Price was the only favorable element of Little Caesars pizza, the cheapest on our list. Judges cited inconsistent and unbalanced ingredients. This chain is strictly carryout.
Little Caesars fared poorly in our comparison of four pizza chains. Several of the 11 tasters likened the product to frozen supermarket offerings -- and to a value brand, at that. We tasted both a plain cheese pizza and one with half pepperoni and half green pepper and onion. The dominant complaint in the judges' Little Caesars reviews was a lack of consistency. As one taster put it, the cheese pie was "really saucy" but the pepperoni pizza had "too much crust and not enough sauce." Several taste testers described the sauce as "tangy" and the crust as "flavorless," and neither description was meant as a compliment. The quantity of veggie toppings on the pizza was deemed "absurd" (as in, way too much) -- an assessment shared by several testers -- and some said the toppings didn't seem fresh.
Carryout is the only option with Little Caesars, and has been since the 1959 launch of the No. 4 pizza chain. We had to call twice to place an order for pickup; the first time no one answered at the nearest Columbus, Ohio, outlet. Although we sat on hold for 10 minutes the second time around, the requested pies were waiting for us when we arrived to pick them up 10 minutes later. The quick turnaround is aided by Little Caesars' Hot-n-Ready concept. The stores make up pizzas in advance and keep them warm until a customer walks in to take one home. The cheese version is well-known for costing a mere $5. Adding one topping to a Little Caesars pizza costs only $1; each additional topping is $1.50. Alas, our tasting and a similar test by editors at Epicurious suggest that the system sacrifices freshness, prompting comparisons to frozen pizza.
Little Caesars offers a comparatively small menu. There are three Hot-n-Ready pizzas plus a handful of other pizza options. The chain also sells wings, Italian bread, and breadsticks. A large slice of cheese pizza contains 250 calories and 9 grams of fat and a pepperoni slice has 280 calories and 11 grams of fat. The vegetable toppings we ordered are considered a custom pizza; the closest available nutrition information pertains to the Little Caesars Veggie, which includes green pepper, onion, mushroom, and black olives, for a total of 270 calories and 10 grams of fat per slice.
Anyone who watches a minute of TV probably knows the Little Caesars slogan "Pizza! Pizza!" It refers to a previous offer of two pizzas for the price of one (competitor's pizza). That promotion has been replaced by the Hot-n-Ready deal, but the tagline is still associated with Little Caesars, which claims roughly 3,500 worldwide locations and about $2.9 billion in revenue.
Little Caesars was the cheapest of the pizza chains we reviewed, by a wide margin, but the pizza experience didn't prove worth the savings. If you need to feed a crowd for less, this chain might be the one to call. Otherwise, make a different choice.