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As a food writer and lover, I had certain expectations when I entered parenthood. At the time, I lived in Brooklyn, one of the world’s pizza destinations. On a given pizza night, my husband, Tony, and I would enter into a prolonged discussion about whether we were more in the mood for Pizza Secret, Sal’s Pizzeria, Public Display of Affection, or another solid option on the long list of unquestionably delicious pies. It was hard to go wrong. We were pizza snobs.
Then everything changed. After our first baby was born, we moved to a small town in New Jersey. We still have a few good pizza options, but the list is much shorter. We now have two hungry and surprisingly discerning pizza lovers: Simone is almost four and Julius just turned two. And sometimes we need a quick, foolproof way to feed them and ourselves, which has led to another recent change: a newfound appreciation for the wonders of frozen pizza. Once a skeptic, I’m now a convert to the ease as well as the quality of frozen pizza, and I made it my mission to find the absolute best.
Slowly but surely, my family of four tasted our way through almost 20 pies. (Thank you, family!) Even my always-game-for-pizza two-year-old rejected the cardboard crusts and plasticky cheese of the brands we won’t be buying again. (Though we did feed those pieces to our happy dog under the table.)
There are lots of pizza variations these days, like gluten-free pies and cauliflower crusts. For this tasting, we stayed classic. As we baked off each pie (no air fryer here), I learned that frozen pizza is at its best right out of the oven, piping hot (and cooled down for a few minutes for kid palates). They lose their crispness and get sad and soggy as time goes by — they don’t make for the best leftovers.
These six pizzas stood out among the crowd. They were satisfying enough that we’re happy to stock them in our house for when we need something hot, cheesy, and, yes, very tasty.
Best Nostalgic Pick: Tony's Cheese Pizza
My husband said, “This tastes like the frozen pizza of my childhood.” It’s not perfect — we found the sauce overly sweet with a bit of a “manufactured tang” (his words). But our kids asked for more. We all agreed that the crust was pleasantly crispy and the cheese — real mozzarella — was melty, mild, and abundant. This is also a great value pie at less than $4. The brand has been around since 1960 and still delivers on that old-school frozen pizza vibe.
Best Thin Crust: DiGiorno Pizzeria Thin Hand Tossed Margherita Frozen Pizza
My daughter proclaimed the golden-brown crust “crispy and crunchy and good.” We were all fans of its crackling exterior, which yielded to just the right amount of softness inside. It provided the ideal base for toppings that didn’t taste like they came from the freezer: sweet chunks of tomato, fragrant basil, and extra-virgin olive oil. We also liked the blend of Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago cheeses.
Best Sauce: Newman's Own Margherita Stone-Fired Crust Pizza
Frozen pizza sauce can be cloyingly sweet. In contrast, the San Marzano sauce on Newman’s Own tasted bright, fresh, and full of snappy, rich flavor. These pizzas are stone-fired in Italy; we found the texture to be a little less heavy than some others. (I recommend this pizza for lunch, with a pile of greens and a drizzle of EVOO on top if you’re feeling fancy.) Bonus: 100% of the profits go to help kids through Newman's Own Foundation, which works on a wide range of projects — including improving nutrition in schools and working toward food justice for Indigenous communities in the U.S.
Kid Pick: Amy's Cheese Pizza
Made with organic tomatoes and part-skim mozzarella cheese, this is the pie that Simone and Julius declared had “winded” (Simone for “won”). It’s a classic pizza that won’t deter kids with any pesky flecks of basil, etc. Even though it’s simple, it’s delicious: mild, balanced, and satisfying. The bright, tomato-y flavor of the sauce shines through. One note: The folks at Amy’s could be a little more generous with the cheese.
Best Cheese Experience: Red Baron Brick Oven Crust Cheese-Trio Pizza
On the more affordable end of the frozen pizza spectrum, this crowd-pleaser stood out for its gooey, rich cheese. The blend of mozzarella, provolone, and Parmesan delivers both in terms of its oomph and depth as well as its textbook silkiness. It has a softer crust, which got beautifully crispy around the edges. It’s also sprinkled with parsley, which Simone found questionable and we adults decided tasted like nothing much at all.
All-Around Winner: Rao's Five Cheese Frozen Pizza
“This is by far the best,” Tony reported. He especially appreciated the “light yet crispy dough, which tastes the closest to fresh-baked” of the dozens we tried. We loved the savory, umami-rich blend of whole-milk mozzarella, whole milk provolone, fontina, Romano, and Parmesan. This pie was a few dollars pricier than many of the other picks, but you can taste the difference. I’m going to stash these in my freezer going forward.
Photographer: Natassja Ebert
Food Styling: Mary Rupp
Art Direction: Sarah Ceniceros Gomez