Last Update
Nov 21st, 2019

Frozen Pizza Taste Test

I used to get a Pizza every Sunday night during the Soprano's years. I had a Sunday routine; Watch the late NFL games at Boulder Creek in Smithtown, Order a pizza at Branchinelli's, and home to watch the Soprano's. Or John From Cincinnati. Or 6 Feet Under. Then I moved to Fort Lauderdale. I tried to keep it going. It was a perfect storm of failure; Nothing on HBO I liked and bad pizza. Times Square was ok for a while. I occasionally got a good pie at Ats-A-Pizza. But eventually I gave up. Too many bad $20 pizzas.

I hadn't had a frozen pizza since I was a kid, and even then, only the stouffer's french bread pizza. Pizza was too good on Long Island to eat frozen pizza.

But you see all of these different brands of frozen pizza now. And some of them look pretty good. How could they all be worse than the stuff they're cranking out down here? It was time to give some of them a try.

DiGiorno Crispy Pan Pizza

The stars were aligned for a pizza: A Sunday night with Mr Robot and the Ray Donovan Premiere. I'd purchased a DiGiorno Crispy Pan Pizza about a week ago when Publix had all DiGiorno Pizzas 2 for $10. This is normally $9.47 at Publix; Target has it for an everyday price of $7.87. This is a good deal for $5.

The dreaded pork, chicken and beef pepperoni.

8 hours in the fridge and it was thawed; it comes in its own crisper pan, so you don't have to worry about trying to navigate a flimsy pizza onto an oven rack. Although a stone will give you more uniform heat on the bottom.

I questioned the amount of cheese on this, so I added some extra to about 1/3 of the pizza. I'd probably always add extra cheese to every frozen pizza I'd eat normally, but for the review I want to see what the "out of the box" pizza is like also.

I've come to the conclusion that my oven can't get over 525 degrees. It will take a 550 setting but it's never really gotten there. It took 40 minutes for the oven to reach 525 degrees.

After 9 minutes it's still not quite done. I wanted to make sure the edges were crispy, because that's the entire point of these pan pizzas.

11 minutes and it was done.

I let it cool about 10 minutes and then cut the edge of the pan and slid out the pizza. The edges looked pretty good.

One thing clear when it cut it was that there was no "pull" to the cheese. It was more like a sheet of cheese than the stretchy type, It looked a lot like a decent Sicilian pizza.

A pretty good pizza. One peeve I've always had with thick bread pizzas is that the cheese doesn't stick. You take a bite and the whole sheet of cheese comes off. Maybe a good thing; I ended up throwing out a lot of bread. This pizza is 2000 calories all in. You could feed a family with 2 small kids with this.

I had a plan with this; I cooked this at 8:30pm, had a couple of slices and then went out for a couple of of hours. When I got back, I put the slices back into the pan and reheated at 200 degrees for about 10 minutes; a couple of slices got some granulated garlic and oregano.

Verdict

This was a pretty good pizza head to toe. Good sauce, good bread and the pan gives it nice caramalized edges. The out-of-the-box amount of cheese is less that I'd be happy with; I recommend adding a handful of extra cheese. One thing I can say definitively: This pizza is WAY better than the Detroit pizza I've tried previously. Look for the 2 for $10 sales at Publix and buy a couple of these for the freezer.

365 Thin Crust Pizza

I was in Whole Foods Market and they had 50% off frozen pizza for Prime members; a clear opportunity. Unfortunately, WFM has limited brands and most of them didn't seem interesting to me.

I wasn't doing a cauliflower crust or gluten free pizza. They didn't had any of my target pies (my list is a secret), so I settled on something that didn't look half bad.

$4.99 regular price. Can't go wrong for $2.50. Monday morning I took it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge; by 9p it was thawed.

Lots of pepperonli; I added cheese to half of the pizza. Extra cheese makes any pizza better.

In the oven at 505 degrees. Does my oven even go up to 550? I never have the patience to wait.

One of the biggest pizza disasters that can happen occurred with this pizza. It stuck to the stone. This is a very dangerous thing if you don't have the right tools, which I don't. The oven door is 500 degrees. You can't really be reaching in to dig the thing out. So you rip and pull and sacrifice whatever sticks.

Au-Right. Some calories saved. Not sure what happened. I cleaned the oven since the last pizza, but the racks and stone come out for that. I hope it's not a trend.

This pizza was more like the frozen pizza I remember from long ago. A crisp crust; not bad tasting but very Mall Pizza like. Good tasting generally; not enough cheese on the regular side.

Verdict

For the $2.50 I paid for this I guess I can't complain, but this pizza is nothing more than a snack for kids. Not what I'm looking for when I'm in the mood for pizza.

DiGiorno's 1/2 Pepperoni Rising Crust

"Rising Crust" seems to be a big marketing gimmick for frozen pizza; i guess it makes people think that despite it's frozen state; it's still "alive". Dormant yeast. This could be one reason they tell you not to thaw the pizza first; when you make pizza dough, you punch it down before you stretch it and put stuff on it; here we have the stuff already on it.

So with a frozen pizza you want the dough to rise in the oven; not in the refrigerator. So if you want to thaw it first, don't leave it in the refrigerator too long. I put this in about noon and I cooked it at 10:30pm.

Today's Pizza:

I picked this pizza up at Winn Dixie a few weeks ago when it was on sale for $4.99. Regular price is $6.99.

This pizza comes wrapped in some pretty thick plastic. When I first opened it I though they shorted me on the pepperoni; I didn't realize it was a 1/2 pepperoni pizza.

I spread out the pepperoni and added more cheese to 1 side of the pizza.Just in case there wasn't enough.

I put this in the oven at 515 degrees; I never have the patience to let it get up to 550 which seems to take forever. Check the pizza regularly. It goes from done to burned in a short while.

This thing looked pretty good.

I cut it into quarters and let it cool a bit. I think there was enough cheese without the added cheese, but extra cheese is never a bad thing.

Let me tell you something; this is a really good pizza. Lots of good sauce. A crust you can eat to the very end.

Verdict

This pizza was better than 80% of the pizzeria pizzas I've ordered in this town. It doesn't come close to a Long Island pizza, but this is as good as the pizzas I make from scratch without any of the work. I can't vouch for those baked frozen on an oven rack, but if you have a pizza stone and a peel I recommend you stuff one of these into your freezer. Even at the regular price this pizza is worth it.

Walmart's Three Meat Rising Crust

I had no intention of buying a Walmart's pizza. I was in the store looking to see if they carried brands I didn't find in other stores, and this one looked good on the box.

Now supermarkets don't have their own pizza factories; they buy surplus from some pizza company, so it's probably very similar to something else. What got me to buy this was the price. $2.97. Yes, this pizza was less than what most places are charging for a slice.

As usual, I broke the rules and defrosted it in the refrigerator. I took it out of the freezer at about 11am and it was defrosted by 8pm.

One thing about defrosting the pizza first; the dough is pretty flimsy, so getting it out of the plastic without messing up the pizza is challenging. I had to cut all around it a and slide it off onto a peel.

Not a bad looking pie. Not the best sausage but lots of pepperoni. I'm not sure what the "3rd" meat was.

Something unexpected was the disclaimer on the box:

The beef is made from chicken. That's a new one.

I added extra cheese to half of the pizza just in case it needed it. Adding some cheese to a $3 pizza seems like an ok thing to do.

I preheated the oven and put the pizza in at 515 degrees. 7 minutes later (more or less) the pizza was done.

Notice this looks nothing like the pizza on the box. I went a bit well done with this; I checked it every 30 seconds or so and at no time did it look like the pizza on the box.

I let it sit for about 5 minutes and then cut it.

Another few minutes until it was safe to eat without burning my mouth and I was eating. This was a pretty good pizza. Good tasting sauce. The pepperoni wasn't oily at all.

The crust is somewhat thick, but it was a good tasting crust. Totally edible to the edges. Both the extra cheese and the regular was good.

Verdict

From a pure taste standpoint, this pizza was better than a lot of $18 takeout pizzas I've gotten around Fort Lauderdale. Ideally I prefer a thinner crust, but when you get the sauce right, the pizza works. I had this with a $39 Barbaresco; kind of ironic to drink good wine with a $2.97 pizza.

Peps Taproom Double

I did a bit of research before I selected my first pie, but I have to admit that fact that this was on sale at Winn Dixie was the straw that broke the camel's back. $6.99.

Now all of these frozen pizzas tell you not to thaw them; to put them in the oven rock solid frozen and bake them for a half hour. Nonsense I say. Thaw the pizza first; just make sure you thaw it in the refrigerator and not at room temperature. If you put the frozen pizza in the fridge at 9am it will be thawed by 8pm.

Then I heated the oven to 550 degrees, which is as high as my oven goes. It will take 1/2 hour to heat up to 500+, so plan ahead. I have a pizza stone in my oven; this pie went right on the stone. Be careful because 550 degrees is really hot.

I didn't time it but I think it took about 6 or 7 minutes. Cook it until the cheese starts to brown and get all bubbly. You'll also need a pizza peel or something to get the pie out of the oven. Again, the oven is REALLY hot, so you want to get it out in 1 piece without burning yourself.

I think the "double" is double cheese. This pizza had a lot of cheese.

The Verdict

The sausage was lousy, and the crust was very frozen pizza-ish. Maybe like something you'd expect to get at a bar. The fresh mozzarella was largely contrived; not enough sauce. This pizza is a C at best.

Outsider's Detroit Pizza: Genoa Salami and Block Cheese

Next up was the Detroit style pizza from the Outsider's. Their web site says you can get these at Target or Winn Dixie, but my local Winn Dixie didn't have any of them. Target had all of them; and glory be, they were on sale! $6.99 for a pizza. They have bacon and BBQ and 3 cheese options; I went for the Genoa and block cheese. Genoa is less spicy than pepperoni but I thought maybe it would work.

The instructions say very clearly not to thaw before cooking:

So I put it in the fridge the night before and so it would be thawed the next day. Ever hear of anyone getting sick from eating a pizza right out of the oven?

It looked pretty good. They have a special plastic pan that crisps up the crust Detroit-style.

I heated the oven to 550 degrees and put the pie in the oven. One thing if you thaw it; I didn't really know how long it would take to cook. So I had to check on it regularly. I didn't clock it but I think it took about 10 minutes.

Not bad looking. I let it cool for about 15 minutes then slid it out of the container and cut it up.

The point of Detroit pizza is the crispy crust.

The description on the box says that this is a spicy sauce, but it's not spicy. It's actually not a bad tasting sauce and cheese. But there's not enough of it; it's a very thin layer.

So the pizza comes off as being too "bready". And the bread isn't all that tasty. The crispy edges were good; but it's too much bread and not enough pizza.

The Verdict

The thing with bready pizza is that it's easy to make yourself; just push a dough ball into a pan and you have a pizza. Stretching dough into an 18" disk is hard to do. While this pizza had good tasting sauce and cheese, it was just too much tasteless bread for me to buy again.

Comment Policy Add Comment
Al C
Reply
Why do you defrost when the directions say not to? Is this a secret move to make it taste better?
Truth teller
Reply
You're lying to yourself if you think the backwater companies who make these things have any idea about how to cook an authentic slice. Those directions are #fakenews.
Administrator
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It just makes sense to me to cook it the way a real pizza is made. You don't throw a frozen steak or a frozen turkey in the oven. Thawing it makes it more difficult to handle, easier to burn the pizza (and yourself), and you have to have a pizza stone or pan because you can't just throw it on a rack. You really have to keep an eye on it because it can go from done to burned in 20 seconds at 550 degrees.

Most say that it's a food safety issue, but you're killing off any bacteria cooking it at high temperature so I'm not buying that. Notice the Detroit pizza says "cook it through to 165 degrees". Like I'm going to stick a thermometer in a pizza?

It could be that yeast could be activated if you thaw at room temperature or leave it thawed too long in the fridge. If you cook it same day and thaw in the fridge you won't get much yeast activity at 38 degrees for a couple of hours.

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