It’s 6:30 pm. You just got home from work, and you’re starving. You look in the fridge, and nothing is grabbing your attention. You take a moment to consider schlepping to the grocery store, but then you give in to your hunger. It’s time to order pizza.
But there is a critical, imperative, essential question you must answer! A question that has challenged and mystified people around the world for generations…
How much pizza should I order?
Have no fear. We have for you a complete guide to pizza portions. This will give you direction on how to order pizza, considering the size of the pizza, crust thickness, and toppings.
A medium hand-tossed (12”) pizza with cheese and pepperoni should be enough to feed a hungry adult. A small (10”) pizza should be about right for lunch.
For a family of 4, an order of two large (14”) pizzas is probably about right for dinner. If you are ordering for a larger group, you should probably order about an extra-large (16”) pizza for every 2-or-3 people. That means about three extra-large pizzas for every ten people at lunch and four extra-large pizzas for every ten people at dinner.
All of these figures shared below are based on a series of assumptions. You can find a detailed explanation of the assumptions made at the end of the article. If you want to get into the nitty-gritty of the math, you are welcome to take a look. For those just interested in the pizza, here is everything you need to know:
Approximate pizza portion for an adult.
Starting with the smallest pizza you can order at Domino’s, we have the “Personal” pizza. I put “Personal” in quotes because I don’t understand what type of person would be satisfied with this as a meal.
Measuring a meager 6”, a “Personal” pizza with pepperoni and cheese weighs in at only 200 grams (7 oz). A hungry adult could easily eat two for lunch or three for dinner. It seems that personal pizzas are not available in many areas outside of the United States, which makes sense given that they are a sorry excuse for a pizza.
Next up in size is the small. With a 10” radius, a small pizza comes in at just over 1 lb of food (486 g), which is about perfect for lunch. You might be disappointed if ordering a small for dinner, but it might be fine for folks with smaller appetites.
A medium pizza is perfect for dinner. A hand-tossed pizza with regular cheese and pepperoni pizza will come in at just under 1.5 lb (664 g). You might be able to get away with splitting a medium for lunch, but you might struggle to get to dinner without a snack.
If you are interested in splitting a pizza for lunch, a large (14”) is what you want to order. It offers just over 2 lbs of food (936 g). A single adult would probably struggle to finish a large by themselves. Alternatively, if you want to pace your pizza, you could be satisfied eating 5 slices for dinner and 3 for lunch the following day.
Domino’s largest size is an extra-large. Measuring 16” wide, it offers about 2.7 lb of food (1232 g). A two-way split for dinner would work well, or a three-way split for lunch.
It should be noted at this point that Domino’s recommended pizza servings are laughable. I have no idea how three people are going to share a small pizza. A small is just over a pound of food, only slightly more than a “Hungry Man” microwave meal. Can you imagine splitting one of those three ways?
Or, how about the extra-large being feeding 5-6 people. With 6 people, 4 are having a single slice, and only two are having two slices. I don’t know about you, but I can easily put away two slices of pizza and still feel hungry, even if the pizza is extra-large.
Domino’s numbers wildly exaggerate the amount of pizza you are getting for your money. They may be basing this on nutritional guidelines, but that is different than appetite.
I hate to break it to you, but pizza isn’t a very diet-friendly food. It is tough to fit pizza into a realistic diet plan between the cheese and the greasy bread. Still, let’s go through it so you can see what I mean.
While there are infinite variations on diets, the most common focus on calories. It is recommended that the average adult male eats about 2,600 calories per day, and females are advised to eat 2,000 calories a day. It is estimated that cutting your calorie intake by 500 calories a day will equate to losing 1 lb per week. So, for our “diet calorie intake,” we can use a calorie target of 1,500 for women and 2,100 for men.
So how much pizza can I eat if I am on a diet? Not much. A medium pepperoni pizza comes in at 1,600 calories – more than a woman’s calorie target for a day! If we assume a man is eating 40% of his calories at dinner, you would only be able to each half a medium pizza, which is less than a pound of food. Unless you plan to supplement with a lot of very low-calorie foods, you will probably not feel satisfied.
Is there any way to modify our order to make a more diet-friendly meal? Looking at Domino’s nutrition guidelines, it seems their gluten-free crust is surprisingly low in calories. A small gluten-free pizza with light cheese and sliced tomatoes comes out to 750 calories and offers almost exactly 1 lb of food (456 g). That should probably handle your hunger without blowing up your calorie budget for the day.
Of course, that means you have to eat a gluten-free pizza with light cheese and sliced tomatoes. I don’t think that would satisfy my pizza urges but to each their own.
Not all pizzas are the same. Crusts range from thin to thick, and that makes a big difference in the amount of food you get. For example, a medium “crunchy thin” pepperoni pizza with offers only just over 1 lb (488 g) of food, a “hand tossed” contains about 1.5 pounds (644 g), and a “pan” pizza is a couple ounces short of a whole 2 lb (832 g).
Pro-tip for students or other folks short on cash: to get the most food for your money, maximize the thickness of your crust. While prices vary between locations, the pan crust is about a dollar more expensive than the hand-tossed. In exchange, you get 25% more food! That is excellent value.
If you can’t handle the thick, doughy pan-style crust, at least don’t get conned into the thin crust. Thin crust is a terrible deal for the budget-conscious, as you are getting 26% less food for the same price. Outrageous!
You can see a similar phenomenon with the Brooklyn-style pizza. For those not aware, Brooklyn-style pizza is primarily defined by a thin, crispy, and foldable crust. A large Brooklyn is only 1.6 lb (726 g), while a large hand-tossed pizza is over 2 lb (936 g)! The Brooklyn offers about 23% less food but actually costs more! While authentic Brooklyn pizza might be worth the extra money, this seems like a terrible deal.
Once you start working with toppings, things get complicated. If you are looking to maximize your food in a 1-topping pizza, the best choice by far is sliced fresh tomatoes. They add about 6 oz (170 g) of food to a medium pizza. If you aren’t interested in fresh tomatoes, some other heavy hitters are chorizo, chicken, Italian sausage, mushrooms, pineapple, beef, and American cheese. Anchovies, spinach, feta, or parmesan do not perform well on this score, offering less than 1.5 oz of food on a medium pizza.
Part of the reason toppings are so complicated is because of specialty pizzas. “Feast” pizzas – as they are called at Domino’s – offer plenty of toppings, but they are hard to compare because their prices are all over the place.
Of the “Feast” pizzas, one stands out as particularly extra. The “ExtravaganZZa” includes pepperoni, ham, Italian sausage, beef, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, and black olives with extra cheese. An extra-large “ExtravaganZZa” clocks in at 3.7 lb (1688 g) of food, a full pound heavier than an extra-large with pepperoni.
Of course, it is unclear if the “ExtravaganZZa” is even a pizza. Is it just a flatbread with a salad and half the deli aisle dumped on top of it? Hard to decide…
At the end of the day, a lot comes down to taste. There are so many opportunities to customize and personalize your pizza that it is impossible to cover all the possibilities. This is, of course, one of the beautiful things about pizza.
What are your tips about ordering pizza to fit your appetite? Do you have any tricks for getting more food out of your pies? Let us know in the comments!
To calculate how much pizza to order, you first need to figure out how much food people eat. Most nutrition information is focused on calories since calories are related to health. However, how full you feel is more related to the weight of the food you eat rather than the number of calories. This is why you would feel fuller after eating 15 stalks of celery rather than a single slice of cheese, even though both contain about 110 calories.
Estimates of average daily food intake by weight are surprisingly hard to find. Numbers vary between 3 – 5.5 lb per day. For the purposes of this analysis, we will assume that the average adult eats 1 lb of food for lunch and 1.5 lb of food for dinner. This would be reasonable for someone eating a total of 4 lb of food per day. If you are a light or heavy eater, you may want to adjust numbers accordingly.
It should be noted that these estimates refer to cooked food. Meats and bread tend to lose weight as they are cooked, while boiled foods like pasta and rice gain weight.
It is impossible to cover every possible pizza in a single article. Pizza is an infinitely customizable food depending on the combination of size, crust, and toppings, not to mention the thousands of pizzerias worldwide that each use their own recipe. The pepperoni pizza with a hand-tossed crust and traditional sauce is likely the most common single-topping pizza globally, so it was used as the benchmark.
Domino’s is the most common pizza chain globally, which makes it an obvious choice for this analysis. Domino’s also offers detailed nutritional information, which is necessary for this analysis. All calculations are based on Domino’s nutrition guide from July 2020 for the United States.