Chicago-Style Stuffed Pizza

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Chicago-Style Stuffed Pizza - Andrea MeyersFollow Me on Pinterest

I had my first taste of stuffed pizza at Giordano’s as a teenager. Years later while working in Chicago I frequented several of the great pizzerias, but the stuffed pizza at Giordano’s always kept me coming back. I tend to prefer a more traditional single crust hand-tossed style of pizza, but Michael does such a good job on these that I feel like I’m back in Chicago.

This is Michael’s specialty and favorite kind of pizza, and a meal that we enjoy making on the weekends. He worked in a pizza joint for a couple summers in high school and learned a few tricks along the way. When we were dating, I was impressed that he not only made pizza from scratch, dough and all, but that he also had the gear to work the magic—a professional deep dish pizza pan. Clearly this was someone that I should get to know better!

Michael follows Pasquale (Pat) Bruno’s recipe for dough and sauce from his book The Great Chicago-Style Pizza Cookbook, although we go with our own fillings depending on what is in season. Pizza is a vegetarian meal for us, so we add spinach, mushrooms, olives, peppers, zucchini, basically whatever sounds good, to the cheese stuffing. Michael used to cook the sauce, but we tried just letting it stand as recommended in the recipe and we found that the flavors were more crisp and fresh. We also use instant yeast instead of packaged active dry, which means that you don’t proof the yeast in warm water. Add the yeast directly to the dry ingredients and then stir in the warm liquid.

This takes some time and you need to plan ahead, but it’s well worth the effort. It makes a fun meal for a dinner party, just have the dough and sauce ready ahead of time and have your guests help chop veggies and assemble the pie.

Crimping the dough - Andrea Meyers

[Updated November 27, 2007.]

Chicago-Style Stuffed Pizza
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Adapted from The Great Chicago-Style Pizza Cookbook, by Pasquale Bruno Jr.
Serves: 8 servings
  • 3-1/4 cups bread flour
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-1/4 cups warm water, not more than 115° F
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 8 ounces grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 (10 ounce) block of frozen spinach, thawed and drained really well
  1. DOUGH: Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in the large mixing bowl. Make a well in the flour and add the warm water and olive oil. Mix and knead thoroughly until the dough clings together and cleans the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and soft. Dust with additional flour if the dough is sticking to your hands. Spread some olive oil around the other large mixing bowl and lay the dough in the bottom, turning it over so that the entire surface is coated with a light layer of olive oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Set the bowl in a warm place to rise for about 90 minutes, until doubled.
  2. SAUCE: While the dough is rising, combine all of the sauce ingredients in the 2-quart bowl and stir. Set aside.
  3. ASSEMBLE: Preheat the oven to 450° F. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a work surface. Knead for about 1 minute. Divide the dough into two pieces, about 1/3 and 2/3 of the dough. Roll out the larger piece in a large circle until it is about 3 inches larger than the pan and 1/8 inch thick. Oil the bottom and sides of the pan. Place the dough into the pan and push it into the bottom and sides. The dough should overlap the pan by about 1 inch. Trim the excess dough with a knife, and set the pan aside. Roll out the second piece until it is about the same size as the pan. Toss the cheese and spinach together in the medium mixing bowl, and then put it into the pizza pan. Sprinkle with mushrooms and olives. Lay the second piece of dough on top, then crimp the two edges of the dough together with your fingers to form a thick border. Press down on the filling with your hand, and cut a 1-inch slit in the center of the top crust to allow steam to escape. Spread the tomato sauce evenly over the top crust and sprinkle with more grated parmesan cheese.
  4. BAKE: Place the pizza pan on the lowest rack for 10 minutes, then move it to the middle rack for 25-30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Transfer from the pan to a large wooden cutting board and let it stand for a few minutes before cutting.
More Information

2 quart bowl
2 large mixing bowls
1 medium mixing bowl
deep dish pizza pan, 12″ diameter x 2″ deep
large cutting board
rolling pin

Recipe Notes:

Prep Time includes rising time.

Make sure the spinach has no liquid remaining before adding it to the pizza, otherwise you’ll end up with a soggy bottom crust. We put the thawed spinach in a colander and press on it with our hands, then press with paper towels to soak up every last bit of water.

Make sure you put the pizza on the lower rack first for at least 10 minutes so that the bottom crust cooks, otherwise you’ll end up with a soggy bottom crust.


Yeast: You can use 2 packages of active dry yeast instead of instant yeast. Proof the yeast by dissolving in the warm water with the sugar. If it blooms, you are ready to go.

Vegetables: Peppers, zucchini, and eggplant all make good fillings for this pizza. Chop them into bite-sized pieces and saute in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for a couple minutes, just until slightly softened. Combine with the cheese before adding to the pan.

Whole wheat dough: We sometimes substitute 1-1/2 cups of whole wheat flour for part of the bread flour.


[Disclosure: This blog earns a small commission through affiliate links.]


    • Greg says

      Try using 1/4 to 1/3 stick of soft butter in place of oil… Big difference. Give you that crisp/soft golden crust. Oil will burn the bottom of your pizza pie.. like in your pic.. Plus, you will achieve that great taste of a true Chicago Butter-crust pie. Also, slice your cheese instead of grating. Try it.. Guaranteed you’ll like it. – Greg in Chicago!

      • Greg says

        Also… Try using a 10″ iron skillet instead of a pan. Turn 180 degrees half way through baking. Like you, oven at 450… I bake with a pizza stone on bottom rack for 17 min… Then turn 180 and bake for another 17 min…

  1. says

    That looks great! The recipe looks very much like the Chicago Tribune recipe that a friend brought to me 20 years ago. I’m glad to see that people are willing to expend the effort to make a good stuffed pizza.

    Where do you get your pans?

  2. says

    Thanks! Michael’s pan is a nonstick perforated 12″ x 2″ model, and he got it about 10 years ago from a Chicago restaurant that closed. It was gently used and well seasoned, and it does a great job. I’ve never found them at the local restaurant supply stores, but I have seen some here and there on eBay.

  3. steve says

    Pat Bruno’s recipe doesn’t make authentic Chicago deep dish pizza.

    Authentic Chicago deep dish depends on a flaky, biscuit-like crust, so you don’t want to use bread flour.

    There is not enough oil in Pat’s recipe–the correct ratio is 3 TBS (not tsp) oil: 1 cup flour.

    Authentic Chicago deep dish depends on a short knead time after mixing (around 2 minutes)–otherwise the result will be bread.

  4. says

    Thanks Steve! You are correct that an Uno-style deep dish pizza has a biscuit-like, flaky crust. However, this recipe is for a Giordano’s-style stuffed crust pizza, which is slightly different. We’ve played around with different types of flour in the recipe, and we like the chewiness that bread flour lends. Your comment about the oil ratio is interesting and we’ll give it a try. Thanks again!

  5. steve says

    The same is true for Giordano’s, which has a biscuity, almost pie-like crust. This texture depends on a lot of oil and lower protein flour, like AP. I developed my recipe to mimic Giordano’s, which it does.

  6. Kym says

    Omg, I love the stuffed pizzas from giordano’s. We live in Iowa and everytime we come to ohare. we get a pizza when we come and then another when we leave that is the first place we go.I have gotten on their website and they do make and ship but it was like $30. so what is it , more oil, less oil, bread flour or whatever kind steve uses. I don’t like a thick chewy crust. can this be made in a spring form pan?

  7. steve says


    The amount of oil and kneading time I gave you is for a Giordano’s-style pizza. Uno’s and Malnati’s (same recipe) use, I believe, even more oil (becuse they are much greasier than Giordano’s). To make an authentic Chicago deep dish pizza, you need a lower protein flour ( Uno’s uses cake flour), like all-purpose to achieve the biscuit-like texture. Giordano’s uses 6-in-1 tomatoes and Stella cheese.

    Here is a basic recipe (for a 10-inch pan):

    1.5 cups all-purpose flour
    1 tsp. yeast
    6-8 TBS water (depending on the age of the flour, humidity, etc.)
    4-4.5 TBS (not tsp.) canola oil Giordano’s use a 95% canola/5% olive oil combination–if you don’t want to use that much oil, you can get away with 3 TBS)
    .75 tsp Kosher salt
    .75 tsp sugar

    Proof the yeast, then add to the dry ingredients. Mix and knead for 2 minutes. Coat the dough ball with oil. Let rise for 4-8 hours.

    After the rise, punch down the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes. Then roll it out with a rolling pin and press into a 9.5-10-inch deep dish pan (or you can just press it in with your fingers–Giordano’s uses a sheeter to flatten the dough). Giordano’s also greases their pans with butter.

    Layer in the cheese, then toppings, then sauce (sauce recipe follows). Bake on 450 for around 35-40 minutes (depending on your oven–yours may take more or less time).

    Sauce recipe:

    1 28-oz. can 6-in-1 tomatoes
    .50 tsp. Kosher salt
    1 tsp. sugar
    I clove garlic, mashed or minced (optional)
    Italian spices to your taste
    A few dashes of red pepper flakes (Giordano’s sauce has some heat to it)


  8. steve says

    A couple of more thoughts!

    The 1.5 cups of flour works well for my pan, but it may be a bit short for yours (and I omit the top layer–Giordano’s deep dish is “stuffed”, meaning that there is a thin layer of dough placed over the cheese and toppings, covered by the sauce), so it would probably be best to scale the recipe up to 2 cups flour (multiply the ingredients by a third) and trim off the excess.

    I’m assuming that you will use a mixer to mix and knead. I use the bread machine–I proof the yeast, then put all the ingredients in the bread pan, turn it on the dough cycle, let it mix for 1 minute–then remove the pan, let the machine go into the knead cycle–replace the pan while it’s running and let it knead for 2 minutes.

    I find that the 8 TBS (.50 cup) water works best for me in the above recipe.

    Also, do not cook the sauce prior to baking, if you want to copy Giordano’s recipe.

  9. steve says

    Another note–I gave the recipe to a friend new to pizza making and he put the entire 28 ounces of sauce on a 10″ inch pie. You only need about half that much–freeeze the rest or make another pizza!

  10. Jon says

    Thanks for the recipe. I lived in Chicago (Hyde Park) 20 years ago and Giordano’s stuffed pizza (spinach) always lives on in my mind. I’m going to give this recipe a try.

    Jon in Idaho

  11. says

    My husband and I went to college in Chicago, where we developed an addiction to deep-dish pies. Back in New York, we have our own style of pizza, of course, and it’s darn good, but it’s just different from those wonderful stuffed pies. I have a deep-dish pan, so I can’t wait to give your version a try!! Thanks much!

  12. C says

    I love Chicago Pizza from Pizzapapalis in Detroit..Yummy seafood treat you have any ideas how I can get one of those @ the house I mean cook it you know?

    Oh and Steve dude you need a hug or something?


  13. Inge says

    Hi, I am from Germany and we spent 10 wonderfol days in Chicago around New Years. The most remarkable experience for us was Giordano’s stuffed pizza – I loved it so much I was able to bring back home two pieces on the plane. Now I am looking for a recipe to make it here at home. Do you think I can try yours??????

  14. Inge says

    I forgot something: I HAVE to be able to make a perfect Chicago style stuffed pizza until my daughter comes back home in June – she is studying at OU/Oklahoma and was with me in Chicago and we really ADORED the pizza………..

  15. says

    C, I’ve never been to Pizzapapalis or tried their pizza, so I’m not sure exactly what it is.
    Inge, of course you can try it. Do you have a deep 12-inch/30 cm or similar pan?

  16. Inge says

    no, unfortunately I did not bring one…… I bought lots of stuff in Chicago, including a normal frying pan (don’t laugh but it was on sale at Target and I could not resist), but I have to look for one around here

  17. Sharlene says

    OMG! WOW…this is a great recipe! I’ve been to Giordano’s and they DO have a great stuffed pizza but I made this recipe last night and may I say, this is the best homemade pizza I ever made! The crust was chewy, crusty and NOT soggy! I put the spinach and cheese in it along with onions, olives, beech and button mushrooms and a bit of the sauce inside…it was GREAT!!! Thank You

  18. says

    Hi Sharlene. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! It’s one of our favorite meals. Thanks also for sharing your tip about using cast iron skillets.

  19. chris says

    This is an excellent recipe!! I worked at giordano’s for 2 years and I have to tell you that this tastes just about the same if not better! I’ve made this several times for friends and they are thoroughly impressed. Thank you!

  20. says

    You can get a wide variety of deep dish pizza pans online, by searching for ‘deep dish pizza’ on Ebay or Amazon. I personally got the Chicago Metallic Pro via Amazon; its a 14″ pan which is enormous…a perfect size :) Ebay seemed to have preseasoned (used) pizza pans, at a wide range of sizes.

    Personal fave: Spinach, Italian Sausage with Extra Garlic!

  21. Alicyn says

    Thank you SO much for posting this recipe. I grew up in Chicago (Hyde Park) and now that I live on the East Coast I had no access to stuffed pizza until I learned how to make it myself. This recipe is great! I have delighted both friends and family with it on a number of occasions. Thanks!

  22. Lisa says

    Hi Andrea! Just wanted to say say a big THANKS for this recipe! We lived in Chicago for 10 years and are now in Eastern Europe….and missing Giordano’s. My husband scoured the internet looking for a recipe and yesterday we made this together. It was FANTASTIC! I can’t believe how authentic it tasted…mmmm… Thanks!!

  23. Jenny says

    I too am a native Chicagoan and Giordano’s was my favorite pizza. I’m now in San Francisco and while there’s several restaurants here whose “authentic” Chicago stuffed pizzas are pretty good, they’re still not the same as the real thing. I tried this recipe and for the first time I felt like I was back home. The only change I made was to use half the crushed tomatoes which was still plenty of sauce for my taste, but that’s just a matter of personal preference. I can’t wait to try this out on friends — they’re going to think I had it shipped from the Windy City. Thank you for this amazing recipe!

  24. says

    Wow – fantastic recipe! I used a 14″ round aluminum pizza pan ($12 bucks on Amazon – Chicago Metallic I think was the manufacturer) and went the “half whole wheat” route. I doubled the amount of flour, cheese, etc. and it came out just right. I’d say better than Giordano’s (which was my goal) because I love the taste of whole wheat on a pizza. I also added some sugar to the sauce to give it a little bit of sweetness. I did half and half, spinach and pineapple… it was pretty difficult to figure out where each half was, but that’s kind of the nature of a stuffed pizza. I used butter in the pan like one commenter said – couldn’t have come out better. I also went heavy on the 100% olive oil.

    Grew up in Chicago burbs – stuffed was always my favorite… and this one is outstanding! Way better than ordering frozen for sure!

  25. blackhawks2010 says

    I picked up a deep-dish pan and a gripper last week over the internet, and this is the recipe I tried. Dang! I had my first stuffed pizza at Giordano’s in 2007, and my first try out of the gate with this recipe, I felt like the Ultimate Chicago Pizza Chef. It was completely awesome, and my family felt the same way. They were in awe at the size of it coming to the table, and the taste was even better! Wow! This is an incredible recipe! Bless you! And Go Blackhawks!!

  26. Ruth says

    My husband and I are Chicago natives but now live in South Asia. I’ve been making your recipe for about a year now and just want to say thanks! Since some ingredients aren’t available here, I make a few substitutions – using whole tomatoes instead of crushed and just using my kitchen scissors to cut them up in the can, and a couple cloves of garlic (minced) instead of the garlic powder. I also just knead the dough for about 2 minutes as I found the dough too bready with the longer knead. Now we have Chicago-style pizza anytime we want! Thank you so much!

  27. Kristine says

    I love this recipe! I made it last weekend for Valentine’s day and want to make it again this weekend for out of town guests. One question, can I make the dough ahead of time?

    • says

      Hi Kristine. I’ve not done it with this particular dough, but you cold probably make it the night before and chill in the frig. It will slow the rise considerably, then just set it out and allow it to come to room temperature and rise a bit before shaping and baking. Let me know how it goes.

  28. Aimee says

    This was amazing! I think it is better at home than in the restaurant! My family was ready for a nap after! I did not have a deep dish pizza pan so I used a springform pan and it worked really well.

  29. Jim says

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I was planning on making this today for my wife and I, but then found out my brother and his family are coming over to watch the Bears. Any suggestions on how to upscale the ingredients to fit a 16″ x 2.25″ pan?

    Thanks Jim.

    • says

      Hi Jim. I’ve been away for Thanksgiving, so I hope this reaches you in time. According to the professional baking pan conversion charts I use, a 16″ pan is double the volume of a 12″ pan. So theoretically, you should be able to double the ingredients, but I recommend extending the baking time about 10 minutes or longer to make sure the middle cooks through. Let me know how it goes!

  30. Muzaffer says

    Hi Andrea
    thanks a lot for sharing the recipe. I remember my school days in Evanston of Chicago. I always went to Giordanos Pizza Davis Street and had stuffed pizza. I has been too long I have not had that delicious one except a terrible trial in Dubai. Now, it is time for me to cook my own chicago stuffed spinach pizza at home and to remember my Evanston days. I will let you know the result of my first trial. Thank you so much!

  31. Bonny sovereign says

    To make with sausage put 1st layer of dough in cast iron skillet greased with olive oil. Put olive oil on dough then put in sausage, then cheese, olives and mushrooms, put other layer of dough on then marinaria sauce and sone more cheese , (put some holes in second dough to keep it from exploring the m. S. Then cheese . Cook.

  32. RIck says

    Hi Andrea – Just wanted to say I’ve been using your recipe, with a couple modifications, and it makes the best analog for Giordano’s that I’ve found. The couple things I do differently to get it a little closer in flavor and consistency are:
    – I use vegetable oil instead of olive oil in the dough (though I still use olive oil to coat the bowl that I put it in for rising)
    – VERY IMPORTANT AS IT CHANGES THE WHOLE THING: I coat the pan in Crisco, instead of oil. This gets that super crispy browned up crust MUCH more effectively. It’s really the key to getting it exactly like Giordano’s
    – Almost as important: Instead of rolling the crust over, as instructed, I lay the bottom layer over the edge of the pan and then set the top layer inside and press it together with the lower crust around the walls of the pan (using a little water as a bonding agent if necessary), then I use a rolling pin to roll off the extra dough, leaving it very thin along the walls of the pan. This creates my favorite part of a Giordano’s stuffed pizza, which is the super crispy (almost cracker-like) crust edge.

    Just some thoughts. Let me know if you ever try any of them out. And thanks again for the recipe. Everything, aside from what I mentioned, I do to a T (though I do get lazy and use premade pizza sauce sometimes).

  33. Debbie says

    We moved away from Chicago to Colorado and I haven’t found a pizza that I truly love out here, yet. I love Giordano’s and can’t wait to try this! Thanks for the recipe.


  1. Chicago Style Stuffed Pizza

    I’ve made a couple similar dishes using a different pizza recipe. Definitely a nice twist on traditional pizza. This site has some nice toppings (fillings?) to try.

  2. […] If you’re rooting for Da Bears next weekend, then there’s no better dish for you to serve than a Chicago-style Pizza. And, since it’s pizza, you can put whatever toppings on it that you like. If you want to try something a bit different than this recipe, you can find a great recipe for a stuffed Chicago-style pizza on fellow-blogger Andrea’s site. […]

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