Types of Pizza Crusts: [Thin, Thick, and Specialty Styles]

Types of Pizza Crusts: [Thin, Thick, and Specialty Styles]

When it comes to pizza, the crust is arguably the most important part. It’s the foundation of the pizza and can make or break the entire experience.

There are two main pizza crust types: thin and thick. Thin crust, found in typical pizzerias, boasts a light and crisp texture. It’s best enjoyed with minimal toppings to avoid sogginess. On the other hand, thick crust, resembling focaccia, has a chewy, dense texture and can withstand a variety of toppings without collapsing.

In this article, I will discuss in detail the most popular pizza crusts around the globe. This should help you decide which crust to pick for your next order.

Pizza is one of the most popular fast-food items around the world. It comes in many different forms and flavors. But its basic ingredients are always the same: pizza dough, tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings. The thickness of a pizza crust can vary from place to place, depending on local preferences or traditions.

Types of Pizza Crusts

In Naples, for example, the thin crust is the most popular option. The Neapolitans argue that a thicker crust would detract from the experience of enjoying the quality of ingredients. On the other hand, in Sicily, Detroit, and Chicago, thicker crusts are more common.

Below is a list of the most well-known types of pizza crusts around the world:

Thin Crust Classics

According to a survey, thin-crust pizza is the most popular style in the United States, preferred by 39% of Americans.

1. Neapolitan Pizza

Neapolitan crust, the OG of pizza, hails from Naples, Italy. Born in the 18th century, it’s the result of pizza evolution. Back then, locals craved a quick, tasty bite. So, pizzaiolos whipped up a crust that’s thin, soft, and slightly chewy.

They used simple ingredients – flour, water, salt, and yeast to create a dough that works magic in a wood-fired oven. This Neapolitan masterpiece has a legacy, earning the prestigious VPN (Vera Pizza Napoletana) certification.

Authentic Neapolitan crust is made from 00 flour and is always baked in wood-fired ovens only. They come in three different sizes: small (about 10 inches), medium (12 inches) or large (14 inches). The pizza is usually topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.

This type of pizza can be easily identified by those iconic leopard spots (charred bubbles) around the edge of the crust. Classic Neapolitan pizzas are baked for max 1-2 minutes at over 800F in brick ovens.

Some of the most popular toppings for pizza Napolitana include:

  • Proscuitto
  • Arugula
  • Anchovies
  • Mozzarella and basil for the good old Margherita pizza
  • Pesto
  • Mushroom
  • Salami
  • Sausage
  • Spinach
  • Pecorino Romano
  • Ricotta

2. New York Style Pizza

Italy might be the originator of pizzas, but the Americans made this comfort food a global sensation.
According to The Washington Post, New York Style Pizza is the top choice in 42 states and D.C., outranking Neapolitan and other styles, according to a study of 7.5 million Yelp reviews.

New York Style Pizza was born on the bustling streets of the Big Apple. Picture this: In the early 1900s, waves of Italian immigrants craving a taste of home. They crafted a pizza that embodies the city’s spirit – big, foldable slices perfect for on-the-go. The secret?

A crust that strikes the balance between crispy and chewy, thanks to high-gluten bread flour and hand-tossing mastery. Baked in deck ovens, this pizza style became a New York staple, conquering hearts with its simplicity and unmistakable flavor.

NY pizzas are loaded with cheese, vegetables, and meat. Despite the thinness, NY slices have a decent amount of chewiness, which compliments the richness of sauces and toppings. NY pizzas are usually baked at 600-700F for around 5-7 minutes in professional pizzerias.

New York-style pizza was invented by Gennaro Lombardi and his employee Antonio Totonno. In 1905, they opened USA’s first pizzeria called Lombardi’s, where they began serving NY pizzas.

A list of pizza toppings for NY pizzas includes:

  • Pepperoni
  • Sausage
  • Anchovies
  • Olives
  • Ham
  • Pineapple
  • Meatballs
  • Mushrooms
  • Green peppers

3. Brooklyn-style Pizza

While Neapolitan pizza has deep Italian roots, Brooklyn-style pizza is homegrown red sauce goodness, through and through! See, Italian immigrants brought killer pizza recipes when they settled in New York and opened tons of pizza joints.

Local Brooklyn pizzerias put their unique spin on pies though, swapping fancy ovens for basic deck ovens turned up high. These gave that classic crispy, bubbly, slightly charred crust New Yorkers know and love. Toppings switched up too – more spice, extra cheese, thicker, heartier pies.

Before long, this signature combo of crust and creative toppings defined Brooklyn Pizza and won the borough global pizza fame!

Brooklyn-style pizza contains high-gluten flour. This is what gives it its characteristic chewy texture. It is often topped with a simple sauce made from crushed tomatoes and a few herbs.

The pizza is then baked in a wood-fired oven, which gives it a slightly smoky flavor and a crunchy crust.

4. St. Louis-style pizza

St. Louis-style pizza, from Missouri has a distinct edge. Originating in the mid-20th century, it features a super-thin, cracker-like crust. The cheese is unique too – Provel, a blend of cheddar, Swiss, and provolone. It’s cut into squares, not wedges.

St. Louis-style pizza

Provel is a processed cheese that combines cheddar, Swiss, and provolone cheeses. The result is a gooey cheese that melts into every nook and cranny of the crust. This pizza style is unique to St. Louis and has also gained popularity in other parts of the country.

St. Louis pizza crust is crisp and light, while the Provel cheese adds a unique flavor that’s hard to replicate. The best oven temp for St. Louis-style pizza is between 425-450 degrees. For best results, bake it on a pizza crisper in convection mode for 6-7 minutes.

The list of pizza toppings for St. Louis-style pizzas includes:

  • Provel cheese, of course.
  • Basil
  • Tomatoes
  • Anchovies
  • Pepperoni
  • Barbecued meatballs
  • Bacon

5. California-style Pizza

Cali-pizza is a delicious cross between traditional Italian pizza and modern Californian cuisine. California-style pizza, born in the late 20th century, adds a West Coast twist to the pizza scene. It’s traced back to chefs like Alice Waters, pioneers of fresh, local ingredients.

California-style Pizza

Fresh, local produce is a key element of the California-style pizza. Cali pizzas are known for the use of non-traditional toppings like goat cheese, pâté, duck sausage, salmon, peanut sauce, artichoke hearts, crème fraîche, zucchini, truffle… you get the drift.

Californian pies are baked in wood-burning ovens at very high temperatures. The result is a crispy, delicate crust perfect for holding all those fresh ingredients.

The popularity of this style of pizza soared as a reflection of California’s laid-back lifestyle and culinary experimentation. With its emphasis on fresh, innovative ingredients, California-style pizza quickly became a sensation.

According to this report by YouGov, 19% of West Coast consumers prefer Cali-style pizza over other styles.

6. Grandma Pizza

It’s another American invention that originated in Long Island, NY. The pizzas are similar to the rustic hand-stretched pizzas made by Italian nonnas at home, hence the name. They’re often made with a thin crust, and the toppings are simple—often just tomato sauce, garlic, and basil.

You don’t need a special oven to bake these simple, thin-crust pizzas. Just bake for 8-10 minutes at the maximum temp allowed by your electric oven until golden and crispy.

Thick & Hearty Crusts

1. Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

Pizzeria Uno claims to be the birthplace where Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo crafted a pizza with a deep, tall crust, resembling a pie more than a traditional flat pizza. This style was a departure from the Neapolitan and New York styles, featuring a thick, buttery crust that lined a deep pan.

However, some historians believe Chicago-style pizza was a brainchild of Adolpho “Rudy” Malnati, Sr – a former Pizzeria Uno employee. Irrespective of who brainstormed the concept, the anatomy of a Chicago deep dish has remained unchanged over the years.

The layers of cheese, toppings, and chunky tomato sauce are piled generously, creating a substantial and satisfying pizza experience.

Commonly used components in this pizza include tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes, cheese, Italian sausage, mushrooms, and onions.

The pizza is cooked in a brick oven slowly and slowly (400 degrees) for about 40 minutes. The result is a thick, bready crust that’s loaded with cheese, sauce, and toppings.

The Chicago style is often compared to a pie because it’s baked in a pan. But don’t be fooled by its shape; this is still pizza. It just has more toppings than most other styles of pizza.

2. Sicilian Pizza

The Sicilian style is different from the other styles in that it’s often baked in a rectangular pan. The crust is thicker than your standard pizza. It’s loaded with herbs, cheese, meat, and veggie toppings and sauce.

Sicilian-style pizza has some serious heritage behind its thick, rectangular slice. When Sicilian immigrants sailed over to America though, they found the stateside toppings a tad bland.

So New York City Sicilians kicked up the flavor by loading on extra cheese, tomatoes, and spice – launching the crazy-good, crispy-edged, fluffy crumb Sicilian pizza we all know and drool over today. Talk about taking it up an epic notch!

The sauce is often added on top of the toppings to prevent it from being soaked by the thick crust. Toma and caciocavallo are the common choices of cheese for traditional Sicilian pie.

These cheeses have a strong flavor that pairs well with meat and herb toppings. The crust is crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. It’s often cut into squares or rectangles instead of triangular slices.

3. Detroit-style Pizza

Detroit-style pizza also known as “square,” “panel”, or “party cut” pizza, is a descendant of Sicilian-style pizzas. Legend tells that back in 1946, a Sicilian immigrant named Gus Guerra owned a pizzeria where he baked his pies in industrial parts trays used in Detroit’s car factories.

The heavy-gauge steel conducted heat perfectly for a crispy, caramelized crust. The thick raised edges of the trays helped hold abundant brick cheese within its formidable walls.

And just like cars put Detroit on the map, Gus’s now iconic Detroit-style pizza went onto stardom as well

The thin and crispy pizza became popular with locals during the post-war housing boom. Detroit-style pizzas had a resurgence in popularity in 2021, thanks to social media.

In fact, according to a report published by Slice, Detroit-style pizza was the fastest-growing pizza segment in 2021, with over 65% of pizza restaurants adding it to their menus.

Wisconsin brick cheese is the most commonly used cheese for this style of pizza.

The brick cheese gives the crust a distinctive flavor and texture. The sauce is usually put onto the crust after it’s baked and topped with additional ingredients like sausage or pepperoni. Detroit pizzas are baked in 8×10 and 10×14 inch rectangular pans.

The crust of Detroit-style pizzas loosely resembles a focaccia. It’s lighter and fluffier than a typical Sicilian crust and has a crispy bottom due to the use of cornmeal for dusting the pizza peel.

4. Greek Pizza

Hailing from the gorgeous azure waters of the Mediterranean and mountainous landscapes of Greece comes Greek pizza, an artisanal culinary gem in its own right. Its foundations were laid in the early 1800s when Greeks created flaky phyllo dough to be filled with spinach, leeks, and feta cheese.

Upon arrival in America, Greek immigrants couldn’t find the beloved phyllo dough they yearned for. Instead, they turned to pizza, using it as an oven-baked canvas to house the flavors of the homeland – olives, tomatoes, spinach, onions, and feta cheese galore.

The crust is chewy, airy, and spongy, similar to focaccia but not as thick. Greek pizzas can be easily made at home in a regular electric oven as they are typically baked at a much lower temperature than most other types of pizza.

Hand-tossed & Stuffed Crusts

Hand-rolled pizza is a type of pizza dough that is rolled out by hand rather than using a rolling pin. This type of pizza dough is known for its thin, crispy crust and is often associated with traditional Italian pizza. It is popular for a few reasons:

It allows for more control over the shape and thickness of the crust. When rolling out the dough by hand, the pizza maker can create a crust that is thin and crispy or thick and chewy, depending on their preference. This level of control is not possible when using a rolling pin or other tools.

It creates a more rustic, artisanal appearance. Because the dough is rolled out by hand, it has a more irregular, homemade look. This can be attractive to customers looking for a more authentic pizza experience.

It can create a unique texture. When hand-rolled, the dough has a chance to rise and develop more complex flavors and textures.

Pizza Crust Options Available at Popular Pizza stores in the USA

Apart from the usual hand-tossed crust, many different types of pizza crusts are available at popular pizza stores across the country. These include:

  • Thin crust: This is the most common type of pizza crust in the United States. It has a crispy, crunchy texture and usually comes with some kind of sauce on it.
  • Deep dish: This is a thick, pan-style pizza with a layer of cheese and dough on the bottom. It’s topped with meat or vegetables and then another layer of dough before being baked in an oven.
  • Stuffed crust: This type of pizza has an extra layer of cheese inside the crust as well as other ingredients like pepperoni or sausage.

Below is an outline of pizza crust styles available all year round in the most popular pizza chains in the USA:

Different Crust Options at Domino’s

Domino’s USA offers a variety of crusts to choose from, so you can find the perfect one for your pizza. Here’s a look at the different types of pizza crusts available at Domino’s USA:

  • Hand-tossed: Hand-tossed is the most popular crust at Domino’s. It’s crispy but not too thin or thick and has a fluffy texture. This style of pizza crust has been voted America’s favorite by Food Network Magazine readers for years.
  • Handmade Pan Crust: Handmade pan crust is a crunchier version of hand-tossed pizza. It has a thicker crust that’s cooked in an oven, so it’s crispy and delicious without being too doughy.
  • Crunchy Thin Crust is another popular option at Domino’s, as it offers an extra-crisp texture while still being soft on the inside. The crust is thinner than hand-tossed and crispy all around, so you can enjoy every bite.

Thin-crust pizza is a popular option because it provides more cheese coverage and less bread than other types of pizza. This style is also easy to eat with your hands—just fold it!

  • Brooklyn Style Crust: It’s thinner than hand-tossed and slightly thicker than the Thin Crust. The Brooklyn-style crust is ideal for those who want less dough and more cheese. It’s also popular for those looking for a crust with a crunchy exterior and soft interior.
  • Gluten-free Crust: The gluten-free crust is a great option for those who want to eat gluten-free. It’s also ideal for people with sensitivities to wheat or other grains. Because this type of crust is made with rice flour and potato starch, it’s not as crispy or crunchy as their classic pizzas. But it has a delicious taste all its own!

Different Crust Options at Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut has several different crust options that you can choose from to customize your pizza. The options include:

  • Pan Crust: The pan crust has a thin and crispy exterior with a soft interior. It’s a great choice for those who want a crunchy crust without the heaviness of thick dough.
  • Hand-tossed Crust: The hand-tossed crust is perfect for those looking for something in between thin and thick crusts. It has a crispy exterior but is still soft on the inside.
  • Stuffed Crust: The stuffed crust is one of Pizza Hut’s most popular options. It’s loaded with cheese, meat, or vegetables that are stuffed into the center of their pizza before it’s baked so there are no gaps or empty spots.
  • Thin Crust: Quite self-explanatory. A thin-crust pizza is a great option if you’re looking for something that’s light, airy, and moderately chewy.

Different Crust Options at Little Ceasars

Little Caesars has a simple pizza menu, with only two crust options: original crust and cheese-stuffed crust. They are currently selling limited edition Detroit-style deep-dish pizza.

  • The Original Crust: The basic crust of Little Ceasars hits the sweet spot between thick and thin. The crust is soft and chewy, with a delicious buttery flavor. It’s not overly crunchy or greasy.
  • Cheese-Stuffed Crust: The cheese-stuffed crust at Little Caesars is their signature item! Before baking, this crust is stuffed with a chock full of mozzarella cheese. The cheese-stuffed crust is much thicker than the original, which makes it ideal for dipping into their marinara sauce.
  • Detroit-Style Deep-Dish Pizza: Little Caesars recently introduced its own version of Detroit-style pizza. It’s a thick, buttery crust topped with mozzarella cheese, seasoned tomato sauce, pepperoni, and green peppers. This pizza is definitely worth trying if you like deep-dish pizzas.

Papa John’s Stuffed Crust Pizza

Papa John’s stuffed crust pizza is one of their best-selling items. The crust is stuffed with a generous amount of pepperoni and melty cheese. The cheese-stuffed crust is much thicker than the original, which makes it ideal for dipping into their marinara sauce.

The best part of ordering a stuffed crust pizza from Papa John’s is eating that first bite when the cheese comes oozing out. It’s like a little bit of heaven in your mouth.

Costco’s Crispy, Foldable Crust

Costco’s crispy, foldable crust is a fan favorite. It’s thin but sturdy enough that it won’t fall apart when you pick up your slice. The pizza itself is also loaded with pepperoni and cheese.

But what makes it so delicious is that they use real mozzarella cheese instead of processed cheese, as some other chains do. To me, it tastes almost exactly like the pizza you would get at a sit-down restaurant.

Jet’s Turbo Crust

A heavenly combination of butter, garlic, and romano cheese, Jet’s Turbo Crust is a unique take on a classic pizza. The crust is buttery and crunchy but not so crispy that it’s hard to chew. It’s a perfect balance of garlic and sharp Romano cheese that will leave you wanting more.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust vs. Regular Pizza Crust

Cauliflower crust pizzas are lately having a moment in the sun. What started as a niche, gluten-free alternative to regular pizza crust became the most ordered item of 2019, according to GrubHub’s “Year in Food” report.

The cauliflower pizza crust is mainly made from cauliflower and cheese. It’s a great vegan-friendly alternative for people looking to cut down on carbs but still want to enjoy the same delicious pizza flavors.

The ingredients used in this recipe include:

  • Cauliflower florets or cauliflower rice
  • Cheese
  • Eggs for binding
  • Garlic Powder
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The cauliflower pizza crust is healthier than a regular pizza crust because it has fewer carbs, fewer calories, and more fiber. This means that you can enjoy your favorite pizzas without feeling guilty about consuming too many carbohydrates or fats.

Here’s how you can make a cauliflower pizza for two under 20 minutes or less:

The steps to making a cauliflower pizza crust are simple. The first step is to cook the cauliflower and then add it to the food processor with eggs, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Mix this until you have a dough that can be rolled out thin on parchment paper.

Bake for about 15 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit before adding your desired toppings. Once the crust is ready, add your toppings and broil for 5 minutes or until the cheese starts to bubble.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust Regular Pizza Crust
Lower in calories and carbs Higher in calories and carbs
Higher in fiber and nutrients Lower in fiber and nutrients
It may have a slightly different texture and flavor Traditional texture and flavor
It can be suitable for gluten-free and low-carb diets It may not be suitable for gluten-free or low-carb diets
It may require additional preparation and ingredients It may require minimal preparation and ingredients
Cauliflower Pizza Crust vs. Regular Pizza Crust Comparisons

How to Make Pizza Crust Thin and Soft?

There are a few factors that can make a pizza crust thin and soft, including:

  • The choice of flour: Using a low-protein, fine-grained flour, such as all-purpose flour or cake flour, can help to create a thin and soft crust. These flours have less gluten, the protein that gives dough its elasticity and structure. A low-gluten dough is more pliable and easier to roll out thinly, resulting in a thin and delicate crust.
  • Water to flour Ratio: Using the right amount of water and other liquids in the dough can also help to create a thin and soft crust. Too much liquid can make the dough sticky and difficult to work with, while too little can make it dry and hard.

A good rule of thumb is to use about 60-65% hydration, meaning that the water in the dough should be about 60-65% of the weight of the flour.

  • Preparation Method: The preparation method can also affect the crust’s texture. For example, using a rolling pin to roll out the dough can create a thin and even crust. But, stretching and tossing the dough by hand can create a more irregular, rustic texture.
  • Baking Temp: Baking the pizza at a high temperature, such as in a wood-fired oven, can also help to create a thin and crispy crust.

To sum up, combining the right ingredients and preparation techniques can help create a thin and soft pizza crust.

How to Make Pizza Crust Crispy on the Bottom?

To make pizza crust crispy on the bottom, there are a few key steps you can follow:

  • Use the right type of flour: A high-gluten flour, such as bread flour or all-purpose flour with a higher protein content, can help create a crisp crust on the bottom. These types of flours have more gluten, which helps to create a strong, chewy crust that can hold its shape and resist sogginess.
  • Proof the dough: Proofing, or allowing the dough to rise, can help create a crisp crust on the bottom. When the dough rises, the gluten strands stretch and become more elastic, creating a strong, chewy crust that can withstand the oven’s heat. To proof the dough, place it in a warm, draft-free location and let it rise until it has doubled in size.
  • Preheat the oven: Preheat the oven to a high temperature, sa 500-550°F. This high heat helps to create a crust that is crispy on the bottom as well as on the edges.
  • Use a pizza crisper or pizza screen: Pizza crispers and screens are pizza pans with holes in them. These holes allow the moisture to escape the dough whilst baking, resulting in a crisper crust. Choose a pizza pan or stone for a softer and chewier crust.

Pizza Yeast vs. Instant Yeast

Pizza yeast and instant yeast are both types of yeast that are used in making pizza dough. However, there are a few key differences between the two:

  • Pizza yeast is a type of fresh yeast sold in cakes or blocks, while instant yeast is a type of dried yeast sold in granules or powder form.
  • Pizza yeast has a more complex flavor and aroma than instant yeast and can help to create a more authentic, artisanal pizza crust.
  • Pizza yeast requires longer fermentation times than instant yeast and should be allowed to rise for at least 8-12 hours before baking. This allows the yeast to develop more complex flavors and aromas and a chewier, more elastic crust.
  • Instant yeast, on the other hand, can be added directly to the dough without any proofing or fermentation time. This makes it a convenient option for pizza makers who are short on time or want a faster rise.

In short, the main difference between pizza yeast and instant yeast is the form in which they are sold and the fermentation times they require. Pizza yeast is a fresh yeast that can create a more complex, authentic pizza crust. Instant yeast is a dried yeast that is more convenient and faster-acting.

Pizza Crust-Related FAQs

Who invented stuffed crust pizza?

Patty Scheibmeir, a food scientist at Pizza Hut, developed the concept of stuffed crust pizza in the early 1990s. Pizza Hut officially launched the first-ever stuffed-crust pizza in March 1995.

Is mod pizza cauliflower crust gluten-free?

Technically, all cauliflower pizzas are gluten-free. But, according to Mod’s website, all their pizzas are made in the same kitchen and on the same equipment as regular pizzas. So, if you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, it’s best to avoid Mod.

What’s the difference between thin crust and stuffed crust pizza?

A thin-crust pizza has a very thin layer of dough on the bottom. A stuffed-crust pizza has an additional layer of cheese and toppings in between two layers of dough.

Can you freeze stuffed crust pizzas?

Yes! This is especially helpful if you only want to buy one or two pizzas but don’t want to eat them all at once. Simply place your frozen pizza in the refrigerator overnight so that it thaws slowly before baking again.

The Takeaway

As you can see, there are many different types of pizza crusts. While this article is by no means exhaustive, it should be sufficient to help you decide which type of crust best suits your taste buds and budget. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. I look forward to hearing from you!

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