How Many Pizzas You'll Need To Feed 20 People

When you're hosting a houseful of 20 people, you're not going to hit up your favorite sit-down pizza joint or slam a frozen pizza in the oven. On nights like these, you're ordering out. But, how many pizzas should you order to satisfy your crowd? The industry standard for a large pizza is a 16-inch diameter cut into eight slices. Hungry Howie's says a large pie can feed six people. Domino's says a large feeds three to five. What's a discerning pizza party host to do?

Frustratingly, there's no one-size-fits-all pizza calculator. Different foodies are going to come to the table with different appetites. Maybe you're full after two slices, but your sister's boyfriend is going to roll in after basketball practice and house five of them. It can be tough to plan for — but we'll try our best to help.

A solid fallback is "The ⅜ Rule." Anticipate three slices of pizza per person and eight slices per pie. To calculate, simply multiply your crowd size by ⅜ (i.e. 20 x ⅜). Following the ⅜ rule, you would need 60 slices to feed 20 people, which comes out to eight large pies. The ⅜ rule allows for some guests to eat fewer than three slices, and for others to eat more. It anticipates different appetite needs so you can return your focus to the thing that matters most: having fun at the party. There are, however, a few caveats to the rule to keep in mind as you calculate your order.

Keep these rules and tips in mind to please your crowd

As mentioned before, appetite is a big determining factor you need to consider. A helpful way to gauge your "pizza for 20" needs is to assess the overall level of group hunger. Start by ranking your crew's collective appetite on a scale from "moderately hungry" to "starving" before placing the order. Another thing to keep in mind is the age of the party your hosting — the pizza needs of 20 adults on game night is a very different animal from the pizza needs of 20 kids at a birthday party.

And what about sides? If you'll also be serving appetizers, chips, or ordering cheesy bread, you may be fine with ordering fewer pizzas. Also, if you're hosting more than one or two vegans or lactose-intolerant foodies, that significantly alters your pizza equation. When it comes to drinks, if the libations are flowing and everyone's showing up with a personal six-pack, you can expect to need an extra pie (or four). Studies show that alcohol makes folks more inclined to eat — and inclined to eat more, while they're at it.

Two more things to consider: toppings and the crust. A pizza loaded with sausage, pepperoni, and green peppers is going to be a lot more filling per slice than a regular cheese pizza sans toppings. Thin-crust pizza is a lot less filling than deep-dish or a stuffed crust. 

Food waste is a total drag, but you know what isn't? A fridge full of cold leftover pizza tomorrow morning. (Hello, ultimate hangover breakfast.) Take the liberty to play it safe and over-order. Your future self just might thank you.