Here’s Every Vegan Option at Papa John’s (2020)

In my 13 years as a vegan, I’ve actually gotten breadsticks and cheeseless pizzas several times from Papa John’s. While they’re not super “vegan-friendly,” they are better than some of the competition.

Vegan options at Papa John’s:

  • Original Hand Tossed Dough
  • Pizza Sauce
  • BBQ Pizza Sauce
  • Veggie Toppings
  • Original Breadsticks
  • Garlic Dipping Sauce
  • Pizza Dipping Sauce
  • BBQ Dipping Sauce
  • Buffalo Dipping Sauce
  • Crushed Red Pepper Packet
  • Special Seasoning Packet
  • Beverages

Below, I’ll share exactly how to order these items vegan. I’ll also answer some common questions about Garlic Knots, vegan cheese, and more. I’ll end by looking at whether you can get a whole-food plant-based (WFPB) meal at Papa John’s!

Papa John’s Vegan Menu

The menu below was created with the help of the allergen guide and ingredients lists on Papa John’s website. I also sent a follow-up email to clarify some details.

Basically, you’ll probably want to order a cheeseless pizza so it’s vegan. Then you can also get the Original Breadsticks and vegan dipping sauces. That’s what most vegans will order at Papa John’s—in some variation.

But let’s dig into the details:

Crust Options

Pizza dough is usually vegan—but not always. Papa John’s actually has a mix of vegan dough and non-vegan dough. So you gotta choose the right one.

Here’s the fully vegan option:

  • Original Hand Tossed Dough

Note: The other dough options are not vegan. The Thin Crust contains milk. The Gluten-Free Crust contains egg yolks and milk.

Pizza Sauces

There are two vegan pizza sauce choices:

  • Pizza Sauce
  • BBQ Pizza Sauce

Pizza Toppings

Papa John’s currently doesn’t have any vegan cheese or mock meats as toppings. So you’re mostly looking at vegetables here:

  • Fresh Mushrooms
  • Pineapple
  • Onions
  • Green Peppers
  • Black Olives
  • Green Olives
  • Sliced Jalapenos
  • Banana Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Fresh Spinach

Original Breadsticks

These are the star player of the menu, in my opinion.

I’ve ordered these quite a few times over the years. They’re simple dry breadsticks, but they get the job done. Especially with the Garlic Dipping Sauce (see below).

Unlike Pizza Hut and other pizza places, Papa John’s Original Breadsticks come standard as vegan. Papa John’s has a separate option called “Garlic Parmesan Breadsticks” that contain milk ingredients—but their normal Breadsticks come dry (and vegan).

So you don’t even have to customize your order of these bad boys!

Sauces and Seasonings

There are a bunch of vegan sauces to dip your breadsticks and pizza crust in. I’ve always like the Garlic Dipping Sauce personally.

Here’s the full list of vegan options:

  • Garlic Dipping Sauce
  • Pizza Dipping Sauce
  • BBQ Dipping Sauce
  • Buffalo Dipping Sauce
  • Crushed Red Pepper Packet
  • Special Seasoning Packet

Beverages

Here’s the short list of beverages to choose from:

  • Pepsi
  • Pepsi Zero Sugar
  • Mountain Dew
  • Diet Mountain Dew
  • Sierra Mist
  • Aquafina (Bottled Water)

But What About…

Let’s answer some of the most common questions about eating vegan at Papa John’s.

Are Papa John’s Garlic Knots Vegan?

Papa John’s Garlic Knots are not vegan, as they contain Parmesan cheese, which is a dairy product. However, that is the only non-vegan ingredient.

Here’s the full ingredients list for Papa John’s Garlic Knots:

INGREDIENTS: Unbleached, enriched wheat flour, water, sugar, soybean oil, salt, yeast, soybean oil, Parmesan cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), contains less than 2% of: vegetable mono & diglycerides, garlic, wheat starch, spices, natural flavors, onion, phosphoric acid, parsley, red bell pepper, soy lecithin, extractive of paprika, lactic acid, sodium benzoate (maintains freshness), calcium disodium EDTA (maintains freshness), citric acid, vitamin A palmitate, beta carotene (color). Contains: Milk, Wheat, Soy.

Does Papa John’s Have Vegan Cheese?

Papa John’s does not have vegan cheese. However, you can order pizzas without cheese, as their Original Crust is vegan. Then if you wish, you can add vegan cheese at home.

If you’re looking for a pizza chain that has vegan cheese, I recommend checking out MOD Pizza—it’s like the Chipotle of pizza. Other chains with vegan cheese include Blaze Pizza, Pie Five Pizza, and Mellow Mushroom.

Is Papa John’s Garlic Sauce Vegan?

Papa John’s Garlic Sauce is confirmed vegan. The main ingredient is soybean oil, and it doesn’t contain butter or any other animal ingredients.

Here are the ingredients to Papa John’s Garlic Dipping Sauce. As you can see, it’s not the healthiest food, but it is 100% vegan:

INGREDIENTS: Soybean oil, water, salt, vegetable mono & diglycerides (maintains sauce consistency), garlic, natural flavors, soy lecithin (maintains sauce consistency), lactic acid (maintains freshness), sodium benzoate (maintains freshness), calcium disodium EDTA (maintains freshness), citric acid (maintains freshness), natural beta carotene (for color), vitamin A palmitate (enhances flavor). Contains: Soy.

Is Papa John’s Pan Pizza Vegan?

Papa John’s Pan Pizza can be ordered vegan if you get the Original Hand-Tossed Crust and no cheese. The Pizza Sauce and BBQ Pizza Sauce are both vegan, and there are many options for vegetable toppings.

Does Papa John’s Have Any More Vegan Sides?

Papa John’s only real vegan side is the Original Breadsticks. Here are why the other sides aren’t vegan:

  • The Cinnamon Pullaparts contain milk and egg.
  • The Chocolate Chip Cookie contains milk and egg.
  • The Double Chocolate Chip Brownie contains milk and egg.
  • The Garlic Parmesan Breadsticks contain milk.
  • The Garlic Knots contain milk.
  • The Cheesesticks contain milk.

Whole-Food Plant-Based Options

What if you’re not just vegan, but also trying to avoid processed foods? If you’re on a strict whole-food plant-based (WFPB) diet, can you still get a meal at Papa John’s?

Are there any options with no oil, no sugar, and no processed white flour?

Not really. They don’t have any salads. They don’t have fruit sides. There’s no “whole wheat” crust option. This is the full ingredients for the Original Crust (the only vegan crust they have):

CRUST INGREDIENTS: Unbleached enriched wheat flour, water, sugar, soybean oil, salt, yeast.

So you’re getting processed wheat flour, sugar, and soybean oil (which is a high omega-6 oil—not very healthy). So this is not even close to a WFPB crust.

To eat strictly WFPB at Papa John’s, you’d just have to ask for a bunch of the veggie toppings on a plate. And aside from being a weird order, that wouldn’t be very filling.

If you’re more flexible with your diet, I think you can make a decently healthy vegan pizza here. Just load it up with lots of veggies. As many as possible.

Both of the vegan pizza sauces contain added sugar… but I’m guessing the normal Pizza Sauce has less than the BBQ Pizza Sauce. So I’d go with that one.

Restaurant menus frequently change and vary by location. So I recommend double-checking the information on this page with staff at your Papa John’s location.

Two More Recommendations for Your Vegan Journey

1. This is the best vegan multivitamin I’ve found in 13 years of being vegan. It has vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3—and nothing else. Translation: It only has the nutrients vegans are actually low in. Read my full review of Future Kind’s multivitamin here (with 10% discount).

2. This is the best vegan starter kit I know of. It’s a bundle of 9 beautiful e-books that help you transition to a healthy plant-based diet—the right way. The advice is spot-on, and it has print-outs and checklists that make it easy to implement. Read my full review of Nutriciously here.

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