Taste Test: Healthier Frozen Pizzas

by in Taste Test, February 19, 2014

frozen pizza

A while back, Healthy Eats asked Facebook fans to name their favorite healthy frozen pizzas. Most people said they preferred to make their own pies, while others insisted the term “healthy frozen pizza” was an oxymoron (fair enough). That said, it never hurts to know the better choices available out there. Because let’s face it: Sometimes the frozen pizza aisle just calls your name.

The Criteria
Not all pizzas are created equal. Some brands may seem healthy but contain more calories, fat and fillers than others. Saturated fat, sodium and fiber were other factors examined in this taste test, along with flavor, texture and cost. Each brand was rated on a 5-point scale, 5 being highest.

Newman’s Own Thin & Crisp Margherita Pizza
Rating: 4.5
Cost (per ounce): $0.50
Nutrition Info (per serving): 280 calories; 4.5 grams saturated fat; 650 milligrams sodium; 1 gram fiber
The Healthy Eats Take: Small pieces of chopped tomatoes are evenly distributed so you could taste them in every bite. The thin crust is crunchy and the cheese and sauce are darn tasty. This brand has one of the lowest amounts of calories per serving, though the sodium is about average. Each serving provides 25% of the daily recommended amount of calcium and 10% of the daily recommended of vitamin A.

Amy’s Pizza Margherita (shown above in 6.2 oz size; stats below are for 4.33 oz size)
Rating:
4
Cost (per ounce): $0.69
Nutrition Info (per serving): 280 calories; 3.5 grams saturated fat; 550 milligrams sodium; 2 grams fiber
The Healthy Eats Take: This organic brand is worth the extra cost. The pizza has a decent flavor and a crunchy crust. But it’s important to note that many of these pizza brands, including Amy’s, have “wheat flour” listed as the primary ingredient. Don’t be duped into thinking this is a healthy ingredient — you want to look for 100% whole-wheat flour. Calories are on the lower end and sodium falls around average. Also note that the calcium is lowest here with only 6%; other brands usually have around 10 to 20% of the recommended daily amount.

Annie’s Four Cheese Pizza
Rating: 3.5
Cost (per ounce): $0.47
Nutrition Info (per serving): 320 calories; 5 grams saturated fat; 720 milligrams sodium; 3 grams fiber
The Healthy Eats Take: Annie’s doesn’t have a margherita flavor, so the four cheese is as close as you can get. The “rising crust” is good and the cheese and sauce are pretty flavorful too. That said, the calories and sodium are on the higher end — but the fiber is almost respectable.

Udi’s Margherita Pizza
Rating: 3.5
Cost (per ounce): $0.70
Nutrition Info (per serving): 300 calories; 5 grams saturated fat; 320 milligrams sodium; 2 grams fiber
My Take: This gluten-free brand also comes at a higher cost but it’s not worth the flavor (unless you need to eat gluten-free). The dough looks much flatter than any of the wheat crusts and the pizza doesn’t have a robust flavor (there is even a slight aftertaste). The calories are around average, while the saturated fat is highest and sodium is lowest of all the brands. But there’s a nice amount of Vitamin A, C and calcium per serving, at 15%, 10% and 20% of the recommended daily doses.

Whole Foods Market Wood-Fired Pizza Margherita and Cherry Tomatoes
Rating: 3.0
Cost (per ounce): $0.52
Nutrition Info (per serving): 360 calories; 7 grams saturated fat; 730 milligrams sodium; 4 grams fiber
The Healthy Eats Take: As the package is unwrapped, pieces of cheese and cherry tomatoes spill out all over the place. This can result in a pizza that has an uneven distribution of toppings, leaving some bites better than others. Overall, the pizza flavor is good but the crust doesn’t have the satisfying mouthfeel of some of the other brands. This brand is also highest in calories and fat per serving, but also has the most calcium per serving at 40% of the recommended daily amount.

Honorable Mention
Kashi Roasted Vegetable Thin Crust Pizza
Cost (per ounce): $0.68
Nutrition Info (per serving): 250 calories; 4 grams saturated fat; 630 milligrams sodium; 4 grams fiber
The Healthy Eats Take: Although Kashi does sell a thin-crust margherita pizza, it wasn’t available at the local market. Instead Healthy Eats picked up the roasted veggie variety. The crust is made partially from whole grains (one of the only brands to have this). The sauce is flavorful, while the crust has a more earthy taste. Calories, fat and fiber are all reasonable, and the pie also has the highest amounts of vitamins A, C, calcium and iron (due to the additional veggies).

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

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