How to Make Deep Dish Pizza
There are several key elements to a great deep dish pizza, first up is the crust! It has to be light enough to bake through, but sturdy enough to support all of the yummy toppings. My dough recipe has been refined specifically to hold up to the high outer temperature of a Dutch oven and crisp on the outside while cooking through to perfect chewiness in the middle. It also comes together in 30 minutes (just long enough for your coals to cook down or your oven to preheat).
The second element is how the deep dish pizza is cooked. Deep dish pizzas are unique because they aren’t baked flat on a sheet, they are pressed into a pan with vertical side walls to form an outer edge of tasty, golden crust with a treasure of tasty toppings in the center. For this recipe, I went a little more exciting and upscale with red pear, brie, and arugula deep dish pizza toppings, but you can absolutely substitute whatever you like. My biggest recommendation is to avoid too much of anything. Too much sauce or cheese or moist toppings can make your pizzas soggy.
The final piece to the perfect deep dish pizza pie is baking method. How you bake your pizzas is really crucial to the overall finished product. High heat and cast iron are my two most important factors in turning out great deep dish pizza.
Deep Dish Pizza Pan
For this recipe, the dough is pressed into an oiled and preheated 14-inch Dutch oven before being baked with ashed over charcoal briquettes. During the last 5 minutes of dough prep before baking, the Dutch oven is preheated with about 10-12 coals underneath and 10-12 coals on the lid. Once the deep dish pizza is ready, slide it into the preheated Dutch oven on a sheet of parchment paper. Carefully press the sides of the dough up the edges of the pan.
This next little tip is pretty crucial if you are using the Dutch oven. Grab two skewers or hot dog sticks and set them on top of your Dutch oven before setting on the lid. This little vent around the lid of the pizza allows the steam to escape and the crust to bake through and brown and the cheese to melt without getting soggy.
Side note for this recipe- the crust recipe below makes one, thick deep dish pizza. You can use the exact same recipe to make two smaller pizzas with regular crusts that fit perfectly in the bottom of a 14-inch Dutch oven.
If you’re not cooking over an open fire, no worries! The same process can be followed with a 14 inch cast iron skillet and a 400 degree F oven, no need to follow the lid instructions above. You can also closely replicate this recipe with 2, 8-inch cake pans in the oven, but you will lose some of that amazing crispy exterior on the crust because those cake pans won’t quite retain the heat like cast iron will.
Tools Needed for Dutch Oven Deep Dish Pizza
Deep Dish Pizza Recipe
Deep Dish Pizza in a Dutch Oven
- 2 packages active instant yeast
- 2 cups warm water (120-130 degrees F)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 4 1/2-5 cups all purpose flour
- 1-2 teaspoons corn meal
Pear, Brie, and Prosciutto Pizza Toppings
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic glaze
- 1 cup low-moisture mozzarella cheese (shredded)
- 1/8 red onion (cut into thin slices)
- 1 red pear (sliced)
- 4 oz brie cheese (cut into slices)
- 2 oz prosciutto (thinly sliced)
- 1 cup arugula (1)
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pinch salt and pepper (each)
- In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, and sugar. Set aside and allow to proof for 5 minutes.
- Add the salt and honey to the yeast and then add in the flour 1 cup at a time, stirring until the flour is mostly incorporated before adding the next cup. Mix with a spoon until the dough becomes too thick and then begin kneading the dough in the bowl with your hands. The dough should be thick and soft, but not too sticky. Knead for 3-4 minutes.
- Pour 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over the bread and knead again, forming the dough into a ball. Drizzle with an additional tablespoon of olive oil. Cover and set aside to let the dough rise for 30 minutes.
- Start your charcoal to heat up and ash over while the dough rises. It typically takes 20 minutes for charcoal to get to the point where it is ready to cook on. During this time, start preparing your toppings.
- When your dough is risen, begin preheating your Dutch oven. Use a shovel to move around the charcoal so you have 10-12 pieces of charcoal under the oven and 10-12 pieces on the lid of your Dutch oven. Let it preheat while you prepare your pizza (about 5 minutes).
- Roll out a large sheet of parchment paper. Sprinkle it with the corn meal. Pour out your risen dough onto the parchment and start pressing it with your hands. Work from the middle and press with the heels of your hands until you have made a large 18 inch circle of dough.
- Spread on the balsamic glaze, then sprinkle on the mozzarella cheese, red onion slices, brie cheese, prosciutto, and red pear slices.
- Lift and set aside the lid of your Dutch oven. Transfer the pizza while still on the parchment paper to the preheated oven. Press the sides of the dough into the parchment along the sides of the Dutch oven. Place 2 or 3 long metal skewers across the top of the Dutch oven before replacing the lid to create a vent for steam to escape.
- Cook the pizzas until the edges of the crust are golden brown and the cheese has completely melted, about 25-35 minutes (start checking at 15 minutes, just so you can make any heat adjustments as needed).
- While the pizza cooks, mix up the arugula, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
- Lift the edges of the parchment to help get your pizza out of the Dutch oven and transfer to a large cutting board. Top with the arugula salad, slice and serve immediately.