This gluten-free Detroit style pan pizza has a fluffy focaccia-like crust with a crispy square edge. Loaded with cheese, marinara sauce, pepperoni, and hot honey, you will be blown away that this pizza is gluten-free!
This Gluten-Free Detroit Style Pizza is the ultimate comfort meal. It's crispy, it's cheesy, it's loaded with flavour, and it's gluten-free! You will be SHOCKED at just how fluffy the crust is. I bet you've never had a gluten-free pizza like this!
Classic Detroit style pizza is known for its rectangular shape and fluffy focaccia-like crust with a crispy edge of cheese. Topped with cheese first then stripes of tomato sauce, pepperoni, and whatever else you dream of, this thing is loaded!
I'd never had a pizza like this, let alone gluten-free, until I visited Stay Gold Pizza in Ottawa and they had a GF crust. It was the most incredible pizza I'd ever had. And since we all can't frequent Ottawa, I thought I'd give my take on the incredible Detroit style pan pizza. Keep reading to learn how to make it!
You might like:
- Gluten-Free Focaccia Bread
- Gluten-Free Pizza Hot Pockets
- Homemade Gluten-Free Bagels
- Fig & Prosciutto Pizza
- What is Detroit Style Pizza?
- Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Ingredient Notes
- What Gluten-Free Flour to Use
- Step-by-Step Instructions
- Topping Suggestions
- How to Make a Larger Pizza (9x13")
- Make Ahead & Storage Instructions
- Tips for Success
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More Gluten-Free Meals You'll Love
What is Detroit Style Pizza?
Detroit style pizza is known for its classic rectangular shape and chewy yet crispy crust. It is almost like a focaccia—fluffy and thick on the inside yet crispy on the outside thanks to lots of olive oil and a crispy cheese edge. Detroit style pizzas typically see the cheese layered first, and then stripes of tomato sauce and additional toppings like pepperoni cups. You know when the pepperoni curls up and forms a little cup of grease? That's the best part. The most iconic type of cheese used on a Detroit style pizza is Wisconsin brick cheese, a young and semi-hard cheese from, well, Wisconsin.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- A hard to find gluten-free recipe. I mean, where have you seen gluten-free Detroit style pizza before?! Now we get to make it whenever we want!
- Mostly hands-off rising & cooking. This recipe is very easy to prep, with just about 20 minutes total of hands on kneading and topping.
- Delicious and super impressive. Your friends and family will be so impressed by the look and taste of this pizza. I bet they'll have no idea it's gluten-free! It's just that good.
Here is everything you'll need to make this gluten-free Detroit style pizza:
For the Crust
Instant yeast: I like to use instant because it's quick, but active dried yeast should perform similarly. Just ensure you give it a good 10-15 minutes to sit with the sugar and water to foam and activate.
Granulated sugar: This is my preferred sugar to feed the yeast. Alternatively, you could use honey or your favourite sugar.
Warm water: It is important that the water is warm to the touch, not hot. Hot water will kill the yeast and cold water won't activate it enough. A nice happy medium is that it feels warm when you touch the water with your finger.
Apple cider vinegar: This is an ingredient that I like to add to my gluten-free breads for extra airy-ness and softness. Apple cider vinegar (or you could use white vinegar), creates an acidic environment for the yeast which encourages growth. This in turn leads to fluffy and not dense gluten-free breads and doughs.
Olive oil: The crust of Detroit style pizza is very reminiscent of focaccia bread. This means there is olive oil in the dough and lots used to prevent the dough from sticking to the bowls or pan. It's what gives the pizza it's characteristic crispy crust.
Gluten-free flour: As I'm writing this, the only flour that I recommend for this recipe is the Mulino Caputo Fioreglut gluten-free flour. See the below section on flour to learn why it's so unique and important.
Salt: Of course every good dough needs salt.
Of course you can use any toppings you enjoy, such as veggies, meats, more cheeses, etc. Please see the toppings section below the step-by-step instructions for more ideas. These are some of the most traditional Detroit style pizza toppings and the ones I used in these images:
- Shredded mozzarella or the traditional Wisconsin brick cheese
- Marinara sauce
- Sliced pepperoni medium thickness! This and using a pepperoni with natural casing are the top tips to achieve the iconic pepperoni cup. Learn more about pepperoni cupping in this extremely detailed article from Serious Eats.
- Honey to drizzle
- Chili flakes to taste
- Dried oregano to taste
What Gluten-Free Flour to Use
Please note that the only flour I currently recommend for this recipe is the Mulino Caputo Fioreglut gluten-free flour. This flour is absolutely incredible for gluten-free yeasted doughs and breads because it contains gluten-free wheat starch which gives it amazing elasticity and workability. Yes, it is safe for celiacs. To learn more about gluten-free wheat starch, read this informative article from Wheat by the Wayside.
Unfortunately, it can be expensive and hard to find. Amazon carries it for $30 CAD per bag (1 kg), which is INSANE! No one should be paying that but unfortunately, it is the most accessible option. I purchase mine at local Italian stores, where a good price is $12 CAD a bag (1 kg). It is imported from Italy so those will be your best bet. Call around!
Note that I have tried this recipe with the Bob's Red Milll 1:1 Baking Flour. Yes, it states that the flour is not meant for yeasted bread, but I thought I had a hack to make it work by incorporating some psyllium husk. It did not work. The crust didn't cook through, was raw, gummy, and gross. So unfortunately at this time I do not have another flour substitution. I hope to develop my own blend that is comparable soon!
Detroit Style Pizza Pan
Detroit style pizza is known for its square or rectangular shape. In this recipe, I recommend using a square metal 8x8" or 9x9" pan. Metal is best because it will conduct heat, encouraging the bottom of the pizza to cook through.
You can also make this recipe in a 12" cast iron skillet or a 9x13" baking dish (ideally metal). Because these are larger pans, please double the recipe quantities. This will serve 4-6 people.
Be sure to read the recipe card below for the full ingredient list and instructions.
(1) In a large bowl, stir together the yeast, sugar, and warm water. Let it sit for 10 minutes. It should look foamy and smell yeasty.
Pour in the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, half of the flour, and salt. Mix with a fork in the bowl, then add the remaining flour and knead on the counter once it gets too thick. Gently knead until all flour is combined and the dough is smooth.
(2) Before Rising. Grease the large bowl with some olive oil, place the dough ball in, cover with a towel and let it rise in a warm place for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. A cold oven is a great place for this to avoid drafts.
(3) After Rising. Once the dough has risen, oil a square (8x8" or 9x9") metal baking dish and place the dough inside. Use your fingers to spread and dimple the dough, then cover with a towel and let it rise for another 30-45 minutes. With 15 minutes remaining, preheat the oven to 500ºF. Ensure you remove the dish if the dough was rising in the oven!
(4) Before Rising & (5) After Rising.
(6) Once risen, spread the cheese over the dough to the edges of the pan. Yes, cheese first! Then top with diagonal lines of marinara sauce and pepperoni slices.
Bake for approximately 25 minutes on the bottom rack (the lowest it will go), depending on your desired level of crispiness. Yes, the edges of the cheese may burn slightly, but that's okay.
(7) Remove from the oven, and run a knife along the edges to loosen the pizza from the pan. Use a spatula to help remove the pizza, then use a sharp knife to slice into 4 squares. Top with a drizzle of honey, chili flakes, and dried oregano. Enjoy immediately!
Traditional Detroit style pizza is made of a fluffy focaccia-like crust with a crispy bottom and cheesy edge. It has cheese under the tomato sauce and is most commonly served with tiny cups of crispy pepperoni on top. But you can make this pizza your own! Here are some other topping suggestions:
- Hot honey. You can either buy hot honey from Mike's, or drizzle honey and red pepper flakes over the cooked pizza. It's so good with the pepperoni.
- Veggie. Top the cheese and sauce with mushrooms, green pepper, onion, tomato slices, olive, etc. Put your favourite veggies right on top then bake.
- Meat lovers. Think pepperoni, sausage, bacon, salami... the options are endless. Ensure the meats are pre-cooked.
- Hawaiian. Ham & pineapple—are you team pineapple on pizza?
- Or just plain cheese!
How to Make a Larger Pizza (9x13")
If you wish to make a pizza that serves 4-6 people, I recommend doubling the written ingredient quantities and baking the pizza in a 9x13" pan or a 12" cast iron skillet. A metal pan is ideal for heat conduction, but use what you have. Alternatively, double the recipe and bake in two 8x8" square metal pans.
Make Ahead & Storage Instructions
Make Ahead Instructions: To make the dough the night before, prepare according to the instructions until the end of the first rise. Cover the dough bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake, remove the dough from the fridge and spread in an oiled baking pan. Let the dough come to room temperature during this second rise, about 45 minutes. Top and bake according to the instructions.
Storage Instructions: Leftover baked pizza can be cooled to room temperature and stored in the fridge in an airtight container. Reheat in the air fryer at 350ºF for 5-7 minutes, or the oven at 400ºF for 5-10 minutes.
Freezing Instructions: Please note that I do not recommend freezing raw pizza dough. Baked pizza slices may be cooled and frozen in an airtight container for up to 1 month. To reheat, place in a 450ºF oven for 7-10 minutes until crisp and hot. Timing may vary.
While this recipe was developed with optimal flavour pairings, here are some substitution suggestions:
- Dairy-free. The focaccia style crust is naturally dairy-free. To keep the whole pizza dairy-free or vegan, top with your favourite dairy-free cheese. Note that since dairy-free cheese can sometimes have trouble melting, you may want to do a thin layer of marinara sauce on the dough, then sprinkle the cheese and toppings on top like normal.
- Flour. As mentioned in the ingredient section, the only flour that I have tested and can recommend for this recipe is the Mulino Caputo Fioreglut gluten-free flour. It contains gluten-free wheat starch (safe for celiacs), and gives results unlike any other flour. I hope to continue further testing and will update when any other flour is comparable in this recipe.
- Toppings. See the above toppings section for inspiration! Try veggies, meat, or the classic pepperoni and hot honey.
Tips for Success
Here are some of my top tips and tricks for successful gluten-free Detroit style pizza:
- Use the recommended gluten-free flour. I cannot speak for results when a flour other than Mulino Caputo Fioreglut is used. It is just incredible and produces a perfectly fluffy yet crispy crust!
- Don't rush the rise. I've given the rising times as ranges. If you're looking for a specific time, use the shorter time. If you're busy doing other things and it ends up being the later time in the range, that's okay. But stick to the recommended timings. Under or over proofing dough can lead to sub-optimal results.
- Layer cheese then sauce. Placing the shredded cheese directly on top of the pizza dough prevents a soggy crust by acting as a barrier between the sauce and the dough. And it's the classic Detroit style way!
- Don't worry if the edges look burnt. Cause they probably are, but it's FLAVOUR! Spreading the shredded cheese all the way to the edges creates a beautiful crispy cheese crust.
- Enjoy immediately! Gluten-free Detroit style pizza is best when served hot.
Frequently Asked Questions
Typically, Detroit style pizza is not gluten-free. The crispy, focaccia-like crust usually contains wheat flour. But this recipe is gluten-free!
I recommend using Mulino Caputo Fioreglut gluten-free flour. It contains wheat starch with the gluten removed (and yes it is celiac-safe). This allows it to produce wonderful breads, very reminiscent of the properties of gluten. I recommend looking for it locally at Italian stores, as Amazon is extremely expensive. At this time, I do not recommend swapping for another gluten-free flour.
Layering the cheese under the sauce is a classic technique used in Detroit style pizzas. As the fluffy focaccia-like crust is very thick and soft, layering the cheese and then the tomato sauce prevents a soggy crust.
Chicago pizza is typically made with a thin, crispy deep dish crust, similar to a pie. It is often baked in a deep circular springform pan, built for multiple layers of toppings. Detroit style pizza is completely different. Often baked in a square or rectangular pan, Detroit style pizza has a fluffy focaccia-like crust that is crispy on the outside.
This gluten-free Detroit style pan pizza is fluffy, crispy, and loaded with flavour. You will be shocked that something so amazing can be gluten-free! Your friends and family will not be able to tell the difference. I hope you enjoy this delicious treat!
Have you made this gluten-free Detroit style pizza? I'd very much appreciate it if you leave a 5-star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review below, and tag me on instagram @liv.glutenfree!
More Gluten-Free Meals You'll Love
Gluten-Free Detroit Style Pizza
- Square metal baking dish (8x8" or 9x9") See recipe notes for 9x13" pan
For the Crust
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- ¾ cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil plus extra for greasing the bowl and pan
- 1 ¾ cup mulino caputo fioreglut gluten-free flour at this time, I don't recommend any other flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella or the traditional Wisconsin brick cheese
- ¾ cup marinara sauce
- ⅓ cup sliced pepperoni medium thickness
- Honey to drizzle
- Chili flakes to taste
- Dried oregano to taste
- In a large bowl, stir together the yeast, sugar, and warm water. Let it sit for 10 minutes. It should look foamy and smell yeasty.
- Pour in the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, half of the flour, and salt. Mix with a fork in the bowl, then add the remaining flour and knead on the counter once it gets too thick. Gently knead until all flour is combined and the dough is smooth.
- Grease the large bowl with some olive oil, place the dough ball in, cover with a towel and let it rise in a warm place for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. A cold oven is a great place for this to avoid drafts.
- Once the dough has risen, oil a square (8x8" or 9x9") metal baking dish and place the dough inside. Use your fingers to spread and dimple the dough, then cover with a towel and let it rise for another 30-45 minutes. With 15 minutes remaining, preheat the oven to 500ºF. Ensure you remove the dish if the dough was rising in the oven!
- Once risen, spread the cheese over the dough to the edges of the pan. Yes, cheese first! Then top with diagonal lines of marinara sauce and pepperoni slices.
- Bake for approximately 25 minutes on the bottom rack (the lowest it will go), depending on your desired level of crispiness. Yes, the edges of the cheese may burn slightly, but that's okay.
- Remove from the oven, and run a knife along the edges to loosen the pizza from the pan. Use a spatula to help remove the pizza, then use a sharp knife to slice into 4 squares. Top with a drizzle of honey, chili flakes, and dried oregano. Enjoy immediately!