Everyone loves pizza, and if anyone claims otherwise, they’re lying. While the world unanimously agrees that pizza is one of the greatest foods on the planet, not everyone has the same idea of how large a pizza box should be.
Pizza boxes vary in size, with the average size range being between 14 × 14 and 18 × 18 inches. However, you’ll find different brands use different pizza box sizes, even for identical pizza size categories.
In this guide, I’ll explain what pizza box sizes there are, why they’re so large relative to the size of the pizza, and how you can make your own DIY pizza boxes for fun.
Pizza Box Sizes
What’s obvious about pizza box sizes is that they’re supposed to be bigger than the pizza within. If you take a look at a large 14-inch pizza, it will usually be placed inside a square box measuring 16 inches. Extra-large pizzas, which are usually around 16 or 18 inches in diameter, need to sit inside boxes between 19 and 20 inches.
In the end, the precise measurements of a pizza box vary from brand to brand. Let’s take a look at some of the world’s most popular pizza chains to see what box sizes their pizzas come in.
- Pizza Hut—12 × 12 inches for small pizzas, 14 × 14 inches for medium pizzas
- Domino’s—16 × 16 inches
- Papa John’s—16.75 × 16.75 inches
- Little Caesars—14 × 14 inches
Other brands, such as Marco’s Pizza, Papa Murphy’s Pizza, and MOD Pizza, follow the same box size proportions as any one of the top-4 leaders in the pizza world.
How Much Empty Space Inside a Pizza Box?
To figure out how much empty space is inside a pizza box, we’ll have to do a bit of math.
Let’s take a look at 14 × 14-inch boxes. Assuming they’re perfectly square and stand 3 inches tall, the inner volume of the box should be around 588 cubic inches (14 × 14 × 3 inches).
Looking at a medium-sized pizza (12 inches in diameter) from Pizza hut, which measures 1 inch thick, we can get the cylindrical volume using the following formula:
- V = π × r2 × h
- V = π × 122 × 1
- V = π × 144
- V = 452.4 cubic inches
Knowing these 2 values, we can calculate how much empty space is inside a pizza box:
Remaining space = 588 – 452.4 = 135.6 cubic inches
Basically, there’s around 23% of empty space inside a pizza box.
The next natural question is, why are pizza boxes designed to have so much empty space? There are 2 legitimate reasons for this.
- The pizzeria will have an easier time slicing the pizza. A fully baked pizza is immediately transferred from the oven to the box, where a kitchen staff member will slice the pizza into 6, 8, or 10 pieces. They usually have long blades that reach one of the pizza to the opposite end, and the box allows a bit of clearance on all sides.
- The pizzeria can store more stuff inside the box. If you’ve opened a pizza box before, you may find things in there apart from the pie. For example, you may find chilli or ketchup packets, napkins, or sauces and dips. If the boxes were made to the exact size of the pizza, the pizzeria would have to include everything else in a separate container.
How to Make Your Own Pizza Box
Making your own pizza box is a fun project you and your kids can enjoy when you want to prepare a pizza fresh from the oven. Before you get started, you’ll need the following supplies:
- A pizza box template
- A ruler
- A pencil or pen
- A cardboard box (larger than the final size of your pizza box)
- A box cutter or scissors
- Unfold the cardboard box.
- Use a pencil or pen to mark the perimeters of the box’s base, lid, and walls.
- Cut along the marked perimeter, making sure to keep the entire box in one piece.
- Fold the corners of the box and keep the flaps together with tape.
- Fold the lid over the base to shut the box.
This video guide by MainePadua Official will show you precisely how to make your own pizza box at home.
1 Large or 1 Medium Pizzas?
The next time you plan on throwing a pizza party, you should ask yourself: how do I get the most pizza from my budget?
Here, let’s take a look at the price for medium and large pizzas from Pizza Hut. Without taking sales tax into account, a medium pizza costs $11.99, while a large pizza is $14.99 (standard hand-tossed crust).
A medium Pizza from Pizza Hut measures 12 inches across, while its large-sized counterpart is a full 2 inches wider.
Judging from these numbers, it would seem that getting 1 medium pizza would yield more pizza for your guests per dollar, right? However, using simple math, we can conclude that that’s not the case.
Let’s compare how much pizza you would get between 2 mediums and 1 large:
- V = π × r2 × h
- V Medium = π × 122 × 1
- V Medium = π × 144
- V Medium = 452.4
- V Large = π × 142 × 1
- V Large = π × 196
- V Large = 615.8 cubic inches
Now, to determine which of the 2 options is more cost-efficient, let’s divide the total cost of the pizzas by their total volumes:
- Medium = $11.99 ÷ 452.4 cubic inches
- Medium = $23.98 ÷ 904.8 cubic inches
- Medium = $0.0265 per cubic inch
- Large = $14.99 ÷ 615.8 cubic inches
- Large = $0.0243 per cubic inch
In conclusion, a large pizza yields more pizza per dollar spent than a medium, despite the $3 cost difference. If you want more variety on your pie, you can ask the pizzeria to place different toppings on different halves.
Why Aren’t Pizza Boxes Circular?
Another common question about pizza boxes is, why aren’t they circular? In fact, you’ll find all sorts of geometric abnormalities in pizza! The pie is round, the box is square, and the slices are triangular! Of course, I’m not including rectangular pizza abominations here.
The answer to this ageless question is quite simple: costs.
It takes just a single sheet of corrugated cardboard to produce a single pizza box. All the pizzeria has to do is fold the box following the template, insert tabs into any slots, and they’re done.
A circular pizza box would require putting several tabs into several slots, costing the pizzeria more time to assemble. Also, custom-made circular boxes would increase the cost of goods, which is not something many pizzerias are willing to swallow, especially when square boxes have been around since the dawn of man.
What to Do with Empty Pizza Boxes
After you’ve finished eating an entire pizza in one sitting, you’re going to have to figure out what to do with the box. Of course, the simplest solution would be to recycle the thing since corrugated cardboard is 100% recyclable.
Here are a few suggestions for giving your pizza box another meaning in life.
- Laptop stand—This is self-explanatory, though you should look for a way to prop your laptop up to prevent the fan port from being blocked.
- Wall art—Sure, this isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a huge fan of pizza, you should let everyone know by hanging the boxes on your wall.
- Checkerboard—All it takes is a ruler and a marker to create an 8 × 8 board for checkers or chess (pieces not included).