In the cutthroat world of fast-food, there can only be one top dog for any given dish. Whether we’re talking chicken sandwiches, nuggets, bacon cheeseburgers, or french fries — every brand out there wants to be the best in the hearts and minds of diners. For 26 years, Pizza Hut has owned the stuffed crust pizza lane (not for lack of competition, shout out to Little Caesars for a valiant attempt) but now the Big Papa is stepping into the scene with their own mozzarella stuffed pie.
Yep, we’ve got a stuffed crust duel on our hands. Papa vs the Hut.
Today we’ll be pitting Papa John’s new “Epic Stuffed Crust” pizza against the OG — Pizza Hut’s original Stuffed Crust. The former is new, the latter has gone through some updates since first dropping on March 25th, 1995, and is the only permanent stuffed crust pizza on a national pizza chain menu. Right off the bat, we’re taking a point from Papa John’s for calling their own dish “epic,” but besides that, it’s going to be all about the taste.
I attempted to order both pizzas the same way — pepperoni and spinach — but I ate these pizzas on separate days and ordered from Papa John’s before realizing that Pizza Hut dropped spinach as a topping. As a result, we’re giving Papa John’s back the point we took away for calling their dumb name. Both pies are back at zero now, let’s get into the way they look.
The Papa John’s pie had a noticeably drier appearance to it, the crust appeared much flatter when compared to Pizza Hut’s and while we appreciate the extra layer of cheese above the toppings, it just doesn’t look quite as appetizing as Pizza Hut’s pepperoni-loaded pie. Pizza Hut’s pie featured a bubblier crust that appeared to be bursting with cheese. It also looks like it was brushed with butter, giving it an appetizing glossy sheen.
Point Goes To: The Hut
Presentation is important, but in any food review flavor is what we’re after. That’s where things take a big turn. Despite both being essentially the same pizza (damn you Pizza Hut, put spinach back on the menu!) these pies couldn’t taste more different. Once I bit into Papa John’s stuffed crust I instantly understood why it had a drier appearance than Pizza Hut’s — it’s because the dough had a fresh dusting of flour, proof that it was recently slapped into pizza form.
I’m a bit of a dough snob — I prefer to make my own — so it’s easy for me to pick up on whether or not I’m having fresh dough. Pizza Hut had the telltale signs of a frozen dough base with fresh toppings. That buttery gloss that I spotted? It was grease and it was a little overboard. The Pizza Hut pie came out floppy, a little wet, and the sauce was overly bright — to the point of being offensively acidic.
From a pure flavor perspective, just about everything — from the dough to the sauce to the pepperoni to the mozzarella cheese — tasted better on the Papa John’s pizza.
Point Goes To: Papa John’s
The two pizzas couldn’t be more different here either.
Pizza Hut’s crust wasn’t as packed with cheese as the little air bubbles on the crust led me to believe.
What you have is a very thin layer of what tastes like skim mozzarella, which is to say a little flavorless. It felt more like cheese in my mouth than it tasted like cheese.
Papa John’s crust tasted like it was full of significantly better quality mozzarella cheese. And because Papa John’s dough was significantly less greasy, the bites were filling without slipping into fatty-oily excess. I could actually taste the mozzarella, rather than just sense it.
Overall, Papa John’s didn’t leave me feeling like I was eating something I shouldn’t. Whereas Pizza Hut’s pie made me feel like I was engaging in a dare.
Point Goes To: Papa John’s
The Bottom Line
It might not look like a blowout, but Papa John’s probably deserves more than a single point win for how much better an overall experience the Epic Stuffed Crust pizza provides. Hands down, it’s the better pie.