Detroit Style Pizza Pan Alternatives

The Detroit style pizza is beloved for its thickness and exceptional style of crust. If you’re anything like me, you may know just enough about baking to understand that such an amazing pizza design is only possible thanks to the pan it is made in! So is there Detroit Style Pizza Pan Alternatives?

A Detroit style pizza pan is distinct. It shapes the pizza dough into that characteristic rectangle, for one thing. However, a Detroit style pizza pan is expensive. Not everyone wants to spring for something that they’ll only really use whenever they’re in the mood for this specific kind of pizza.

As great as that pizza is, I often found myself frustrated when I craved a Detroit slice but didn’t have access to the pan it came from. Are you wondering what I did: what a Detroit style pizza pan alternative could be?

A Detroit Style pizza pan shapes pizza dough into a deep, cake-like rectangle while allowing the cheese to caramelize on the crust in a unique style. For this reason, any 9-by-13-inch pan that can withstand the oven heat of 500 degrees Fahrenheit will work as a Detroit style pizza pan alternative.

Now that we know a Detroit style pizza pan can be replaced, its time to address how to decide what alternative is right for you! To do this, I’ve investigated what makes a Detroit style pizza pan so distinct, and which alternatives can match its best features.

What is a Detroit Style Pizza Pan?

In order to replace the Detroit style pan, it was helpful for me to understand what benefits I’d be trying to duplicate. Here are some things that make the Detroit style pizza pan so unique!

1. Rectangular in Shape

2. The Sides of the Pan Are High

3. Made of Aluminum Metal

Let’s take a closer look together at why these factors are important to the actual pizza that is produced by a Detroid style pizza pan. Then you can determine how the alternatives may accomplish the same great taste and structure!

1. Rectangular in Shape

Probably the first defining trait of a Detroit pizza that you’ll notice is its different shape. Instead of being round like a traditional New York or even Deep Dish slice, a Detroit pizza is rectangular! In fact, it resembles more of a pizza cake than a pizza pie.

This is thanks to the shape of the Detroit style pan. Detroit pans are usually nine inches along two sides and thirteen inches along the remaining pair of sides. This rectangular shape is not only distinct, but it makes a large enough pizza to feed my average pizza party groups! Besides, for my crazy friends who don’t like the pizza crust, the center slices of a Detroit pizza are crust-free.

2. The Sides of the Pan Are High

The sides of a Detroit pizza pan may be the most important factor in making this style of pizza distinct. This is because the high sides contribute to creating steep interior walls for the pizza dough to rise along.

I was wondering, “so what?” when I researched the characteristics of a Detroit style pizza pan and came across the high walls. Then I learned an interesting fact: Detroit style pizzas are known for something called “frico.”

Frico is a word referring to caramelized cheese which, without deep walls, would not be able to run along to the very ends of the rectangular pizza and create a crisp, delicate edge. If you’ve never had Detroit style pizza before, let me tell you: frico may very well be the best part of the whole thing!

3. Made of Aluminum Metal

As useful as the knowledge of frico and high-sided pans are, perhaps the most interesting fact about a Detroit style pizza pan is the metal it was originally made from.

Detroit pizza pans were originally made from something called “blue steel,” a kind of steel that was immune to rust. These pans weren’t actually invented to be pizza pans at all: I was surprised to find that they were actually drip pans that the creators of the pizza got from local automobile supply stores!

This was awesome because at the time, the rectangular pans that would have been used for baking other things like cakes would not have been able to handle the oven’s 500-degree heat.

In some places, like the original birthplace of Detroit pizza, these automobile pans are still used to make the delicious pizza. However, nowadays, if you want to buy a Detroit style pizza pan, you’ll find they are usually made of the less expensive aluminum.

Aluminum can handle the high temperatures needed for heat to work its way through a Detroit slice’s deep interior. For this reason, it’s the preferred material for modern day Detroit pizza pans (even if the backstory of its use isn’t as cool as blue steel drip pans!)

Detroit Style Pizza Pan Alternatives

Alternatives to the Detroit Style Pizza Pan

Now that I’ve covered what makes a Detroit style pizza pan great, we can figure out what alternatives check the same boxes! To make a Detroit style pizza without the usual pan, try one of the alternatives listed below:

1. Use a Metal Cake Pan

2. Use an Enameled Cast Iron Rectangular Roasting Pan

3. Use a Glass Cake Dish

Let’s take a closer look at some of the alternatives to a Detroit style pizza pan; it’s always helpful to understand the pros and cons of each before selecting the right one for you!

1. Use a Metal Cake Pan

A cake pan is the first alternative that works as a Detroit style pizza pan’s replacement. I have three nine-by-thirteen-inch metal cake pans at home, so this was my alternative of choice!

The reason a cake pan works so well as an alternative to the Detroit style pizza pan is because it not only comes in the rectangular shape, but it typically features the high walls that are a must-have if you want to duplicate that cheesy frico goodness!

When making Detroit style pizza in a metal pan, be sure to pour 3 tablespoons of oil into the cake pan evenly. This will keep the pizza’s thick slices from sticking to your pan.

The next step is one featured in all Detroit style pizza recipes: make sure you’ve gently smoothed and stretched the dough so that it fits into the corners of the pan. If that winds up being difficult, don’t get frustrated like I did!

Instead, set the dough aside and let it breathe for ten to fifteen minutes. Then, give it another try! The room temperature, or any higher temperature than the refrigerator, should make the pizza dough more compliant to the cake pan.

2. Use an Enameled Cast Iron Rectangular Roasting Pan

Wow, what a mouthful! An enameled cast iron rectangular roasting pan is useful because it can transfer heat very evenly. That is important, because the steep sides of a Detroit style dish do increase your risk of not being able to heat the entire pizza all the way through to the middle.

However, an enameled cast iron rectangular roasting pan is usually used for dishes like lasagna or cornbread biscuits, both of which are thick enough to need thorough heat penetration!

Another benefit to a rectangular roasting pan, aside from it’s shape and optimal heating abilities, is that it typically comes treated so that cleaning it is easy!

3. Use a Glass Cake Dish

A glass cake dish did not sound like such a great idea to me when I was searching for an alternative to a Detroit style pizza pan. After all, glass seems flimsier than metal when it comes to heating up at 500 degrees.

Imagine my surprise when I learned how sturdy a glass cake dish can actually be! Glass dishes can not only handle high heat without breaking, but they are also much easier to clean than their metal rivals. Glass naturally has a smooth surface that cheese and marinara sauce can’t cling to easily, even after drying or burning.

Unfortunately, it is trickier to find a glass cake pan with the sharp corners that a Detroit style pizza pan is famous for. Another downside I feel inclined to mention is that glass cake dishes do not promote the crispy cheese edges that characterize the Detroit pizza.

Still, as long as you use three tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of a rectangular glass cake dish, you should have an acceptable alternative to the usual Detroit pizza pan.


In summary, the Detroit pizza pan is distinct for being rectangular, aluminum, and high-sided. Though these factors are what make the Detroit style of pizza distinct, they can be achieved by alternatives like a glass cake dish, an enameled cast iron rectangular roasting pan, and even a metal cake pan.

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Sam Brett

Sam Brett is the founder and editor of Pizzachefhq, a pizza enthusiast who writes about what he's learned on the way of being a pizza creator and sharing his advice, tips, and research.

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