Discussion: Cheap vs Authentic Frozen Pizza

Not all frozen pizzas are created equal, as we saw from our frozen pizza discussion a few months ago. A few brands in particular stand out to me in their efforts to make their pizza taste as close to fresh and “real” as possible. DiGiorno, with their claim of delivery pizza-quality and new line of pizzeria! restaurant-quality pizzas, is the prime example.DiGiorno pizzeriaThen there’s the other half of the frozen pizza spectrum – the half that includes Mama Celeste, Jack’s, Orv’s and Totino’s. These brands don’t claim to be anything other than what they are: cheap, satisfying, fake pizza.primo_pepperoni__1365355012_67.233.234.38What do you think? Do some frozen pizza brands accept their fate as low-quality grub, or do all of them try to elevate themselves? Do you think they succeed when they shoot for restaurant quality? Can you think of any classic examples of ultra-cheap frozen pizza? What about high-quality? Tell us what you think.

43 comments on “Discussion: Cheap vs Authentic Frozen Pizza

  1. Mike ELLIS says:


  2. Alex K. says:

    I don’t know why I feel like I’m the only person that absolutely hates frozen pizza. DiGiorno’s crust has a fishy taste, Tombstone tastes like salty blood, and Totino’s and all of those other brands are just as bad. Freschetta is the only frozen pizza I find tolerable, but even that’s nowhere near as good as any pizza chain.

    • Robert says:

      Well, you didn’t name any “good” frozen pizza like Home Run Inn or Reggio’s. The best “mainstream” I’ve ever had was the Freschetta brick oven – not their doughy thick crap, the paper thin stuff. That, in 5 cheese variety, was great.

  3. Dave says:

    I used to love Totino’s as a kid in the ’70s, but can no longer eat it, because of a). “mechanically separated chicken” in the pepperoni (a.k.a. “pink slime”), and the imitation cheese. They should have just kept the real cheese and raised the price a little, rather than cut corners. Used to love it. Now I hate it. Check out the ingredients of other store bought pizzas as well. Some use pink slime, others don’t.

    One recommended option to try is to find a high-quality local pizzeria joint, one that offers specials on particular days, or has great coupons. Try not to go with a national chain, because the quality of the ingredients are likely to be fresher and tastier with a more localized chain. One in my town offers “buy one, get one pizza free” on Mondays & Tuesdays, if ordered by website, regardless of toppings. So if I order 2 16″ pizzas with several toppings each, the grand total is like $24 delivered (with tip!). One-third of one of these pizzas costs about $4 (if you figure on six-thirds total between the two pizzas), and one-third has about the same amount of food you’ll get from a whole store-bought pizza, big difference being that the pizzeria pizza is FRESH, with FRESH ingredients, minimal (if any) processing, and tastes a whole heck of a lot better than store-bought. Eat one-third of a pizza, and have plenty left to put in the freezer for the rest of the week. Yeah, that’s a lot of pizza to get through, but if you don’t mind having a “pizza eating week”, with FRESH ingredients, and little to no processing, then go for it from time to time. Just keep an eye on the ‘ol waistline!

  4. Ryan says:

    I hate to say this, but I really enjoy Red Barron as my #1 frozen pizza choice. A close second is CPK (BBQ Chicken pizza) I’m not really a fan of DiGiorno because the ad is right, it’s not delivery, you can really tell that right off the bat.

  5. Jeff says:

    Only frozen pizza I’ll consider buying is Homerun Inn. Delicious.

  6. Raiders757 says:

    I’ll take a cheap Totino’s Party Pizza over all the frozen pizzas trying to mimic the real deal. I’ve always come away disappointed when I eat the higher end frozen brands. I just as well prefer to pay five dollars more and go pick up a real mom and pop shop pie instead of wasting time with a frozen pizza trying to be more than it can ever be.

  7. Stephen says:

    Home run inn…enough said

  8. Scrape says:

    Mama Cozzi’s Rising Crust Pepperoni from Aldi. I always keep one in the freezer ready to go. Its fills both part of the equasion perfectly; it is cheap AND good. It is less “spicy” than the DiGiorno and has better cheese and crust than pretty much anything else I’ve tried. They also have a fresh variery in the coolers and various other types of frozen, but I like the rising crust variety. The specialties they have on rotation are fantastic, especially their Margherita cut mozzarella and diced tomatoes on a thin crust. The deep dish is also very good when they have it. IMHO, it is the best frozen pie you can get anywhere.

  9. Mike says:

    Papa Murphys. With coupons, it’s not much more then a frozen pizza and is a thousand times better.

  10. Royal says:

    Seriously, it’s all about the Totino’s for me. It’s either A) Eat the dirt-cheap approximation of what humans call “pizza” that costs a dollar, or B) Order a damn pizza.

  11. Rusty Shackleford says:

    I’ve tried DiGiorno, Home Run Inn, Freschetta, a lot of the cheapo ones, but the only real frozen pizza I’ve taking a lasting liking to is Red Baron. Not sure which spectrum of frozen pizza they would fall on though. Sometimes they make attempts to do fancy stuff like DiGiorno, but I wouldn’t call them premium frozen pizzas.

  12. Dustin says:

    I’m partial to DiGiorno or Freschetta. They’ve just got it. Everyone raves about Totino’s being amazing for the price and I can’t disagree hard enough. I’d rather eat the cardboard box the thing came in.

    • TJ says:

      I agree… Totino’s has always been by far the worst to me. Even the other really cheap frozen pizzas are way better. I’m surprised so many dislike DiGiorno on here… they are overpriced sometimes but when on sale you can’t go wrong. If I want something medium priced, Tombstone and Red Baron are pretty good too.

    • Raiders757 says:

      The whole popularity Totino’s, and the likes of, is that “higher end” frozen pizzas don’t raise the bar much higher, so they hardly justify the extra expense. I agree with Royal. Go cheap, or order the real deal.

      DiGiorno and lot of other “rising crust” frozen pizzas taste like the leftover yeast used in the process of making beer. They just aren’t THAT good, and are barley any better than the cheap options. Might as well eat a Totino’s Party Pizza, Mama Celeste, or Roma’s and save your money. To each their own though. You can have a slice of nasty yeasty DiGiorno’s while I enjoy my cardboard pizza and save six or seven bucks in the process. I can use that towards my next pizza purchase from a local mom and pop shop. 🙂

  13. Anne Sutton says:

    Those Ellio’s pizzas are mega cheap-o….reminiscent of the old style type I got in my school cafeteria in the 80s. Even their four cheese variety barely has any cheese on it. Just to make it bearable, you have to really throw on extra cheese and toppings. Cheap to the max.

  14. Jessica Johnson says:

    I loved the Homerun Inn Deep Dish frozen pizzas, but none of the grocery stores in my area sell it anymore. Best frozen pizza I’ve ever eaten! This is probably more high-end, because I remember it being kind of expensive.
    I also like California Pizza Kitchen’s BBQ Chicken Pizza. This is a more mid-priced frozen pizza.
    My boyfriend really loves Totino’s combination pizzas, but I think that’s just because they are so cheap. I can’t eat any but the cheese, and even then I’d rather just make my own pizza on pita bread than eat it.
    If we had a really good NY pizza place in my area I would eat restaurant pizza more often, but the price is very expensive. I don’t really like Papa John’s or Domino’s pizza. Pizza Hut’s is okay, but I just prefer New York Style.

  15. Mattitude says:

    Sounds like you guys are rehashing an old article about pizza that I have read before

  16. jen says:

    My favorite cheapie is Mr. P’s. As far as upscale, I think of CPK and Puck’s.. kind of expensive..but good.

  17. toki wartooth says:

    Frozen pizza is a specialty of mine. Being poor, I usually set a 7$ cap on frozen pizzas. This 7$ is 2 meals. I’m in to the new red Barron pizzas, they run 5$, I’ve seen 3 for 12 which is an amazing deal. I taste spinach in their sauce, and the cheese actually covers the thing. Oddly non skimpy for the price.

    Sometimes home run in drops to 6.99, and that is with out a doubt the best. So much butter in that crust, nom. If they are 9$ I usually resist.

    I don’t do digornio because I find the crust subpar and I avoid store brand frozen pizza like the plague. I’m not 7 anymore…..Toombstone is also done too. Oddly oily.

  18. CulinaryZerg says:

    I became a big-time pizza lover after taking 1 too many trips to NYC. Now I can’t enjoy chain pizza except Papa Murphys.

    As far as frozen, I agree with Totinos because it’s not trying to approximate real pizza in any way, but is a distinct fried cheese pastry of it’s own.

    If you held a gun to my head, I’d eat Home Run pizza or Amy’s pizzas (quite good despite no meat options).

  19. Sascha says:

    I love me some Totino’s, and Aldi’s and Target make some quality pizzas, but no, I would always prefer a cheapo from Little Caesar’s or Hungry Howie’s or Happy’s over anything out of the freezer aisle.

  20. MR.Gnarly says:

    DiGiorno sucks!Looks like takeout,taste like the box.

  21. Ray180 says:

    After the last frozen pizza discussion, I bought several different brands of the lower tier (under $5) to see which I liked best and Tombstone came out on top for me. I haven’t tried the ones from Aldi yet so perhaps I need to continue my research.

    I’d love to try Home Run Inn, if only I could find it.

  22. Richard says:

    Palermo FROZEN pizza!!!

  23. OFP says:

    I’m not a big fan of Totinos or Tony’s, the taste just isn’t there. I think I have to agree with the Home Run Inn folks, it’s a great frozen pizza, but it’s too expensive.

    Target makes a great frozen or take and bake…

    But for my money, I’ll usually hit up Pappa Murphy’s.

  24. Jonathan Wayne says:

    I have a thing for the super cheap Totinos pizza. The best is the pepperoni one although plain cheese is pretty good too. I experimented one day and drizzled a very light amount of honey onto the pizza before putting it in the oven and it is pretty amazing.

    If I am spending more then the Red Baron French bread pizza is the best and I also love the CPK BBQ pizza. Honestly it is pretty hard to find bad frozen pizza.

  25. Jonathan says:

    Yea im going to agree with several people here – I can honestly say, I have never eaten a frozen pizza I would consider “amazing”…even “good” tends to be a stretch. Personally I would rather eat a $5 Little Caesars than almost any frozen pizza. IMO, if you live near a Little Caesars and are looking for a quick and cheap pizza, I would get that. If you are looking to spend a little more, but still be “cheap”, I would choose Papa Murphys.

    Frozen = waste of money IMO. The sauce always tastes the same, the bread always tends to have this stale/cheap quality to it, and leftovers are typically terrible.

    • TJ says:

      I could be wrong, but I don’t think many people go out of their way to spend more than $5 on a frozen pizza during the middle of the day… I tend to get them really late at night when only grocery stores are open, or when I’m at the store already and I find one on sale. In that case I don’t buy it to eat immediately, it’s more of a convenience thing when you want pizza at midnight one day and don’t want to leave the house.

      • Foodfanstan says:

        I hope most people on here aren’t eating at midnight. If so that is the number one way to become overweight.

  26. Natalie says:

    Totino’s is the only frozen pizza I buy anymore. Less than $2 and delicious in a disgusting, fake way. I always end up annoyed at spending ~$7 for a “nicer” frozen pizza like CPK or DiGiorno because they just aren’t good to me. I’d rather spend a few extra dollars and order delivery from somewhere.

  27. T.J. says:

    I live a block away from a Stop & Shop. They stopped carrying Totino’s pizza’s a few years ago and I hate them for that. It’s still my favorite and if I’m ever at Walmart, I make sure to buy 4 pepperoni pizzas. At the local mart though I stick to Red Baron Deep Dish or Freschetta Brick Oven. Both cheaper than a Little Caesars. Caesars is still a better deal than any “Rising Crust” pizzas like D’Giorno’s, but I still enjoy frozen pizza’s. I just don’t think of them as real “pizza’s” per se. What they are is a deal with the devil. And I’m a sinner.

  28. Chris Ransdell says:

    The reviews were so glowing, the amazon entries for the Pizza Pizzazz by Presto seemed like a joke. It looks like a record player and cooks pizza with no preheating etc. I’ve had mine for about 4 years now and I have to say it really does amazing things to frozen pies. Since you can control the upper and lower elements separately, its possible to customize your baking. Can’t get the crust done enough without toasting the cheese to a crisp? Start on lower element only for a few minutes before going to dual element mode etc.

    I just wish it was a little bigger because Costco or Papa Murphy’s pizzas just don’t fit.

  29. Daisy says:

    All this frozen pizza talk is making me hungry.

  30. Gbob says:

    Not sure if this counts since its not technically frozen, but Walmart has these pizza’s in their refrigerator in the grocery section (near the deli at my local Wal-Mart) that are really good. I’ve had the Supreme and Meat Lovers, each for about 6 bucks, and I’ve liked them more than another frozen pizza’s I’ve had before. They also have a stuffed crust for 8 bucks that Im curious to try. I know a lot of people hate shopping at Walmart, and for good reason, but I think it’s worth a stop to try it out.

  31. joe guy says:

    tombstone is hard to beat for the price. I happen to like jack’s.

  32. GGran says:

    Thin crust pizzas at Aldis are great just stock up, may not be in stock long. Refrigerated pizzas are good too, especially if you use a perforated pizza pan/disk. Those pans crisp frozen french fries in the oven too.

  33. Mark R. says:

    We worked on the Orv’s pizza trucks. Gary, the route manager & great guy, had to fill in for a driver that didn’t show. He said he was stocking the freezer at a store and a guy walked up to him and said “Dude, da Orv’s pizza I had last night wasn’t as good as da one at Pizza Hut last week”. Gary [had a rough day] replied loudly: “DUDE, WHAT DA ‘EFF’ DO YA WANT FOR TWO ‘EFFIN’ DOLLARS” !!

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