Pizza is one of the most popular foods in the world, and it has been around since the 1800s. Some of the earliest classic pies can be traced to Naples, Italy, and earlier versions go all the way back to Ancient Egypt.
Across the world, people have taken pizza dough and put their own twists on it, creating new gourmet dishes. Of course different types of pizza dough lead to a different types of pizza crusts. From deep dish to thin crust, and unique ingredients and toppings, these different types of pizza dough all lead to delicious pizza variations.
New York Style Pizza Crust
New York style crust is a really common pizza type – one that’s often seen in movies and tv shows and sold on the streets around New York. Typically they are sold in big, individual slices, with the classic “pizza flop” that allows it to be folded. Sugar and oil, in addition to the traditional flour, water, and yeast ingredients, allow for the famous, thick slices. It takes longer to cook this pizza than other, thinner, types in order for the dough to bake evenly.
Commonly sold by the slice, this is the trademark pizza of New York. The flavor and texture of New York style pizza dough is often credited to New York City water, and some out of state restaurants even have NYC water imported to create their own, authentic dishes. The Big Apple itself is home to hundreds of restaurants, pizzerias, and food trucks, each one offering its own type of this classic pizza. Even though this style is traditionally seen in single slices perfect for on-the-go New Yorkers, it can also be bought in a full 18-inch pie.
Neapolitan Style Crust
The Neapolitan-style dough is credited with popularizing pizza in the 20th century. The crust is typically floppy with intentional blackened spots on the underside. Despite the simplicity, it is easy to burn this pizza when cooking it the traditional way; in a wood fire for 90 seconds. This style is also known as Pizza Margherita, named after Queen Margherita who enjoyed the delicacy when visiting Naples.
This style is known as the original Italian pizza. The dough has to be hand-kneaded in order to create the authentic crust that so many love. Neapolitan pizzas are not known for having fancy toppings, relying on raw and fresh ingredients to get that classic taste. This traditional meal is made by topping the dough with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil, and olive oil. One trademark of the Neapolitan is using more sauce than cheese, which contributes to the authentic finished look.
Sicilian Style Crust
Silician-style crust is the most popular form of deep-dish pizza, originating in Sicily, Italy. In the mid 19th century, this is the type of pizza that would have been regularly consumed in western Sicily. The high levels of oil and water create a fluffy crust that is simple to make at home, and in restaurants everywhere. Before baking, the dough is covered in olive oil, adding to the flavorful taste.
Sicilian immigrants brought the early recipes for this dough to the United States. Today it’s most popular in the upper Midwest and East Coast. Fans of this pizza can easily identify it by the rectangular-shaped slices. A signature feature of this style is the lack of outer crust, due to the fact that the sauce covers the entire top layer. In the U.S., Sicilian-style pizzas are described as being no less than one inch thick.
Detroit Style Crust
This style comes from the Sicilian style, and the main difference is in the type of pan it is cooked in. Detroit style is made in a deep pan that can handle hot temperatures and produces crust a crispy bottom with a fluffy center. This style of dough is known to have less oil than the Sicilian that inspired it.
While most pizzas are made in the order sauce-cheese-toppings, the Detroit style reverses this to toppings-cheese-sauce. It’s cooked to medium-well in order to make the crust appear almost fried. Detroit-style pizzas came from the city they’re named after, sometime in the 1940s. The pans used to cook the first Detroit pizzas were said to come from an assembly line that worked on making automobile parts, and this type of pizza is sometimes referred to as “pan pizza”.
St. Louis Style Crust
The most unique thing about the St. Louis style pizza is the cheese blend used. It’s a mix of white cheddar, Swiss, and provolone. Since there is no yeast in the dough, the crust is crunchy, with fans describing it as cracker-like. This type of crust is typically cut into rectangular slices, often referred to as a party or tavern cut.
This style is well-loved in the Midwest, specifically St. Louis, where its name is derived from. St. Louis pizza is not as well-known as the more popular styles, like the New York Crust, and is not as loved by tourists as it is by locals. Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel even uses a running gag on his show about how much he dislikes a specific St. Louis pizza chain. However, locals are known to adore it.
Double Dough/ Stuffed Crust
The Double Dough style pizza, also called Stuffed Crust, is becoming more popular, especially on the West Coast. Two layers of dough lead to a thick crust that manages to keep from becoming too dense. There are several different variants of this pizza, which mainly differ in the stuffed crust aspect. The most popular version of this Double Dough style is seen with cheese stuffed in the crust.
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson even called stuffed crust pizza his pizza of choice. One famous version of the Double Dough is the Chicago Deep Dish.
Chicago Deep Dish Style Crust
Mozzarella cheese and chunky tomato sauce are the two trademarks of this style of pizza, but the crust is just as important in crafting a delectable meal. The deep-dish style means it can take around 45 minutes for one of these pizzas to cook in order to get an even bake. The pan has to be oiled and buttered in order to keep the crust from burning. This leads to a golden finish that the Chicago Deep Dish is known for.
Slices are regularly two inches thick at least and are expected to come with heaps of toppings. The dough contains cornmeal, semolina, and food coloring in order to help achieve that golden color.
Flatbread Style Crust
Flatbread-style crust, commonly interchangeable with focaccia, is often served as a bite-sized dish. It’s can be found in cafes, bistros, and restaurants around the world. Despite the recent rise in popularity, flatbread is one of the earliest styles of pizza. According to some records, it was enjoyed by ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.
A focaccia-style crust employs garlic flavor and airiness more than other flatbreads styles. The artisan aesthetic of this crust has led them to commonly be used as gourmet appetizers, with toppings like balsamic and spinach.
New Haven Style Crust
New Haven-style pizza is loved by many for its uniqueness. It is unlike most other types of pizza, and East coast locals sometimes refer to it as “apizza.” It’s not usually seen in a sphere or rectangle shape because of the uneven dough and thin layer it bakes in.
It has one of the thinnest crusts and cooks quickly into a light char in a coal-fired oven. This keeps the dough from drying out, allowing it to be crunchy but not brittle.
Chefs everywhere are continuing to experiment with pizza dough and creating new types of crusts. There are many restaurants that offer custom pizza options, including some that are gluten-free or completely vegan. There are bound to be more popular variations of the above pizza styles that continue to pop up.
If you’re looking for the detailed dough recipe for the different types of pizza above, stay tuned as we’ll be publishing a recipe series for each common type of pizza crust listed above. You can sign up for our mailing list to get updates.
In the meantime, if you want to experiment with different pizza dough recipes, I definitely recommend investing in a stand mixer, as well as the best bread flour you can find. A home pizza oven is also a great idea.