How To Properly Maintain Authentic Detroit Style Pizza Pans

Authentic Detroit Style Pizza pans are special; they play a vital role during the baking process, so much so that it’s difficult to bake an Authentic Detroit Style Pizza without these square steel pans, modeled after the early automaker parts trays traditionally used for pizza baking by Motor City pizzerias. Detroit Style Pizza pans directly affect the quality of the finished product, bake time, texture, and flavor. Such special pans require special care to maintain their integrity and to consistently bake delicious Authentic Detroit Style Pizza. The following offers instructions for how to properly maintain Authentic Detroit Style Pizza pans.


Authentic Detroit Style Pizza pans must be seasoned before use, where “seasoning” means preparing, not adding herbs and spices. Well-seasoned pans are critical for a good bake and add both flavor and texture to Authentic Detroit Style Pizza. In fact, Authentic Detroit Style Pizza pans age like fine wine: the older the pan, the better the pizza.

At Detroit Style Pizza Co., some of our pans are more than 30 years old; however, after just a few “new pan” bakes you’ll notice your pizzas are more flavorful and feature crispier crusts. Before you start using your pans to bake for customers, you have to break them in.

How to break in Detroit Style Pizza pans

Breaking in Detroit Style Pizza pans isn’t a complicated process, but it’s a critical process that makes it possible to bake the style’s thick crust without dough sticking to the pan. It typically takes around three bakes to break in Detroit Style Pizza pans. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Oil the pan well by brushing a layer of vegetable-based oil (vegetable oil and canola oil work well) on the bottom, corners, and inside walls. Be sure to cover every surface to reduce sticking, but also be careful not to over-oil: if the oil puddles, you won’t be able to stretch your dough
  2. Place a dough ball in the pan and press it out; you might need to let it set a bit to “relax” the dough so it stretches to every corner
  3. Peel back part of the dough to see if it sticks to the pan; if it lifts away easily you can proceed to bake*
  4. After baking, shake the pan – the crust should come lose enough to fall out if you turn the pan upside down. You might have to use a spatula to gently lift the crust out, but it shouldn’t be completely stuck to the pan
  5. Repeat the process with each pan until you’ve perfected the process and your dough never sticks to your pans

* If your dough sticks to the pan before baking, the crust will stick like a brick after baking. Sticking could be caused by using dough mix that is too wet and sticky – especially if your hydration level is 65% or higher. In this case, you should mix up a dry batch of dough and lightly coat the pan side of the dough with oil to break in your Detroit Style Pizza pans. Once broken in, you should be able to go back to your recipe without the dough sticking.

NOTE: Authentic Detroit Style Pizza pans retain heat very well. I highly-recommend the use of pan grippers and spatulas to reduce the risk of burn.

How to clean Detroit Style Pizza pans

It’s imperative to keep your pans clean. Fortunately, cleaning Authentic Detroit Style Pans is an easy process:

  • Never wash Detroit Style pans with soap and water; in fact, your pans should never come into contact with water at all
  • Use a 4- to 5-inch plastic scraper to scrape excess oil and crumbs from pans; make sure is no leftover debris inside the pans
  • Store pans in a clean, dry place for future use

How to store Detroit Style Pizza pans

Once cleaned, Detroit Style Pizza pans should be brushed with a coating of vegetable-based oil and stacked for storage. Always store pans in a clean, dry place where they won’t get wet. If it will be more than two weeks before pans are used, don’t oil them before storage – oil just before baking instead. Again, make sure you use a vegetable-based oil and coat the bottom, corners, and sides well to reduce or eliminate sticking.

The decision to bake with Authentic Detroit Style Pizza pans is a defining moment for your pizzeria. It allows you to serve truly Authentic Detroit Style Pizza based on Motor City tradition, and it empowers you to craft a Detroit Style Pizza recipe that features a crispy on the outside, light and airy on the inside, perfectly delicious crust. With a proper break-in, cleaning, and storage, you can protect your investment and ensure your ability to serve Authentic Detroit Style Pizza for decades to come.