How To Dress Up Your Frozen Pizza Right

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

What's that? You're too darn busy to make your own pizza? Even if it's The World's Easiest No-Knead No-Stretch Pan Pizza? Or the perfect-for-a-large-crowd, almost-100%-hands-off Party-Sized Square Pie?

Alright fine, I get it. It's the day before game day. The keg delivery is late. You still haven't ironed your jersey or sorted your beer huggies.* Your brand new plasma with the oh-so-deep blacks that are so black it's like, how much more black can it be*** is still sitting in a box, waiting for you to figure out how to anchor it to the wall before the cable can be installed. Not to mention the cat is sitting in the slow cooker and the dog just ate all the Cheetos.

*This is the now-official Serious Eats-approved nomenclature for the beer holders commonly referred to as cozies, koozies, or coldie-holdies**

**A least, these are the common terms as far as Wikipedia is concerned

***The answer is none. None more black

I said I get it! There's a time and a place for frozen pizza, and perhaps that time is Sunday and that place is your living room.

Here's the good news: If you play your toppings right, even a frozen pizza can be elevated into a craveworthy game-time snack. Heck, your guests might be so knocked out by the flavor punch that they'll totally forget that what's in their mouth came from the icebox. Seriously!


Check out seven of our topping suggestions in the slideshow, jump straight to a slide with a link below, or read on for some more ideas!

  • Buffalo Chicken Pizza, made with shredded grilled chicken breast, hot sauce, and blue cheese.
  • The Triple P-zza comes with pepperoni, pimentos, and (jala)'peños.
  • Pastramizza: pastrami meets pizza, along with Swiss cheese and pickles.
  • Tater Tot-izza fuses two of our favorite frozen-aisle snacks. Crisp tater tots and bacon along with onions, pickled jalapeños, and hot sauce.
  • Brusch-izza uses mini bagel bites as the base for your favorite bruschetta toppings.
  • Puttanizza tastes just like a Roman brothel, with anchovies, garlic, olives, and tomatoes.
  • Chorizizza with crisp slices of chorizo, hot serrano peppers, sliced onions, and salsa verde.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

None of these ideas appeal to you? Don't worry, there's a whole wealth of options out there. If it works on real pizza, it'll work on frozen pizza. To get you started, how about:


If adding your own extra cheese to a frozen pizza, it's best to add it about half way through the cooking time. Once you start seeing the frozen cheese start to melt, you're good to go. Here are a few ideas.

  • Grated aged mozzarella (see our taste test here)
  • Fresh buffalo mozzarella, torn into chunks
  • Coarsely grated parmesan or romano (also great added at the end!)
  • Caciocavallo
  • Grated provolone or cheddar
  • Fresh ricotta (see our taste test here)
  • Fresh chèvre
  • Feta
  • Blue cheese!
  • Smoked mozzarella or gouda

Cured Meats

I'm a firm believer that the best meats to put on a pizza are cured meats, as they offer the requisite flavor punch to complement a pie without weighing it down. If you like things like chicken or barbecue on your pizza, go wild!

  • Pepperoni, preferably thick-sliced by hand (check out our stick pepperoni and our sliced pepperoni taste tests)
  • Spicy soppressata
  • Raw sausage (preferably homemade)
  • Thin-sliced lardo (I like to apply this directly to the dough with just a bare dusting of grated cheese on top)
  • Bacon (this will work best if you par-cook it until just shy of crisp)
  • Ham
  • Chorizo
  • Anchovies


Watery vegetables should be applied thinly sliced and sparingly, or should be par-cooked to avoid sogging out your pie. Alternatively, thin-sliced crisp vegetables like onions and peppers can be added at the end.

  • Sliced onions
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Mushrooms (cooked or fresh, thinly sliced)
  • Cherry tomatoes, split
  • Eggplant slices, par-cooked (you can do this in the microwave!)
  • Sliced peppers or roasted peppers
  • Olives
  • Capers
  • Potatoes, parcooked and sliced
  • Spinach
  • Shaved asparagus
  • Shaved zucchini or squash
  • Figs, split in half

Spices and Pickles

  • Chili flakes
  • Coriander or fennel seed
  • Pistachios, pine nuts, almonds, or walnuts
  • Pickled banana or jalapeño peppers
  • Chili oil

Post-Bake Toppers

These are things that you want to add to the pie after it's baked to keep their fresh flavor and texture.

  • Thin-sliced prosciutto or serrano
  • Fresh herbs like basil or oregano (can also be applied before baking)
  • Salad greens like arugula
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Grated parmesan or romano
  • Thin-sliced scallions
  • Extra virgin olive oil or other strongly flavored oils
  • Honey