Reader Tips for a Better Frozen (or Homemade) Pizza
Want to start an argument? Just bring up pizza: how it’s made, what fits the definition, which style is supreme. All are up for debate.
So it came as no surprise that Julia Moskin’s article this week about the state of frozen pizza, and an accompanying taste test of upmarket frozen pies, garnered hundreds of comments from New York Times readers. “Pizza,” as Amy in Connecticut said, “is a big tent.”
Some wished we had reviewed their favorite supermarket brands, like DiGiorno, Stouffer’s and Screamin’ Sicilian, while others rallied around local favorites like Lou Malnati’s, Butch’s and Home Run Inn. But many just wanted to share their pizza wizardry, how they gussy up a frozen pie or make a quick one from scratch. Here are some of our readers’ favorite ways to ’za.
Frozen Pizza Hacks
Get the Pizzeria to Make It for You
Buy a Half-Baked Pizza: “Most pizzerias will ‘prebake’ pies for you: assembled and only partly baked, so you can either finish cooking them at home, or freeze for later. During the Covid shutdown, we ordered one baked pie and one prebaked pie every time. It was nice to have our favorite on hand for a quick meal.” Donna, Ohio
Freeze Extra Slices: “New Yorkers should ignore the frozen pizza aisle and simply freeze leftovers from their favorite local spot. I always over-order pizza. Leftover slices get wrapped in foil and frozen. They go directly into a 500-degree toaster oven (no need to defrost) and 10 minutes later they’re good as new.” Pizza Enthusiast, Brooklyn
Customize Your Toppings
Extra Cheese: “Don’t laugh, but I like the store-brand pizzas. I just add a little extra cheese on top and cook them on my pizza stone, which I have had for years. Where I shop, the store-brand cheese and spinach pizza is literally only $5. It doesn’t get any less expensive than that!” Lyn Robins, Southeast
Olive Oil and Shaved Garlic: “Trader Joe’s has a $6 pizza imported from Italy that looks like Roberta’s pizza and probably tastes just as good. Shockingly tasty and crispy. Add some olive oil plus shaved garlic, and you’ll come as close to pizza heaven in a box as possible.” David, Miami
Peppers and Onion: “Buy one at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods and add some toppings. I like peppers and onion, a little Parm on top and done. It’s pizza at home. I thought quick and easy was the point.” Ken H, Bergen County, N.J.
Extra Pepperoni: “One thing that we do to improve frozen pizza is to keep a bag of turkey pepperoni on hand to add to most pizzas as there is NEVER enough pepperoni out of the box.” DWS, Boston
Spinach and Spice: Che of Florida adds one-third cup of frozen spinach per slice of gluten-free pizza. The spinach is heated on low power in the microwave, then mixed with “basil, oregano, rosemary, olive oil or Trader Joe’s Italian chile oil,” and if it’s a mushroom pizza, thyme, too. Heat the seasoned spinach further and use it to top an oven-warmed pizza.
Anchovies and Sun-Dried Tomatoes: “If you must do supermarket pizza: Tree Tavern at $6.99. Ignore the box instructions. Preheat oven at 450. Drizzle EVOO on top, along with toppings (I like anchovies and/or sun-dried tomatoes). Bake for 17 to 20 minutes on a pizza stone. Pull the pie when it’s at the stage you prefer and let it rest, then add torn basil and a grind of Locatelli. It’s not the world’s best pizza, but when you’re tired and it’s cold outside, it’ll do just fine.” Fast Marty, Right Behind You
Fresh Tomatoes: “I add a generous amount of fresh sliced tomatoes to my Newman’s Own (either white pizza or veggie) along with crushed red-pepper flakes before baking.” Rob, Boston
Olives and More: “Sometimes I need the convenience of a good frozen pizza. So I was thrilled to discover Freschetta gluten-free four-cheese pizza. I tart mine up with lavish sprinkles of dried wild oregano, crushed fennel and red-pepper flakes; I arrange sliced fresh mushrooms drizzled with olive oil and coated in garlic powder, minced fresh red bell pepper, Kalamata olives and Boar’s Head turkey pepperoni on top. Heavenly!” Boatwif, On a narrowboat somewhere in England
Chiles: “I can tell you how to elevate any frozen pizza in one word: jalapeños. Lots of jalapeños!” Sheltered in Place, Dripping Springs, Texas
Kimchi: “We went to Ann Kim’s Pizzeria Lola, and she serves kimchi on pizza. This was a game changer for us. We now buy the cheapest frozen pizza we can because kimchi makes it first class. You all should try it.” Calleen De Oliveira, Minneapolis
Ignore the Package Heating Instructions
“Best advice for making frozen pizza palatable: Cook it. Really cook it. Burn it a little, even. The more you cook it, the more you get rid of the odious ‘frozen’ flavor. This trick works well with even the cheapest frozen pizzas.” Pizza Lover, Kansas
Guide: How to Make Pizza
Tips for Homemade Pizza
Many readers balked at the need for frozen pizza, when a suitable pizza made from scratch can be prepared with a little more effort. Here are some of their tips.
Use a Different Base
Bread: “Buy sourdough bread. Cut it in half, and remove some of the dough if you want. Rub garlic on the bread or cut thin slices. Add tomato sauce (Rao’s is very good) and olive oil. Then your choice of cheese, basil and whatever else you want. Place in the oven. You will be amazed.” TY, Here
Naan: “Homemade frozen tastes best — use Stonefire Naan for the crust, Rao’s Italian sausage and mushroom for the sauce and Kraft grated mozzarella along with a touch of virgin olive oil. Delicious either baked fresh or out of the freezer.” Steven, N.Y.
Focaccia: “I make my own deep dish with a slab of focaccia!” Rockafella, San Francisco
English Muffin: “You know, my mother (Sicilian, family from Messina) made good little pizzas for us kids using English muffins, homemade tomato sauce — although Rao’s or another quality brand would do — and fresh mozzarella and Parmesan. Great lunch, ready in minutes — and cheap.” RMC, New York
Pita Bread: “Get yourself a good packet of Greek pita bread and add your favorite topping. Far more satisfying and cheaper by about 90 percent.” Wren, Sydney, Australia
Tortillas: “This will probably sound blasphemous to purists. I use a 12-inch tortilla for the crust and top it with sauce and a selection of fresh mozzarella, Asiago, extra-sharp Cheddar (another blasphemy) and basil. The thin tortilla bakes crisp and easily supports the sauce and cheeses. Much tastier, IMO, than the local offerings.” DLP, Syracuse, N.Y.
Pull Out the Cast Iron
“Cast-iron pan pizza is better than frozen pizza. I make our own sauce at the end of summer when we’re drowning in tomatoes, and pressure-can some of it, and freeze the rest. NYT has many pizza dough recipes, from 1 hour rise time to 24 hour refrigerator rising — we’ve tried them all and they rival our favorite pizza carryout. I freeze pizza dough and put it in the fridge in the morning, then onto the counter 40 minutes before stretching it to fit the pan. Just seems there are other things to make if one has no dough, sauce, or toppings. A good Italian or Greek salad, or simple frittata and toast would probably be better than a frozen pizza.” Darcie D, Metro Detroit
Recipes: Pan Pizza Dough | Roberta’s Pizza Dough | Pizza Dough
Use Premade Dough
“I don’t understand how people eat frozen pizza when making it fresh is so easy. You can buy a really good premade dough at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. Add your own sauce-to-cheese ratio and it’s ready in your 500-degree preheated oven in less time than any frozen pie.” JH, New York
Employ the Toaster Oven
“Pressed for time? Get a Boboli crust, swirl on a couple spoonfuls of pasta sauce, toss some mozzarella and your favorite seasonings — chuck it in the toaster oven at 450.” LBG, Mount Laurel, N.J.
Invest in a Pizza Oven
“Roberta’s dough from NYT Cooking, a box of Pomì tomatoes blended down with some salt for the sauce, fresh basil and the best fresh mozzarella you feel like buying (or making?), and you’re in business. I took it further with a wood pellet Ooni pizza oven, which is the business if you’re into pizza.” Dr Jones, Colorado
Comments have been edited for style.
Follow New York Times Cooking on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and Pinterest. Get regular updates from New York Times Cooking, with recipe suggestions, cooking tips and shopping advice.