Papa John's Papadia Flavors Ranked Worst To Best

In ancient Italy, when any type of plague struck and resources grew scarce, the humble piadina, a flatbread sandwich made with cheap ingredients, was one of the foods that kept the people's stomachs full. And in 2020, just as COVID-19 began to overtake the world, we had Papa John's line of $6 Papaidas to get us through the hard times. Released in February of that year, Papa John's (oblivious to the impending stay-at-home-orders that were to come that March, as we all were) announced its piadina-inspired, half-pizza, half-sandwich Papadias that would be perfect for a fun lunch on the go. While no one went anywhere that year, neither did the Papadias.

In fact, since their debut, Papa John's has started selling its chimera sandwiches with a parmesan crust, added a buffalo chicken flavor, and teamed up with Dortios to unveil a trio of limited edition Dorito Cool Ranch Papidas that probably had known Dortios collaborator Taco Bell sweating. But we think Papa John's Papadias have gotten too comfortable. It's time to shake their sauced-up world and to keep, you, a dedicated foodie, informed on which ones are worth your stomach space. That's right, we tried and are now unveiling the true tasty (or tasteless) nature of eight Papadias variations. And so, based on these pizza sandwiches' taste, sauce ratio, and the distinctiveness of their ingredients' flavors, we present Papa's Papadia flavors ranked from worst to best.

8. Doritos Cool Ranch Chicken Papadia

A member of the three-Papadia team born from Cool Ranch Doritos and Papa John's limited-time collaboration (which is no doubt the pizza brand's attempt to ride the popular cool ranch flavor wave), like every Doritos Cool Ranch Papadia, the chicken version features a Doritos-esque cheese powdered flatbread filled with Doritos Cool Ranch sauce, ripe tomatoes, cheese, and onions. And, to really drive home that signature Doritos Cool Ranch flavor, these Papadias also come complete with a side of Doritos Cool Ranch dipping sauce. However, the meat that makes the Doritos Cool Ranch Chicken Papadia different from its contemporaries is also its downfall. Or maybe it's more accurate to say the sandwich's lack of chicken is what left this Papadia at the bottom of the ranking.

Because there is so little meat in the Doritos Cool Ranch Chicken Papadia, the ranch sauce completely dominates the sandwich. You can't taste the chicken, you can't taste the tomatoes, and you can't taste the onions — just pure, unadulterated Doritos Cool Ranch Sauce. Imagine this: dunking your already pretty-much just sauce between two pieces of thick flatbread Cool Ranch Dorito Papadia into the Doritos Cool Ranch dipping sauce. Yeah. Far from a great taste. And so, for essentially tasting like eating cheesy bread folded over dollops of Dortios dressing, the Chicken Cool Ranch Dorito is the first and, consequently the worst, Papadia on this list.

7. Parmesan Crusted Philly Cheesesteak Papadia

When we embarked on this Papadia ranking odyssey, we knew we had to try out the parmesan crust on at least one flavor so we could determine if the specialty bread is worth paying an extra buck for. And what better pizza sandwich variety to test this cheesy bread with than the Philly Cheesesteak Papadia? Essentially the sandwich version of Papa John's Philly Cheesesteak pizza, this parmesan-breaded Papadia comes stuffed with steak, cheese, onions, and green peppers doused in Philly sauce. However, as good as that sounds, in a similar vein to the Doritos Cool Ranch Chicken Papadia, this sandwich's Philly sauce is a little too strong for its own good.

This sauce is so strong that the taste of every other ingredient is dampened by it. While you can identify some semblance of steak in this pizza sandwich (which makes it better than the worst Papadia on this list), it and the onions are still barely recognizable in the flatbread sandwich's taste profile.

But perhaps the most offensive fact about this sandwich is that the cheesy crust you're paying extra for honestly tastes only minimally (if at all) different from the original flatbread. While the garlic sauce it's served with does add some great flavor dimension, the Parmesan Philly Cheesesteak Papadia is still a sham of a Philadelphia cheesesteak imitation whose cheesy bread isn't at all as flavorful as it looks.

6. Meatball Pepperoni Papadia

Out of all the self-proclaimed pizza sandwiches on Papa John's menu, the Meatball Pepperoni Papadia is most certainly the pizza-iest. A flatbread take on one of Papa John's most popular menu items, the Meatball Pepperoni Pizza, this Papadia is filled with cheese, pizza sauce, and, of course, meatballs and pepperoni. And like the pizza it was patterned after, the Meatball Pepperoni Papadia is undoubtedly tasty.

The cheese in this sandwich combines with its sauce and pepperoni to almost flawlessly recreate a perfectly sauced-up pizza's flavor. Perhaps most impressively, the dipping pizza sauce it comes with adds to rather than overwhelms the sandwich. However, despite its generally good flavor, the Meatball Pepperoni Papadia has almost no meatballs to speak of. And, aside from that little hiccup, this flatbread sandwich also doesn't have a particularly interesting taste. Honestly, after we finished it, we were left wishing we'd just ordered a traditional pie instead. While the Meatball Pepperoni Papadia reigns above the Parmesan Philly Cheesesteak in the ranking, that's where its accolades stop.

5. Doritos Cool Ranch Beef Papadia

And so the second (and far more successful) member of the Doritos and Papa John's collab enters the playing field. As mentioned before, from the dipping sauce to the tomato and onion fillings, the only difference in each Doritos Cool Ranch Papadia is the meat in its folds. However, where the chicken version of this Dortios-inspired eat is drenched in sauce, the sauce amount on this beef-based Papadia is far more palatable.

With just enough cool ranch taste to make you feel happy to douse your sandwich into the dipping sauce for more, the dark flavor of beef also goes strikingly well with the sauce's rich creamy flavor. The creamy-meaty taste is certainly inventive and the sauce is wonderfully balanced, but this Papadia still suffers from one major flaw — you can't taste the onions and tomatoes among its ingredients. We're not sure what the deal is with the sauce-to-veggie ratio — whether it's because the amount of onions and tomatoes is off or the amount of sauce still drowns out their flavor. However, due to its very one-note taste, the Doritos Cool Ranch Beef Papadia falls behind our fourth-place pick.

4. Grilled BBQ Chicken and Bacon Papadia

Another directly-from-pizza-to-sandwich creation, the BBQ Chicken and Bacon Papadia is undoubtedly the child of Papa John's southern-comfort food influenced BBQ Chicken Bacon Pizza. Filled with onions, grilled chicken, bacon, and cheese drenched in tangy BBQ sauce, the southern-loved sauce gives this flatbread sandwich an outstanding flavor.

Not at all overwhelming, the sauce's full-bodied, sweet, and tangy taste makes the onions and grilled chicken sing. And let us tell you, unlike a shocking amount of Papadias on this list, this pizza sandwich has enough chicken in it to make up a whole chorus. But, while the surplus of poultry is refreshing, it seems to be compensating for the near non-existent amount of bacon.

In fact, there was so little bacon in the BBQ Chicken and Bacon Papadia, we had to check our receipt verify that the sandwich was actually meant to have the meat in it. While it's filled with incredible flavor and an amount of sauce that encourages you to utilize the BBQ dipping sauce, these two pros cannot detract from the fact the BBQ Chicken and Bacon Papadia is arguably a prime example of false advertising.

3. Steak Cool Ranch Papadia

The third and final eat on the Dortios and Papa John's collab lineup, in terms of its fillings and sauce, the Doritos Cool Ranch Steak Papadia's story is the same as the chicken and beef versions. But out of all the Doritos varieties, we have to say that the steak flavor makes the most sense. From Taco Bell selling steak-filled Doritos locos tacos to the popular snack brand peddling a steak-flavored version of its chips, Doritos and steak as a flavor combo have a proud and delicious history — one the steak-filled Cool Ranch Doritos Papidia is for sure going to get an honorable mention in.

The amount of sauce on this sandwich is perfect. Far from as heavy-handed as the former entries, you can actually taste the cheese, onions, and tomatoes when you bite into this Doritos-inspired treat. Those ingredients, when combined with the steak, work together to create a rush of crunchy, multi-dimensional flavors that the creamy ranch dipping sauce only adds to. However, while the sauce ratio of this sandwich is worthy of an award, it, like many of Papa John's Papadias, is still severely lacking in the meat amount. And our top two Papadia picks are bursting with more flavor and more meat.

2. Italian Papadia

A bit of a strange concept considering both piadinas and pizza are Italian foods, the Italian Papadia, in the same spirit as many Papadias, is essentially Papa John's Zesty Italian Trio inversed. Featuring Italian sausage, salami, banana peppers, and cheese, it also comes with a pizza sauce (like the Meatball Pepperoni Pizza version). While the Meatball Pepperoni Pizza iteration might leave you with a very neutral impression of the Papadia concept, our second-place winner may just make you a pizza-sandwich convert.

A delectable flavor combination, rather than blending together into one pizza-flatbread-mush, the Italian Papadia's banana peppers work with its meat and cheese to create a wonderfully bright taste. We'd argue that it's the banana peppers' flavor that makes this Papadia stand out. Offering the perfect amount of kick to accommodate any level of spice tolerance, these folded-in veggies turn this eat from a backward pizza into an authentic and delicious sandwich. And, perhaps the highlight of this Papadia experience is that the banana peppers' snappy taste is perfectly accentuated by the pizza sauce's umami flavor. However, while the Italian Papadia is a prime example of what Papaidas have the potential to be, it's still light on the salami. And so, with such an essential ingredient missing, it cannot be deemed our first-place winner.

1. Grilled Buffalo Chicken Papadia

From chips to party dips, the buffalo chicken flavor's tanginess has come in many shapes and foods. And after selling its successful Fiery Buffalo Chicken Pizza, Papa John's has reimagined this chicken wing favorite into flatbread sandwich form with its Grilled Buffalo Chicken Papadia. Packed with grilled chicken, onions, and cheese topped with buffalo and buttermilk ranch sauce, the amount of sauce initially had us worried. We weren't sure that the Papadia's bread would be able to contain so much of the topping without getting soggy. However, we were surprised to find that even with more liquid action, the crust remained perfectly fluffy and intact.

Although the buffalo and ranch sauce doesn't seep into the Grilled Buffalo Chicken Papadia's bread, it's not because Papa put the sauce on lightly. In fact, you'll be greeted by a mouthful of decadent, full-bodied flavor when you first bite into this pizza sandwich. And, on top of featuring sauces with a bold taste that doesn't overwhelm its ingredients, this also has a lot of meat. The Grilled Buffalo Chicken Papadia features more of its staple ingredient than any other edition on this list. Due to its sheer amount of meat and excellent flavor (which is only enhanced by the ranch dipping sauce), the Grilled Buffalo Chicken Papadia embodies what the entire pizza-sandwich idea has the potential to be, and so it claims our spot for Papa John's best Papadia.