These Mini Deep Dish Pizzas deliver big flavor in adorable muffin-sized packaging. Loaded with mozzarella cheese, flavorful tomato sauce, and tasty fillings, these petite pizzas make a satisfying, easy-to-prepare meal.
When we started our kitchen renovation project last fall, I saw it as an opportunity to create some construction-friendly recipes. We didn’t want to eat out every day, so I needed some meal ideas that didn’t require a proper stove or oven.
The forced creativity of cooking with a plug-in induction burner, microwave, and large toaster oven resulted in some amazing meals that we’re still enjoying in our new kitchen.
While I had the best intentions to document recipes along the way, it turns out that photographing food in a dark, makeshift garage kitchen is about as appealing as it sounds.
Now that I’m working in a light-filled space again, it’s time to start sharing the recipes that got us through our kitchen renovation, beginning with these Mini Deep Dish Pizzas.
Despite their petite size, these little hand-held pizzas deliver plenty of big flavor. Loaded with mozzarella cheese, homemade tomato sauce, and savory fillings, they make a satisfying, easy-to-prepare meal.
Since the recipe produces a dozen easy-to-customize Mini Deep Dish Pizzas, everyone gets exactly what they want. My kids prepare sauce-less olive and prosciutto pizzas, while my husband and I stuff ours full of peppers and pepperoni, ham and pineapple, or any number of other tasty combinations.
I’ll never understand why my kids don’t like sauce on pizza, especially the simple yet flavorful sauce for these pizza cups. A combination of crushed tomatoes, garlic, basil, and oregano come together in a fragrant sauce that simmers and cools while the dough rises.
With traditional flat crust pizzas, sauce is usually spread over the dough before toppings and cheese; these muffin tin pizzas mix things up with a layer of cheese directly on the dough. This switch keeps the crust from becoming soggy as these little deep dish pizzas bake in such an enclosed space.
After adding a dollop of sauce over the cheese, a layer of fillings, and another spoonful each of sauce and cheese, these pizzas are ready for the oven (or toaster oven!). With all those layers of goodness, they’re like mini lasagnas without the pasta.
Since it’s so easy to vary the fillings, we never get tired of these Mini Deep Dish Pizzas. It’s crazy to think that this new addition to our meal rotation emerged from my garage kitchen.
- ¾ cups warm water (about 110ºF)
- 1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
- pinch sugar
- 1¾ to 2 cups bread or unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
- 1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes
- ¾ teaspoon minced fresh basil
- ¾ teaspoon minced fresh oregano
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
- Small or diced vegetables (like corn, peppers, tomatoes, artichoke hearts) and meats (like pepperoni, sausage, ham)
- For the dough, add water to a large bowl or the bowl of a standing electric mixer. Scatter yeast over the water’s surface. Add sugar and stir to combine. Let stand until bubbly, about 5 minutes.
- Add 1 cup of the flour, the olive oil, and salt to the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon or the mixer's paddle attachment until well combined. Add remaining flour, about ¼ cup at a time, mixing by hand or with the paddle until the dough clears the sides of the bowl.
- If working by hand, turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead, adding flour a little at a time if the dough still feels sticky. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic. If using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. If the dough feels too sticky, add a bit more flour and knead for another minute or two.
- Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning the dough once to coat the top with oil. Cover loosely and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about an hour.
- For the sauce, heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in crushed tomatoes, basil, and oregano. Simmer over low heat until thick, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Preheat oven to 425° F. Lightly brush 12 standard-size muffin cups with oil.
- On a lightly floured surface, turn out the dough and divide it into 12 evenly-sized pieces. Shape the pieces into rounds and let them rest for 10 to 15 minutes while preparing the fillings.
- Using just enough flour to prevent sticking, roll the rested balls of dough into 4 to 5-inch circles. Tuck the disks into the prepared muffin cups, pressing a thin edge of dough around the outside of each well to hold the dough in place. Gently press the dough to bottom. It's okay if it doesn't adhere to the bottom and sides of the cups as the weight of the fillings will pull it down.
- Add 1 tablespoon each of cheese and sauce over the dough in each cup. Top the sauce with about one tablespoon of assorted fillings. Layer an additional tablespoon of sauce and cheese over the fillings.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the dough turns golden in color and the cheese is melted. Let rest for 2 minutes before removing from the pan. Garnish with fresh basil, if desired, and serve warm. Take care when eating as the filling holds it heat for some time.