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A sliced pepperoni and pickled jalapeño Detroit-style pizza on a board.

How to Make Homemade Detroit-Style Pizza


If you love pan pizza with an irresistible cheese frico crust, you will love this Detroit-style pizza recipe. The base is very similar to focaccia, light and airy in texture but sturdy enough to sustain a blanket of cheese, sauce, pickled jalapeños, and cup and char pepperoni. 

Below you will find two methods for making Detroit-style pizza dough: one leavened by yeast, one leavened by a sourdough starter. Apart from the leavening agents, the make-up of the dough is nearly identical in terms of quantities of water and flour. The yeast version is 76% hydration; the sourdough is 77% hydration. Which one to use? Most often I use the yeast-leavened recipe here. I find the nuanced flavors found in a sourdough pizza crust get a bit lost under the hefty layer of cheese, pepperoni, and any other toppings. The video below is for the yeast-leaved Detroit-Style Pizza. Here is the video for the sourdough Detroit-Style Pizza


As always, for best results, please use a digital scale to measure everything. Volume cups simply are not accurate.  

Water: I typically use lukewarm water for yeast-leavened doughs, but here I call for room temperature or cold tap water. This is because it’s such a small amount of dough, and the dough will reach the ambient temperature of your kitchen very quickly. For sourdough breads and pizzas, I always recommend using cold or room temperature water. If you are making this in the winter, however, lukewarm water will help the process progress in a timely manner.

Flour:  I have had success using all-purpose flour, but if you can get your hands on bread flour, that is ideal, especially if you live in Canada or abroad. Moreover, if you live in Canada or abroad, you may need to reduce the water amount. Consider holding back some of the water (25 grams or so) during the mixing process to ensure you don’t end up with a soupy mess. You can always add it back in slowly if the dough is too dry. 

Cheese: Wisconsin Brick cheese is traditional but it can be hard to come by if you live in the Northeast. A mix of whole milk mozzarella and Cheddar or Monterey Jack works great. Generally, I prefer block cheese as opposed to grated, but I have had great success using a mix of Cabot grated sharp cheddar and Sargento’s grated whole milk, low-moisture mozzarella.

Sauce: I love a vodka sauce on pizza, such as this one or this one. This is my favorite fresh tomato sauce recipe. Of course, use your favorite tomato sauce here. I love all of the Rao’s brand sauces. 

Pan: I hate to encourage spending money on yet another piece of equipment, but a Lloyd Detroit-Style pizza pan does make a difference. I love my 9×13-inch USA pan, but a Lloyd Pan truly creates a crisper, more golden bottom. Furthermore, if you have a Baking Steel or pizza stone, baking the pizza on it will encourage even better browning. 

Timeline: Plan ahead. As noted in the post above, a long cold ferment makes for a light, airy dough. Ideally, mix the dough 48 hours before you plan on baking. There are several ways to do this:

  • For the yeast-leavened dough, you can mix the dough and stick it in the fridge for 48 hours. Or you can mix the dough, pan it, and stick the pan in the fridge for 48 to 72 hours. For the yeast-leavened dough, I seem to get the best results when I bulk ferment for 48 hours, pan it; then return the pan to the fridge for 3 to 24 hours. That said: I have made the dough the night before I’ve served it, and no one (but me) seemed to notice a difference in the texture of the crust.
  • For the sourdough, you can mix the dough, perform the stretches and folds, then let the dough bulk ferment at room temperature. When it doubles or nearly doubles, proceed with the recipe or stick the dough in the fridge until you have time to move on to the next step — this is what I do in the video. After you get the dough in the pan and top it with cheese, ideally it should spend 24 hours in the fridge before you bake it. 

The toppings: As far as Detroit-style pizza goes, this one is on the light side. You may want to up the amount of cheese and or pepperoni depending on your tastes and preferences. The pickled jalapeño and pepperoni pizza below is inspired by “The Colony” served at several of the Matt and Emily Hyland pizza restaurants, the recipe for which also can be found in their book, EMILY: The Cookbook


For the yeast-leavened pizza dough: 

  • 275 grams (2 heaping cups) bread flour
  • 6 grams (1.5 teaspoons) kosher salt 
  • 4 grams (1 teaspoon) instant yeast, SAF is my preference
  • 210 grams (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) water 

For the sourdough pizza dough: 

  • 255 grams (1.75 cups + 1 tablespoon) bread flour
  • 6 grams (1.5 teaspoons) kosher salt 
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup)  to 100 grams (1/2 cup) active, bubbly sourdough starter — I prefer using 100 grams
  • 185 grams (3/4 cup) water 

For each pizza:

  • 1 tablespoon (14 g) softened butter 
  • 1 tablespoon (14 g) olive oil 
  • 5 ounces (142 grams) Cheddar or Monterey Jack
  • 5 ounces (142 grams) low-moisture, whole-milk mozzarella
  • 3 to 4 ounces (85 – 113 grams) pepperoni, I love Vermont Smoke & Cure, sliced as thinly as possible
  • 1/4 cup pickled jalapeños, to taste, optional
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce, such as this one or this one, or your favorite jarred sauce
  • light drizzle honey, optional


To make the yeast-leavened pizza dough:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and instant yeast. Add the water. Using a rubber spatula, mix until the water is absorbed and the ingredients form a sticky dough ball. Cover the bowl with a tea towel or plastic wrap. Set a timer for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes, dampen your hands with water; then pull the dough up and into the center. Turn the bowl quarter turns and continue this pulling 8 to 10 times. (In the video, I employ a “slap and fold” technique.) By the end, the dough should feel smoother and stronger. You can repeat this “stretch and fold” one more time 30 minutes later if time permits or you can simply set the bowl aside in a warm spot to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in bulk. (In the video, I transfer the dough to a straight-sided vessel — this is to better show the dough doubling in volume.) 
  2. Dust a work surface or cutting board very lightly with flour. (If you are comfortable using no flour at all, do that.) Turn the dough out onto your floured surface. Using floured hands, shape the blob of dough into a ball — it helps to use the pinkie-edges of your hands to pinch the dough underneath each ball or to use a bench scraper. At this point, you can transfer the dough to a lidded vessel and store in the fridge for up to 48 hours or freeze for up to 3 months. Skip to preparing the pan for baking.

To make the sourdough pizza dough:

  1. Place the water in a large bowl. Add the starter and stir with a spatula to combine. Add the salt and stir again; then add the flour. Mix again until the flour is mostly incorporated. Use your hands if necessary to briefly knead in the last bits of flour. Cover vessel with a tea towel or cloth bowl cover and let stand for 30 minutes.
  2. After 30 minutes have passed, reach into the vessel and pull the dough up and into the center. Turn the vessel quarter turns and continue this pulling 8 to 10 times. Let the dough rest for another 30 minutes; then repeat the stretching and folding. After these two sets of stretches and folds, you should see a difference in the texture of the dough: it will be smoother, stronger, and more elastic.
  3. If you have a straight-sided vessel, transfer the dough to it; then cover it with a tea towel or bowl cover and set aside to rise at room temperature (70ºF/21ºC) for 4 to 8 hours (the time will vary depending on the time of year, the strength of your starter, and the temperature of your kitchen) or until the dough has roughly doubled in volume. (A straight-sided vessel makes monitoring the bulk fermentation especially easy because it allows you to see when your dough has truly doubled.)
  4. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and shape into a rough ball. I like to do this without flour, but use flour as needed — the dough will be sticky. Use the pinkie-edges of your hands to pinch the dough underneath to create a ball. Skip to preparing the pan for baking.

Prepare the pan for baking: 

  1. Grease the pan with the tablespoon of softened butter. Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the center. Place the dough ball in the pan and turn to coat. Let rest 30 – 60 minutes. With lightly oiled hands, stretch the dough to fit the pan. You may not get it all the way to the edges. When the dough resists, let it rest again, for 5 to 10 minutes or so; then stretch it to the edges.

Top the pizza:

  1. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the pizza, spreading it all the way to the edges. 
  2. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the dough and transfer pan to the fridge for at least 3 hours but ideally 18-24 hours. Note: If you are rushed and want to bake the pizza immediately, you can let it proof at room temperature: 1 hour for the yeast-leavened pizza, 3 to 4 hours for the sourdough-leavened pizza.

Prepare the pizza for baking:  

  1. If you have a Baking Steel or pizza stone, place it on a rack in the lower third of your oven, and heat your oven to 500ºF. Finish topping the pizza: spread the 1/2 cup of tomato sauce evenly over the top. Spread the pepperoni evenly over the surface. If you are using pickled jalapeños, scatter them evenly over the pizza, keeping in mind heat tolerance — they make the pizza very spicy. Let the topped pizza rest at room temperature for at least one hour before baking.

Bake the pizza:

  1. Transfer pizza to the oven and place on heated Baking Steel or pizza stone for 15 minutes or until the edges look very caramelized — nearly burnt. Remove the pan from the oven and let the pizza rest for 5 minutes in the pan. Run a paring knife or spatula around the pan’s edges. Then, carefully remove the entire pizza from the pan, transferring it to a cutting board. If you are using the honey, drizzle it over top. Cut the pizza into 12 pieces and serve.
  • Prep Time: 24 hours
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Detroit, style, pizza, pepperoni,