Is there dairy in Papa John’s crust?

Papa John’s is one of the most popular pizza chains in the United States. With over 5,000 locations worldwide, it’s no surprise that many people enjoy their pizza on a regular basis. One common question that arises is whether Papa John’s crust contains dairy ingredients like milk or cheese.

The Ingredients in Papa John’s Crust

According to the Papa John’s website, the main ingredients in their original crust are:

  • Enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid)
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Yeast
  • Soybean oil
  • Salt

As you can see, the listed ingredients do not contain any dairy products like milk, cheese, butter, or whey. The crust is vegan-friendly and does not contain any animal-derived ingredients.

No Milk or Cheese in the Dough

Upon close inspection of the ingredients list, the Papa John’s pizza crust is made simply of flour, water, sugar, yeast, soybean oil, and salt. There is no milk, cheese, or other dairy products present in the dough itself. While the chain offers specialty crusts with cheese baked into the rim, this applies only to the normal original crust used on their pizzas.

The Crust is Not Brushed With Butter

Some pizza places will brush their crusts with butter or other dairy ingredients before or after baking to make them crispier and tastier. However, Papa John’s does not do this with their original crust. It is vegan-friendly and dairy-free straight out of the oven.

No Chance of Cross-Contamination

Since there are no dairy ingredients used in making Papa John’s original pizza crust, there is no risk of the dough being cross-contaminated with milk or cheese during the preparation process. They have dedicated equipment and procedures in place to keep allergen-free foods separated.

Specialty Crusts May Contain Dairy

While the original crust is dairy-free, Papa John’s does offer some specialty crusts that do contain milk or cheese products. For example:

  • The Cheese Stuffed Crust has mozzarella cheese baked into the outer rim.
  • The Deluxe Cheese Crust is topped with butter and a cheese blend before baking.
  • The Parmesan Crust is topped with melted butter and parmesan cheese.

So if you need to avoid dairy, be sure to stick with the original crust or ask about other crust options that may be dairy-free.

Other Menu Items Containing Dairy

While the original pizza crust is dairy-free, Papa John’s does use cheese and other dairy products in several menu items, including:

  • Pizzas with regular or specialty cheese toppings
  • Cheesy breadsticks
  • Chocolate chip cookie
  • Some dipping sauces like ranch, blue cheese, and buffalo sauce

Always check the full ingredients list if you need to avoid milk-based products. Many items can be made dairy-free by removing the cheese and/or substituting an alternative dipping sauce.

What About the Nutritional Yeast?

Some people wonder about the yeast listed in the ingredients for Papa John’s pizza crust. Nutritional yeast is sometimes used in dairy-free and vegan foods as a cheese substitute.

However, the yeast in Papa John’s crust is just regular yeast. It is not nutritional yeast. The ingredient list specifies “yeast” which refers to a leavening agent, not any dairy substitute.

Can You Request Dairy-Free Options?

For customers with food allergies or dietary preferences, Papa John’s is quite accommodating. You can request for your pizza to be made completely without cheese or with dairy-free cheese substitutes like Daiya. Many stores also have gluten-free or cauliflower pizza crusts available.

Just contact your local Papa John’s location in advance to ask about special pizza orders with dairy-free or allergy-friendly options. The team members should be able to omit cheese and other dairy ingredients upon request.

What About Cross-Contamination Risks?

Even though the original crust contains no dairy ingredients, some people with severe dairy allergies wonder about cross-contamination risks in the kitchen where cheese is heavily used.

Papa John’s does train its employees on food allergy procedures and takes steps to avoid cross-contamination as much as possible. However, there is always a slight risk in an environment with shared equipment.

The best option is to speak to your specific location about their practices and precautions. Many allergy sufferers find that they can safely eat the dairy-free crust without issue. But use your best judgment based on the severity of the allergy.

Nutrition Information

Here is the nutrition information for Papa John’s original pizza crust, according to their website:

Serving Size 1/6 of a 14″ pizza crust
Calories 130
Fat 2.5g
Sodium 320mg
Carbs 25g
Fiber 1g
Sugars 3g
Protein 3g

As you can see from the nutrition label, Papa John’s crust is low in fat and high in carbs and fiber, which is typical for bread products made with enriched wheat flour.

Comparison to Other Pizza Chains

How does Papa John’s crust compare to some other popular national pizza chains in terms of dairy ingredients? Here is a quick overview:

  • Domino’s: The Domino’s pizza crust also does not contain any dairy products. It’s ingredients are very similar to Papa John’s.
  • Pizza Hut: Most Pizza Hut crusts are dairy-free, however some specialty options like the Stuffed Crust pizza do contain cheese.
  • Little Caesars: Little Caesars standard pizza crust is also dairy-free, though their Deep Deep Dish pizza does contain butter in the crust.
  • California Pizza Kitchen: Most CPK crusts do not have dairy, but some include butter or cheese ingredients like their Original BBQ Chicken pizza.

In summary, dairy-free crusts seem to be the norm among most major pizza chains. But it’s always important to check the ingredients for specialty pizzas that may have cheese or butter baked into the crust.

Tips for Ordering Dairy-Free From Papa John’s

Here are some tips for customers who need to avoid dairy when ordering Papa John’s pizza:

  • Stick to the original pizza crust, no cheese stuffed or deluxe options
  • Order your pizzas without regular cheese or with dairy-free cheese
  • Request pizza to be made on a dedicated gluten-free or cauliflower crust if available
  • Avoid creamy dipping sauces, choose marinara or oil & vinegar instead
  • Ask about allergy procedures and precautions at your location
  • Speak to a manager if needed about dairy-free requirements

With some simple modifications, you can easily enjoy delicious pizza from Papa John’s without the dairy.


The original Papa John’s pizza crust does not contain any dairy ingredients like milk, cheese, or butter. It’s ingredients are vegan-friendly. While specialty crusts may include cheese, the regular crust is dairy-free. With care to avoid cheese toppings and creamy sauces, most people with dairy restrictions can safely eat Papa John’s pizza.

However, it’s always smart for those with severe allergies to check with their location about risk of cross-contamination in the kitchen. With good preparation and communication, Papa John’s can be a tasty pizza option for those avoiding dairy products.

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