Chicago-Style Deep Dish Uno's Pizza

By David J. Stewart | January 2008 | Updated February 2015

       Born and raised in Chicago, I spent 37 years of my life there. Bar none, the best pizza in Chicago (in my humble opinion) is Pizzeria Uno's (or Duo's, which is their other restaurant a block away). Some of my fondest childhood memories is going to Duo's pizzeria with my family.

There are now dozens of Uno's locations on the east coast and across the United States. I also found one on the west coast when I visited San Diego, California at the Fashion Valley Mall. The pizza there is authentic!

I even met a Korean man who showed me his Uno's pizzeria card from the Uno's restaurant in South Korea. The pizza is that good!

Here's my best attempt at recreating their delicious secret recipe. When younger at home my kids used to ask for this pizza often, which is what matters most to me.

Dough Recipe

  • 2 packages rapid rise dry yeast (store extra yeast in freezer)
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (corn oil)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (Extra Virgin Bertolli brand is the ONLY oil I use)
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal (grain bugs like cornmeal, so I store it in a gallon-sized plastic bag)
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour (plus an additional cup for working with the dough)

Microwave the water to warm it up (very warm, but not so hot that you can't keep your finger in it). Dissolve the yeast into the water. Pour into large mixing bowl, adding the vegetable oil, olive oil, cornmeal and the flour gradually. I don't like metal mixing bowls because they conduct heat away quicker. Plastic mixing bowls are best I think. Mix by hand as you add the remaining flour. Knead for a couple minutes. If the dough still sticks to your fingers, you need to add some more flour. The dough is ready when it stops sticking to your hands. Leave dough in covered bowl (I put a couple wet paper towels over the bowl) and allow to rise until doubled. Punch down and allow to rise again. Punch down a second time and you are ready to make pizza!

Coat your deep-dish pizza pans with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (any brand is fine, just so long as it has that fruity olive oil smell). The dough recipe that I have given you makes enough dough for either two large pizzas or four small pizzas. Place a handful of dough in the pan and push it out to the edges using your fingers. Work the dough up the sides of the deep-dish pan. Put in enough dough so that you can kneed the dough crust up the side of the pan. Make the dough about 1/8" to 3/16" thick throughout the pan. This is important because the dough rises considerably while baking. Unless you want inch-thick crust, you need to work the ball of pizza dough really flat and make sure that it's only about 1/8 to 3/16 inch thick (which is very thin). The dough should be about as think as two quarters placed flat together.

SECRET — FREEZE THE DOUGH: I've been trying for years to learn the “secret” to Uno's pizza. There's always secrets to making any great recipe. Ok, here's the secret... freeze your dough before using it!!! I learned this by coincidence. There's just something about freezing and then thawing the dough that makes it more tasty and easier to work with... the flavor is much better in my opinion! I'll never make another Uno's pizza without FROZEN dough!

NOTE: I always make my dough ahead of time. After the batch of dough is done (it takes about 3 hours for each batch of dough), I divide the dough into four balls and freeze them separately in quart-sized freezer Ziploc plastic bags. The dough can be stored in your freezer for months (I do... it doesn't affect the taste. Just make sure that you use the FREEZER Ziploc bags, which are thicker to prevent freezer-burn). I usually make 2 batches of dough in a day, which gives me eight balls of pizza dough. So anytime I want an Uno's pizza, I just grab a ball of frozen dough and let it thaw for one hour and I can make a pizza in about 45-50 minutes total.

Pizza Toppings

I make the pizza sauce topping for all pizzas at once in a big bowl.

  • I use one 14.5 ounce can of TOMATOES per pizza. The type of tomatoes (crushed, diced, whole) depends on what you prefer. I usually buy the Fire-Roasted diced tomatoes. If you're making a bigger pizza, you may prefer to mix a can of diced with a can of crushed, but it's completely up to you. I usually just use diced tomatoes.

NOTE: Tomatoes have many great health benefits; including being a great dieting food, because tomatoes are CATABOLIC (meaning that they burn more calories than they contain). Pizza won't make you as fat as you think.

IMPORTANT NOTE — DRAIN TOMATOES OF WATER IN THE CAN, OR ELSE YOUR CRUST WILL BE SOGGY!

Here's my latest recipe for pizza sauce. I originally experimented with numerous ingredients, but often over-did-it with the spices and didn't like the flavor, so then I settled on just the following simple ingredients, which is the best pizza ever! Simple is best:

  • Tomatoes, per the preceding instructions (depending on the size and number of pizzas you're making).
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil per each 14.5 ounce can of tomatoes.
  • 1/4 teaspoon of OREGANO per each 14:5 ounce can of tomatoes (or to taste).
  • Salt to taste. BE CAREFUL NOT TO ADD TOO MUCH! I usually add about 1/8 teaspoon per 14.5 ounce can of tomatoes. NOTE: if you add too much salt, simply add another can of tomatoes to dilute the mixture. It's always best to add a few dashes of salt to your pizza sauce and then stir and taste. If there's not enough salt, your pizza will taste bland like it's missing something. If there's too much salt, well, you know what that will taste like... SALT!

THAT'S IT! THESE SIMPLE INGREDIENTS MAKE THE BEST PIZZA IN MY HUMBLE OPINION. Just some Oregano and a little salt.

  • For cheese, I buy one pound blocks of Mozzarella. I use about 1/2 pound per small pizza. For a full-sized pizza you'll need the whole one pound block of cheese. Make sure to place the sliced cheese on top of the dough, and then pour the pizza sauce OVER the cheese. This prevents the cheese from burning from the 450 degree oven.

Now here below is my original recipe for pizza sauce, which contained a bunch more ingredients. I'm sharing this with you so that you can experiment, if you'd like, to see if you enjoy these ingredients on your pizza. If this is your first time making Uno's pizza, please use the previous simple recipe and try it, then you can work with the following ingredients next time if you want to be more daring and take a risk that you may not like it.

The following ingredients are for one large pizza or two small pizzas . . .

  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano (I've tried other recipes for Uno's pizza that use way too much oregano)
  • 1/4 teaspoon basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (if sauce seams sweet, add a little more salt; but be careful, too much salt ruins a recipe quick. There's NO sugar in this recipe, but for some reason canned tomatoes seem to actually taste a bit sweet to me, so I gradually add a little salt until the sweetness is gone. Taste your sauce as you go and adjust accordingly. Oregano and salt are two ingredients you definitely don't want too much of. Also, there's salt already in most canned tomatoes, so go according to your taste buds. In my opinion, LESS is better if you're unsure)
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic (I use a garlic press that crushes the garlic through little holes).
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan and Romano cheese (sprinkle it onto the sauce when the pizza is completely done)
  • 2 tablespoons Bertolli Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound sliced mozzarella cheese (I use a hand-held slicer. It cuts using a wire at the end. Hint: the cheese cuts very easy if you let it sit for about an hour. The depth is adjustable.) 

DRAIN YOUR CANNED TOMATOES WELL. IF YOU DON'T, THE EXCESSIVE WATER WILL MAKE YOUR DOUGH SOGGY EVEN AFTER BAKING.

I As mentioned, I have learned by trial and error not to use too much garlic or seasoning.

Also, don't forget to wipe olive oil in the baking pan before working in the dough (this helps it brown just a bit while cooking).

Be careful not to add too much of any one ingredient. If you mess up and add too much, just open another can of tomatoes and add it to the mix to dilute it some.

Place the cheese in tile-like layers on the bottom of the pie (cut about 1/8 inch thick). Pour pizza sauce over cheese. Drizzle a little extra olive oil over the top of the pie and you are ready to bake. When pizza is done, sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese across the top of the pizza.

Pizza like this wasn't meant to be eaten as the slice; but rather, with a fork and knife piece-by-piece. As you get down to the crust, then you can eat it like regular pizza. With all the melted cheese and tomato topping oozing off... Emmmmm. This pizza is great reheated the next day!
 

Baking

BAKING TIME DEPENDS UPON THE TYPE OF OVEN YOU HAVE

I'll always prefer a GAS OVEN over electric. Cook the pizza on the BOTTOM rack at 475 degrees (preheated) for 25-30 minutes! Don't overcook the pizza or the crust will be rock-hard. The pizza is done when the crust is golden brown.

When I used to have an electric oven, it took 45-50 minutes to cook my pizza and I had to switch racks to get it to cook properly (about 25 minutes on the top rack, and then about 20 minutes on the bottom rack). I hate electric range ovens. Natural gas (or propane) is superb in my opinion. If in doubt, cook the pizza for 25 minutes and then check to see if the crust is golden brown.

I use the COUNT DOWN timer below... Just select “Count Down” and set it to the time you desire, click “SET,” then START (and make sure that your computer's volume is turned up so you'll hear the bell)...

The bell alarm is as loud as your computer's volume is set. If you undercook the pizza, it will be soggy from the moisture in the tomatoes. When properly cooked, it's like a pizza pie. The crust should be mildly firm and crispy when done. I bought a small hand-timer for cooking. I just wind it up and set the time. It goes up to one hour. If you cook a lot, I recommend buying a mechanical wind-up hand-timer instead of using a computer timer, because if there's a power-glitch or your computer freezes, then your pizza will burn. We don't want that.

Coat the deep-dish backing pan with extra virgin olive oil before spreading the dough into the pan.

I wait until the pizza is out of the oven before sprinkling Parmesan powdered-cheese across the top (you buy it in a container).

CAUTION: oven times can vary greatly. I originally wrote this recipe when I only had an electric oven. Then I got a propane gas stove and burned my pizza. The crust was as hard as a rock. Cooking times are much shorter for a gas range...

ELECTRIC OVEN - It's tricky to cook pizza in an electric oven, because of uneven heating. If you don't want soggy crust, it's important to bake the pizza on the bottom rack for at least 20-25 minutes. I bake the pizza at 475 degrees in a preheated oven, first on the top rack for 25 minutes, and then on the bottom rack for 20-25 minutes.

GAS OVEN - I cook my pizza on the bottom rack for 25 minutes in a preheated oven at 475 degrees. You DON'T need to switch racks in a gas oven.

Bake the pie in a 475°F oven (400 if a convection oven) until the top is golden and gooey. Some blackish spots burned on the cheese is normal. DON'T keep opening the oven door to check it... USE A TIMER. Pizza making is an art my friend. When the time is up, immediately remove your pizza from the oven, to prevent overcooking.

If your pizza crust seems to be soggy (from the moisture in the tomatoes), not a problem... cook it some more. Remember to drain your canned tomatoes, to prevent a soggy pizza. You don't have to drain every last drop of water, just most of it. This will prevent soggy crust. I generally use diced tomatoes. I don't like using whole tomatoes because of the green pits. I don't use crushed tomatoes because they are too liquidly and it is very difficult to drain the water from them. Diced tomatoes are the best!

Make an Uno's pizza today for someone else and watch how happy it makes them.