What is detroit style pizza?

HotbotBy HotBotUpdated: July 3, 2024

Introduction to Detroit Style Pizza

Detroit style pizza is a distinctive and cherished variety of pizza that originated in the city of Detroit, Michigan. Known for its rectangular shape, crispy yet airy crust, and unique layering of ingredients, Detroit style pizza has carved out its own niche in the vast world of pizza.

The Origins of Detroit Style Pizza

The story of Detroit style pizza dates back to the mid-20th century. It was first created by Gus Guerra, who founded Buddy’s Rendezvous, a neighborhood bar on Detroit’s east side. In 1946, Guerra experimented with a new pizza recipe inspired by his wife’s Sicilian roots. He used blue steel pans, originally designed for catching oil in automotive factories, to bake the pizza. These pans gave the pizza its characteristic rectangular shape and crispy edges.

Characteristics of Detroit Style Pizza

Several key features define Detroit style pizza:

Rectangular Shape

One of the most noticeable characteristics of Detroit style pizza is its rectangular shape. This is a direct result of the blue steel automotive pans in which it is baked.

Thick and Airy Crust

The crust of Detroit style pizza is thick, yet surprisingly light and airy. It achieves this texture through a high hydration dough, which is allowed to rise in the pan before baking.

Crispy Edges

The edges of Detroit style pizza are crispy and caramelized, thanks to the cheese that is spread all the way to the edges of the pan. As the pizza bakes, the cheese melts and forms a deliciously crunchy border.

Cheese Under the Sauce

In a departure from traditional pizza styles, Detroit style pizza layers the cheese directly on the dough, with the sauce spread on top. This method helps to keep the crust from becoming soggy and maintains its airy texture.

Stripes of Sauce

The sauce is usually applied in thick, parallel stripes across the top of the pizza, rather than being spread evenly. This method, known as “racing stripes,” is another hallmark of Detroit style pizza.

Ingredients Used in Detroit Style Pizza

The ingredients used in Detroit style pizza are similar to those in other types of pizza, but with some important distinctions:


The dough for Detroit style pizza has a higher hydration level compared to other pizza doughs, which contributes to its light and airy texture. It is also typically made with bread flour, which gives it a sturdy structure.


Traditionally, Detroit style pizza uses a blend of Wisconsin brick cheese and mozzarella. The brick cheese has a high fat content and melts well, creating the crispy, caramelized edges that are a signature of this pizza style.


The sauce for Detroit style pizza is often a simple, tangy tomato sauce. It is usually applied in stripes after the pizza has been baked, ensuring that it remains fresh and vibrant.


While the classic Detroit style pizza is often made with just cheese and sauce, various toppings can be added according to personal preference. Popular choices include pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, and green peppers.

How to Make Detroit Style Pizza at Home

Making Detroit style pizza at home can be a rewarding endeavor. Here’s a basic recipe to get you started:


  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups shredded Wisconsin brick cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup pizza sauce
  • Optional toppings (pepperoni, sausage, vegetables, etc.)


  1. In a large bowl, combine the bread flour, salt, sugar, and instant yeast. Add the warm water and olive oil, and mix until a dough forms.
  2. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let it rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  3. Preheat your oven to 500°F (260°C). Lightly oil a rectangular baking pan or a blue steel automotive pan if you have one.
  4. Press the dough into the pan, stretching it to the edges. Let it rest for about 15 minutes to relax the gluten.
  5. Spread the cheese evenly over the dough, making sure to cover the entire surface and go all the way to the edges of the pan.
  6. Add any desired toppings over the cheese.
  7. Bake the pizza for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and the edges are crispy and caramelized.
  8. Remove the pizza from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before adding the sauce in thick, parallel stripes across the top.
  9. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Where to Find Authentic Detroit Style Pizza

While Detroit style pizza is becoming more popular and can be found in various pizzerias across the United States, there are a few places where you can experience the authentic taste:

Buddy’s Pizza

As the birthplace of Detroit style pizza, Buddy’s Pizza is a must-visit for anyone looking to try the original. With multiple locations in the Detroit area, Buddy’s offers a variety of delicious Detroit style pizzas.

Loui’s Pizza

Located in Hazel Park, Michigan, Loui’s Pizza is another iconic pizzeria that serves authentic Detroit style pizza. Known for its cozy atmosphere and generous portions, Loui’s is a favorite among locals.

Jet’s Pizza

With locations across the United States, Jet’s Pizza has helped to popularize Detroit style pizza beyond Michigan. While it may not have the same historical significance as Buddy’s or Loui’s, Jet’s offers a convenient and tasty option for those looking to try this unique style of pizza.

Contemporary Variations and Innovations

Detroit style pizza has inspired numerous variations and innovations, as chefs and home cooks experiment with different ingredients and techniques. Some popular variations include:

Barbecue Chicken Detroit Style Pizza

This variation replaces the traditional tomato sauce with barbecue sauce and is topped with grilled chicken, red onions, and cilantro.

Vegetarian Detroit Style Pizza

A vegetarian version of Detroit style pizza can include a variety of fresh vegetables, such as bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach, and olives, combined with the classic cheese and sauce.

Breakfast Detroit Style Pizza

For a unique twist, some pizzerias offer breakfast versions of Detroit style pizza, topped with ingredients like scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and cheese.

The allure of Detroit style pizza lies not only in its unique shape and texture but also in its rich history and regional pride. As this style of pizza continues to gain popularity, it offers an intriguing alternative to traditional pizza styles, inviting food enthusiasts to explore its distinctive characteristics and flavors.

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