How to Make the Best Deep Dish Pizza at Home

This pan pizza recipe is a guaranteed family favorite and will teach you how to make an amazing crust and sauce from scratch.

Just remember, the key to success lies in allowing the dough sufficient time to rise (twice!), which will ensure a light, airy, and flavorful base for your toppings.

Close-up of Baked Pan Pizza. A close-up view of a freshly baked pan pizza in a dark circular pan, displaying a golden crust, bubbling cheese, and glistening pepperoni slices with seasoning.

Pan Pizza

Perfect deep dish crust topped with homemade sauce and classic toppings. This will make two round pizzas, 9 inches each.
Prep Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Serving Size 6 servings

Equipment

  • 2 9 inch round cake pans

Ingredients 

Dough

  • 3 cups bread flour
  • ¼ cup instant dry milk powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 ¼ ounce package active dry yeast about 2 ¼ teaspoons

Oiling the Bowl for Rising

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Sauce

  • 1 28 ounce can of whole peeled plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Assembly

  • 2 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 6 ounce package pepperoni
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions 

  • Combine ingredients. In a stand mixer bowl, mix together all dough ingredients with a wooden spoon. There is no need to proof the yeast first, but you can if you want to, by premixing it with the water and honey separately. Mix until the ingredients are combined and the dough is hard to stir. The dough will be slightly shaggy and rough.
  • Machine mix. Fit your mixer with the paddle attachment and machine-mix until the ingredients are combined and the dough comes clean from the sides of the bowl when mixed (about 1 minute). You might need to add a few teaspoons of flour or water to get the right consistency.
    Mixed Pizza Dough. The pizza dough appears sticky and half-mixed in a stainless steel mixing bowl, with a red and white checkered cloth in the background.
  • Knead. Using the dough hook, continue to mix the dough in the standing electric mixer for 5-6 minutes or knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes. The dough will be more smooth and easily form into a ball when finished.
  • First rise. Brush the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil into a large bowl. Form the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl. Turn the dough over onto the other side and back again to cover lightly in oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double in size, about 1 ½ hours.
    Dough After First Rise. An image split in half showing pizza dough in a glass bowl before and after rising, with a pastry brush and a bowl of olive oil on the side.
  • Make the sauce. Towards the end of the rising time, make the sauce. With your hands, squeeze the tomatoes to crush them and add the tomatoes and sauce to a 12-inch skillet. Stir in oil, basil, oregano, garlic salt, and pepper, and simmer over very low heat until thickened, stirring occasionally. Continue to simmer the sauce during the second rise of the dough and keep on low.
    Pizza Sauce. An image of fresh pizza sauce in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl, showing the thick texture and rich red color, indicative of hand-crushed plum tomatoes.
  • Shape and oil the dough. Pour 1 tablespoon of oil into a 9-inch cake pan and repeat with a second pan. Brush oil around the pans to grease them. Divide dough in half and place into a ball. Place onto a very lightly floured countertop and roll dough evenly from the center outwards into a 9-inch circle. Place half of the dough in a pan and turn it over to grease the top of the dough. Then, turn it back again so that it is lightly coated in oil. It is supposed to look oily. Press the dough to reach the edges of the pan. It’s okay if the dough stretches back a little. As the dough rises, it will fill the pan. Repeat the process with the second ball of dough and pan.
    Shaping Pizza Dough. An overhead shot of a rolled-out pizza dough on parchment paper next to a wooden rolling pin, with a red and white checkered cloth in the background.
  • Second rise. Cover the dough and let rise 45 minutes -1 hour. It will rise more quickly in a warm oven.
  • Preheat. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Assemble pizzas. Using a spoon, spread ¾ cup of sauce over the dough evenly, leaving ½ inch of dough showing on the edges without any sauce. Repeat with the second pan. Spread evenly 1 ¼ cups of shredded cheese over the sauce in each pan.
    Unbaked Pepperoni Pan Pizza. A pan pizza before baking, topped with sauce, shredded mozzarella, pepperoni slices, and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
  • Add pepperoni (optional). Using a plate lined with paper towels, put 12-18 slices of pepperoni on the plate and cover with additional paper towels. Warm in the microwave for 20-30 seconds to remove some grease before placing them on the pizza. Arrange slices of pepperoni so they are evenly spread over the pizza, and repeat with the second pan.
  • Top and bake. Spread one tablespoon of Parmesan over each pizza and sprinkle each pizza with salt and pepper. Bake in the preheated oven for 14-18 minutes, carefully removing the pizzas when the cheese is slightly browned on top.
  • Cool and serve. Let the pizza cool for about 5 minutes, and then use a butter knife to loosen the pizza around the edges of the pan. Remove the pizza onto a cutting board using a spatula, cut into wedges, and serve.
    Baked Pan Pizza. A close-up of a baked pan pizza showcasing a golden-brown crust, melted mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni slices with slightly charred edges.

Notes

I got inspiration from several recipes, but Chris Bianco’s “Pizzeria Bianco” cookbook stood out. I loved the way he crushed the whole tomatoes by hand, reducing the slight bitterness that comes with blending. To add more flavor, I simmered the sauce slowly as the dough rose since the hand-crushed tomatoes tend to be a bit loose. It turned out great!
Oil can make the dough more elastic, supple, and easier to roll out. It also adds more flavor to the dough and gives a crispy crust when cooked. Brushing the crust with oil before baking gives it a nice color and crunch that we all love
The toppings for this pizza are so flexible. You can add fresh herbs, garlic powder, or even flavored oils to the dough. For the toppings, you can go with mushrooms, onions, olives, green pepper, sausage, bacon, or whatever you like. Just don’t load it too heavily so that it doesn’t inhibit the crust from rising and baking. Trust me; it’s going to taste amazing!
Calories: 555kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 0.003g | Cholesterol: 44mg | Sodium: 932mg | Potassium: 238mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 386IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 317mg | Iron: 1mg

In my house, pizza night is a tradition. And with takeout getting more and more expensive, we find ourselves turning to homemade most of the time. But I don’t mind because I love this recipe. The crust is just the way I like it—thick and chewy but with the perfect amount of crispness.

But the real secret is in the homemade sauce. I’ve perfected the recipe over the years, and it’s a blend of herbs that’s just right. When I’m making this pizza, I feel like I’m weaving love into every layer. And when we sit down to eat, it’s like a piece of happiness, baked to perfection.

So why not start your own pizza night tradition? It’s not just about the food – it’s about spending quality time with your loved ones and creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Slice of Pan Pizza. A slice of pan pizza being lifted, showing a stringy, melted mozzarella cheese stretch, with pepperoni and a golden-brown crust, set against a white paper background.

Key Ingredients and Tools

If you want to switch up your pizza toppings or dough recipe, here are some ideas for you.


Fontina or Provolone could be a great substitute if you’re out of mozzarella cheese. And if you’re out of Parmesan cheese, Pecorino Romano could do the trick.

Sugar could be used instead of honey in the dough, and vegetable or flavored olive oil could replace regular olive oil. Just remember that plain olive oil works best when it comes to the oil in the cake pans, as additives could burn in the hot oven.

For the sauce, Italian seasoning could be used instead of oregano and basil, and freshly minced garlic could be a great substitute for garlic powder. However, I would not recommend substituting milk for milk powder as it could change the dry and wet ingredients ratio.

And if you’re in a pinch, a can of already crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce could substitute for whole tomatoes. Lastly, all-purpose flour could be a substitute for bread flour, though I haven’t tested it myself to see the outcome. Hope this helps!

Pizza Tips

  • Temperature Precision: Pay close attention to the temperature of the water used to mix the yeast. Water that’s too hot can kill the yeast, while water that’s too cool may not activate it properly. A kitchen thermometer is invaluable here to make sure the water is around 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Quality of Ingredients: The quality of tomatoes and olive oil can significantly affect the flavor of your sauce. Opting for high-quality canned San Marzano tomatoes and a good extra virgin olive oil can elevate your pizza from good to restaurant-quality.
  • Dough Handling: When shaping your dough, be gentle. Overworking the dough can lead to a tough pizza crust. Aim for a balance between enough handling to form a smooth ball and gentle enough to keep the dough soft and airy.
  • Oven Calibration: Oven temperatures can vary, so if you’re not getting the desired browning on your crust or cheese, consider using an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is accurately calibrated to the recipe’s required temperature.
Pizza Ingredients Layout. An overhead view of pizza ingredients neatly arranged on a marble countertop, including bowls of flour, yeast, olive oil, milk powder, cheese, pepperoni, and spices.
  • 9-inch Cake Pans. These pans are ideal for achieving pan pizza’s thick, chewy crust. Their size and depth allow the dough to rise and form a nice edge.
  • Stand Mixer with Paddle and Dough Hook Attachments. The mixer is essential for thoroughly combining the dough ingredients and then kneading the dough to the right consistency. The paddle mixes ingredients initially, while the dough hook takes care of the kneading process, which is crucial for gluten development.
  • Digital Kitchen Thermometer. Ensuring your water is the correct temperature for the yeast activation is key, and a thermometer takes the guesswork out of this step. It’s also useful for checking the doneness of the pizza if you’re unsure.
  • Plastic Wrap. During the dough’s rising time, plastic wrap keeps the surface from drying out and helps maintain an ideal environment for yeast fermentation.
  • Rolling Pin. A rolling pin helps evenly shape the dough into circles that fit the cake pans, making sure a uniform crust thickness for even baking.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with garlic bread, Caesar salad, and homemade buffalo wings.

Troubleshooting and Help

Can I make the dough ahead of time?

Absolutely, you can make the dough ahead! After the first rise, just punch it down gently, cover it tightly, and you can refrigerate it overnight. Just give it some time to warm up and go through the second rise the next day before baking.

What if I don’t have a stand mixer?

No problem at all. You can mix the ingredients by hand with a sturdy spoon and then knead the dough on a lightly floured surface. It’ll take a bit more elbow grease, but it’s definitely doable and can be quite satisfying

Is there a dairy-free option for this recipe?

For a dairy-free version, you can find dairy-free cheese alternatives and skip the dry milk powder in the dough. There might be a slight difference in flavor and texture, but it’ll still be tasty

My sauce seems too watery. What can I do?

If your sauce is looking a bit too thin, just let it simmer a bit longer to reduce and thicken up. Keep an eye on it and stir occasionally to prevent scorching.

Storing Leftovers

Refrigerating:

  1. Let the pizza cool to room temperature before storing it to prevent condensation inside the container, which could make the crust soggy.
  2. Place the pizza slices in a single layer on a plate or tray and cover them loosely with plastic wrap. Alternatively, you can put the slices in an airtight container.
  3. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

Freezing:

  1. Cool the pizza slices completely to avoid ice crystal formation.
  2. Wrap each slice individually in plastic wrap. This helps maintain their flavor and texture.
  3. Place the wrapped slices in a single layer inside a freezer-safe bag or airtight container. Squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing.
  4. Freeze for up to two months for the best quality.

Reheating:

  • Oven (Recommended for best texture): Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Place the refrigerated or thawed pizza slices on a baking sheet and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Heat for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the crust crisp.
  • Microwave: If you’re in a hurry, you can microwave a single slice on a microwave-safe plate for about 30-60 seconds. Just know that the crust might not be as crispy.

Remember, the key to enjoying your pan pizza as if it were freshly baked is how you store and reheat it. Follow these simple steps to keep your pizza tasting great!

I hope these tips and tricks will help you create the perfect pan pizza that you’ve been craving. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different toppings and dough recipes to find your favorite combination.

Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t give up if your first attempt doesn’t turn out exactly how you envisioned it. Be patient and let the dough do its thing, and soon enough, you’ll be enjoying a delicious homemade pan pizza that will surely impress your family and guests.

The next time you’re looking for a meal that brings warmth and comfort to your table, remember this one. I hope you love it as much as we do.

Side View of Baked Pan Pizza. A side view of a pan pizza on a white paper background, highlighting the thick crust, melted cheese, and pepperoni toppings with a slight char.
How to Make the Best Deep Dish Pizza at Home
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