Californian Chicago-Style Stuffed Pizza

Zach Zachowski and his wife and partner, Barbara Gabel, lived in Chicago for many years, where they fell in love with deep-dish pizza and each other, but not the blustery winters. They headed west in 1982. Zachowski, who had worked in several Chicago pizzerias, quickly discovered that there was nothing like this hearty Midwest favorite in California. He adapted what he knew to the Californian palate — lightening things up a bit by swapping out the heavy, dense sauce for a fresh, chunky tomato mixture and using a bit less oil in the dough.–Penny Pollack and Jeff Ruby

LC Stuffed Vs Deep Dish Note

Never confuse stuffed pizza, like this recipe, with deep-dish pizza, at least not if you don’t want hordes of Chicagoans laughing at you. It’s not just potential social embarrassment you have to look out for, either. There’s actually an element of danger here. Stuffed pizza has an extra layer of pizza dough between the first generous lot of fillings and the final layer of tomato sauce. As such, the recipe calls for you to make a few vent holes in that layer of dough to prevent the pizza fillings from overheating and exploding in the oven. So, you know, pay attention.

Californian Chicago-Style Stuffed Pizza Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 50 M
  • 2 H
  • Makes one 12-to-14-inch deep-dish pizza


  • For the dough
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 to 6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • More vegetable oil, for greasing
  • For the sauce
  • Olive oil, enough to coat a saucepan
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds Roma tomatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • One 8-ounce can tomato purée
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced oregano leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced basil leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • For the stuffing
  • Your choice of favorite cheeses (Zachary’s uses mostly shredded mozzarella)
  • Your choice of diced or sliced fresh raw vegetables, such as red, yellow, or green bell peppers; zucchini; mushrooms; etc.
  • Your choice of meats, such as pepperoni, linguiça, uncooked Italian sausage, ground beef, etc.


  • Make the dough
  • 1. In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar and the yeast in the warm water. Let the mixture stand until bubbly, then stir in the oil.
  • 2. Stir in 4 cups of the flour and continue mixing until a smooth, soft dough forms. Sprinkle in more flour, a bit at a time, to form a firm ball of dough, then knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it’s smooth and elastic.
  • 3. Lightly grease a large bowl and place the dough inside. Turn the dough a few times to coat it with oil. Set the bowl in a warm spot and allow the dough to rise until it doubles in size. Punch down the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes. After resting, the dough is ready to use for pizza.
  • Make the sauce
  • 4. While the dough is resting, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and lightly saute it to infuse the oil, about 3 minutes. Then stir in the tomatoes, tomato purée, oregano, basil, and salt and pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Assemble the pizza
  • 5. Preheat oven to 475°F (245°C). On a lightly floured surface, roll two-thirds of the dough into a 16-inch circle. Press the dough into a 12-inch or 14-inch round deep-dish pizza pan, making sure that the dough is pressed against the sides of the pan and extends up and over the rim. Add your favorite cheeses and ingredients to fill the pan roughly halfway.
  • 6. Roll the remaining dough to form another 16-inch circle. Place it over the pizza pan and seal the perimeter where the dough meets. Poke several holes through the top layer of dough and cut off any excess dough around the rim of the pan.
  • 7. Pour the tomato sauce over the top layer of dough. If desired, top with other ingredients, such as fresh pesto sauce or artichoke hearts. Bake at 475°F (245°C) for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
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  1. Andy says:

    I love Zachary’s Pizza, especially the sauce. Thank you for the recipe! I made this last night and it was so good. I used my own pizza dough recipe. I will continue to make this again and again. When I move back to California I will have to compare to the original but from what I remember, it’s close.

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