As Jane Austen once said, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person in possession of a mouth, must love pizza." Okay, maybe I'm misquoting her a bit, but the sentiment rings true. I've never in my life met a person who didn't like pizza — not even the cheese-hater I married.
And because pizza is probably the most universally well-liked food there ever was, it's no surprise that many food manufacturers have come to the rescue of those who can't eat pizza in its original gluten-laden form. I found no fewer than 11 different brands of gluten-free pizza dough mix on the market, all purporting to make a crust "just like the real thing."
I don't follow a gluten-free diet, but I have friends who do, so knowing which mix will deliver delicious results seems like useful information to have. If I'm going to have one of them over for pizza and a movie, I don't want to accidentally pick the gross one.
So I rounded up all the mixes (many of them I had to order because they weren't carried in my local stores), dusted off my pizza pan, and got to work testing them out.
How I Tested The Gluten-Free Pizza Dough Mixes
I only added pizza sauce and shredded mozzarella to one half of each crust, so that I could evaluate them unadorned as well as in their full-fledged pizza state.
About half the mixes were, what I call, almost instant; even though they had yeast packets or yeast in the mix, all you had to do was stir, pat in the pan, and bake! The other half required some rising or resting time to give the yeast a chance to do a little work. I evaluated these two groups separately, so those in a hurry know which of that category is the best bet.
Needs Rising Time
1. Pamela's Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Mix, $9 for 11.29 ounces
This was the last mix I tried, because it required the longest rising time: one to two hours (although the package said it can rise overnight in the fridge). I thought I had already picked a winner, and then this came out of the oven (not looking particularly great by the way). I took a bite ... yay! A gluten-free crust that is fluffy, but has just enough of that slight bit of chew you need/want/crave in a slice of pizza, making you yank just a little when taking a bite.
Like most of the mixes I tried, the dough is very wet and sticky, which makes creating a beautiful crust a challenge. But it got nicely crispy underneath and the flavor was simple and basic, with no off flavors. However, the unsauced areas got a little tough and crackery, even though they were brushed with oil. So this is one crust that needs to have sauce to be perfect.
2. Gluten-Free Mama's Pizza Crust Mix, $36 for six, 18.1-ounce pouches
A very close second, this is a truly delicious crust that only lost the top spot because it didn't have the slight chew that Pamela's had. But this dough actually tasted better, maybe due to that fact that it requires milk. The flavor reminded me of crackers — not yeasty like bread, not spare like Saltines or buttery like Ritz. Just kind of toasty and rich. Texture-wise, it was tender and a bit fluffy, similar to sandwich bread.
3. King Arthur Flour Gluten-Free Bread and Pizza Mix, $7 for 18.25 ounces at King Arthur Flour
If you like really fluffy pizza crust, you'll like this one. The flavor and texture reminded me of white sandwich bread, which isn't a big surprise because the pizza crust recipe is nearly identical to the sandwich bread recipe on the box. The dough required two 30-minute rising times, but it resulted in the prettiest crust of all — smooth and evenly browned. The mix makes enough dough for two 12-inch to 14-inch pizzas, so I used the other half of the dough to make little rolls in muffin cups, which my kids loved.
4. Cup 4 Cup Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Mix, $11 for 18 ounces
I had high hopes for this one, considering it was developed by the chefs of Thomas Keller's acclaimed restaurants. The dough itself was not as sticky and wet as most of the others I tried. It kneaded into a nice smooth ball and was easy to work with. However, once baked the texture was too crispy and crackery. The flavor was very mild and unobtrusive, but I yearned for a softer, chewier crust.
5. Heartland Gourmet Gluten-Free Rosemary Basil Pizza Crust Mix, $6 for 15.4 ounces
As long as you like rosemary flavor in your pizza, this is a decent crust. It's bread-like in texture but not as tender and light as the King Arthur crust. Its biggest problem, however, is that the crumb is very dry and thirst-inducing. It doesn't help that it's pretty salty too. Two bites in and we were scrambling for water.
6. Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Mix, $19 for two, 16-ounce pouches
This crust crisped up nicely, but the texture was akin to a biscuit — a little dry and dense, with no chew. But what made this mix score so low was its overt chemical flavor. It was like bleach or chlorine, and so pronounced even the sauce and cheese couldn't hide it.
1. Chebe Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Mix, $23 for eight, 7.5-ounce boxes
What I liked about this very thin crust was that it was so dang chewy. It was seriously almost like mochi (which, for me, made it downright irresistible). It's made completely with tapioca flour and tapioca starch, unlike most other mixes that also have yeast, rice flour, potato starch, and various gums. The flavor was very neutral, but with enough savoriness to meld well with the sauce and cheese. If you love really chewy things, give this quick-to-make crust a try.
2. Bella Gluten-Free Gourmet Italian Pizza Crust Mix, $30 for six, 6.6-ounce containers at Bella
If you're not as big a fan of chewiness as I am and need a speedy crust, look for this mix in the cute little cup. The crust browned nicely and was tender and doughy. I don't know if the yeast packet did much, since the crust had no rising time, but the flavor was neutral yet savory/salty enough to meld with the sauce and cheese.
3. Namaste Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Mix, $20 for six, 16-ounce boxes
This herb-infused crust might have scored higher if it had not baked up rather raw in the middle. It had the same thinness and super-chewiness of the Chebe crust, but was crispier on the outside. The inside, however, was wet and slick, like it wasn't baked enough, although I know it was because when the crust got cold, it was so crispy it was hard. The directions were careful to stipulate that the batter shouldn't be more than a 1/4-inch thick, and I followed that to the letter. If I tried it again, I would add the sauce later than the package recommended and see if that helps.
4. Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Mix, $4.50 for 10.5 ounces at Jet
This dough mixed up in a jiffy, requiring just five minutes of "standing" time even though it had a packet of yeast. It seemed to me that without time to activate, the yeast must be for flavor, but the resulting crust didn't taste yeasty at all. It was similar to Biqsuick mix and had a bit of sweetness that didn't meld with the savory sauce. The texture was similar to biscuits as well — very dry, thick and cake-y.
5. Thrive Market Paleo Pizza Crust Mix, $8 for 16 ounces at Thrive Market
Because this is Paleo it's made with almond flour and coconut flour instead of the more typical rice flour. The result is a very thick, bread-like crust that tastes distinctly of coconut — not exactly what I want in a pizza. If you're on a strict Paleo diet, and don't like the chewiness of the Chebe crust (which is technically Paleo because it only has tapioca), maybe this crust will work for you. Whatever you do, though, don't follow the instructions on the bag and add honey. This makes it unpalatably sweet. Also, to buy it you'll need to become a member of Thrive's online market (kind of like an online Costco but for natural foods items).
Do you have a favorite gluten-free pizza dough mix? Tell us what it is and why you like it in the comments below.