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We tested 4 major frozen pizza brands to see which was worth your money

INSIDER logoINSIDER 3/14/2017 feedback@thisisinsider.com (Kim Renfro)


DiGiorno 6 Frozen Cheese Pizza Taste Test © Provided by Business Insider Inc DiGiorno 6 Frozen Cheese Pizza Taste Test

The INSIDER Summary:

  • We tested four national brands of frozen cheese pizza.
  • The contenders were Tombstone, DiGiorno, Red Baron, and Freschetta. 
  • DiGiorno was the best, but Tombstone was a close second if you want a cheaper pizza with crispy thin crust.

Frozen pizzas can be found in every grocery store, but which should you choose when you're hankering for a slice? 

As part of an ongoing series called INSIDER Test Kitchen (previously we've done ground-breaking chocolate chip cookie experiments) we compared national frozen pizza brands to see which is worth your money.

We purchased four brands: Tombstone, DiGiorno, Red Baron, and Freschetta.

First up: Tombstone

Tombstone frozen pizza side by side © Provided by Business Insider Inc Tombstone frozen pizza side by side

Tombstone's packaging was the most minimal of all the brands. While the the others came wrapped in plastic and then put into a box, Tombstone kept it simple, with just plastic and a round piece of cardboard beneath the pizza. We appreciate the minimalist approach to packaging (yay environment).

We followed the instructions for baking, and awaited the cheesy goodness.

Baking instructions: 

- Preheat oven to 400°

- Remove pizza from overwrap and cardboard

- Place pizza directly on center oven rack

- Bake pizza for 14 to 16 minutes

After about 14 minutes, the Tombstone 'za looked ready to go. The cheese was melty and the crust was an appealing shade of golden brown, but there was an unexpected flaw:

Tombstone cheese pizza curled edges © Provided by Business Insider Inc Tombstone cheese pizza curled edges

Inexplicably, the pizza had curled upwards on three sides. Obviously, this had no impact on the taste of the pizza, and once it was cut into slices the pizza laid perfectly flat again.

But it was a weird side effect of the baking, and we feel like future Tombstone customers should be warned that this may happen (lest you believe that your oven is suddenly performing pizza voodoo or that your cooking skills are so minimal that even a frozen pizza won't behave itself on your watch).

Tombstone Pizza cheese pull © Provided by Business Insider Inc Tombstone Pizza cheese pull

The gooey cheese was stringy and oozing — just what you want from a fresh slice of pizza. Tombstone's "original" pizza boasted a blend of five cheeses: mozzarella, cheddar, Parmesan, asiago, and Romano. 

Tombstone 20 Frozen Cheese Pizza Taste Test © Provided by Business Insider Inc Tombstone 20 Frozen Cheese Pizza Taste Test

This classic blend worked really well on the pizza, providing the right melting texture as well as a bold cheese flavor. The super thin crust was very crispy and made for a lot of satisfying crunching (think audible chewing noises), though its crispiness meant it was a tad on the dry side.

Next up: DiGiorno

DiGiorno Cheese pizza frozen side by side © Provided by Business Insider Inc DiGiorno Cheese pizza frozen side by side

The DiGiorno pizza came in plastic wrap and a box, and only had four cheeses instead of five. Though the front of the box didn't reveal which cheeses were in the blend, the ingredients on the back included mozzarella, Parmesan, asiago, and Romano (so everything Tombstone had except for the cheddar).

Baking instructions: 

- Preheat oven to 400°

- Remove pizza from freshness wrap and cardboard

- Place pizza directly on center oven rack

- Bake 19 to 22 minutes

DiGiorno baked Frozen Cheese Pizza Taste Test © Provided by Business Insider Inc DiGiorno baked Frozen Cheese Pizza Taste Test

DiGiorno's rising crust lived up to its advertising — the golden edges were puffed up and covered in slightly burnt cheese (which everyone knows is the key to delicious bites of pizza or grilled cheese or mac 'n cheese. Anything with cheese and carbs, really).

This pizza was thick enough that the bottom of the pie was crispy, but the interior was still fluffy and soft. The four cheeses were melted to an ideal consistency, and the sauce was not too sweet or acidic. 

Next pizza: Red Baron

Red Baron box and unboxed side by side frozen pizza taste test © Provided by Business Insider Inc Red Baron box and unboxed side by side frozen pizza taste test

The Red Baron was another four-cheese pizza, but this one was a blend of mozzarella, cheddar, provolone, and Parmesan. Its thin crust was similar to the Tombstone. We popped it into the oven, and waited.

Baking instructions: 

- Preheat oven to 400°

- Place pizza directly on oven rack

- Bake 18 to 21 minutes

Red Baron 6 Frozen Cheese Pizza Taste Test © Provided by Business Insider Inc Red Baron 6 Frozen Cheese Pizza Taste Test

Yes, we know — this one got a little burned around the edges. But (in our defense!) the pizza was in the oven for the suggested amount of time and the cheese still wasn't fully melted in the middle. 

Red Baron slice of pizza frozen taste test © Provided by Business Insider Inc Red Baron slice of pizza frozen taste test

We blame the Baron.

Just like Tombstone, this pizza was super thin and crispy. But unlike Tombstone, the cheese didn't have the satisfying gooey texture.

Final pizza: Freschetta

Freschette Boxed and unboxed side by side © Provided by Business Insider Inc Freschette Boxed and unboxed side by side

Once again, Freschetta promised a four-cheese "medley" of mozzarella, white cheddar, provolone, and Parmesan. There was also clearly some herb component sprinkled on top — likely oregano and/or parsley. But unlike its companion pizzas, this one was supposed to be baked on a pizza pan or sheet pan in the oven.

Baking instructions: 

- Preheat oven to 400°

- Place pizza directly on a pizza pan on center rack

- Bake 19 to 23 minutes

Freschetta Baked pizza uncut Frozen Pizza taste test © Provided by Business Insider Inc Freschetta Baked pizza uncut Frozen Pizza taste test

Similar to DiGiorno, the Freschetta cheese pizza was super doughy and had a thick crust. But something about this cheese blend made the overall pie less gooey. Plus we didn't care too much for the added herbs and the tangy red sauce — the taste came off as more fake and overly processed.

THE VERDICT

DiGiorno was by far the best tasting frozen pizza with the most satisfying cheesiness and overall flavor.

Frozen pizza taste test comparison 3x4 © Provided by Business Insider Inc Frozen pizza taste test comparison 3x4

DiGiorno took the cake. Uh, we mean, pie?

Here's the thing — no frozen pizza will be as good as a fresh New York slice or getting delivery from your local pizzeria. But DiGiorno hits all the most important notes you need for a pizza. It's doughy, and therefore more filling, and it also has a superior cheese blend in a large enough quantity that you get a big melty slice every time. 

Plus all that extra cheese that baked onto the edges of the crust was just heavenly.

DiGiorno 4 Frozen Cheese Pizza Taste Test © Provided by Business Insider Inc DiGiorno 4 Frozen Cheese Pizza Taste Test

Tombstone was a close second, but it's a vastly different pizza-eating experience. The super thin crust meant it was crispy, and less filling if you're looking for a whole meal. But the taste and cheese factor were on point.

Freschetta came in third. We didn't love the flavor as much, but appreciated how doughy it was and the added effort of herbs (even if they tasted a little artificial).

Sorry Red Baron — between the confusing cook time and the super thin crust without the cheese factor, this just wasn't a pizza we'd go back to again and again. 

So next time you're picking up frozen pizzas for a party or just looking for a quick and (ch)easy meal, trust us and go with DiGiorno. It's definitely not delivery, but it's not frozen disappointment in a box either.

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