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Taste Testing the Best Frozen Pizza

In the cheese pizza category, panelists in our blind taste test preferred Freschetta 4-Cheese Medley ($5.99 for 26.11 ounces, or 23 cents an ounce), gravitating toward its "nice tomato flavor" and crust with "decent firmness." In second place: Trader Giotto's Pizza 4 Formaggi ($3.99 for 13.4 ounces, or 30 cents an ounce) from the specialty supermarket Trader Joe's. It achieves a "decent balance between sauce, cheese, and dough," according to the tasters.

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They did not appreciate Totino's Pizza ($1 for 9.8 ounces, or 10 cents an ounce), saying it tasted "very odd," somewhat like "cardboard."

The tasting panel named Freschetta Signature Pepperoni ($5.99 for 27.35 ounces, or 22 cents an ounce) the top frozen pizza in the pepperoni bracket and gave it the highest score overall for its "flavorful sauce," "good crust," and "spicy pepperoni." DiGiorno Half & Half ($5 for 30 ounces, or 17 cents an ounce) didn't impress the panel with its cheese half but made our list on the strength of its pepperoni and "tangy sauce." Last on the scorecard again, Totino's Party Pizza ($1 for 9.8 ounces, or 10 cents an ounce) drew criticism in the pepperoni category for "stale spices" and an overall "fake" taste.

The pizzas were purchased from suburban supermarkets outside a large metro area; prices may vary elsewhere. We've included the price per ounce because some of the test products were individual pizzas and others were big enough to feed a family. Regardless they all cost less than $6, compared with closer to $10 for a full-size pizza from a specialty brand such as Amy's and more for a premium take-and-bake pie.

Each pizza was baked in a standard, non-convection oven according to the instructions on the box. The directions called for the pizzas to be placed directly on the top oven rack, rather than on a baking sheet or pizza stone. Samples were set out on plain paper plates, marked only by a reference number or letter. This was designed to ensure that tasters didn't know which brands they were eating and could form unbiased conclusions about the best frozen pizzas, although some panelists managed to identify go-to brands simply by look or smell.

Panelists graded the pizzas based on appearance, aroma, taste, and texture. Taste, of course, was the biggest determinant of how each product fared. Smell and texture can also make or break a food's appeal, while appearance seemed worth noting but didn't turn out to have much effect on the outcome.

Allowing that these are largely subjective measures, our tasters tried to be as objective as possible. Some even gave personal favorites low scores, recognizing that their preferences were based mainly on nostalgia. They rated the pizza samples on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best. They were also asked if they would buy and eat each pie again. Some panelists gave the frozen pizzas low scores across the board, expressing a general dislike for cook-at-home pies. Although none of the test brands scored higher than an average of 3.7 out of 5, the top frozen pizzas and the duds were indisputable.

Review continues below
Cheap Frozen Pizzas We Tested
Brand Price Ounces Price Per Oz.
CHEESE PIZZA
Freschetta 4-Cheese Medley $5.99 26.11 $0.23
Red Baron Classic Crust 4 Cheese $5.99 21.06 $0.28
Totino's Party Pizza (Cheese) $1.00 9.8 $0.10
Trader Giotto's Pizza 4 Formaggi $3.99 13.4 $0.30
PEPPERONI PIZZA
Freschetta Signature Pepperoni $5.99 27.35 $0.22
Tony's Crispy Crust (Pepperoni) $1.19 7.12 $0.17
Totino's Party Pizza (Pepperoni) $1.00 10.2 $0.10
Trader Joe's Deep Dish Pepperoni $3.99 16.5 $0.24
COMBINATION
DiGiorno Half & Half $5.00 30 $0.17
Safeway Select Half Pepperoni & Half Cheese $4.99 28.7 $0.17

by Gina Briles (Google+ Profile)

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Filed in: Dining, Food, Super Bowl.
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