Popular Frozen Cheese Pizzas, Ranked Worst To Best

Frozen cheese pizza that's been plucked from the freezer and cooked in your own oven can get you out of a lot of jams when hunger strikes. It does triple duty as a satisfying lunch, dinner, and snack option that you can keep on hand for moments when delivery is too costly and dining out is even worse. Best of all, with nothing but cheese to decorate it, there's no need to pick off any unpleasant toppings. But if you happen to pick up the wrong pie for your frozen cheese cache you risk ruining what should be a dining slam dunk. With so many brands vying for your attention, how can you possibly know that the ones you have are the which you will enjoy most?

So, we fired up the oven and threw ourselves an old-fashioned pizza party. We found out which pies were worth slicing into by taste-testing 10 of the most popular frozen cheese pizzas in the freezer case. We chose a variety of well-loved brands in a range of price points, from the ultra-affordable Totino's to the uber-expensive Freschetta, and arrived at some supremely surprising opinions. 

It's no shock to believe that best frozen cheese pizzas should deliver affordable flavor, texture, and overall pizza-eating pleasure. We went in looking for a flavorful smack in the mouth that didn't come with a regrettable kick in the wallet and came out pleasantly surprised with the results. Here are our findings.

10. Totino's Party Pizza

As what is likely to be the biggest pizza bargain you can find in the grocery store, Totino's Party Pizza has become more synonymous with its bite-sized pizza rolls than its full-sized pies. Being as inexpensive as it is — we're talking less than $2.00 for a rectangular personal-sized pie at our local Walmart — our expectations for excellence were incredibly low. Being familiar with the brand, we knew better than to get our hopes up. And while the '90s food trend of Totino's Pizza Rolls may still be tops with those who snack, the company's cheese pizza is a little lower in status.

If it's been a while since you fired up one of these low-cost Totino's pies, you may be happy to know that they taste the same as they always have. We hadn't had one in several years, but we instantly recognized the rather strange flavor of the sauce, which comes across as somewhat industrial and chemical. 

Likewise, the crust was as cardboard as ever, complete with the strange pock-like bubbles that make it feel even thinner, while the cheese did the strange dissolving thing we remember. We'll admit that there was a strain of nostalgia that came over us as we tasted it. However, it disappeared as quickly as it came, and we happily moved on to our next selection. Consider this party pizza a disappointing dud.

9. Jack's Original Thin

A boxless, lower-priced pizza with a name that doesn't ring as familiar to us as the others in this ranking, Jack's does its best to assert itself among the cheese pizza competitors. Too bad a solid go isn't enough to get it past the bottom third of the list. The brand has been around since 1960, so clearly it's doing something right. Still, maybe it was a mistake pitting Jack's Original Thin Crust Cheese against true power players in the pizza arena; at about $4.00 in Walmart locations, this pie seems to pride itself on being a cheap option that presumes it's also a good time at the table.

We didn't find eating this price-conscious frozen pizza as enjoyable as the price, though. There was a strange taste that permeated the sauce, an unpleasant aromatic essence that we found to be similar to crayons. If the cheese had been a little more piquant, or the crust leaned towards the tender and buttery, then that might have compensated for the weirdness. But this pizza was both bland and underwhelming, calling to mind school cafeteria pizza. Maybe that kind of slice flies with a younger, less discerning audience, but a grown-up palate is bound to be disheartened upon learning that elementary school-style pizza is actually a bust.

8. Chuck E. Cheese

There's no need to dash out to the overcrowded arcade eatery when Chuck E. Cheese brings its primary pizza selections to your local grocer. If you pick up a pie for your kids, though, be warned: The box offers digital arcade tokens, which are clearly an enticement meant to keep you coming back for the in-house experience. The ultimate goal seems to be to perpetuate an endless cycle of Chuck E. Cheese-ing, with families circling back around to the restaurant— which even offers an adult menu now — after gobbling up a frozen cheese pizza at home, then snacking on more pizza before heading home again. The implications are dizzying, and unfortunately, not terribly delicious.

Maybe we've always been too distracted with video games to notice how sub-par the pizza at Chuck E. Cheese really is. We honestly believed the in-restaurant version was better than the frozen version, and that may be true. However, we haven't been to one in a long time, and we won't be visiting one anytime soon. 

Sticking with just the frozen cheese pizza, we found the whole pie to be a celebration of sadness. The crust was odd and wafery, forming a flimsy base for a sauce that seemed cheap and cheese that was worse than mid-level. For a pie that comes in at around the $7.00 mark at our Walmart location, that's not exactly great news.

7. DiGiorno Four Cheese

The idea of pitting delivery against DiGiornio may have made for a fun promotional opportunity, but this pizza provider has set itself up for extra scrutiny with that kind of comparison. Even if the excitement of a frozen pizza with rising dough was once enough to get customers on the hook, it was the low price that helped to reel many of them in. Who wouldn't want to pay a mere $5.00 or so at Walmart for a frozen pizza with dough that's designed to be more comparable to pizzeria-style, an easy dinner you could stash in your freezer instead of waiting for the pizza guy to show up at your doorstep? DiGiornio also made it possible to skip the tip without losing out on restaurant-level pizza ... or so we've been led to believe.

In reality, DiGiornio Four Cheese Rising Crust turns out to be a trip to Dullsville. The dough does indeed rise, but it ends up a characterless platform for bland sauce and cheese with zero personality. We did appreciate the hint of spice in the sauce, the one flavor element that saved this cheese pizza from being tossed to the bottom of the list. But if it's a choice between another DiGiornio and a slightly more expensive special from Domino's, we'll gladly make the call and wait patiently for the delivery driver to arrive. We'll even be happy to tip.

6. Tony's

Tony's is another bargain pizza that's been on the block for quite a while, another Schwan's product that was the first to appear in grocery stores. It began in 1960 as a Kansas Pizzeria before getting iced up as a frozen food item and now takes up residence in chains like Kroger for a little over $4.00. Longevity doesn't necessarily dictate a decent product, however, so we couldn't help but wonder how Tony's has held up through the decades.

The answer: Tony's is a perfectly mid-level pizza in every category. The crunch of the crust is a highlight, though it still lacks in flavor. The surface of the pizza was oddly dry, as neither the cheese nor the sauce contained evidence of oil that you might see in premium toppings. And while it was palatable enough that we enjoyed eating the pizza, it also stirred our longing for a better version pf the ,ea;. If we had limited funds and needed a fix, we'd go with Tony's over some of the others on this list. But we'd avoid it as long as possible, knowing that the freezer section has something better waiting on the next shelf over. 

5. Freschetta Four Cheese

With the word fresh in its name, Freschetta sets itself up for some seriously saucy scrutiny. We were excited to find out if it could live up to our initial impressions, especially given that it cost us around $6.00 at Walmart. The price of frozen pizza has crept up steadily in the past few years, reaching a point where even sales don't make enough of a dent to encourage us to stuff the freezer with extra pies. What a relief it would be if Freschetta could bring us back to better days.

It was a pleasant discovery to learn that Freschetta is better than average, even if it's still not a perfect pie. The crust was fantastic, being soft and chewy without turning too doughy, with a hint of garlic that added nicely to the flavor. The sauce was less than impressive, however, and seemed to have a sprinkling of herbs that were just there for show, since we couldn't taste anything herbal at all. The cheese, a combination of mozzarella and provolone, was mellower in flavor than we would have liked, but it melted into a lovely pool over the pie and had a decent stretch in every bite. The overall impact of this frozen feast places it in our top five.

4. California Pizza Kitchen Four Cheese

The popular restaurant chain tosses a selection of frozen pizzas into the grocery store freezer case, giving California Pizza Kitchen a gourmet edge over the other brands. If pizza always tastes better at a restaurant, then maybe a restaurant-style frozen cheese pizza can taste just as good at home. This premium brand turned out to be the costliest one on our list, ringing up at $7.88 at our local Walmart. Anything that reaches the high end of the price spectrum had better bring something special to the table to justify the extra cash.

Luckily, there was much to love about CPK's Four Cheese Pizza. The chain keeps your dining on the lighter side by presenting you with a crust that is thin enough to give the impression of an open-face quesadilla rather than a pizza. But that's actually a good thing, especially when it's topped with such an herbaceous sauce as it has, which features lots of zesty oregano and cheese that browns beautifully in the oven. There was no question we'd be eating more than just the test slice of this one. 

It wasn't perfect, however. Had the dough been just a little thicker, California Pizza Kitchen could have crept even higher on the list. We're satisfied serving it up in the number four slot.

3. Red Baron Classic Crust Four Cheese

High-flying Red Baron Pizza has been soaring into home kitchens ever since it appeared on the horizon in 1976 as a product of Schwan's, the company that used to truck frozen foods around neighborhoods throughout the U.S. But you've never needed to schedule a delivery to enjoy Red Baron. Instead, it's made regular appearances in grocery store freezer cases since its inception. We tossed the Four Cheese Classic Crust pizza into our cart and hoped that this long-lived brand wouldn't throw us for a loop.

This pizza rings up at around $5.00 at Walmart, not a bad price for a pie that browns as terrifically as this one does. We were initially thrown by the cheddar shreds among the mozzarella, provolone and parmesan, even though we saw that it was listed prominently on the front of the box. It was by far the most obvious flavor in the cheese line-up, imparting a flavor like Cheez-Its or a grilled cheese sandwich to the otherwise pizza-riffic pie. The sauce was a bit on the spare side as well, though the crust was nicely crisped and toasty brown on the edges.

2. Tombstone 5 Cheese

Though it might have you thinking of a certain gunslinging town in Arizona, the untold truth of Tombstone Pizza is that it was named for The Tombstone Tavern in Medford, Wisconsin, which was located next to a graveyard and owned by brothers Ron and Joseph Simek before they launched their long-lasting frozen pizza brand in 1962. With dairy country ties, it's no surprise that Tombstone features five different cheeses on its frozen pizza: cheddar, mozzarella, Romano, parmesan, and asiago. The label boasts about this flavorful pie having one-third of a pound of cheese, in fact — a strange flex, but one that probably appeals to the sensibilities of pizza snobs.

Maybe those pizza snobs are onto something. Tombstone turned out to be one of the best frozen pizzas in the collection, propelled along by a worthy sauce and crispy crust that browned nicely and provided flavorful support for all that cheese. And speaking of that cheese ... quintupling the dairy quotient is an inspired move that piles on the flavor while ramping up the glorious gooiness. Considering that Tombstone Five Cheese is priced around $5.00 at Walmart, it's a peak experience for the price, toppled from the top spot by only one other option.

1. Screamin' Sicilian Bessie's Revenge

From the wild name to the clever packaging, Screamin' Sicilian does everything it can to capture shoppers' attention while they pass through the frozen pizza section of their store. The box features an oversized, gaping mouth that reveals the pizza tucked behind a cellophane window, complete with a fuzzy mustache and rows of cartoon teeth that make for a memorable graphic. The specifics list four cheeses made from Wisconsin milk, a sauce made from a secret recipe, and a stone-fired medium crust, all of which are things that make the hearts of pizza lovers everywhere skip a beat. With a name like Bessie's Revenge, it all seems like a lot to live up to, especially for almost $7.00, even at budget-minded Walmart. Could it possibly come through?

We're happy to report that Screamin' Sicilian avails itself admirably in the frozen cheese pizza space. What aspect of this frozen cheese pizza isn't supremely flavorful? The crust is chewy and crispy in all the right places. The cheese blend includes disks of mozzarella that melt perfectly, merging with the shredded parmesan, Romano, and white cheddar that filled out the rest of the topping mix. The sauce-to-cheese ratio is spectacular, providing just the right balance in every bite, from tip to crust. And there was a garlic essence present here that was challenging to detect in the other pizzas. It was a list-topping reminder of how fantastic a frozen cheese pizza can be in the right hands. 

How we determined our frozen cheese pizza ranking

We take our frozen cheese pizza very seriously, and ranking ten of the top brands was no small feat. Some brands were familiar, while others brought a new experience. The pies we chose represented a variety of prices and sizes, an important aspect when figuring out whether price point predicts quality. Prices ranged from around $2.00 for Totino's to just under $8.00 for California Pizza Kitchen. Some pizzas boasted multiple types of cheese, while others silently provided standard mozzarella. And of course, there were thin crust, regular crust, and self-rising crust represented; each brand seems to have its own way of representing the frozen cheese pizza blueprint.

With price as a base determinant, we then sampled each pizza and analyzed the basic components: crust, sauce, and cheese. Important aspects included the palatability and flavor of the sauce, the attributes of the cheese, the texture of the crust, and the balance between sauce and cheese. Some pies looked more browned after cooking both in crust and cheese, an aspect that presented a more finished appearance and created a more authentic flavor, though this wasn't always an indicator of enjoyability.