I'm a chef and I tried 7 frozen cheese pizzas from the supermarket to see which was my favorite.
I probably wouldn't buy the California Pizza Kitchen or Celeste pizzas again.
I was skeptical about the pizza from DiGiorno.
First up, a freezer-aisle classic: DiGiorno's original four-cheese pizza.
This version has a "rising crust," but this wasn't a huge selling point to be because I'm a die-hard fan of thin crust.
Out of the box, this pizza was noticeably thicker and heavier than the others. It also has a longer baking time — 20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
This pizza was well worth the wait.
Despite my thin-crust preferences, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this pie.
The crust really did rise in the oven, resulting in a pillowy, deliciously bready texture. Luckily, the extra fluffy bread didn't take away from the flavorful toppings. The key is that the ample amount of sauce and cheese matched the thickness of the crust.
This DiGiorno pizza proves how important a solid crust-to-toppings ratio is. I also appreciated that cheese extended all the way to the edges of the crust and became crackly and crispy, so every bite was a bit cheesy.
Cappello's gluten-free pizza features a crust made from almond flour.
Next, I went from thick and fluffy to thin, dense, and grain-free.
Cappello's pizza is made with an almond-flour crust that defines the words "thin" and "crispy." The pizza has a cookie-like shape with cute scalloped edges that look almost too perfect.
This gluten-free pizza is supposed to cook at a slightly higher oven temperature of 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 11 to 16 minutes.
After 12 minutes, the pizza was browned and crispy.
Almonds and other nuts can toast very quickly, so I was worried I'd overdone it in the oven. However, my first bite told me that the deep-golden-brown color was not a sign of burning.
Just like before cooking, this pizza was crisp and stiff out of the oven.
Each slice had no give or slump to it (thanks to the absence of stretchy gluten), which can take away from the pizza experience you might be looking for. However, the flavor was good, and the mozzarella cheese seemed higher-quality than other options I tried.
The almonds in the crust make for a heartier, more filling pizza than the others.
I tried California Pizza Kitchen's four-cheese crispy thin-crust pizza next.
The four varieties of cheese are all visible on the frozen pie, with a mixture of shreds, cubes, and blobs of two kinds of mozzarella, fontina, and hickory-smoked Gouda.
This medley of dairy gave the pizza a more distinct flavor than the others I sampled.
In particular, the smokiness of the Gouda stood out as an unexpected flavor, which may not be for everyone.
Despite the multiple kinds of cheese, the toppings melted evenly and had pretty good coverage, extending all the way to the very edge of the crust.
The edges took on a nice crispy browned texture as well, which was a welcome contrast to the pizza's more doughy center. I personally would have enjoyed a bit more crispiness throughout the crust.
Though it didn't taste undercooked, the center stayed pale and the texture seemed slightly underdone.
Next, up was the Red Baron classic-crust four-cheese pizza.
This pie is topped with mozzarella, cheddar, provolone, and parmesan.
This time, all four cheeses were shredded, with the orange cheddar standing out among the sea of white.
It's really impossible to know the amount of each cheese, but I didn't pick up on many hard or grainy shavings of parm. My guess is that mozzarella and cheddar are dominating this four-cheese pie.
This pizza is larger than some of the others, offering four servings instead of three. It takes up to 21 minutes to bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, though mine was done after about 19.
The crust was thicker than I expected, but this pizza was nice and cheesy.
The four cheeses melted together into a uniform topping with very little exposed sauce or crust. For this reason, you need a sharp knife to slice the pizza, or you risk taking off the entire top sheet of cheese with one wrong move.
I liked that the crust had risen slightly and gotten crispy in the oven.
Flavor-wise, this was definitely a cheesy pizza. Although no singular cheese variety stood out above the others, this tasted like a fully-loaded, satisfying pie. There is also a good amount of sauce under all that cheese, which may be part of the reason that the crust also didn't crisp up quite as much as I'd like.
The photos on the box showed a much thinner crust than I ended up with. But again, with enough toppings, I couldn't complain.
Next, I gave my stomach a little break with a miniature pizza from Celeste.
Although the box advertises that your meal "microwaves in minutes," I opted to follow instructions for cooking it in the oven in hopes of optimizing crispiness.
This pizza for one was in my oven for 14 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. It emerged with a good amount of cheese melt and crispy edges.
This was the driest pizza I sampled, and I think it could benefit from more cheese.
Upon further inspection of the ingredients list on the box, the topping is made from "imitation mozzarella blend" — and, honestly, that's how it tasted to me.
Since you can cook it in the microwave, this might be a convenient option for an office-lunch situation, but it won't be on my grocery list any time soon.
I also tried Amy's vegan Margherita pizza.
I wanted to try this pie because it was dairy-free and I was curious about how it'd stack up against the other pies.
It featured a thin crust, diced tomatoes, shredded mozzarella-style "cheese" made from sunflower-seed kernels, potato starch, and coconut oil.
When it came to cooking the plant-based pie, it took about 15 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Much to my surprise, Amy's pizza ended up being one of my favorites.
The vegan "cheese" melted quite well and had a pleasant, cheesy flavor that's certainly not the same as mozzarella, but good in its own right.
The crust got crispy all the way through and had a nice amount of chewiness. I liked the chunks of tomato in the sauce, which added texture and a nice, fresh flavor. There's also a good amount of basil in the sauce, which is a refreshing addition.
My biggest complaint was that I wanted more.
Finally, I tried the American Flatbread classic tomato sauce and three-cheese pizza.
This thin-crust pizza is topped with mozzarella, Asiago, and Grana Padano cheese.
The package instructed me to "cook thoroughly," and that I did. As instructed, I preheated my oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and then baked my pizza for five to eight minutes.
Perhaps the oven was too hot by this point in my pizza palooza, but things looked dark when I opened my oven after six minutes.
The top of the pizza browned much faster than I expected. So although this pie had promise, with its thin, crispy crust and fresh herb topping, unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations.
The most surprising part was that — despite what appeared to be a very thorough cooking job by all accounts — the bottom crust was still a bit doughy.
I did enjoy the edges of the crust that didn't get too badly singed, though. They were crisp, crackly, and had excellent flavor.
This was one instance in which I was glad the cheese and sauce didn't extend all the way to the very outer edge of the pie.
Overall, DiGiorno's pizza was my favorite.
I was impressed by the fluffy, chewy crust, especially because I'm usually a thin-crust girl. The ratio of toppings to crust was spot-on.
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