They say baseball is the ultimate American pastime but we’re pretty sure it’s actually frozen pizza. Everyone has their favorite and new ones seem to crop up all the time. They’ve even got frozen pizzas with crust made of chicken now (needless to say, it didn’t make the cut for this list — we’re only talking about real pizza here). Point is, it’s a good time to be in the frozen pizza game. We decided it’s high time there is a definite ranking acknowledging the gold stars and the no stars among all the infamous freezer section cheese pies.
Turns out there is definitely such a thing as bad pizza. The main factors to consider are the big three: sauce, crust and cheese — after all, those are undoubtedly the three main elements that come together to create the frozen pizza trifecta of perfection when done right. Without further ado, here are some of the most popular frozen pizza brands, ranked from the very best to the ultimate worst.
1. Newman’s Own
The Newman’s Own line of frozen pizzas are about as legit as it gets. Their pizza motto is "In crust we trust" and, indeed, we totally trust their crust. The tasty, thin multigrain crust is bursting with flavor and has the dream texture. The sauce is perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of spice, and the cheese-to-sauce ratio is on point. They’ve really got a distinct flare that makes you want to come back and try every flavor the freezer aisle has to offer.
This competition isn’t really about your macro counting diet, but if you do want to feel slightly less gross about your decision to eat frozen pizza, Newman’s Own pies have zero trans fat and no creepy preservatives. Also, since Paul Newman was already pretty dang rich in his own right, his food and beverage empire donates 100 percent of its proceeds to charity. So obviously you can attribute your pizza obsession to your generous charitable heart when you buy these pizzas.
Oh, and here’s a life hack you can thank us for later: Add some garlic powder to Newman’s Own Uncured Pepperoni Thin & Crusty Pizza and it will change your life.
Freschetta pizzas are hearty and delicious. The doughy crust reminds you of a crusty loaf of sourdough bread and offers just the right amount of thickness on the edge. The sauce and pepperoni all score high on the delish-o-meter and the cheese does not disappoint or overwhelm. Freschetta really surprises you because you think it’s gonna be stereotypical frozen pizza, i.e. too much bread, not enough cheese and too sweet of a sauce (you’ll find out the contender for that prize way down on this list) but instead, it’s a delight.
In fact, the brand is known for its amazing crust. What’s the secret? According to the Freschetta website, "We make our Naturally Rising Crust Pizza with no chemical leaveners. Which means the dough rises using real yeast. The result is a signature crust that rises in your oven and fills your house with the aroma of fresh baked bread." You better believe it, Freschetta. The only thing better than pizza is fresh baked bread, so give us a pizza that smells like fresh baked bread and our heads will explode.
Tombstone is a frozen pizza icon and rightfully so. The greasy infamous pies have a spicy, smokey flavor all their own. Is it the pepperoni? Is it the sauce? Perhaps it’s the magic they make when they’re baked together. The crust tastes like what would happen if you took a loaf of white bread, mushed it together, hammered it into a flat circle and toasted it — and we’re totally on board with that.
Named after a bar (that was near a graveyard) in Wisconsin, Tombstone has been around since 1962 and seems to be aging very well. The no-fuss packaging is also a bonus. Who wants to mess with a cardboard box when they’re hungry for pizza? Minimal packaging also makes it easier to stack more in your freezer — and more pizza is always a good thing. Having a ranking of frozen pizza and not giving Tombstone a high status position on the list is basically equivalent to pizza treason.
4. Signature Select (Safeway)
If Olive Garden was on a pizza, it would be Signature Select, which is to Safeway what Kirkland Signature is to Costco (it’s their in-house brand, yo). While the crust is very good, it’s very, very heavy on the bread. And the sauce has an overly distinct marinara vibe. It tastes like dipping cheesy breadsticks in marinara sauce, which is pretty dope if you ask us. But there may be folks out there not looking for that much dough in their crust, and we respect that.
The cheese is fantastic on this pie and seems to melt really well, if that’s even a thing. If you aren’t in an area with Safeway or other affiliated grocery chains that carry the Signature Select brand, you might be missing out, unless you strongly prefer a thin crust pizza. If that’s the case, let go of your FOMO this instant.
This might sound strange in a ranking of a frozen food product but, the frozen pie from Amy’s Kitchen somehow tastes really, really fresh. The crust is just the right combination of sweet and savory, and the sauce is unique with a real made from scratch quality. In terms of all-star ingredients, the mozzarella and basil on Amy’s Margherita Pizza in particular are a real showstopper.
If you are counting calories and want to indulge, a serving of Amy’s pizza is usually pretty low in calories. (Get real, you’re going to eat more than one serving. Why do you keep lying to yourself? Buy a single serving personal pizza or face the consequences.) There are also plenty of gluten-free options that would please even the snobbiest of pizza connoisseurs. Even further, there are gluten-free, vegan pies from Amy’s. Their existence proves what we all secretly know — vegans really, really miss being able to pound a meat lover’s supreme pizza every now and then.
6. Red Baron
We’re really sick of Red Baron getting a bad rap. Considering its exceptionally low price tag, it’s freaking delicious and deserves some praise. The Classic Crust is thin and buttery, and the precision with which the cheese is sprinkled should be considered pizza art. Don’t like thin crust? This frozen pizza OG also offers you thin ‘n crispy crust, thick-ish crust and deep dish crust. Everyone in the household (or house party) can have their bread with tomato sauce and cheese needs met accordingly.
Red Baron also offers breakfast pizzas but you might have to be under the influence of a mind altering substance to seriously consider consuming one. Regardless, clearly, ole’ Big Red is really committed to the pizza game in a very real way. Haters are gonna hate but for our money (and to be fair, it won’t be a whole lot of our money, so we haven’t gotten much to lose in saying this) Red Baron is a drunk pizza craver’s dream oven delicacy. But please don’t forget to turn off the oven.
7. Screamin’ Sicilian
Screamin’ Sicilian pizzas haven’t been on the scene very long but are part of a pretty longstanding pizza pie network, Palmero’s. The Screamin’ Sicilian frozen pizza is one of those ones that you really want to be good because the box is so intriguing (mad props to their marketing guy/gal/team) but it’s nothing to scream home about. The sauce is pretty mediocre and the crust leaves something to be desired and seems very mass produced. It tastes exactly like what you picture a frozen pizza to taste like, sort of boring and predictable.
The cheese is a selling point though, especially on the Bessie’s Revenge, which has Romano, mozzarella, Parmesan, and white cheddar cheese on top, and some cheese literally baked into the bottom of the crust too. Again, this one isn’t a terrible pizza but it’s not necessarily the bread, sauce, and cheese that dreams are made of.
The Stouffer’s Pepperoni French Bread Pizzas are somewhat of a classic. They’ve been around for as long as we can remember, and are a solid option if you need that frozen pizza down your gullet so quick, you’re willing to microwave it. We still recommend a conventional oven if you can spare a few extra minutes, though.
The pepperoni has a very distinct (in a good way) flavor, but the bread could be better. The cheese is pretty standard. It’s really a middle of the road kind of pizza that we’re ambivalent about, meaning it’s certainly not the most horrible option on the market, but you could also do a lot better. If it’s just you and your TV, and you need something quick, easy and perhaps not as shame inducing as a large round pizza that would normally be shared among a gathering of more than one human, the Stouffer’s French Bread Pizzas might be your jam.
Oh, it’s "not delivery" alright. We’d much rather order Domino’s. You want to love DiGiorno because it looks so dang exquisite when you pull it out of the oven, gleaming pepperoni and puffy crust. But despite its claims to be on par with popular pizza delivery chains it’s, well… not. The dough feels a bit mushy in the center and the crust on the ends is so salty it borderline tastes like pretzel bread. Look, we’ve got no problem with pretzel bread, but there is a time and place for it and it’s not when you’re eating pizza. The sauce is WAY too sweet and there’s too much of it. The bread and sauce are excessive, but you know what’s not? Cheese. There’s barely any of it, which is straight up criminal in the frozen pizza world. Also, while the box claims that the crust has no preservatives, there were definitely a multitude of words that were hard to pronounce on the ingredient list. Just sayin.’
Disclaimer: DiGiorno does have a line of thin crust pizzas that we didn’t sample, so there is a chance it delivers a better dough/crust experience on those pies. But we aren’t holding our breath — or hanging up on the call we just put in to Pizza Hut.
10. California Pizza Kitchen
Remember the late 1990s/early 2000s when California Pizza Kitchen was the It-Girl of pizzerias? Everyone dreamed of trekking to California to enjoy the elusive, creatively topped pies, which is ironic since The Golden State is much more well known for its juice bars than its pizza joints. My how the mighty have fallen. CPK’s frozen fare (an inevitable but sometimes risky result from franchising and exploding into popularity), is pretty so-so. The cheese is okay but the sauce is bland and the crust has those signature massed produced holes on the bottom. It basically tastes like pizza on a cracker.
In 2013, Nestle issued a recall of four of its CPK and DiGiorno frozen pizzas because customers were finding plastic fragments in their pizzas. Recalls happen to even the most beloved of brands so we’re not trying to knock them when they’re down, but it doesn’t do much to garner more enthusiasm for the CPK crew. The in-restaurant experience was stellar in CPK’s heyday, but the frozen version of its namesake item is nothing special.
11. Trader Joe’s
If you miss the taste of SpaghettiO’s from your youth, Trader Joe’s 3 Cheese Pizza has the basic and bland sauce to bring you right back to your processed pasta laden childhood. This pizza is serviceable, but certainly not sophisticated. The crust is decent, with a dusting of flour on the bottom, which somehow makes it seem more official, but after a lot of fanfare, we expected a lot more from the low cost grocery chain. You definitely should plan to add some toppings of your own if you want any sort of enjoyable frozen pizza experience.
Trader Joe’s is known for its array of fun frozen foods, but we guess they can’t all be gems. Did we mention the sauce reminded us of Chef Boy-ar-dee? It definitely has a canned quality to it. While we can’t speak for every type of frozen pie TJ’s offers, a sampling of its staple plain cheese leaves us wanting (better pizza).
12. Home Run Inn
The fact that Home Run Inn pizza has very few ingredients makes you realize why there might be a reason for more ingredients. It gives you high hopes because in appearance it resembles Chuck E. Cheese pizza but it doesn’t deliver on taste across the board (in this case, "across the board" is the big three — sauce, cheese and crust). Aside from the fact that the pie has the slight stench of feet prior to cooking, the real problem lies in the crust. It almost tasted gluten-free… but it wasn’t. If you are gluten-free, fine, but we all know you’re making some sacrifices in the pizza department. Don’t even front like your crust is superior to one with real dough. The Home Run Inn crust reminds you of the crust of gluten-free brand Against the Grain, which we didn’t even include here because of its uniform lack of gluten disqualifies it from this competition. Sorry but them’s the rules.
The cheese has a bit of a distinct stench to it, but not in the good stinky cheese kind of way. (Please see aforementioned observation that the frozen pie smelled like feet). Also worth noting, the cheese doesn’t really give you that satisfying stretch-away-from-the-slice sensation. Overall, we are just disappointed in this one, which puts up a good front by claiming Chicago roots.
13. Totino’s Pizza Party
If you want to have fond memories of your middle school sleepovers, fine, get yourself some Totino’s Pizza Rolls. If you want a presentable, palatable frozen pizza, keep on browsing and do NOT get the Totino’s Party Pizza (ugh, the name alone makes you cringe). We’d only recommend it if you’re looting abandoned super markets after the apocalypse or a real life The Walking Dead scenario, and all the good stuff has been robbed already.
The Totino’s sauce is too sugary, the cheese is bleh, and the crust is flimsy but not in a good way. This really is the trailer park of the frozen pizza section, but not a cool trailer park where you rent an RV to "disconnect" and look at the desert stars all night. If you are a full grown adult and still find Totino’s appetizing, we are saddened to hear how few pizzas you have tried in your lifetime.
Honestly, Celeste is so bad, it’s almost painful to write about. If this is what "100 percent real cheese" tastes like, bring on the fake stuff. The cheese is gooey and strange. The Celeste "pizza for one" is like a giant Bagel Bite that really lost its way. Imagine what you would have in front of you if you sent your 7-year-old into the kitchen to try and whip up a pizza from scratch with the ingredients you have on hand. That’s what Celeste tastes like… you know what, never mind, your kid’s pizza would probably be better than this.
No offense to Mama Celeste, we’re sure she was a very nice lady, but these pizzas definitely need an overhaul. It’s extremely difficult to admit this but our expert samplers actually chucked the entire pie after just two bites. Yes, it was only single serving pizza, but it still felt very, very wrong. You get the point, Celeste is not the best. It didn’t even deserve that really cheesy rhyme.