How to Make Pizza Hut-Style Personal Pizzas

Like any vaguely nerdy kid of the ’80s and ’90s, I was obsessed with Book It!, Pizza Hut’s pro-reading promotional program at the time. The gist: read a bunch of books, get a free personal pizza (with pepperoni, always with pepperoni). And nothing tasted quite as delicious to nine-year-old Missy as that greasy, gooey mini-pizza she brought to her after reaching the finish line.

I swear it’s not just nostalgia that drives my fond memories of that pizza – Pizza Hut pizzas tasted better back then. Were they better quality ingredients? Actual fresh dough? Am I kidding myself? Or was it something to do with… the frying pan?

I’m not the only one who thinks those skillets—round, short-topped, seasoned, 6-inch skillets that seem to retain heat impressively—had to play a role. DC’s Tigerella chef Vinnie Falcone bought a bunch of Hut’s vintage pans for the mini pies he serves at his Foggy Bottom location. It’s spawned a bit of a trend in my town, and I’ve decided to bring it into my own kitchen: I bought my own personal pizza pan on eBay for around $16.

Do a search on the auction site and you’ll find several sellers selling frying pans that are supposedly vintage and from Pizza Hut. I bought my original (and then a second one when I found out how much I liked it) from this seller. Pans, it turns out, offer a bit of magic: Armed with a King Arthur Flour Pizza Dough recipe that I halved to fit in the pan, I successfully made an individual pizza as a birthday present for my sister, who it was also Book It! haunting. My artistically inclined husband even made it a matching logo decal to go with it.

While the result was perfectly reminiscent of childhood, I also hope they become part of our regular meal rotation as adults. The pans are lightweight, reasonably small for storage, and really help create a crisp, self-contained crust for pies. (Next time, though, you could try dividing it into thirds so the cake has less batter.)

And nostalgia for the Book It! the promotion isn’t going anywhere anytime soon: Pizza Hut has been bringing the show back annually since 2021, as those ’80s and ’90s kids now have kids of their own. But if your little one can’t get all that excited about Pizza Hut’s now rather mediocre pizza, grab a skillet and bake their own version of a pie as a reward—as long as they’re willing to spend a few babysitters club First the graphic novels.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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