There are so many serious rivalries in the world: Superman or Batman, Yankees or Mets, chocolate or vanilla, creamy or crunchy, but when it comes to pizza, people’s fierce loyalties come out. Either people swear there is no other pizza than New York-style thin crust, or their hearts (and stomachs) belong to Chicago’s deep-dish pizza. The Travel Channel even made a movie about it called “Pizza Wars.”

People are endlessly comparing the two types of pizza and argue over which is best. Usually, people are loyal to whichever type they grew up eating, and it’s not necessarily geographical – you can find New York-style pizza in Chicago and deep-dish in New York. The truth is that these two types of pizza are so very different, that it doesn’t even make sense to compare them. The crust is different, for sure, but so are the toppings and the way they are cooked. Let’s take a look at both types of pizza and how to make them. Then you can hold your own pizza contest at home. You won’t have any trouble finding judges, that’s for sure.

1. The Crust

Deep Dish Falafel Pizza

The crust is one of the biggest differences between New York-style and Chicago-style pizza. Even if you’re one of those people who doesn’t eat the crust, it still matters. The crust is my favorite part of the pizza, so it’s really important to me. New York-style pizza usually has a thin, crispy crust that you can fold when you eat a slice. Even if you get pizza with a thicker, chewy crust, it still comes nowhere near the thickness of Chicago-style pizza which is almost more like a casserole or deep pie. Instead of a flat pizza pan, it’s made in a deep pie or cake pan.

When you make your own crust, you have tons of options. You can make a traditional crust with white flour like this BBQ Eggplant Pizza or a whole-wheat crust like this Wholemeal Pizza Dough. If you’re gluten-free, you have lots of choices. Check out these Gluten-Free, Veggie-Based Pizza Crusts You Need To Try. The crust can be made out of veggies like this Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Black Mung Bean Curry, Lentil Pizza Crust, Carrot Pulp and Flaxseed Pizza Crust, and this Socca Pizza made with chickpea flour. Yeast is also optional; see How to Make a Yeast-Free Pizza Crust for pizza that’s faster, lighter and easier. This Deep Dish Falafel Pizza has a crust made from chickpeas. Just adjust the thickness to make your pie more NY or Chicago style.

2. The Sauce


When it comes to New York-style pizza, you can get endless types of toppings, but the two that are almost required are tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. The pizza gets a thin layer of sauce and cheese, and you can sprinkle garlic, parmesan, red chili flakes, and oregano on it to your heart’s (and breath’s) content. Chicago-style pizza also has sauce and cheese, but the sauce goes on the top of the pie rather than directly on the crust like New York-style pizza.

Whichever pizza you like, forget the jar sauce and make your own. Learn How to Make Thick Vegan Pizza Sauce, How to Make Fresh Marinara Sauce and this Twenty-Minute Homestyle Marinara. Of course, you can get white pizza that has béchamel instead of marinara like this White Pizza with Fennel and Roasted Grapes or any of these Variations on Sauce like Bolognese, Alfredo or this Cheesy Kabocha Squash Pizza Sauce.

3. The Cheese

Margherita Pizza with Fresh Basil Pesto and Mozzarella [Vegan]

New York-style pizza usually has mozzarella cheese on it unless it’s white pizza and then it has ricotta cheese. Because it is deep and can hold a lot, Chicago-style pizza can have a bunch of different cheeses including, but not limited to, mozzarella.

For your pizza, you can buy vegan cheese; see Vegan Cheese is Better Than Ever: Try These 11 Brands or you can make your own like these 20 Amazing Cheeses You Can Make at Home. For mozzarella, try this Moxarella Cheese and the cheese on this Margherita Pizza with Fresh Basil and Mozzarella. For a dairy-free ricotta, try this Sun-Dried Tomato, Basil, and Kalamata Olive ‘Ricotta’ Spread or this simple Tofu Ricotta. Other pizza with various cheeses to try include this Grate-able Almond Cheese, Polenta Pizza with Herbed Cashew Ricotta, Gluten-Free Crust with Nut-Free Cheese, and Holy Three Cheese Pizza.

4. The Toppings

Eggplant Hummus Pizza on a Mixed Grain Crust

Popular pizza toppings include pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, olives, anchovies, and onions. Veggie pizzas are even more creative with all types of yummy vegetable toppings – just look at these 15 Incredible Homemade Pizzas with Veggie Toppings. When it comes to New York-style pizza, whatever toppings you like, they have to be chopped small and you can’t put too many or the pizza won’t be able to hold the weight. Chicago-style pizza is much thicker so it can have layer after layer of toppings. The toppings can be piled on because the deep dish pizza can handle a lot. One topping you won’t see much of in Chicago-style pizza, though, is oil. Deep-dish pizza doesn’t have the oil that you can drip off New York-style pizza.

Toppings can range from the familiar to the super-creative. Try this Spiced Cauliflower, Dried Plum, and Caramelized Onion Flatbread Pizza, The Perfect Vegetable Pesto Pizza, Rainbow Veggie Hummus Pizza with Everything Bagel Crust, Eggplant Hummus Pizza on a Mixed Grain Crust, and this Broccoli Rabe Potato Pizza with Carrot-Miso Sauce and Hazelnuts. It’s fun to take your favorite dishes and turn them into yummy pizzas like this Baked Ziti Pizza, Ratatouille Pizza, Indian Tikka Masala Pizza, and this Buffalo Cauliflower Pizza with Blue Cheese Spread.

5. Eating Them

Baked Ziti Pizza

The best part about any pizza is eating it. New York-style pizza comes in a large, round, flat pie that is cut into triangular slices – unless it’s Sicilian pizza which is a large rectangle cut into square slices. You can order NY-style pizza by the slice or the pie. The slices can be folded (or not), held in your hand and eaten without utensils. New York-style pizza is definitely something you can eat on-the-go.

Deep-dish Chicago-style pizza is a huge pie that is cut into slices similar to how you would serve a casserole or lasagna. You definitely need a fork and knife to eat it, and it’s a full dinner, not a portable snack.

Whether you prefer thin, crispy New York-style pizza or thick, chewy Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, we can all agree that pizza is one of the best foods every invented. For even more help turning your kitchen into a pizzeria, check out my 10 Tips and Tricks for Rockin’ Vegan Pizza. What kind of pizza do you like best? Tell us in the comments.

Lead image source: BBQ Eggplant Pizza