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Pizza Hut Reports Demand High for Sweet & Spicy, Thin Crust Offerings

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A new report from Plano, Texas-headquartered Pizza Hut highlights the restaurant chain’s latest research on pizza trends and predictions of what’s to come in the USA pizza market during 2024. In business for 65 years, the Yum! Brands subsidiary has been in the forefront of pizza innovation, from the Original Pan Pizza and Original Stuffed Crust to its latest category Pizza Hut Melts offering.

Pizza Hut’s culinary experts predict 2024 will be a year of spicy flavors and toppings, layers and layers of flavor, and thin crust continuing to reign supreme, among several other trends explored in their latest report.

One major trend to spotlight is that the demand for sweet and spicy pizza offerings will remain high this coming year. To jump on this trend, Pizza Hut is bringing hot honey offerings nationwide starting February 1 for a limited time at select participating locations.

“Our commitment to modernizing flavors is at the forefront of our brand identity,” said Rachel Antalek, Pizza Hut’s chief food innovation officer. “We lead trends and go bigger on flavor, as exemplified by the tremendous success of our Hot Honey test, which exceeded guest expectations. This bold innovation not only elevates the pizza experience but also opens up exciting opportunities to showcase our wings.”

Pizza Consumption Habits Across the USA

On average, consumers indulge in pizza three times a month, with North Dakota leading the way at 3.5 times. The quantity consumed is approximately eight slices monthly, varying across states, with Wisconsin taking the lead at 10 slices.
When ordering, 47% prefer large pizzas, contributing to an annual consumption of 288 slices per person, equivalent to 480 gallons or a large, six-person hot tub filled to the brim.
North Dakota, New York, Minnesota, and Wisconsin top the charts as the states with the highest pizza consumption.

Sauce Preferences and Crust Choices

The experts at Pizza Hut predict thin crust will continue to grow in popularity as consumers look for lighter styles of pizza to enjoy in addition to their more indulgent pizza favorites.
In terms of crust, Pizza Hut’s recent survey found the most popular types are thin crust (28%), stuffed crust (20%) and thick-crust (14%).
Some states prefer stuffed crust more than others: Arkansas (28%), Kentucky (27%), Louisiana (26%), Mississippi (24%), Montana (30%), Nebraska (28%), North Carolina (23%), Oregon (23%), South Dakota (27%), Tennessee (23%), Utah (25%), Washington (22%), West Virginia (28%) and Wyoming (30%).
More people in New Mexico prefer deep dish than in Illinois (21%, compared to 17%).
Hawaii was also found to be more fond of pan dish pizza than Michigan (24%, compared to 7%).
Dipping sauces play a significant role in enhancing the pizza experience. Ranch is the most popular (38%), followed by garlic sauce (27%), hot sauce (8%), and others. Some states, like New York, stand out for preferring hot sauce.

Pizza Styles, Seasonings and Toppings

Sweet and spicy pairings on menus were up 38% in the last year, and hot honey is projected to outpace nearly all other culinary and beverage flavors by 2027, according to market research firm Datassential on Today.com.
Pizza Hut predicts spicy flavors will continue to grow in appeal, especially with Gen-Z’s favoring hot sauce.
New York (35%) topped the charts as the most popular pizza style. Parmesan (55%) is the preferred seasoning, except in New York, where garlic salt is favored (29%). Respondents lean towards savory (52%), hearty (34%), and spicy (27%) flavor profiles.
Pepperoni reigns as the preferred meat topping (42%), with exceptions in states like Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin, which favor sausage.
Pizza lovers also shared they’d be willing to try several unusual fruit and veggie toppings on their pizza that they usually wouldn’t go for: pineapple (44%), chili peppers (21%), artichokes (16%), potatoes (15%) and pickles (14%).
Peppers overall are in demand – from roasted sweet peppers to bold, spicy peppers – according to Pizza Hut.

Pizza Habits and Preferences

Survey participants shared diverse preferences and habits. A significant percentage (31%) plans to eat more pizza in 2024. Nearly half (47%) are likely to order a pizza for personal enjoyment alongside group orders.
Surprisingly, 25% are open to trying a pizza-flavored cocktail.
Fridays (47%) emerge as the most popular day for pizza orders, while 52% believe pizza is a better meal than a snack.
Cold leftover pizza is a popular choice for 74% of people.
Twenty-three percent frequently pair wings with their pizza orders, with New Mexico leading in this trend.

Survey Methodology

This random double-opt-in survey of 5,000 adults living in the United States was commissioned by Pizza Hut between December 22, 2023 and January 5, 2024. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll.