We Ate It: Pizza Hut's 'The Natural' Pizza


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

Have you seen the commercials for "The Natural" pizza from Pizza Hut? We did, and we couldn't wait to give it a try. Would there be a difference? Would this pizza be any lighter in calories or lower in fat? Would it be healthier in any way?

One Friday afternoon, we ordered four pizzas: a Natural and a regular half-pepperoni and half-sausage and a Natural and a regular cheese pizza.

What they say:
  • All-natural stone-ground multigrain crust
  • All-natural sauce from vine-ripened tomatoes*
  • All-natural mozzarella cheese
  • All-natural pepperoni and Italian sausage*

Can you tell which ones are the Naturals and which are the regulars? (Scroll to the end to find out!)

What we say:
Before we tried "The Natural", we had some questions: What does "natural" mean? If this pizza is "natural," are other pizzas unnatural?

According to the USDA, the word "natural" on meat and poultry products means: "A product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed (a process which does not fundamentally alter the raw product) may be labeled natural. The label must explain the use of the term natural (such as - no added colorings or artificial ingredients; minimally processed.)"

In Pizza Hut's case, that means no nitrates (a type of preservative) in the meats, real mozzarella cheese on the Natural (apparently there are fillers or some processed cheese in the regular version), and no high-fructose corn syrup in the sauce.

The Natural is touted as being "all-natural," but the Pizza Hut homepage boasts that all of its meats are "natural" and free of nitrates. They also say all of the sauce is free of HFCS and made from tomatoes that are "vine-ripened." So what makes the Natural so special?

I called the Pizza Hut press line and got to the root of the confusion: All of Pizza Hut's pizzas use the same sauce, pepperoni and sausage. However, the Naturals use a crust that contains unenriched, unbleached wheat flour, and smaller amounts of whole wheat flour, barley, rye, oats and millet. The crust has 8 grams of whole grains and 2 grams of fiber, the same amount as a small slice of whole-wheat bread (the regular crust has just 1 gram of fiber). It also uses a different cheese than the other pizzas.

This pizza is not organic. Many people have been interpreting "natural" as organic." That just goes to show you how powerful marketing can be!

Enough with the nutrition already! Let's eat.

Here's what we thought:

  • Crust: The crust was better on the Natural pizzas. It wasn't as sweet and had a faintly nutty taste. It didn't distract from the pizza. The regular crust was saltier (thumbs-down) and was a little too chewy. (Photo is of multigrain crust; you can see a few specks of wheat/grains scattered throughout.)

  • Cheese: The Natural cheese was stringier, and it was greasier. We liked it better. It had more of a taste than the regular cheese.

  • Everything else was exactly the same. In fact, we all decided that we wouldn't have noticed the Natural pizza was different--and that's a good thing! We would buy the Natural pizza over the regular. The prices were almost the same, and we liked the crust enough to pay $2 extra.

  • The Natural box boasts that it is made with 75% recycled materials. No such claim is on the regular pizza box. Why aren't all the boxes made from the same material?

  • Aside from fiber, there was almost no difference in nutrition. If you want to save a few grams of fat and 80-100 calories a slice, go with the Pizza Hut Fit 'n Delicious line. (That line boasts more vegetables and lower-calorie meats like chicken and ham.)

  • The Naturals pizzas come in two versions: sausage and pepperoni. We asked for a plain cheese pizza, and you can also ask for any vegetables you'd like. (We'd like to see some new vegetable pizzas added to the Naturals line.)

*Same ingredients as regular pizzas at Pizza Hut.

Nutrition comparison:

medium Natural Pepperoni, $9.99
medium Natural Rustica, $11.99
medium one-topping pizza, $9.99

Essentially, the Natural is a regular pizza with a multigrain crust. Have you tried them? Will you?

(The Naturals were on the right!)

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    Can you taste the rye flour? I don't like the taste of rye.

    Here's something that has me confused. Are they claiming that all their pepperoni and sausages are nitrate free? That's good to know! I'm not sure that is true about the pepperoni we use at home. Frankly it surprises me, I would have thought that on the scale Pizza Hut is distributing ingredients, they would need nitrates in their meats.

    We primarily eat home-made pizza, or pizza from a local store. But I have to confess that when I do eat at Pizza Hut, I like the greasiness of their deep dish pizza. We eat there so rarely that I can justify the indulgence! - 8/4/2009   11:46:23 AM
  • 175
    Nope... have no desire to go out of my way to try it, but if I found myself at a Pizza Hut for some reason, it would be the one that I would order. - 7/30/2009   8:49:35 AM
    I would rather make my own pizza at home....but if I was somewhere and we were ordering pizza....I would probably suggest this. To my knowledge it's the only pizza chain stepping up to the somewhat healthy plate. Good to know! - 7/29/2009   3:18:07 PM
    I think if I ended up at Pizza Hut with a group or for some reason I would be happy to have an alternative to the usual crust as a choice. I do not believe I would go in looking to try this because it's still way more calorically dense than I like a meal. But, kudos, because whenever anyone offers a version of whatever they make that has less fat, less refined flour, no HFCS or anything else to make it more attractive to me as a consumer, I think it's great. The offer of a healthier alternative might just make someone wonder about why the regular versions may not be as good. Food for thought! - 4/29/2009   2:32:59 PM
  • 172
    Not my idea of a good and healthly choice. I like my own pizzas that are made with a low carb tortilla - I can control/create what I want and still have a yummy pizza! - 4/28/2009   4:38:27 PM
  • 171
    Another case of people believing that "natural" equals healthy! Too many people are blind to the fact that natural isn't organic, and natural doesn't mean less calories. I am honestly tired of big chain food places making these claims!!! and whole grain crust??? I may be impressed if it was whole wheat with added grains. But they just say its unrefined wheat flour, not unrefined whole wheat flour. Its still had all the nutrition sucked and sifted out of it!
    shame on Pizza Hut!

    Good thing I don't eat there! - 4/28/2009   11:51:39 AM
  • 170
    No I won't go out of my way to try it. But if sometime I end up at Pizza Hut then I will.

    I actually do not like eating at the big chain places. I would rather eat at a local place...either way the nutrition numbers aren't good LOL after all it is pizza. - 4/5/2009   2:33:18 PM
  • 169
    Not trying to burst anyones bubble here, but if we are all here to become healthier, I feel obligated to tell you this! I worked at Pizza Hut for 6 years (all positions, including management) and the Fit and Delicious line is a crock! It DOES save you some calories IF THE COOKS MAKE IT CORRECTLY. However, the ONLY difference is that they use 1/2 the amount of cheese on the pizza. And to top that, I can tell you that 90% of the time, the cooks do not reduce the cheese because the Fit and Delicious pizzas ring up the same as the regular ones. For instance, if you order a F&D Veggie Delight pizza, it goes back to the kitchen the same way as the regular VD so they have no idea that you want the healthier option. My suggestion is that if you want the healthier option, when you place the order, just order a regular VD on thin crust with light cheese. That way, you will be sure to get the correct order. They may have improved their ordering system since I was employed there, but as of a couple of years ago, they had not. Hope that little tidbit helped! - 3/10/2009   10:24:50 PM
  • 168
    Good point about the box...why not just go ahead and make all the boxes from recycled? - 2/6/2009   1:48:58 PM
  • 167
    We ordered a Natural with extra sauce, light cheese, the new rustica sausage (much better than the regular. tasted like real sausage not pressed and formed cardboard with fennel seeds) and the new roasted red pepper topping. It was great! Next time I'd pile on some mushrooms, onion, and green peppers too. It tasted like something I might make at home, topping-wise, and we definitely preferred the taste and texture of the new crust. We don't get pizza often, but I'd order this again. - 1/30/2009   5:45:42 PM
  • 166
    I would try it but I havenít gotten pizza in months and donít plan to get any and even so there are no Pizza Huts in the area that I know of. - 1/29/2009   4:09:44 PM
    Hmmm...back in 1988, when I was working on an A.S. in hotel/restaurant management, a Pizza Hut manager came and gave us a demo, and also brought a few pizzas with him. Being from Brooklyn AND Jersey, and having been given pizza crust to teethe on (yes, my maiden name ends in a vowel), I was shocked, dismayed and appalled to find Pizza Hut uses YELLOW CHEESE in their pizzas! Yellow cheese is fine in a lot of things, but NEVER in pizza! About once a year, my husband and I wind up in a Pizza Hut, and I am no more impressed NOW than I was THEN. If calories are not an issue, go to a pizzeria that's NOT a chain, where you can watch the men toss the dough and make the pizza right in front of you. Other ways to get a decent pizza--make it yourself with either a Boboli crust or the other, flatter one (forget the brand). Go for thin crust or multi-grain. Or if you have a bread machine, make it yourself with your own good grains. Get a pizza stone from Bed Bath & Beyond (Pampered Chef is too expensive). Put whatever you like on it...feta, lots of veggies...once you start making your own pizza, you will never again want it from a chain! - 1/27/2009   1:40:22 PM
  • 164
    In my mind, eating Pizza Hut is synonomous with greasy cheese and thick crusts (which I don't like) so I won't be visiting the establishment any time soon. I like that they are offering an alternative which is at least healthier, but frankly there are too many places which specialize in good healthy pizza - local shops etc - and I can make it myself healthy - why go out? - 1/26/2009   12:38:47 PM
    since it's basically a regular pizza hut pizza on a multigrain crust, I don't think I'll be trying it. I actually feel like pizza hut is trying to "dupe" its customers into thinking this pizza boasts so much more nutrition than all the others. - 1/24/2009   5:22:19 PM
  • 162
    Thanks so much for doing this!
    I cannot eat at Pizza Hut because I am alergic to milk and they don't offer feta or goat cheeses. My sister however, loves them and we were pondering this very question last week, just what makes this any different from their regular pizzas.
    This is really a very well put together analysis, love the pics and the nutrition chart all in one article. PERFECT! - 1/24/2009   2:50:06 PM
  • 161
    I tried it with my boys last Sunday evening, and we liked it a lot more than the regular Pizza Hut fare. That being said, nothing beats the pizza from a little neighborhood Italian restaurant! - 1/24/2009   8:39:57 AM
  • 160
    Now that the Naturals have natural meat, it makes me wonder about what I was eating in the regular pizzas. - 1/23/2009   11:03:00 PM
    I'm not a big pizza eater but this does sound good. I would try it. - 1/23/2009   7:28:21 PM
  • 158
    I love the Rustic Pizza, it has roasted veggies on it! - 1/23/2009   12:13:47 PM
  • 157
    I am definately going to give this a try next time my family wants to go out. I love whole grain crusts, and the real cheese and no HFCS in the sauce would be worth the extra few bucks! - 1/22/2009   3:01:30 PM
    I loved the flavor of the pizza, especially the cheese! The sauce is not sweet........no HFC! I would like to see Pizza Hut leave it in the oven longer for a crispy crust. - 1/22/2009   11:10:40 AM
  • 155
    I ordered one last weekend and was very disappointed. Not only in the pizza itself, which was cold and very greasy, but they added almost $5 to deliver it to my house one mile away. - 1/22/2009   10:14:50 AM
  • 154
    I didn't know about the natural pizza, I can't wait to try it.
    What a great article. - 1/22/2009   8:15:48 AM
    I think the multigrain crust sounds yummy, so I may try it!! Thanks for the info!! - 1/21/2009   9:36:48 PM
  • 152
    Great, thanks! I have wanted to try this! - 1/21/2009   4:59:51 PM
  • 151
    What makes pizza so bad for ya is the FAT and greese in the cheese and the bleached white flour overly processed crust...and some have sugar added in the crust and or in the sauce. Really the same thing goes for cheese burgers (nothing wrong with turkey burgers)
    I eat pizza (and turkey burgers) all the time and since SP I have always used a whole wheat crust, 2% motz cheese, and usually spinach alfredo with mush, onion, and peppers. But recently I have tried adding apples, and pineapples to a tomatoe based (sugar free and HFCS free) sauce and its really good. - 1/21/2009   4:32:13 PM
  • 150
    Well, I was wrong on guessing which ones were the natural ones but that is cool! That just means they look very similar huh?

    Second, I was very surprised at the differences and really would be willing to try them just to see how close they were!

    Thanks for this article! Great info! - 1/21/2009   1:10:25 PM
  • 149
    I think it's annoying that they use all of those words to make it sound healthy for you, when this article proves that there is very little difference (and in fact they use many of the same ingredients). I think they should just be honest and market it as pizza with a whole grain crust. - 1/21/2009   10:12:00 AM
  • MARIE58
    I loved the new natural crust but would prefer it as a pan pizza. I like a thicker crust. Did not like the sauce as good as their older version. - 1/21/2009   10:10:20 AM
    About the oil in the pan at pizza hut. It's true but only of the "pan" pizza (not the thin crust). There is a whopping sqirt and a half (using a huge pump) in the pan pizza. The pizza practically swims in oil. Hoping the "natural" doesn't . - 1/21/2009   8:26:43 AM
  • SHASHA525
    I loved the natural crust - 1/21/2009   5:35:27 AM
  • 145
    I wonder what it would cost with all the veggies I like? I prefer the Veggie Lovers, in fact that is all I eat at Pizza Hut is the Veggie Lovers Thin Crust.... I'd like to see them do a veggie lovers version of The Natural. I appreciate these "We Ate It" and "We Tried It" Blogs! Thanks! - 1/20/2009   11:54:35 PM
  • 144
    Hey, my cuz worked here and they say nothing about the oil that they coat the pans with. He said they use tons and tons and tons of oil. much more than you would ever use at home. They want the crust not to stick...that is not calculated into the colories...but it is definately a factor...so beware..
    on that note I will bring this pizza home to the family on Pizza nite (FRIDAY) since my hubby luvs pizzahut... - 1/20/2009   10:17:55 PM
  • 143
    I don't understand, how their 'cheese only' is higher calorie than their 'pepperoni' in this natural crust? - 1/20/2009   9:59:19 PM
  • 142
    Wow, great blog, I would never have tried this pizza but after reading all about it and the comments about liking it, I am definately going to try it. I love pizza!
    - 1/20/2009   9:23:31 PM
  • 141
    i try it on sat, and i love it, it didnt leave a after taste - 1/20/2009   7:08:54 PM
    I do like Pizza Hut, but my husband does not, so I probably won't be trying it anytime soon. - 1/20/2009   6:33:41 PM
  • 139
    Looks yummy. I might have to try this on Friday - Pizza Day - 1/20/2009   6:31:52 PM
  • 138
    I will not be trying the "natural" pizza hut pizza. I just do not see that much benefit. I would rather make my own pizza at home - 1/20/2009   5:43:18 PM
  • ME4CAM
    I really want to try it now. I didn't even know about this.
    Thank you - 1/20/2009   3:24:26 PM
  • 136
    My daughter & I tried it. I ordered a natural with the "light" sauce, "light" cheese, & sausage. We both liked it. You can pretty much order that crust with any topping combo you want and I think the light sauce & cheese is probably lower in both fat & calories but I didn't find any of the nutrition info on those specifically to know for sure. We like the natural crust much better. - 1/20/2009   3:00:36 PM
    I tried them the other night. I did not find them to be any better then regular pizza. My husband thought they were not worth the money ($28 for 2 mediums). - 1/20/2009   2:40:00 PM
  • 134
    Might consider giving it a try, but we're not really Pizza Hut pizza people... - 1/20/2009   2:21:31 PM
  • 133
    I will have to try this pizza the last time I was in Pizza Hut I was very disappionted...I may have to give it one more try...I really like cheese pizza I think it is time to go and visit Pizza Hut...... :) - 1/20/2009   2:20:23 PM
  • 132
    Thanks for the comparison - this is helpful! I really wish the crust had more whole wheat flour, though. But it sounds like they got the taste right, and that might get more people to try it. - 1/20/2009   1:06:10 PM
  • 131
    looks yummy, gonna have to try the Natural - 1/20/2009   12:45:58 PM
  • 130
    I doubt it. I love a good multigrain crust, but the toppings don't sound very interesting to me. We have great local pizza places that do a fantastic multigrain, AND wholewheat crust with much more interesting veggie toppings. - 1/20/2009   12:43:51 PM
    Yes-I do want to try this pizza as I think the crust will be yummy!!! - 1/20/2009   12:36:16 PM
  • 128
    Why don't they use the same type of boxes is a very good question. That shouldn't affect the choice of pizza or ingredients.

    More to the point, I doubt we'll try this pizza. My husband is a self-proclaimed "crust snob" and once her finds out it's the same ol' pizza it won't have the same appeal. - 1/20/2009   11:49:18 AM
  • 127
    Thank you for the detailed blog of information. Really enjoy your talks much! - 1/20/2009   11:44:47 AM

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