Pizza in most forms is a delicious convenience food. From dining out at the best pizza places in the country to a humble frozen pie — a perfect backup dinner to have in the freezer just in case — pizza has always got you covered. But when it comes to the pre-made frozen variety, there are so many options to choose from that it’s hard to know where to begin. The Daily Meal decided to investigate so you don’t have to!
We scoured supermarket freezer shelves and picked out an array of frozen pizzas to sample. Then we schlepped those giant bags filled with rock-solid pies to the Institute of Culinary Education here in New York City — with all that pizza we needed ample oven space, after all — and got cooking!
We cooked all of the pizzas at once, after dividing them into categories based on their cooking times and temperatures, and once they were all bubbling and ready to eat, we dug in and judiciously tasted every single one. Which pizza took the gold? Read on to find out!
Bringing up the rear we have Screamin’ Sicilian Bessie’s Revenge Cheese Pizza, a slice our tasters panned as “really sweet but not in a good way” as well as “too doughy” and “anemic and flabby.” One critical reviewer even demanded capital punishment for this underperforming pie: “Death to this poor excuse for a pizza.”
Another poor performer was this gluten-free variety, which we decided to sample in an effort to be inclusive to those who eschew that gluey, gooey protein. The reviews weren’t great. “Obviously a super-cheap pie,” read one. “Good stoner pizza,” another taster opined, though the “bizarre” crust seemed to leave a lot to be desired. “Is this plastic?” one person asked. Another found it to be “chewy and awful,” noting that it “tastes like plastic.”
Wegman’s may be one of America’s best supermarkets, but that doesn’t mean their in-house brand of frozen pizza is going to be taking home any prizes. The overwhelming consensus was that this pizza had a “cardboard crust” and “weird flavor,” though one taster did “kind of like the sauce.” Most reviewers also felt the crust was far too thin.
The overarching opinion of Tony’s Original Crust was that it was rather dull — “salty and forgettable,” one person thought, while another considered this pie simply “a standard, cheap, frozen pizza.” “It’s OK,” offered another taster. “I could down a whole one after a night of drinking.”
Taking the No. 11 slot is Elio’s Cheese Pizza, a pizza that, like Tony’s, was found to be “a solid frozen pizza” with generic character. “Would eat at 3 a.m. after the bar,” one taster admitted. Another felt the pie was “nothing special, but good if you like more sauce than cheese.”
Our next pizza on the list was perhaps a rather sneaky addition. We included Oprah’s Classic Crust with a Twist of Cauliflower Five Cheese Pizza — a purportedly healthier pizza option, perhaps, but was it any good? “Not terrible,” one taster said. “Nice mix of sauce and cheese, but the crust was thick and tasteless.” Another found the sauce to be “very sweet — almost too sweet, but I kinda like that” and praised the “nice amount of cheese on top.”
If you shop at Whole Foods, then this might be the pizza for you. “Yummmm!” enthused one taster tersely. “Good herb action in this one,” another noted. “Not enough sauce, but could definitely do the trick late at night if you’re not kissing anyone after.” However, despite these positive reviews, others found the pizza to be “tasteless” and complained that the “crust was stiff and hard to chew.”
The Newman’s Own pizza was a mixed bag in the eyes of our taste testers. While some were overjoyed — “Yass queen! Perfect amount of sauce and cheese, nice semi-flaky crust, great flavor. Thumbs up, girlfriend” — others were not impressed. “Tasted exactly like I would expect a frozen supermarket pizza to taste,” one said. “Nothing special.” Some outright hated it, calling it a “waste of cheese” and saying it had “no flavor at all” and tasted “extra salty.”
Next we come to DiGiorno, a pizza that many assumed would claim the No. 1 spot. Perhaps it was the thin crust, but this pizza did not fare as well as many predicted it would. With “barely any sauce” and a “super-generic taste,” this pizza reminded one taster of “grade school greasy cafeteria pizza.” One tester, though, did put it at the top: “If I were to choose a pizza to eat on this list, it would be this one. Tastes like good old-fashioned tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and thin crust. No complaints.”
This one caught a bit of flak for not really being a pizza in the traditional sense. “Well that’s not fair,” read one cry for justice. “French bread > cardboard always.” But when it came to taste and texture it faired pretty well. “Nicely spiced, soft bread with crispy crust,” observed one taster, while another found it to be “very garlicky” with a “super-soft crust” that was not overly cheesy. “Doesn’t have that frozen pizza taste. A bit more natural.”
Original Tombstone is another classic in the frozen pizza section of most supermarkets. Like many in the top rankings, this pizza was divisive. Some enjoyed it — “Spices! Multiple cheeses! Yay!” — while others were not impressed. “I’m running out of new ways to say awful,” noted one fatigued taster. There was also a familiarity to this pizza, which is not surprising given its popularity in many households. “This one has a very different taste that many may not like because it’s not what they’re used to,” one taster mused. “Very distinctive… I recognize it. Different cheeses and a garlicky taste that’s satisfying. Nice and chewy, but not too much.”
In fourth place was another supermarket classic, Red Baron. “A solid contender,” one taster said. “No one would mistake it for fresh, but I would eat half if home and hungry.” Some found that it did satisfy a lot of the frozen pizza criteria: “Everything tasted the way it’s intended to. Good texture, perfect amount of crust. Nothing special, but does the trick.” A few others weren’t huge fans: “This one tastes like they poured straight white sugar into the sauce and didn’t add any salt! Very strange. Flimsy crust… bleh.” Yet another found it to be mildly depressing, something you don’t often look for in a pizza. “I can see myself eating all of this with some beers, alone, watching ‘This Is Us.’ V depressing, yet oddly satisfying.”
Taking the bronze we have Trader Joe’s own in-house brand, a pizza that impressed some tasters more than others. “I actually kind of like this one,” wrote one taster in mild surprise. “Finally a crust with a bit of chew,” offered another. “Looks more like a normal pizza.” One pleased panelist said it “tastes more like a NY slice” and noted that “the sauce has good flavor.” However, others were less impressed and found Trader Giotto’s pie to be bland and disappointing when it came to the quality of the cheese on top: “I like the crust but not the middle. Needs better cheese.”
In second place we have Amy’s 3 Cheese Pizza, which featured a corneal crust, pesto and goat cheese. Traditional? Perhaps not, but some tasters seemed to really enjoy it. “Goat cheese reminded me to love cheese again, love their herbs and crispy crust!” gushed one. “The pesto is a delicious addition and the tomato chunks add to the flavor,” another enthused. But others weren’t as wowed, and some found the crust to be too much: “Crust is crispy, but there’s not much flavor to this pie. On second thought, maybe it’s too crunchy.”
And in the No. 1 spot, taking gold, we have Safeway’s in-house brand, Signature Select Rising Crust Five Cheese Pizza! Tasters praised it as “flavorful,” noting that the cheese and sauce were nicely balanced, and one even said it tasted “like Pizza Hut.” Some didn’t enjoy the thicker crust, calling it “too bready” and “too much” in spite of the “decent crunch.” And there you have it: Not all frozen pizzas are created equal. Sure, frozen pizzas are convenient, but if you really want an unparalleled pizza experience, you might want to check out any of the 101 best pizzas in America.
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