What’s the Best Pizza Chain? We Tested 5 and Found Out.
Craving a good pizza fast? Before you dial for delivery, check out our top picks for the best pizza chain. You just might change your order.
Searching for the Best Pizza Chain
After a long week at work, there’s nothing I like more than settling in for a relaxing night with my favorite show and a pizza. If I’ve had a good week, I’ll make one of these quick and easy recipes. If I know I’m going to be pinched for time, I go for one of our staff-favorite frozen options. However, some weeks just get the better of me and I want nothing more than a pizza that requires no more effort than dialing the latest pizza chain for delivery.
However, I find choosing between pizza joints difficult. I have a handful of pizza places that will deliver right to my door, but I never know which one will really hit all the marks. That means a test was in order! So I wrangled up Taste of Home‘s biggest pizza fanatics to help me choose the best pizza chain.
The Test and What We Were Looking For
Let’s get real—it’s hard to judge a pizza! You have to bear in mind the crust, the toppings, how long it took for the pizza to be delivered and so, so much more. To make this test as fair as possible, I placed the exact same order at every pizza chain: a medium pepperoni pizza and a medium cheese. I kept with whatever the standard crust option was and didn’t opt for any extras—no extra cheese, no extra toppings, no extra seasoning blends baked onto the crust.
I also limited this test to pick-up and delivery pizza standards (sorry, California Pizza Kitchen lovers—try these recipes instead!):
- Little Caesar’s
- Papa John’s
- Pizza Hut
When it came to the judging criteria, my testing team and I were looking for a satisfying pizza that had good toppings and plenty of them. We wanted gooey, melty cheese, crispy crust, great sauce and a good ratio between all these. Most importantly, though, we were looking for a pizza that made us want to go back for another slice and order another pie the next week. To guarantee you get the perfect ‘za at home, try this recipe.
This was a very tough one to judge since Jet’s has a huge assortment of pizzas on the menu. You can go for thin crust, deep dish, hand-tossed or New York-style crust—or you can even opt for one of their specialties: the four (or eight) corner pizza. And Jet’s has plenty of specialty topping combos, too. Picky about pizza? Read up on the 23 things the pizza delivery man won’t tell you.
For the sake of this test, though, we went with the hand-tossed option for both our cheese and pepperoni pizzas. The pizza had plenty of toppings—always a plus, but seemed pretty greasy to us (yes, even by delivery pizza standards) and the crust was chewier than we’d like.
This was fairly surprising to some staffers. Though, when I asked folks what they typically ordered from Jet’s, they said that the four-corner pizzas and Jet’s Bread were their go-to’s. So it seems if you’re going to Jet’s, you might want to go beyond standard and level up to their other pizza options.
$8.99 for a medium, one-topping pizza; locations nationwide.
4. Papa John’s
Papa John’s was the most expensive pizza we tried and, unfortunately, didn’t blow away any of our testers. The tomato sauce had some sweetness to it without any sort of spice or heat to counteract it. The crust was also softer than we’d prefer. The real kicker was the cheese, which seemed to separate in chunks instead of pulling apart in that gooey way we love. That being said, we did enjoy the pepperoni—and tasters were practically ecstatic dip their slice in chain’s signature garlic sauce. Up next: Don’t miss these 16 copycat pizza recipes for at-home perfection.
$12.49 for a medium, one-topping pizza; locations nationwide.
3. Pizza Hut
For most testers (myself included), Pizza Hut brought back many fond memories. What child of the ’90s didn’t love the personal pan pizza that came along with finishing enough books with the BOOK IT! program? With that in mind, we eagerly dove into the chain’s classic pan pizza.
Opening up the box, we agreed that this was a beautiful looking pizza. But what about flavor? Pizza Hut knocked it out of the park when it came to the toppings. There was plenty of pepperoni scattered on top with a really great crispy texture. And the cheese was pretty exceptional, too. It was creamy and melty—giving us all those ooey-gooey moments we love.
However, we had mixed feelings about the crust. As a pan pizza, we definitely expected more dough than hand-tossed or cracker thin options, but we found the crust itself a bit disappointing. (Learn how to make your own pizza dough at home.) It had good flavor but lacked crispness on the bottom and around the edges. This could be a bit of a fluke, so we certainly wouldn’t rule out Pizza Hut in the future. Plus, I’m a sucker for those breadsticks
$11.18 for a medium, one-topping pizza; locations nationwide.
2. Little Caesar’s
For just six dollars, we weren’t expecting a pizza this good, but Little Caesar’s really surprised us.
We ordered the chain’s EXTRAMOSTBESTEST (yes, that’s what they call it) pepperoni and cheese pies and totally fell in love. It’s worth noting that the chain also offered pretzel crust options. Yum! We were all pleased with the number of toppings each slice held. As one tester wrote on her comment card: “Wow! Lotsa lotsa pepperoni!” These pepperoni were also a bit crisp on the edge, a hallmark of perfectly cooked sausage. We also liked the sauce on this pizza. It had great tomato flavor with a subtle kick. Little Caesar’s also nailed the crust component: It was crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside—a great balance for people that can’t decide between pan pizza and thin crust. Confused about crust? Here’s our ultimate guide to regional pizza styles.
The only drawback to this pizza is that Little Caesar’s doesn’t deliver, however you can schedule a pick up from their Pizza Portal easily online. But for just six bucks, I’m willing to take a short drive for pizza this good.
$6.00 for a medium, one-topping pizza; locations nationwide.
Start to finish, Domino’s was our favorite pizza in this test. Besides being the best tasting, Domino’s was also the easiest to order. You can even schedule your delivery in advance online—a great way to ensure you get your pizza exactly when the cravings hit. The Pizza Tracker let us track our pizza’s progress on the way to the office. And yes, other restaurants offer order tracking, but Domino’s was the most detailed and simplest to follow.
But the tracker was just the cherry on top. This pizza had everyone singing its praises. This pie managed to hit every one of our criteria. The sauce was perfectly flavored with good seasoning. The cheese was so melty and creamy—exactly what we love in a good mozzarella. On our pepperoni pie, we were impressed with how many toppings were packed on. The slices were just a bit crisp on the edges.
The real star of the show, though, was the crust. It supported all those toppings and cheese, which was great for testers on the run (no plate needed!). The crust also was the tastiest by far. It was nice and crispy around the edges and the edge of the crust was brushed with an herb blend. It doesn’t sound like much, but this sprinkling of Italian seasoning is what gave Domino’s the lead in this race. Yes, it really was that good! We felt like after we ate most of our slices, we had a bonus breadstick. This crust really made this pizza a winner to us. And now we have a go-to pizza chain for our office pizza parties.
$9.99 for a medium, one-topping pizza; locations worldwide.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to the best chain pizza, I’m happy to recommend Domino’s and Little Caesar’s in a heartbeat. Both made for smashingly successful pizza parties (not a single slice left!). Though, if you do have leftover pizza, this is the single best way to reheat it. These pizzas got the highest praise because they checked all the boxes: satisfying sauce, plenty of toppings, gooey, creamy cheese and a perfectly crisp crust.
There’s also the added bonus that both Domino’s and Little Caesar’s are practically ubiquitous. You’ll find more than 5,000 Little Caesar’s franchises across the world. As for Domino’s—they operate almost 16,000 worldwide. Those stats are overwhelming but assure me that no matter where I am, I can get a good pizza fast.
All this being said, when you’re craving pizza, any pizza is a good one. So choose your favorite—even your local pizza joint—kick back and enjoy a lazy Friday night. As for me, I’ll be calling up Domino’s.