Prepared on a par-baked crust and topped with sauce and typically uncooked cheese and meat or veggies, take-and-bake pizza can taste fresher than frozen pizza. It also has the potential to squeeze into more homemade territory, be it with additional toppings from your kitchen. (Bring on the leftover greens! Freshly grated cheese! Extra tomato slices!) It also lacks freezer burn since it's never been frozen.
Several supermarkets make their own versions of take-and-bake pizza, and some restaurants also offer signature pies par-baked to cook at home. While I typically stock my freezer with frozen pizzas for a pizza emergency and am a New York slice shop loyalist, I was excited to see how some take-and-bake pizzas stacked up to my usuals.
I scoured my neighborhood to find some of the best-looking take-and-bake pizzas. And when pizza delivery isn't an option, these pizzas, which cook up in minutes at home, are a close second for a satisfying slice. Here are my favorites, ranked from the least impressive to the one I'm ready to make a convenience foods staple in my fridge.
Wegmans Pepperoni Naan Pizza
In concept, this basic pizza built on a fluffy piece of naan is a lovely idea to share between two people. In execution, this take-and-bake pizza was a bit of a letdown. The mozzarella tasted overly processed and a little too sweet. The pepperoni on top could have tamed the sweetness, but the meat was more sweet than spice and had a salty, unpleasant flavor. The naan itself was crisp in parts, layered and stretchy. Wegman's also provides directions to DIY this pizza with its in-house naan, a jar of sauce, and some cheese. Would try!
Juliana's Pizza Take & Bake Margherita
Juliana's is a popular pizza spot in Brooklyn, N.Y., so I was excited to see it offered refrigerated take-and-bake pizzas via FreshDirect, which delivers groceries in the New York metro area. The pizza was quite thin and took just five minutes to bake at 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Perfect for a quick snack or a late night when you just need something. The mozzarella on top was melty, but the sauce was sparse and lacked flavor. With some pizzeria-style toppings—chili flakes, oregano, and garlic powder—the pizza was much improved, though, for $22, it felt bland.
Wegmans Fully Cooked Cheese Pizza
It's an A-plus for appearance, and something less for flavor for this pizza, which looked like it came straight out of a New York slice shop, with bubbling cheese, toasted crust, and a thin layer of tomato sauce. The middle was still gooey when cut into, while the outer edges had crispy cheese searing itself to the sauce. Unfortunately, the flavors didn't cut it. The crust was nice, basic slice shop style, but the sauce had very little flavor (not tomato-y, at all) and the cheese was similarly bland, which is surprising for a slice with so much sodium.
Whole Foods Market Uncured Pepperoni Pizza
This pizza was big. It was cumbersome to carry home and keep in the fridge, but if you're planning to eat it immediately, it will serve a group. The pizza cooks at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for nine to 11 minutes, but it should be rotated halfway through cooking to prevent burning, which I learned the hard way. The unburnt side of the pizza was tasty—the tomato sauce had tang, the mozzarella was appropriately broiled in spots, and the uncured pepperoni was slightly spicy. The slices were satisfying, similar to a takeout New York slice, but not quite on par with any of my favorite slice shops. It's a nice substitute, however.
Mama Cozzi's Pizza Kitchen 12-Inch Uncured Pepperoni Cauliflower Crust Deli Pizza
Mama Cozzi's is Aldi's in-house brand of take-and-bake pizzas that come in various flavors, with both traditional and cauliflower crust. The cauliflower crust is excellently crisp and firm enough to hold a nice layer of tomato sauce, gooey stretches of cheese, and pepperoni. The nine-minute cooking time was perfect for crisping up the meat on top without burning the cheese. And while the cauliflower crust got a bit soggy after sitting out, it easily crisped up with a quick reheat in the toaster oven. This take-and-bake pizza was delicious, and easy to make, and I'd definitely buy it again.