A pair of pan pizza recipes: thick and thicker

What’s your favorite pizza style: thin crust or thick? Neapolitan-style pizza, with its characteristic charred bottom, super-thin round crust, and minimal toppings, has been a New York City tradition for over 100 years. But thicker, heartier pan pizza, smothered in sauce and cheese and baked in a square or rectangular pan, boasts a history that’s just as old — and suddenly hip.

A pair of pan pizza recipes via @kingarthurflour

Witness the increasing buzz around Detroit-style pizza and grandma pizza, two variations on pan pizza. Detroit-style pizza, obviously native to Detroit, is characterized by its towering crust (over 1” thick), its crisp “fried” bottom, blobs of sauce in place of an even layer, and most importantly, crunchy, deep-brown (almost black) baked cheese around the edges.

A pair of pan pizza recipes via @kingarthurflour

Grandma pizza, born on Long Island outside New York City, is similar to Sicilian-style, probably the most ubiquitous of pan pizzas nationwide. But where Sicilian-style pan pizza is thick (typically 1”) and light-textured, grandma pizza is chewy and thinner — only about 3/4” thick.

Baked in an oil-coated pan yielding an extra-crunchy bottom crust, like Detroit, grandma pizza also employs a similar topping technique: the cheese is laid down first, followed by the sauce. Arranged in a thick layer right to the edge of the pan, the cheese becomes a deep golden brown — nearly burned — while the pie bakes.

How to make Detroit-style pizza and grandma pizza at home — it's easy as pie! Click To Tweet

If you’re a thin-crust pizza fan, you may think these thick-crust pies are from the dark side. And you’re right: their deep-gold bottom crust and crunchy baked cheese edges are definitely dark — and absolutely delicious!

King Arthur’s Detroit-Style Pizza

Gather your ingredients:

2 1/2 cups (298g) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon Pizza Dough Flavor, optional; for added flavor
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (227g) lukewarm water
olive oil, for greasing the pan

2 tablespoons (25g) olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon Pizza Seasoning or dried Italian herbs
28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon sugar, optional

8 to 12 ounces (227g to 340g) pepperoni, sliced 1/8″ thick, optional
6 ounces (170g) mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2″ cubes
6 ounces (170g) cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2″ cubes

Start with the dough

Weigh out your flour, or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess.

Mix and knead all the dough ingredients until a shaggy dough forms. 

A pair of pan pizza recipes via @kingarthurflour

See how the dough is just barely clinging to the side of the bowl? That’s the perfect texture: soft and a tiny bit sticky, but not so sticky you can’t easily work with it.

Cover the dough, allow it to rest for 10 minutes, then knead it again until it becomes smooth and elastic.

Form the dough into a ball, place it into a lightly greased bowl, cover, and allow to rest until doubled, about 2 hours.

A pair of pan pizza recipes via @kingarthurflour

Choose and prepare your pan

Drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a Detroit-style pizza pan or a 9” x 13” pan. The dark Detroit-style pan will yield a crustier crust and crunchier edges.

A pair of pan pizza recipes via @kingarthurflour

Stretch the dough

Gently stretch the dough towards the edges and corners of the pan until it starts to shrink back and won’t stretch any farther.

A pair of pan pizza recipes via @kingarthurflourCover the pan, and allow the dough to rest and relax for 15 to 20 minutes before stretching it again. Repeat the rest one more time, if necessary, until the dough fills the bottom of the pan.

Position a rack at the lowest position of the oven, and start preheating the oven to 500°F.

A pair of pan pizza recipes via @kingarthurflour

Chunky pan pizza sauce

While the oven heats, make the sauce (or use your prepared favorite). Heat the olive oil in a saucepan set over medium heat until shimmering. Stir in the garlic and Pizza Seasoning or dried herbs and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the tomatoes and sugar, bring to a simmer, and cook until the juices have reduced significantly and you have about 3 cups of sauce, about 20 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and set aside.

Top the crust

Gently press the dough down with your fingers to release some larger air bubbles, if necessary. Top the dough with an even layer of pepperoni, if using; I’m skipping the pepperoni.

A pair of pan pizza recipes via @kingarthurflour

Cover the edges of the dough with cheese first, to make sure you have enough.

A pair of pan pizza recipes via @kingarthurflour

Once the edges are covered, fill in the middle.

Top with the cubed cheeses, making sure to spread them to the edges of the pan.

Why cubed rather than shredded cheese? Cubed cheese makes a big cheese-y statement once the pizza is baked. Some of the cubes retain a soft but evident core, while others melt completely, pooling atop the crust and running over the edges. Oh, my…

A pair of pan pizza recipes via @kingarthurflour

Dollop the sauce over the surface of the pizza or spread it into three lengthwise rows. I decide to dollop sauce in the approximate center of what will eventually be 12 squares.

A pair of pan pizza recipes via @kingarthurflourBake your pan pizza

Transfer the pizza to the bottom rack of the oven, and bake until the cheese is bubbly and the edges have turned nearly black, about 12 to 15 minutes.

A pair of pan pizza recipes via @kingarthurflour

Remove the pizza from the oven, and immediately run a spatula or bench knife around the edges to loosen it from the pan. Trust me, do this right away; letting the pizza set for even a minute or so means the cooling cheese will cement it to the pan.

A pair of pan pizza recipes via @kingarthurflour

On the left, pizza baked in a black Detroit-style pizza pan. On the right, the same recipe baked in a lighter-colored aluminum pan. If you like really dark, crunchy melted cheese, black is the way to go.

As soon as you can safely handle the hot pizza, transfer it to a cutting board, cut, and serve.

You’ll probably decide that this pan pizza is more a knife-and-fork affair than something to eat out of hand. Dripping with sauce and cheese, it’s a total indulgence.

Grandma Pizza

Our test kitchen manager, Charlotte, says of this pan pizza, “Baked in a large, square pan at high heat after a relatively short final proofing time, the crust is wonderfully crispy and denser/thinner than traditional Sicilian-style pizza. Preparing the dough the day before ensures a fresh-from-the-oven pie in less than an hour, once you’re ready to bake and serve.”

Here’s what you need:

2 cups (213g) Italian-Style Flour OR 1 3/4 cups (206g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 cups (241g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon Pizza Dough Flavor
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 cups (283g) lukewarm water
2 tablespoons (25g) olive oil, plus additional oil for greasing the pan

3 cups (12 ounces, 340g) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces, 283g) tomato or marinara sauce, store-bought or homemade

A pair of pan pizza recipes via @kingarthurflour

Like the Detroit pizza dough, this dough should just barely cling to the side of the bowl when fully kneaded.

Make a soft, smooth dough

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix and knead to form a smooth, elastic dough. If you use 00 flour, expect the dough to be a tiny bit stickier, and the resulting crust a bit more tender.

A pair of pan pizza recipes via @kingarthurflour

The dough pictured here rose in the refrigerator for 17 hours: from 4 p.m. one day to 9 a.m. the next.

Give the dough a cool, slow rise

Place the dough in a large (at least 5-quart) bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap (or your reusable wrap of choice), and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. 

Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat the oven to 500°F.

A pair of pan pizza recipes via @kingarthurflour

Prepare the pan

Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a grandma-style pizza pan or an 18” x 13” baking sheet (half sheet pan) and spread it around to coat the pan. Just as with Detroit-style pizza, a dark pan will yield pizza with a crispy bottom and edges, while a lighter pan will result in a softer crust.

Stretch the dough on the pan

Turn the dough out into the pan, gently deflating it as you start to stretch it to the edges and corners. Due to the gluten tightening up and the oil in the pan offering it a slick surface, the dough will definitely shrink back.

A pair of pan pizza recipes via @kingarthurflourDon’t fight it. When the dough starts to retreat, cover it with lightly greased plastic wrap (or your reusable wrap of choice) and let it rest for 10 minutes before resuming the stretching. This short rest relaxes the gluten, making it easier to shape.

Try to stretch the dough all the way to the edge of the pan and into the corners. 

A pair of pan pizza recipes via @kingarthurflour

Once the crust is fully stretched, top it with the cheese, spreading it to the edges of the pan.

A pair of pan pizza recipes via @kingarthurflour

Finally, dollop or spread the sauce over the cheese. I’m using 1 14 cups (284g) of my favorite homemade sauce, Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce.

A pair of pan pizza recipes via @kingarthurflourBake the pizza in the bottom third of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden.

A pair of pan pizza recipes via @kingarthurflour

Remove the pizza from the oven, and immediately separate its edges from the pan, before the cheese cools and hardens.

Let the pizza cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

A pair of pan pizza recipes via @kingarthurflour

Best tool for cutting pan pizza? A pair of standard scissors.

Best way to enjoy pan pizza? With family and friends, of course. And if anyone professes to prefer thin-crust pizza, just call this “topped focaccia” and watch them dig in!

These thick-crust pies are just two of the many, many pizza recipes we offer. Check out our baker-tested online collection of pizza recipes for everything from Ultra-Thin Pizza Crust to The Easiest Pizza You’ll Ever Make.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. waikikirie

    Hey PJ,

    Tardy to the party but I finally showed up. My husband was just asking me about Grandma pizza the other day. May just have to buy a new pan. Always enjoy your posts, especially the pizza one! YUM…. oxoxox

  2. Bob

    I recently learned that you can make a quick two-ingredient pizza dough by combining self-rising flour with Greek yogurt. It’s pretty good. I’m going to try it with gluten-free flour at some point.

  3. Laura A.

    Can these recipes be adjusted to make gluten free pizza? I’ve got Celiac disease but would love to make these!

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      That’s a tough one, Laura, as you probably know; yeast + gluten-free is a challenge! That said, I’d absolutely try using the dough for this gluten-free focaccia in either of these recipes and see what happens. I suspect it’d do better in the Grandma pizza — so try that one first. Good luck! PJH@KAF

  4. Steve Cloak

    Want to have a little more fun with this?…try using cast iron pans like those wearing the Cabot name….you won’t regret it!

  5. Robert S Rinehuls

    My current pizza routine starts with making a sponge mid-morning and completing the dough about 8 hours later. I like a fairly thick crust with lots of toppings. My pan is the 14″ round dark pan. Sometimes I use olive oil but find it easier to stretch/pat the dough out on a shortening greased pan. I let the dough rest in the pan about an hour while preparing sauce and toppings. I start with 8 slices of smoked provolone cheese on the dough and then dollop a big spoon of sauce on top of each. I spread it out with the back of the spoon. Next I add a layer of turkey pepperoni that I have pre-crisped. Now I literally dump the remaining toppings on the pizza because they have been combined in a large mixing bowl and are usually 8 oz of freshly shredded mozzarella cheese, onions, bell pepper, green and black olives, mushrooms, a minced garlic clove, a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of oregano and crushed red pepper. Bake on hot stone about 12 minutes. I’m looking for nicely browned not carbonized. I remove from the pan on to a round screen. If the top is too juicy or the bottom of the crust could stand more browning I put the pizza now on screen back on the stone for few minutes.

  6. Lucille L Furey

    My Grandmother was from Calabria and she made the Grandma style pizza but always made it with mostly sauce and occasionally with cheese at the finish. She also cooked it at a lower temperature, 375, and for a longer time. It was always perfectly browned. She would make 25 pounds of flour once a week, turning out bread and pizza for the week. It was the best bread and pizza ever.

  7. Candace

    This almost sounds like the pizza I had growing up. Down the street was an Italian delicatessen they made the absolute best pizza and meatball sandwiches. The crust is crispy on the bottom chewy on top, and not too thick. I don’t remember that it was real saucy or real cheesy, but it was the best. Never have had anything like it since.

  8. Lorraine Fina Stevenski

    I am a New Yorker in my soul. I love Sicilian thick crust pizza. But my creative side wanted to try something different. Last night I made the Detroit pizza I made the dough in my food processor and then kneaded it for about 5 minutes on the counter. I used a dark 9X13 metal pan. The dough was soft, flavorful and made a really thick crust. I made my own marinara sauce. I could NOT put the cheese first and the the sauce on top! I put the sauce first and the cheese on top and it was my kinda pizza. For a crisper crust, I put the pan directly on the pizza stone on the bottom rack of my oven at 500 degrees. Perfectly charred edges and crisp bottom. Thanks PJ for a great pizza tutorial.


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