In case you didn’t read the update on the best frozen pepperoni pizza conducted by Cook’s Country, here’s the skinny—though that might not be the best word to use in describing pizza. Jack Bishop and Christopher Kimball lined up seven pizzas for their test panel and viewing audience. Unlike some of today’s political contests, the Italian pie match up had an undisputed winner. Read on. . . .
Pepperoni Pizza Contenders
1. Di Giorno Pizzeria Primo Pepperoni
2. Freschetta Brick Oven Crust Pepperoni and Italian Style Cheese
3. Red Baron Fire Baked Pepperoni Pizza
4. Tombstone Original Pepperoni Pizza
5. Totino’s Party Pizza Classic Pepperoni
6. Jack’s Original Pepperoni Pizza
7. California Pizza Kitchen Crispy Thin Crust Signature Pepperoni
Cheese: Of the group, tasters found four pies had the traditional creamy mozzarella taste. But one had a smoked Gouda flavor and another—one they labeled “prison pizza”—used fake cheese.
Tomato Sauce: Sauces varied even more. Some were overly sweet; others had more tang.
Crust: The pie base was a crucial element in determining a favorite. Some were as thin as crackers and had the feel of limp cardboard. Testers preferred the newer artisanal-style crusts because they seemed to hold the toppings more like a store-baked pizza. Those that had the most char marks on the underside of the pizza were preferred to those with pale underpinnings. Obviously, a little pre-cooking of the crust helped the taste and structure.
Oven Time and Temp: Cooking temperatures in the home oven made a difference, too. Those baked at lower temps for a longer time outranked those cooked hotter and faster.
Cost: As to price, as usual, you get what you pay for. The winner was twice the cost of the bottom-ranked pizza.
So who was the winner? (Drum roll!) DiGiorno Pizzeria Primo Pepperoni. DiGiorno was picked by the test panel, audience and Christopher Kimball for its crispy and airy crust, pizzeria-like taste, and its zesty, balanced sauce.
Second place went to Freschetta Brick Oven Crust Pepperoni and Italian Style Cheese for being smoky, porky, earthy and crisp. (Even so, Kimball found the pie slice limp and unappealing and seemed surprised that others had ranked it so highly.)
Third place honors went to Red Baron Fire Baked Pepperoni for being rich and spicy with a tender, crispy crust.
Tombstone was recommended with reservations (too soggy, bready crust) and the last three pizzas on the list were not recommended.
So there you have it from those who test such things. I rarely eat pizza, but when I do, most often it’s one from Pi Pizzeria. At the farm we make our own and cook it in the outdoor cob oven. In the unlikely event I ever find room in my condo freezer for a pizza, having read this study, I’ll know what to look for in the pizza aisle.