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Thick or Thin: Different Styles of Pizza Crust for 8 Classic Pies

January 12 2022 by Nick Charles

Pizza-slice-pizza

Foundational to both a pizza and the recipe used to make it, different styles of pizza crust partially dictate the pie’s taste, texture, thickness, and toppings. Crusts also affect prep, baking, appearance, and presentation so they are usually a catalyst for pizza innovation.

For pizza makers, experimenting with different styles of pizza crust and/or staying true to different styles of pizza crusts that define classic pies helps with menu expansion. Customers love tradition as much as they do new offerings. 

So, how do you create pizza that generates buzz and satisfies customers? Let’s take a look at perennially popular thin and thick crust pizzas, and what makes them so appealing.

Classic Thin and Thick Pizza Crust Styles

Thin Crust

1. Neapolitan Pizza
2. New York Style Pizza
3. St. Louis Pizza
4. California Pizza

Thick Crust

5. Detroit Style Pizza
6. Chicago Style Pizza
7. Greek Pizza
8. Grandma Pizza

Thin Crust

Thin, stretched centers and crunchy, doughy edges are the typical hallmarks of thin crust pizza. Of the different styles of pizza crust, they are least capable of supporting weight and most do best with fewer toppings — but that doesn’t limit options:

1. Neapolitan Pizza

According to popular belief, the first pizza was made in Naples, Italy, sometime during the 1800s. The storied history gives Neapolitan pizza the reputation of being the “original” Italian pizza.

To achieve its signature light, slightly crispy texture, Neapolitan pizza must meet a very specific set of requirements. A true Neapolitan dough is hand-kneaded (mechanical preparation is prohibited), no more than 35 centimeters in diameter, and no more than one-third of a centimeter thick at the center. It is baked in a wood-fired, domed oven.

Margherita and Marinara are classic Neapolitan pizza styles, showcasing the impossible-to-replicate, “authentic Italian pizza” flavor and texture of Neapolitan crust baked in a wood-fired oven. 

 

RELATED ALIVE & KICKIN’ PRODUCT: Classic Neapolitan Dough Balls


2. New York Style Pizza

Often sold by the slice in big, wide wedges, New York style pizza is probably among the most recognizable of the different styles of pizza crust. It’s been the trademark pizza of the Big Apple and the entire Northeast U.S. since the early 1900s, with regional variations found across the country.

New York style crust is slightly crispy on the outside, yet thin and pliable so big slices can be folded in half for easy, utensil-free eating. New York style pizza crust gets its unique flavor and texture from high-gluten bread flour and the minerals present in New York City water (a not-so-secret ingredient that some out-of-state pizza makers actually "import" for authenticity).

 

RELATED ALIVE & KICKIN’ PRODUCT: New York Style Dough Balls

3. St. Louis Pizza

A regional specialty in the Midwest, St. Louis pizza is characterized by its round, thin, unleavened, cracker-like crust that is sturdy enough to handle the cheddar-Swiss-provolone cheese combination this pizza is known for, plus several other toppings. Forego wedges when serving St. Louis pizza! Tradition dictates pies should be tavern cut into “party squares” or rectangles.

4. California Pizza

California pizza kicked off the gourmet pizza craze back in the 1970s as chefs started to experiment with non-traditional toppings. True to West Coast flair for inventiveness and originality, you still find flaky thin crusts in single-serve or traditional sizes topped with imagination — eggs, artichokes, goat cheese, mustard, paté — the sky’s the limit.

Thick Crust

There’s no denying the heartiness of thick crust pizza. Crusts measuring at least a 1/2" thick — and usually thicker — are prepared by hand, either rolled out or shaped to fit deep dish baking pans. They can easily handle heavy sauce and toppings, as evidenced by these tried-and-true thick crust pizza favorites:

5. Detroit Style Pizza

Here’s some fun trivia: The first Detroit style pizza was allegedly made in a metal spare parts tray reminiscent of those used on automotive assembly lines — a true nod to the Motor City.

Fact checking that claim is lost to history, but Detroit style pizza has some recognizable ties to the thick, rectangle-shaped Sicilian pizza that residents of Sicily, Italy, proudly created in answer and opposition to the Neapoltan thin crust.

What makes Detroit style unique among the different types of pizza crust is the medium-well done, near-fried chewy texture compliments of a well-oiled pan. Add the reverse layering order (“toppings-cheese-sauce” versus the traditional “sauce-cheese-toppings”), and it’s easy to understand why Detroit style pizza has gained popularity in recent years. 

 

RELATED ALIVE & KICKIN’ PRODUCT: All-Purpose Dough Balls for Pan Pizza

 

6. Chicago Style Pizza

Thick, classic deep dish from the Windy City! There’s no denying this is a different type of pizza crust with a ledge that allows for a generous portion of toppings, cheese, and sauce — and by generous, we mean pizza slices up to 2 inches thick. The pies are baked in an oiled deep-dish pan to create a crispy, sometimes buttery, fried effect on the outside of the crust. Chicago Style pizza crust commonly contains corn meal, semolina, or food coloring to give it its distinctly yellow tone and enhance its unique taste and texture.

 

RELATED ALIVE & KICKIN’ PRODUCT: All-Purpose Dough Balls for Pan Pizza

 

7. Greek Pizza

Adopted by many in the Eastern United States, this native of Greece is a satisfying pan pizza that features a thick, chewy crust with a nearly deep-fried bottom. Compared to different styles of pizza crust, Greek pizza is puffier and chewier than thin crust, but not quite as thick as Chicago style. Although deemed Greek pizza, toppings often deviate from the expected feta cheese, olives, and red onion. An oregano-heavy tomato paste base complements any number of topping combinations.

 

RELATED ALIVE & KICKIN’ PRODUCT: All-Purpose Dough Balls for Pan Pizza

 

8. Grandma Pizza

Grandma pizza is a throwback to simpler times. The thick crust is somewhere between Neapolitan and Chicago style, and it cradles a homespun combination of a thin slice of mozzarella cheese and canned or fresh uncooked tomatoes. Other toppings can be added, but they aren’t necessary to create an authentic Grandma pizza. 

Of all the different styles of pizza crusts and popular pies, which are best for your operation? Get up to speed on crust types, performance characteristics, and applications using our Pizza Crust Types Comparison Guide. Click the button below to download your copy now!

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Categories: Pizza Crust

Nick Charles

Written by Nick Charles

President, Alive & Kickin' Pizza Crust
Nick has been in the pizza dough business for more than 20 years. He heads up the company’s customer development and service (making sure they’re always happy with our product and our processes) and manages the overall business. It’s a big job, and he’s the right guy to do it!