Most of us don't order fast food for its health benefits, and fast food pizza is no different. We can also probably agree that fast food pizza does not compare to what you get from more authentic pizzerias, many of which have been around for the better part of a century. Still, convenience, price, location, and personal tastes all play into why fast food pizza chains are just about everywhere. Whatever your reasons for choosing fast food pizza are, some menu items at these places should simply be avoided.
Fast food chains are under continuous pressure to keep their brands relevant and in demand. One of the ways companies achieve this is by regularly introducing new, innovative menu options. It's not a terrible idea for pizza chains like Pizza Hut, Domino's, and others to feature choices that are blatantly unhealthy (it is fast food after all). But combining multiple junk foods that don't go together in order to make one ultra-processed, less-than-great-tasting menu item for the sake of being different has resulted in many flops. This list does not focus so much on nutrition information but instead hones in on why these foods simply don't work. Before you branch out and order that funky mashup of cuisines, take a look at our picks for the fast food pizza fails we'd never order again.
Read more: Frozen Pizzas, Ranked From Worst To Best
Cicis Mac And Cheese Pizza Is Not A Crowd Pleaser
Unconventional pizzas have been known to gain a cult following (we see you B.L.T. pizza), and this rings true for mac and cheese pizza. Unfortunately, the version made by Cicis doesn't get this quirky combination right. The chain opened its first location in Plano, Texas in 1985, and customers quickly embraced Cicis' low-priced buffet of all-you-can-eat pizza, pasta, salad, and dessert. That said, a common issue buffets face is quantity over quality, and judging by Cicis' large list of pizza choices, it's clear that the chain bit off more than it could chew.
Mac and cheese pizza is one of several wacky flavor profiles in the Specialty Pizza section of the Cicis menu. Others include BBQ Pork, Spinach Alfredo, and Zesty Ham & Cheddar. The pizza crust at Cicis is one of the biggest problems the restaurant has in general -- it merely serves as a tasteless, cardboard-like vehicle for toppings. Smothering mac and cheese on its pizza doesn't do Cicis any favors. The noodles are bland and have a dried-out texture. Pasta and sauce are already heavy pizza toppings, and atop Cicis' tragic crust, the entire slice becomes a flimsy mess. If you want to try a niche specialty like mac and cheese pizza, you're better off ordering from a restaurant with better quality food.
Oven-Baked Pastas From Pizza Hut Don't Bring The Flavor
Pizza Hut is a behemoth in the fast food pizza industry. The chain's flagship restaurant in Wichita, Kansas got started in 1958 and has ballooned to a whopping 16,000 locations around the world. With a legacy like this, Pizza Hut was bound to have some misses along the way, but one of its more recent menu options — Oven-Baked Pasta — is a definite fail. Oven-Baked Pastas were not unknown territory to Pizza Hut when they resurfaced on the menu in 2022. The company launched a baked pasta line in 2008 called Tuscani Pasta. Family-sized aluminum trays of rotini were sold in two flavors: meaty marinara and creamy chicken Alfredo. Tuscani Pasta was popular enough that Premium Bacon Mac 'N Cheese and lasagna were added the following year.
Eventually, Pizza Hut did away with the Tuscani segment, but it wasn't done with baked pasta for good. The revamped, straightforwardly named Oven-Baked Pasta contains penne rather than rotini. Oven-Baked Pasta is sold in individual or family portions and there are more diverse flavors, like Oven-Baked Veggie and Oven-Baked Cheesy Alfredo. So what's the problem exactly? According to popular YouTube fast food taste tester The Endorsement, Pizza Hut's Oven-Baked Pasta (he tried the chicken Alfredo) is, " ... missing something ... a little bit more flavor would've been nice." On Reddit, one reviewer commented, "Water has more flavor than this."
Childhood Memories Of Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Can't Save Its Pizza
The birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheese were great. The dancing mascots, exuberant leaps into the ball pit, the pizza ... wait, was Chuck E. Cheese pizza actually bad? It's almost hard to believe that those bygone Saturday afternoons spent at Chuck E. Cheese, a time when we felt so free, involved chowing down on some of the most fail-tastic pizza on this list. We'd like to step in and defend Chuck E. Cheese pizza — wasn't it more about the experience of being there, the games, the music, the sheer fun of it all, with the pizza there for sustenance to keep the party going? Apparently not, because Chuck E. Cheese makes deliveries and sells its frozen pizza at Kroger grocery stores, so yeah, someone in the corporate office is convinced Chuck E. Cheese is what the people want.
The crust, cheese, and meat have that "fresh from the factory" chemical taste. Toppings are haphazardly piled on, as if they were a last-minute attempt to cover up the tomato paste that lurks beneath. Ultimately, Chuck E. Cheese pizza is edible, but best enjoyed during the glory of one's youth.
Papa Johns' Doritos Cool Ranch Papadia Makes A Bit Of A Mess
Papa Johns is a top performer in the fast food pizza chain arena — even when things get a little messy. Despite a recent price hike that affected national sales, or occasional public blunders, Papa Johns manages to operate more than 5,000 restaurants throughout the world. Yet things got messy in a more literal way due to a new Papa Johns menu item: the Doritos Cool Ranch Papadia.
In 2023, Papa Johns decided to ride the Cool Ranch wave and collaborate with Doritos on a special menu item — à la Taco Bell. A seamless fusion between Cool Ranch Doritos and pizza isn't easy, so Papa Johns opted to feature the classic snack in its existing Papadia line. Papadia is Papa Johns' riff on an Italian flatbread called "piadina" and has been on the menu since 2020. What separates a Cool Ranch Papadia from other flavors of the folded sandwich-pizza hybrid is a thorough coating of Cool Ranch Doritos dust on the outside of the flatbread. All Papadias come with a choice of chicken, beef, or steak, paired with melted cheese and other customizable ingredients (plus dipping sauce), but the main attribute that distinguishes a Doritos Cool Ranch Papadia from the others is messy fingers — which Papa Johns claims is part of the genuine Doritos experience.
Pretty Much All Flavors Of Domino's Chicken Wings Are Disliked By Customers
Domino's chicken wings might be the most tragic item on the menu. Pizza and wings are a combination people are willing to splurge calories on, but if you want to indulge in a cheat meal, do not order the chicken wings at Domino's. Where do we begin? Perhaps the biggest issues with the wings are the texture and size. Customer reviews have referred to Domino's offering as "soggy" or "pigeon wings" even photographing them to scale with a quarter because they were so small. What's worse, several photos have circulated throughout social media calling out Domino's tendency to deliver boneless nuggets, either doused in sauce or burnt and dry, instead of the bone-in chicken wings the customer paid for. With this kind of inconsistency in quality, we do not recommend ordering chicken wings from this fast food pizza mega-chain.
Since opening its first location in Ypsilanti, Michigan in 1960, Domino's has grown to become the highest-grossing pizza chain on earth, with over $8 billion in annual sales in the United States alone. With that kind of pull, we are left scratching our heads at why this establishment makes such bad chicken wings. The voices of the internet agree. The image shown above was posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, with the caption, "Apparently buffalo wings from @dominos are chicken wings coughed on by a buffalo with bronchitis."
Little Caesar's Bacon Wrapped Crust DEEP! DEEP! Dish Pizza Is A Deep, Deep Grease Fest
Budget-friendly chain Little Caesar's is one of the leading fast food pizza joints — only Pizza Hut and Domino's sell better. It's also one of the first -- the original location in Garden City, Michigan opened in 1959. We appreciate that the restaurant doesn't try to be something it's not, it just keeps pizzas Hot-N-Ready for the masses. That said, not all of Little Caesar's innovations have paid off. One example would be the brand's Bacon Wrapped Crust DEEP! DEEP! Dish Pizza that debuted in 2015. As if deep-dish pizza wasn't filling enough, Little Caesar's made sure to fortify its edges with 3 ½ feet of bacon. Not enough cured meat for you? Don't worry, the toppings of this pizza are bacon bits (naturally) and pepperoni.
The Bacon Wrapped Crust DEEP! DEEP! Dish Pizza is a fail because it does too much and not enough simultaneously. Pepperoni pizza is a bonafide classic but seeing it in this tortured, overworked way is an outright disservice. And if it's bacon Little Caesar's wanted to highlight with this over-the-top pizza, why tack pepperoni onto it? This pizza is heavy in every way imaginable and loses its way in terms of flavor. Let's face it, what do deep-dish pizza, bacon, and pepperoni all have in common? Grease, grease, and more grease.
Papa John's Epic Pepperoni-Stuffed Crust Pizza: Decadent In All The Wrong Ways
Fast food pizza chains have a tendency to be overzealous with meat pizzas, and this definitely rings true for Papa Johns' Epic Pepperoni-Stuffed Crust Pizza. Pizza Hut's stuffed crust craze that started in the '90s was so popular with customers that it practically became an industry standard. Pizza Hut's success inspired many imitators, but Papa Johns was way late to the party and didn't launch its own take on stuffed crust until the end of 2020. Perhaps this was why the chain felt like it needed to go big or go home with the release of Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza. Two years later, pepperoni was added to the stuffed crust ... in epic proportions.
Pepperoni stuffed crust seems normal enough in fast food pizza land (where a lot of weird things go down), but Papa Johns' decision to tuck whole circular slices of pepperoni into the crust was decadent at best and at worst, a potential choking hazard. Our Mashed review pointed out some issues with how the sheer volume of stuffing affected the crust's overall texture, noting, "the actual crust was a little raw and gummy where it met the fillings ... because of the extra moisture from the cheese and pepperoni."
Is Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza Outlandish Enough To Make A Comeback?
No one outpizzas the Pizza Hut, and in 2015, the company was willing to prove it takes that slogan seriously by making a pizza so elaborately ridiculous no other chain would dare recreate it. Enter Hot Dog Bites Pizza, a meal that says more is definitely more, and truly lets its freak flag fly. Pizza Hut encouraged eaters to dip the hot dog bite crust into French's yellow mustard, which was included as a side.
It is unclear who the target audience was for this creation. What kind of person thinks, "hm, you know what would taste so great right now? Fast food pizza and cocktail wieners." The odd separation between these two foods is physically evident in the pizza itself. The hot dog portion is a circle of pigs in blankets meant to be torn away from the rest of the pie, essentially leaving you with a crustless triangle of pepperoni pizza. In the end, the disjointed nature of Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza led to its discontinuance, but kitschy novelties like this one have been known to resurface as promotional fads.
The Birthday Cake Pizza At Happy Joe's Pizza And Ice Cream Is Icky Sweet
Happy Joe's Pizza and Ice Cream is a fast food pizza chain that originated in Iowa in 1972. Founder Joe Whitty is credited with inventing taco pizza, a customer favorite at Happy Joe's to this day despite containing lettuce, the most polarizing pizza topping since pineapple. Happy Joe's thinks pizza shouldn't be limited to lunch or dinner food -- the restaurant makes a breakfast pizza with bacon and eggs and pizza for dessert as well. Dessert pizzas are rather tough to pull off, and in the case of Happy Joe's, the attempt is not a success.
There are a few dessert pizzas on Happy Joe's menu, but the one that really takes the, uh, cake, is the Birthday Cake Pizza. This item is relatively new to Happy Joe's and is made up of cake batter, vanilla pudding, icing, and sprinkles. A small slice might be okay, but unlike the other pizzas that have cinnamon or fruit to balance out the sweetness, Birthday Cake Pizza is just way too sugary. Seeing as this is a pizza fast food chain that has "ice cream" in its name, you may want to keep it simple and go for a couple of scoops instead.
Dunkin' Made Personal Pizzas Back In The Day, And We Hope They Never Do Again
Ladies and gentlemen, Dunkin' Donuts has officially entered the fast food pizza chat. We have to be honest, Dunkin's food has never been anything to write home about, but its bagels and donuts get the job done. The franchise has made many attempts over the years to create new, buzzworthy food items, but did you know that it actually sold personal pizzas for a little while? Back in early 2008, Dunkin' finally kissed its hardworking microwaves goodbye and said hello to every cafe's favorite cooking appliance: the convection oven. This oven must have seemed like a portal to unforeseen opportunities, and in the flurry of excitement, Dunkin' seemed to believe that anything they put inside it would turn into gold.
Not so much. Yes, pizza and ovens fit together like a hand and glove, but put a frozen pizza in a convection oven and what do you get? A heated-up frozen pizza. Dunkin's five-inch personal pizzas came in three flavors: Supreme (with sausage, pepperoni, and peppers), pepperoni, and cheese. Needless to say, this experimental pie did not catch on and Dunkin' pizza quietly left the menu, and for the most part, everyone's memory.
Nothing But Stuffed Crust From Pizza Hut Seems Like A Joke — But It Wasn't
Pizza Hut is extremely proud of changing the fast food pizza game by introducing Stuffed Crust Pizza in 1995 and we aren't trying to diminish the brilliance of this mass-marketed innovation, but what they cooked up for the 25th anniversary of Stuffed Crust Pizza in 2021 was pretty strange. That January, Pizza Hut announced that fans in the Los Angeles and Dallas areas could feast on the super exclusive, limited-time-only menu item called Nothing But Stuffed Crust -- a crisp yet fluffy ring of cheese-packed dough without all that pesky pizza in the way. Um, maybe it was a better idea on paper?
Try and picture it: you walk up to the Pizza Hut box sitting on the table, plate in hand, and when you open it there's Nothing But Stuffed Crust. It isn't terrible, just odd, disappointing, and poorly packaged. Also, isn't Nothing But Stuffed Crust just cheese-filled bread sticks in ring form? Wouldn't a slender box brimming with cheesy breadsticks be a more logical way to feed a crowd? Pizza Hut executives maintain that they've had people ask if it was possible to order just stuffed crust, and this was the inspiration behind the idea. Although this might be true, Nothing But Stuffed Crust's gimmicky run at the franchise did not expand outside of Dallas or Los Angeles, nor did it extend beyond its January 2021 promotional period.
Domino's Cheeseburger Pizza Reminds Us Why Ketchup And Mustard On Pizza Is Wrong
In theory, cheeseburger pizza doesn't sound like the worst idea. Cheeseburgers and pizza do share some common ingredients, but Domino's interpretation was quite the fail. Rather than celebrate the beef, cheese, and tomato components of both foods, Domino's threw it all on the pie. Most pizzas stick with a classic tomato-based sauce and mozzarella cheese — but Domino's scoffed at such a play-it-safe idea. What's the point of using traditional pizza sauce and cheese when you could make Cheeseburger Pizza with American cheese and ketchup-mustard sauce instead? Ok, Domino's, whatever you say.
First of all, can we just stop trying to make mustard and pizza happen? (Looking at you too, Pizza Hut). If there are people out there who actually enjoy dipping their pizza in mustard, we're willing to bet this is a character trait they don't go out of their way to advertise. Nonetheless, Domino's boldly paraded forward with Cheeseburger Pizza starting in 2020, but it is no longer spotted on menus in the U.S. As of 2023, Cheeseburger Pizza has been spotted as a limited-time-only special at Domino's locations in Singapore, but a stateside comeback hasn't happened ... yet.
Read the original article on Mashed.