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What Exactly Is Chicago-Style Pizza?

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Many people who visit Chicago find themselves drawn to the varied cuisine available. Chicago has many different restaurant options to suit every type of taste and budget. A popular attraction of Chicago food is the pizza, which is spoken of across the nation and just as good at places like Pizza Heaven Bistro. Chicago-style pizza has made quite a name for itself, and rightly so, being loved by many Chicago natives and visitors alike.

You might be wondering: what exactly is Chicago-style pizza, and what makes it so special? There's actually not a simple answer to this question, as Chicago-style encompasses a few different varieties of pizza - all delicious in their own way.

Deep Dish

The most widespread and well-known version is the Chicago-style deep dish. As suggested by the name, the most noticeable characteristic of this pizza is its high crust, creating what looks more like a pie than a pizza

Though the pizza is quite thick, the crust itself remains relatively thin, and most of the height in the center of the pizza comes from the toppings. Sausage is a popular choice, though at most restaurants in Chicago a wide assortments of toppings is available. The pizza almost always includes a thick layer of cheese, as well, with the sauce added to top things off.

Seeing the sauce added to the top of the pizza rather than under the cheese may be odd for many people. However, there is a good reason for this. With the longer baking time required to make the crust perfect, a traditional sauce-cheese-toppings set-up might result in crispy cheese and burned toppings. The sauce, usually a chunky tomato sauce, protects the thick layer of filling ingredients from the heat of the oven over the extended cook time.


A more specific variety of the deep dish pizza is the stuffed pizza. In this version, an even deeper pan is used, resulting in a pizza that might be three or more inches high. The toppings and cheese are encased between two layers of dough, with the sauce being ladled over the top before the pizza is baked.

The crust, though still high, is often a bit flakier than traditional deep dish, and is made with canola oil instead of corn oil.

Thin Crust

Chicago-style thin crust is the most like a traditional Neapolitan pizza. The biggest difference is the bottom of the crust, which tends to have a bit of a crunch. Additionally, the way the pizza is sliced is different: while New York-style pizza is often cut into wedges, Chicago-style thin crust is cut in a grid format, or squares.

Now that you have a better idea of what Chicago-style pizza might include, it's time to go visit the Windy City and try a slice (or square) for yourself!