The Recipe Ree Drummond Hated (But Still Filmed For Food Network)

"The Pioneer Woman" cooking show on Food Network, hosted by recipe blogger and rancher Ree Drummond, has been on the air since 2011. Drummond usually makes several recipes per episode, and when combined with the recipes on her blog and all of the recipes included in her many cookbooks, it's safe to say that The Pioneer Woman has shared hundreds of meal ideas with her audience over the years. It makes sense, then, that not all of them could be hits. After all, how many people can say they've created hundreds of unique dishes without at least one not turning out as expected?

For Drummond, there's one recipe that sticks out. In answer to a reader question in The Pioneer Woman Magazine, Drummond shared a recipe she wishes she had never made on her show: a fried chicken pizza made with frozen bread dough and frozen chicken tenders. "The vision I had was of big, beautiful pieces of homemade fried chicken and thick-cut pickles with a drizzle of honey" as a pizza topping, explained Drummond (via Showbiz Cheatsheet). She added, "I wound up using frozen chicken strips — and they had not won any chicken-strip beauty pageants. Then, we threw coleslaw into the mix and it was just a sea of confusion."

She talked about it again in her memoir "Frontier Follies," stating, "It was absolutely awful" (via Showbiz Cheatsheet). But could Drummond tweak the recipe to make it praiseworthy?

Ways Ree Drummond could improve on her recipe

We're not ones to suggest to Ree Drummond where her recipe went wrong, but if you're trying to bring the fried chicken pizza to life at home, there are ways you can perhaps have better success than The Pioneer Woman did. In Drummond's own admission, the pizza had a lot going on, and the toppings overwhelmed the simplicity of the Italian cheese pie. To make things easier, consider scaling back a bit. In particular, we'd consider ditching the jalapeño slices, as pickles already give the pizza some added zing. 

Cabbage is the star of a good coleslaw, but when it comes to adding it to a pizza, it can be distracting. The barbecue sauce could make it soggy as well. Give the pizza an added crunch and make the coleslaw act as more of a unifying element by incorporating toasted almonds into the mix. Alternatively, you can also fry the coleslaw to give it some caramelization. If you're using a sweet coleslaw, you might want to use a tangier barbecue sauce as the flavors suit each other and prevent your pie from being overloaded with too much sugar. 

As for the chicken itself, why depend on a deli or grocery store freezer aisle when you can fry the chicken yourself? Consider our recipe for crispy fried chicken. From there, you may be able to find better success with this fried chicken pizza. 

Chicken strip pizza, yay or nay?

Ree Drummond's fried chicken pizza was featured in Season 19, Episode 12 of "The Pioneer Woman," and the recipe is on the Food Network's website. Reviewers on the recipe actually had some favorable things to say about Drummond's least favorite recipe. "The mix of flavors in this pizza are so yummy," shared one person. "Will definitely be making this again!" Another person shared that though they swapped homemade dough for storebought, and chopped up the chicken tenders, it was still a "fun new take on pizza night."

Commenters on a Facebook video clip of the episode, which shows how Drummond makes the pizza, weren't as kind. "Recipe submitted by local 19-year-old stoner," joked one, while another said, "I feel like she's running out of ideas." Another tried to offer some constructive feedback, saying she should have "cut up the chicken in chunks" instead of lumping them on top of the pizza. It might not be her best work, but clearly having one dud recipe out of hundreds hasn't been a problem for Drummond, whose Pioneer Woman brand is still flourishing. If you're not a fan of Drummond's fried chicken pizza, then the cook has other spins on the recipe that you might want to consider.

Ree Drummond cooked a better received pizza

Sometimes, a chef will reinvent one of their recipes to much acclaim. Alton Brown infamously changed his lasagna recipe after it became one of his most hated recipes online. His new recipe attempted to address criticism of the old. However, perhaps Ree Drummond returned to this particular well one too many times. The Pioneer Woman had previously created two barbecue chicken pizzas to a more positive reception. 

Her barbecue chicken pizza flatbreads were inspired by food that she loved in college. This recipe included rotisserie chicken, barbecue sauce, cheese, onions, and ranch, with no mention of coleslaw or pickles to be found. It's a simpler dish that feels more uniform in its creation. Drummond said it best herself: "This is such a great combination — barbecue sauce, chicken, jalapeños, cilantro, red onion. I think this would be a great thing to serve at just a casual party with friends" (via Showbiz Cheatsheet).

That's not all: Drummond also created a barbecue chicken and spicy coleslaw pizza that was reviewed positively on Food Network. Ultimately, it seems that the fried chicken pizza was overcomplicated. Fans who do want Drummond's take on pizza can try The Pioneer Woman's homemade pizza dough, but they may want to reach for something other than a chicken strip, pickle, and cole slaw topping.