The Only Cheese You Should Ever Use For Crispy Detroit-Style Pizza

Detroit-style pizza has been the breakout star of the pizza world over the last few years, so much so that you might be itching to make some yourself. The crispy square pie has quite a few unique attributes to distinguish it from your standard pizza, including its thick, chewy crust, and tradition of putting tomato sauce on top of the cheese. But skip past the most obvious visual differences and you'll find the cheese itself may actually be the most singular thing about Detroit-style pizzas. Eschewing the standard mozzarella, Detroit pizza makers opt for a special American-made cheese that melts great and lends its own distinct taste and characteristics that help make the pizza a real original.

That true cheese of the Detroit-style pizza is brick cheese, a cheddar-like cheese originating in Wisconsin that has a mild but tangy flavor. Brick cheese was developed as a lighter-tasting version of limburger cheese and hits somewhere between a mozzarella and cheddar in taste. It has a smooth texture that melts easily into the bubbling layer of browned cheese which is one of the essential elements of Detroit-style pizza. It gets laid on thick too, with up to a pound of cubed cheese being spread from end-to-end so that it melts over the side of the crust. 

Without brick cheese, you don't have Detroit pizza, and it's not just because of the flavor either.

Brick cheese is a fatty topping that gives Detroit-style pizza its crisp

We'd wager that for most people, the best part of a Detroit-style pizza is the salty, crunchy edges and the buttery crust, and both those things are only possible because of brick cheese. Beyond its taste, brick cheese is also pretty fatty and lends that fat to the rest of the pizza as it melts. This does a lot of very nice things for your pizza. It not only forms that trademarked layer of blackened cheese at the edges, but it fills the pan and helps cook the rest of the crust, giving it a focaccia-like crispy bottom and wonderfully oily flavor. It's a perfect fusion of consistency and flavor between the thick dough and the brick cheese that no other substitution can really pull off.

Your only problem might be finding it, as it is not something you'll see in a lot of grocery stores in other parts of the country. If you don't have a store with a good cheese selection nearby, your best bet is probably the internet, as it's shipped by both specialty shops and some larger retailers. Brick cheese can be young or aged, and it's usually the more melty young variety that's used, so look out for that. And don't feel too bad about splurging if you need to. The second your pizza slides out of the pan and you see that crust, you'll know you made the right decision.