I Tried Almost a Dozen Frozen Pepperoni Pizzas. Now This Is the Only One I’ll Buy.

published Aug 5, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

I spent at least three extra minutes in Walgreens the other day, and it was 100% because Rihanna’s Talk That Talk started playing. Nothing makes you look cooler while you’re buying blister Band-Aids and anti-itch cream than proving to everyone else in the ointment aisle that you know the words to one of 2012’s minor bangers. 

The first minute-plus is a guest verse from Jay-Z, during which he describes his high-dollar lifestyle, talking about big money and big houses and casually hanging Mark Rothko paintings in his bathroom — and it’s probably not even his main bathroom. “We heading to the top, if you coming come on,” he says. “I’m flying out to Pisa, just to get some pizza.”

But the great thing about pizza — or one of the many, many great things about pizza — is that you don’t have to memorize Italian airport codes if you just want a good pie. There are probably some better-than-decent slices in your general vicinity, and the internet is filled with well-tested tips for making legit pizzas in your own kitchen. And then there’s the wide variety of frozen pizzas that just seem to get better and, well, less frozen-tasting all the time. 

What’s the best one out there? A couple of Saturdays ago, I had some friends over and we tried to answer that very question. We did a mostly scientific taste test (we had notebooks and pens that definitely weren’t stolen from hotel rooms) of almost a dozen different frozen pepperoni pizzas, because we’re adults who are all willing to exceed our daily sodium allowances. For the purposes of this test, we stuck to pepperoni pizzas and, at least this time, we didn’t include any gluten-free options, any vegan choices, or any cauliflower crusts. All but one of these brands should be widely available and the only store-specific offering we tried was from Trader Joe’s. (And don’t worry if you’d have to Google Maps your way to the closest TJ’s: Everyone agreed that it wasn’t a great pizza).

The Best Frozen Pepperoni Pizzas

Credit: Jelisa Castrodale

After a couple of hours of rotating pizzas in and out of the oven and dripping cheese onto our notebook pages, we all unanimously agreed that our fave was the Signature Uncured Pepperoni from California Pizza Kitchen. Everyone liked how the sweetness of the sauce paired with the savory pepperoni, and the spice blend was perfectly balanced. (The visual appeal, the fact that you could see spices scattered on top of every slice, was a nice bonus.) The crispy-ness and lightness of the crust is what won us over — even those of us who typically prefer our pizza crusts to double as couch cushions.

Credit: Jelisa Castrodale

Our runner-up was the Holy Pepperoni from Screamin’ Sicilian. If you love toppings — an absolute mound of toppings — then this is the pie for you. In addition to putting a generous pile of meat and cheese on each slice, these Sicilians also use what tasted like the highest-quality pepperoni, and if you’ve ever scrolled through #pepperonicups on Instagram, then you’re gonna appreciate how the pepperoni curls up at the edges when you slide this pie out of the oven. The only downside is that this was slightly greasier than some of the other options, but that kinda gave it an … authenticity, too.

So the next time you’re craving pizza, don’t call your private plane: Just head to the freezer section. Oh, and you might want to pick up a different Rothko for the bathroom. The one you have now really clashes with the towels. 

Do you have a favorite frozen pepperoni pizza? Discuss in the comments below!