I Tried Frozen Pizzas from More than 21 Different Brands — These Were the Winners in 6 Categories
I’m not sure any grocery category is quite as overwhelming as frozen pizza. Not only are there a bazillion brands, but each brand also has a bazillion choices from the crust to the toppings. In fact, the average grocery store has about 100 options, from mini to large, thin-crust to stuffed-crust, vegan to meat-lover’s. Clearly, an attempt to try them all would be a fool’s errand. And yet, I nearly did, because finding out which frozen pizzas are truly worth tucking in your freezer is very important work!
Pizza is a food group — fundamental to life, as vital as water and air. For the sake of future movie nights and quick dinners, I had to know the truth — which is especially important right now when my cooking motivation is at an all time low. So last month I set about trying all the frozen pizza I could get my hands on.
How I Chose the Pizzas
For the sake of my other assignments and my arteries, I had to put some parameters on this taste test and limit it to a few popular categories. I focused mostly on cheese pizzas, as they would appeal to both vegetarians, omnivores, and little kids. I did also include a pepperoni category, because it felt weird not to. I tried thin-crust and thick-crust pizzas, but skipped any outliers like stuffed-crust, garlic-bread crusts, and French-bread crust pizzas. I did make room for cauliflower crusts, because that’s a growing (and gluten-free) category. And finally, with so many of us working and attending school from home, I tried mini pizzas, which are a popular choice for a quick lunch or snack.
After weeks of eating pizza nearly every day and taking incredibly detailed notes, I came to this conclusion: There’s a lot of blah pizza out there, but also a lot of good pizza! It was actually hard to declare winners. Also, store brands are surprisingly good for such bargain prices, rising crust is the way to go if you like thick-crust pizza, cauliflower crusts are pretty great, and vegetarians have some yummy options when it comes to faux meat toppings (Sweet Earth Pepperoni was a standout). So which brands took the top spot in my six categories? Read on to find out.
Best Cheese: Screamin’ Sicilian Bessie’s Revenge
The cheese pizza selection at grocery stores is almost like an arms race: Three-cheese! Four-cheese! Five-cheese! Eight-cheese! It seems brands think the more cheeses they pile on, they more they’ll stand out. But it’s not just about how many cheeses there are, it’s also about how good they are, and this pizza stood out for having generous amounts of high-quality cheese. It sports a thick layer of shredded mozzarella and white cheddar topped with fat slices of fresh mozzarella. The combo bakes up like a thick and toasty cheese blanket that tastes rich and creamy with a very satisfying cheese pull. We also loved the generous amounts of bright and lightly spiced sauce that almost gushed with each bite yet didn’t weigh down the crust at all. The crust hit the sweet spot between not too thick and not too thin, with good flavor and crispness.
Buy: Screamin’ Sicilian Bessie’s Revenge, $6 at Walmart
If it’s a garden-fresh flavor you’re after, Amy’s Organic Margarita Pizza was by far the best margarita-style pizza in the bunch. The crust was pleasantly chewy with a slight yeasty flavor, the fresh mozzarella creamy and fresh, and the tomatoes and herbs deliciously bright.
Buy: Amy’s Organic Margarita Pizza, $6.50 at Walmart
Best Pepperoni: California Pizza Kitchen Signature Uncured Pepperoni Crispy Thin Crust Pizza
While the slightly sweet sauce and the savory pepperoni pair incredibly well here, it’s how those two things combine with the crispy-yet-light crust that won this pizza the top spot. Even if you don’t love thin-crust pizza, I can almost promise you that you’ll love this one, as long as you like pepperoni.
Buy: California Pizza Kitchen Signature Uncured Pepperoni Crispy Thin Crust Pizza, $6.50 at Target
If you want a pepperoni pizza that’s not thin crust, go with Screamin’ Sicilian’s Holy Pepperoni. It comes with a lot of high-quality pepperoni that even curls up slightly around the edges (a telltale sign of some good pep!).
Buy: Screamin’ Sicilian’s Holy Pepperoni, $6 at Walmart
Best Thick Crust: DiGiorno Rising Crust
For those who love a thick and pillowy crust, look for the words “rising crust” on the box. Every “rising crust” pizza we tried had satisfying yeasty notes. What gave DiGiorno the edge was what it didn’t have — too much sweetness. The sauce was bright and kicky, and the crust was bread-y and tender, not sweet. If you do like things on the sweet side, go with Freschetta.
Buy: DiGiorno Rising Crust, $5 at Walmart
Best Thin Crust: Newman’s Own Thin and Crispy
The best part about thin-crust pizzas is that they really let the toppings shine — even if it’s just cheese and sauce! There’s not a lot of boring bread getting in the way, and a good one can deliver a nice satisfying crunch. Newman’s Own managed to deliver a thin, crispy crust that actually had some flavor plus tasty toppings to match.
Buy: Newman’s Own Thin and Crispy, $4 at Walmart
If you’re looking for something even more decadent, Urban Pie’s Eight-Cheese Pizza stood out for its flaky, almost pastry-like crust topped with a luscious herby-garlicky white sauce and a dairy case full of cheese. It’s not traditional, but tastes fancy.
Learn more: Urban Pie’s Eight-Cheese Pizza
Best Cauliflower Crust: Open Nature Cauliflower Crust
I love cauliflower, and I’ll eat it on a pizza, but I didn’t think I’d ever enjoy eating it as the crust. Boy was I wrong. Almost every brand producing one of these gluten-free, veggie-packed crusts was a delight. This one was less cauliflower-y than others, which is why it rose to the top. It’s an Albertson’s company brand, which means it’s also a good bargain, and it tasted the most similar to a regular, good-quality frozen pizza, with a thin, crispy crust that had no cruciferous aftertaste. There was plenty of cheese and a deeply savory sauce. If we hadn’t seen the box we might not have known it was anything other than a regular pizza. Milton’s (available at Costco) came in a very close second and offered a delicious garden-fresh flavor, with a slightly sweet sauce.
Learn more: Open Nature Cauliflower Crust
Best Mini Pizza: Trader Joe’s Bambino
Trader Joe’s little Bambino pizzas are a great choice for those who like thick crusts. They’re pillowy, generously sauced, and sprinkled with plenty of cheese that tasted real (not plastic-y).
More info: Trader Joe’s Bambino, $3.99 for four
Do you have a favorite frozen pizza? Tell us about it in the comments below!