Chicago style deep dish pizza with homemade Italian sausage recipe

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The deep pan or deep dish pizza is very popular in Chicago. The pizza dough is light and flaky and covers not only the bottom of the pan but the sides as well. Unlike other pizzas, the tomato sauce in this recipe goes on the top of the pizza and not on the bottom (it is the last layer of the pizza, not the first one); furthermore, the pizza is baked for 35 to 40 minutes instead of the 5 to 10 minutes cooking time for regular pizzas. This Chicago style deep dish pizza recipe uses homemade Italian sausage and uncooked tomato sauce (recipes included).
Preparation time: 150 minutes, Cooking time: 35 minutes, Serves: 4 
You can use this exact same recipe and substitute the Italian sausage with any ingredients that you like. Before you do that though make sure you try this recipe; it is absolutely delicious and can be served as a complete dish with a fresh salad on the side.

This recipe makes 3 10 inch deep pan pizzas.


For the pizza dough
1/4 oz. active dry yeast (2 tablespoons or 2 x 11 g packages) 
1/4 cup bread flour
1 tsp  granulated sugar
1/4 cup lukewarm water 

3 cups bread flour
1/2 cup medium cornmeal 
1 tsp table salt
1 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup olive oil
1-4 melted unsalted butter

Extra flour for kneading the dough
Extra olive oil for oiling the bowl where the dough will be placed to rise

For the Italian sausage deep pan pizza
18 oz. (525 g) Mozarella cheese, thinly sliced or coarsely grated
Homemade Italian sausage (see recipe below)
Homemade uncooked tomato sauce (see recipe below)
Pecorino Romano cheese for topping, finely grated (optional)


Make the pizza dough
In a large bowl add the dry yeast, 1/2 cup flour and sugar and stir. Add the 1/2 cup water and stir well to combine. Cover with plastic wrap, set aside and let rise, for 15 to 20 minutes.

When the flour and yeast mixture rises uncover and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir the mixture well using a wooden spoon until most of the flour is incorporated into the mixture. Empty the dough on a floured surface and knead for 10 to 12 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. At this stage you may use a bit more flour, as needed; in this case, dust the dough with flour and continue kneading. The resulting dough should still be a bit sticky but should not stick to your hands.

When the dough is ready, use some extra olive oil to oil a bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let it rise to double the volume at room temperature. This should take 1 to 2 hours, depending on the humidity and temperature conditions.

If you do not plan to use the dough immediately, you can put it in the refrigerator and let it rise - this will take 10 to 12 hours. In this case take the dough out of the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes, before using.

When the dough has risen, empty it on a floured surface, punch it down and knead it for 3 to 4 minutes more, dusting it with more flour if necessary. Divide the dough into three equal pieces and press each piece on the bottom and sides of a 10 inch by 1 inch oiled round pizza pan (the pan should be 10 inches in diameter and 1 inch high). Let the dough rest and rise for 15 minutes more.

Preheat oven to 440 degrees F (225 degrees C).

Assemble the pizza
Lay the bottom of the pizza with 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese. Top with 1/3 of the Italian sausage (use your fingers to pinch small pieces and spread them evenly on top of the cheese) and finish by spreading 1/3 of the tomato sauce. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make 2 more pizzas.

Bake pizzas in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until the dough is crispy and golden brown.

Serve immediately, optionally topped with grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Notes and tips

Homemade Italian sausage recipe


1 1/2 lb (750 g) ground pork (preferably pork butt or pork tenderloin)
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh finely chopped sage leaves (about 3 large sage leaves finely chopped)
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
3 tsp minced garlic
1 1/2 Tbsp sweet paprika
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp black pepper
3/4 tsp ground fennel seeds
1/2 tsp ground anise seeds
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar


Add the beef and remaining ingredients in a large bowl and stir well to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

Homemade uncooked tomato sauce


3 (14 oz.) cans (1200 g) chopped tomatoes, juice drained and discarded
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp dried basil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp sugar
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stir well, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Tips for making and cooking pizza dough
  • Use strong white flour (also known as bread flour or '00' flour)
  • Let the dough rise at room temperature; do not force it by placing it in areas with higher temperature
  • Knead the dough for as long as the recipe calls for; do not be lazy. The kneading process is very important since it removes excess air from the dough
  • When kneading the dough, try to feel it and decide when it is ready. Good pizza dough should be smooth, elastic, slightly sticky (not dry) and should not break apart when pulled
  • You can refrigerate extra pizza dough in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic wrap for 3 to 4 days. You can also freeze it for several months. When you need to use refrigerated or frozen pizza dough remove from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature before using
  • Bake pizza at 440 degrees Fahrenheit (225 degrees Celsius) at the highest shelve of the oven to ensure the highest temperature possible
  • Oil the bottom of the pizza pan or use a non-stick pizza pan so that the dough does not stick to the bottom pan
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Back to Chicago style deep dish pizza with homemade Italian sausage recipe

Step by Step instructions for Chicago style deep dish pizza with homemade Italian sausage

Step 1

Homemade Italian sausage preparation
Place the ground pork in a large bowl together with the minced garlic and herbs. In a small bowl add the rest of the spices and in another bowl the red wine vinegar.

Step 2

Homemade Italian sausage preparation
Add the spices and red wine vinegar to the ground pork

Step 3

Homemade Italian sausage preparation
Using a fork combine all ingredients well.

Step 4

Homemade Italian sausage preparation
Cover the pork mixture with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. This is necessary since it allows the flavors to develop and intensify. The ground pork will have an intense, wonderful aroma after this step. While the sausage is marinating, prepare the pizza dough.

Step 5

Pizza dough preparation
When the pizza dough is ready, let it rest, for 1 to 2 hours until double in volume. Divide it into 3 equal sized balls and spread each dough ball into a 10 inch by 1 inch high pizza pans. If you are not using a non-stick pizza pan, lightly oil the bottom of your pan with olive oil. Once you have pressed the dough on the bottom of the pan, set it aside and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes more.

Step 6

Lay the mozzarella on the pizza dough
When the pizza dough has rested for 10 to 15 minutes (it should rise a bit more at this stage) lay the bottom with mozzarella slices (you can also use coarsely grated mozzarella cheese); use as much or as little mozzarella as you like but make sure you cover the bottom of the pizza

Step 7

Lay the pizza with the Italian sausage
Continue with the Italian sausage layer. Pinch bite sized pieces of the Italian sausage meat and place on top of the mozzarella, making sure to cover all the cheese. Press the sausage with your hands or a spoon to even it out.

Step 8

Finishing the pizza assembly
Finish the pizza with the final layer of the homemade tomato sauce. Again, spread the tomato sauce evenly to cover the sausage.

Step 9

Bake the pizza
Bake the pizza in a preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until the dough is golden brown and crispy. Remove the pizza from the oven and let it cool down a bit, for 10 to 15 minutes. Slice the pizza and serve.


Very Nicely done. Growing up in Chicago, I miss these pies. I particularly miss the Chicago Italian Sausage. do you know if this sausage recipe is very close to the actual pizza sasuage used at the famous pizza joints? We have a family sausage recipe that is simply paprika, red pepper, fennel and salt. This looks a little more tasty. Great job with the photos.
Posted by Brian Chidichimo on Jun 06, 2012, 07:34

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