Detroit-Style Pepperoni Pizza

Detroit-Style Pepperoni Pizza

If you love pan pizza with an irresistible cheese frico crust, you will love this Detroit-style pizza recipe from Alexandra Stafford. Her new pizza cookbook, Pizza Night, is absolutely amazing.

The base is very similar to focaccia, light and airy, and thanks to a parbake, it’s sturdy enough to sustain a blanket of cheese, sauce, pickled jalapeños, and Foustman's uncured pepperoni. Below you will find step-by-step instructions for how to make excellent Detroit-style pizza at home and the secret to creating a tall and lacy cheese frico crust.


As always, for best results, please use a digital scale to measure everything. Volume cups simply are not accurate.  

Flour:  I have had success using all-purpose flour, but if you can get your hands on bread flour, that is ideal, especially if you live in Canada or abroad. Moreover, if you live in Canada or abroad, you may need to reduce the water amount. Consider holding back some of the water (25 grams or so) during the mixing process to ensure you don’t end up with a soupy mess. You can always add it back in slowly if the dough is too dry. 

Cheese: Wisconsin Brick cheese is traditional but it can be hard to come by if you live in the Northeast. A mix of whole milk mozzarella and Cheddar or Monterey Jack works great for the interior surface. Pre-shredded cheese is essential for creating a dramatic cheese frico crust on the perimeter. 

Sauce: I love a vodka sauce on pizza, such as this one or this one. This is my favorite fresh tomato sauce recipe. Of course, use your favorite tomato sauce here. I love all of the Rao’s brand sauces. 

Pan: I hate to encourage spending money on yet another piece of equipment, but a Lloyd Detroit-Style pizza pan does make a difference. I love my 9×13-inch USA pan, but a Lloyd Pan truly creates a crisper, more golden bottom. Furthermore, if you have a Baking Steel or pizza stone, baking the pizza on it will encourage even better browning, and if you don’t have a Lloyd pan, I suggest using the Baking Steel, which will help crisp up the bottom. 

Timeline: Plan ahead. I like to mix the dough in the evening, let it rise overnight, then bake it the following day. 

The toppings: The pickled jalapeño and pepperoni pizza below is inspired by “The Colony” served at several of the Matt and Emily Hyland pizza restaurants, the recipe for which also can be found in their book, EMILY: The Cookbook


For the yeast-leavened pizza dough: 

  • 288 grams (2.25 cups) bread flour
  • 6 grams (1.5 teaspoons) kosher salt 
  • 2 grams (1/2 teaspoon) instant yeast, SAF is my preference
  • 240 grams (about 1 cup) cold water 

For the sourdough pizza dough: 

  • 255 grams (1.75 cups + 1 tablespoon) bread flour
  • 6 grams (1.5 teaspoons) kosher salt 
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) active, bubbly sourdough starter 
  • 185 grams (3/4 cup) water 

For each pizza:

  • 1 tablespoon (14 g) softened butter 
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) olive oil 
  • 6 ounces pre-shredded Cheddar (for the cheese frico crust)
  • 4 ounces pre-shredded low-moisture, whole-milk mozzarella (for the cheese frico crust)
  • 6 ounces hand-grated low-moisture, whole-milk mozzarella for the interior surface
  • 3 to 4 ounces (85 – 113 grams) pepperoni, I love Vermont Smoke & Cure, sliced as thinly as possible
  • 1/4 cup pickled jalapeños, to taste, optional
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce, such as this one or this one, or your favorite jarred sauce
  • light drizzle honey, optional


To make the yeast-leavened pizza dough:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and instant yeast. Add the water. Using a rubber spatula, mix until the water is absorbed and the ingredients form a sticky dough ball. Slick the dough with a teaspoon of olive oil. Cover the bowl with an airtight lid. Let rise overnight or for 10 to 12 hours at room temperature.
  2. Using lightly oiled hands or a flexible bowl scraper, deflate the dough by releasing it from the sides of the bowl and pulling it towards the center. Shape it into a rough ball. Skip to preparing the pan.

To make the sourdough pizza dough:

  1. Place the water in a large bowl. Add the starter and stir with a spatula to combine. Add the salt and stir again; then add the flour. Mix again until the flour is mostly incorporated. Use your hands if necessary to briefly knead in the last bits of flour. Cover vessel with a tea towel or cloth bowl cover and let stand for 30 minutes.
  2. After 30 minutes have passed, reach into the vessel and pull the dough up and into the center. Turn the vessel quarter turns and continue this pulling 8 to 10 times. Let the dough rest for another 30 minutes; then repeat the stretching and folding. After these two sets of stretches and folds, you should see a difference in the texture of the dough: it will be smoother, stronger, and more elastic.
  3. If you have a straight-sided vessel, transfer the dough to it; then cover it with a tea towel or bowl cover and set aside to rise at room temperature (70ºF/21ºC) for 4 to 8 hours (the time will vary depending on the time of year, the strength of your starter, and the temperature of your kitchen) or until the dough has roughly doubled in volume. (A straight-sided vessel makes monitoring the bulk fermentation especially easy because it allows you to see when your dough has truly doubled.)
  4. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and shape into a rough ball. I like to do this without flour, but use flour as needed — the dough will be sticky. Use the pinkie-edges of your hands to pinch the dough underneath to create a ball. Skip to preparing the pan.

Prepare the pan:

  1. Grease a 10×14-inch pan with the tablespoon of softened butter. Pour 1 teaspoon of olive oil into the center. Place the dough ball in the pan and turn to coat. Let rest for 3 to 4 hours. With lightly oiled hands, stretch the dough to fit the pan. Let the dough rest again for 1 hour.

Parbake the dough:

  1. Preheat the oven to 500ºF.
  2. Dimple the dough one last time with lightly oiled hands taking care not to dimple the perimeter. Transfer the pan to the oven for 8 minutes. 
  3. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully transfer the dough to a cooling rack. Let it cool upside down on the rack for 20 minutes. Do not wash the pan. 
  4. Once the dough is cooled, you can transfer it to an airtight storage bag for 1 to 2 days at room temperature or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Top the pizza:

  1. Preheat the oven to 475ºF. If you do have a Baking Steel or pizza stone, place it on a rack in the middle or lower third of the oven while it preheats. 
  2. Return the parbaked crust to its pan (bottom side down). 
  3. Combine the two pre-shredded cheeses for the frico crust in a medium bowl. Spread this cheese around the perimeter of the dough pressing it into the sides of the pan. 
  4. Sprinkle the hand-grated mozzarella over the interior surface of the dough.
  5. Finish topping the pizza: spread the 1/2 cup of tomato sauce evenly over the top. Spread the pepperoni evenly over the surface. If you are using pickled jalapeños, scatter them evenly over the pizza, keeping in mind heat tolerance — they make the pizza very spicy. 

Bake the pizza:

  1. Transfer pizza to the oven for 10 minutes or until the edges are caramelized to your liking. Remove the pan from the oven and let the pizza rest for 5 minutes in the pan. Carefully run a paring knife or spatula around the pan’s edges. Then, carefully remove the entire pizza from the pan, transferring it to a cutting board. If you are using the honey, drizzle it over top. Cut the pizza into 12 pieces and serve.

Original recipe posted by Alexandra Stafford 2021.

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