SB 020| How to Make Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza

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Esmeralda's picture

Hi Chef Jacob, 
I admire your job and your passion like crazy, and these pizza techniques are amazing! I'm so glad you shared them with us, I can bet you made a huge efford because it is not only one but lots of them!

I just want to say one thing about Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza! I love it!!! I'm a really fan of it! I'm not a chef yet but I've been investigating how to make the perfect Chicago Style Pizza for long time, every video I found online and all websites that talked about it! I went to "Pizzeria Uno" in Chicago (from Toronto) three times only to check if I got the right recipe once I had tried it million times at home! 

I know this is your recipe, I'm not saying it is wrong, I just want you to know that the following website is the best and only one that has a recipe exactly like Pizzeria Uno in Chicago, and they say there is no cornmeal in it:

This is just some extra information for those who love Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza as much as I do!

jacob burton's picture

Yep, my original recipe didn't use any cornmeal or butter; it used bread flour and corn oil which is considered more "traditional." However, through testing, I preferred this formulation over the others.

esavitzky's picture

Hey Chef,

Bravo on the Pizza series.  It was a long time coming but the hard work and experimentation you have demonstrated really shows.

I love pizza and was born in Brooklyn and lived in Chicago for 5 years so i have a real passion for NY pizza (with all its variations) and deep dish as well.  When I went to Chicago, I was looking for  what was familiar to me and of course, NY pizza was no where in sight.  There are actually three types of pizza in Chicago.  The traditional "Western Cut" (flat rectanular and cut into 2x2 inch squares) deep dish (as demonstrated by you) and stuffed pizza (made famous by a couple of restaurants in Chicago that has an extra layer of dough on top which is then covered with the tomato sauce.} 

I have done a lot of research on deep dish and as the previous comment indicated, loyalists of deep dish would consider adding corn meal to the dough as sacrilegious. In addition, the dough is hardly keeded at all so that it does not expand much when baked and of course there is no added fat (butter or oil.)  

I make the dough both ways and actually love them both, so to hell with convention or tradition.  Just make whatever recipe you prefer. 

Thanks again for finally posting this series. I only wish I had a brick oven.


jacob burton's picture

The minimal kneading was also something I tested and played around with a lot. I didn't really like the results. I much preferred developing the gluten structure after retarding it by mixing in the fat first.

The no fat in deep dish dough is new to me; every resource I've come across has fat added in one way or another.

Can you expand on this? How do they get the flaky texture if there's no fat added? Is it just the minimal mixing?

esavitzky's picture

My apologies Chef,

The traditional deep dish pizza does have canola oil added, but is kneeded only till the dough comes together.  The final result is not meant to be flaky.

The corn meal recipe I use has much more added fat (canola, olive oil and butter) and is kneeded to  the same degree as your recipe.

Here is a link to a recipe that is close to the original Uno's recipe.

jacob burton's picture

Ah, got it. I misunderstood what you were saying.

When I started off my R&D on the Chicago Pizza crust, I was chasing down more traditional recipes and approaches.

First, just like a lot of Neapolitan Recipes, there is a lot of deliberately bad recipes published online and in magazines by well known names.

I wasn't trying to do an exact replica of a famous Chicago Deep dish, but I was instead trying to do my best version of that concept. For me, the minimal kneading led to a lot of issues, mainly the fat breaking out of the dough during cooking, but also some textural things I wasn't happy with.

So I found adding lots of fat and kneading gave me a texture and flavor I much preferred. The corn meal was a last minute addition that I almost didn't add because of a lot of people draw an authenticity line there, but when blind taste-tested side by side, almost everyone picked the formula with corn meal, including three people who were born and raised in Chicago. You will notice though that the amount of cornmeal used in my formula is fairly minimal.

Also, the link posted by Esmeralda is interesting. The page says the yellow dough comes from a color additive, not from cornmeal. This makes absolutely no sense to me. Chicago Deep Dish and Neapolitan pizza is all about the crust since the toppings are pretty universally agreed upon and easy to produce, so there is a lot of deception and bull-shit in a lot of the published recipes for these two styles of pizza.

That's why my approach has been to reverse engineer my doughs, starting first with where I want to end up, and working my way backwards.

esavitzky's picture

I believe the comment about food coloring refers to the version served at Gino's Pizza, a competitor of Uno's. While in Chicago, I preferred Gino's over Uno's as I thought Uno's quality had degraded after becoming a chain.  I don't remember the crust being any more yellow than any other crust.  According to the post, they add cream of tarter and yellow food coloring.

It looks a bit yellow in this photo. And it looks like they are chain now too.  Oh well!


I dont really care about authenticity as much as taste.  If I was a native of Chicago I wouldnt eat deep dish anyway, as many  natives I have read consider it touristy and stick with the Western Cut, or Thin Crust style.

I have been to Giordano's which makes stuffed pizza, but I have  to say it is a bit too much.

My favorite is a cornmeal and high fat content recipe I found on the King Arthur site.  They claim its recipe is close to the original Uno's, but it doesn't seem to be anywhere close.

This all goes to say that everyone has their own version and the key it to find the one you like and go with it.

jacob burton's picture

I wonder if the original formulation had cornmeal and then they cut it out for cost and / or consistency issues as they grew? Kind of like how cheddar cheese is colored orange. It just seems strange that a yellow crust wouldn't be important unless there was some sort of historical precedence.

I've never tried a true thin crust Chicago pizza, but all the people I know from Chicago bring it up when discussing pizza. Would love a chance to try it one day.

esavitzky's picture

Interesting thought.  It may or may not have happened that way.

Uno's was founded by a liquor distributor from Texas (Ike Sewell) and a resteranteour (Ricardo's) from Chicago (Richard Novaretti aka Ric Ricardo)  Their idea was to start a Mexican restaurant, but Ric got sick while preparing some Mexican food and they decided to go with pizza.  I think they used an old family recipe of Ric's.  And naturally, there are a lot of people that worked at the original Uno's who claim to be the inventor.  Rudy Malnati and his son Lou ran Uno's for many years and then Pizzeriza Due's.  A chef from Uno's left after many years to start Gino's.

They all tried to differentiate themselves from each other, hence Gino's yellow crust  and eventually Giordano's and Nancy's came out with stfuffed pizza.  It's thought that stuffed pizza was based on a Nancy's family recipe called scarciedda, an Italian Easter pie.  

Cornmeal was probably one of those differentiators that was inlcuded over time along with the flakier crust.  

redeemed763's picture

Hello again chef Jacob! I love all the new content you have added to the website, its really fantastic to have all this great pizza content on here. I especially enjoyed your neapolitan pizza workflow video as I am starting to learn more and more about my mobile oven for events. 


As for the Chicago style pizza crust recipe, having grown up in the outskirts of Chicago with Uno, Gino's, Lou Malnati's ect, I can definitely say I have never tasted cornmeal in any chicago style pizza at any restaurant. There certainly is a texture/flavor componant there that says "this could be cornmeal" but after trying a lot of different cornmeal recipes, it sure isn't cornmeal in there. 

Also, I find the addition of cornmeal to add a very unpleasant gritiness like sand to my pizza that I am not accustomed to. You can even look at the ingredient lists of various frozen versions of these pizzas (many of them sell frozen now) and I haven't seen cornmeal listed once yet. 

One thing that I have been doing to my pizza at the recommendation of others at is adding semolina flour to my dough. I have found that it adds a nice flavor and mild courseness without having quite the same strong sandy texture of cornmeal. 


Best of luck on the your quest!