Barbecue Chicken Detroit-Style Pizza Recipe

A thick, crispy, and chewy pizza dough laden with a blend of cheeses, grilled chicken, and homemade barbecue sauce.
Photo by Farideh Sadeghin

Serves 2-4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 3 hours


for the barbecue sauce:
1 cup|260 grams ketchup
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt

for the dough:
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons honey
2 cups|275 grams bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup|60 ml olive oil


for the pizza:
12 ounces|350 grams boneless, skinless chicken thighs
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 ounces|170 grams low moisture mozzarella cheese, cut into ¼-inch cubes
4 ounces|115 grams mild cheddar cheese, cut into ¼-inch cubes
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish


  1. Make the barbecue sauce: Combine all of the ingredients with ½ cup|125 ml of water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until dark and thick, about 20 minutes. Makes about 1 ¼ cups|335 grams.
  2. Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, honey, and 1 cup|250 ml water, heated to 115°F. Let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the flour and salt and mix on medium speed until a smooth dough forms, about 5 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Drizzle a Detroit-style pizza pan with half of the oil and, using oiled fingers, gently spread the pizza dough onto the pan. (Alternatively, use a 9-inch-by-13-inch metal cake pan.) Be gentle with it, and don’t stress—it won’t spread all the way to the edges, and that’s cool. Drizzle the remaining oil over the top of the dough and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size in a warm spot, about 1 hour longer.
  4. Make the pizza: Season the chicken with salt and pepper and toss with ¼ cup|60 ml of the barbecue sauce. Light a grill or heat a grill pan over medium-high and grill the chicken, flipping once, until golden and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 165°F, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes before cutting into ½-inch pieces.
  5. Heat the oven to 500°F. Using your fingertips, spread the dough to the corners of the pizza tray. Let sit, uncovered, for 30 minutes longer.
  6. Sprinkle the cheese all over the dough, right to the edges of the pan (this is how you get that iconic crispy-cheese crust). Sprinkle the chicken and onion over the top, then dollop over the remaining barbecue sauce in 3 lines, kind of like racing stripes.
  7. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the crust is golden, about 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack for an additional 5 to 10 minutes before garnishing with the cilantro and slicing.

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