From Taco Bell debuting its limited-time Cheesy Chipotle Chicken Flatbread last summer to Panera rolling out a line of flatbreads in 2020, multiple restaurant chains have set their ovens ablaze to launch various pizza-adjacent items.
Although you've likely seen flatbreads listed on the menu at different bars and restaurants, you might have also wondered how it's all that different from pizza. While the two dishes are quite similar, there is a key difference that sets them apart.
Unlike pizza dough, which is made with yeast and requires time to rise, a traditional flatbread is unleavened, which means it's made without yeast. However, there are flatbread recipes that will use this raising agent. Regardless of how the flatbread is made, one thing is for sure: the customization options are truly endless.
Craving the crispy pizza lookalike? We rounded up some restaurant chains that are sure to satisfy your flatbread fix.
The Flatbread Company
Founded in Amesbury, Mass., in 1998, the Flatbread Company currently operates eight locations, primarily in New England, though it also has units in Hawaii and Whistler, British Columbia. Offering both traditional and gluten-free options, this chain prioritizes the use of organic ingredients while supporting local community farms.
For those seeking something classic, there's Jay's Heart, a flatbread made with organic tomato sauce, whole milk mozzarella, parmesan cheese, homemade garlic oil, and a blend of organic herbs. Then, there are the less traditional, more creative flatbread options, such as Mopsy's Kalua Pork Pie. This features slow-cooked, free-range pork shoulder, homemade organic mango barbecue sauce, organic red onions, fresh pineapple, goat cheese, whole milk mozzarella, parmesan cheese, garlic oil, and an organic herb blend.
It's important to note that menu offerings can vary across locations. Hungry for something that's not on the menu? The restaurant chain's No Boundaries Flatbread allows customers to design their very own creation with their choice of sauce, veggies, meat, and cheese.
Maggiano's Little Italy
Currently operating 52 locations across the U.S., Maggiano's Little Italy has been serving up Italian favorites since 1991. While flatbreads might not be the star of this restaurant chain's menu, they're certainly well received by customers. Categorized on the lunch and dinner menus as a starter, these flatbreads come in two varieties: margherita and Italian sausage.
After Maggiano's shared a few photos of its flatbreads on Facebook in 2022, multiple people applauded the menu item, with one user writing that it "never disappoints."
This fast-casual restaurant chain describes itself as being "more deliberate than fast food" because everything is made to order. Among the sandwiches, salads, and soups on the menu are eight different pizza options that can be ordered either as a 10-inch pizza pie or a flatbread. Gluten-free crust is available, as well.
For the meat lovers, there's the Meaty Pizza, which is topped with pepperoni, Italian sausage, and bacon. Then, for those seeking out a vegetarian option, there's the Veggie Supreme, which comes with mushrooms, green bell peppers, onions, olives, and tomatoes. But if toppings aren't your thing, you need not worry. Schlotzsky's still offers a Double Cheese pizza or flatbread, which is solely made with marinara sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese.
The Cheesecake Factory
The Cheesecake Factory is famous for its expansive menu, so it's no surprise to see flatbreads listed among the many various items. The California-based chain currently has seven different options, two of which were launched last August.
One of these newer additions is the Bee Sting, which is topped with Italian sausage, pepperoni, bacon, calabrian chilis, mozzarella, parmesan, and honey. While one Instagrammer shared that they love to get this flatbread at The Cheesecake Factory "every single time," someone else tagged another Instagram user and wrote, "my word… that is a thing of beauty."
The second August 2022 launch was the Cacio E Pepe Flatbread, which is made with romano and parmesan cheeses and freshly ground black pepper.
Since October 2020, bakery cafe chain Panera has been serving up flatbread pizzas alongside its beloved sandwiches, salads, and baked goods. Options range from simple varieties like cheese and margherita to more topping-centric choices like pepperoni and chipotle chicken and bacon. Virtually all of Panera's flatbreads are made with a tomato bell pepper sauce and a shredded fontina and mozzarella cheese blend, with the notable exception of Chipotle Chicken & Bacon Flatbread, which comes with a garlic cream sauce.
In a Reddit thread calling on Panera fans to share the chain's best flatbread, several users dropped their go-to orders. "I love margherita pizza and have tried many of them and even tho[ugh] it's technically a flatbread, the flavors are amazing. Bravo to [P]anera," one Redditor wrote.