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Today’s post is from Ryan Luedecke who shares practical tips for low carb living at Mr. SkinnyPants. He’s on a mission to order low carb at the top 30 fast food chains in the US and share the best options for keto dieters.

In a hurry? Get his Papa John’s Low Carb Menu one-pager if you want to see full macros for all of Papa John’s low carb pizza toppings and wings.

Low Carb Papa John’s – What To Order

Howdy! Ryan here. Your options at Papa John’s are pretty simple: get oven baked wings or pry the toppings off a pizza. Entrees are ranked in order of my taste preference.

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Here’s what to order.

1. Buffalo Wings (8-count)

These are bone-in wings that get oven baked and tossed in buffalo sauce. They come wrapped in aluminum foil and tucked in a cardboard box. I poured them onto a plate so you could see them better.

Low Carb Papa Johns Buffalo Wings

My Low Carb Papa Johns Buffalo Wings

  • Order it low carb: “Buffalo wings”
  • Macros: 840 calories and 7 net carbs

Because these wings are baked, they aren’t crisp like the fried wings you might get at your local wing joint. Still, the flavor is good enough that these suffice for a keto meal in a pinch. On the buffalo wing heat scale, I’d rate these as mild to medium.

2. Unsauced Wings (8-count)

If buffalo wings are not to your tastes, then you can order unsauced wings and get a dipping sauce for flavor. Like the buffalo wings, the unsauced wings are bone-in and oven-baked to a tender, but not crisp texture.

Low Carb Papa Johns Unsauced Wings

My Low Carb Papa Johns Unsauced Wings

  • Order it low carb: “Unsauced wings”
  • Macros: 810 calories and 4 net carbs

Some locations also have Garlic Parmesan Wings that check in at 1040 calories and 6 net carbs but those were not available at the Papa John’s near me.

Their BBQ Wings and Honey Chipotle Wings are too high carb to fit a keto diet.

3. Low Carb Dipping Sauces

Not an entree, per say, but it’s worth noting the 6 different low carb dipping sauces should you want to add some flavor.

Low Carb Papa Johns Dipping Sauces

My Low Carb Papa Johns Dipping Sauces ($0.75/ea)

  • Buffalo – 15 calories and 2 net carbs
  • Cheese – 40 calories and 2 net carbs
  • Pizza Tomato Sauce – 20 calories and 3 net carbs
  • Blue Cheese – 160 calories and 0 net carbs
  • Garlic Butter – 150 calories and 0 net carbs
  • Ranch – 100 calories and 2 net carbs

3. Pizza Toppings – Spinach Alfredo Sauce, Canadian Bacon, and Green Olives

In order to make this article interesting, I ordered a couple “oddball” pizzas and just ate the toppings. My first was a Canadian Bacon & Green Olive pizza where I picked the toppings off.

I went with Spinach Alfredo sauce because it has the lowest carbs and highest calories.

That was a mistake. Alfredo Sauce baked on a Papa John’s original crust has a glue-like effect that causes the toppings to bond with the crust and makes peeling the toppings messy and inconvenient.

The result is a $10 clump of low carb ingredients that looks terrible but tastes great.

Low Carb Papa Johns Pizza - Original Crust with Canadian Bacon and Green Olives

My Low Carb Papa Johns Pizza toppings – Cheese, Canadian Bacon, and Green Olives

  • Order it low carb: Not possible. Must order w/ crust and peel off toppings.
  • Macros: 380 calories and 8 net carbs (toppings for 1/2 medium pizza)

Unfortunately, I ordered 3 test pizzas with Alfredo sauce and an Original crust, so you’ll see the clump in two more examples.

4. Pizza Toppings – Spinach Alfredo Sauce, Anchovies, and Bacon Pizza

I had never ordered anchovies before so I gave it a shot. I picked one anchovy off the pizza and ate it standalone and it was unbearably salty, however, when it was mixed in with the rest of the toppings it was tasty.

Low Carb Papa Johns Pizza Toppings - Anchovies and Bacon

My Low Carb Papa Johns Pizza Toppings – Anchovies and Bacon

  • Order it low carb: Not possible. Must order w/ crust and peel off toppings.
  • Macros: 460 calories and 12 net carbs (toppings for 1/2 medium pizza).

Somehow the Papa John’s bacon has 1 net carb per slice according to their online nutrition menu so that made this entree higher carb than expected.

5. Pizza Toppings – Alfredo Sauce, Sausage, and Banana Peppers

This has been one of my standard pizza orders for the fast food challenge. For some reason, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I normally do. Flavor fatigue, perhaps.

Low Carb Papa Johns Pizza Toppings - Sausage and Banana Peppers

My Low Carb Papa Johns Pizza Toppings – Sausage and Banana Peppers

  • Order it low carb: Not possible. Must order w/ crust and peel off toppings.
  • Macros: 460 calories and 8 net carbs (toppings for 1/2 medium pizza).

After having trouble peeling the toppings off my Alfredo sauce pizza orders, I placed two more pizza orders to test the peel-ability of tomato sauce versus no sauce and thin crust versus original crust. I wanted to see which pizza yielded the best peel-ability.

Verdict: For the easiest peeling pizza, get a thin crust with tomato sauce.

6. Pizza Toppings – Light Tomato Sauce and Pepperoni

Surprisingly, peeling toppings into perfect slices was easier when the pizza had tomato sauce. The tomato sauce prevents the cheese and pepperoni from adhering to the crust.

Low Carb Papa Johns Pepperoni Pizza Toppings

My Low Carb Papa Johns Pepperoni Pizza Toppings

  • Order it low carb: Not possible. Must order w/ crust and peel off toppings.
  • Macros: 380 calories and 8 net carbs (toppings for 1/2 medium pizza).

The 8 net carbs is probably overstated as much of the pizza sauce gets left behind on the crust when you peel. I’ve reported the highest possible value to be safe.

7. Pizza Toppings – Light Tomato Sauce and Italian Sausage

My final pizza for this review was an Italian Sausage. By this point, I had gotten good at prying the toppings off the pizza. It’s much easier when you give it 10 minutes to cool and use a fork to pry from the edge of the crust towards the center of the pizza.

Low Carb Papa Johns Pizza Toppings - Italian Sausage

My Low Carb Papa Johns Pizza Toppings – Italian Sausage

  • Order it low carb: Not possible. Must order w/ crust and peel off toppings.
  • Macros: 400 calories and 8 net carbs (toppings for 1/2 medium pizza).

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Finally, you may have seen on Reddit that delivery pizza restaurants will make you a crustless pizza if you give them a specific set of instructions. I haven’t been able to convince a pizza place to do it, but if you’d like to try, here are the instructions to give them:

  • Add a tiny bit of oil to the pan and pass it through the oven to get it hot.
  • Put down a very thick 1/2 inch layer of cheese for the “crust.” Run it through the oven with just cheese. Cheese will compress & flatten by 3/4 and caramelize into a crust.
  • Add a very light layer of pizza sauce, more cheese, and these toppings: [insert your toppings].
  • Pass the pizza through the oven one last time.
  • Let it cool off a little to harden before sliding it into the pizza box.

(Note: Thanks to Reddit user mlumpkins for these instructions.)

Low Carb Papa John’s – What To Avoid

In case you’re new to the keto diet, you can’t eat the pizza crusts, breadsticks, cheese sticks or garlic knots. They’re too high carb.

All their desserts and sodas are off limits.

There are also some sneaky menu items that seem low carb, but aren’t.

Tempting crust to avoid

  • Gluten Free Crust – 17 net carbs per slice

Tempting pizza sauce to avoid

  • BBQ Sauce – 6 net carbs per slice

Tempting topping to avoid

  • Pineapple Topping – 2 net carbs per slice

Tempting chicken entrees to avoid

  • Honey Chipotle Wings (8 piece) – 26 net carbs
  • BBQ Wings (8 piece) – 19 net carbs
  • Chicken Poppers (5 Piece) – 20 net carbs

Summary

Buffalo wings are the safe play when ordering from Papa John’s. They are filling enough to hold you over until your next meal and taste good enough to not leave you wanting.

If you prefer to live your low carb life a bit more dangerously, then order a pizza and eat the toppings.

One day Papa John’s will have low carb pizzas on the menu because our growing numbers demand it. Until then I hope this article provides you with a good short-term solution.

Cheers,
Mr. SkinnyPants

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