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. In all its many iterations and abominations, pizza is a perennial favorite 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 lurks in the freezer doesn’t need to be so scary. With a dash of 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. Follow these essential tips on how to bake a frozen pizza in the oven.
Read and Follow the Directions…
There’s a reason you’ll find preparation instructions printed on the back of the box. Review these at least briefly before making your pizza. From there, you can improvise.
At Giordano’s, we’re specific in our frozen pizza cooking 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. Read on to learn more.
Chances are, you might not have all that much foresight when you make frozen pizza. It’s often a last-minute decision spurred by convenience. However, for an ideal experience, leave your pizza out for a few hours before baking, or leave it in the fridge the night before.
Yes, some instructions caution against thawing frozen pizza. While it’s true there is a risk of contamination if you thaw and refreeze, you should be OK if you place your pie in the oven immediately after thawing it.
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
No, we’re not telling you to destroy your pizza with this “off-the-box” tip. 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 most of them — there’s a neat little trick you can use.
Before you rip off the cellophane:
- Place the pizza cheese-side-down on a flat working surface.
- Use a sharp knife to carefully cut the back of the plastic wrap to expose the crust, then discard the plastic.
- 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 that 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 All the Way
Crank it up, baby! Why? Because professional pizza establishments — like Giordano’s — come equipped with pizza-specific ovens that get a lot hotter than your standard home version.
Pizzas bake quickly and evenly in ovens that reach 700 to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s why it’s so hard to replicate that parlor-quality texture at home — that nice, crispy crust, soft cheese and perfect toppings.
In your kitchen, 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 up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit — 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. Place the pizza directly on the center rack and let it be.
Let the Cheese Set
Everyone gives in to hunger pangs 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?
The 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 slightly — especially concerning timing.
If you happen to have leftover pizza stored in the fridge, we’ve got a whole guide for you.
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 grocery store, the deep-dish pizza requires a bit more patience. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, toss the pie in the microwave and cook on high for six minutes to thaw. Trust us: It also gives you all the gooey cheese you’ll find in-house, minus the planning.
After its time in the microwave, spread the extra sauce packet 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!
10 Tips for Doctoring 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 have the pizzazz of a professional pie, high-heat temperatures and thawing action aside. But you can add plenty of creative toppings to elevate any pie in a jiffy. The only limit is your imagination.
1. 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 sprinkle of some unfrozen cheese go a long way.
2. Use the Artful Olive Oil Drizzle
Olive oil can take anything from basic bread to boring veggies to new heights. There are a couple of ways to do this. 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.
3. Raid the Fridge
The time-honored 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 sandwich 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 bargain 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.
4. Throw Another Sauce on There…
Various sauce combos make a great way to class up an otherwise lackluster pie. After adding 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.
5. … Or Make Your Own
If you check your pantry and realize you don’t have any tasty sauces, have no fear. Why not start from scratch? Get creative and try crafting unique flavors — you have the freedom to combine your ingredients and create something tailored to your palate.
Here are a few recipes you can try whipping up at home.
- Homemade garlic butter: Pizza is better with garlic butter, but sometimes, when you get frozen pizza, you could be missing that deluxe addition. If you have the right ingredients, you can make it yourself in no time. Melt some butter in a bowl, whisk some garlic and salt together and enjoy!
- Hot honey: Honey is the perfect blend of sweet and spicy, and it can pair perfectly with the right pizza. It’s also super simple to make – combine some honey and chile sauce in a bowl and heat in the microwave. Then, drizzle some onto your pizza for a unique, flavorful sauce addition.
6. Enhance the Cheese Factor
If you’re working with a subpar or mediocre pizza, 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 shredded Italian cheese will give you that stretchy gooiness that characterizes your favorite pizza. Smoked mozzarella will give you that same texture while adding 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!
7. Skip the Extra Salt
Most frozen pies come standard with a hefty dose of sodium. While it’s second nature for many of us to season our foods with a pinch of salt, hold off in the case of frozen pizza. If it’s bland, salt probably isn’t the culprit. 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.
8. 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 it out about six to eight minutes before the end of cooking time. 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 approach 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 finishes cooking.
9. Add Tasty Combos to Make Frozen Pizza Taste Better
If you’re not an improviser by nature, that’s OK. Peruse your favorite pizza parlor’s menu 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 with 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
10. Throw in Some Extras 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 sun-dried tomatoes.
Other options include thin-sliced prosciutto, oregano, parmesan cheese, olive oil or even a little honey.
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 straight 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 from wherever home is for you.
Visit our site for a look at your ordering options, instructions and more.