- The Abomination: California Pizza Kitchen Four Cheese Crispy Thin Crust
- The Problematically Parmesan: Newman’s Own Four Cheese
- The Definitely Not Delivery: DiGiorno Four Cheese Rising Crust
- Most Bowling Alley-esque: Trader Joe’s Organic 3 Cheese Pizza
- Packs a Punch: Whole Foods Rising Crust Pizza Four Cheese
- Small but Mighty: Amy’s Pizza 4 Cheese
- The ‘Just Fine’: Red Baron Classic Crust Four Cheese Pizza
- The Clear Winner: Good & Gather Four-Cheese Pizza Rising Crust
In our Taste Test series, BA editors conduct blind comparisons to discover the best supermarket staples (like tomato sauce or vanilla ice cream). Today, which frozen pizza deserves a spot in your shopping cart?
Frozen pizza often serves a very specific purpose. Whether it’s a simple bite after school, or the beginning of an hours-long stoned snacking odyssey, a piping hot cheese pizza can satisfy gooey, crusty cravings in a way few other snacks can.
In the billion-dollar frozen pizza industry, there are innumerable options. Preparation is always easy, but results vary wildly between brands. While some crusts are pillowy soft, others are painfully thin; tomato sauces depend on the dealer’s choice of spices and herbs; likewise, many brands offer a blend of cheeses, but which cheeses and how and why?
To determine the best frozen pizzas, we tested some of the most popular brands, including DiGiorno, Red Baron, and California Pizza Kitchen. After cooking eight pies according to their packaging instructions, we tasted them just a few minutes out of the oven, judging on taste, texture, and crust.
The Abomination: California Pizza Kitchen Four Cheese Crispy Thin Crust
The ingredients: Despite its deranged crust, this pizza’s ingredients are mostly unremarkable. A trio of Fontina, mozzarella, and hickory-smoked Gouda provide the flavor here, joined by basil, oregano, and thyme in the sauce.
The flavor: Immediately no. “Sour,” associate cooking editor Antara Sinha said through her first bite. “This isn’t pizza, this is something else,” test kitchen coordinator Inés Anguiano declared. Perhaps the off-tasting cheese and lackluster sauce could be overlooked, but the flavorless, cracker-like crust was the final straw for many of our tasters. Senior cooking editor Emma Laperruque likened the crust to matzo, but couldn’t quite decide if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
Box of Newman’s Own Frozen Pizza on red surface
The Problematically Parmesan: Newman’s Own Four Cheese
The ingredients: The Newman’s Own pizza features a multigrain crust which, among other things, contains flaxseed. It seems to be mostly mozzarella, but also features Asiago, cheddar, and, of course, Parmesan.
The flavor: Chalky, fake-tasting, and way too Parmesan-centric were the overall notes for this pizza. The cheese congealed into a single layer that completely separated from the sauce and crust and, as Anguiano noted, “It tastes like a stick of Parmesan with a little sauce.” The crust was weak and floppy—coming across more like a tortilla than a pizza, as Sinha observed.
The Definitely Not Delivery: DiGiorno Four Cheese Rising Crust
The ingredients: While DiGiorno proudly touts its “four cheese” label, the ingredients list reveals that it’s mostly mozzarella, with a Parmesan, Asiago, and Romano cheese blend much lower on the list. The high mozzarella content was likely a big factor in its stretchy cheese pull. The ingredients list ominously ends with the phrase “contains a bioengineered food ingredient,” although it does not list what that ingredient might be.
The flavor: DiGiorno started off strong—Sinha noted an enticing cheese pull while grabbing her slice, but it was that same cheese that would let us down in the end. Although the cheese had that tempting, gooey, melty texture we know and love, it ultimately tasted waxy. Anguiano quickly identified the pizza as DiGiorno’s based on the air pockets in the brand’s signature “rising” crust. Digital operations associate Nico Avalle agreed it had a “pillowy” quality.
Most Bowling Alley-esque: Trader Joe’s Organic 3 Cheese Pizza
The ingredients: This pizza is made of organic ingredients, which is nice to know. But other ingredients were oddly unspecific. Take “aged cheese.” Aged, sure, but what type of cheese? The people need to know.
The flavor: If the box of Trader Giotto’s frozen pizza is to be believed, this pie is “handmade” and “cooked in wood burning ovens.” In practice, though, one tasting note came through above all else: “This tastes like bowling alley pizza,” Anguiano said to a chorus of nodding heads around the test kitchen. Perhaps it was because this pizza came par-baked, but nothing quite tasted right—the tomato flavor was underdeveloped, and the texture was too mushy.
Packs a Punch: Whole Foods Rising Crust Pizza Four Cheese
The ingredients: This pizza features mozzarella, Fontina, Parmesan, and provolone, and its sauce contains no less than six herbs and spices, which may have been a part of why it was too strongly flavored. It also contains “natural smoke flavor,” which was unique among the pizzas we tested; too bad we couldn’t taste it.
The flavor: While this pizza was visually appealing (Avalle noted its “good color”), opinions were mixed when it came to flavor. Many tasters noted that there was a lot of garlic, and the tomato flavor was incredibly robust. While the strong flavors were tasty on the first bite, the second and third bites were overwhelming. Ironically, the crust was bland (and overly doughy too).
Small but Mighty: Amy’s Pizza 4 Cheese
The ingredients: Amy’s pizza features the classic combination of mozzarella, Parmesan, Fontina, and provolone. It also contains honey, most likely as a substitute for some sugar in the sauce (although it also contains some sugar, so who knows?), and red wine vinegar.
The flavor: Noticeably smaller than most other pizzas we tested, Amy’s frozen pizza ran into problems early and often. “The cheese is a solid mass,” Avalle said, pulling the rubbery mess off her slice. Anguiano noted the spongy crust, and several other tasters detected a significant flavor of oregano in the tomato sauce. Hypothetically, this wouldn’t be an issue if you like oregano, but as food editor Zaynab Issa put it, “I don’t want my tomato sauce to taste like anything but tomato.”
The ‘Just Fine’: Red Baron Classic Crust Four Cheese Pizza
The ingredients: Mozzarella, Parmesan, cheddar, provolone, and tomatoes are the bulk of the ingredients in this pizza. It also features sugar, dried garlic, paprika, and dried onion all of which likely contribute to its balanced taste.
The flavor: Our team agreed that this pie was thoroughly mid. Avalle likened it to cafeteria pizza and said, “There’s nothing to be offended about.” Though the crust was doughier than our tasters would have liked. As Laperruque put it, “What do we expect? There’s a ceiling to how good a frozen pizza can be.”
The Clear Winner: Good & Gather Four-Cheese Pizza Rising Crust
The ingredients: All the usual suspects make an appearance on this ingredients list: The tomato sauce features dehydrated onions and garlic, with a blend of mozzarella, Parmesan, and Romano cheese.
The flavor: Good and Gather’s pizza, from Target’s house brand, is miles ahead of the pack: complex and richly flavored sauce; a light, stretchy cheese topping; and, most importantly, a sturdy, crispy crust. With an aroma of fennel, the sauce was exceedingly, deliciously tomatoey. Issa noted the semolina on the bottom of this pizza’s crust, which allowed it to develop more of a crispy, not soggy, bottom.