This easy one-hour deep dish pizza is my family’s favorite game night/movie night dinner! Making deep dish pizza from scratch is super easy and fast. The crispy crust is brushed with garlic butter, the tomato sauce is simple and homemade, and between layers of gooey mozzarella cheese and ample toppings, this will be your new weeknight favorite!
With school in session and the holiday season (aka Q4, for my blogging friends) I am swamped with work and family time. I know I’m not the only one, right? So dinner has to be fast, easy, and everyone has to love it so no one goes to bed hungry and everything can move smoothly.
Why did no one tell me this full-time-school-kid mom-entrepreneur stuff would be such a stickler for structure and time schedules?
Even Friday nights, our game night/movie night has to be a good, fun, kid-friendly meal that’s also fast and easy so I’m not in the kitchen all night cooking dinner and cleaning up the mess. Moms, you know the feeling.
In comes the deep dish pizza. We love a classic pizza, but let me tell you about the heartiness of the deep dish. We got layers, okay?
I know some people only put one layer of cheese, one layer of toppings, and then tomato sauce. But we don’t do that here. We’ve got a ton of layers of cheese, toppings, more cheese, more toppings…more cheese…possibly more toppings and cheese…don’t judge. And then an easy tomato sauce and…more cheese. Just so good.
At first, I didn’t think my husband, who grew up in New York, would budge on his New York-style pizza. You know how New Yorkers get about their pizzas. But once I told him it’ll be about six layers of cheese and toppings and I was whipping up garlic butter, he got over it with a quickness! Haha!
What is a Deep Dish Pizza?
So what is deep-dish pizza (aka Chicago-style pizza)? It’s a type of pizza that is made in a deep, round pan so the crust runs up the sides and the toppings fill up the crust with layers of cheese, toppings, and a fresh, uncooked tomato sauce, in that order. It resembles a cake or pie more than a classic flat pizza.
In restaurants, they use the deep round pan, which you can find on Amazon. At home, a good ole cast iron skillet does a great job and is an inexpensive investment due to its versatility.
With a cast-iron skillet, you’re able to get a deep crust and layer all those goodies into your pizza without the worry of spilling out and without having to buy yet another pan that has only one type of use that you aren’t using every day. Cast iron skillets are useful for making anything from pizza to cobblers to steaks to frying chicken, so if you don’t have one, I urge you go get one. It’ll change your kitchen for life!
What’s in it?
Pizza dough. Well, yeah. I use this 15-minute pizza dough recipe (it makes two pizzas!) which is why this deep dish pizza is done in 1 hour.
Tomato Sauce. You can use your favorite pizza sauce, I have servings of Everything Tomato Sauce in my freezer that I pop out whenever I need tomato sauce, it’s so useful.
Mozzarella cheese. Use a high-quality shredded, low-moisture mozzarella cheese. Low-quality cheese will not melt right, making a strange crumbly texture instead of being ooey-gooey and melty.
Toppings. Toppings usually aren’t on top of the deep-dish pizza, they’re often inside of it. In the photos, I used classic pepperoni but we love adding all types of things inside. They’re almost like a surprise since most of them are inside the pizza, but adding them on top just adds more. More is more with pizza toppings.
Some great topping ideas are:
Cooked shredded chicken
Bacon (a fave! Especially with mushrooms)
Garlic Herb Butter. Optional, but then again is garlic butter really optional? Who’s going to say no to garlic butter?
How to Make a Deep Dish Pizza
First, we’re making a very fast and easy pizza crust from scratch. This is where a stand mixer comes in handy because you mix a few simple ingredients together in your mixer’s bowl and beat and knead for less than five minutes. The kneading is actually about 2-3 minutes in the mixer.
You’ll have a soft, not sticky ball of dough that makes you 2 pizza crusts, use one now and freeze the other for the next time you’re throwing a little pizza party. You let it rest for about 5-10 minutes while you get your sauce and toppings together.
Sprinkle the cast iron skillet with cornmeal. It’s affordable and can be found at your local grocery store, it helps the dough not stick to the pan and it’s classic under a pizza. You can use flour if you don’t have cornmeal.
To stretch the dough out to cover the entire pan, you need to let it relax a little.
Stretch it out a bit, and if it’s becoming tough to cover the entire pan, let it rest for 5-10 minutes and finish stretching over the pan.
And because the dough makes two pizzas, you can steal a little dough from the other half if you have a thin spot or tore a hole in the dough.
I love lots of toppings. Bacon, chicken, mushrooms, pepperoni, bell peppers, anything you love on your flat pizza can go into your deep dish pizza. What I love, though, is that you’re not worrying about if you have too many toppings.
As long as you’re not over the top of the crust, your pizza can hold many layers of your favorite toppings. My husband and I love bacon, chicken, and mushroom pizza, my son loves a ton of pepperoni, and we are able to have the best of both worlds.
You can also use different types of cheeses, not just mozzarella. I love a good hefty grating of parmesan cheese over the fresh tomato sauce along with the mozzarella. You can use any cheese or cheese blend you love, but I don’t suggest using any fresh, soft cheeses like fresh mozzarella as it doesn’t hold itself together well inside the pizza.
Like I said, I use my everything tomato sauce recipe for the pizza sauce, but you can use your favorite sauce to pour on top.
This is a rare occasion, but right now I’m telling you to bust out the pre-shredded cheese in the bag. It works wonderfully in this pizza.
You want the crust to be able to hold the pizza together outside the cast iron skillet, so make sure the pizza isn’t very thin. The crust should be a little fluffy when it bakes up, with a crusty crisp exterior, so don’t thin it out too much when you press it into the cast iron pan.
Between whipping up a fast pizza crust and layering the good stuff, you got this baby in the oven in about 20 minutes. Bake for 30, and rest for 10 (unless you just love the new take on lava cakes…”lava pizza” because all the layers will pour out in an awesome cheese tsunami) and you have dinner in one hour.
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Pizza Crust (makes 2 crusts)
- 2 1/4 tsp (1 pkg/.25 oz/11 g) active dry yeast
- 1 tsp (5 g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (240 mL) warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp (5 g) kosher salt
- 16 oz (480 mL) can pureed tomatoes or tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp (30 g) Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp (5 g) kosher salt
- 1 tsp (5 g) freshly cracked black pepper
To Make Pizza
- 10 oz shredded low-moisture mozzarella
- Your favorite toppings
- 1 tbsp (15 g) fine cornmeal
- 4 tbsp (57 g) butter
- 2 tsp (10 g) garlic powder
- 1 tsp (5 g) kosher salt
- 1 tsp (5 g) Italian seasoning
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
In your stand mixer bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand until the yeast has proofed and is foamy, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in flour, salt, and oil. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together, then let knead for 2-3 minutes.
- Separate the dough into two equal-sized balls. Wrap one in plastic wrap and a zip-top bag and freeze for later if not using. Let the dough rest in the bowl covered with a clean tea towel or plastic wrap for 5-10 minutes.
Make tomato sauce
- Mix all ingredients until well combines in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Melt all the garlic butter ingredients together in a microwave-safe bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush some of the garlic butter all over the interior of a 12 inch cast iron skillet. Take the cornmeal and generously sprinkle it over the bottom of the inside of the cast iron.
- Plop your rested dough down into the middle of the cast iron and press and push it to stretch it across the bottom and up the sides. Brush the dough with a little more garlic butter.
- Sprinkle a generous layer of mozzarella cheese, then top with a layer of toppings. Repeat until you are almost at the top of the pizza, leaving enough room for the layer of sauce.
- Spread a good layer of the tomato sauce over the pizza, spreading it as an even layer to completely cover the cheese and toppings. At this point, you can add a little more cheese and Italian seasoning to the top. Brush the rest of the garlic butter over the edges of the crust and carefully place it into the oven.
- Bake for 30-33 minutes, then let rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Wrap the other pizza dough ball heavily in plastic wrap, then in two layers of foil. Freeze for up to 3 months.
This works for both 10 inch and 12 inch cast iron skillets.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 311Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 540mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 5gSugar: 6gProtein: 13g
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.