There is always that one person in the friend group who silently suffers when everyone decides to order a pizza for dinner. Maybe you’re this person. We get it, pizza is delicious, it’s a near-perfect food, but sometimes — particularly if you eat pizza a lot — it just doesn’t hit the spot. To make things worse, the big national chain pizza joints don’t give you a lot of choice on their menus outside of pizza. All you’ve got are sides (which are often bread-driven and pizza-adjacent), and sometimes wings.
Well, suffer no more because Pizza Hut is rolling out an entire baked pasta menu — offering hungry foodies an option substantial enough to be a full meal in and of itself, perfect for those rare nights when the idea of pizza seems boring. For a limited time (but who knows how limited), Pizza Huts nationwide will be offering Chicken Alfredo, Veggie, Cheesy Alfredo, and Italian Meats.
Each order comes with your choice of an entire order of breadsticks or garlic bread, so in the event that you can’t decide whether you want pizza or pasta, ordering pasta kind of allows you to have your cake and eat it too. We ate all four pasta varieties and ranked them from least essential to most. Here’s the verdict, starting with the weakest of the four.
Oven Baked Pasta — Veggie
I love veggie pizza. It’s fresh, fragrant, pleasingly vegetal, and provides a great mouthfeel. This dish attempts to capture that magic in baked pasta form and it misses the mark. This baked pasta features green peppers, onions, diced tomatoes, black olives, and tomato sauce over penne pasta smothered in a crispy layer of oven-baked cheese.
All of that sounds Great, but unlike Pizza Hut’s veggie pizza (which is essentially the same makeup) the veggies get lost in all of the cheese and sauce. You can’t really taste it, it’s a mess of flavors that collide and clash rather than come together. A lot of that has to do with the sauce which Pizza Hut calls “sweet tomato” but doesn’t really taste like either word in that phrase.
There is a blandness to the sauce and it obscures the flavor of the veggies. The only flavor that really comes through is that layer of melted parmesan and lots of dried oregano.
The Bottom Line:
It’s a veggie pizza in baked pasta form, but it doesn’t really work. The flavors here never congeal in a satisfying way.
Oven Baked Pasta — Cheesy Alfredo
Pizza Hut’s Oven Baked Cheesy Alfredo features two layers of baked parmesan and oregano over a bed of penne pasta smothered in alfredo sauce. There isn’t a lot to this pasta, but the sauce actually has some flavor so I like it better than the Veggie, even though it comes across as generally bland.
To put a finer point on it — the alfredo sauce is nothing special. But it’s not overly chunky or too garlicky like typical jarred alfredo, so it kind of exceeded my expectations. It’s cheesy and creamy if a tad is too scarce considering how many noodles there are. While alfredo should indeed be simple, this isn’t so simple as to be truly ingredient driven (as in, you’re not tasting some marvelous 24-month parmesan or hand extruded noodles), leaving it in desperate need of something, anythingelse to make it more interesting.
Throw some spinach and mushrooms in this thing, and you’ve got a decent little order of pasta.
The Bottom Line:
Add a few ingredients and you’ve got a solid pasta dish. As it comes, it’s a little bland, but still better than the Veggie.
Oven Baked Pasta — Italian Meats
The Italian Meats pasta remedies the issue I had with the Veggie. The flavors are much more complementary here, as herb-forward sausage and spicy pepperoni add a much-needed meaty savoriness to this dish that wakes up that tomato sauce. You can actually taste the sweetness here.
The pasta consists of pepperoni, Italian sausage, and oven-baked cheese, with tomato sauce over penne pasta (the penne obsession is weird — this dish should feature rotini or maybe orecchiette). Like the Cheesy Alfredo, it’s a few ingredients shy of being a way better dish. Throw in some of those onions or bell peppers and you’ll add in a lot more flavor and freshness.
The Bottom Line:
Significantly better than the Veggie pasta, which uses the same sweet tomato sauce. A combination of those two dishes would make either better if ordering vegetarian isn’t a concern for you.
Oven Baked Pasta — Chicken Alfredo
Chicken Alfredo is easily the most overrated dish in the pantheon of delicious Italian foods (we don’t even make it right) so it pains me to give this dish the top spot but… it’s the only one that tastes like it doesn’t need extra ingredients to make it good. Extra ingredients would still make it better though, so don’t shy away from adding more meat, spinach, or veggies to add more complexity.
The Hut keeps this one pretty simple, it’s just penne smothered in alfredo with chicken and a thick layer of toasty cheese. The best move is to work that cheese into the pasta itself, incorporating it into the sauce and giving a crispy and nutty infusion of parm to each bite.
The subtle hints of garlic in this creamy sauce compliment the oregano top layer perfectly, and the bites of white meat chicken are surprisingly tender and flavorful. My only big gripe is the ratio of cheese to the sauce, the Hut goes heavy on the former and it throws the balance off just a bit.
The Bottom Line:
The best of Pizza Hut’s baked pasta dishes, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make it better by adding some extra ingredients in to make it more substantial. Even red pepper flakes would go a long way to transform this into something truly satisfying and worth ordering when you don’t have a hankering for the Hut’s deep dish.
Find your nearest Pizza Hut here.