A Vegan's Guide to Papa John's: Best Menu Options, Swaps, and More

Papa John's vegan guide

Photos courtesy of Papa John's. Illustration by Treehugger / Catherine Song

Papa John’s sauce and original hand-tossed dough are already completely plant-based and free from animal products, so satisfying that pizza craving might be easier than you'd expect.

Since the pizza chain doesn't carry vegan cheese, however, those following a vegan diet will have to forgo the cheese completely, opting instead for extra sauce and veggie toppings.

Top Pick: Garden Fresh Pizza With No Cheese

Papa John's carries a handful of meatless specialty pizzas, only one of which can be customized without dairy.

The garden fresh pizza comes with green peppers, onions, mushrooms, black olives, and vine-ripened Roma tomatoes on a base of original crust and tomato sauce, but it’s easy to request leaving the cheese off. This is a good option if you’re in a hurry and don’t want to build your own pizza.

Vegan Pizza Crust

While the restaurant’s original hand-tossed dough is vegan, their other options for pizza crust are not.

The original dough contains unbleached enriched wheat flour, water, sugar, soybean oil, salt, and yeast. The thin crust and the gluten-free crust contain either milk, eggs, or both.

Vegan Sauces

Your pizza can include Papa John's basic tomato sauce or BBQ sauce, both of which are plant-based. The restaurant chain also offers dipping sauces, which come prepackaged in individual cups:

  • Signature garlic sauce (which is made with soybean oil, not butter)
  • Buffalo dipping sauce
  • BBQ dipping sauce
  • Pizza dipping sauce

Vegan Toppings

Papa John's offers a selection of fresh veggies to include on your cheese-less pizza, including:

  • Onions
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Banana peppers
  • Green peppers
  • Mushrooms
  • Roma tomatoes
  • Pineapple
  • Spinach
  • Green olives
  • Black olives

Vegan Seasonings

For a little extra flavor, consider adding one of Papa John's seasoning packets, either the crushed red pepper flakes or the special seasoning. The latter includes only salt, spices, garlic, wheat starch, dried onion, soybean oil, paprika extract, and natural flavor.

Vegan Sides

The only vegan side at Papa John's is the original breadsticks, made of the same original hand-tossed dough used in their pizzas.

Another option is to add a side of whole pepperoncinis—the spicy and pickled peppers work well as a seasoned snack on the side.

Vegan Desserts

All the desserts at Papa John’s contain either dairy, eggs, or both, and in some cases gelatin. This includes the popular chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and cinnamon pull-aparts.

Build Your Own Pizza

Building your own pizza is what delivery is all about, so it comes as no surprise that customizing is one of the best vegan options for Papa John’s.

Create your own pizza by choosing the original crust and either the original or the bbq pizza sauce, both of which are vegan. Top it off with a mix of your favorite veggies and don’t forget to choose the “no cheese” option to make it completely dairy-free.

Papa John's makes ordering easy with their online system that prompts the user for each component individually: crust, sauce, cheese, meats, and veggies, and you can even specify how you’d like the slices cut or if you’d like the pizza cooked normally or well-done.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Is Papa John's vegan pizza gluten free?

    Papa John's gluten-free dough contains milk and eggs, making it non-vegan. There are no pizza options at Papa Johns that are both vegan and gluten-free.

  • Are Papa John's garlic knots vegan?

    Papa John's garlic knots are made with their original hand-tossed dough, which is vegan, but they are sprinkled with a parmesan seasoning toping. To satisfy your garlic bread craving, you can opt for breadsticks dipped in garlic sauce.

  • Is Papa John's garlic dipping sauce vegan?

    Yes! As it turns out, Papa John's famous garlic dipping sauce is vegan, since it is made with soybean oil instead of butter. Dipping your breadsticks or your pizza slice into this savory sauce is sure to add a satisfying punch of flavor to your meal.

  • Does Papa John's have vegan pepperoni?

    Some of Papa John’s international locations have recently announced new vegan items, including a vegan stuffed crust pizza and vegan meats. Papa John's restaurants in the United States and Canada, however, have yet to include as many strictly vegan options.