Sicilian Style Pan Pizza

I love pizza. My favorite kind was Joe’s Pizza, which was at 4058 Pennsylvania for about 20 years, until Joe retired before covid. It’s Guy’s Deli now, and they still serve Joe’s recipe, but it’s not quite the same. I guess as you get older nothing seems the same as it did 20 years ago.

I grew up eating Pizza Hut pan pizzas, and watching the recipe get worse and worse as the company got more and more corporate, until it was just a grease-bomb gut boiler. And after a childhood of Pizza Hut being the only pizza available, I loved the sicilian pan style but was sick of the chain.

I like pan style, like you get in Detroit, but with the sauce under the cheese. Same thing with Chicago deep dish, it’s like a lasagna with dough instead of noodles. Not quite sure that qualifies as pizza, and I know how many people disagree.

Please don’t call Imo’s “Missouri style pizza”, that’s such a hurtful thing to say. It’s like someone took a saltine, slathered it with cheap ketchup, then covered it with cheez whiz, and baked it until it was extra gross. We Missourians may have our flaws, but the blame for Imo’s lays on St. Louis, leave the rest of us out of it. If you feel like giving that hot pile of sick a name, call it St. Louis pizza.

I describe KC pizza as being “what chain pizza was before it went corporate” – it’s not that different from what Pizza Hut hand-tossed was originally, or Papa John’s, even Little Caesear’s, way back when. Back when the dough was actual wheat flour, not the cheapest, most-filler-filled muck they can buy, and before the sauce was primarily sugar. Before the pepperoni was lips and assholes and extra grease. When the cheese was actual cheese. You know – actual pizza.

Minksy’s is a pretty good example of the style, but they go heavier on the cheese than I prefer, and they usually put the toppings further down into the cheese than I like.

Anyway, who cares what I think about pizza? Here’s a great recipe that I combined from a few different versions I found online, including the classic 72-hour-cold-proof dough. I usually read a dozen versions of something then amalgamate and experiment. This is what I came up with.

Also, don’t make it in a cast iron pan. Too heavy. Takes too long for the cast iron to heat up. “So heat it up before-” No, stop. Just quit forcing it. Get a thin aluminum or steel baking pan and use that. It’ll heat up nice and fast so the bottom toasts. As much as I love cast iron, not everything need cast iron.

Sicilian Style Pan Pizza

Homemade crust and sauce for sicilian-style pan pizza
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 1 person


  • 1 cutting board
  • 1 kitchen knife
  • 1 medium sauce pot
  • 1 splatter guard
  • 1 wooden stirrer
  • 1 stand mixer such as Kitchenaid.
  • 1 dough hook for the stand mixer.
  • 1 dough proofer like a Cambro or other proofing box.
  • 1 pizza pan 8×8 square metal cake pan for single-serving. 11×7 or 13×9 for metal pan for 2-4 servings. Don't use glass, it won't cook right.
  • 1 steel spatula / server to free, cut, and serve the slices.


Dough ingredients

  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 cups warm water, minus 1-2 tsp depending on how wet or dry you want the dough.
  • 1 tsp olive oil maybe more or less depending on preference.

Sauce ingredients

  • hing optional
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp fennel
  • 1 28 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt more or less to taste.


  • 2-4 oz block-cut full-fat low-moisture mozzarella for an 8×8 single serving.
  • 2-4 oz shredded full-fat low-moisture mozzarella for an 8×8 single serving.
  • 2-4 oz meats pepperonis, salami, chopped bacon, sausage, hamburger, etc, for an 8×8 single serving.
  • 2-4 oz veggies onions, chopped olives, pepperocini, banana peppers, green, yellow, or red peppers, jalapenos, etc, for an 8×8 single serving.


Make the sauce

  • Set the stovetop to medium and place the sauce pot on the heat.
  • Mince the garlic and set aside.
  • If using hing, add it to the dry saucepot when the saucepot reaches temp.
  • Add olive oil to the saucepot. If using hing, it will start to bubble.
  • Add the minced garlic and let it sautee slightly in the medium-hot oil.
  • Add half the salt.
  • After a few minutes, add the dry spices and let them temper in the oil.
  • When the spices are fragrant, add the can of tomato sauce.
  • Stir the tomato sauce into the spices and let it come to temp until it's sputtering.
  • Lower heat to medium/low (3) so the tomato sauce is still sputtering but won't burn.
  • Place the splatter guard on top of the sauce pot.
  • Stir every 15 minutes or so. Adjust the temp to (4) if you want a darker pizza sauce, but you'll have to stir more frequently.
  • After 60 minutes, the sauce is mostly cooked down.
  • Taste and add more salt as needed.
  • Add sugar to reduce acidity and preferred level of sweetness.
  • After about 60, for a thinner, less browned sauce, you're done. After 90 minutes, the sauce will be cooked down into more of a paste, and slightly browner. Adjust temp and time to preference.

Make the dough

  • Add flour and salt to the mixer bowl.
  • Microwave the water until warm, but not hot.
  • Add the yeast to the water.
  • Let the yeast/water mix set until it starts to bubble.
  • Turn the mixer on speed 2.
  • Pour the yeast/water mixture into the flour/salt mixture while the mixer is running.
  • Let it mix until the flour is all incorporated, a few minutes.
  • Add the olive oil.
  • Let mix until incorporated, a minute or two.
  • Turn off the mixer and let the blob sit for 10 mins. The blob will be rough and lumpy.
  • After the 10 minute rest, turn the mixer back on at speed 2.
  • Let the mixer run for 10 minutes.
  • The dough ball should be smooth and slightly shiny.
  • Splash olive oil into the dough proofer and use your fingers to coat the inside of the proofer with the oil.
  • With oily fingers, remove the dough from the mixer.
  • Shape the dough into a ball.
  • Rub the oil from the proofer over the outside of the dough.

Proof the dough the 1st time

  • Close the lid of the proofer.
  • Shake the proofer to confirm the dough is not stuck to the bottom.
  • Put in a warm place for 2-4 hours.

Refrigerate the dough (optional)

  • After the first proof, put the dough in the fridge.
  • Let the dough cold-proof for 3 days.

Prepare the baking pan

  • Splash the baking pan with oil, and use your fingers to coat the entire pan with oil.
  • There should not be standing puddles of oil, just a thin coating.

Portion the dough

  • This recipe makes 4 thick-crust servings or 6 thin-crust servings.
  • Lightly oil a steel spatula or dough cutter.
  • Use a steel spatula or dough cutter to portion the dough as preferred.

Proof the dough the 2nd time

  • Gently stretch the dough to fill the baking pan as closely as possible.
  • If the dough was cold from refrigerator proofing, gently stretch it a little the first time, let it rest for an hour or two, then come back and stretch it again.
  • Place the section of dough into the prepared baking pan and let it proof for another 2-4 hours.
  • Ensure the dough has been stretched very close to the edges of the pan, but not actually touching the edges or riding up the edge.
  • If the dough visibly has large bubbles, use a fork to lift the edges of the dough to release the gas. Also, "dock" the dough by poking it with the fork evenly across the entire face of the dough. (If it doesn't have large bubbles you can skip this step if you want.)

Prep the oven

  • Let your oven fully preheat to 500 degrees. After it reaches 500 degrees, let it sit another 10-15 minutes to saturate.

Prep the ingredients

  • While the oven is heating, remove your pizza sauce, cheese, and toppings from the fridge to let them start coming up to room temp.
  • If you're adding veggies, dry them with a paper towel, place them on a cookie sheet on baker's parchment (NOT wax paper or butcher paper), and roast them until they start to dry out and the tips brown.
  • Add about 2 tablespoons of room temp pizza sauce to the crust in an 8×8 pan pizza. Use more or less to taste. For larger pizzas, use more sauce.
  • Use the back of the spoon to spread the sauce evenly across the entire crust, leaving however much of a crust-edge you want.
  • Put shredded Mozz around the edges of the pan so that it melts down between the pan and the crust when cooking. This gives you a crispy browned cheese perimeter.
  • Distribute the cubed Mozz evenly across the sauced area of the pizza.
  • Add a little shredded Mozz among the cubes.
  • Place your toppings however you like.
  • Add more shredded Mozz over the toppings so they're mostly exposed, but slightly under the cheese in places.

Bake the pizza

  • Place the pizza in the oven.
  • Bake for 12-13 mins for a lightly browned pizza.
  • Bake for 13-15 mins for a medium browned pizza.
  • Bake for 18 mins for a heavily browned pizza.
  • Remove from the oven at the preferred done-ness.
  • Let the pizza sit for 5 mins to cool.
  • While the pizza cools, it will shrink slightly and usually pull off the sides of the pan.
  • Use a steel spatula to free the pizza from the pan, if necessary. Slide the spatula under the pizza to confirm that it's not stuck to the bottom.
  • Use the spatula (or a pizza cutter) to slice the pizza as preferred.

Serve the pizza

  • I recommend serving slices on top of a paper towel so the paper towel absorbs grease and condensation, this keeps the crust from getting soggy.


Crust note: 
You can use the crust without letting it sit in the fridge for 3 days, but it will be less chewy and less flavorful, and it won’t toss / stretch quite the same. To use it immediately, skip the “put it in a fridge” part.
Oven note: 
For best results, place 2 fire bricks in the bottom of your oven, and place 4-6 quarry tile on the bottom baking rack.
The fire bricks hold a lot of heat so that the oven temperature stays stable even when the door is opened to insert the pizza. This helps cook the crust and toppings evenly, and makes sure the entire pizza cooks thoroughly.
The quarry tiles act as a heat spreader to give a hot surface to the entire bottom of the pan so that the crust browns and expands underneath despite the cold toppings. A pizza stone is an alternative to the quarry tile but cannot replace the fire bricks.
Cheese note: 
Use low-moisture full fat Mozzarella
  • Not low-moisture, low-fat Mozz.
  • Not “fresh” full fat Mozz (it’s too wet, and makes your pizza too wet).
  • Make sure it’s low moisture AND full fat Mozz.
    • You want “full fat” because when it melts it leaks oil, and that oil is what makes the crust toast up.
    • “Low fat” doesn’t leak much oil, so doesn’t help the crust toast up, so it’s not what you want.
  • Get a bag of shredded Mozz.
  • And get a brick of Mozz that you need to cut up yourself.
    • Cut the brick into 3/8” x 3/8” cubes.
    • The shreds all melt at the same time and brown evenly.
    • The cubes melt from the outside in, so they create a puddle of cheese with a toasted center.
    • You want a mix of both thin, toasted cheese at the edges, and puddles of cheese with a toasted center in the middle of the pizza
  • For each pizza use 4-6 oz of Mozz cubes AND 4-6 oz of shredded Mozz for a total of 8-12 oz cheese.
You can add cheddar, parmesan, Romano, provolone, Provel, etc., if you insist, but low-moisture, full-fat Mozz is what makes it a pizza.
Toppings note: 
  • Any veggie or fruit (pineapple) toppings, slice, chop, or mince first, then roast in an oven at 350 degrees until the surface of the topping is dried, usually 5-7 minutes.
  • This prevents toppings from leaking water into the pizza & making it soggy.
  • This is best for onions, olives, pepperoncini, banana peppers, green & red peppers, really any kind of wet vegetable or root you may want to add.
  • It’s best if you pickle onions or jalapenos first, just add them sliced up to a pepperoncini/banana pepper/pickle jar and let them sit for a few days.
  • If you pickle the veggies, you definitely need to roast them as described.
  • Roasting brings out the best in garlic too, even fresh garlic.
  • Don’t oil the veggies first, the pizza will be oily enough as it is.