The Best & Worst Menu Items at Papa Murphy's
Hashtag "Bake It Up" is Papa Murphy's slogan for good (and cheesy) reason. The take-and-bake pizza franchise has over 1,000 outlets in both the United States and Canada, all of which are known for their varying degrees of delicious crusts. From thin, original, and fresh pan to stuffed crust pizza, Papa Murphy's is a whole other level of pizza.
Papa Murphy's is different from other traditional pizzerias—like, Marco's Pizza or California Pizza Kitchen, for example—because it's not really a pizzeria at all. Don't get us wrong; you can order pizzas at Marco's. The only catch? You'll take it home cold and it's up to you to bake it.
Is that whole "take-and-bake" thing starting to make more sense now? Yeah, exactly.
We're not talking just about crust either. At Papa Murphy's, you can take an entirely made pizza—crust, sauce, toppings, and all. Once you get it home, pop it in the oven to bake it up.
There is absolutely no denying that Papa Murphy's many menu items are delicious. Truly, they are a foodie's dream—Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza, Herb Chicken Mediterannean, Tuscan Chicken and Sausage, to name a particularly saucy few. But just because something is a foodie's dream dish doesn't necessarily mean it's the healthiest thing for you. In fact, more often times than not, what's considered Instagrammable by a foodie's standards is usually the furthest thing from actually nutritious.
That being said, we've left the final word to the nutrition experts who weighed in on the best and worst dishes on the Papa Murphy's menu.
Large Pizza Slices
Best: Hawaiian, Large Slice
"One slice provides two servings of protein, which helps with muscle rebuilding and repair. With only 310 calories, this slice can easily fit into your day!" says Mary-Catherine Stockman, LLC, MPH, RD, LDN, and owner of Busy Babes Nutrition. "Even better, Canadian bacon is used in place of regular bacon, providing a leaner alternative and slightly more protein."
Despite all these positives, it's important to note that 780 milligrams of sodium is still considered rather high. However, at Papa Murphy's, you're going to have that issue with most of the dishes.
"Be cautious as it is high in sodium, which can lead to bloat. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day for those without heart problems, so this slice is roughly one-third of that daily requirement," says Stockman. "Have heart problems? Check with your doctor, but the AHA generally recommends no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day for those with heart problems."
Best: Garden Veggie, Large Slice
"This is the better option, with only 310 calories yet 14 grams of protein," says Stockman. "While it's on the lower end of sodium for menu options, it still isn't desirable with its saturated fat and minimal fiber content. Despite being a 'veggie' pizza, it doesn't even provide 1 gram of fiber, which may leave you unsatisfied and wanting more. What's the daily fiber requirement? 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men."
Worst: Bacon Cheeseburger, Large Slice
This one probably comes as no surprise. Usually, whenever fast-casual eateries combine meats on one dish, it's a recipe for high amounts of sodium.
"This slice has a whopping 1,340 milligrams of sodium and 20 grams of fat and 10 grams of saturated fat—yikes!" says Carol Aguirre MS, RD/LDN nutritionist and dietitian at Nutrition Connections. "Would not recommend if you are avoiding salt, you may retain water as a result! Make sure to drink up on the fluids."
"This bacon cheeseburger slice is high in total fat, saturated fat, and sodium," says Stockman. "With over 1,300 milligrams of sodium, you're already halfway there with just one slice. The high saturated content is less than desirable, as saturated fat is linked to numerous cardiovascular diseases and contributes to high cholesterol. If you're sticking to a heart-healthy diet, this item should be a 'no go.'"
Worst:Cowboy, Large Slice
The Cowboy slice is made on the original crust, topped with traditional red sauce, whole-milk mozzarella, premium pepperoni, Italian sausage, sliced mushrooms, black olives, cheddar, and herb and cheese blend. As you can see, that is truly a lot going on in just one slice.
"As with the bacon cheeseburger option, this slice is high in fat and sodium," says Stockman. "The whole-milk mozzarella, pepperoni, and Italian sausage provide high levels of fat, which may keep you full but without much benefit to your heart."
And as with most of Papa Murphy's slices, the sodium content is very high.
"Yikes! 10 grams of saturated fat, over 1,000 milligrams of sodium and no fiber," says Aguirre. "Foods high in saturated fat will increase your cholesterol levels and if you're following a 2,000 calorie diet, you are getting 50 percent of your suggested saturated fats from this one slice of pizza!"
"Sodium comes from the crust, sauce, processed meats and cheese. With over 1,000 milligrams of sodium, you're nearly halfway to your daily max with just one slice," she says. "The high saturated content is undesirable, given its connection to numerous cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, this slice does not contain any fiber, which helps keep you full but also aids with digestion, blood sugar, and cholesterol."
Stuffed Large Pizza
Best: Big Murphy's Stuffed Pizza, Large Slice
Big Murphy's Stuffed Pizza promises two layers of Papa Murphy's original crust stuffed with traditional red sauce, whole-milk mozzarella, premium pepperoni, Italian sausage, sliced mushrooms, and black olives. It's then topped with traditional red sauce, green peppers, Roma tomatoes, mozzarella, mild cheddar, and herb and cheese blend.
"Although this is voted the 'best' in the stuffed pizza category, it's still a 'steer clear' item for me," says Stockman. "Why? It's high in calories, fat, sodium, and carbs! The whole-milk mozzarella, premium pepperoni, Italian sausage, mozzarella, and mild cheddar provide fat and some protein. While it contains mushrooms, olives, green peppers, and tomatoes, the slice contains nearly no fiber, which is important for gut and heart health. Really want stuffed pizza? Request two layers of thin crust instead of original crust to cut down on carbs and calories."
Worst: 5-Meat Stuffed Pizza, Large Slice
Whenever a dish combines multiple types of meat, it's sure to be high in sodium, fat, and is just very processed. The 5-Meat Stuffed Pizza is no exception. Featuring Italian sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, crispy bacon, and ground beef, the large slice is high in fat and sodium. Not to mention, it has two full layers.
"This stuffed slice is full of high-fat, high-sodium processed meats," says Stockman. "Processed deli meats like turkey, ham, and pepperoni are linked to a higher risk of cancer. They also tend to be extremely high in sodium, contributing to bloat and water retention."
In short? Skip it!
"With no veggies on this slice, there is minimal fiber making this a less-than-desirable option," Stockman says.
Best: Italian Salad
Low Calorie Italian Dressing nutritional value:
"While salads are often thought to be the healthier option, this salad has almost as many calories and as much saturated fat, sodium, and protein as the Garden Veggie slice," says Stockman.
"This would be a potential option if you are seeking a salad," says Aguirre. "A little high in the fat content, but you are getting veggies—aka antioxidants—with six grams of fiber and 13 grams of protein. The fat/protein combo will be you satisfied."
Some of this salad's redeeming quality, however, comes from its low calories, low trans fat, lower in sodium than other dishes, and its fiber.
"This salad is a good option for those looking to monitor their carb intake, as it contains less than 15 grams of carbs and provides some full-boosting fiber with all the veggies," says Stockman. "However, be careful with the [Low Calorie Italian] dressing, as its addition brings the sodium to over 1,000 milligrams. With that amount, it's almost better to have a slice of pizza."
Worst: Chicken Bacon Artichoke Salad
Though the Italian Salad still isn't the healthiest, it can always get worse. And that's where the Chicken Bacon Artichoke Salad at Papa Murphy's comes in.
"This salad is a less-than-desirable option with its high fat and sodium content, provided by the chicken, bacon, and cheese," Stockman says. "Most people eat too much sodium, often without knowing it. The average American eats about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day even though the recommendation is no more than 2,300 milligrams."
That being said, you eat the Chicken Bacon Artichoke Salad and you're basically done with your sodium for the day.
Best: Chocolate Chip Cookie, 1 Slice
Most of the desserts at Papa Murphy's are made in a kind of pizza (go figure!), so if you eat the full Chocolate Chip Cookie, the nutritional value is a lot different. But if you share with friends and only let yourself indulge in one slice, then the Chocolate Chip is the best option on the menu.
But remember, it's still choosing the lesser of two evils.
"Although this is the lower calorie option, this option still has 20 grams of added sugar," Stockman says. "We recommend individuals don't exceed more than 6 teaspoons, or 25 grams of added sugars, per day to put that into perspective."
Worst: S'mores Dessert Pizza, 8 Slices
The S'mores Dessert Pizza accounts for a full eight slices of the total "pizza." So, while it's important to note that this nutritional value is only for if you were to eat all eight slices, there's still a significant amount of sodium, sugar, and calories by the slice.
Made with cookie dough from scratch, chocolate chips, marshmallows, and a crisp topping, this Dessert Pizza sounds great, but might just send you into diabetic shock.
"With nearly 150 grams of added sugar and over the daily carb requirement for most people following a 2,000-calorie diet or less, this is an option to steer clear of," Stockman says. "This dessert pizza is high in nearly every category—calories, fat, sodium, carbs, added sugars—without much nutritional value."
Gourmet Delight Pizzas
Best: Gourmet Vegetarian
The Gourmet Vegetarian slice features Papa Murphy's artisan thin crust and is topped with creamy garlic sauce, whole-milk mozzarella, fresh spinach, sliced zucchini, sliced mushrooms, marinated artichoke hearts, Roma tomatoes, mixed onions, cheddar, and a herb and cheese blend.
"One thing to point out with this option is that it's made with Papa Murphy's artisan thin crust, helping you keep carbs and sodium in check," says Stockman. "This option provides protein mainly from the cheese, while it provides carbs from the crust, fat from the cheese, and fiber from the veggies. It also provides two full servings of protein, which can help keep you full and satisfied."
Worst: Chicken Bacon Artichoke
Once again, the Chicken Bacon Artichoke makes the "worst" list because of high sodium and high saturated fat. However, Stockman points out, it does have some redeeming qualities.
"While this isn't the best option, the fact that a thin crust is used helps keep your carbs in check," Stockman says. "We recommend limiting processed meats like crispy bacon, as they have been linked to higher risk of cancer. This slice provides nearly half the daily recommendation of sodium, which is provided by the sauce, cheese, bacon, and marinated artichoke hearts. Want to cut down on some of the fat and sodium? Ask for half–or no–creamy garlic sauce."