Frozen pizza. A dorm-room staple, easy dinner for the kids, or — let’s be honest — what we eat when no one is there to watch. Pizza, in all of its many iterations and abominations, is gobbled up with gusto regardless of quality and price.
Because we associate frozen foods with a low level of quality and a tasteless, limp profile, many of us fail to realize that what lies in the freezer doesn’t need to be so scary.
In fact, with a little creativity, some might even qualify as “good.” To help you out, we’ve compiled a guide with tips and tricks to help you hone the underrated craft of how to cook a frozen pizza.
Let’s start with a few very basic things.
Read and Follow the Directions…
There’s a reason there are instructions for preparation on the back of the box. At least read these over before making your pizza. From there, you can improvise.
With our frozen pies, we’re specific in our instructions to ensure you get the best stuffed deep-dish pizza experience possible even from the comfort of your home.
…Well, Except for This One
Why the exception? Well, that frosty rock of a pizza isn’t quite ready to get in the oven. If you want to do things right, leave your pizza out for a few hours before plopping it in there or leave it in the fridge the night before.
Chances are good you might not have all that much foresight when you make frozen pizza. It’s often a last-minute decision spurred by convenience.
Yes, some instructions state that you should not thaw frozen pizza. This is likely because there’s a risk of contamination if you thaw and refreeze. So just do it the one time and place your pie in the oven.
Use a pizza stone or baking sheet rather than attempting to wrangle a soggy, limp pizza onto your oven’s rack.
Make Holes in Your Crust
This is an “off-the-box” tip.
And no, we’re not telling you to destroy your pizza. It’s just that sometimes you need to open things up a little to make them better.
If you’re working with a frozen pizza that comes wrapped in plastic — that’s honestly most of them — there’s a neat little trick you can use.
Before you rip off the cellophane, lay the pizza cheese-side-down on a flat working surface. Use a sharp knife to carefully cut the back of the plastic wrap so that the crust is exposed and discard. Then, use that same knife to punch several small holes in the crust on the reverse of where the toppings are.
These holes will give the pizza some ventilation. It lets steam escape rather than keeping excess moisture trapped inside.
Voila! You’ve got the crispy crust and melty cheese of a restaurant-quality pie.
Heat Oven Up All the Way
Crank it up, baby! Why? Because professional pizza establishments — like Giordano’s — come equipped with their very own pizza-specific oven. These ovens get a lot hotter than your standard home version.
Pizzas bake quickly and evenly in ovens that reach 700-1,000 degrees. This is why it’s so hard to replicate that parlor-quality texture: that nice, crispy crust, soft cheese and perfect toppings.
At home, it’s another story. We get it. You’re working with limited resources rather than artisanal-quality equipment. Don’t despair, though! You can still recreate that crispiness yourself.
Turn your oven all the way up to 550 (that’s the limit on most home ovens) and preheat your pizza stone right inside. Once it’s hot enough, slide the frozen pizza onto the heated stone and bake it for about five to eight minutes. Not 12 or 15.
No stone? No problem. Just place the pizza directly on the center rack and let it be.
Let the Cheese Set
Our hunger pangs do get in the way from time to time. But patience is a virtue, as always. You’ll want to make sure you’re getting the best pie possible. Wait a few minutes before shredding that thing with your pizza cutter. Why? You’ll want the cheese to set. That way, it stays in place as you cut.
So, unless you want to peel the cheese and toppings off and undo all that hard work, you’ll take this advice. No one wants to reattach pizza cheese like a bad wig, right?
Best Way to Cook a Frozen Pizza: Deep-Dish Edition
At Giordano’s, we’d be remiss not to include some deep-dish reheating advice. Because the Chicago-style pie is a bigger, denser, doughier experience, your cooking rules change a little. Especially where time is concerned.
If you happen to have leftover pizza stored in the fridge, we’ve got a whole guide for you right here.
Just know that our frozen pies require a slightly different approach. Trust us with this.
Rather than cranking up the heat all the way, as you would with a thin-crust pizza from the market, the deep-dish pizza requires a bit more patience. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Meanwhile, toss the pie in the microwave and cook on high for 6 minutes. This gives you some good thawing action. And trust us: it also gives you all the gooey cheese you’ll find in-house, minus the planning ahead.
After its time in the microwave, spread the extra pack of sauce over the top of the pizza.
When the oven is ready, place your Giordano’s pizza directly on the center rack and leave it be for 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let the pizza cool for a few minutes before slicing.
For even more details, click here for our .pdf printout. We’re very thorough — pizza is serious business!
Tips for Doctoring-Up That Substandard Pie
Now that we’ve moved beyond the basics of frozen pizza/oven dynamics, you’ll need to come up with some hacks for getting that pie into tip-top shape.
A $3 cheese pizza from the gas station doesn’t exactly have the pizzazz of a professional pie, high heat temperatures and thawing action aside. But there’s plenty of creative toppings you can add that’ll elevate any pie in a jiffy. Like, just about anything you can imagine.
Now let’s talk toppings.
Make Frozen Pizza Taste Fresh by Using Fresh Ingredients
The frozen pie gets an instant makeover the second you add anything fresh to the mix. Strip off those weird pepperoni nuggets that came with the pizza in favor of some higher-quality meat. Add some vegetables to the mix. Things like a ripe tomato, fresh basil, or even a dash of some cheese that has yet to be frozen go a long way.
The Artful Olive Oil Drizzle
Olive oil can take anything from basic bread to boring veggies to new heights. This can go one of two ways. Brush some olive oil and garlic over the crust before placing the pie in the oven. The oil will help the crust crisp and achieve that beautiful golden brown you thought was only possible with delivery.
Or, drizzle a little olive oil and lemon juice over the whole thing after it comes out of the oven. It’s the details that make frozen pizza taste fresh, after all.
Feeling more adventurous? Add garlic-infused oil or chili oil for something that’ll breathe new life into an icebox pizza.
Raid the Fridge
The old fridge raid is a great way to eliminate food waste and make that pizza into a real work of art. Scour the side door for things like capers, olives, artichoke hearts or jalapeno peppers. Chop up some leftover lunch meat or shred some chicken over the top. Got an onion? Throw it on. Veggies? Go for it.
Pizza is a blank canvas. Don’t be afraid to experiment! The benefit here is this: if you’re working with a real cheap frozen pizza, you don’t have a lot to lose.
Got produce to use up? Great. Lightly sauté a few favorites like spinach and mushrooms. Bell peppers, tomatoes, heck, even things like corn and peas can work.
Throw Another Sauce on There
A great way to class up an otherwise lackluster pie. After you add your toppings of choice, layer on some swirls of something that works with the existing flavors. Add some jarred pesto or a drizzle of alfredo sauce, bruschetta, or a red pepper puree.
Not only is it tasty, but using a few drizzles of sauce on your frozen pie allows you to use up that pesto you didn’t have enough noodles to accommodate before it starts to turn brown.
And speaking of sauce, hot sauce — from Pete’s to Sriracha to Tabasco — is always a welcome on any pizza, regardless of quality or other toppings.
The Cheese Factor
If you’re working with a bad pizza or even a mediocre one, your best bet is to add more cheese. Granted, this is never a bad idea, but in the case of sauce that doesn’t delight and a wimpy smattering of shreds, you’re better off with a cheese intervention.
Adding fresh mozzarella or even a bag of Italian cheese shreds will give you that stretchy gooiness that makes pizza, well, pizza. Smoked mozzarella will give you that same texture but adds another layer of complexity to the dish.
Or, go another direction and incorporate cheddar cheese, chevre or gorgonzola.
Aside from differences in quality, adding a contrasting cheese can take your frozen pizza to the next level, too. Add Romano, parmesan or blue cheese for something pungent with a dash of nuttiness. These types of cheeses are salty and often sour and will help cut down on the overall sweetness if you’ve got a pie with a particularly corn-syrupy sauce.
Additionally, you can try things like fresh ricotta or feta if you’d like to bring a different texture to the table.
The cheese possibilities are endless. Don’t feel trapped by the classic conventions of Italian pizza. These days there’s everything from white pies with chicken pesto to Mexican pizzas with refried beans. Get creative!
But Skip the Extra Salt
Most frozen pies come standard with a hefty dose of sodium. While for many of us it’s second nature to season our foods with a little pinch of salt, hold off in the case of frozen pizza. If it’s bland, salt probably isn’t your biggest problem.
It’s the lack of fresh ingredients and all-around flavor. Hot sauces, pesto, meats and fresh cheeses are all a better way to get the flavor you’re going for.
But between the potentially processed cheese, pepperoni and more, go easy on the sodium.
Add an Egg
“Put an egg on it” might be one of this era’s most common approaches to cooking — and for a good reason. It’s delicious!
Because things can get soggy when we’re working in frozen mediums, it’s wise to follow the advice above: poke holes in the back of the pie.
Additionally, you’ll want to let the pizza cook as usual, but take the pizza out about 6-8 minutes before it’s done. Remove from the oven, crack an egg or two over the top, put it back in the oven and let it run its course. Don’t worry about the other toppings — they’ll mix well with the breakfast addition.
This should give you an egg with set whites and nice, runny yolk. If you prefer a fully cooked egg, do this step about 10 minutes before the pizza is done cooking.
Tasty Combos to Make Frozen Pizza Taste Better
If you’re not an improviser by nature, that’s okay. Peruse the menu of your favorite pizza parlor for inspiration or consider which pizzas you tend to always order. Here are some flavor combinations sure to bring the taste of success to even the saddest frozen pizzas.
- Spinach and artichoke with white sauce
- Shredded chicken, barbecue sauce and sautéed onions
- Prosciutto and fig with arugula
- Classic Hawaiian (pineapples and ham)
- Sausage and kale
- Roasted garlic, tomato and pepperoni
- Chicken pesto with ricotta
- Bacon, jalapenos and your favorite hot sauce
- Chorizo, salsa and fresh cilantro
After the Oven
As you let the cheese set (remember?), you can throw on a few extras. We’d suggest making a summery pie with some arugula, fresh basil and sliced tomato. A pretty straightforward way to class up that pizza. Or, add some diced scallions and sundried tomatoes.
Other options include thin-sliced prosciutto, oregano, parmesan cheese, olive oil or even a little honey (seriously).
Ship a Pizza or Eight! Giordano’s Delivers No Matter Where You Are.
So. Why even bring up frozen pizza if we specialize in the fresh stuff? Well, it’s simple — because you can have Giordano’s shipped right to your house even if you’re far from one of our restaurants.
Now, we’re not your average frozen pizza, either. Our toppings are high-quality and applied with care. Plus, you’ll get an extra sauce pack so you can replicate that unique, Chicago-style pizza pie from wherever home is for you.
Click here for a look at your ordering options, instructions, and beyond.