Eating Vegan at Papa John’s – The Best Vegan Picks

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World-famous pizza chain and Domino’s top rival, Papa John’s, now has a presence in over 5000 locations across the globe, but its origin story couldn’t be more different. The eccentric and controversial founder and former CEO, John Schnatter, first launched the chain in a broom closet in his father’s tavern and named the business after his grandfather – a real family affair. Over the years, it’s won numerous in the Guinness Book World Records, including the most people tossing pizza dough and the most pizzas delivered. Unfortunately, it has won any records for most vegan options, though, and has a relatively small selection of vegan-friendly items. Nevertheless, at Vegan Unlocked, we did what we do best and hunted down all the plant-based pizza options, and with our full menu, secret menu, and editor’s picks, you can enjoy them all.

The Vegan Unlocked Research Team combed through all 43 items on the Papa John’s menu and came away with one rather interesting custom creation and two on-menu options that will leave you salivating.

Papa John’s scores 1.0 out of 5 stars, with little to no vegan options up for grabs. This means that although you won’t be able to enjoy any delicious, gooey vegan cheese or satisfy your craving for alternative meats, you can still build your own pizza and load it with veggies.

This score is calculated based on the number of vegan offerings on Papa John’s menu “as is” or with an easy substitution, a restaurant vegan customizability score, and finally, the number of vegan options vs non-vegan options. Learn more about how Vegan Unlocked Ratings are calculated.

Secret Menu

We know it can be difficult at the best of times to find vegan-friendly options when you’re out dining with friends and loved ones. This is made even more challenging when chains don’t clearly advertise their plant-based options or offer up solutions for veganizing a menu. However, at Vegan Unlocked, we’re the pros at sniffing out plant-based power from a mile away. With our team of researchers, we’ve uncovered a secret menu item that has flown under the radar. But don’t think this is just a job for the professionals, you can try your hand at developing one of these custom creations, too. Sometimes all you need to do is swap out some cheese or change your dipping sauce.

Got a hankering for something a little simpler? Scroll on to find Papa John’s vegan menu items and our editors’ top picks just below this section.

Stuffed Garlic Breadsticks

Order up a Papa Bowl and fill it as full as you like with your favorite ingredients. Then, get a side of Original Breadsticks and some garlic dipping sauce. Open up your breadsticks, pour a little of the dipping sauce or the pizza sauce that comes with them inside, and stuff them with your Papa Bowl ingredients. There are ten breadsticks in a portion, so ten mini sandwiches full of delicious fillings would be enough to satisfy the hunger of two people.

All the Vegan Options at Papa John’s

So, what else is on the Papa John’s vegan menu?


  • Build-Your-Own-Pizza with Original Hand-Tossed Dough: This order allows you to pile your pizza base with a whole array of toppings, so you can let your creative mind run wild. 
  • Create Your Own Papa Bowl: This option is great for those who aren’t fans of bread or prefer something a little lighter. It’s all your favorite toppings without the crust! So, whether you fancy pineapple slathered in the pizza dipping sauce or tomatoes, spinach and black olives with buffalo sauce, the freedom is yours.


  • Breadsticks

Sauces, Add Ons, Toppings

  • Pizza sauce
  • BBQ sauce
  • Fresh mushrooms
  • Pineapple
  • Onions
  • Green peppers
  • Black olives
  • Green olives
  • Sliced jalapenos
  • Banana peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Fresh spinach
  • Garlic dipping sauce
  • Pizza dipping sauce
  • BBQ dipping sauce
  • Buffalo dipping sauce
  • Crushed red pepper packet
  • Special seasoning packet
  • Pepperoncini peppers

Editor’s Picks: What Are the Top Vegan Meals at Papa John’s?

The joy of Papa John’s Build-your-own pizza is that you’re not restricted when it comes to flavor combinations. Our recommendation for those who like to feel the heat is the spicy special, ordered with jalapenos, peppers, and pepperoncini peppers on a pizza sauce base with crushed red pepper sprinkled on top with a drizzle of buffalo sauce. 

At Vegan Unlocked, we love to go against the grain and find secret menu items that blow your mind. Our favorite inventive creation on the menu is the Stuffed Garlic Breadsticks. Filled with your flair and all your favorites, this order is bound to satisfy.

The breadsticks and garlic dipping sauce are simply delicious. Whether you choose to dip them in the sauce or drench them, this is our top pick for garlic lovers. Although, you may be best to give it a miss on date night. 

Note: Vegan Unlocked is a tool dedicated to helping people find plant-based options. We are not an allergen resource, and want to encourage our friends with allergies to proceed with caution. We cannot control and don’t always know when cross contamination takes place. See Papa John’s allergen menu here. As far as cross-contamination of vegan foods with animal products, this is completely up to your comfort level as an individual. Read our stance on cross contamination.

Frequently Asked Papa John’s Questions

Are Papa John’s Breadsticks Vegan?

Yes, Papa John’s breadsticks are indeed vegan. Plus, unlike some offerings at fast food joints, they contain minimal ingredients, only six! This includes: 

  • Unbleached enriched wheat flour
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Soybean oil
  • Salt
  • Yeast

So, you can munch away knowing that you’re not intaking any harmful additives or preservatives. 

Does Papa John’s Do Vegan Cheese?

Unfortunately, at this time, Papa John’s in the US does not offer vegan-friendly cheese. 

Is Papa John’s Garlic Dip Vegan?

Yes, the garlic dip at Papa John’s is indeed vegan and made with soybean oil rather than butter. This means you can slather the delicious sauce on just about anything. Our tip is to use it for the garlic knots. While vegan, they are sprinkled with a parmesan seasoning topping. So, to veganize, simply ask for the knots without and then dip them in the garlic sauce.

You can find out more information on Papa John’s by visiting their website here

Planning on visiting Papa John’s soon?

Be sure to tag Vegan Unlocked and share your vegan meal or custom creation to be entered into our monthly giveaway!

Papa John’s Vegan Menu Was Brought to You by…

Madaline Dunn

Madaline is a vegan journalist, writer, and editor specializing in sustainability, current affairs, and social justice and the ways in which they intersect. Her work focuses on innovation and progress, prioritizing rigorous investigation. When she’s not writing, she’s in the kitchen experimenting with new plant-based recipes, reading a good book, or thinking about her next cup of coffee.

Cristina Garrido

Cristina is a vegan cook and recipe developer. She’s worked in several vegan kitchens, as a collaborator for different cooking blogs and now works as a consultant helping restaurants interested in making their menus more vegan-friendly. She’s passionate about cultural foods and culinary innovations. Her non-food related interests include thrifting, sustainability and exploring her new adoptive country, Portugal.

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