Why Gluten Free Pizzas Cost More: Truth Behind Higher Prices

If you’re one of the millions of gluten-free eaters out there, you’ve noticed that you’re constantly digging a little deeper into your wallet for your pizza orders.

You’re at the pizza shop, placing your order on one of their gluten-free crust options, and then… kaboom… a $3-$5 surcharge gets added on because, well, it’s gluten-free.

But why is that? Why do gluten-free pizzas cost more?

There are four reasons gluten-free pizzas are more expensive: 1- Gluten-free crusts and toppings are more difficult to make, 2- harder to keep fresh, 3- raw ingredients are pricier than wheat-based ingredients, 4- demand for GF pizzas is still fairly low, revenue doesn’t offset the increased cost.

Below, I’ll give a little more detail on each of these reasons so they’re clearer and list prices from the eight most popular pizza chains as examples of where prices are at the time of writing. I’ll also share some tips on how you can save some dough on your next gluten-free pizza purchase.

Let’s get into it.

Reasons Why Gluten-Free Pizza is More Expensive

All gluten-free foods have slightly higher prices, and Pizza is no exception. But here’s what’s happening in the pizza world specifically.

The Making of Gluten-Free Crusts and Toppings

Have you ever thought about where and how gluten-free pizza crusts and/or toppings are made? Do you think the pizza restaurants make their own GF crusts or toppings in the back of the house?

Well, maybe a few do, but most of them buy their GF crusts and toppings from outside manufacturers with the equipment, knowledge, and resources to safely make these products without cross-contamination.

This means manufacturers with an entire line of equipment dedicated solely to making gluten-free pizza products and ingredients, which are likely to be limited in number, or manufacturers who set up separate facilities to make gluten-free products.

Either option has its cost-increasing factors, such as limited number of suppliers, separate equipment or facilities, and any of these factors ultimately drive up the cost of the final product.

Keeping GF Products Fresh and Uncontaminated

Gluten-free pizza crusts and toppings have a shorter shelf life than their wheat-based counterparts. Why?

The alternative ingredients used for gluten-free bread products, like pizza crusts, don’t have the same binding properties as wheat-based flour, causing the product to break down and spoil more quickly. This means more frequent orders of GF crusts for pizza restaurants and, thus, higher costs for them.

Not to mention that cross-contamination is a major issue in any restaurant kitchen, but it is especially problematic with gluten-free products. Special care must be taken to avoid contamination with wheat products, utensils, and surfaces, among other things.

This also means that restaurants will have to put in more time and effort for a smaller portion of their revenue. So you can bet your bottom dollar that you and I will end up paying a little more for that extra care and effort in the kitchen.

Higher Cost of Alternative Ingredients  

What are gluten-free pizza crusts made of, anyway?

Many gluten-free pizza crusts are made with alternative ingredients such as cauliflower, rice, almond, or chickpea flour. Some may also contain potato starch, tapioca starch, or xanthan gum to help give the crust a chewy texture and hold it together.

Alternative Gluten Free Pizza Ingredients

These alternative ingredients will cost more than wheat on any given day, and they’re harder to source in bulk quantities.

So right off the bat, the cost difference kicks in before anything else even comes into play.

Lesser Demand for Gluten-Free Pizzas

Despite the significant increase in demand for gluten-free pizzas in recent years, the sales are still comparatively low to regular pizzas.

An article posted by PMQ quotes Statista saying that the projected sales for gluten-free foods were expected to reach $7.59 Billion in 2020. That’s ALL gluten-free foods, not Pizza.

Compare that to Statista’s pizza sales report reaching $46 Billion in 2020.

This means, in just a year, the sales of the entire gluten-free industry (ALL GF foods) were one-sixth of the sales of the pizza industry alone.

So, despite their growing popularity, GF foods, including pizzas, are still in low demand. 

How does this impact the bottom line? Well, it means that pizza restaurants can’t afford to lower the cost of their GF products to match regular pizza prices because they sell less of it and pay higher prices to have it on their menus.

Prices from 8 Different Pizza Chains

The prices for these chains’ gluten-free pizzas are what I paid when I did my taste-test reviews of them. These taste-test reviews were all done in California, but the prices may vary in different locations.

I will also include ordering details so you can understand the pricing structure better.

  • Blaze Pizza ($15.56)     Small gluten-free (Build-your-own unlimited toppings)
  • Pieology Pizza ($16.04)     Small gluten-free (Build-your-own unlimited toppings)
  • Pizza Hut ($15.43)    Small gluten-free (Veggie Lover’s on GF crust)
  • Domino’s Pizza ($8.75) Small gluten-free ( 3-topping carryout deal on GF crust)
  • MOD Pizza ($14.08) Small gluten-free (Build-your-own unlimited toppings)
  • Marco’s Pizza ($17.51) Small gluten-free (Garden combination on GF crust)
  • Papa John’s ($16.15) Small gluten-free (Pepperoni pizza on GF crust)
  • Round Table ($18.73) Small gluten-free (King Arthur’s Supreme on GF crust)

Tips on Saving Money with Gluten-Free Pizza

The price points for gluten-free pizzas will not change anytime soon, but there are a few ways to save a buck or two every now and then.

Here are a few tips I learned while taste-testing and researching for my reviews:

1)Take advantage of carryout deals and don’t overlook the online discounts. Some pizza chains offer specials for ordering online or carrying out your order.

For my Domino’s Pizza review, I only paid $8.75 for my gluten-free Pizza because I opted for a 3-topping carryout special. I chose 3 toppings and asked for the gluten-free crust.

This same pizza could’ve easily cost me $18 if I were to get it delivered.

2) Don’t overlook the points or rewards programs. Some pizza chains offer points or rewards for ordering online or through a mobile app.

Ordering Pizza Online Using a Mobile Phone

For example, Pizza Hut offers points for online or mobile orders.

3) Ask about any specials or promotions they may have going on for gluten-free pizzas. Some pizza chains will have certain days where they offer discounts on their GF products. It never hurts to ask–maybe they have any running promotions.

At the time of my order from Marco’s Pizza, they had a 25% discount for their gluten-free orders running on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Wrap Up

Don’t expect the prices for gluten-free pizzas to drop anytime soon, but with a little bit of research and asking around, you can find reasonable deals.

With most pizza shop warning customers of a possible cross-contamination risk, you may even want to start making your own gluten-free pizzas at home. It may be cheaper in the long run and it’ll definitely be more fun.

But if dining out is preferred, don’t let the prices discourage you from trying out delicious gluten-free pizzas–they’re worth every penny.