edge of the dough and up the sides of the pan. It creates a well-browned, crispy, savory ring of cheese called frico.

Since then, many other toppings have made their way onto the pie.

Here’s more about Detroit-style pizza.

Thanks to DeLallo for this recipe.

To get the right perimeter, you’ll need a heavy-duty rectangular pan (we used a medium-size roasting pan).

You can tailor the recipe to add any topping you like, from arugula (photo #2—add it after removing the pizza from the oven) to pepperoni.


  • 1 (17.6-ounce) DeLallo Italian Pizza Dough Kit or other pizza dough
  • 1¼ cups lukewarm water
  • 8 ounces San Marzano Style crushed tomatoes
  • 8 ounces shredded provolone cheese
  • 8 ounces shredded brick cheese (substitute Cheddar or Monterey Jack)
  • 1 jar (14 ounces) pizza sauce
  • 1 pint multi-colored grape tomatoes
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped basil
  • Garnish: freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

    If you’ve purchased ready-to-use pizza dough, or have made your own, skip Step 1. You can make the dough up to 3 days in advance and refrigerate it.

    1. MAKE the crust. Combine flour mix and yeast packet in a large mixing bowl with 1-1/4 cups of lukewarm water. Stir with a fork until the dough begins to form.


    [1] Detroit-style pizza topped with cherry tomatoes and fresh basil. The recipe is below (photo © DeLallo).

    [2] A garnish of fresh arugula. You can add it to this recipe, or instead of the cherry tomatoes (photo © Detroit Style Pizza Co.)

    [3] It’s the heavy-duty metal pan that makes the difference (photo © Carbert Wiki | CC-BY-SA-4.0-License).

    Knead by hand for 3 minutes, or until the dough is soft and smooth. Transfer to a clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 500°F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 13” x 9” high-sided cake pan. Be sure to use a pan that has sides 2 ½” to 3” tall.

    3. PRESS out the dough in the pan, being careful to reach the sides and corners. Cover and let rise in a warm area for 10 minutes.

    4. ASSEMBLE the pizza: Start by layering the dough evenly with the shredded cheeses, all the way to the corners. Drizzle the sauce over the cheese in 3 to 4 rows, making sure you don’t fully cover the entire pizza and cheese. Arrange the tomatoes on top of the pizza.

    5. BAKE for 20 minutes, or until the dough has puffed up, the cheese has melted and the sides and edges are lightly blackened and crispy.

    6. REMOVE the pizza from the oven, using a spatula to loosen the pizza from the pan. Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Allow the pizza to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer the pizza from the pan onto a cutting board and cut it into squares to serve.

    *Brick cheese, from Wisconsin, is a medium-soft, cheddar-like cheese made in a brick-shaped form. The color ranges from pale yellow to white. The cheese has a sweet, mild flavor when young, and matures into stronger, ripe flavors.

    †Frico is a traditional dish of Friuli, a region in north-east Italy. Cheese is heated in a round pan. Other ingredients, such as potatoes, can be added, along with bacon or speck, chiles, herbs, and onions. Originally frico was prepared as a way of recycling cheese rinds among impoverished people of the Carnia Mountains, who served it as a main dish. The result is a crunchy crust and a soft center, ideal as a main course or even a single dish. Written records of frico date to the mid-15th century. Here’s a recipe.



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