Pizza is one of those foods that everyone can almost always agree that they love; it is a crowd favorite amongst most people.
However, where people start to argue about pizza is the crust. With so many different varieties of crusts out there, everyone has an opinion about which one is best.
The perfect pizza has three main requirements: a delectable sauce, a good ratio of toppings, and a perfect and delicious pizza crust.
So, what kind of crusts are out there? The different types of pizza crust are Neapolitan, New York, St. Louis, traditional thick crust, Sicilian/Detroit, Chicago Deep Dish, cheese-filled, gluten-free, and cauliflower.
Keep reading to learn why a good pizza crust is important, the qualities that make a good pizza crust, as well as the differences between the most popular pizza crusts.
Why Is Pizza Crust Important?
When it comes to pizza there are three parts that create one delicious whole: sauce, crust, and toppings. Each one has an important role to play when it comes to creating one delicious pie.
Looking at pizza crusts, they are an integral part of this trio. We would even go as far as to say they are the most important part of building a great piece of ‘za.
The crust is the foundation for the rest of the ingredients. We can take toppings and sauce and make pasta and other dishes, but pizza is pizza because of the crust.
Without crust, we do not have pizza! Like we said, it quite possibly is the most important part of the whole pizza.
What Qualities Make A Great Pizza Crust?
While crust is necessary for making pizza, not all crusts are created equal.
There are a few ways qualities that make a pizza crust great:
It goes without saying we want our pizza crusts to taste excellent and taste can be affected by both ingredients and cooking methods.
For example, some crusts contain more yeast or sugar and produce a sweeter or more yeasty flavored dough. The types of flour used in the crust can also greatly affect how it will taste.
The cooking method of the pizza can affect its taste as well. Pizza that is cooked in a fire-roasted oven is going to be affected by the smoke and have more of a charred flavor to it.
Whereas pizzas that are cooked in conventional ovens will taste a bit different and less char-like.
Regardless of included ingredients or cooking methods, we want the crust to be delicious and to our own individual preference.
The next quality that makes or breaks a pizza crust is its texture. However, because the thickness of pizza crusts can vary greatly, so can one’s preferred texture.
Some would argue that the texture of the crust is more important than taste. Chewy crusts can be hard to bite through, but so can pizza crust that is too tough.
The desired texture for pizza crust will be dependent on the type of pizza you choose to eat.
For example, for a Chicago Deep Dish pizza you want a soft, chewy, and fluffy texture where for a New York thin slice you want it a bit crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside.
Again, as with taste, your preferred texture will depend on the type of pizza you plan on eating.
The last quality to consider for pizza crust is its integrity. In other words: can the pizza keep itself together?
There is nothing worse than having a pizza fall all over the place or have the toppings go one way while the crust falls all over the place. This is why integrity is so important.
You want a pizza crust that is stable and strong enough to withstand the cooking process and the many toppings that may come on top.
Some think that only thicker crust like Detroit Style pizza can do this; however, good quality pizza crusts that come in thinner varieties like Neapolitan or New York should also be able to hold multiple toppings.
Without integrity, texture and flavor do not matter as the pizza-eating experience becomes tainted by the inability to enjoy eating the pizza.
Pizza Crust Thickness
There are many different varieties of pizza crusts from all different parts of the world. They all have different qualities and requirements that make them a unique pie.
However, they fit into one of three categories: thin crust, thick crust, or specialty crust. Each category has different crusts that are celebrated for different reasons.
Here are the different types of pizza crust:
Thin crust pizzas are exactly like they sound like: pizzas with thinner crusts.
This crust is thin with a slight crunch on the outside yet a bit chewy on the inside.
There are many different varieties of thin crust, with three specific ones widely regarded as the most popular: Neapolitan, New York, and St. Louis pizza crust.
Neapolitan pizza is actually considered the first pizza to exist as it originates in Italy in the 18th or 19th century. Hailing from Naples Italy, this is where Neapolitan gets its name.
Neapolitan crust has a very light and almost airy quality to it and must hit a certain set of requirements to be considered Neapolitan.
It must be kneaded and spun by hand—no modern-day tools can be used in the making.
Its diameter cannot exceed 35 centimeters in diameter (Neapolitan pizzas are often considered personal pizzas).
It must remain extremely thin and cannot exceed ⅓ of a centimeter in its thickness (this makes a Neapolitan slice a bit floppy in the middle).
The last requirement is that no matter what, it must be cooked over a wood fire oven.
The small nature of the Neapolitan pizza makes it cook in just minutes in the oven. This results in a Neapolitan crust being doughy yet crispy with a slight char taste to it.
The most popular toppings are extremely simple for Neapolitan crust: just some marinara, mozzarella, basil, and a little bit of olive oil (aka The Margherita Pizza).
New York Style Thin Crust
New York style thin crust originates from the early 1900s and is a classic staple of New York City and many other parts of the United States Northeast in cities like Philadelphia. It is usually sold by the slice.
New York-style thin crust is a bit floppy like Neapolitan crust. It is crunchy on the outside but chewy once bitten into.
It also has a unique taste due to it predominantly being made with bread flour.
Many native New Yorkers also claim the city’s water is responsible for its specific taste and is the reason the only place to get an “authentic” New York slice is in the city itself.
Because of this specific texture, New York-style pizza is notoriously eaten while folded in half (almost like a taco). Its floppiness almost requires the infamous fold to keep all of the ingredients intact!
Speaking of toppings, the fold requires minimal toppings. A little sauce, cheese, and maybe some pepperoni or sausage is all a NY slice needs.
St. Louis Thin Crust
St Louis-style pizza crust is a classic staple in the Midwest.
St. Louis-style thin crust is quite different from the others on the list. What makes it so different? It does not use any leavening agent (no yeast!)
This results in an almost cracker-like crust and is most definitely the thinnest option of pizza crusts out there.
Some have even compared it to a softer version of a cracker as it is very crunchy and not very floppy like a Neapolitan or New York slice.
This crunchy texture requires a St. Louis crust to be cut not in triangles like your traditional piece of ‘za, but instead in squares or rectangles. Otherwise known as “tavern” style in the Midwest.
One other thing that makes this style of pizza different is its specific blend of cheese that comes on top.
Where most pizzas come with mozzarella cheese, a St. Louis style pizza comes with a mix of white cheddar, provolone, and swiss cheese.
Thin crust is not the only way to go when it comes to finding the right crust for you. There are also many great thick-cut options including traditional thick crust, Chicago Deep Dish, and Sicilian/Detroit Thick crust.
Traditional Thick Crust
Traditional thick crust pizza is what you get from a chain pizza restaurant like Domino’s or Pizza Hut and is also referred to as a Traditional Pan Pizza. They are also found in many pizzerias around the United States.
They are usually about ½ inch thick and are not as crunchy as some other varieties—they are softer and chewier. Traditional thick crust tastes both buttery and yeasty.
Because they are on the thicker side with a softer texture, traditional thick crust tends to be more durable than some of the other varieties.
Traditional thick crust can handle just about any number of toppings without ruining the integrity of the pizza, which makes this a popular thick crust option.
Chicago Deep Dish Crust
Chicago Deep Dish Crust and pizza is unlike any other on this list. Chicago-style pizza sometimes looks more like lasagna than a pizza at all.
Chicago deep-dish pizzas come rounded and are baked in a large and shallow pan. The edges of the crust create almost a bowl or a ledge around all the toppings.
The outside crust of the deep dish pizza gets almost fried in the baking pan leaving a crispy and buttery taste with each bite. Its ingredients, like cornmeal and food coloring, give the crust a signature yellow color.
Compared to other crusts, a deep dish crust needs 45 minutes to 1 hour to cook as it can be up to 2 inches thick.
On top of that, it contains layers and layers of cheese, toppings, and chunky marinara sauce that make the cooking process much longer.
However, because it is so thick, a deep dish crust can handle many ingredients. Just be prepared to eat this kind of crust with a knife and fork.
Sicilian/Detroit Thick Crust
We have paired the Sicilian and Detroit Pizza Crust together because they are quite similar to one another.
In fact, Detroit-style pizza is just a small spin on the Sicilian style (which is the original of the two).
Sicilian crust is thick and comes shaped in a rectangle instead of a circle. Oftentimes it is over 1 inch thick.
It is extremely soft and chewy, thanks to the high water and oil content in its ingredients, and it can take quite a bit of time to bake as well.
It is cooked in a deep and well-oiled pan which leaves a bit of crunch on the outside and a delicious buttery taste. Served in squares or rectangles, a Sicilian-style pizza will not have very many ingredients.
The only difference in a Detroit-style pizza is the order of toppings. Where most pizzas and Sicilian pizzas specifically go sauce, cheese, toppings, Detroit style pizza goes toppings, cheese, sauce for a unique style pie.
However, the crust and cooking method between these two crusts are identical.
While thin crust and thick crust pizzas are the norm, there are other types of crusts that are considered specialty crusts that deserve their own place on the list.
These crusts are unique and take some of the traditional qualities of thin and thick crusts but with a little spin on them.
Three of the most popular types of specialty crusts are cheese-filled, gluten-free, and cauliflower crust.
Cheese-filled crust is a delicacy that is sold in many different pizzerias, but also grocery stores.
If cheese is your thing and you think every pizza could use more of it, then cheese-filled pizza crust is for you.
It is like a traditional thick crust on the outside: buttery, chewy, and soft. But the cheese on the inside of the crust resembles a mozzarella stick.
The texture is similar to a traditional thick crust as well, the cheese just tends to make it a bit softer.
However, take note that the cheese does not go through the entire crust, just the outer 1-2 inches of what is traditionally considered the crust.
One thing that all of the previous crusts have in common is the presence of gluten due to the flour used to create traditional pizza crusts.
However, more recently more and more people are starting to become intolerant or allergic to gluten making pizza-eating impossible for them.
Fortunately, gluten-free pizzas are now more and more popular so those who suffer from gluten intolerance can still enjoy a slice of pie.
Gluten-free crust is a great alternative, but it is a bit different from traditional crust. It is on the thinner side and is a bit tougher than traditional crust. However, it tends to be crispier.
This is because gluten-free flours tend to produce this type of texture, which is how these crusts are made.
Gluten-free crusts are usually denser and less pliable but do well with multiple ingredients.
Another specialty crust that has taken the world by storm is the cauliflower pizza crust.
This crust offers a low-carb and veggie-forward crust for those who want a vegan pizza-eating experience. Cauliflower crust usually is made with riced cauliflower, egg, and cheese, so they are great for those on the Keto diet.
They tend to be a bit soggier than other crusts as cauliflower holds a lot of moisture and is extremely pliable.
They are pliable but relatively thin, so it is best to keep the ingredients to a minimum.
They have become so popular many restaurants and grocery stores now carry a variety of them.
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