Skip To Content
  • Viral badge

I Tested And Ranked The 7 Most Popular Frozen Pizzas, And I'll Just Say It β€” There's One Brand You Couldn't Pay Me To Eat Again

If you need me, I'll be eating cold leftover pizza for the next...IDK, year.

Of all the countless frozen foods out there (and y'all, there are TOO many to count), one meal has always reigned supreme: frozen pizza. And TBH, it will continue to. Forever and always.

TruTV / Via giphy.com

I have distinct and incredibly fond memories of eating frozen pizza as a kid. It was generally an "every now and then treat." And then, WHAM. College happened, and suddenly frozen pizza went from "cute tradition" to "literal lifestyle." I know I'm not the only one here. And the number of brands out there?! Staggering.

Now that I'm a grown ass adult who actually cooks for a living, I'm usually too busy cooking up something not pizza-related...but TBH, I live for a frozen pizza every now and then. That said, the number of choices out there is overwhelming. Have I ever bought the same pizza twice? Truly unsure. Gotta try 'em all, right?

Author biting into a piece of pizza with text: "me: cooks for a living; also me: frozen pizza = achilles' heel")
Ross Yoder

For *science reasons*, I wanted to find out the best-of-the-best when it comes to store-bought frozen pizzas. So I blind taste-tested the seven most popular brands, and the results were genuinely surprising to me.

THE PIZZAS

In terms of which pizzas I decided to taste-test, I wanted to make sure I was testing pizzas that most folks in the United States have access to. There are surely areas of the US where you won't be able to find all of these, but instead of opting for the "fancy" frozen pizzas I'm able to buy here in NYC, I stuck with the classics...plus the versions from brands like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.

I also decided to test pepperoni pizzas because it's baaaasically just a cheese pizza with pepperoni, right? Unless brands are really out here with completely different formulas for their cheese vs. pepperoni pizzas, I feel strongly that you can trust this ranking for regular ol' cheese pizzas, too.

Here are the pizzas that I ended up testing:

The seven pizzas that were tested, stacked on top of each other
Ross Yoder

Common Standards:

β€’ DiGiorno – Rising Crust Original Pepperoni

β€’ Freschetta – Naturally Rising Crust Pepperoni

β€’ Newman's Own – Uncured Pepperoni

β€’ Tony's – Pepperoni

β€’ Red Baron – Brick Oven Crust Pepperoni

House Brands:

β€’ Trader Joe's – Wood Fired Naples Style Uncured Pepperoni

β€’ Whole Foods 365 – Rising Crust Uncured Pepperoni

THE EXPERIMENT

In order to be 100% fair here, I knew I had to do a blind taste-test. Bless my very, very willing partner for cooking up seven entire pizzas over the course of a day, and bless the fact that we'll have re-frozen frozen pizza for the next...IDK, year. (Side note: If you're reading this and we're friends, come over for pizza.)

For each one I tried, I cooked it exactly as instructed on the packaging. I know, I know: There are better ways to cook frozen pizzas, but that's not really fair, is it?

placing pizza in the oven
Ross Yoder

Y'all, I develop recipes for a living, so I'm very much aware that people have figured out really awesome hacks for making frozen pizzas suuuuuper delicious β€” like thawing them and then blasting them with really high heat for a very short amount of time. But for the sake of this experiment, I feel like the provided instructions are kind ofΒ aΒ part of the pizza itself, right?

So, no hacks here. I'd imagine that most folks who decide to bake a frozen pizza are probably just gonna do what the box tells them to do, so I followed the instructions word for word.

Instructions aside, there were a few additional (important!) things I was very conscious of:

thermometer reading 375 even though the oven is set for 400
Ross Yoder

β€’ I used an oven thermometer (if you don't have one, I implore you to make the $6 investment) to make sure my oven temperature was spot-on the entire time.Β Most ovens are pretty wildly off, so this was crucial.

β€’ My oven has a convection setting, so I turned that on. It helps to distribute the hot air more evenly, and since even heating = a crispier crust, this detail was a no-brainer.

To rate each pizza, I took notes on the flavors, textures, and other thoughts I had after tasting each one. Welcome to my brain β€” I'm happy to have you here.

Various handwritten notes by the author on the first four pizzas
Ross Yoder

I didn't take long for me to realize that, damn, frozen pizzas are reaaaaaaally different. Some were aggressively thick, a few were cracker-thin, and others were just a hard, hard "no."

Before my partner revealed the order in which I tasted each and every pie, I ranked them.

Ross Yoder

After all was finally revealed β€” and let me tell ya, some genuinely SHOCKED me β€” this is my definitive ranking from worst to best.

7. Whole Foods 365 β€” This was pretty much one of the most revolting pizza crusts I've ever tasted.

Whole Foods Pizza that cost $4.99 with author's handwritten notes overlayed
Ross Yoder

There's no other way to put it. That crust was straight up garbage. G-A-R-B-A-G-E. That said, I'd be lying if I didn't say there was a freaky lil' part of me that found a minuscule moment of enjoyment from eating that doughy, rubbery crust (not unlike a savory, underdone cinnamon roll!) but still...absolutely disgusting. Nope, nope, nope. In hindsight, the pepperoni sliding over to one side entirely was a really bad omen.

Ross Yoder

When I say "rubber crust," I mean it. Tearing into a slice of Whole Foods's "rising crust" pizza was like biting into an old tire. See that layer of dense, rubbery dough? Yeah, I'll pass.

Author holding up slide of pizza with bite taken out of it and revealing a very doughy crust
Ross Yoder

For what it's worth, I also had to cook this one five minutesΒ longerΒ than instructed for the cheese to fully melt, so the "you just didn't cook it long enough!" caveat doesn't apply here.

As I mentioned in my notes, the flavors weren't bad. But the dough was simply unforgivable, hence its dead-last position. Also, the instructions to "watch it rise for fifteen minutes of must-see action" have me howling with laughter. This pizza didn't rise a single millimeter.

Pizza instructions with "watch it rise for fifteen minutes of must-see action" circled
Whole Foods / Via wholefoodsmarket.com

πŸ• OVERALL RATING: 3/10 πŸ•

I don't know if I got a rogue pie (I have a funny feeling that I didn't), but woof. Please, please, please don't waste your money on this rise-less "rising crust" pizza.

6. Trader Joe's β€” I genuinely think they meant well, but this pizza was drier than a literal desert...let me explain.

Cooked Trader Joe's Pizza That Cost $5.49 with author's handwritten notes
Ross Yoder

Joe, I'd like to have a word. Frankly, I'm disappointed! I'm obsessed with you for soΒ many reasons, but your frozen pizza is definitely not one them. From now on, whenever I happily browse your frozen food section, I will shudder at the sight of your frozen pizza.

Ross Yoder

Here's my big problem with this one: It's branded as "Naples Style," which is (to grossly oversimplify) the "traditional," Neapolitan way. Think big, airy bubbles and a toothsome, wood-fired crust. The issue here is that this was very clearly a pre-cooked crust that they scattered sauce, cheese and pepperoni over. So by the time the toppings were melted, the crust was bone dry.

Brown spot on the raw pizza with text "pre-cooked crust on raw pizza"
Ross Yoder

Like Whole Foods's pizza, I thought the flavors were solid on this one. You can tell they used quality ingredients, but the ridiculously dry crust was a dealbreaker for me. Next time I hit the TJ's freezer aisle, I'll stick to the Sweet Potato Gnocchi. (If you know, you know.)

Cross-section of cooked pizza with bubbly crust, text says "light and airy crust but rock hard)
Ross Yoder

πŸ• OVERALL RATING: 4/10 πŸ•

Trader Joe's may be a haven for many foods β€” frozen andΒ fresh β€” but I can't in good conscious recommend you buy this pizza. Sorry about it!

5. Tony's β€” While the crust may be doable (though not at all exciting), the toppings reaaaaally weren't.

Cooked Tony's pizza that costs $3.49 with author's handwritten notes
Ross Yoder

I know I said "crust is rubber" in my notes, but I actually tasted this one before the Whole Foods 365 version (when I finally realized what actualΒ rubber tastes like). So, take that with a grain of salt...in addition to the particularly heated "TRAAAAASH."

In hindsight, I thought this one was more or less OK. Like the Trader Joe's version, the crust was obviously pre-baked, but it didn't turn into literal sand after tossing it into the oven. In fact, it was a tiiiiiiny bit floppy after baking it, which definitely confused me, but the crispy bits on the edge were particularly good.

My biggest issue with Tony's pepperoni pizza is that the ingredients were...subpar at best. Of all the pizzas I taste-tested, I'd say the sauce and cheese on this one were the most "meh," and the pepperoni itself tasted a bit off. Not in an alarming oh-my-god-I-have-food-poisoning way β€” it just wasn't all that pleasant.

Ross Yoder

That said, at less than $4 a pie I'll go ahead and say that Tony's is a solid choice for a budget-friendly frozen pizza...but truthfully, there's another (better) cost-effective pizza on this list that may very well be worth spending the extra $1.50.

Author holding cross-section of pizza with text "the crispy bits on the crust were especially tasty"
Ross Yoder

πŸ• OVERALL RATING: 4.5/10 πŸ•

There's not a ton to write home about here, but if you're on the hunt for a frozen pizza that won't hurt your wallet, Tony's is definitely worth at leastΒ trying.

4. Newman's Own β€” I don't entirely understand the hype over this one, but if you like a super thin-crust pizza, I'd definitely suggest it.

Newman's Own pepperoni pizza that costs $6.49 with author's handwritten notes
Ross Yoder

I'm not the world's biggest fan of aggressively thin-crust pizza. I love a good New York-style slice, but the cracker-thin variety isn't totally for me. Newman's Own pepperoni pizza falls somewhere between the two, though it's a bit closer to the ultra-thin variety. If you like an extra thin-crust pizza, I think you'd love this one...but regardless of that, I think this pizza really shines when it comes to the ingredients.

I can't really believe I'm saying this, but the Newman's Own pepperoni? Exquisite. It was perfectly marbled without being too fatty, and much thicker than all the others. Both of these factors contributed to a seriously meaty pizza that wasn't at all oily β€” which, if you know pepperoni pizzas, is kind of an anomaly.

Uncooked Newman's Own pizza with text "the best pepperoni, period."
Ross Yoder

Pepperoni aside: The cheese was melty, and the sauce was pretty tasty. It had more of an "Italian seasoning" taste than all of the others, so depending on your tastebuds you may or may not like that...but overall, I thought this was a totally acceptable frozen pizza. If really thin crust was my thing, this would be my go-to forever.

Thin-cut Newman's Own pizza, cross-section
Ross Yoder

πŸ• OVERALL RATING: 7/10 πŸ•

Thin-crust pizza lovers: Newman's Own was made specifically for you.

3. Freschetta β€” The pepperoni fell short on this one for...well, a few important reasons. However, the other elements were some of the best I tasted.

Freschetta Pizza that costs $6.99
Ross Yoder

Honestly, Freschetta came pretty close to frozen pizza perfection, minus a pepperoni snafu. Here's the deal: Did I bite into a "bone" or another small, hard fragment of something in the meat itself? Definitely. I can't believe I'm saying this, but it's actually not an uncommon occurence, especially when we're talking about processed meats (like pepperoni and other types of sausages) β€” the USDA even specifies the "maximum size of bone particles allowed in mechanically separated meat," so while it might not be a pleasant eating experience, it won't harm you. All in all, I can't really fault Freschetta for that bit of whatever-the-heck-it-was. It could've happened to anyone.

What I canΒ fault them for is the taste of the pepperoni itself. It wasn't offensive by any means, but when compared to the Newman's Own pepperoni β€” especially as the second priciest pizza I tasted β€” I expected better! Pepperoni aside, I think this one would've been tied for second place...or even first. πŸ‘€

The crust was the true star of the show. Like, I think it was the best crust I tried?! The edges were perfectly puffed with gorgeously browned bits, and the crust under all the toppings stayed gloriously light without turning into a thick ol' slab of bread.

Ross Yoder

Freschetta also means BUSINESS when it comes to the cheese β€” they didn't skimp on the mozzarella here (which was something I very much appreciated). I think this was the cheesiest pizza of them all, so yeah, major "winner" energy. But again, there's my not so stellar experience with the pepperoni, plus the fact that the pizza as a whole was on the oily side.

Pepperoni pizza before being cooked
Ross Yoder

πŸ• OVERALL RATING: 8/10 πŸ•

It's actually pretty similar to my #1 pick, all things considered...but subpar pepperoni meant that I had to dock a point or two.

2. Red Baron β€” The closest frozen pizza to New York-style that I tried.

Red Baron Frozen Pizza that costs $4.99 with author's handwritten notes
Ross Yoder

Red Baron pizza has a lotΒ going for it, and I feel pretty dumb for underestimating this one in the first place. I actually think this may have been my first time trying it, which is bonkers. And yes: I do think this pizza was the closest to New York-style of all of them with its ooey-gooey cheese, moderately-thin crust, and expertly seasoned sauce.

First, the dough. If you can't already tell, I'm a major crust fan β€” and this one didn't disappoint. Unlike the thick, bready Freschetta pizza, Red Baron's version keeps things a bit lighter and thinner while still providing plenty of chew. I deeply appreciated the crust itself being a bid crumbly β€” almost shortbread-like β€” but not at all dry.

Ross Yoder

Let's not forget the sauce, either. That glooooorious, glorious sauce. I don't think I've ever noticed the sauce on a frozen pizza before (like, why would I?) but while eating this one, I couldn't help it. As I mentioned in my notes, it really was "perfectly seasoned" and helped to bring all the various elements together, which made for a pretty stellar pizza-eating experience.

Cross-section of frozen pizza being held by the author
Ross Yoder

πŸ• OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10 πŸ•

If a bready, thick crust isn't your thing, Red Baron is probably the best frozen pizza you could get your hands on.

1. DiGiorno β€” "It's not delivery, it's...also the best frozen pizza out there. Hands down."

DiGiorno pizza that costs $8.49 with author's handwritten notes
Ross Yoder

I'm not gonna lie to you, I was weirdly banking on DiGiorno to NOT be the best. As the only brand that comes to mind when I think of frozen pizzas anyway, I was hoping that one of the "underdogs" would win...but nope, DiGiorno won. Fair and square.

It's not that all the elements of DiGiorno were best-in-show β€” Newman's Own had the best pepperoni, Freschetta had the best cheese, and the Red Baron crust was seriously delicious. DiGiorno didn't outright win any category, but it surely had the best combination of everything that makes a pepperoni pizza delectable.

Uncooked DiGiorno pizza; the best part is that it comes in a user-friendly peel and bake seal instead of being chaotically wrapped in plastic
Ross Yoder

One tiny potential caveat here (though I wasn't bothered one bit): They call this a "Rising Crust" pizza, and that's the understatement of the century. I cooked this baby directly on the wire rack in my oven, as directed, and parts of this pizza rose to be over an inch thick!

thickness of a slice of DiGiorno pizza with text "pretty darn substantial"
Ross Yoder

Truth be told, I didn't mind this at all. I actually thought the thick, well-risen crust was what made the pizza special in the first place. The fact that it rose soΒ much meant that the pizza was ultimately lighter than you might expect (and not at all dense). Now if the Whole Foods pizza was this thick, we'd have a PROBLEM...but this DiGiorno pizza had all the breadiness and chew that a pizza-lover could ever dream of.

Is DiGiorno going to compete with that hot-from-the-oven slice or pie from your favorite pizza joint? Probably not. But they know exactly what they do best, and they do it really darn well. It's also the most expensive pizza I tried, coming in at $8.49 β€” $1.50 over the second most expensive pie, Freschetta. Clearly, the DiGiorno demand is real.

Cooked DiGiorno pizza on a cutting board
Ross Yoder

πŸ• OVERALL RATING: 9/10 πŸ•

For a frozen pizza that'll be fresh, fluffy, and just an overall joy to munch on, DiGiorno reigns supreme for a reason.

If you're into grocery store taste tests and reviews, check out exactly what I thought about the most popular marinara sauces out there. I'll be doing more blind taste tests on a monthly basis, so if there are any grocery store staples you're reaaaaaally obsessed with (and want me to rank), let me know in the comments!πŸ‘‡

Author holding a bag of frozen pizza in front of his dog with the caption "don't mind me, i'll be eating frozen pizza for the next 15 years"
Ross Yoder