Upon first glance, Trader Joe’s Frozen Pizza Margherita seems like it might just be another run-of-the-mill, freezer aisle occupant, eagerly waiting to disappoint. With its unassuming box, modestly adorned with the classic Italian colors, it whispers rather than shouts, ‘I’m an authentic pizza experience.’ But we’ve all been fooled by freezer burn and cardboard crusts before, haven’t we? So, with a blend of skepticism and hope, I preheated my oven, prepared my taste buds for potential mediocrity, and embarked on what I hoped would be a culinary journey to at least the outskirts of Naples.
This is truly one of those things you either eat a lot of or just walk past for years at a time. When our kids were young and I felt like I was at Trader Joe’s every other day buying chicken nuggets and pizza for them, this was a mainstay in our freezer. I usually had several in the freezer on any given day. The kids got bigger and their appetites changed and we got more carryout pizza and I had forgotten about these pizzas for many years.
One day recently, I was watching Youtube videos and some guy from New York City was ranking a bunch of frozen pizzas and surprisingly he ranked the Trader Joe’s Pizza Margherita in the #2 spot after a real pizzeria in New York City. I was trying to remember what this pizza was like because it had been like ten years since I had one. I looked at my reviews and sure enough I hadn’t ever reviewed it so on my next trip Trader Joe’s I picked one up!
What is Pizza Margherita?
The Pizza Margherita boasts a storied history, intertwined with the culinary traditions of Italy. Its creation is often attributed to the year 1889 when Raffaele Esposito, a Neapolitan pizzaiolo, crafted a dish for Queen Margherita of Savoy that would embody the colors of the Italian flag: red, white, and green. This patriotic gesture gave birth to a timeless recipe, featuring the simplicity of tomatoes, the creaminess of mozzarella cheese, and the fresh aroma of basil leaves, each ingredient representing a color of the flag. The base, a thin and crispy crust, is made from a straightforward dough of flour, water, salt, and yeast, baked to perfection in a wood-fired oven. This deceptively simple combination of ingredients has transcended its royal origins, becoming a beloved staple worldwide, revered for its balance of flavors and its embodiment of Italian culinary excellence.
Basically, it’s all about the simple ingredients and preparation. For these Trader Joe’s pizzas, if you can believe the pictures on the box, they hand toss the pizzas (high unlikely) and put the toppings on by hand (maybe) and are pre-baked in a wood fired oven on a conveyor belt. Trader Joe’s sells millions of these pizzas so I doubt there is one guy making pizza all day and putting them in boxes to ship to the USA.
BUT! That doesn’t mean it’s a bad frozen pizza.
To make this pizza just warm up your oven to 425 F degrees and when it gets there, pull the frozen pizza out of the packaging and place it directly on the oven rack. The pizza is already mostly baked so you are just finishing the process and melting the cheese. You can see there are round slices of mozzarella cheese and what look like shavings of the Grana Padano cheese with sprinklings of basil.
I popped that pizza in the oven for five minutes! Which is super quick for a pizza like this. I pulled it out and it looked and smelled wonderful.
I used my trusty Epicurean pizza peel here. I highly recommend them. Much better than a metal one.
The crust looks like it’s perfectly cooked. The cheese is melted but not in a way that it just floods the pizza. That can happen with fresh mozzarella because it releases the water trapped in the cheese. It looks a little too perfect but that is what happens with frozen pizzas made in a factory, they look too perfect. But what about the taste?
My Final Thoughts
I am a pizza freak going way back. I built my own brick oven 20 years ago. I bought an Ooni pizza oven . I have tried several pizza stones and have three different pizza peels and pizza wheels. I make pizza from scratch almost every Friday for family and friends. I have traveled around Italy eating pizza. After saying all that, this Trader Joe’s Margherita Pizza is probably one of the better traditional Italian style pizzas out there (from the freezer). The crust is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. There is just enough cheese. The sauce is a little thin but is well flavored. The tomatoes in the sauce are clearly high quality. There is a little too much salt, but I have a feeling that is coming from the cheese. The crust visually looks almost perfect with perfect browning. The bottom is nice and dark and you can tell it was baked at a high temperature on a proper stone. There isn’t quite enough basil as traditional Margherita pizza has fresh basil leaves sprinkled over the pizza after it comes out of the oven. But you are never going to get that from a frozen pizza. Making your own is the only way to beat this pizza.
After all that, I think this is one of the better frozen pizzas out there. It’s hard to beat and especially at this price of $4.49 per pizza. You could feed a family of four for under $20 and have leftover! At the end of the day, I am going to rate this 8 out of Ten Bells just because of a couple of minor nitpicks.
Soft Wheat Flour, Water, Low-Moisture Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese (Milk, Salt, Lactic Acid Starter Culture, Microbial Enzyme), Tomato Puree, Grana Padano Cheese (Milk, Salt, Egg Lysozyme, Animal Rennet), Tomato Paste, Sunflower Oil, Salt, Yeast, Onion, Basil, Garlic, Cornstarch, Sugar, Balsamic Vinegar (Wine Vinegar, Concentrated Grape Must), Black Pepper, Dill.
CONTAINS WHEAT, MILK, EGGS.
MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF SOY.