Gino's East Pizza Crust

Joined Aug 18, 1999
I've been trying to figure out the secret to the pizza crust at Chicago's famous Gino's East for years. Has anyone ever seen the recipe?

In case you have never had it, I'll do my best to describe it and you can feel free to propose your best guesses.

It's a crust for a deep dish pizza. It has an amazing deep yellow, almost orange color to it. It is very crunchy, not bread-like. I was always sure the answer involved corn meal but I think it has to be something else. You can not see grains of cornmeal in the crust but it tastes like it's in there. It's as if it's "corn flavoring".

I've tried cornmeal, beer, tomato paste, corn oil, and corn flour, but none did the trick.

Any thoughts would be apprecited?

Joined Nov 23, 2004
I know Ginos East Recipe for their deep dish crust. It is top secret and they will not tell you. I know it because I studied pizza crust recipes for deep dish including Lou Malnatis, Pizzeria Uno's, as well as Ginos East. It is really simple.
Joined Aug 15, 2004
Ah, Man, come on. You can't say you know it and it's easy without telling us what it is!


Joined Dec 4, 2001
That's fascinating stuff; very informative. In all the experimenting with the crust did you ever use turmeric as the yellowing agent or would the expense of that cut into Gino's bottom line too much? I am forever on a quest for the perfect pizza crust. Maybe this one is it.

Joined Oct 5, 2001
Hey oh

LOL, you were in my kitchen on Saturday weren't you!!!

I use tumeric as a colourant all the time. In doughs, pastas, and rices. I also use paprika for a nice dull earthy red. Food colourings are too much temptation for the kids to get into, and I like the natural colourations better.

I can't see the price being a factor though. Isn't tumeric actually cheeper?

Oh, and about a tablespoon per 2 pounds flour if your interested.

I do want to try the extended rise and see if the beer taste holds true.
Joined Nov 27, 2004
I tried using turmeric. It was one of many things that I tried but eventually discarded for a number of reasons, not the least of which being the cost and that it didn't taste right. I don't know where to get turmeric cheaper than simple yellow food coloring, but if you have a source please let me know. I use turmeric in a lot of other foods. When I was trying to figure out the Gino's recipe I tried all sorts of things at first but I eventually came to the conclusion that what I was doing was too expensive and too complicated to be done in large batches by people who could be employed cheaply.

I hope everyone is able to reproduce my results. I don't think I left anything out of the instructions but you never really know until someone points it out. I am actually headed to Chicago next week and I plan to eat dinner at Gino's. I will post pictures of the pie on my blog.

I wonder if Spinnybobo would care to comment as to whether my recipe is close or if I am way off. I have made my version for many friends and relatives from Chicago and they can't tell the difference. I certainly can't tell the difference myself otherwise I would change the recipe.
Joined Jan 9, 2004
Was reading the questions about the colour in the pizza crust of Gino's East. I don't live in Chicago and have never heard of Gino's, but the comment about using food coloring is partly correct. The product used to give the color shown in the photo at **** Good Food Blog is called Yolkoline. Have made tons of Egg Bread using the stuff. It gives the correct color and is cheap to use - a few drops go a long way. Ordinary yellow food colouring invites problems. You can find the stuff at any restaurant supply store. I believe that is what Gino's would use.

chef brian
Joined Jan 5, 2005
This is great! I've been wondering for a while how to make their crust. Gino's is expanding in the Chicago area and they added one to my home town about a year ago.Going to try this recipe, order one from Gino's and then report back to the group.

We have a lot of great pizza spots in Chicago and Gino's is one of my favorites.
Joined Nov 23, 2004
Turmeric is way off. Never tasted it though, so dont disgard the idea if you like it. But, it is off concerning Ginos recipe.

they flavor it in the following:
1. the oil (mix of two different oils)
2. the special flavor enhancer
3. and the fact that the dough used to make a pizza has been made 2 days prior to being used----thus it gets fermented in the frig while sitting stretched in a pizza pan for 2 days. Or, if you want the same effect, let it sit out one day out of the frig. The consistency of the crust will be different if it was in the frig or out of the frig. Put it in the frig to be more consistent with Ginos.

Also, their pan is made out of a certain type of steel. It is seasoned black.

so, make some guesses about which oil you think they use. and percentages of the two.
also, there are three ingredients to the flavor enhancer. One of them is yellow dye # 5. One is sugar. What is the other one?

Last, Gino's East does not use corn meal. There is one Ginos east franchise that does. And, Ginos on Rush does. However, corn meal is very bitter and ALL of the recipes given that tell you to use corn meal all result in a bad taste that is WAY off. Only use 1 tablespoon of corn meal to 1 pound of Bread flour (yes bread flour because of the gluten content)

I prefer NO corn meal.
Joined Jan 24, 2005
So here's what I tried last night and it was excelllent. A combo from spinnybobo and foodblogger:

Gino's East Pizza Crust Recipe
tweaked from foodblogger's and spinnybobo's directions

1 cup of warm water w/touch of sugar
1 package yeast
1T cornmeal (I know it's not really in there)
1 teaspoon salt
1T corn oil
1T olive oil
2 ½ to 3 cups bread flour
¼ tsp yellow food coloring

Take the water and put it in your mixer. add yeast and a touch of sugar. Let the yeast foam up to be sure that it is active. Then add the rest of the ingredients including 2 1/2 cups flour. Knead the dough until it is well combined. If the dough is sticky add a little more flour. The dough should be moist but not sticky. Knead the dough for 10 minutes. Put it in the oven to rise. If you desire a late in the day pizza taste (beer like), then let it rise all day.

Gino's East Pizza sauce from canned plum tomatos:

one 28 ounce can of plum or roma tomatos – less ¼ c of the sauce before you mush it
1 tsp salt
a pinch of basil
a pinch of oregano
fresh ground black pepper

Take the tomatos and sauce and place into a bowl. Using a potato masher or just your hands, mash the tomatos up so that there are no chunks bigger around than a quarter. Once this is done, add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Do not use too much basil or oregano.

The Cheese

16 oz low-moisture part skim mozzarella

Be absolutely sure that you don't buy the low fat version of any mozzarella. It will not melt right and you will hate it.

Assembling the pizza – cook for about 45 minutes

Preheat oven to 350. After the dough has risen take your deep dish pizza pan (or a round cake pan with straight sides) and coat the inside of it with a very healthy coating of melted butter. Roll the dough out to about 3 inches larger than the bottom of the pan and pinch the dough up along the sides of the pan. Now put your cheese in (right on the crust). Then add your pepperoni, and finally your sauce. Bake in the oven until the crust is starting to brown and cheese is starting to bubble up through the sauce. The little edges of the pepperoni should also be starting to crisp. It took me about 45 minutes.

Shopping list:

12” deep dish pizza pan (I prefer black)
16 oz low-moisture part skim mozzarella
1 28 ounce can of plum or roma tomatos
Pepperoni (or other fillings)
Corn oil
Olive oil
Corn meal
Bread flour
Yellow food coloring
Joined Nov 23, 2004
Great Job Dancer!!

Although, Ginos uses a TON of oil. You got the oils right. However, they use 95% corn and 5 % Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Do not use regular olive oil. Just buy some Corn oil and take out 5% by volume and add same amount of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Then, for every 1 cup of water, use 1/3 cup of oil. Also, you can use 1 Tablespoon of corn meal like you put in there, however, there other secret ingredient is about 1 tsp cream of tartar. Ginos does not use corn meal.


1 Cup water
1 package yeast
1/3 cup oil mixture
1 T sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 lbs Bread Flour

In a bowl, put water (luke warm), then yeast, oil, cream of tartar, and sugar. Mix with hand until yeast dissolves. Then, pour in Bread Flour a little at a time. Mix with your hand. Just curve your hand like a dough hook and hold the bowl and mix. Then, knead it until it gets firm. Add more flour if needed. Secret is also in the kneading. Knead it for about 10 minutes straight. Then, roll it into a ball, and put it in a bowl with oil brushed in the sides. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. let sit overnight unrefrigerated. Only let it rise once. Portion and use.

And, the kind of pan they use is a Tinned Steel pan that is seasoned. And, when you cook it, make sure you put oil in the pan also. Stretch it out in the pan and put a layer of cheese over it. Then, put it in the fridge for about a day. Then, take it out and put another layer of cheese, then sauce, then pecorino romano cheese and oregano.

I am sure your sauce taste great, but I would really go to Dominicks and try the Italian chef pastoreli pizza sauce. Dont add anything to it. Put it on pizza and then put a little romano cheese.

For thin crust pizza, if you like a sweet sauce, use prego right out of the can. But, that is truly Gino's recipe minus the corn meal.

I am only giving away my hard earned secret because you guys are all so passionate about this crust. So, use it and enjoy it because this is Ginos east recipe. :)))))))))))

Good job Dancer:)
Joined Nov 6, 2004
:lips: thanks a bunch!

Inspired by this thread, I just recently tried a new crust recipe and wasn't at all happy with it. It wasn't terrible, but it just wasn't what I was trying for.

Your right about the Italian chef pastoreli pizza sauce too ;)


Joined Mar 20, 2005
Hi, I've never worked at a Gino's, but I was a restaurant manager for 8 years and am pretty good at determining prep methods for dishes. I've made my own pizza crusts for years, and was very impressed with the taste, consistency and pleasing look of the Gino's product. I rushed right home to try to recreate it, and while I do not have access to their actual recipe, I've got the taste and look down pretty good. I don't think turmeric is involved at all. I just use a standard pizza crust recipe, splitting the flour equally between regular and bread flour. I also add about 3 TB of corn meal. I believe the golden color comes from either spraying or brushing olive oil on the crust prior to baking. I've been to Gino's again after trying this, and I believe that's all it is, a combination of corn meal and olive oil. Try it yourself and see what you think. My family says my crust is actually better than Gino's!
Joined Nov 6, 2004
Thanks again spinnybobo :)

I just got done eating your Gino's East pizza crust...and it was delicious! :lips:

Among all the cheese and sauce I also stuffed it with some Italian sausage/ground beef balls, roasted tomatoes, garlic and zucchini.

It really turned out great...thank you :)

Joined Nov 27, 2004
I just made Gino's again last night. I thought I would check on the status of this thread. I see that someone has added cream of tartar to the recipe. I haven't tried making it this way but I will have to try it. I am not sure what that would add to the dough but it might be interesting. That particular poster also recommended using a lot of oil to make the dough. I have been adding a little more oil to the crust lately and I like the way it changes the consistency. I have been using more like 1/4 cup corn oil per cup water.

I don't know about all of the satellite Gino's restaraunts, but the one that was on Superior Street right by Northwestern in Chicago (before it moved over to Rush street) DID use cornmeal in the crust. There wasn't a lot of cornmeal in it but there WAS SOME. They may have changed in recent years but I like the way it tasted when it was on Superior street. I don't know if you have eaten Uno's at any of the various satellite locations across the country, but the satellite pizza doesn't taste anything like the pizzas served in downtown Chicago. I suspect that Gino's may be doing something similar at its satellites.

Also brushing olive oil on the crust will not give the crust a through and through yellow color like you get at Gino's. As I discussed in my blog, I tried to duplicate that color for about 10 years until I finally figured out that they were adding yellow food coloring to the dough. That was the biggest DUH moment I have had in the kitchen. Anyway if there is still interest here are links to the recipes as I posted them on my blog a year ago:

Gino's Link1


Gino's Link2
Joined Dec 13, 2005
Good Evening. I would like to just say my friend that you are correct in your assumtion of the cornmeal in Mr. Gino's pizza dough recipe. The reason why it isn't grainy like others have expiercing in doing the recipe is because Mr. Gino uses Quacker Oats brand of Corn meal. To avoid the grainniness he grinds the cornmeal very very very extra fine in a coffee grinder. He then sifts it. Another secret is the order he mixes the ingredients. Oh yes my friend he uses butter & olive-oil for the fat ingredient. I hope this information helps you & provides you with some insight to continue experimenting till you succeed in getting the pie concoction that satisfys you. Good luck in your quest & enjoy the balance of the week-end what is left of it.
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