What’s for Dinner Tonight: How to make buttery, Pizza Hut-inspired breadsticks in about 20 minutes

I recently stumbled upon a recipe in Cook’s Country that will add a key layer of buttery deliciousness to any of your favorite everyday weeknight meals, but especially Your Favorite Pasta.

Butter and herbs give these breadsticks lots of flavor and make them easy to adapt. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

(What’s Your Favorite Pasta? You know which pasta dish I mean. The one you make on a weeknight when nothing else sounds good and whose ingredients you always have on hand. Mine is boring — buttered pasta with steamed broccoli and, if I’m feeling like meat, sliced, sauteed kielbasa — but boy, does it do the trick to feed me and the kids with very little effort.)

Alli Berkey, one of the magazine’s recipe developers who worked on this dish, doesn’t use the words “Pizza Hut” anywhere in her article in the April/May issue, but the mega pizza chain is the elephant in the kitchen. Their breadsticks look identical to the ones in the photos, including the cinnamon sugar ones.

I have a strong flavor memory of Pizza Hut’s herb-crusted breadsticks because I grew up eating them when we’d go to the Sunday buffet after church or when we ordered take-out (We didn’t get pizza delivery in my small Missouri hometown until I got to high school.)

However, I hadn’t tried to recreate these breadsticks at home until I saw the Cook’s Country tutorial. I try to keep a ball of the frozen pizza dough from H-E-B in my freezer at all times, so this was an easy side dish to make once I remembered to take out the dough early enough to thaw before dinnertime. They baked to golden perfection because of all that butter, and even though I didn’t have any fresh thyme, the breadsticks tasted close enough to the real thing for us to almost eat every last one of them.

Garlic and Herb Breadsticks

You could use all kinds of different spice mixtures to season these breadsticks, including cinnamon and sugar for a dessert-like breadstick. Many grocery stores now sell balls of frozen dough, which you can thaw in the refrigerator or on the counter until room temperature. Other stores, including Trader Joe’s, sell pizza dough in the refrigerated section, and some pizza restaurants will also sell you dough to bake at home. As the editors at Cook’s Country note, however, don’t use Pillsbury Pizza Crust dough here, even though it’s widely available. It doesn’t quite have the same texture and crumb as the Pizza Hut breadsticks you’re hoping to recreate at home. I served these with marinara sauce, which sufficed for dinner last night for one of my children and greatly enhanced how much the other one liked the pasta dish that I made.

— Addie Broyles

1 pound store-bought pizza dough, room temperature (not Pillsbury Pizza Crust)
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place a piece of parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet.

Divide the dough in half and, using your hands, stretch one piece of dough into a 9-inch-by-5-inch rectangle. You might need a little flour for your hands or the countertop if the dough is sticky. Place the rectangle on the baking sheet and repeat with the other half of the dough.

Mix the spices together in a small bowl and set aside. Brush the melted butter on each of the dough halves. Sprinkle with the spice mixture and then flip the dough to repeat on the other side.

After both sides have the butter and spice mixture, use a bench scraper or a chef’s knife to score the dough, crosswise, into 1-inch strips. Don’t cut all the way through the dough or separate the breadsticks yet.

Bake for 10 to 13 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes before pulling the breadsticks apart at the seams. Serve with marinara sauce.

— Adapted from a recipe in the April/May issue of Cook’s Country magazine