I’m not a vegetarian, but I’m no stranger to meat substitutes. My grandfather and stepdad are both vegan, my girlfriend used to be vegan, and I spent two years in college as a pescatarian (eating only fish). While I’ve settled in my omnivore ways as a taxpaying adult, I’m not opposed to a nice Impossible Burger or Tofurky Sausage, and I am legitimately fascinated by the huge wave of plant-based options that have swept fast food in recent years.
If you had told me Little Caesars would beat McDonald’s to the punch in adding a fake meat offering, I’d call ya crazy, but that’s exactly where we’ve landed. Little Caesars’ Planteroni Pizza is a large round pizza with Field Roast Plant-Based Pepperoni.
Pulling up to my second closest Little Caesars (my closest is usually a jam-packed nightmare I wanted to avoid), there were zero advertisements of this new plant-based ‘roni, likely because this item hasn’t rolled out nationwide. Although it still seems like a secret, even locally, it was prominently featured on LC’s terrific app under Limited Time Offers, and ordering went off without a hitch.
It looks great — nice and shiny cheese with a fresh and zesty aroma that instantly makes my mouth water. Field Roast’s “pepperoni” are faux meat made up of canola oil, wheat gluten, potato protein, and pea protein, along with a ton of other binders and flavors. They have a deeper color, thicker cut, and way less greasy shine than your average pepperoni.
Unfortunately, their different look and lack of shininess translate to a lackluster flavor as well. I have no issues with the tougher texture of plant-based proteins, but the lack of salty and fatty intensity really brings down the experience. With pepperoni that isn’t chockfull of salt and animal fat, the cheaper components of Little Caesars’ pizza are exposed, and the crust and sauce both taste weaker and less impactful than any LC’s pizza I’ve had in the last two years.
The saving grace was the Butter Garlic sauce I added to my order, which, hot take alert, is even better than Papa John’s with a more robust and intense garlic flavor. When dunked into that glorious silky sauce, the pizza is pretty good, bringing the necessary salt and fat desperately lacking from Field Roast’s creation.
Another issue with this is that it’s not vegan. Nothing has changed about this pizza except for the pepperoni, and I don’t see this as an improvement over plain cheese or a wonderful veggie combo like mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers for those who don’t eat meat.
At the price point that Little Caesars is offering this pizza, $8.49, it should at least be an ExtraMostBestest, with extra cheese and pepperoni, but it isn’t, and that lack of indulgence makes for something that’s pretty underwhelming. For a $2.50 upcharge (the most I’ve ever paid for an LC pizza), I don’t think the Planteroni delivered anything exciting to the Little Caesars experience, aside from a cool and catchy name.
Purchased Price: $8.49
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 pizza) 2180 calories, 84 grams of fat, 32 grams of saturated fat, 2 grams of trans fat, 150 milligrams of cholesterol, 4580 milligrams of sodium, 256 grams of carbohydrates, 14 grams of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, 107 grams of protein.