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Frozen pizza

Frozen pizza buying guide

Last updated: August 2013
Getting started

Getting started

Sure, it's convenient--and cheaper than a pizzeria. But can frozen pizza truly satisfy anyone other than undiscriminating kids? Yes, according to our latest taste test of frozen cheese pies.

There's room for improvement among frozen pizza brands, as no pies were excellent. But half the pies in our Ratings were very good. Home Run Inn, sold in more than 20 states, was rated Very Good and the cheese version is tastier than deep dish and original cheese pizzas from Domino's and Pizza Hut. Red Baron pizza was also rated as Very Good and a CR best buy.

How we tested

We bought and baked more than 100 pies and cut them into same-sized pieces. We chose cheese pizza because it's among the most popular types, according to the National Frozen Pizza Institute, a trade organization. Our seven trained taste testers tasted each brand three times in an order designed to eliminate bias.

Testers didn't know which pizzas they were tasting; all samples were coded with three-digit numbers. (We don't use two-digit codes because they can introduce bias. For example, a tester whose ex-spouse's birthday is on the 14th or whose favorite sports figure wears No. 14 might unwittingly grade Sample No. 14 more harshly or favorably than other samples.)

Tasters evaluated the crust, cheese, and sauce separately and also judged the overall quality of each pie. The tasters evaluated dozens of attributes, including the crispiness of the crust, the stretchiness of the cheese, and how fresh the sauce tasted.

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

We rate nutrition

It's pizza, remember, so don't expect miracles. Brands ranged from fair to very good for nutrition.For most of the products, the serving size is one individual-sized pizza. But those serving sizes varied widely,(from 4 oz per pie to 8.4 oz per pie). So make sure you check the labels to see serving size as well as information on calories, fat, and other nutrients. Nutrition rating is based on calories per gram of food, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, sugars, iron, calcium, and dietary fiber, as indicated on package labels. Desired nutrient levels are based on federal dietary guidelines. Price is approximate retail.

Nutrition rating is based on calories per gram of food, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, sugars, iron, calcium, and dietary fiber, as indicated on package labels. Desired nutrient levels are based on federal dietary guidelines. Price is approximate retail.

Frozen pizza secrets

  • Don't thaw the pizza before you cook it.
  • Use a hot oven. Wait until it reaches the recommended temperature before putting in the pie.
  • If the manufacturer lists one set of directions as "recommended" or "for best results," use that method. Otherwise, if given a choice between microwave or oven, we recommending using a conventional oven.
  • For a crispier crust, bake pizza directly on the oven rack. Using a cookie sheet (especially if the edges of the pizza hang off) can make the crust cook unevenly.
  • For the cleanest slices, use a pizza cutter. To reheat leftovers, put slices in a frying pan on medium heat until the cheese starts to melt.
   

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