I compared barbecue-chicken, white, pepperoni, and cheese pizzas from both budget stores.
Neither chain won every category, but Lidl's white pizza and Aldi's barbecue chicken were standouts.
I chose four varieties of thin-crust pizza and bought them at each store.
Frozen pizza is the ultimate comfort food, so I battled classic flavors from two popular budget grocery chains, Aldi and Lidl, to see which one has the best pies.
Both stores offer several crust varieties — rising, "party," cauliflower, artisan. But for this taste test, I focused on original thin crust in four topping varieties: barbecue chicken, white, pepperoni, and cheese.
I purchased the pizzas from Lidl's everyday-basic line and found the closest counterparts from Aldi's Mama Cozzi's brand.
All of the coordinating flavors had similar directions for cook time and temperature, so I baked each pair simultaneously in a gas oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
The barbecue-chicken taste test was between Lidl's crispy thin crust and Mama Cozzi's ultra-thin crust.
Although it was once considered more of a specialty pie, barbecue-chicken has become an iconic pizza flavor.
I was able to find versions at both stores topped with barbecue sauce, chicken, red onion, and cheese.
Aldi's barbecue-chicken pizza was packed with big flavors.
This was one of the only frozen pizzas in a premium box at Aldi, so I was expecting big things.
The barbecue base was topped with mozzarella and smoked-Gouda cheeses, Buffalo-seasoned chicken, red onions, and cilantro.
The toppings were generous, with big chunks of seasoned chicken and thick, juicy pieces of pre-charred red onion. There was so much shredded and crumbled cheese that it spilled over onto the cardboard base.
I baked this at a lower heat than specified to accommodate the Lidl temperature, and I was glad I did because it came out nearly charred.
It was super crispy, and the thin crust kind of ribboned around the edges, which gave it more of an artisan feel.
The big chunks of chicken were tender with varying levels of Buffalo spice. The thick cuts of red onion were succulent, offering lovely caramelized flavors. Both of these went perfectly with the sauce, which was as sweet and tangy as promised.
The cilantro flavor was missing, though, and the cheese seemed to dry out a little in the oven. Fortunately, I could solve the latter with an extra sprinkle of cheese. In fact, it was even better the second time around.
Lidl's version wasn't the prettiest, and the flavor was lacking.
With such a strong start from Aldi, Lidl had a lot to live up to.
But when I pulled the pizza out of the box, it just looked sad. The red onion was significantly sparser and paler, the chicken was nondescript and scant, and the cheese was only mozzarella.
Fortunately, its visual appeal improved dramatically with cooking.
As the cheese toasted up, the chicken became more apparent. It wasn't seasoned, but it was tender, juicy white meat.
The sweet red-onion chunks were a delight, but they were rare to come by. The sauce was also much less tangy. The cheese melted well, but as it cooled down, it got chewy quickly.
As thin as it was, the crust baked up thick and strong, which stopped it from getting soggy despite the runny sauce. It kind of tasted like thick matzo.
In general, this was a middling pizza that lacked depth and complexity.
Aldi's barbecue-chicken pizza was a clear winner.
Aldi's pie was a delightful discovery, with flavors and textures that were strong, memorable, and satisfying. I'd eat it again and again.
The only problem is that Lidl's version is available all year, and Aldi's is a limited-time product. But I'd gladly stock my freezer with Aldi's when it's available.
The white-pizza category came down to Mama Cozzi's thin crust made with broccoli cheddar and Lidl's white-vegetable pie.
I enjoy a white pizza when I'm looking to switch things up, and luckily both stores had frozen versions.
Aldi has stocked a few Bianco variations, but I settled on the thin crust made with broccoli cheddar that I thought would be similar to Lidl's white-vegetable pizza.
I was excited to try Aldi's white pizza, but it let me down.
The white pizza is another one of Aldi's limited-time finds, and I was excited about this one. It started out really promising, with a surprisingly high volume of basil and plentiful slices of fresh mozzarella.
The bubbling cheese and broccoli crust looked and smelled impressive out of the oven. Even with all the different cheeses, it wasn't greasy, except in the very middle of the crust.
From its aroma, I prepared to savor an assertive broccoli flavor with cheesy undertones, but overall, it shocked me with its blandness.
Then it started to taste weird.
There was a sense of baked, cheap cheddar and freezer-burnt broccoli on the floppy, greasy base. But more than any of that was a strange, egg-white flavor that came on so hard that I kept checking the label to make sure I didn't miss the ingredient on the list.
As soon as that flavor started to dissipate, the bite was mushy and squelchy. The experience was further exacerbated by the flavorless mozzarella, which got wet and spongy.
Lidl's white-vegetable pizza was already one of my favorite products.
In the interest of full disclosure, this is one of my favorite things to buy at Lidl.
It's made with shredded mozzarella; plentiful chopped spinach; and a blend of Parmesan, Asiago, and Romano cheeses with mini cubes of ricotta salata.
It came out of the oven with a visible (but not overwhelming) sheen of oil from the cheeses, and everything was supported by a super-thin, crispy crust.
This cheese blend is incredibly smooth, and the ricotta salata punctuates some bites with an extra burst of salt and brine.
Even though some bites can be a little powdery, I appreciated these little interruptions to the otherwise seamless stretches of rich, creamy cheese.
The garlic sauce only added to the flavor. It was mild and subtle, which isn't always the case for garlic, and it complemented the spinach.
Lidl was the clear winner of the white category.
Redemption arrived rather spectacularly for Lidl in this second round.
I was worried one of my favorite products from the store was going to be outshone by Aldi's innovative take on white pizza, but that was far from the case.
I'll definitely be buying the Lidl version again and again.
Mama Cozzi's thin crust went up against Lidl's crispy thin crust in the pepperoni category.
Pepperoni pizza is a classic staple, so I was eager to see if either brand would manage to do it wrong.
Aldi's version was rather unassuming, humbly wrapped in plastic with a cardboard base instead of a box.
Lidl's pepperoni pizza had more of a premium flair, with extra cheeses and toppings.
Aldi's pepperoni pizza wasn't anything special.
Peeling back the plastic to reveal Aldi's pizza was both a letdown and a delight. There wasn't much of the "real cheese" it advertised, but there were 19 thick slices of pepperoni.
Due to the thicker, heavier crust, it needed a little more time in the oven than its Lidl counterpart. When it was finally done, I was sad to see stringy, dry cheese and pools of pepperoni grease.
It reminded me of school-cafeteria pizza.
Another unappealing aspect was the sauce. It was thin, kind of watery, and lacked seasoning.
Even though the soft pepperoni had a sharp and pleasant flavor, the sweetness of the pizza base was the dominant taste.
Lidl's pizza made much more of an impression.
Boasting fontina, smoked Gouda, and mozzarella in addition to the pork-and-beef pepperoni, Lidl's pizza immediately felt more premium. The presence of little diced tomatoes and a sprinkling of Italian herbs added to that feel.
The crust was noticeably thinner than Mama Cozzi's, and it ended up with much more of a cracker texture. It also came out with a lighter, softer layer of cheese — it was one of the most luxurious melts of this taste test.
Along the outside of the cheese, there was some bubbling and the narrow-lipped crust got a little charred, which reminded me of brick-oven pizza parlors.
But even with the herbs and nice texture, the tomato sauce retained a little frozen flavor, and the pepperoni was only passably pleasing with an understated flavor.
Lidl came out on top again with its pepperoni pie.
Lidl took this round, but not by a tremendous margin.
Although Aldi's pizza wasn't "good" in terms of taste, it was nostalgic. School pizza is a comforting childhood memory.
But since this is a taste test, Lidl's grown-up version won for its quality, even if it could definitely use a few tweaks.
Everything came down to Mama Cozzi's and Lidl's classic cheese pizzas.
I ended the taste test with the ultimate classic: good old-fashioned cheese.
Both brands had multiple cheese options, so I went with the cheapest one of each to establish a baseline. For both stores, this meant a three-pack of frozen pies.
Aldi's cheese pizza needed a total makeover to be enjoyable.
Although it's the most basic pizza flavor around, the three-pack box isn't available at Aldi year round. I was wary of the "Try your own toppings" note on the box because I wasn't sure it'd stand up on its own.
Out of the wrapper, it looked like Aldi might be onto something. There were globs of fresh mozzarella on the bubbly crust, and it was light on sauce and shredded cheese.
All the components were spaced out pretty consistently, but they weren't centered on any of the pizzas, which left parts bare.
Once baked, the scarcity of the shredded cheese became less dire as the larger pieces melted down. But there was still a lot of naked crust.
The sauce was more of a garnish, but that ended up being a good thing because it was awful. There was an odd baby-food vibe to it, with confusing traces of artificial apricot and cheap herbs that made it taste like a candle.
The crust bubbled up and introduced a medley of textures. The cheese, however, felt doughy, which made the middle of the pie extra mushy.
The pizza wasn't unsalvageable, though. It improved significantly after rebaking with better sauce and my own toppings.
Lidl's cheese pizza promised a brick-oven vibe.
It's a bold claim for any frozen pizza to call itself brick-oven style, but especially one as cheap as Lidl's.
There was little more than a meager sprinkle of "100% real" mozzarella and Edam cheeses. And the little that was there was dried out and got stringy in the oven.
Through the many gaps, I could see a dark-red sauce over a very thin crust. But there were visible and plentiful dried herbs with the promise of flavor.
I could definitely taste the seasonings, but the solid, cracker-like crust was in the spotlight. It was slightly sweet in a good way, and it was crunchy and flat all the way through.
Reheated and topped with a little more sauce and cheese, it came out slightly soft in the center but still crispy.
This was a pretty good frozen pizza that was thoughtfully made, but ultimately, you get what you pay for.
Neither cheese pizza blew me away, but Lidl won by a narrow margin.
Neither pie was very exciting, and although they were different, they needed the same kind of doctoring to make them better. In both cases, you're really just buying the crust.
Lidl's benefited from an at-home makeover, but the crust wasn't as enjoyable as the Mama Cozzi's. Yet how much should that count for when everything else was so bad?
In the end, I'm giving it to Lidl, if only because the macros and calories are far more favorable. You can have the whole pizza for 650 calories and 16 grams of fat versus Aldi's 810 calories and 30 grams of fat.
When reached for comment, representatives for Lidl and Aldi did not directly address Insider's concerns with its pizza.
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