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Taste Test: 5 Frozen Pepperoni Pizzas

"Sadly, frozen pizza will never develop that primordial ooze that truly good pizza has."

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[Photographs: Robyn Lee]

With so many frozen pizza brands claiming to use higher-quality ingredients and "new recipe formulas," aiming to taste like, well, not frozen pizza, we decided to cruise the freezer aisle and load up the shopping cart to see if any of them were actually decent.

Not so surprisingly, this didn't win for most delicious and exciting taste test at Slice–Serious Eats headquarters. The frozen pizza fest was welcomed with many groans and grumbles and "are we done yets?" We persevered through five brands: DiGiorno, Red Baron, Freschetta PizzAmore, Tombstone, and the Whole Foods house brand.

It became clear that we were divided into two different camps: those of us who want frozen pizza to taste like frozen pizza (woo, sweet sauces and dry seasonings!) and those who consider it a cheaper or more convenient option than delivery or take-out but wish it could taste as good. We were split—what some considered the winners others could barely take a second nibble. So decide what kind of frozen pizza eater you are, then interpret our findings accordingly.


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DiGiorno

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[Photograph: Adam Kuban]

Crust: Too much. Too doughy. Too soft. Too thick and spongy. (And any other adjective that means "a huge beast of a wad to chew.") Cheese: "I see cheese, I feel cheese, but I don't taste cheese," one taster said. Pepperoni: While DiGiorno get points for a well-balanced pepperoni-per-slice distribution, it had an "eerie taste," one taster said. Hmm, pepperoni probably shouldn't frighten you. Sauce: Good sauce. Not too sweet.

Should You Buy It? If you're of the Frozen-Pizza-Should-Taste-Like-Frozen-Pizza crowd, then sure. It's not good, but if you're craving that bad-good-processed pizza taste, then embrace the DiGiorno.

Freschetta PizzAmore

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Crust: Whew! Not another DiGiorno situation. Thinner crust but not cracker-thin. Good amount; not too doughy. "More pizza-y than bready," one taster said. Plus the whole pie gets a gravelly crunch with the sprinkling of breadcrumbs on top.
Cheese: Fine.
Pepperoni: Meatier than the others and on the thicker side. Tastes the most like pepperoni.
Sauce: Though a wee bit sweet, it "almost tastes like tomatoes in there," one taster said. (We're getting somewhere!)

Should You Buy It? If you want frozen pizza to taste as much like real pizza as possible. This was definitely better than the worst of our recent delivery pizzas (cough, Little Caesars). Plus it comes with a cool leakage tray, which you should absolutely use. This is an oozer.

Red Baron

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Crust: No chewiness or crispness. Just a dense, tasteless cracker. The whole thing broke apart in the box—technically not Red Baron's fault (maybe we were reckless transporters, fine) but it's a testament to the brittleness.
Cheese: Hmm.
Pepperoni: "Very artificial-smoky tasting" and "dog-food-like," were two tasting notes. Bad pepperoni distribution (all piled in one massive heap!). Again, not Red Baron's fault, per se. As Adam will argue, the onus is on the pizza eater to evenly distribute toppings, but if we're already counting the strikes, let's just throw this one in there.
Sauce: Tastes like it's from a can, and not a lot of it (which is probably good).

Should You Buy It? Yes, if you're of the FPSTLFP! camp.

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Already broken before oven time. A sad situation.

Tombstone

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Crust: "Rim tasted like stale fried bread." Crackery and flat. No chewiness. No, thanks!
Cheese: Waxy.
Pepperoni: Meaty and not completely offensive. Could be spicier.
Sauce: Sweet. Way too sweet.

Should You Buy It? Both camps agreed no, no, no. But aww, it's tiny. If you have a soft spot for tiny food, keep that in mind.

Whole Foods

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Crust: Crisp with a decent chew; not too thick. Nice as far as frozen pizza goes (but just decent in the larger scheme of pizza).
Cheese: Only instance where the cheese actually tasted like cheese!
Pepperoni: Artificial tasting. Aww, there was potential here.
Sauce: Very seasoned, as in the dry shakeable kind of seasonings, not real herbs. Hello, basil.

Should You Buy It? This actually wasn't wretched. But, shoot, there's got to be tastier options at Whole Foods?

Final Thoughts

Our stomachs don't feel too good. Grumble, groan, oy vey, urgghhhhh.

We initially went into this thinking, How bad could melted cheese on bread really be? Indeed it can be less than good, especially in mass no-human-should-be-subjected-to-this quantities. Sadly, frozen pizza will never develop that primordial ooze that truly good pizza has. But, hey, sometimes frozen pizza has its place, and for many of us, it's bad-good in the same way McDonald's or Kraft Singles can be.

See also: Taste Test: Delivery Pepperoni Pizza


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