Review: Pizza Sliders from Pizza Hut

A lot of “innovation” in the food world really means shifting and remixing ideas already in place. It was only a matter of time before Pizza Hut decided to cop the term “slider” – usually referring to delicious little hamburgers like Chili’s Big Mouth Bites – and apply it to pizza.  New Pizza Sliders from Pizza Hut debuted the day after the Super Bowl – an odd choice for a release date, seeing as the days leading up to the Super Bowl are one of the most lucrative pizza-selling times of the year. The logic behind Pizza Hut’s timing was to build up consumer anticipation for this secret “new item” that it would be giving away by the truckload right after the quarterback said “hut” (get it? Like Pizza Hut. And the quarterback says “hut”… I’ll explain later). “When the quarterback says hut,” ran Pizza Hut’s cryptic tagline,”Everybody wins.”Pizza Sliders Pizza HutThe problem was, their commercial never even mentioned the big new item or said what it was going to be. I suppose they were hoping to create an aura of exclusivity surrounding Pizza Hut Sliders by way of netroots marketing – a few Facebook comments here, a few blog posts there. I’m not sure if this worked for them. It can be difficult to gauge consumer interest, but from my average Joe standpoint, Pizza Hut Sliders were just not on my radar come game day. Anyway, now that America is privy to Pizza Hut’s big secret, how do Pizza Sliders actually taste?  When I went to order my sliders, the Pizza Hut nearest to my house didn’t have the slider dough in yet. The second place I called seemed reluctant to take my order, asking if I couldn’t just get them from my hometown Pizza Hut. I’ve heard of some other people having trouble getting their orders through, too, and I suspect this is a case of inadequately-trained employees combined with high-volume demand for a new item riding on the coattails of the Big Game.Pizza Slider Pizza Hut 2Eventually, I did get my Pizza Sliders – nine sliders for $10, a slightly better deal than the other option of three sliders for $5. In their press release, Pizza Hut points out sliders are all about customization. Customers can order sliders three at a time with up to three different toppings on each. For mine, I ordered three cheese, three meat lovers’ (pepperoni, ham, Italian sausage) and three “classic” (pepperoni, green pepper, mushroom).Pizza Hut Big Pizza SliderCalling these sliders “big” must strictly be a play on words (Big Game, Big Easy, et cetera, ad nauseam) because they are small – 3.5″ in diameter, or about the size of a bagel. It’s interesting that my hometown Pizza Hut said they didn’t have the “slider dough” in yet, because in Pizza Hut’s press release said they use “signature Pizza Hut Pan Pizza dough,” which all Pizza Huts should already have in stock. Does this mean the slider dough rounds come specially pre-cut?Pizza Slider Pizza Hut CrustI don’t eat enough Pizza Hut to tell you if this dough was the same as their pan pizza dough, but I can tell you it was good. Crusty on the outside and spongy towards the middle with a slightly sweet taste. It was a little on the dense side, but then again pan pizza dough is typically denser than regular. And there was a lot of it. These aren’t just mini pizzas – they’re mini pan pizzas, meaning crust accounts for a great deal more volume than toppings. Basically, Pizza Hut Big Pizza Sliders are doughy hockey pucks with a thin sheen of sauce, meat, cheese and vegetables on top.Sliders from Pizza HutOut of my three types of sliders, I enjoyed the “classic” combination the most – pepperoni, green pepper and mushroom. No complaints about the toppings – the pepperoni was juicy and unburnt, the cheese was salty and gooey and the sauce was slightly sweet to match the dough. The cheese-only sliders were my least favorite out of the three. Cheese is good, but these had so much cheese that it turned my stomach in the last few bites. Plus, some of the cheese was falling off and had those gross brown/crispy ends to it. And because there is so much dough, you’re basically eating a cheesy breadstick made with dough that frankly doesn’t belong in a breadstick.Pizza Hut Big SlidersSome suggestions for Pizza Hut Big Pizza Sliders: Dessert pizza. This almost pastry-like dough would shine under some icing and a drizzle of chocolate syrup. Also, dipping sauces. The dough is good, but that’s basically all there is. After chomping halfway through one, you almost need some nacho cheese or some ranch just to get rid of your dry mouth.  Would I get these again? Probably not, unless it was for some last-minute party appetizers. They’re just a little too doughy to qualify for the main event. Pizza Hut Big Pizza Sliders have a good taste, but they need some dipping sauce or more toppings to contend with all that crust.

Pros: Crusty, spongy, slightly sweet dough, solid toppings.

Cons: Too much dough, burnt cheese ends, stupid plays on words.

Taste: 7.25/10
Value: 6.00/10
Grubbing on-the-go: 6.00/10
Price: $5 (for three), $10 (for nine)

Overall GrubGrade: 6.00/10

More Info: www.PizzaHut.com

22 comments on “Review: Pizza Sliders from Pizza Hut

  1. CM in Denver says:

    Those actually look very tasty. I don’t think I’ll be buying them, though, because they seem exorbitantly expensive. Think about it: you can buy 9 sliders with a diameter of 3.5″ each for $10.00, or for approximately the same $10.00, you can buy one large pizza with a diameter of 14″.

    If you do the math (and I’m no mathematician, so correct me if I’m wrong), the large pizza has a surface area of about 154 square inches. The nine sliders, on the other hand, have a total surface area of about 85 square inches, or only a little over HALF the area of the large pizza.

    Bad deal all around.

    • Ryan says:

      The sliders have a total surface area of 86.5 square inches. For comparison ‘s sake, that’s the same amount as a single pizza with a diameter of 10.5 inches. So unless you consider spending $10 for a 10.5 inch pizza to be a good deal, stay away from these sliders. The customization touted by Pizza Hut isn’t that big a deal either, considering you can already opt for different toppings on a half-pizza basis. The sliders let you customize on a one-third basis, which really isn’t much different.

  2. IowaGal82 says:

    These seem like such a ripoff that it actually makes me a little mad. Don’t get me wrong, their dough can be fantastic if you’re in the mood for the thick spongy texture, but like you said Sam – they look to be mostly dough, low on toppings. And with that price tag? If they sell well, not only will I be surprised, PH will make bank on them.

  3. MP says:

    Ah – so Pizza Hut DOES know how to put cheese all the way to the edge.

    PH pizza is basically a bread stick. Tho if you like that crispy bottom crust, fill your pan up with a layer of oil.

  4. Rich says:

    Pizza hut needs to stop trying to find ways on how to make a pizza look, and focus more on actually making new pizzas with new toppings. Pizza Hut markets outside of US get all these creative new pizzas like the hamburger pizza and the pizza with the pig in the blanket as the crust. Why can’t we have that here in the US? It’s like they don’t care for their US market at all.

    • NayNay20 says:

      I know seriously… Pizza Milkshake would probably be a big seller in the States.

    • Lancaster says:

      I’d settle for a return to quality cooking processes and ingredients, but as long as they’re a property of Yum! Brands, that won’t happen. I’ve read stories about what Pizza Hut was like in the ’60s and ’70s – dough prepared onsite, slices of cheese, pizzas worthy of a dine-in experience.

      • rondoman says:

        I remember when I was a young kid our family would go to Pizza Hut about once a month and it was always a treat. I looked forward to the meat lovers every time we went there and would stuff myself. This was like the mid 80′s. Man, I miss those days.

    • Justin says:

      How creative can you really get with pizza? I think most people’s pizza habits involve ordering a pizza with the same toppings they get all the time. Pizza isn’t like a fast food hamburger place where they can throw some new combination on a sandwich and sell it as a special item. With pizza you already start out with a plain cheese pie and put whatever you want on it. It’s a little difficult for them to really make new limited-time items to bring in customers.

  5. Sam says:

    @CM in Denver – That’s interesting. I was thinking about it in terms of price per slider ($1.11 for the nine), but if you think about it in terms of square inches, it’s 6 cents per square inch for a large pizza and 18 cents per square inch for the sliders. Very interesting.

    Another factor my dad pointed out to me was price of ingredients. What’s more expensive, the dough or the toppings? I’m not sure, but if it’s the toppings then Pizza Hut is paying less to make the sliders AND charging more for them.

  6. Shan says:

    I think I will pass on these, reminds me of little grease pies.

  7. Mike N. says:

    @Sam I was expecting a big unveiling commercial too, but instead we had Boomer (or the other blonde guy I always confuse him with) handing them out during the pre-game show. And in my area they’re having the “any pizza for $10″ deal, so I can’t see going with the ‘sliders’ unless you’re really into crust. And by the way, one of my pet peeves is calling things sliders that are not sliders! Adam Kuban had a great post about this on Serious Eats: http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2008/07/slider-defundefinedion-mini-hamburgers-onions-pickles-steam-awesomeness.html

  8. Scrape says:

    Your hometown Pizza Hut didn’t have the slider dough in yet because most Pizza Huts no longer make their dough fresh in-house. It now comes in pre-sized and pre-risen frozen puck form that gets topped and slid on the chain conveyor for a ten minute or so ride through the impinger. Pizza hut dough hasn’t been fresh, or good for that matter, for sometime, and the excuse is that it saves money. Right. Most places make it fresh because, in the long run, it is much cheaper and you can’t run out. I’ve heard of a Pizza Hut that actually ran out of dough pucks because the delivery truck was late and they underestimated demand. Isn’t that like KFC running out of chicken or McDonalds running out of burgers?

    Funny how Papa Johns and even Domninos can seem to make most if not all of their pizza dough fresh, and the pricier Pizza Hut can’t. I used to love a good Pizza Hut original Pan Pizza, but the quality of the cheese and the frozen dough have really made it unappealing lately.

    • Lancaster says:

      A hint of the Pizza Hut that once was: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wafflewhiffer/2679163304/sizes/l/in/photostream/ Granted, it’s an advertisement, but can you imagine them describing their preparation process today? Especially for the Personal Pans? “First, we retrieve this exquisitely frozen product from the freezer… then… gently warm it with the most precise heating technology…”

    • Dan says:

      Several years ago I worked at Dominos. The dough was not made in-house. It came in fresh from the truck, put in the walk-in, then taken out to proof before use.

      • Scrape says:

        The dough is still fresh, though, and it is not a preformed puck but stretched and formed on-site. Somebody still has to “make” the pizza. I have no problem with this, aged pizza dough tastes better anyway (I usually let mine go for 24 hours in the fridge). Pizza hut also drastically changed their ingredients and recipe for the dough to lesser quality items, which is why the taste change is so dramatic. Dominos scrapped their pizza, and I must say, I think its now the best of the four major pizza chains, and their new pan pizza out pan pizzas Pizza Hut’s pan pizza. Mom and Pops can sometimes be better, but not always. I’ve had some dreadful local pies in my quest for the ideal NY style I was blessed to have in abundance growing up. I found only one that was accepable for a while, but they changed their cheese after the ownership changed.

  9. Tried a sample one just now and it was not bad, good taste, kind of spongy which I like and bigger than I thought it would be.

    • alexg says:

      If there is not a good local Pizza place in the town that I live it, then that’s one town I don’t want to live in.. ;) A boy has to have his standards!!

  10. babyblue says:

    Love these! You can customize each one even if you only get 3- great for kids :)

  11. Jay Melo says:

    These look really good but they are too expensive for what you get. They should be no more than $1 each. The “gross brown/crispy ends” of cheese and the curly burned pepperoni edges are my favorite part of the pizza.

  12. Cody s says:

    These pizza sliders suck. Was not happy about eatting all bread. Next time Ian ordering shortys in east moline, il. Much better all the way around.

  13. jimbobber says:

    Sam, you are definitely NOT the person whose Sliders review I needed to review. Pepperoni “juicy and unburnt”, cheese pizza had “too much cheese” and “those gross, brown/crispy ends”. You don’t like what I love. However, the end result is that your review leads me to believe what I suspected, that there is no way that Pizza Hut’s Sliders can compete with Red Baron’s frozen pizza singles. The Sliders “just look like” a ripoff consisting of a thick dough ball painted with a thin layer of skimpy toppings.

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