Friday, September 20, 2013

Black Iron Skillet Deep Dish Pizza

Earlier in the week, I got a craving for a good deep dish pizza.  The fork and knife kind, not the eat-out-of-your-hand sort.  But I certainly did not feel like sitting in a restaurant while they cooked one for me.  I also remembered that I had some amazing Italian Sausage Marinara in the freezer.  BINGO!  This thing was definitely going to happen!

If you have the time and inclination to make your own pizza dough, it's not hard at all - but it is somewhat time consuming.  So on this busy work-week day, I grabbed some pre-made dough, thawed out my marinara... and this amazing pizza came together in a snap!  I decided to make it in a cast iron skillet for a few reasons.  They make a great crispy crust.  They distribute and retain heat extremely well.  And I betcha more people have a black iron skillet than a pizza stone (much less a deep dish pizza stone cooker).  So let's use what we have and make it awesome!
Okay, here is fair warning.  I didn't measure a thing!  This is more of a concept recipe.  People vary widely in their preference for amounts of sauce, cheese, meats, veggies, etc.  So do what feels right for your family.
  • Premade pizza dough
    • bench flour for rolling out dough
    • 1 Tbsp canola oil for skillet
  • Pepperoni or deli meats of your choice
  • green bell peppers
  • fresh tomatoes - some diced, some sliced
  • dried seasonings of your choice
    • dried basil
    • dried oregano
    • garlic powder
  • Italian sausage marinara
    • 2 -3 cups
  • lots of shredded or chopped mozzarella cheese
    • about 3 cups
  • garlic butter sauce
Click here for a recipe and step-by-step tutorial to making your Italian Sausage Marinara.  
Do you have to make the Italian sausage marinara?  Well I personally think it will taste better, but if you are pressed for time, grab a jar of pizza sauce or marinara, crumble and brown some Italian sausage, and add it to it with some extra spices!  If you use marinara, make sure you cook it down long enough that it gets thick and not runny.
Where can you find premade dough?  Try your local wholesale club or even ask your local pizza place to sell you some!  In a pinch, you can even find it in a can (next to the canned biscuits).

The crust -
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
I picked up some pre-made pizza dough on the way home so that dinner would come together quickly.  This was enough dough to make a standard "large" pizza.  To make your own dough, click the link under the ingredient list. 

We are also going to go for the "stuffed crust" concept, so let's get our cheese "sticks" ready by cutting a block of cheese into little logs.  Then get your dough rolled out.    Roll out the dough on a floured surface, then sprinkle the rested dough with more flour.
Don't forget to flour your rolling pin also, so it won't stick.  Roll out the dough in a nice wide circle.  Can you tell that Lily has done this before ... a few times?!  LOL 
Now prepare your black iron skillet.  I'm going to add a tablespoon or so of canola oil to the bottom.  I want a crunchy crust on the bottom. 
1 Tbsp canola oil
Transfer the dough to the pan.  Let it drape loosely.
Gently press the dough all the way into the pan.

I really thought I had some mozzarella string cheese, but I didn't, so I added the logs of Vermont white cheddar to the edges of the crust.  Fresh mozzarella works great here!
 Then I rolled the edges of the crust around the cheese.  Now we are all ready to put in the filling.
The filling -
For the deep dish pizza concept, we are NOT going to add the sauce first.  I am actually creating a barrier between the dough and the sauce with my other fillings.  So here, Lily covered the whole bottom with pepperoni.  Feel free to use turkey pepperoni, or your choice of deli meats (ham, turkey, salami, etc.).  There were not any spaces left.  Then I added a handful of green bell peppers.
Next I added a chopped up fresh tomato.  Now Lily added a layer of cheese.  Looking at the photo, I think she may be casting a spell on the Pizza Spirits for good luck!!  HaHa!!  But then again, she's always working her magic in in the kitchen!

We started with about 3 cups of mozzarella, chopped into small pieces.  We will use about half of that in this first cheese layer.
Now I will liberally season it all up with some dried basil.
Finally, here comes the sauce.  I made some Italian Sausage Marinara for an eggplant parmigiana recipe, and had some left over in the freezer.  This is the perfect dish to use it for.  Click here to see the recipe for Italian Sausage Marinara.    If you are just heading home from work and need something faster than a "make your own" recipe, just grab a jar of your favorite marinara, brown some Italian sausage, add them together and season the whole thing up really well.  If you do this, let the marinara reduce down a bit so it's not too runny.  But do promise me you'll make your own one day, because this MADE the whole pizza wonderful!! 
Now add the other half of the diced up mozzarella cheese to the top. 
I added thin slices of a large juicy end-of-season tomato, and then topped that with some freshly ground Italian seasoning.
Lastly, I went out and picked some fresh oregano from the garden, stripped some of the leaves, and sprinkled them over the top.
Cook - 
Now let's do some magic!!  To get that crunchy crust, I'm going to do a little trick.  Before I throw the whole thing in the oven, I'm going to cook it on the stove top for a few minutes on high/medium-high so that oil in the bottom can get super hot and start cooking the bottom of the crust.
Then put it into the preheated oven.  Okay - here's a confession.  I thought I had preheated the oven to 450 degrees F, but I didn't.  It was at 350 degrees.  So I cooked it for about 10 minutes on 350 degrees, then kicked the temperature up to 450 degrees for the next 10-12 minutes.  It wasn't my intention, but it happened to work out great!
After I removed it from the oven, I brushed the crust with some melted garlic butter.  Why?  Because I like it that way.  Haha.  When we do get pizza delivery, I LOVE the garlic butter that comes with it, so I incorporated that idea into this recipe as well.

Brushing on the garlic butter gave my pizza several minutes to rest.  After all, I don't want the whole thing to collapse when I cut into it.  Haven't we ALL had that happen with layered dishes - like a too hot lasagna?  Not pretty! 

Now serve up some deliciousness!
So here is the finished, stuffed crust, deep dish pizza.  Isn't it a beauty?!
Let's see how this goes......
Oh - MY!!!!  I probably could have let it sit a bit longer, but I couldn't help myself.

Now tell me.. what do you think?  I can tell you that from this end, it was fabulous!  Rich and satisfying thanks to the home made marinara.  Fresh flavors from the tomatoes, herbs and peppers.  Melted cheese, crunchy crust, and meaty filling!  I bet you wish YOU had a fork and knife to dig in!

So all in all.. a great afternoon project for us.  We had a good time making this, and had a great meal in the end.  I hope you'll try it, as well!!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe!  If so, there are tons more where this came from.  Why don't you pop on over to my Recipe Index for more great recipe ideas that you can cook with YOUR family!

If you are new to my blog, Click here to subscribe to MenuMusings.  And you can also join me on the MenuMusings Facebook page.  

Order the Menu Musings Cookbook!
Now as always, here are some "bonus" recipes for you:
Pull Apart Pizza Bites
Pull Apart Pizza
Foolproof Fall Off the Bone Ribs
Fool Proof Fall Off The Bone
Mongolian Beef

Chicken Cordon Bleu
Blueberry Lemon Bars
Blueberry Lemonade


  1. Looks really awesome. I can not wait to try it.

  2. This dish looks wonderful! How long do you cook it on 450 in the oven? Thank you!

    1. Hi Anonymous - I'm guessing..... 18-20 min? If you sear the bottom first, I think you'll be able to tell when the dough on the edges is done.

  3. I've made this several times and it is FANTASTIC!!! I posted a pic and a link on FB to this page. Lots of friends have thanked me for pointing them to you:)) Love your recipes, thanks!

  4. My friend, Missy, told me this is a MUST try recipe! It looks amazing!

  5. I seriously need to have this on the table tonight. Really.

  6. How big/deep is your cast iron skillet?

    1. Hi there,

      I have so many! But the one I used in particular post happened to be a Number 8 skillet. It measures about 9" across the bottom, 10 1/2" across the top, and 2" deep.
      I hope this helps. :)


  7. Hi,
    Made the pizza tonight. Awesome isn't a big enough word. We will be making it again this weekend when our son and his family visit. :)

  8. Sauce is way to thin for pizza. Italian sausage marinara cooked for eight hours (simmered) never thickened.
    THIS RECIPE IS OK FOR 1 time will not repeat

    1. Hmmm.. I'm sorry your sauce didn't thicken. My sauce (with the inclusion of the meat) was thick. But perhaps a jarred sauce specifically designed for pizzas would work well for you. There are several nice ones available on the market.

  9. I'm going to whip this up for dinner tomorrow night! I'm using my own toppings: Canadian bacon, mushrooms, jalapenos and ground beef. I can't wait to see how it turns out!

  10. Great idea and recipe. I made this for the first time. I used pre-made dough and already made sauce. I also didn’t get as fancy with ingredients because my family doesn’t like all that goodness ��. So, to get them to buy in, I kept it simple with mozzarella, Parmesan and mozzarella cheese for the cheese layers. just pepperoni. and provolone cheese for the stuffed crust. I used salt, oregano, and garlic to season. I stuffed my crust last as the sides would fall with the pie empty. Also, my dough on the very bottom was too thin. Next time I will double the bottoms layer thickness for dough and see how that works. There was not a time limit for the crust on the burner but I put it on for 3 ½ min and it was dark when it was done!!! I will reduce heat or time next time. Other than that, it was amazing.

  11. What oven shelf do you use to bake the pizza?

    1. Hmm. Well to be honest, it's been a while. Probably the middle one.

  12. Hi there! Great recipe! Just an FYI that the link to the printable recipe is broken.

    1. Hi. Thanks Zach! I'm not sure what to say. I just tried on my laptop and it worked, but I definitely believe you that it possibly didn't work on your end. Last year I went with a new "printable formatting" service and some of the recipes are so wonky that I'm not sure I'll ever get them working right again. So... other than offering my apologies, I'm not sure what else I have for ya. The blog is just a hobby for me, as I'm a full time professor. I don't do it as a job like some of these people. I know it would be awfully cumbersome, but you could try copying and pasting into a word doc if you needed to print. Again, I'm so sorry.

  13. OMG, looks so yummy
    I am forwarding the recipe to my wife and we are going to try this asap.
    Thanks for sharing :)

    This probably interest you as well Best Pizza Maker For Home Use

  14. made this 2 times,making it again! love it!

  15. Taught my g-daughter this recipe to teach her how to read a recipe and cook it. Came out delicious.
    Visit my post: Best Chef Knives 2020


Follow me on Pinterest

Follow Me on Pinterest