15 Most Popular Pizza Styles in the US
Pizza holds a special place in the hearts (and stomachs) of most Americans. While it originally hails from Italy, it made its way to America with Italian immigrants and has since become a staple cuisine and part of American culture.
From sea to shining sea, you’ll find a diverse range of cooking methods, toppings, and pizza styles that reflect different regional preferences.
Whether it’s a thin, portable New York slice or an indulgent piece of stuffed pizza, each slice tells a story.
Today, I’ll take you through the most popular types of pizza found in America.
Let’s dig in!
1. New York-Style Pizza
As you’ve probably gathered from its name, New York-style pizza originated in New York City when Lombardi’s, the first pizzeria in the US, opened its doors in the Little Italy neighborhood of Manhattan in 1905.
New York-style pizza is made with high-gluten bread flour, resulting in the iconic chewy interior the slices are known for.
True New York-style pizza is hand-tossed and then stretched or rolled into a large, thin circle.
It’s then cooked in a coal fire or gas oven at extremely high temperatures for a crispy outer crust.
New York-style pizza is typically topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella, then served as-is or with classic toppings like pepperoni, sausage, or bell peppers.
The cheese and sauce cover most of the pizza, leaving about an inch of plain dough to use as a handle for your slice.
Each slice is larger than your average piece of pie and is often folded for easy consumption while on the go.
After all, we’re talking about the City that Never Sleeps, so the convenience of a slice is of the utmost importance.
Some folks claim that true New York-style pizza has to be made in New York because NY’s tap water contains minerals that give pizza crust its texture and flavor.
Even so, New York-style remains one of, if not the most, popular types of pizza throughout the US.
When it comes to pizza, New York-style is the first that comes to my mind, and I have a sneaking suspicion that many would concur.
2. Chicago Deep Dish Pizza
When Neapolitan immigrants traveled to the United States in pursuit of a brighter future, did they have any idea of the mouthwatering impact they’d have on our country’s culinary scene?
I don’t have the answer to that question, but I know these Italian immigrants are to thank for the masterpiece, the Chicago Deep Dish Pizza.
To create this exceptionally indulgent pie, the dough is first spread into a deep pan that’s been generously coated with oil.
The crust is then topped with layers of cheese (usually mozzarella) and other classic pizza toppings such as onions, sausage, and peppers.
In my opinion, the crust is the true star of a deep-dish pizza.
Most deep-dish pizzas are made with cornmeal, which keeps the crust crispy despite the heaps of toppings on its shoulders.
The crust is thick, buttery, and perfectly soft and chewy on the inside.
As the dough cooks, the crust rises to the sides of the pizza and holds all that goodness in without any spillage.
If you appreciate a bright, high-quality tomato sauce, you’ll love a deep-dish pizza.
It definitely takes center stage since it’s typically spread on top of your pizza rather than being buried beneath cheese and other toppings.
This results in a much more pronounced tomato-forward pie.
3. Margherita Pizza
Margherita Pizza is a simple, classic pizza that originated in Naples, Italy.
It’s known for being made with fresh ingredients, so if you want to strip pizza down to its most basic, this is a great place to start.
A truly traditional Margherita pizza starts with a thin crust stretched by hand into a classic round shape.
Once baked, the crust becomes crispy and slightly charred.
Next, it’s topped with a thin layer of tomato sauce, usually made from fresh tomatoes and seasoned mildly with salt and pepper.
It’s then topped with fresh mozzarella slices – no grated cheese here.
The base of a Margherita pizza is a thin layer of tomato sauce made from fresh, ripe tomatoes.
The sauce is often seasoned with salt, pepper, and sometimes a drizzle of olive oil.
After being cooked, basil leaves are usually added to the top of the pizza for some fresh, fragrant flavor to finish it off.
4. Neapolitan-Style Pizza
Neapolitan-style pizza, also called pizza Napoletana, is a classic pizza type with its roots tracing back to Naples, Italy.
Neapolitan pizza may seem almost identical to Margherita-style pizza at first glance.
After all, both have a very thin crust and feature simple, fresh toppings like mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes.
The main difference between the two pies is that Neapolitan pizza must meet specific guidelines to be considered truly Neapolitan.
Each pie’s dough must be stretched by hand – no rollers or sheeters allowed!
The Neapolitan pizza must also have a thick, raised edge (known as a “cornicione”), and the olive oil on top must be poured in a spiral.
If you think this set of standards is as fascinating as I do, you can read more about the full requirements on Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana’s official website.
The Neapolitan crust is also lighter and more airy than Margherita pizza.
It’s baked at a high temperature for a fairly short amount of time, which lends a charred smokey flavor to the pizza.
The crust of a Neapolitan-style pizza is made from a soft dough that typically contains just flour, water, salt, and yeast.
It is often hand-kneaded and left to rise slowly, resulting in a crust that is light, airy, and slightly charred.
The dough is stretched by hand into a round shape, leaving a slightly thicker edge known as the “cornicione.”
In Italy, Neapolitan-style pizza is meant to be eaten with a knife and fork, but it’s sliced up in most other parts of the world.
5. St. Louis-Style Pizza
You won’t be surprised to learn that St. Louis-style pizza originated in St. Louis, Missouri.
It’s known for its thin, cracker-like crust and use of Provel cheese.
St. Louis-style pizza gets its thin, crispy crust from the absence of yeast in its dough.
It’s believed to have originated in the mid-1900s by Italian immigrants who settled in St. Louis.
This pizza style is usually cut into small square slices rather than triangles and is topped with tomato sauce and Provel cheese.
Provel is a processed cheese made from a mixture of white cheddar, provolone, and Swiss.
It also includes liquid smoke, lending a smokey, salty flavor, whatever it’s paired with.
According to Bon Appetit, Provel’s low melting point means that the cheese has a velvety, ultra-smooth consistency once cooked on top of a pizza pie.
St. Louis-style pizza is often topped with the usual suspects – sausage, mushrooms, peppers – all the classic accouterments.
6. Detroit-Style Pizza
Simply put, Detroit-style pizza is a crust lover’s dream!
The pie itself is baked in a square pan brushed with butter or oil, making for a crispy crust with plenty of corner pieces.
You may wonder what makes Detroit-style pie stand out from the competition.
First, it’s constructed upside down, meaning the toppings like pepperoni and onions are put directly on top of the bottom layer of the crust.
That’s followed by a very generous helping of cheese and finally some tomato sauce.
Why the unique ordering of toppings, you ask?
Well, the tomato sauce tends to make the bottom of the pie soggy, so the problem is solved entirely by simply putting it on top!
Another unique factor of this pizza style is the cheese used.
You’ll find Wisconsin brick cheese on true Detroit-style pizza, which has a buttery, mild flavor.
The flavors of this cheese really shine once cooked.
The cheese also spreads out and caramelizes over the sides of the pan, giving the crust an extra crispy edge.
Detroit-style pizza, of course, originated in Detroit, Michigan, in the 1940s.
It’s often compared to Sicilian-style pizza since both styles are cut into squares and typically feature tomato sauce on the top of the pie rather than the bottom.
7. Stuffed Pizza
What’s more American than stuffing food with more food?
Stuffed pizza might be a blasphemous idea to true Italians, but it’s one of the most popular types of pizza in the United States.
Like many other iconic slices, stuffed pizza hails from Chicago, Illinois.
While its exact origins aren’t known, it was likely invented in the latter half of the twentieth century.
Stuffed pizza starts with a thick, buttery crust, which is piled high with cheese and classic toppings like pepperoni, peppers, and onions.
I’ve had my fair share of stuffed pizza, and one of the best slices I’ve had was stuffed with marinara and al dente spaghetti!
However, the sky’s the limit when it comes to what you can stuff between two layers of dough.
The layer of toppings is finished off with a layer of tomato sauce.
The pièce de résistance, of course, is the thin layer of dough on top that turns this into a stuffed pizza.
This thin layer is often topped with even more sauce and cheese.
The jury’s still out on if it’s more socially acceptable to eat your mega-stuffed slice with a fork and knife or if it’s better to go in with your hands. (Your heart will know what to do!)
8. Sicilian-Style Pizza
Sicilian-style pizza, also called Sicilian square pizza, is lauded for its fluffy, voluminous dough.
When this type of pizza was first introduced to the United States by Italian immigrants, it was called “sfincione,” which is a focaccia-like bread topped with tomato sauce and anchovies.
Since then, mozzarella has been added to the mix (and anchovies have been nixed, for the most part).
Like a few other popular pizza types, Sicilian-style is baked in a pan, and each slice is cut in a rectangle.
The crust itself is crispy on the bottom and fluffy in the middle, thanks to the dough’s wetness and increased rise time.
Like its predecessor, sfincione, the crust is much more bread-like than what you’d normally expect from a pizza.
Similar to Detroit-style, Sicilian-style pizza is often topped with meat, veggies, and cheeses before being finished with a layer of tomato sauce.
This keeps the bread light and airy and ensures the crust won’t be bogged down.
9. California-Style Pizza
California-style pizza first popped onto the pizza scene in the 1980s and has since cemented its spot as one of the most popular types of pizza in the US.
It’s best known for its unconventional toppings like chicken, smoked salmon, and sliced avocado.
The crust on a California-style pizza tends to be thin and crispy but sturdy enough to hold up those unique (and sometimes heavy) toppings.
California-style pizza hasn’t had as much time to gain popularity as many other pizza types I’m telling you about, but it’s well-loved among foodies and adventurous eaters.
10. Tomato Pie
In its most basic form, tomato pie consists of a hardy, thick crust and a generous layer of tomato sauce.
It’s sometimes served with a sprinkling of romano cheese but oftentimes is cheeseless.
But what this pie lacks in cheese, it makes up for in crust and sauce.
The tomato sauce typically contains basil oregano, garlic, and other classic Italian flavors.
The crust is thick, sturdy, and focaccia-like.
Tomato pie is often served at room temperature, which might sound odd at first since most Americans eat their pizza hot and fresh or swear by day-old cold pizza.
According to Eater, it’s served at room temperature because traditionally, tomato pie was a grab-and-go meal that workers would pick up in the morning and eat later in the day when it was room temperature, and the tradition just stuck.
Tomato pie was introduced to the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the early 1900s by Italian immigrants.
As a result, it holds a special place in the hearts of many Philadelphians.
Having lived in Philadelphia for a few years, I can personally attest that the city, in fact, offers the best tomato pie I’ve ever tasted!
11. Grandma-Style Pizza
You can thank Long Island, New York, for the nostalgic, savory treat that is Grandma-style pizza.
This pizza style’s crust is thin and crispy, yet dense at the same time.
It’s rectangular, and the slices are shaped like squares.
Grandma-style pizza gets its name from Long Island Italian-American grandmas, who most likely didn’t happen to have a pizza oven in their house.
So instead, the women would put the dough and toppings into an oiled pan and bake it in the oven.
Since they didn’t give the dough time to prove, the resulting crust was much thinner than people were used to at the time.
Grandma-style pizza usually features classic, simple flavors like tomato, mozzarella, and a sprinkle of oregano.
12. New Haven-Style (Apizza)
Not only does New Haven, Connecticut, has its own style of pizza, but it also has a special name for it. It’s called apizza – pronounced “abeets”.
Now that we’ve got the local lingo down, let me tell you about what makes apizza so special.
It starts with a dough that’s been hand-stretched and cooked in a coal-fired oven.
This results in a thin, crispy (yet fairly chewy) crust with a slightly smokey, charred flavor from the oven.
Something interesting about New Haven-style pizza: New Haveners consider mozzarella a topping, not an automatic addition to your pizza.
So if you want some, you have to specifically order it!
Besides the classic combination of sweet tomato sauce and creamy mozzarella, the most popular type of apizza is a white clam pie.
13. Greek-Style Pizza
Believe it or not, Greek pizza originated in New England. It was created in the late 1960s when Greek immigrants moved to Boston.
This pizza style is known for its unique dough and Mediterranean toppings.
The Greek-style dough is placed in a pan greased with olive oil, and the top of the dough is then brushed with more olive oil.
This results in a heavy dose of olive oil flavor in each bite and a crust crisped on the edges and chewy in the middle.
Greek pizzas are typically thin crust, round, and cut into triangles.
Common toppings for Greek-style pizza include feta cheese, oregano, Kalamata olives, and artichokes.
I love Greek-style pizza for its tang and its use of fresh ingredients.
As far as pizzas go, Greek-style might be the most refreshing option of them all.
14. Quad Cities-Style Pizza
Quad Cities-style pizza originated in the Quad Cities region of the United States, a region of cities in Iowa and Illinois.
Both states must be worth a visit if they have a pizza style named after them, right?
Quad Cities-style pizza is known for its distinctly thin and chewy crust.
This unique texture comes from adding malted barley flour to the dough.
The dough is pressed into a pan to bake, and each slice is cut into a strip rather than your typical triangle.
The tomato sauce contains red pepper flakes and tends to be a bit spicier than your average red sauce.
The cheese blend found on Quad City pizza is a mix of provolone, mozzarella, and “fior di latte,” which is a local cheese that’s like a tangier version of mozzarella.
Toppings usually stay classic and simple, with combinations like sausage, peppers, and onions.
Oftentimes, they’re placed under the layer of cheese rather than on top of it.
15. Tavern-Style Pizza (Chicago-Style Thin Crust)
Tavern-style pizza, also known as Chicago-style thin crust pizza, is yet another type of pizza we have to thank Chicago for.
It originated in the Chicago metropolitan area.
As the name suggests, this pizza is known for its super thin, almost cracker-like crust.
Toppings are usually spread all the way around the pizza, leaving no room for naked crust.
This pizza got the nickname “tavern-style” because it’s typically cut into small squares, which are easily served at a party, bar, or tavern.
Common toppings include sausage, pepperoni, and black olives.
Slices are frequently served with crushed red pepper flakes to up the spice factor and get the party going!
No matter which way you slice it, America and pizza are forever intertwined.
There are many popular types of pizza throughout the US, each reflecting regional preferences.
From the quirky toppings on a California-style pizza to Philly’s iconic tomato pie to New Haven’s apizza, there’s a pie for every palate.
What kind of pizza is your favorite?