Pan Pizza vs. Deep Dish: Differences in Crust, Flavor, and Texture

Pan Pizza vs Deep Dish Pizza

Pan Pizza vs. Deep Dish: Differences in Crust, Flavor, and Texture

Pizza is a convenient and delicious option that many households eat at least once a week. It can be handy for a quick meal when you don't feel like cooking. Pizza is a wonderful comfort dish alongside pizza movie night, helping create memories worldwide. Pizza joints scatter throughout towns, sometimes even three or four! When you call a pizza place to order, you will have to answer if you want pan, hand-tossed, and even sometimes deep dish crust. If you are like I used to be, you may even panic a little because you have no idea what the difference is! So, put on the spot, you fumble and answer, only to feel disappointed when the crust isn't what you want. So, when it comes to all the crusts, what is the difference? This article will discuss the difference between pan pizza and deep dish.

Although they are very similar to and often confused with one another, there are some main differences! The differences include the cooking method, layering of the toppings, and the actual anatomy of the crust. Let's take a look below! 

Pan Pizza vs. Deep Dish: What is the Difference?

First, let's discuss the main difference between pan pizza and deep dish. 

A pan pizza and a deep dish are both thick crusts. Yet, they are thick in different ways. A pan pizza emphasizes the crust over the toppings. The crust also is equally thick throughout the entire pizza.

A deep dish, however, has a thick and tall outer crust. However, the inside of the pizza is thinner. It looks similar to a pie. 

Since a deep dish pizza has a taller outer crust, but a thinner inner crust, the ability to add more toppings is possible. Therefore, toppings take center stage when ordering a deep dish pizza. In comparison, the crust is the life of the party with a pan pizza.

Deep dish pizzas are cooked in a steel round dish. On the other hand, a pan pizza is baked in a cast iron skillet or a deep pan. 

The emphasis on crust or toppings means these pizzas will have a slightly different flavor and texture. Let's take a look below at the flavor differences.

Four Cheese Pizza Margherita with Red Pepper Chili Flakes in Takeaway Box Takeout Carryout
Pizza is a popular comfort food. It's not uncommon for families to eat pizza at least once a week. Pizza movie night is a great way to make fun memories as a family!

©N K/Shutterstock.com

The Flavor of Pan Pizza

Pan pizza has a thicker crust evenly distributed all the way through. The crust texture is crunchy on the edges and soft on the inside. 

Also, the emphasis on the thick dough means that the flavor will be weighty and fluffy. Although the toppings, cheese, and sauce will add different flavors and textures, the crust takes center stage with a pan pizza. 

The Flavor of Deep Dish

In comparison, with a deep-dish pizza, the life of the party will always be the toppings. The tall outer crust and thinner inner crust leave plenty of room to pile those toppings high!

Also, the cheese comes first; then, the toppings continue next. Lastly, more sauce is typically on a deep-dish pizza. Therefore, this type of pizza has a tangy, robust, and more assertive flavor than a typical pizza. The sauce is usually on top of the toppings, giving it a unique texture and flavor.

Nutritional Profile

Take a look at the nutritional profile between the two types of crust below.

Pan Pizza vs Deep Dish Pizza Nutritional Facts

What is Pan Pizza?

There isn't a secret in regards to pan pizza. It is what it sounds like. Pan pizza is pizza that bakes inside of a deep dish or sheet pan. Typically, the favorite method of baking pan pizza is with a cast iron skillet. However, one isn't always available. If that is the case, then a typical deep dish works. 

The pan pizza got its famous start at none other than Pizza Hut! This pizza chain made pan pizza popular in Kansas during the 20th century. 

Many characteristics make pan pizza unique. First, it has a thick crust. However, one of the main differences is that pan pizza is thick all over. Also, the pan pizza is a great option if you enjoy bread and crust. 

The consistent thick crust all around means that the outer crust is crunchy, yet the crust on the inside is chewy. 

The dough in a pan pizza is stiffer. This allows it to rise to a puffy consistency. Ultimately, the stiffer dough and baking in a deep dish means the pizza needs a higher temperature while baking. 

American pizza with pepperoni, mozzarella and tomato sauce. Pizza on a wooden table, morning, dawn.
Pan pizza is consistently thick all the way through the crust. It has a similar amount of toppings to that of a hand-tossed and thin-crust pizza.


What is Deep Dish?

Deep dish pizza's history is unclear when it comes to its start. No one really knows where the deep dish crust began. However, the main consensus believes it began in Chicago in the 1940s. 

A deep dish pizza also has a thick crust, much like a pan pizza. This is one reason there is confusion between the two. However, the thickness is not evenly distributed through a deep dish pizza like a pan pizza. 

The crust is tall and thick. Yet, the inner crust remains thinner. When thinking of a deep dish pizza, imagine a pie. Also, the crust sits higher than the toppings. 

Another unique characteristic of the deep dish is the order of the ingredients. Typically, the order will go like this:

  • Crust
  • Sauce
  • Toppings
  • Cheese

However, with a deep dish, the toppings are added in reverse order: 

  • Crust
  • Cheese
  • Toppings 
  • Sauce

The cheese on the bottom means the flavor profile of a deep dish pizza is a bit different. A deep dish pizza also has plenty of tomato sauce, leading to a more robust flavor as well. 

A deep dish pizza is baked in a round steel oiled pan. The dough is pressed up on the sides when preparing a deep dish pizza. This allows the edges to fry and become a bit crunchy. 

Chicago Style Deep Dish Cheese Pizza with Tomato Sauce
Deep-dish pizza is unique in a few ways. The ingredients are put on backward, starting with cheese and then working up to sauce. Next, deep-dish pizza looks similar to a pie with a tall crust. This allows more toppings to be added.

©Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock.com

Can You Substitute Pan Pizza for Deep Dish?

Whether or not you prefer pan pizza or deep dish will be dependent on what you like. These two pizzas have distinct textures and flavor profiles. Their emphasis is also on different characteristics. A pan pizza is an excellent option if you like carbohydrates and a thick crust. 

However, if you enjoy various flavors of cheese and toppings, go for a deep-dish pizza! 

Regarding the question of whether or not you can substitute pan pizza for deep dish, the answer is no. They are entirely different and will not taste similar. However, they are both fantastic options! 

One Last Note

Infographic comparing pan pizza and deep dish pizza.
Which pizza style is your preference?
  • Pan pizza has a crust that's equally thick throughout the pizza. Deep dish pizza has a taller, thicker outer crust and a thinner inner crust, giving it its signature look.
  • With a pan pizza, the crust is prioritized over the toppings. The nature of a deep dish pizza's crust means that toppings can be prioritized over crust.
  • Pan pizza is baked in a cast iron skillet or deep pan. Meanwhile, deep dish pizza is cooked in a steel, round dish.

Pizza is a staple eaten throughout many households. There are various styles and flavor options available! No matter what you like, finding the right pizza flavor is possible whether you love the traditional pepperoni or cheese or experiment with toppings like pineapple and ham! It's typical for pan pizza and deep dish to be confused with one another. However, there are fundamental differences between the two.

The differences lie in the crust, baking methods, and flavor emphasis. So, which one do you prefer, a thicker crust or more robust toppings? 

Try this awesome beef pan pizza recipe:

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Two fresh pan pizzas on iron skillets , wooden background , top view

Homestyle Beef Pan Pizza

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)


  • Author: Moms Who Think



133/4 ounces refrigerated pizza dough
1/4 pound 95% lean ground beef
3 Tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 cup pizza sauce
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 Tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly spray a 12-inch pizza pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Unroll pizza dough; press onto prepared pan, with edges slightly rolled. Prick dough all over with fork.

3. Bake 7 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

4. While crust is baking, brown ground beef with onion in large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring to break up meat. Drain fat.

5. Combine pizza sauce, Italian seasoning, garlic and red pepper in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil.

6. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, about 8 minutes or until desired consistency. Remove pizza crust from oven.

7. Spread tomato mixture evenly over pizza crust. Sprinkle with ground beef mixture and mushrooms. Sprinkle with cheeses.

8. Return pizza to oven and bake 5 to 8 minutes more, or until heated through.

Pizza Posts

To top