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Last Update: Aug 22nd, 2023
Digiorno pan box

Supermarket Pizza Taste Test

During my time in South Florida, where there is no good pizza, and the pandemic, when I wasn't going to order a pizza, I tried a lot of frozen pizza. This is what I found out:

The Best

There were only 2 pizzas that registered an outstanding grade; as good or better than many real pizzeria pizzas. Both from DiGiorno.

DiGiorno Crispy Pan Pizza

The stars were aligned for a pizza: A Sunday night with Mr Robot and the Ray Donovan Premiere. I'd purchased a DiGiorno Crispy Pan Pizza about a week ago when Publix had all DiGiorno Pizzas 2 for $10. This is normally $9.47 at Publix; Target has it for an everyday price of $7.87. This is a good deal for $5.

The dreaded pork, chicken and beef pepperoni.

8 hours in the fridge and it was thawed; it comes in its own crisper pan, so you don't have to worry about trying to navigate a flimsy pizza onto an oven rack. Although a stone will give you more uniform heat on the bottom.

Digiorno pan thawed

I questioned the amount of cheese on this, so I added some extra to about 1/3 of the pizza. I'd probably always add extra cheese to every frozen pizza I'd eat normally, but for the review I want to see what the "out of the box" pizza is like also.

Digiorno pan extra

I've come to the conclusion that my oven can't get over 525 degrees. It will take a 550 setting but it's never really gotten there. It took 40 minutes for the oven to reach 525 degrees.

Giorno pan oven

After 9 minutes it's still not quite done. I wanted to make sure the edges were crispy, because that's the entire point of these pan pizzas.

11 minutes and it was done.

Digiorno pan done

I let it cool about 10 minutes and then cut the edge of the pan and slid out the pizza. The edges looked pretty good.

Digiorno pan edge

One thing clear when it cut it was that there was no "pull" to the cheese. It was more like a sheet of cheese than the stretchy type, It looked a lot like a decent Sicilian pizza.

Digiorno pan cut

A pretty good pizza. One peeve I've always had with thick bread pizzas is that the cheese doesn't stick. You take a bite and the whole sheet of cheese comes off. Maybe a good thing; I ended up throwing out a lot of bread. This pizza is 2000 calories all in. You could feed a family with 2 small kids with this.

I had a plan with this; I cooked this at 8:30pm, had a couple of slices and then went out for a couple of of hours. When I got back, I put the slices back into the pan and reheated at 200 degrees for about 10 minutes; a couple of slices got some granulated garlic and oregano.

Digirorno pan reheat

Verdict

This was a pretty good pizza head to toe. Good sauce, good bread and the pan gives it nice caramalized edges. The out-of-the-box amount of cheese is less that I'd be happy with; I recommend adding a handful of extra cheese. One thing I can say definitively: This pizza is WAY better than the Detroit pizza I've tried previously. If I see this on sale I'll get one to stick in the freezer.

DiGiorno's 1/2 Pepperoni Rising Crust

"Rising Crust" seems to be a big marketing gimmick for frozen pizza; i guess it makes people think that despite it's frozen state; it's still "alive". Dormant yeast. This could be one reason they tell you not to thaw the pizza first; when you make pizza dough, you punch it down before you stretch it and put stuff on it; here we have the stuff already on it.

So with a frozen pizza you want the dough to rise in the oven; not in the refrigerator. So if you want to thaw it first, don't leave it in the refrigerator too long. I put this in about noon and I cooked it at 10:30pm.

Today's Pizza:

Dig box

I picked this pizza up at Winn Dixie a few weeks ago when it was on sale for $4.99. Regular price is $6.99.

This pizza comes wrapped in some pretty thick plastic. When I first opened it I though they shorted me on the pepperoni; I didn't realize it was a 1/2 pepperoni pizza.

Dig wrapped

I spread out the pepperoni and added more cheese to 1 side of the pizza.Just in case there wasn't enough.

Dig thawed

I put this in the oven at 515 degrees; I never have the patience to let it get up to 550 which seems to take forever. Check the pizza regularly. It goes from done to burned in a short while.

Dig oven

This thing looked pretty good.

Dig cooked

I cut it into quarters and let it cool a bit. I think there was enough cheese without the added cheese, but extra cheese is never a bad thing.

Dig cut

Let me tell you something; this is a really good pizza. Lots of good sauce. A crust you can eat to the very end.

Dig close

Verdict

This pizza was better than 80% of the pizzeria pizzas I've ordered in this town. It doesn't come close to a Long Island pizza, but this is as good as the pizzas I make from scratch without any of the work. I can't vouch for those baked frozen on an oven rack, but if you have a pizza stone and a peel I recommend you stuff one of these into your freezer. Even at the regular price this pizza is worth it.

The Rest

Motor City Pizza Co

I was in the mood for a deep dish pizza, and the DiGiorno Pan Pizza I liked has disappeared from all local supermarkets. Motor City is a well-known brand carried by Costco and I noticed that Walmart had it for $6.99. I thought I'd give it a try.

I moved it from the freezer to the fridge in the morning and then took it out about an hour before I was putting it in the oven. It was thoroughly thawed by the time the oven hit 500 degrees.

Motorcity thawed

My oven reached 520 degrees and the pizza was cooking quite fast. After 7 minutes it looked like this:

Motorcity oven

11 minutes and it was done; make sure you keep an eye on it; the pizza goes from "nicely browned" to overdone in a matter of seconds. You want to catch it before it's too well done.

Motorcity cooked

I was hungry so I cut it into 6 pieces instead of 4 (pizza joke); it looked and smelled pretty good.

Motorcity cut

The key to the Detroit style pizza is the crispy crust; the pan they provide does a pretty good job of crisping the edges. The bread, however, wasn't very tasty.

1800 calories later, I'd had enough, paired with red wine.

Verdict

I'll give this pizza 3 stars; not bad but not nearly as good as the DiGiorno pan pizza. If I'm going to eat this much bread, it needs to be better bread than this.

Aldi Mama Cozzi's Crispy Pan Pepperoni

With the NY Giants playing a meaningful Sunday Night game for the first time in ages, I wanted to get a pizza. The plan was to get a real pizza; but I was in Aldi's on Friday and saw this crispy pan. I'd had a good experience with DiGiorno's pan pizza, so this was going to fit the bill.

Aldi pan pizza

I'm still on a diet and fitting in a pizza isn't easy; The last one I had was so bad I threw it out after 1 slice; that's one way to do it. I didn't think this one would duplicate that disaster. I'd have to go all day without eating.

Aldi pan nutrition

I really hate the way they represent the calories in pizza; 1/5th of a pizza. How the hell do you cut a 10" square pizza into 5 pieces? 2" x 10" strips? It's so stupid. 2050 calories for the whole pie.

Out of the box frozen it looks like this.

Aldi pan frozen

By dinner time, I'd had 192 calories on the day. Coffee and some snacks. I could go all out with wine and eat most of the pizza.

I moved it from the freezer to the fridge in the morning and by dinner time it was defrosted. It would take 1/2 hour to pre-heat the oven; I took the defrosted pizza out to allow it to get to room temperature before putting it in the oven. I also did some re-arranging:

Aldi pan defrosted

I removed some pepperoni and added some cheese to make 4 distinct quarters; I did this for a couple of reasons. I wanted to be able to compute the calories for each quarter. I added exactly 1 oz of mozzarella to 2 quarters and pepperoni to 1/2 of the pizza leaving 1 regular pepperoni slice, 1 regular cheese, and 1 of each with extra cheese. Adding extra cheese to a frozen pizza makes it a lot better for just 30 cents an once.

After 11 minutes in a 500 degree oven it looked like this:

Aldi crispy oven

It took about 14 minutes to fully cook. One nice thing about the pan pizzas is that they're easy to get out of the oven.

Aldi pan cooked

I didn't see much rise in the bread, nor did the edges of the bread look very crispy. Out of the pan, it looked like a block of bread with pizza stuff on top.

Aldi pan depanned

Cut into quarters and let it cool off a bit and I dug in.

Aldi pan cut

I ate the regular pepperoni slice first. The pepperoni was very mild; could hardly tell it was there. The bread was ok; better than the Detroit pan pizza, but not as good as DiGiorno's. Very little sauce and not much cheese. Not bad, but not inspiring either. The bread and the toppings didn't feel like they were one; like there was stuff on bread rather than a coherent pizza.

Aldi pan close

Even with extra cheese this pizza didn't make me want to blow up my diet. I had about 2 1/2 slices and left 189 grams of bread and 16 grams of cheese on the plate. Breaking out my slide rule; I computed that I ate 1550 calories, not counting the wine.

Verdict

I give this pizza a B-. Not terrible, but nothing you run home with to show your Mom and Dad either. It's ok tasting food; not as good as the Digiorno Pan Pizza by a wide margin. The edges weren't crispy enough. It just wasn't that good.

Walmart Marketside Extra Large Pepperoni

Day 64 of my strict calorie diet; where pizza doesnt really fit in. But I needed something from Walmart and every time I pass these pizzas I think about trying it. 1/2 a pizza is 1640 calories; I was sitting at 291 calories at 5pm (an omelet and black coffee); I don't eat the crusts so that would knock off 350 calories; for $6.16 I decided to give it a try.

Walmart pepperoni box

This pizza is exactly 16"; and I do mean exactly. Not like a random, floppy pie you get from a pizzeria. Something I didn't anticipate is that my pizza stone; and my pizza tools, seem to max out at 14". I wondered if it would fit in my oven.

Walmart pepperoni

It did, barely. But I warn you to check to make sure you have room in your oven (racks tend to have ridges) and a way to get it out of your oven. My peel was barely adequate.

As usual, I dismissed the instructions and fired up the oven to 500 degrees and dropped this on my pizza stone.

Walmart pepperoni oven

After 10 minutes in the oven it was almost ready. I've avoided buying these "fresh" refrigerated pizzas for a reason; they have to kill the yeast so there's no active yeast in these pizzas. Otherwise it would rise in the refrigerator. Yeast is dormant in a frozen pizza, and it can come back to life in your oven. Notice there was no rise on the edges with this pizza; it was like a flat disk with sauce and cheese on top.

It was done 2 minutes later.

Walmart pepperoni done

I cut it into quarters so I could manage the calorie count better. It was kind of hard to cut; very "crisp". Not a good sign for a pizza.

Walmart pepperoni cut2

After eating 1/2 a slice I decided this pizza wasn't worth the calories. The crust was hard and chewy; while the pepperoni was decent; there wasn't enough cheese to compensate for the thickish crust. It was like a pizza bagel; too much bread and not enough good stuff.

Conclusion

This was perhaps the worst of all the supermarket pizzas I've tried. Throwing 3/4 of a pizza in the garbage isn't a normal thing for me; but what I made instead was a whole lot better.

Freschetta Rising Crust Pepperoni

Freshetta box

In the midst of the Florida lockdown, frozen pizza takes on a greater importance, particularly if you don't cook. This pizza was $3.99 on sale. Take out at Cheesecake factory for 2 is $35.

The pizza comes shrink wrapped in thick plastic. What's good is that it makes it easy to get a thawed pizza out of the box.

Freschetta frozen

What's bad is that it's very hard to cut. You'll need sharp shears to cut this. I was sober when doing this, and it was very difficult.

Freschetta thawed

It took 50 minutes to heat the oven to 510 degrees. That's as high as it gets. .

Freschetta oven

After 7 minutes, it was getting quite stout. Not just the edges were rising, but the entire pizza.

Freschetta done

12 minutes and it's done. It slid right out of the oven onto the peel No sticking today.

Freschetta cut

From an appearance standpoint, it was a nice looking pizza. Maybe thicker than I expected, but the extra cheese was particularly gooey.

Freschetta close

I ate 1 regular slice and 1 extra cheese slice and threw the rest in the garbage. That should tell you something.

Verdict

There was very little I liked about this pizza. The bottom crust was like shoe leather (guessing, I've never eaten shoe leather). The sauce wasn't good and there wasn't much of it. And the pepperoni tasted funny. The crust was too chewy and tasteless. Despite the claim, I didn't find anything "Fresher" about this pizza compared to other frozen pizzas.

Overall, a real loser of a pizza, and a very disappointing meal.

Sam's Choice Rising Crust

I've had this pizza in my freezer for a while, but I haven't had much motivation to try it. With Homeland premiere on a Sunday night, I decided to fire it up.

Sams box

Another $5 "rising crust" pizza from Walmart, I figured this was another DiGiorno clone but it looked a bit different. Out of the box frozen, they all look like hell.

Sams frozen

I put it in the fridge in the morning and it was thawed by 9pm.

Sams thawed

Some extra cheese on 1/2 and in the oven. It takes 40 minutes for my oven to get to 500 degrees. Uh. Lucky I have a delay feature, so I can preheat while I'm out but it was still only 400 degrees when I got home.

Sams xtra

After 7 minutes it looked like this. Not quite done.

Sams oven

Another couple of minutes and I had a pizza.

Sams cooked

I let it cool a few minutes and cut it up. Overall a decent pizza, although the thickish crust wasn't ideal.

Sams slice

One thing I didn't like was the big slices of salami; I just didn't like the taste of them. The smaller cubes were ok and tasted like pepperoni, but I ended up peeling the big pieces off and discarding them.

Sams close

Conclusion

I think the Walmart's rising crust was better than this, although this wasn't bad for a frozen pizza. Nothing I'll ever be buying again; that's for certain.

DiGiorno Thin Crust Pepperoni

Publix seems to have the $5 DiGiorno special every week, so I'm kind of stuck on that for now. I wanted to try a thin crust pizza. They have 2; one is "Thin Crust" and one is "Pizzeria hand tossed". Im skeptical that DiGiorno is hand tossing pizzas, and once it's frozen, why is that important? I decided on the regular thin.

Digiorno thin box

I bought this on a whim and had it the same day. It went right from the bag into the refrigerator. It thaws a bit on the drive home, and by 8pm it was totally ready to cook.

Digiorno thin thawed

I evened out the pepperoni, and added some cheese to half of the pizza, as always. Have to maintain the control.

Digriorno thin extra

Into a 500 degreee oven; I checked on it after 8 minutes and it was just about ready. I didn't like that it was curling. dough shouldn't curl. What the hell is this stuff made of?

Digiorno thin oven

I let it cool for a few minutes. Pizza should be round unless it's in a pan.

Digiorno thin out

The crust wasn't crisp as the box said it should be. I don't really care for a crisp crust, but I wondered why it wasn't. I still don't know why it curled in the oven.

Digiorno thin cut

Not bad, but not really good either. This was nothing like pizzeria pizza. The crust was stiff; tasty stuff on bread. Like something you might get at a bar.

Verdict

For $5 you could feed 2 small kids an a not-too-hungry adult, but as a Sunday night treat this pizza fails to meet my minimum standards. The rising crust and Pan Pizza are both better than this. This should be the end of the DiGiorno series. Time to try something else.

DiGiorno Stuffed Crust Pizza

Another week, another $5 deal at Publix. Getting a $7.95 item for $5 is a pretty good deal, but I'd like to try something else at some point.

The stuffed crust pizza never interested me before; maybe because it's Little Ceasar's doing the advertising. But I'm running out of things to try.

Digiorno stuffed box

Gotta love the big font. I had this in my freezer for over a week. It wasn't exciting to me. But with Eli Manning back in the lineup on a Monday night, it was time to fire it up.

It looks just like most frozen pizzas out of the box.

Digiorno stuffed thawed

Extra cheese on half the pie and into the oven.

Digiorno stuffed xtra

This pizza looked very similar to the rising crust pizza in the oven; after 8 minutes it needed another minute or 2.

Digiorno stuffed oven

Not a bad looking pizza. The cheese wasn't as gooey as the rising crust.

Digiorno stuffed done

This pizza wasn't bad but I didn't care for the crust.

Digiorno stuffed cut

I particularly didn't like the stuffed crust. I expected some stretchy mozzarella, but this was something else. Not Ricotta.

Digiorno stuffed crust

Whatever it was, I didn't like it. A big NO on the stuffed crust.

Verdict

The stuffed crust didn't work for me; there's enough cheese on a pizza so that you don't need to stuff the crust with it. Plus it's not good cheese. You can spend your money more wisely than on this.

365 Thin Crust Pizza

I was in Whole Foods Market and they had 50% off frozen pizza for Prime members; a clear opportunity. Unfortunately, WFM has limited brands and most of them didn't seem interesting to me.

Wholefood pizza

I wasn't doing a cauliflower crust or gluten free pizza. They didn't had any of my target pies (my list is a secret), so I settled on something that didn't look half bad.

365pizza

$4.99 regular price. Can't go wrong for $2.50. Monday morning I took it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge; by 9p it was thawed.

365pizza thawed

Lots of pepperonli; I added cheese to half of the pizza. Extra cheese makes any pizza better.

365pizza extra

In the oven at 505 degrees. Does my oven even go up to 550? I never have the patience to wait.

365pizza oven

One of the biggest pizza disasters that can happen occurred with this pizza. It stuck to the stone. This is a very dangerous thing if you don't have the right tools, which I don't. The oven door is 500 degrees. You can't really be reaching in to dig the thing out. So you rip and pull and sacrifice whatever sticks.

365pizza done

Au-Right. Some calories saved. Not sure what happened. I cleaned the oven since the last pizza, but the racks and stone come out for that. I hope it's not a trend.

365pizza cut

This pizza was more like the frozen pizza I remember from long ago. A crisp crust; not bad tasting but very Mall Pizza like. Good tasting generally; not enough cheese on the regular side.

Verdict

For the $2.50 I paid for this I guess I can't complain, but this pizza is nothing more than a snack for kids. Not what I'm looking for when I'm in the mood for pizza.

Walmart's Three Meat Rising Crust

I had no intention of buying a Walmart's pizza. I was in the store looking to see if they carried brands I didn't find in other stores, and this one looked good on the box.

Walmart pizza box

Now supermarkets don't have their own pizza factories; they buy surplus from some pizza company, so it's probably very similar to something else. What got me to buy this was the price. $2.97. Yes, this pizza was less than what most places are charging for a slice.

As usual, I broke the rules and defrosted it in the refrigerator. I took it out of the freezer at about 11am and it was defrosted by 8pm.

One thing about defrosting the pizza first; the dough is pretty flimsy, so getting it out of the plastic without messing up the pizza is challenging. I had to cut all around it a and slide it off onto a peel.

Walmart pizza plastic

Not a bad looking pie. Not the best sausage but lots of pepperoni. I'm not sure what the "3rd" meat was.

Walmart pizza raw

Something unexpected was the disclaimer on the box:

Walmart pizza words

The beef is made from chicken. That's a new one.

I added extra cheese to half of the pizza just in case it needed it. Adding some cheese to a $3 pizza seems like an ok thing to do.

Walmart pizza extra

I preheated the oven and put the pizza in at 515 degrees. 7 minutes later (more or less) the pizza was done.

Walmart pizza done

Notice this looks nothing like the pizza on the box. I went a bit well done with this; I checked it every 30 seconds or so and at no time did it look like the pizza on the box.

I let it sit for about 5 minutes and then cut it.

Walmart pizza cut

Another few minutes until it was safe to eat without burning my mouth and I was eating. This was a pretty good pizza. Good tasting sauce. The pepperoni wasn't oily at all.

Walmart slice

The crust is somewhat thick, but it was a good tasting crust. Totally edible to the edges. Both the extra cheese and the regular was good.

Verdict

From a pure taste standpoint, this pizza was better than a lot of $18 takeout pizzas I've gotten around Fort Lauderdale. Ideally I prefer a thinner crust, but when you get the sauce right, the pizza works. I had this with a $39 Barbaresco; kind of ironic to drink good wine with a $2.97 pizza.

Peps Taproom Double

Peps 1

I did a bit of research before I selected my first pie, but I have to admit that fact that this was on sale at Winn Dixie was the straw that broke the camel's back. $6.99.

Now all of these frozen pizzas tell you not to thaw them; to put them in the oven rock solid frozen and bake them for a half hour. Nonsense I say. Thaw the pizza first; just make sure you thaw it in the refrigerator and not at room temperature. If you put the frozen pizza in the fridge at 9am it will be thawed by 8pm.

Peps 2

Then I heated the oven to 550 degrees, which is as high as my oven goes. It will take 1/2 hour to heat up to 500+, so plan ahead. I have a pizza stone in my oven; this pie went right on the stone. Be careful because 550 degrees is really hot.

Peps 3

I didn't time it but I think it took about 6 or 7 minutes. Cook it until the cheese starts to brown and get all bubbly. You'll also need a pizza peel or something to get the pie out of the oven. Again, the oven is REALLY hot, so you want to get it out in 1 piece without burning yourself.

Peps 4

I think the "double" is double cheese. This pizza had a lot of cheese.

Peps 5

The Verdict

The sausage was lousy, and the crust was very frozen pizza-ish. Maybe like something you'd expect to get at a bar. The fresh mozzarella was largely contrived; not enough sauce. This pizza is a C at best.

Outsider's Detroit Pizza: Genoa Salami and Block Cheese

Next up was the Detroit style pizza from the Outsider's. Their web site says you can get these at Target or Winn Dixie, but my local Winn Dixie didn't have any of them. Target had all of them; and glory be, they were on sale! $6.99 for a pizza. They have bacon and BBQ and 3 cheese options; I went for the Genoa and block cheese. Genoa is less spicy than pepperoni but I thought maybe it would work.

Outsiders detroit

The instructions say very clearly not to thaw before cooking:

Outsiders instructions

So I put it in the fridge the night before and so it would be thawed the next day. Ever hear of anyone getting sick from eating a pizza right out of the oven?

It looked pretty good. They have a special plastic pan that crisps up the crust Detroit-style.

Outsiders thawed

I heated the oven to 550 degrees and put the pie in the oven. One thing if you thaw it; I didn't really know how long it would take to cook. So I had to check on it regularly. I didn't clock it but I think it took about 10 minutes.

Outsiders done

Not bad looking. I let it cool for about 15 minutes then slid it out of the container and cut it up.

Outsiders cut

The point of Detroit pizza is the crispy crust.

Outsiders done1

The description on the box says that this is a spicy sauce, but it's not spicy. It's actually not a bad tasting sauce and cheese. But there's not enough of it; it's a very thin layer.

Outsiders bread

So the pizza comes off as being too "bready". And the bread isn't all that tasty. The crispy edges were good; but it's too much bread and not enough pizza.

The Verdict

The thing with bready pizza is that it's easy to make yourself; just push a dough ball into a pan and you have a pizza. Stretching dough into an 18" disk is hard to do. While this pizza had good tasting sauce and cheese, it was just too much tasteless bread for me to buy again.

Sams close

Comment Policy Add Comment
Eddie
Reply
This site has saved me a bundle; not to mention a multitude or ruined evenings!
Al C
Reply
Why do you defrost when the directions say not to? Is this a secret move to make it taste better?
Truth teller
Reply
You're lying to yourself if you think the backwater companies who make these things have any idea about how to cook an authentic slice. Those directions are #fakenews.
Administrator
Reply
It just makes sense to me to cook it the way a real pizza is made. You don't throw a frozen steak or a frozen turkey in the oven. Thawing it makes it more difficult to handle, easier to burn the pizza (and yourself), and you have to have a pizza stone or pan because you can't just throw it on a rack. You really have to keep an eye on it because it can go from done to burned in 20 seconds at 550 degrees.

Most say that it's a food safety issue, but you're killing off any bacteria cooking it at high temperature so I'm not buying that. Notice the Detroit pizza says "cook it through to 165 degrees". Like I'm going to stick a thermometer in a pizza?

It could be that yeast could be activated if you thaw at room temperature or leave it thawed too long in the fridge. If you cook it same day and thaw in the fridge you won't get much yeast activity at 38 degrees for a couple of hours.

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