Detroit-Style Pizza: Everything You Need to Know

When it comes to pizza, there are a few things that Detroit does better than anywhere else. For starters, the city is known for its great-tasting pizza. Many Michiganders would argue that Detroit-style pizza is the best around. This square-shaped pizza is traditionally topped with tomato sauce and a generous amount of strong brick cheese that goes all the way to the crust.. The result is a pizza that is both flavorful and filling

What is Detroit-Style Pizza?

Developed in the mid-twentieth century by food entrepreneur Gus Guerra, the Detroit-style pizza is characterized by its rectangular shape, light dough, and savory, browned cheese perimeter. These attributes set it apart from other popular pizza styles, such as the New York-style pie.

The rectangular shape of the Detroit-style pizza allows for a more evenly distributed crust-to-cheese ratio, making the corner pieces especially enticing. And because the dough is less dense than that of other styles, it’s light and airy, resulting in a pie that’s both easy to eat and enjoyable to savor.

Finally, the savory, browned cheese perimeter adds a delicious depth of flavor to each bite. Whether you’re a fan of thin crust or thick crust, there’s no denying that the Detroit-style pizza is a truly unique culinary creation.

The History of Detroit-Style Pizza

The Detroit-style pizza can trace its roots back to the early days of the city’s auto industry. In the 1940s and 50s, blue-collar workers in Detroit’s factories and auto plants were looking for a hearty, filling meal to power them through their long days. Pizza fit the bill perfectly.

As pizza became more popular in Detroit, a number of local pizzerias began to experiment with the traditional Italian recipe, trying to come up with a pie that was uniquely Detroit. Gus Guerra’s noteworthy creation is widely considered to be the first Detroit-style pizza.

Detroit-style pizza was created in 1946 at Buddy’s, a neighborhood tavern at the corner of Conant and Six Mile Roads in Detroit. The then owner Gus Guerra, working with his wife Anna, whose mother was Sicilian, brought visionary thinking to his search for a high-sided pizza pan.

While others looked at the blue steel utility trays used at the Motor City’s auto assembly plants and saw only nuts and bolts, Guerra envisioned something entirely different – a Sicilian-like deep-dish pizza. These pies soon became a hit with workers and families alike, and the Detroit-style pizza was born.

Today, Buddy’s Rendezvous is still serving up delicious pizza in 21 locations around Detroit. And the Detroit-style pizza has gained a nationwide following, with fans raving about its unique flavor and texture.

The Essential Elements of a Detroit-Style Pizza

A Detroit-style pizza is made with a light, airy dough that’s cooked in a rectangular pan until it’s nice and crispy. The pizza is then topped with a savory tomato sauce and generous amounts of brick cheese. The cheese goes all the way to the edge of the crust, creating a delicious, browned cheese perimeter. This signature feature is one of the things that sets the pizza apart from other styles of pizza.

The Dough

The dough for a Detroit-style pizza is made with all-purpose flour, which gives it a light and airy texture. The dough is also allowed to rise for a few hours, which gives it a subtle flavor and an easy-to-slice consistency. This pizza dough is usually proofed twice, so it will rise better and be more pliable when stretching and shaping.

The Cheese

Brick cheese is the traditional cheese used on a Detroit-style pizza. Brick cheese is a type of cheese that is known for its unique flavor. The cheese is also very high in fat, which is important for making Detroit-style pizza. When the cheese is cooked, the fat drips down into the pan and fries into the crust. This gives the pizza a buttery flavor, even though there is no butter in the recipe.

The Sauce

The pizza sauce is a tangy, spicy mixture of tomatoes and herbs that’s far from typical.

Unlike the typically sparse Neapolitan or New York-style sauces, this sauce is usually heavily seasoned with aromatics like garlic cloves and onions. Some folks also add a little sugar to the sauce (Totally up to you).

The result is a spicy sauce that complements the cheesy toppings perfectly.


While you can top this pizza with just about anything, the most popular toppings are pepperoni, sausage, and mushrooms. Pepperoni is my all-time favorite.

The way that the pepperoni is placed can make a difference in how it tastes. Some restaurants prefer to put them underneath the cheese, while others like putting their meat atop this savory topping

You can also add green peppers, onions, or olives to your pizza. Just about anything goes!

The Pan

A Detroit-style pizza is cooked in a rectangular pan that’s typically made from industrial-grade steel. This type of pan helps to create a crispy, well-done crust.

If you’re looking to make this pizza from the comfort of your own home but don’t have access to an industrial-grade steel pan, no worries – an aluminum pan will work just as well.

In order to avoid the dough drying out or burning, be sure to brush some olive oil on the pan before adding the dough.

How to Eat Detroit-Style Pizza

There are a few different ways that you can eat Detroit-style pizza.

One way is to pick it up with your hands and eat it like a piece of pie. Just be sure to grab a slice from the outer edge, where the cheese is nicely crisped.

Another way to eat this type of pizza is to use a fork and knife. This is the best way to eat it if you want to avoid making a mess. Because the dough is thick and layered with toppings, it’s best to use a knife and fork. Not only will this make it easier to cut, but you’ll also get more topping in each bite that way.

Where to Eat Detroit-Style Pizza

If you’re looking for a delicious Detroit-style pizza, there are a few places that you can go.

Buddy’s Pizza

One option is to head to Buddy’s Pizza. Buddy’s is the place that started it all – they invented the Detroit-style pizza back in 1946. If you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth stopping by for a slice (or two).

Loui’s Pizza

Another great option is Loui’s Pizza. It is one of the most popular spots to get an absolutely delicious slice. The hefty, deep dish-style pizzas are loaded with plenty cheese and toppings so you can enjoy every bite!


After Gus Guerra sold Buddy’s Rendezvous in 1953, he decided to open up Cloverleaf across town in the East Pointe suburb. Cloverleaf uses an open-air oven and Gus’s original Detroit-style pizza recipe. Critics say they prefer Buddy’s pizza to Cloverleaf, even though the latter has the original recipe.

Final Thoughts on the Detroit-Style Pizza

No matter where you go to get your Detroit-style pizza fix, one thing is for sure – you’re in for a treat. These pizzas are cheesy, saucy, and full of flavor. They’re definitely a must-try for any pizza lover!

Have you ever had Detroit-style pizza before? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

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