Pizza Hut Is Entering the Burger Business

By: Alyssa Miller | Published: May 18, 2024

What’s the difference between a burger and a pizza? Sure, they are fundamentally different foods, but Pizza Hut doesn’t seem to care as they introduce burgers to their menu with a pizza twist.

The iconic pizza chain announced on Tuesday that it will be entering the burger business with a new menu item that ditches the bun.

Pizza Hut’s New Menu Item

The new Cheeseburger Melt from Pizza Hut features a parmesan-crusted thin crust, folding and loading it with beef, applewood-smoked bacon, onions, mozzarella, and cheddar.

A hand dipping a Cheeseburger Melts into a sauce

Source: Pizza Hut

You can dip the calzone-like burger in the burger sauce served on the side with the new menu item.

Cracking the Cheeseburger Code

The Cheeseburger Melt notably ditches a soft bun in favor of a crispy, thin crust. This design makes the Cheeseburger Melt look more like a quesadilla but with a pizza burger twist.

A Pizza Hut "Hut Box" next to a bottle of Pepsi

Source: Pizza Hut

“With this handheld, Pizza Hut has cracked the code for what a cheeseburger should be: portable, crunchy, and oozing with cheese,” highlighted the company (via Food and Wine).

Pushing for a Better Burger

Pizza Hut is seemingly hoping that this new item will be a big win for its 6,796 locations in the US and plans to aggressively promote the Cheeseburger Melt.

A Pizza Hut deliver car in a burger joint drive thru

Source: Pizza Hut

Starting on Tuesday, the chain will deploy its delivery drivers to make appearances at certain fast-food burger chain drive-thrus, complete with a QR code displayed on their back windows to scan for a “better burger.”

You Could Get a Free Cheeseburger Melt

To sweeten the deal, scanning the QR code will prompt people who want a better burger to enter and redeem a coupon for a FREE Cheeseburger Melt and Pepsi drink while supplies last.

Pizza Hut Cheeseburger Melt getting sauce poured onto it

Source: Pizza Hut

The offer is available in a few markets where the largest fast-food burger chains are headquartered, including Chicago and Miami.

Excitement for the Cheeseburger Melt

“For the first time ever, we packed everything you know and love about a cheeseburger into our craveable Thin N’ Crispy crust to develop the new Cheeseburger Melt,” Rachel Antalek, the chief food innovation officer at Pizza Hut, said.

A delivery person walks away from a Pizza Hut restaurant at dusk, carrying a red insulated pizza delivery bag. The restaurant's exterior is illuminated with red and white neon signs that read 'Pizza Hut Wings Beer,' and a black car is parked in the foreground

Getty Images

“Unlike a traditional cheeseburger, the Cheeseburger Melt dips perfectly into what we would argue is the world’s best burger dipping sauce. We challenge you to find a better burger and sauce experience,” Antalek added.


Entering the Burger Business

“As a brand known for exceptional pizzas, venturing into the burger business is an exciting first for us,” stated Lindsay Morgan, Chief Marketing Officer at Pizza Hut.

A man eating a fast food hamburger outside

Source: Freepik

This new deal comes at a tough time for the restaurant and fast-food chains in general. In the hamburger sector, the last quarter’s earnings from big players like McDonald’s and Wendy’s have been mixed at best.


Pizza Hut Needs a Win

According to Yum Brands, the company behind Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell, the pizza fast-food restaurant saw a 7 percent dip in sales, underscoring the broader trends affecting the fast-food industry.

Businessman gives a presentation at a board meeting and everyone applauds

Source: Freepik

Customer spending habits are changing rapidly, and chains must adapt. Inflation has caused menu prices at fast-food chains to rise to a point where customers are opting to save money by eating at home.


Pizza Hut Lays Off Delivery Drivers

The steep decline in sales has led to many workers being laid off from Pizza Hut stores. Earlier this year, two major California Pizza Hut franchisees laid off delivery workers before the state’s minimum wage hike.

A crumpled Pizza Hut wrapper on a white background. The wrapper is mostly white with the red and black Pizza Hut logo and a yellow underline

Source: Mishaal Zahed/Unsplash

More than 1,200 delivery drivers were out of work as the state increased fast-food workers’ wages from $16 an hour to $20 an hour on April 1.


Yum Brands Supports Pizza Hut 

“PacPizza, LLC, operating as Pizza Hut, has made a business decision to eliminate first-party delivery services and, as a result, the elimination of all delivery driver positions,” the WARN Act notice stated, implying that these stores would instead be relying on third-party delivery services.

A traditional Pizza Hut restaurant with a distinctive red roof and brick exterior. The building features the iconic Pizza Hut sign on both the roof and the standalone signage next to the street

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The brand behind Pizza Hut stood by the actions of these franchisees, reassuring customers that delivery services would continue to be available through Pizza Hut’s mobile app, website, and phone orders in select franchises.


Trying Something New

As expected, same-store sales were pressured this quarter, but we are encouraged by strong two-year same-store sales growth and positive momentum exiting the quarter,” CEO David Gibbs said during the earnings call.

A promotional photo for Pizza Hut of a man reaching for a pepperoni pizza

Source: @PizzaHut/Facebook

While the Cheeseburger Melt could help Pizza Hut, Gibbs highlighted the power of digital sales. The brand plans to implement its most successful technology across its various brands to increase consumer adoption of click-and-collect services.


Pizza Hut’s Innovation Is Nothing New

Morphing foods together is not a new concept for Pizza Hut. In 1979, Pizza Hut introduced a taco pizza, which featured taco sauce, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, and tortilla chips on top of a pizza crust.

A Pizza Hut with white text behind it introducing the Taco Pizza

Source: Pizza Hut/YouTube

Pizza Hut also ventured into the sandwich game with the P’Zolo. The sub sandwich featured various ingredients wrapped in pizza dough, but the sandwiches didn’t make a big enough splash to find a permanent home on the Pizza Hut menu.