17 Frozen Pizza Hacks You'll Wish You Knew Sooner

Frozen pizza is our savior of flavor on countless lazy nights. This unsung hero represents the bare minimum effort needed to indulge in that cheesy circle of delight we call pizza. Usually, all you have to do is preheat your oven, toss your pie in, and less than 30 minutes later, you have a decent dinner with little to no effort. But it doesn't have to be that way. Frozen pizza can be so much more than comfort food for slackers. And all it takes is implementing one or two of these frozen pizza hacks.

Modifying a premade pizza represents an attractive middle ground between a no-effort meal and having to make a pizza entirely from scratch. Be warned, though: Some of these tips require you to disregard the cooking instructions on the box. Others will make nearby pizza elitists wince. In other words, these hacks aren't for the faint of heart. But any kitchen rules you break will be for the sake of a better frozen pizza.

1. Thaw it out before cooking it

Of all these pizza hacks, thawing your pie out before cooking takes the longest, but it is also the most rewarding. Not only does it allow you to redistribute toppings that have slid to one side, but also to more easily incorporate additional ingredients. Most importantly, thawing the pizza gives it a different flavor texture that some will prefer.

Thawing a pizza before cooking generally makes for a crispier crust. It also reduces the necessary cooking time by a couple of minutes. If you are concerned about disregarding the instructions on the back of the box, you can rest assured that real pizza is meant to be cooked unfrozen. According to professional pizza chef Stefano Velia, the reason customers are instructed to cook pizza from frozen has everything to do with reducing the company's liability for possible bacterial growth during thawing and nothing to do with making a better pizza (via MEL). Velia suggests thawing it in the refrigerator overnight on a piece of parchment paper so it can easily be slid onto a pan or pizza stone.

Results may vary depending on the brand and crust thickness of the pizza you choose, but don't be afraid to give this tip a try. This is an especially important pizza hack because it serves as a prerequisite for many of the other cooking techniques we recommend. It also allows you to make pizza roll-ups.

2. Crank your oven up as high as it will go

Yet another way your frozen pizza's instructions deceive you is that they almost never suggest the optimal temperature for making the most flavorful pizza. A proper wood-fired pizza oven cooks at temperatures over 800 degrees Fahrenheit, and so to match that, you should crank your oven up as high as it will go (typically around 550). This higher cooking temperature allows for more tender toppings and a crispier crust — the crust gets nice and brown before the toppings have a chance to overcook.

This trick works best with a thawed pizza, as it will cook more evenly in a ripping-hot oven than one that's still frozen. Just be sure to adjust your cooking time to about 5 to 8 minutes and keep a close eye on your pie so it doesn't get burned. When you're working with high heat, things move quickly, so you can't just pop your pizza in the oven and forget about it.

3. Cook your pizza on the grill

If it is the weather is too hot for you to want to operate your oven to make a frozen pizza, then consider using an outdoor grill to cook your frozen pies instead. Doing so is fairly simple and yields great results. To start, get your wood pellet, charcoal, or gas grill to a temperature between 375 and 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Although a grill can get much closer to the requisite temperature for cooking a pizza Neapolitan-style (which is between 800 and 900 degrees Fahrenheit), we'll stick to a more moderate temperature for cooking a pie straight from frozen.

Once your grill reaches temperature, you can toss your pizza on and default to the average cook time of about 20 minutes. The end result will be melty cheese and a crispy charred crust. When using this technique, it is best to avoid thick-crust pizzas, as they benefit from the longer cooking time afforded by the oven's slow, even heating. Also, be cautious about grilling a pizza with too many toppings, as it can be challenging to get them to cook evenly.

4. Use a pizza stone

A pizza stone is one of the best ways to achieve brick oven-style pizza without a brick oven, making it a must-have accessory for any frozen pizza aficionado. Pizza stones are made from porous materials with exceptional heat retention qualities. This allows them to easily transfer heat while also letting evaporating steam escape, resulting in a crust that maintains its crispiness.

The best way to use a pizza stone is to preheat it for an hour so that it can provide an immediate blast of heat once the pizza is placed on it. In essence, the process is not all that different from putting your pie on a preheated baking sheet or cast iron pan, but the added material properties of a porous pizza stone still make a big difference in the overall texture of your pie. The act of preheating the pizza stone does add some prep time to the process, but it is well worth doing when you are in the mood to elevate your frozen pizza.

5. Add extra toppings before you cook it

This hack pulls double duty as a way to both try new flavors on your favorite frozen pizza and as a way to clean out leftover ingredients from your fridge. You can top your pizza with anything from pre-cooked foods from previous meals, cured meats, or even canned ingredients. Basically, any food that is meant to be eaten hot can be added on top of your pizza before cooking.

You can add certain raw ingredients to the top of your pizza, too, as long as it cooks in the same amount of time as your pizza's other ingredients. You should pre-cook any toppings that take longer to ensure they are safe for consumption. This is especially true for meat. Some examples of raw foods that will cook atop your pizza are red onions, bell peppers, and thinly-sliced mushrooms. You could even crack an egg on top of your pizza (but be careful not to let the yolk spill in your oven).

6. Add extra toppings after you cook it

When it comes to adding impactful ingredients to your frozen pizzas, some of the best options are fresh ingredients that don't need to be cooked. The added crispness of some leafy greens is a great textural element that you otherwise can't get from a frozen pie out of the box. Some of the tastiest options are arugula, spinach, basil, green onions, and parsley. You can even add thinly-sliced fruits like figs, peaches, or apples. All of these options add a slight nutritional boost to what is otherwise a generally unhealthy meal. That said, fresh ingredients aren't the only way to enhance your pizza after it gets out of the oven.

If you're looking to add some new flavors to your repertoire, drizzle some hot honey over your pizza after cooking to elevate your pie with some sweet and spicy contrast. Or decorate your pie with tasty ribbons of balsamic reduction to add some depth and acidity to the overall package. You could even add pine nuts or slivered almonds. The options are endless.

7. Add more cheese

Out of all of the toppings you could possibly add to a frozen pizza, more cheese is always a safe choice. It enhances the creamy texture and makes it all the more likely that you'll achieve that picture-perfect cheesy pull and stretch when you go to grab a slice. And depending on what kind of cheese you add, you can introduce a whole new flavor profile to your pie. You can add some sharp cheddar for a robust tang, some gouda for a smoky sweetness, or some brie for a rich creaminess. Of course, you can never go wrong adding more mozzarella, though, as it has been proven by researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand to have the ideal balance of elasticity, moisture, and oil content to make for the perfect pizza cheese (via the BBC).

Be mindful about when you add more cheese to a pizza, though, as adding extra cheese incorrectly can mess up your pie just as easily as it can enhance it. Fresh cheese takes less time to melt than frozen mozzarella, so you should either thaw out your whole pie first or add any extra mozzarella halfway through the cooking process if you start with a frozen pie. This goes for other melty cheeses as well. Lower-moisture cheeses like pecorino romano or parmesan can be added after baking as a finishing touch.

8. Add seasoning from your pantry to spice up

One last category of extra toppings to consider is some added seasoning to spice up your frozen pie. This often-overlooked step is a great way to enhance the savory flavors of your pizza, and it makes use of ingredients you probably already have at hand. Which seasonings you select depend largely on personal taste and the ingredients that are already on the pizza, but you generally can't go wrong with dried Italian herbs like oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary.

Adding some black pepper can contribute a nice spiciness too, but you should avoid adding more salt as there is usually plenty already included in frozen pizzas. Frozen pizzas are also the perfect way to use any leftover crushed red pepper packets from the last time you ordered delivery. Any seasonings should ideally be added prior to cooking so that the flavors have time to meld with the other ingredients.

9. Pre-portion it while it's frozen to reduce leftovers

While some folks love the congealed cheese and chewy crusts of a leftover pizza, others prefer to only eat pizza when it is hot and fresh. If you find yourself in the latter camp, then consider cutting your readymade pizza into smaller portions while it's still frozen. This way, you only have to cook as much pizza as you plan to eat, reducing the chance of unwanted leftovers. As an added plus, you have a second portion of frozen pizza that you can cook on another night.

This can be done either by cutting the pizza on a cutting board or breaking it against a solid surface while it is still in its packaging. This is especially useful if you like thick-crust pies, which can be quite difficult to finish by yourself. Consider the Digiorno Rising Cust Supreme Pizza, which contains over 2,000 calories in one package. That's a whole day's worth of calories for the average person. So if you don't want to be stuck eating just pizza for two days in a row, portion your pies to suit your appetite.

10. Cook two pizzas at once the easy way

Building on the last hack, you can also use the technique of pre-cutting your frozen pizzas to fit more pizzas into the oven at once. This frozen pizza hack uses some simple geometry to better utilize the rectangular shape of a standard baking sheet or oven rack. By cutting each circular pizza in half, you can better utilize the area of the baking sheet by lining the new flat edges up with each corner, allowing the semi-circular sides to meet gracefully in the middle. This is great when you have to feed a large group in a short amount of time.

You may be wondering why you can't just throw that second pizza on the lower oven rack instead. Technically, you can. However, the two pizzas will not cook evenly this way, which could leave half of your dinner guests eating soggy slices. But if the maximum number of pizzas per minute is your only goal, then you can definitely just toss another pizza on the second rack. Or better yet, you can combine these two methods to get a whopping four pizzas in the oven at once. 

11. Coat the crust in garlic butter

Forget about spending extra for premium frozen pizzas with fancy crust options. You can easily upgrade the crust of a more modest pie with a quick brush of garlic butter. The fat from the butter adds a delicious crispness to the crust while the added flavor of the garlic brings an umami depth to the overall package. For some, just the irresistible garlicky aroma alone makes adding garlic butter to your pizza worth the extra effort. Come to think of it, this technique is definitely still worth doing on fancy stuffed crust pies too.

You can prepare a simple garlic butter from our recipe, or you can use store-bought garlic butter. Simply brush the garlic butter all over your pizza's crust with a pastry brush before tossing it in the oven and you'll have the perfect crispy crust to counterbalance your pie's creamy, cheesy center. If you don't have any butter handy, you can substitute olive oil for a similar effect.

12. Poke holes in the crust

Although frozen pizza can be safely stored in the freezer for months, improper conditions in your freezer can cause excess ice crystals to form on food even if it's only been stored in there for a few weeks. This jeopardizes the crispiness of your frozen pie's crust, which is why we suggest you poke some holes into the bottom of the crust before cooking. As the pizza cooks, these holes let steam escape, which then allows the dough to get properly crispy.

To try this yourself, flip your pizza over while it is still frozen, cut the plastic wrapper open with a sharp knife, and use the same knife to poke holes all around the bottom of the pizza. Then you can toss it into the oven without fear of any soggy surprises. Be careful not to overdo it with the poking, though, as too many holes can damage the integrity of your crust.

13. Make a dipping sauce

If you are looking for a simple way to elevate your frozen pizza experience, it doesn't get easier than adding a dipping sauce on the side. You can easily grab some ranch dressing or hot sauce from the fridge, but if the goal is to add a gourmet touch, then why not make some dipping sauces of your own? If you have all of the ingredients available beforehand, then you can make your own homemade ranch dressing before your oven is even done preheating. Our homemade hot sauce takes a little more preparation but is well worth making in advance so that you can dump some atop your pizza as soon as it hits your plate.

Feel free to get creative with your sauce options too. While you may be lambasted for your unconventional sauce choices in public, there is nobody to judge you in the privacy of your own home. Don't be afraid to experiment with bold flavors like blue cheese dressing, buffalo sauce, or pesto, all of which make great dips for pizza.

14. Make it deep-dish with a cast iron pan

This frozen pizza hack combines several previous tricks to turn almost any frozen pizza into a deep-dish delight similar to the kind you'd find in a classic Chicago pizzeria. To start, you'll need a cast iron pan and a frozen pizza of a slightly larger diameter. Thaw the pizza out overnight on a sheet of wax paper, and then when you are ready to cook it, transfer it into an oiled cast iron pan. Let it cook for about 10 minutes longer than the package suggests. You just hacked a deep-dish pizza. The edges of the pan will reshape the crust to a deep-dish shape, and the pan will ensure a crispy and evenly cooked crust the same way a pizza stone would.

This trick works best with pizzas that have a rising crust, as a thin-crust pizza simply won't produce the right kind of edge to match real Chicago-style deep-dish. Even though the frozen pizza aisle probably has plenty of premade deep-dish pies available to those willing to spend a few dollars more, this method feels fancier and more fun. Give it a try next time you crave deep-dish pizza on a whim.

15. Blot some of the grease off for a slightly healthier meal

While there is no way to completely cancel out the health impact of eating a frozen pizza for dinner, dabbing excess grease off your pizza using a paper towel is a quick and effective way to cut some of the calories out of your meal. This trick may make pizza purists squirm, but if it allows health-conscious pizza lovers to consume pizza more frequently, then it is worth putting out there. Plus, it really does work.

An infographic from Labdoor estimates that you can save about 40.5 calories per slice by dabbing excess grease off the top. And given that the average American eats about 23 pounds of pizza per year, this method would avoid 6,611.2 calories per year. Those are calories that could go toward eating even more pizza. Plus, since you are theoretically using this method at home, there should be few, if any, pizza snobs around to give you a dirty look.

16. Use the box as your pizza peel and cutting board

Cooking up a frozen pizza is all about inputting minimal effort to achieve maximal flavor. So why not skip having to wash a big, bulky cutting board by replacing it with a pizza box? The box your frozen pizza came in can be flattened down to act as a perfectly-sized pizza peel and cutting board. We recommend turning the box inside out first, though, as the outside of the box is much more likely to be dirty. Better yet, some frozen pizzas come with a cardboard insert that is actually meant for this use.

Although this hack comes to you from a highly popular post from the LifeProTips Reddit, you should still exercise caution when attempting it yourself. If the cardboard packaging is too flimsy, it might not be suitable for pulling hot food out of a hotter oven. This goes double if you are transporting a particularly heavy pizza. And don't try to recycle the box after, either, as oily cardboard will be rejected at recycling centers (via Reddit).