Difference Between Chicago Pizza vs. New York Style Pizza

Chicago-style pizza and New York-style pizzas, two offsprings of American Italian cuisine, are poles apart, from ingredients to the dining experience.

Chicago style and New York pizza primarily differ in the crust: Chicago’s is deep-dish, like a casserole; on the other hand, New York style pizza is thin and crispy, foldable for on-the-go. This difference leads to unique dining experiences: Chicago’s a hearty, fork-and-knife meal, yet New York’s a casual, street-food grab-and-go slice.  

Want to know more about the differences between Chicago and New York Pizza?

Keep reading this article.

What is Chicago-Style Pizza?

Inspired by Sicilian focaccia, created in 1940, Chicago pizza is known for its deep dish bowl-like crust, baked in a special pan. The crust is thick, flaky, and sometimes buttery, made with or without a cornmeal crust. 

The crust’s bowl-like shape can hold a lot of toppings on its canvas of tomato sauce, like:

  • Classic Italian meats
  • Vegetables
  • Mushrooms
  • Seafood
  • Specialty meats.

In the end, Chicago pizza is topped with a generous amount of cheese.

This hearty feast is often eaten with a fork and knife, but it can also be enjoyed by hand.

What is New York-Style Pizza?

New York-style pizza, often hand-tossed, with a thin crust and foldable pizza with brown marks of perfection in the base and top, was the first creation of Neapolitan-American pizza introduced by Italian immigrants in the early 20th century. 

The pizza’s crispiness, thinness, and charred crust bring it closer to classic Italian pizzas. 

But the pizza also departs from Italian ancestors with less fluffiness, larger diameter, different cheeses, and more toppings compared to classic Italian pizzas.

This thinly spread New York pizza crust is topped with vibrant yet simple tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella, and toppings like pepperoni and sausage.

New York style also welcomes a diversity of earthy mushrooms and fiery peppers tailored to your desires.

Additionally, New York-style pizza is also sometimes cooked a bit longer to get you a nice golden color of cheese and toppings, known as well-done pizza, considering the eater’s preference.

Defining Characteristics of Chicago and New York Style Pizza

New York and Chicago, two vibrant American cities, boast distinctive culinary styles, and so are their defining characteristics – dough, stretching techniques, toppings, and cooking methods. Here are the details of the differences between both.

Doughy Divergence

The foundation of any pizza lies in its dough.

New York-style dough demands high hydration, making it soft and supple yet sturdy enough for hand-tossing. It’s stretched into a thin disc, barely thicker than a playing card, resulting in a crisp edge and airy center.

On the other hand, Chicago pizza is all about a thicker, heavier dough made from all-purpose flour and cornmeal, left to rise for hours.

Stretching Styles

To achieve their signature shapes, the pizza doughs undergo contrasting journeys.

New York pizzerias are masters of the air toss, flinging the dough with practiced twirls and graceful flourishes, coaxing it into a paper-thin perfection.

Due to its thickness, Chicago’s dough is more gently rolled out, requiring less acrobatic prowess and more patience. 

Both techniques, however, showcase the artisan skill passed down through generations.

Topping Tales

When it comes to toppings, New York and Chicago diverge even further.

The New York slice celebrates minimalism. A vibrant tomato sauce and the gooey mozzarella often bind pepperoni and sausage, but mushrooms, onions, and peppers find their place too. The diversity of toppings offers a touch of complexity without overwhelming the inherent simplicity.

Conversely, Chicago invites a lavish use of meats, vegetables, and even cheeses mingle with chunky tomato sauce, often hidden beneath a blanket of molten mozzarella. It’s a flavor frenzy, a culinary kaleidoscope for the adventurous gourmand.


The final curtain falls in the fiery embrace of the oven. 

New York-style pizzas bake quickly at high temperatures, resulting in a crisp crust, brown marks underneath, and bubbly brown char on the edges and toppings. Ultimately, the crust remains light and airy, ready to be folded for on-the-go indulgence.

Chicago’s deep-dish pizza takes its time, basking in a lower heat for longer. The prolonged baking time ensures the thick crust retains its structural integrity while holding enormous toppings.


New York boasts contrasting textures. The thin, hand-tossed crust with its airy foundation embraces the gooeyness of melted mozzarella. This creates a luscious texture, perfect for hand-held enjoyment. 

Chicago, on the other hand, offers a complex indulgence. The thick crust holds its own under a mountain of moist but delicious toppings. It offers a chewy bite that gives way to creamy cheeses and chunky vegetables–a fork-and-knife affair, an unashamedly decadent experience.


New York’s flavor profile is a minimalist masterpiece. 

The vibrant tomato sauce complements the subtle saltiness of mozzarella and the savory punch of classic toppings like pepperoni and sausage. It’s a balanced act, each element adding depth without losing sight of the inherent simplicity. 

Chicago, meanwhile, throws a flavor fiesta, a bit comparable to rich, cheesy lasagna. The chunky tomato sauce mingles with a kaleidoscope of toppings, creating a rich tapestry of sweet, salty, spicy, and savory notes. It’s a bold exploration, a culinary adventure for the adventurous palate.


New York satisfies in bites. The thin crust and moderate portion size make it perfect for a quick, on-the-go craving. It’s a street food, portable and satisfying without leaving you heavy. 

Chicago, however, is a marathon of flavor. The substantial crust and abundance of toppings offer a feast for the senses and stomach. It’s a meal to be savored, a shared experience that leaves you happily satiated.


The social fabric woven around these pizzas is just as distinct. 

New York’s slice lends itself to lively street corner conversations, a quick bite shared with friends amidst the city’s bustling energy. It’s a democratic experience enjoyed by everyone from office workers to tourists. 

Chicago’s deep dish, however, transforms dining into an occasion. Gathered around a shared pan, forks and laughter intermingle, creating a sense of connection and camaraderie. It’s a celebration, a testament to the city’s deep-rooted love for this culinary icon.

Bottom Line

The choice between New York and Chicago styles comes down to personal preference. Are you a fan of quick bites and minimalist flavors? 

Or do you crave an all-in, fork-and-knife, flavor-explosion marathon? 

Each style offers a unique experience, a testament to the diverse, dynamic, and delicious world of pizza.

So, grab a slice, savor the experience, and enjoy the journey, no matter which city your taste buds call home.


Is Chicago Pizza Actually a Deep-Dish Casserole?

Calling Chicago deep-dish a casserole is a heated debate. It’s true, it’s thick with sauce and cheese, like a casserole. 

But it’s baked in a dough pan with a crispy crust. Most folks say that makes it pizza, just with extra layers! 

So, casserole or pizza? 

Decide for yourself after a delicious bite.

Chicago Pizza vs. New York: Which Has More Calories?

Chicago deep-dish pizza packs more calories than its New York counterpart! A slice of Chicago pizza can pile on over 400 calories thanks to its thick, buttery crust and gooey cheese filling. With its thin crust and moderate cheese, New York-style pizza keeps things around 250 calories per slice.

Can you Find Veggie-Friendly Options in Chicago Pizza?

Chicago’s famous deep dish is usually piled high with meat, but there are plenty of veggie-friendly options, too! Many pizzerias offer meatless toppings like roasted veggies, peppers, and even vegan sausage. You can even go all-veggie on the iconic deep dish, with layers of marinara, gooey cheese, and fresh veggies.

Can you Find Veggie-Friendly Options in New York Pizza?

Absolutely! New York-style pizza is getting a veggie makeover. Many pizzerias now offer pizzas topped with fresh veggies like peppers, onions, mushrooms, and spinach. You can even find creative options like pies with roasted eggplant or artichoke hearts. If you’re vegan, there are also pizzerias with plant-based cheese and meats.

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Cashmere Muhammad
Cashmere Muhammad

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