The producer behind one of America’s fastest growing jarred tomato sauce brands has recently unveiled its new line of frozen pies: Rao’s Made for Home Brick Oven Crust Pizza. They’ve already begun to roll out in select Sprouts, Whole Foods, and Harris Teeter stores around the country.
It’s an objectively great time to get into the frozen pizza game. Sales exploded during the pandemic, an era of introversion, pilled pajamas, and throwing freezer-burnt carbohydrates into the oven to scarf in front of the TV. In 2021, the frozen pizza market racked up $6.06 billion, up from $5.47 billion the previous year. And that dough is only on the rise: Frozen pizza sales are projected to reach $32.89 billion by 2031.
Pizza is also a logical extension of the Rao’s brand, which already deals in red sauce, pasta, and frozen entrées combining the two. But the recommended retail price for each pizza is $13, a figure well above most other pies in the freezer aisle. (A DiGiorno pepperoni pie, for example, costs $9 at my local Stop & Shop.) Rao’s is banking on customers wanting to recreate a restaurant experience at home: Each crust is individually formed and baked in a wood-fired oven, then layered with San Marzano tomato sauce and hefty layer of supposedly premium toppings.
So how do they taste? We cooked all four varieties—Five Cheese, Meat Trio, Fire Roasted Vegetable, and Uncured Pepperoni—according to the package directions, judging them on flavor and texture. There were ups: “I’m impressed by the crisp-crunchy quality of these crusts,” said Bon Appétit contributor Christina Chaey. And there were downs: “If you wait too long to eat, it will go cardboard-y,” said editorial director Serena Dai. Here’s the full report.
The Doughiest: Rao’s Made for Home Five Cheese Pizza
The toppings: a lactose-heavy blend of mozzarella, Romano, Parmesan, provolone, and Fontina; and red sauce.
The taste: This flavor transported most of our testers straight back to their high school cafeterias. “So salty, so saucy,” said associate commerce editor Megan Wahn. The crust was dense and doughy—too much so for some people. Assistant to the editor in chief Nina Moskowitz immediately noticed the “soggy bottom,” which we all agreed could have used a little more time in the oven. And the multiple dairy sources were hard to parse. “What are the five cheeses?” senior cooking editor Emma Laperruque wondered. To Dai, they seemed like “a marketing tool to convince people who don’t want toppings on a basic pizza that they’re eating something more interesting.”
The Heftiest: Rao’s Made for Home Meat Trio Pizza
The toppings: a literal heap of Italian sausage, pepperoni, and bacon; mozzarella, Romano, and Parmesan cheeses; and red sauce.
The taste: Everyone was blown away by just how much meat was on this pizza. “There’s an overload of sausage on this, and it’s quite fragrant with fennel,” Dai said. Laperruque was delighted that the dough didn’t sag under the meat mountain, a point she made by holding an erect slice aloft and saying, “No flop!” Perhaps Chaey’s summary is best: “Yum-yum. I love sausage on pizza,” she said.
The Impasse: Rao’s Made for Home Fire Roasted Vegetable Pizza
The toppings: roasted peppers, tomatoes, onions, and mushrooms; mozzarella, Romano, and Parmesan cheeses; plus, you guessed it, red sauce.