We are living in a frozen-pizza-lover's paradise. Walk into any supermarket and you'll be dazzled by the bevy of options with various styles of crust (thick, thin, and even cheese-stuffed!) and a bounty of meat and veggie toppings. Just picking one to toss in your cart can make your head spin.
If you're anything like me, you have a stash of frozen pizzas in your freezer for when you're either short on time or are too tired to deal with pots and pans. I usually stick to the same brands out of habit (Trader Joe's and Amy's are my favorites), but I was curious if I was missing out on a superior frozen pizza experience. So, I tried a dozen kinds to see how they measured up.
How I Chose the Frozen Pizzas
I chose brands you're likely to encounter at both big-box and specialty stores. I also kept things simple by eschewing toppings and limiting the taste test to cheese pizzas; I figured that'd help level the playing field.
The Ideal Frozen Pizza
An ideal frozen cheese pizza has a delicious, chewy crust, tangy, bright tomato sauce, and a satisfying amount of gooey cheese. It also has to be easy to prepare. Sure, you can dress up your frozen pizza with an array of custom toppings, but for this test, I wanted the cheese pizza to have enough flavor right out of the box.
It turns out that there are a few great pizzas in your local supermarket freezer, plenty that will get the job done, and a few that you should definitely leave behind. Whether feeding a crowd or just heating up a slice for a party of one, with a little due diligence you can scoop up a truly awesome frozen pie for a price that won't break the bank.
The Frozen Pizza Taste Test
In order from worst to best, here's where the pizzas ranked.
Leave These Frozen Pizzas in the Freezer
- Freschetta Artisan Crust Four Cheese Frozen Pizza, $8: Boasting a blend of three whole grains, I expected an elevated frozen pizza experience when I unboxed this pie. But the gummy, gritty cornmeal-dusted crust, tinny tomato sauce (there's a lot of it!), and lackluster cheese on the pizza was almost inedible. In fact, it gave me a tummy ache. Save your money and skip it.
- Tony's Cheese Pizza, $5: The cardboard-dry crust, bland sauce, and greasy cheese didn't satisfy my pizza craving. In fact, it reminded me of the pizza served in my middle school cafeteria. I couldn't finish a slice.
- Tree Tavern Cheese Pizza, $5: I wanted to fall in love with this pizza because it has a cult following on the East Coast. Unfortunately, it was quite bland. Instead of using a more traditional mozzarella cheese, they use white cheddar, which makes the whole thing taste off. (Who told them that was a good idea? This is a pizza, not a quesadilla!) The back of the box suggests sprinkling two tablespoons of olive oil on top before heating, but that's a lot of (potentially messy) effort for a frozen pizza.
- Tombstone Original 5-Cheese Pizza, $5: The crumbly crust, uninteresting tomato sauce, and stringy cheese was a dud. The sticker on the back of its packaging suggested I pair a slice of their pizza with a fresh salad and good company. I paired it with a trash can.
Middle-of-the-Pack Frozen Pizzas
- Wegmans Bake & Rise Four Cheese Pizza, $4: The first thing you'll notice when you pop this in the oven is how extraordinarily bread-y the crust is. Taking a bite was like diving into a huge breadstick. The blend of mozzarella, Parmesan, Romano, and asiago cheeses didn't overwhelm and the tomato sauce was unobtrusive. At 24 minutes, it was the longest cook time of any pizza I tried, so if you're in a rush to get dinner on the table, look elsewhere.
- DiGiorno Original Rising Crust Four Cheese Pizza, $6: This pie — a veritable legend in the frozen pizza category — features pillowy dough, sweet tomato sauce, and loads of gooey cheese. It'd do great for a quick pizza fix, but it won't leave any sort of lasting flavor impression. It's best eaten hot out of the oven, as it quickly loses its appeal once it cools and the cheese congeals.
- Red Baron Brick Oven Crust Cheese Trio Pizza, $5: This was a boring slice of pie with an overly sweet tomato sauce and a mound of tasteless cheese. However, it did have an above average thick crust with terrific chew. That one redeeming quality lessened its other sins.
- Newman's Own Thin & Crispy Pizza, Margherita, $6: This pizza was a pretty solid contender. The thin crust is palatable even if the diced tomatoes on top of the pie were a little bland. Thankfully, the cheese had some good flavor. A glass of red wine would complement it nicely.
- Trader Giotto's Pizza 4 Formaggi, $4: The crispy crust, sweet tomato sauce, and what could be called a reasonable amount of cheese won't blow your socks off, but it'll do in a pinch for a quick meal or snack. Its blank canvas is an asset if you're the type to kick up your frozen pizzas with fresh toppings. For the price, it's a good value.
- Elio's Cheese Pizza, $3: This is a decent, no-frills frozen pizza option. Three slabs of frozen pizza come in each box, so it's perfect if you're looking to eat a smaller portion. The crust has a pleasant chew, the tomato sauce is on the sweet side, and the modest cheese distribution won't drown you in a sea of dairy. It's a perfectly respectable snack.
Our 2 Favorite Frozen Pizzas
- Screamin' Sicilian Pizza Co. Bessie's Revenge Cheese, $7: This line of premium pizzas uses a thinner, crispier crust. Robust, tangy tomato sauce is topped with an insane amount of cheeses: Parmesan, Romano, cheddar, and two kinds of mozzarella. Generous slabs of fresh mozzarella cheese crown the hefty pie. This is one of the better pizzas we tasted (and for the higher price, it better be!).
- Amy's Cheese Pizza, $6: While this pizza is on the smaller side, it's a total delight to eat from start to finish. The delicious crust is chewy, the rich tomato sauce is satisfying, and the tasty cheese melted well. I loved it.
Do you agree? What's your favorite frozen pizza?