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Best frozen pizza

We tested more than 20 individual-size frozen cheese, pepperoni, and chicken pizzas to find the best tasting options

Published: August 2013

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Edible pizza from your freezer? Yes! Although none of the 16 individual-size frozen cheese or pepperoni pizzas our experts tasted was excellent, Home Run Inn, sold in more than 20 states, hit a triple with both types. They’re rated Very Good, and the cheese version is tastier than deep-dish and original cheese pizzas from Domino’s and Pizza Hut.

Among all pizzas, there are big differences in taste, nutrition, and price.

Taste. Home Run Inn cheese pizza has a flavorful, thin, crispy, flaky crust loaded with stretchy cheese, plus fresh-tasting, mild sauce. Several other cheese pizzas taste almost as good, including Red Baron Singles Deep Dish, a CR Best Buy with a pastrylike crust and slightly spicy sauce, and DiGiorno Stuffed Crust, with a tunnel of stretchy cheese in a soft, slightly chewy crust. In a quick tasting, our experts judged the new DiGiorno Pizzeria Quattro Formaggi cheese pizza (claimed to have “premium toppings and no artificial flavors”) as very good, too.

In Home Run Inn’s pepperoni pizza, the pastrylike crust and mild sauce are similar to those in the cheese pizza, and the meat is browned. Red Baron’s pepperoni version, like its cheese version, is a CR Best Buy and has a slightly spicy sauce. Good & Delish pepperoni is another very good option. It has a flavorful, thick, slightly chewy Italian-­style crust with lots of stretchy cheese, and slightly spicy sauce, though its seasonings taste dehydrated.

Now for the not-so-tasty. 365 Everyday Value cheese pizza tastes mostly of harsh, bitter seasonings, and although its sparse sauce is red, it doesn’t taste like tomato. Totino’s Pepperoni Party Pizza has a similar sauce, along with mushy, tasteless cheese and fatty pepperoni.

Nutrition. Scores for nutrition ranged from fair to very good. Pepperoni pizzas tended to score lower than cheese because of their fat (about a third is saturated) and sodium. In fact, according to a study published in May in the journal Nutrients, pizza appears to be the single biggest contributor of sodium to the diet of Americans 6 to 19 years old between 2003 and 2008. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 90 percent of Americans eat more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet. (For most people, that’s less than 2,300 milligrams a day.) The good news: Most of the pizzas are an excellent source of calcium.

Our nutrition figures are calculated per serving, but serving sizes range widely—from 4 ounces (Trader Giotto’s cheese pizza) to 8.4 ounces (Good & Delish pepperoni).

Price. Because of the difference in serving size, we’ve listed cost per ounce. Calculated that way, some pizzas cost more than five times as much as others. Priciest of all: Amy’s.

Bottom line. Choose from among the very good pizzas, and make them an occasional treat.

Chicken pizza taste-off

Our experts tried five chicken pizzas, a less traditional type making its way into freezer cases, and found one to recommend.

Gives the impression of having been freshly prepared. It has a flavorful, yeasty, Italian-style crust; béchamel-style sauce; smoky bacon; and flavorful chicken chunks; plus fresh-tasting spinach and tomatoes.

Has a thick, flavorful crust but dehydrated seasonings and bitter notes.

Tastes mostly of sweet, smoky, thick barbecue sauce and has scant cheese.

Has white-meat chicken chunks with sweet and smoky barbecue sauce but sparse, dried-out cheese.

 Is spicy, with a soft cornmeal crust, lots of chili peppers, refried beans, and mild cheese.

Editor's Note: This article appeared in the September 2013 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.  
   

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