Papa Murphy's and Papa John's have similar names, but just how similar are they, really? Both are pizza chains well-recognized in the pizza industry, but when comparing one pie to another, which is actually "better" depends on a number of factors.
But don't worry; we've zipped over to our local Papa Murphy's and Papa John's eateries to conduct a side-by-side taste test, so you don't have to! In this post, we'll delve into a number of aspects that we think will strike your interest, from how much each pizza chain charges for its pies all the way down to how each tastes. This is an in-depth dive into the flavor and overall experience garnered from a visit to each chain, so don't expect a quick run-of-the-mill review here. We've gone to great lengths to offer you our most honest thoughts about Papa John's and Papa Murphy's and how the two compare to one another. Let's dig in.
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At first glance, both Papa Murphy's and Papa John's seem to feature unique items. Of course you'll see your typical pizza options on the menu at each joint, but digging deeper, we see each chain offering its fan base a little something different -- which intrigued us, to say the least.
Papa Murphy's, for one, offers its fan base a plethora of pizza choices that could be deemed suitable for a variety of diets. For example, this spot offers crustless keto bowls (although Papa John's does, too) as well as meatballs, "stuffed" pizza, and even pizza with dairy-free cheese! Papa John's, on the other hand, also carries crustless bowls referred to as "Papa Bowls," but also doles out wings, "Papa Bites," and other yummies not mentioned on Papa Murphy's website. We also noticed that Papa John's allows you to pick the flavor and type of crust you'd like to receive, while Papa Murphy's offers more limited options: original crust, pan, or gluten-free.
So, what do we make of all this? Not much, really. Each of these pizzerias boasts a unique range of mouthwatering delights, and depending on your culinary cravings for the day, only one of these restaurants might emerge as the pizza paradise best tailored to your taste buds.
When it comes to pricing, we were a little taken aback by what we discovered. In our area, a small pizza at Papa John's may run you as much as $13.89, which is pure robbery, if you ask us, especially when compared to the similar price we paid at Papa Murphy's for a medium pizza of the same variety.
So, what pizza options do you have at each chain? Papa John's offers small, medium, large, and XL crusts. As for Papa Murphy's, expect to snag a medium, large, or "family-size" pizza at an affordable price. As most people know, it's always a smart move to keep an eye out for coupons and promos happening at the time of your order to secure the best deal possible. When viewing the menu at Papa John's, taking advantage of promos is a must because, in our opinion, even the smallest option costs a bit too much. Having said that, as you'll soon see, we think we have an understanding of why there could be such a disparity in pricing between the two chains; keep reading to find out what we've discovered.
When it comes to overall convenience, we can undoubtedly say that Papa John's is the more convenient option of the two. After all, who wants to be ravenously hungry only to walk into a pizza shop, grab a pizza, then have to go back home and bake it? So, having a pizza already hot, delicious, and ready to be devoured is definitely one of the most convenient ways to buy pizza.
Nevertheless, as mentioned before, pricing at Papa Murphy's can be a bit cheaper than that of its Papa John's competitor. We're sure that one of the ways in which Papa Murphy's is able to cut costs is the fact that it isn't dishing up pre-cooked pizzas. By saving on energy, equipment, and more by nixing the cooking process, we do expect the chain to offer cheaper pizzas, and indeed, they certainly do.
One additional thing we should note is that in terms of convenience, you should know that both Papa John's and Papa Murphy's have convenient online ordering options that allow you to order ahead without having to call the store. The website and app also feature coupons and promos that can be automatically applied to your order, making the ordering process easier at both pizza chains.
With both restaurants, we chose to walk in to grab our grub, rather than to get it via delivery. When we ordered online at Papa John's, we received a notification about 10 minutes later that our pizzas were indeed done. Walking into Papa John's, we were immediately welcomed by wafts of fresh dough and a warm, friendly, welcoming face. The place had no chairs (no dine-in here), but the process was smooth and seamless, given that we had already paid online.
Papa Murphy's was a similar experience, though we were quoted a wait time much longer than what we actually experienced. In fact, like Papa John's, Papa Murphy's also featured an online tracker, but the status of the tracker seemed to indicate that our pizzas were still "in progress." To double-check, we gave the restaurant a ring, and sure enough, the sales associate informed us that our pizzas were actually ready, though it was about 10-15 minutes before the actual quoted time.
Much like our experience at Papa John's, the Papa Murphy's associate was friendly and ready to help. She directed us to the pizza rack, where our pizza sat unrefrigerated, and asked us if we had questions about how to bake it. Since we're already Papa Murphy aficionados, we declined the offer, gave our thanks, and left with unbaked pizzas in hand. We were really hungry but had to wait until we got home to start cooking before we were able to sample its magic.
As far as appearances go, we'd say that both restaurants provide pizzas that look pretty darn scrumptious. Opening up the Papa John's pizza was most tempting, of course, since it had already been cooked. The cheese was noticeably thick and gooey, and the pepperoni gleamed of shiny red perfection. The smells were heavenly; it was very hard not to dig in right there on the spot.
Papa John's "The Works" pizza was also a visual temptation, and the strong smell of the green peppers and mixed with other toppings was quite noticeable. We did notice how the green peppers in this pizza looked almost borderline gray, much more so in person. Still, we assume this is the natural look of green peppers after they've been cooked a while ... otherwise, all other toppings were half hidden amongst a boatload of cheese. Sweet!
As for Papa Murphy's, picking up a lukewarm, not-yet-cooked pizza wasn't quite the same as picking one up cooked fresh, although once we took it out of the oven, we were definitely pleased. Nevertheless, we did notice major differences between Papa Murphy's initial cook-up and Papa John's, especially when it comes to crust and cheese, so be sure to stay tuned to get the scoop on which of the two came out on top in these categories.
As already mentioned, once we cooked our Papa Murphy's pie, the differences between the pizza in comparison to Papa John's became much more apparent. This is especially true in the context of crust. Papa John's pizza features a pillowy soft crust and almost seems like a little flour has been dusted over the top for added effect. Having said that, the dough itself isn't "doughy", per se, but it is soft (especially the top crust). It's also much thinner than what you'd get from a traditional pan pizza sort. Keep in mind that the crust on a pizza from Papa John's is nowhere near a "cracker" crust, though it may be thin. It's a soft and pliable crust with no crunch at all. It's also very tasty, if we do say so ourselves!
As for Papa Murphy's, well, the crust didn't impress us. Actually, we were a little shocked when we pulled it out of the oven. The "original" crust was remarkably thin, even to the point of being crispy on the bottom. We did our best to follow the instructions that came with it; however, all we got was a thin and waxy textured crust, similar to what you might receive at a bowling alley.
We aren't saying that Papa Murphy's crust won't suit anyone or even that it's completely disgusting. But in terms of which of the two comes out ahead, we'd pick Papa John's, hands-down.
A sauce can really make or break a pizza, can't it? When it comes to the differences between sauces at Papa John's versus Papa Murphy's, we'd say that there's one that clearly tastes better than the other — and no, we aren't just being biased.
When it comes to Papa Murphy's, the best way to describe the pizza sauce is mellow. It's not gross at all; in fact, it reminds us of a decent, high-quality brand of jarred marinara. Still, when compared to Papa John's, it lacks the thick, rich, and robust taste of an authentic tomato sauce infused with herbs, garlic, and all the things we swoon over when it comes to a pizza sauce done right.
As you might have guessed by now, sauce is something that we think Papa John's gets just right. Its hearty tomato flavor is anything but mediocre and features plenty of herbal, savory flavors without coming off too pungent or too sweet. It's a thick and rich red sauce that provides the perfect layer to the already fluffy and delicious pizza dough the eatery offers. It also lays a delicious foundation for hearty toppings. Yum!
Next up is cheese. Now, in case you don't know, we here at Mashed can get quite particular when it comes to cheese on pizza. It's got to be real stretchy, real gooey, and real good. As mentioned before, Papa John's pizza and Papa Murphy's pizza look a lot different in terms of cheese, and as such, we were thrilled to start tasting and find out whether what we saw tasted as good as it looked.
Indeed, Papa John's pizza looked cheesily melty and delicious, and, at first bite, it totally was. This was especially apparent when it came to Papa John's pepperoni pizza. Since there were fewer toppings on this one, we got a better chance to sample the essence of the cheese, and boy, was it marvelous. It has plenty of that true "tangy" mozzarella flavor, with lots of yummy goop and stretch with each bite.
Honestly, Papa Murphy's had a good bit of stretch as well (as seen in the photo) even when it came to the supreme "Papa's Favorite" version of the pizza. And though the stretch was there, the cheese didn't quite come out as flavorful as Papa John's. Sure, it tasted good, but it didn't pack that same tangy, genuine mozzarella flavor that the other pie had. And though we saw flecks of cheddar throughout the pepperoni version of Papa Murphy's pizza, we didn't exactly taste it. It was somewhat flat and bland without any sort of complexity to spice things up.
We'll open this segment by warning you that when it comes to toppings on these two pizza chains, our opinion varies wildly. Both Papa John's and Papa Murphy's come with pros and cons in terms of toppings, so for this, we'll need to compare the two pizza brand flavors side-by-side to give you the best overview of what we discovered.
We'll start with Papa John's and Papa Murphy's pepperoni pizzas. We noticed that Papa John's pepperoni was noticeably thicker than Papa Murphy's. Now, don't get us wrong here; Papa John's pepperoni isn't the thickest we've seen. But because Papa Murphy's offers pepperoni that's paper-thin, it makes Papa John's pepperoni appear that much thicker. Also, we must take this time to declare how utterly delicious Papa John's pepperoni is. It's got the perfect amount of color, spice, and savor, and just one bite of this beauty (as seen in the photo) had us raving.
When comparing the two deluxe versions of the pizzas, however, things get a little trickier to assess. Though Papa John's ingredients are more coarsely cut and definitely seem to be of higher quality, there's still something to appreciate about the color and overall flavor of Papa Murphy's deluxe-style pizza veggies. The green peppers were bright green as we'd expect, there was red onion instead of white, and all ingredients were dished up diced, which made for a lighter mouthfeel overall. Papa John's had coarser toppings and came off weirdly bland. Go figure!
We can't say we expect pizza parlors to offer us much in the way of "extras," but in some cases, you'll get lucky and score free extras you never really expected to receive. For example, our Papa John's pizza came with a complimentary pepperoncini, a practice known exclusively to Papa John's. Papa John's also offers garlic dipping sauce, although it seems you may need to pay an additional 99 cents if you expect to sample this tasty dipping sauce on your next Papa John's slice.
So, are there any special additions you can expect your Papa Murphy's pizza to come with? Not unless you consider the gobs of never-ending plastic that surrounds your pizza an extra. Seriously, you shouldn't expect to get free handouts from Papa Murphy's, but as we said before, it isn't necessarily customary to provide pizza-goers with additional food fare anyway. Nevertheless, you can still order a side of the restaurant's own version of garlic butter, marinara, and ranch for a little over a buck each. Oh, and in case you're wondering, Papa John's offers marinara and ranch, too, along with spicy garlic sauce, cheese dip sauce, bleu cheese dressing, buffalo dip, and more.
With all things considered, the overall flavor of both Papa Murphy's and Papa John's comes down to the type of slice you order. As we've already stated, we weren't too impressed with either deluxe-style option, though Papa Murphy's came out slightly ahead in terms of flavor in this regard. Though we tend to love Papa John's in terms of sauce and dough, its "The Works" pizza seems utterly bland, and that's coming from folks who love a little bit of everything topping their pizza.
Still, when it comes to pepperoni pizza options, Papa John's clearly had the best taste. Its dough coupled with the hearty tomato sauce, uber-gooey cheese, and perfectly spiced pepperoni made for a mouthwatering pizza we can't wait to sample again. Papa Murphy's pepperoni pizza fell flat for us, as the sauce, crust, cheese, and even the pepperoni itself tasted subpar to the deliciousness Papa John's provides.
All in all, we think both places have decent offerings, but the two vary in terms of taste, especially when it comes to certain pizza types. Overall, we enjoyed Papa John's more, mainly because the joint's ingredients, cheese, sauce, and dough come off as more authentic. Having said that, Papa John's pepperoni pizza was definitely the star of the show while its "The Works" version of a deluxe-style pie wasn't quite what we hoped.
If it's an awesome, high-quality pie you're looking for, definitely give Papa John's a try, especially if you love good-tasting and flavorful pepperoni. If you want something with lots of toppings to scratch your itch for a deluxe or supreme-style pizza, we think Papa Murphy's and Papa John's both have decent offerings; just know we were not necessarily blown away by either one.
Take it for what you will, but because Papa John's and Papa Murphy's are so different, they'll likely appeal to different people. Depending on your palate, you may find that you really love Papa Murphy's, and hey, that's a-okay with us. As for our vote, we definitely lean towards Papa John's as our overall favorite.
Read the original article on Mashed.