Figuring out how many pizzas for 40 people to order for a large group can be tricky. You want to make sure you have enough so everyone gets fed, but you also don’t want to end up with a ton of wasted food. In this guide, we’ll walk through some key factors to consider when estimating pizza quantity for a group of around 40 people.
The history of pizza
The history of pizza is a rich and varied tale that stretches back many centuries. Here’s an overview of pizza’s evolution through time:
- Ancient Cultures: The idea of flatbreads with toppings was not unique to Italy. Ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks all ate flatbreads topped with oils, spices, and other ingredients. The Greeks had a dish called “plakous,” which was a flatbread with toppings like herbs, onion, and garlic.
Italy and the Birth of Modern Pizza
- Naples: The pizza that we know today has its roots in Naples, Italy, during the 18th or early 19th century. Naples was a thriving waterfront city and a melting pot of people including poorer residents. These Neapolitans required inexpensive food that could be consumed quickly. Pizza, a flatbread with various toppings, met this need.
- Pizza Marinara: This pizza was topped with garlic, oregano, tomato, and extra virgin olive oil. It is said that it was named after the “marinaro” (seaman’s wife) who would prepare this dish for her seafaring husband upon his return from fishing trips in the Bay of Naples.
- Pizza Margherita: The story goes that in 1889, to honor the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, the Neapolitan pizza maker Raffaele Esposito created the “Pizza Margherita,” a pizza garnished with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, to represent the national colors of Italy as on the Italian flag (red, white, and green).
Spread and Global Popularity
- Italian Immigration: Pizza began to spread beyond Naples as Neapolitans moved to other areas of Italy. However, it was the wave of Italian immigration to the United States at the end of the 19th century that played a significant role in the global spread of pizza.
- United States: In the early 20th century, Italian immigrants began to open the first pizzerias in America, introducing pizza to a wider audience. Lombardi’s, opened in 1905 by Gennaro Lombardi in New York City’s Little Italy, is generally recognized as the first pizzeria in the United States.
- Post-World War II: After World War II, American soldiers stationed in Italy developed a taste for pizza, which further boosted its popularity. When they returned to the United States, their newfound appetite for the dish helped to fuel its rise in the American culinary scene.
- Variations: As pizza became more popular around the world, different regions developed their own styles. For example, Chicago is known for its deep-dish pizza, while Detroit pizza is square and has a thick crust. In New York, the style is typically hand-tossed, thin-crust pizza, often sold by the slice and eaten on the go.
- Commercialization: In the latter half of the 20th century, pizza became a fast-food industry staple. Chains like Domino’s, Pizza Hut, and Papa John’s played significant roles in turning pizza into a product that could be delivered to homes all over the world.
- Gourmet and Artisanal Pizzas: Alongside the commercialization of pizza, there has also been a rise in gourmet and artisanal pizzas. These often feature high-quality ingredients, unique toppings, and a return to traditional baking methods.
Today, pizza is one of the most beloved and ubiquitous foods around the globe. Each culture has adapted it to suit local tastes, incorporating regional ingredients and flavors. Despite its humble beginnings, pizza has become a culinary phenomenon, enjoyed in countless forms across continents.
Using a Pizza Calculator to Estimate Quantity
A pizza calculator can be extremely helpful when trying to figure out how much pizza to buy. These handy online tools allow you to input details like the number of people, average slice size, and hunger level to generate an estimate of how many whole pizzas you’ll need.
The key inputs that affect the calculator’s estimates include:
- Number of people: enter 40 for our scenario.
- Slice size: medium (6 slices per pizza) or large (8 slices per pizza) are common.
- Hunger level: hungry teenagers will eat more than less active adults.
The calculator runs the math to convert slices per person to full pizzas needed for the entire group. The estimate provides a sensible starting point when ordering.
Factors That Impact the Ideal Pizza Quantity
While a calculator gives a ballpark figure, consider these additional factors that can influence just how much pizza to buy.
Hunger Level Based on Age and Activity
Teenagers that just finished soccer practice will likely eat 3-4 slices each, while less active adults may only eat 1-2. Keep this in mind when estimating quantities.
Type of Crust and Toppings
Thin, crispy crust leaves more room for toppings and can make a slice feel skimpier compared to a hearty, doughy deep dish crust. Lots of meat and cheese toppings also fill up eaters faster.
Time Between Meals
Appetites tend to be bigger if pizza is served around normal mealtimes versus as a snack. Allot for extra slices if guests will be hungry.
Pizza Size and Estimated Quantity
Here is a handy reference guide to common pizza sizes and how many of each you’ll need for a group of around 40 people:
- 12-inch (6 slices): Minimum of 8 pizzas
- 14-inch (8 slices): About 6 pizzas
- 16-inch (10 slices): Around 4-5 pizzas
- 18-inch (12 slices): Around 3-4 pizzas
As you go up in size, fewer pizzas are needed, but leftovers are more likely. Mixing up a few different sizes can help add variety while minimizing waste.
Ordering Tips for Large Groups
When placing a large pizza order, keep these tips in mind:
- Stick with 2-3 topping varieties like cheese, pepperoni, and veggie to appeal to most.
- Order extra cheese pizzas as a crowd-pleaser.
- Get smaller 6 or 8-slice pizzas if you expect high appetites.
- Ask about bulk discounts on large orders.
- Inquire about allergy-friendly options for gluten-free or dairy-free guests.
- Request condiments and dipping sauces for crusts and wings/sticks.
- Order a veggie tray, salad, or wings as lighter sides for variety.
Budgeting for Pizza for a Crowd
Pizza for a party of 40 can get pricey, so plan your budget accordingly. Here are some cost considerations:
- Budget $150-250 for delivery to feed 40.
- Homemade pizza can cost $100-150 for the same group.
- Look for coupons or promos to save 10-20%.
- Opt for two or three topping varieties to control costs.
- Check competitor pricing to find the best deals.
Making Homemade Pizza for a Crowd
Looking to save money by making your own pies? Here are some tips how many pizzas for 40 people:
- Make dough from scratch or use store-bought dough to save time.
- Prep your sauce with canned tomatoes or make an easy blender marinara.
- Use a pizza stone or pans to bake 4-5 pies at once.
- Top simply with sauce, cheese, and pepperoni or veggies.
- Bake at 500°F for a crispy crust in 10-12 minutes.
- Try a Margherita pizza: brush crust with olive oil, top with sauce, mozzarella, and basil.
Keeping Large Quantities of Pizza Fresh
When ordering lots of pizzas for a party, you’ll likely have leftovers. Follow these storage tips:
- Let cooked pizzas cool completely before refrigerating.
- Store pizza in shallow airtight containers or zip top bags.
- Eat refrigerated leftovers within 3-4 days for best quality.
- Reheat cold pizza in a 400°F oven until hot, about 10 minutes.
- Freeze any extra slices for later. Thaw in fridge overnight before eating.
Sides and Drinks to Serve Alongside Pizza
While pizza is filling on its own, offering some complementary items can round out the meal.
- Garden salad – Feeds about 10 people per head of lettuce.
- Caesar salad – Plan on 1-2 heads of romaine lettuce.
- Breadsticks – Order 2-3 boxes for a crowd.
- Pasta salad – Make 2-3 pounds total.
- Garlic knots – Get 4-5 orders along with pizzas.
- Soda: Get 6-8 liters total of assorted varieties.
- Bottled water: Have 24-36 bottles on hand.
- Iced tea or lemonade: Make a 2-3 gallon pitcher.
Planning and Serving Pizza for a Large Group
When hosting a pizza party for 40 guests, consider these event planning, preparation, and serving tips:
- Make dough 1-2 days in advance and store in fridge until use.
- Set up buffet-style serving with plates, napkins, and utensils at one end.
- Keep pizzas warm in a 200°F oven until ready to serve if making them homemade.
- Consider portioning slices onto plates for a quicker self-serve option.
- Set up multiple beverage stations around event space.
- Create a DIY pizza making bar with dough, sauce, and toppings as an interactive experience.
Special Dietary Considerations
When feeding a crowd, always consider any special dietary needs or restrictions. Some suggestions include:
- Order gluten-free or cauliflower crust pizzas for gluten-free guests.
- Choose pizzas with dairy-free cheese or without cheese.
- Have veggie pizzas on hand for vegetarians.
- Offer individual ingredient condiment trays for customization.
Making the Most of Leftovers
With a pizza party this large, plan on having extras even with hungry guests. Avoid waste by:
- Sending leftover slices home with guests.
- Freezing leftovers in portioned containers to reheat later.
- Using leftover crusts and ingredients for pizza soup, casseroles or breakfast strata.
- Repurposing unused fresh ingredients like veggies and cheese in future recipes.
Estimating pizza quantity for a crowd takes some savvy planning, but following these tips will help ensure you order just the right amount. Pay attention to portion sizes, hunger levels, pizza sizes, and special requests when doing your calculations. And be ready with storage strategies for inevitable leftovers! With the right amount of cheesy, saucy goodness, you’re guaranteed to throw a memorable and stress-free pizza party for 40.
Bobby Kelly is a bartender at Molly Magees, an Irish pub in Mountain View. He’s been working there for two years and has developed a following among the regulars. Bobby is known for his friendly demeanor and great drink specials. He loves interacting with customers and making them feel welcome. When he’s not at work, Bobby enjoys spending time with his friends and family.