Hand Tossed vs Pan Pizza Hut: the World of Crust

Visiting Pizza Hut, I am always faced with a question: Hand Tossed vs Pan Pizza Hut. Every time I wonder what to order this time. Or maybe there’s nothing to struggle with and there’s not much difference?

Pizza lovers can understand my difficulties. Pizza Hut presents us with the opportunity to design the pizza of our dreams. We get a myriad of toppings, a variety of sauces, and even a crust. How can we not be lost here?

Hand Tossed Vs Pan Pizza Hut: Discussing Pizza Hut's Crusts

Pizza Hut Chain

Founded in 1958 in small-town Kansas City, Pizza Hut has become a global pizza chain. The brand’s success can be attributed to its quick adaptation to new things while staying true to tradition. Vintage Pizza Hut recipes have been kept alive for decades because each dish has its own fans.

Speaking of pan pizzas, in 2019 Pizza Hut offered an updated pan pizza recipe. Changes were made to the material of the pan and there was a slight improvement in the dough.

Not everyone accepted the update favorably, and it’s not about a change in taste, but in the fact of the change. True pizza fans believe that preserving recipes is a matter of pride. Perhaps the best recipes should be immortalized in stone.

The original pan pizza recipe lasted about 40 years, and IMHO all that happened was that the bottom got browner and crispier. Either way, this is exactly the Pizza Hut’s pan pizza we appreciate and love.

But that doesn’t stop us from enjoying hand tossed pizza too. Mood-wise, I really like this light pizza in the combination with fresh salad vegetables.

Okay, let’s take a journey through the delicious world of crusts and compare the two recipes: hand tossed pizza vs pan pizza. Let’s talk about this dilemma so everyone can choose their ideal option.

Pizza Hut History Photo

Hand Tossed vs Pan Pizza Hut: The Key Difference

No need to go back and forth, everyone already knows that the main characteristic is the crust. In super brief, If we are talking about a hand tossed pizza, its dough is thin and evenly crispy, whereas pan pizza seems to be thicker and chewier. But this is not the end.

Anyone who has ever tried pan pizza will tell you about narrow, extra crispy layer on the corner of the crust. As soon as I see that round toasted edge, I’m ready to bite it all the way around the circumference.

Comparing pizza crusts

Сomparing pizza crusts, we pay attention to such parameters: thick/thin, crispy/puffy.

Regular hand tossed pizza is distinguished by a thinner layer of dough. This classic four-component recipe includes flour, yeast, salt, and water. The filling does not reach the edge, and along it remains a small gap. Hand tossed crust texture is crumbly and crispy, and it’s easy to hold a slice by its side.

Pan pizza dough includes a fifth ingredient that is olive oil. The oil in the composition is necessary to keep the pizza from sticking to the pan.

The classic recipe calls for a heavy cast-iron pan. Because lightweight aluminum with its nonstick coating will simply melt in the oven. Or maybe it’s because at the times the recipe was created, there were no nonstick coatings and we’re just following tradition.

The texture of the dough is denser, and the crust is thicker and fluffier. If you like eating toasted bread, you know what I mean.

Do you want to know how many types of pizza crust there are? Have a look at our research Are There “6 Different Types of Pizza Crust or More?“.

The Variety of Crusts at Pizza Hut

Baking methods

Comparing cooking process, we look at these: dough composition, rolling features, and baking.

Macking hand tossed pizza

As the name suggests, Pizza Hut’s hand tossed pizza is hand rolled. A professional pizza maker does this by twisting the dough in the air, without using a rolling pin. Disclamer: don’t try to replicate this at home! One pizzaiolo school student told me that he even had to scrub the dough off the ceiling. I don’t know if he was serious.

Hand tossed pizza dough has gas bubbles after fermentation. Some number of bubbles must be retained to keep the dough light. A rolling pin is not used because it can crush them all.

But at the same time, too much fermentation gas will raise the dough too high. Yes, this balance is not easy to achieve.

Hand tossed crust pizza is baked at maximum temperature for a short time and on a pizza stone.

Pizza Hut hand tossed crust

Backing pan pizza

Pan pizza dough is placed in the pan and kneaded near the rim of the pan with fingers. The edge of the crust is slightly curved upward. This gives more dough that retains a lot of fermentation gas.

So, original pan pizza crust is thicker. At the same time, the bottom of the pizza is a little crispy and the edges are soft and fluffy.

It takes longer to bake Pizza Hut pan pizza and the temperature is lower.

The difference in toppings

When comparing toppings, look at these: variety of toppings, quantity, order.

Toppings for hand tossed pizza

In general, hand tossed pizza has pepperoni and cheese toppings.

In terms of variety of toppings offered, the hand tossed pizza surely wins. Hand tossed pizzas can have additions of vegetables, mushrooms, ham, bacon and garlic butter around the edges. It’s possible because thin crust pizzas are faster and easier to bake.

For hand tossed pizzas, it is customary to lay out a mixture of all toppings at once, rather than layering ingredients.

Toppings for pan pizza

Same, pepperoni sausage and cheese are the favorite toppings ever.

Pan pizza, of course, is a type of deep dish, so it’s definitely heartier. Pan pizza dough keeps its shape better and holds more toppings. Read more about the nutrients next, but be aware that pan pizzas can have up to 60% more toppings weight per slice than hand tossed one.

There are also differences in the stacking of fillings. Pan pizza toppings are placed in layers, while hand pizzas have toppings mixed in.

Pizza Hut's Pan Pizza

The cheese differences

When comparing cheeses, pay attention to the following: what kind of cheese is used and where this cheese layer is located.

Hand tossed pizza cheese

Both Pizza Hut recipes use mozzarella cheese. Also white cheddar and crumbled parmesan are additionally added to the hand tossed pizza.

This combination creates a particularly sticky mixture to keep the stuffing glued together and prevent the stuffing from falling off.

Pan pizza cheese

For pan pizza, only mozzarella is used. It is the second layer after the sauce, that creates the right consistency and makes the pan crust crispy and delicious.

Sauce differences

Let’s compare sauces by composition and order of layer.

Sauce for hand tossed pizza

The base of hand tossed pizza sauce consists of tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil, as well as a variety of herbs and spices: garlic powder, basil, oregano, thyme and others.

Of course, the exact composition is a trade secret, although you can find some information on the net. Perhaps this will be our next topic. But in any case, the final taste is influenced not only by the composition of products and their proportions. Tomato and herb cultivars and their ripeness play an important role.

The sauce is placed as the last layer on top of the cheese. The olive oil in the sauce creates a coating against burning on top.

Sauce for pan pizza

Pan pizza sauce also has three ingredients, but they are different. They are tomatoes, tomato sauce, and herbs.

Pan pizza sauce is placed first directly on the dough, so it should be thicker. It does not contain water, but tomatoes, tomato sauce, herbs and seasonings. It is quite dense and slightly sweet.

Slicing and sizing

Hand-tossed pizzas are usually available in three sizes. These are the medium size at 8 slices, the large size at 12 slices and the party size at 24 slices. The slices are conveniently picked up just by hand.

Pan pizza sizes include personal size, medium size at 8 slices, large size at 10 slices. To get the first piece out, it’s more convenient to take a spatula. Pan pizzas have fewer slices but are heavier and more filling.

There’s a new post on pizza sizes and slicing in the edit right now. When it’s ready, there will be a link to Pizza sizes inches here.

Nutrient content differences

When it comes to calories, rising dough height is not as important. More means how much flour, sugar, and oil is in the mix. Hand tossed dough has a light composition without oil or sugar. The toppings are usually not too much and are set back from the edge to make it easy to hold a slice.

So, thanks to a thinner crust and a smaller layer of toppings, Pizza Hut hand tossed pizza has 20 to 60% fewer calories than pan pizza. The exact value will depend on whether you put in some additional toppings.

Pizza Hut pan pizza has thicker crust, it’s bready and chewy. Thanks to thick crust, you can get more of your favorite toppings. But along with that, get ready to have more fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

To avoid getting frustrated, consider the fact that the original pan pizzas are very hearty. When you would be full of four slices of thin crust, you would only need three slices of thick pan crust. And the calories would roughly equal out.

What’s The Choice: Hand Tossed or Pan Pizza Hut?

Both Pizza Hut dishes are unforgivingly toothsome. And in fact, it’s a crime to limit yourself to choosing one only. So what to do if the question is pan pizza vs. hand tossed pizza?

The answer depends on whether you now prefer a light, hot appetizer, or a hearty pizza pie. Generally speaking, if you want a thin crust or a thick one.

Try baking these pizzas at home, it’s not as hard as it sounds.

How to cook original pan pizza at home

Let’s start with deep dish. Take out any high-sided bakeware, a deep dish, or a steel skillet. Be sure to grease it with vegetable oil to avoid sticking.

Take the simplest products for the dough:

3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 envelope instant dry yeast, 1 teaspoon salt, and a cup and a half of water. Then add six spoonfuls of olive oil and a teaspoonful of sugar.

First combine all the dry ingredients, then add the liquids and knead until the dough is completely homogeneous. This should be a very thorough kneading because the dough should be handled gently afterwards. Wrap the bowl in a towel and leave it for an hour. During this time, the dough will rise double in size and be ready.

Now preheat your oven. Knead the dough with your hands, not a rolling pin. Be gentle and accurate when kneading the dough. You need to keep more gas bubbles for the dough to rise well.

When placing the dough in the pan, make sure it touches the bottom evenly everywhere. Fill your pizza with your favorite toppings and sauce. Baking time is 20-25 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Right after the oven, spatula the edges to separate them from the bakeware.

Enjoy your pizza-baking experience!

Homemade Pizza Hut pan pizza

How to make hand tossed pizza at home

For hand tossed pizza baking, take a pizza stone, so the results will be much better.

Kneading a thin dough is very easy. You will need:

3 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 envelope instant dry yeast, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons sugar, a pinch of herbs, 1 and 1/4 cups warm water, 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Oregano and basil are good, but you can judge according to your own tastes. If the greens are fresh rather than dried, chop them as finely as possible.

Mix all components in a large bowl and knead thoroughly. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and leave to sit at room temperature. In about an hour the dough will rise to twice its original size.

Start preheating the oven and stone.

Split the dough into two or three portions according to the number of pizzas. It will probably be one large pizza to the size of your stone.

Smooth each ball of dough with your hands without pressing down hard. Fill the dough with your favorite sauces and toppings. Leave a small edge that can be extra coated with olive oil. Bake for about 15-20 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit. The exact time can be guided by the color of the cheese coating.

Hope, the result will exceed your expectations!

The Variety of Crusts at Pizza Hut

Choosing between Pan pizza and hand tossed pizza would be easier, but Pizza Hut’s tempting menu includes dozens of pizzas on both thin dough and thick. Let’s go through the different pizza crusts briefly.

To satisfy your curiosity, here are the most unusual kinds of crusts from Pizza Hut restaurants around the world. Some of them are authentic recipes with local products.

Pizza Hut thin crust pizza

This type of Pizza Hut crust can be found at all the chain’s locations all over the world. The crispy crust is universal for all toppings. A little bit of dough makes this pizza suitable for anyone who doesn’t want to eat a lot of carbs.

Pizza Hut stuffed crust

The stuffed crust idea is that nothing will be left lying on the plate. The thick crust hides a melted cheese mixture consisting of five kinds of cheese. Mozzarella determines the consistency, white cheddar gives the flavor, provolone, asiago, and fontina give the savory taste. Stuffed crusts are available at most pizza hut stores and restaurants.

Pizza Hut Cheese Stuffed Crust

Hot dog stuffed crust

For a time, pizza crust stuffed whole hot dog was on sale. What’s special here is that the whole sausage was placed along the edge of the pizza. Yes, two-in-one pizza plus hot dog combo. A little bit of mustard and ketchup was already inside.

Hot dog bites crust

This is a more common variation of the sausage crust, with the bits of sausage in the dough laid out in a circle. Each of the mini hot dogs can be separated from the pizza and dipped in the sauce. Sprinkled sesame seeds on top make the flavor even richer.

Pizza Hut Hot-Dog-Stuffed-Crust

Cheesy bite crust

This Pizza Hut’s pizza is dedicated to cheese fans. The hot dog bites have been replaced with bits of mozzarella cheese to get cheese rolls. It’s all just made for dipping into marinara sauce.

Cheeseburger pizza

As the Pizza Hut ad says, this out-of-this-world pizza includes cheeseburgers nestled in pockets of golden brown crust around it. It’s better seen than told:

Cone crust series

Next in line is an incredible crusted pizza with cones around the edge. This Pizza Hut recipe from the Middle East includes three corn fillings. They are honey mustard chicken, cream cheese, and their combo. The cones have a baked parmesan crust on them.

Crown crust carnival

The Crown crust carnival looks like a crown (surprise!) when viewed from above. The royal pizza is surrounded by pockets of dough with toppings. These are either meatballs or chicken nuggets. These royal pizzas started in the Middle East and gradually became popular in Canada and the U.S.

Gluten-free pizza crust

Gluten-free dough is a must for all Pizza Hut stores and restaurants. Pizza Hut takes careful precautions not only with the dough, but also with sauces, toppings, utensils, and cutting.

There is even a specific term clean cut for the single use of a pizza cutter. The gluten-free dough makes pizza enjoyment open to everyone.

Chicken masala sausage crust

The chicken sausage crust is popular in India because it fits the strict ethics of meat-eating. As with stuffed hot dog pizza, the sausages are baked inside the crust.

By the way, masala is called a spice blend popular in the Indian region. Eating pizza at Pizza Hut is a study in world cuisine indeed.

Chicken masala sausage crust

Hand stretched pizza

Unlike a hand tossed pizza rolled by rotating around the axis, this Philippine pizza is hand stretched to a very thin dough. Its thin crust can be coated with various glazes.

There is a choice of toasted cheddar, toasted parmesan, honey, and garlic parmesan butter. Parmesan and cheddar are baked well and don’t become gooey cheese.

Chili cheese stuffed crust

In 2020, Pizza Hut announced a new product that appealed to fans of spicy food. The pizza crust was stuffed with mozzarella mixed with chili pepper flakes. A long aftertaste was guaranteed!

Black volcano pizza

Another gimmick from Pizza Hut! Black Volcano Pizza has a lava of cheese, crispy chicken pieces and an extraordinary black crust stuffed with cheese. Hot spices are included, which is common in Asia in general and Malaysia in particular.

Pizza researchers say the black color of the crust is due to the activated charcoal in the dough. This adds a great resemblance to a volcano!

Shrimp cheese bite crust

For many Asian countries, seafood is any food. Therefore, the birth of seafood pizza was inescapable. Shrimp Cheese Bite Crust consists of individual pieces of dough stuffed with cheese and shrimp. The crust pieces can be taken separately and dipped in any sauce, from tomato sauce to unagi or soy sauce.

Flying fish roe salmon cream cheese crust

And there’s a real exotic at the end. This is the specialty pizza of Japanese Pizza Hut. The crust consists of salmon, cream cheese and flying fish caviar. It has a mixed sweet and salty taste, which makes it unique in the entire Pizza Hut’s collection.


Which is better hand tossed or pan pizza Pizza Hut?

If you like a thicker crust, you’ll love the original pan pizza crust. If you prefer a thinner crust, stick with the hand tossed pizza. Pizza Hut’s pan pizza is a variation of the classic deep dish pizza. Pizza Hut’s hand tossed pizza is closer to a Neapolitan classic one.

Which tastes better hand tossed or pan pizza?

Both Pizza Hut pizzas are delicious. The only question is which would be better for you now – a light snack with hand tossed pizza or a deep dish meal with pan pizza.

What is the difference in Pizza Hut crusts?

Pizza Hut crusts have a huge variety. Of course, they are divided into thick crust and thin. The original pan pizza belongs to thick dough. Pan pizza crust has bready texture.

The hand tossed pizza belongs to thin dough. It has crispy crust similar to classic Italian.

But also, there are a lot of unusual crusts, such as hot dog stuffed crust, cheese stuffed crust, cheeseburger crust, and many others.

Is Pizza Hut hand tossed crust actually hand tossed?

Yes, hand tossed pizza dough is rolled without a rolling pin, in the air.

The pizza maker tosses the dough up and rotates it on his hand to form a round pizza plate. This is necessary to evenly remove excess gas bubbles from the dough.

If you use a rolling pin, too many bubbles will collapse. So, it regulates the degree of rise of hand tossed dough. To be fair, pan pizzas are also kneaded by hand without a rolling pin, but it doesn’t look so showy.


Thanks to Pizza Hut, eating pizza can turn into a world round trip. We began our journey from the traditional pizza crust and ended up in Asian countries with their incredible cuisine. One can get lost in such diversity.

Pizza Hut's Hand Tossed vs Pan Pizza

As for me, I kind of wish I had had a chance to try exotic pizzas. But on the other hand, I’m almost glad that I only have to choose between Pizza Hut hand tossed and original pan pizza.

Do you agree with me?

Malena Miller

“If you love pizza as much as I do, then I think we can get along.”

I run this blog and I love making pizza. I have 150 pizza recipes. I want to share with you the secrets of cooking pizza

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