DiGiorno’s Pizza Buns are like mini cinnamon buns. Except instead of cinnamon, sugar, and frosting, there’s meat, cheese, and sauce.
When I first saw these, I thought it was a silly and horrible idea. But that’s based on my experience with a similar product — Target’s Market Pantry Pizza Spirals. They. Were. Horrible. They didn’t heat up well, even in an oven, the dough was chewy, the pizza filling was mushy, and they made me cry.
So let’s find out if DiGiorno’s Pizza Buns will make me do the opposite of crying, which is shaking my buns.
It’s available in many varieties, but I decided to go with pepperoni. The snack also features mozzarella cheese, a chunky tomato sauce, and preservative free dough. The cheese is on top, while the pepperoni pieces and sauce are between the layers of spiraled dough. Each bun is about two inches wide and, as you can see above, pre-burnt on top.
Like products that come with microwave and conventional oven instructions, the latter always does a better job. But the microwaved ones are above decent. They don’t have a slight crispy exterior, like the oven prepared ones, but they don’t end up tough or dried out either. The microwaved dough is soft and easy to bite through.
Usually, I’d say, if you’re willing to wait, go for the oven. But for these Pizza Buns, the time spent waiting might not be worth it.
Now I’m happy to report they’re 100 times better than Market Pantry’s Pizza Spirals. They’re good enough that I don’t want to throw them away or write an angry letter to Target corporate soaked with my tears.
The pepperoni has a slight spicy kick and the sauce, while not chunky, does have a nice sweet tomato flavor. Since the cheese is on top, it’s pre-burnt. So no gooey cheese.
While tasty, a serving of Pizza Buns isn’t a filling snack. A serving is two buns and there are three individually wrapped pairs per box. A pair is a lot lighter than a Hot Pocket and a little bit less than a serving of six Pizza Rolls. Also, the Pizza Buns don’t have as bold of a flavor as the other two frozen pizza snacks.
Well, at least it doesn’t have a molten filling that burns my mouth like the other two.
So I’m kind of torn about DiGiorno’s Pizza Buns. They taste fine, but they’re not exciting enough to make me shake my buns.
(Nutrition Facts – 2 pizza buns – 200 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 mud 410 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of protein.)
Purchased Price: $4.49 Size: 8 oz. (3 pairs) Purchased at: Target Rating: 6 out of 10 Pros: A decent amount of pepperoni per bun. Nice sweet tomato sauce. Better than okay when microwaved. No molten filling to burn my mouth. 100 times better than Market Pantry’s Pizza Spirals. Cons: Doesn’t have as bold of a flavor as other frozen pizza snacks. Comes pre-burnt. No gooey cheese. Not a filling snack. Doesn’t make me shake my buns.
I don’t ask much from frozen foods I have to prepare in a microwave. Here’s the short list:
Don’t have a microwave cooking time that’s longer than an Adult Swim show.
Don’t make a mess while in the microwave oven.
The DiGiorno Pepperoni Speciale Artisan Style Melt barely passed #1, passed #2 with flying colors, and completely failed #3.
The first step of the microwave directions says, “Remove product from plastic wrap. Place product onto crisping tray and directly on the microwave surface.” As you can read, there’s no suggestion for a microwave-safe plate or a paper towel. Just put the flat crisping tray on the microwave surface and just spin it right round, baby, round round like a record, baby, right round round.
This is what happened after I followed the instructions on the box:
As you can see, the three types of mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce melted over the edges of the garlic and onion focaccia bread onto the crisping tray and then onto the microwave surface. Watching this happen was like watching lava flow into the ocean, except watching lava flow into the ocean is awe-inspiring and watching a fancy-sounding Italian bread pizza make a mess that I have to clean up is aggravating.
I scraped together whatever mess was salvageable on the crisping tray and plopped it back on the bread, but it didn’t help it from tasting too bread-y. I thought lack of toppings skewed its intended flavor, so I decided to heat up the second one in the box using the toasted oven directions. However, I did put it on a small sheet of aluminum foil so that I wouldn’t have to clean my toaster oven too.
Even though the toppings stayed on the second one, the bread continued to be the dominant flavor. So if you’re thinking this will taste like a DiGiorno pepperoni pizza, you need to lower your expectations. There were many pepperoni bits, but they didn’t pop with flavor.
As for the “three types of mozzarella cheese,” they sound exciting, don’t they? Maybe there’s a garlic-infused mozzarella? Or an aged mozzarella? But alas, according to the ingredients list, the three mozzarella cheeses are mozzarella cheese, low-moisture part-skim mozzarella cheese, and reduced fat mozzarella cheese.
Ooooh, low-moisture part-skim mozzarella cheese! The hyphens make it fancy!
Whether microwaved on the crisping sleeve or prepared in a toaster oven, the focaccia bread wasn’t what I would call “crispy.” But it also wasn’t soggy or flat, so I guess it could’ve been worse. Also, I thought the garlic and onion in the bread would enhance its flavor, but I didn’t taste the usually pungent ingredients.
DiGiorno is promoting the Pepperoni Speciale Artisan Style Melt as a snack, but it’s not a satisfying one. It’s just a messy one.
(Nutrition Facts – 1 melt – 320 calories, 110 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 440 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 14 grams of protein.)
Purchased Price: $2.99 Size: 8.1 oz/2 pieces Purchased at: Target Rating: 4 out of 10 Pros: Edible. Doesn’t have a microwave cooking time longer than an Adult Swim show. Cons: Following instructions led to a messy microwave. Bread is the dominate flavor. Three mozzarella cheese aren’t anything special. Onion and garlic in bread not noticeable. Stupid box!
Like ’em or not, you have to admit DiGiorno is a gutsy brand. For years, their advertising campaign has been predicated on the idea that an unwitting consumer could mistake their frozen pizza for hand-tossed, homestyle goodness delivered fresh from the local trattoria.
Now, with the introduction of their new line of thin-crust pies, the company has grown so confident in the quality of their work that their packaging is actually shrieking the word “PIZZERIA!“, exclamation point and all, in customers’ faces. But does DiGiorno’s latest creation finally live up to their lofty claims?
Because of my local grocery store’s limited selection, Pizzeria! Thin Primo Pepperoni was the only variety available for me. The box instructed me to place the pie directly on the center oven rack, warning that a pizza stone or cookie sheet may diminish its tastiness.
As an ardent pizza stone user/insane person, this filled me with terrific dread. I envisioned magma-like cheese dripping to the bottom of the stove and bursting into flames, or microscopic mites native only to oven racks infesting the crust. (Obviously, I have an awesome grasp on how science works, you guys.) Thankfully, when the kitchen timer rang, I discovered the pie intact and, from what I could tell, mite-free.
The directions also recommended that I let it rest for five minutes before slicing in, so I took that time to savor the smell; it was slightly herbaceous, but the oregano and basil were overwhelmed by the greasy aroma of the pepperoni (which isn’t a bad thing if you’re aiming for a genuine pizzeria experience).
As I bit in, I found the end product to be a bit of a mixed bag. Let’s start with the cheese: It was unremarkable, owing probably to the lame part-skim mozzarella used. No provolone, cheddar, or Parmesan to add some complexity and depth of flavor? Points deducted.
The sauce was similarly disappointing. Although the packaging proudly describes it as “made with vine-ripened tomatoes and herbs” – uh, I would hope so? – it tasted distinctly frozen pizza-y, by which I mean that it was equal parts bitter and bland, very unlike the sweet tomato sauce I’m accustomed to eating in actual pizzerias. Come on, DiGiorno!
Moving on to the “primo” pepperoni, I have no compliments, but no complaints either. It baked to a nice, crisp texture, and it tasted like your average pepp – savory and oily with a minor spicy afterkick.
But in spite of all this mediocrity, there exists one seriously redeeming factor: The crust. It was chewy yet crispy, pillowy yet flavorful. Just as the box says, you can taste the nuanced seasonings and the lushness of the olive oil drizzle. It would seem DiGiorno’s entire budget went into the dough and, really, that’s the smartest area of investment when it comes to pizza. Gourmet toppings don’t mean much when they’re served on a disc of tasteless, rubbery breading.
So has DiGiorno finally achieved mistakable-for-delivery status? Nah. But if you’re expecting something less ambitious, like a serviceable frozen pizza, then you’re less likely to walk away disappointed. Perhaps the other varieties (Supreme Speciale, Spinach & Mushroom, and Margherita) are a bit more convincing. Or maybe it just depends on the kind of delivery you’re used to.
(Nutrition Facts – 1/4 pizza – 310 calories, 130 from fat, 15 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 760 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 15 grams of protein.)
Item: DiGiorno Pizzeria Thin Primo Pepperoni Pizza Purchased Price: $7.19 Size: 17.2 oz. Purchased at: Stop & Shop Rating: 6 out of 10 Pros: Awesome crust. Okay pepperoni. Serves its humble purpose. Cons: Lackluster cheese and sauce. Still not pizzeria-quality. Box condescendingly advises you to enjoy “with fresh salad and great company.”
I couldn’t help but yell those four words and rip off South Park when I saw the DiGiorno Three Meat Pizza Pizza Dipping Strips. As you can imagine, this frightened my fellow shoppers in the frozen food aisle and caused them to scurry themselves and their shopping carts away from me.
That was not the first time I yelled the words “Pizza Hut did it!” in public while looking at a DiGiorno product. I also did it when I discovered DiGiorno’s Pizza and Wyngs, DiGiorno’s Pizza and Breadsticks, and I do it whenever I see DiGiorno’s Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza. It’s as if Pizza Hut is DiGiorno’s R&D Department.
DiGiorno’s Pizza Dipping Strips is made up of 12 pull-apart strips of pizza and comes with a container of marinara sauce and another of garlic dipping sauce. I picked up the Three Meat Pizza one, but it also comes in Pepperoni and Four Cheese varieties. The three meats are sausage, pepperoni, and beef.
Even though they were connected by just crust, the dipping strips weren’t super easy to pull apart. Or maybe I’m as horrible at pulling than a one-legged ox. After burning my fingers trying to split the strips apart, I decided to break out my pizza cutter.
I prefer DiGiorno frozen pizzas over Red Baron, Tombstone, Totino’s, Freschetta, and a few others, so it’s no surprise I enjoyed the pizza part of the Pizza Dipping Strips. I think DiGiorno’s tasty pizza sauce is what sets it apart from other frozen pizzas, but I also think their crust is a bit too thick. Another slight issue I had with the dipping strips is the amount of pepperoni. Each strip had just one lonely slice of pepperoni. Although, I will admit this is easy to fix by stealing the pepperoni from other dipping strips when your fellow eaters aren’t looking.
What about the dipping sauces? Well, let me just say, one is better than the other and they’re quite watery.
Preparing the dipping sauces is more complex than baking the pizza, which is pretty much just stick pizza in oven, take pizza out of oven, and enjoy. The steps to get the sauces ready are: place sauce packets in hot tap water for 4-5 minutes, tear open packets, squeeze each sauce into separate microwave-safe bowls, heat one sauce for 20-30 seconds in the microwave, heat the other sauce for 20-30 seconds in the microwave, and enjoy.
The garlic dipping sauce is not very garlicy. If you enjoy the garlic sauce from Domino’s or Papa John’s, this DiGiorno garlic sauce will disappoint. Its garlic flavor is mild enough that I would not be afraid to make out with someone after eating it. Despite my not so glowing words, I have to say the garlic sauce is better than the marinara dipping sauce, which has very little flavor at all. As I mentioned earlier, I like DiGiorno’s pizza sauce, so I’m disappointed their marinara sauce is dull.
If there’s one positive thing I could say about the sauces, it would be that each packet has a lot of sauce. When other eater weren’t looking, I was not only stealing their pepperoni, I was also double, triple, and quadruple dipping into both sauces. And despite all of that unsanitary dipping, there was still a lot of sauce left.
The DiGiorno Pizza Dipping Strips is a good idea, although an old idea, but the sauces bring everything down. I do like the idea of pull apart pieces and would like to see DiGiorno do that with their regular round pizzas.
I would also like to see DiGiorno’s combine pizza with cinnamon sticks, much like Pizza Hut does with their $10 Dinner Box. Oh wait, it’s already happened.
Pizza Hut did it!
(Nutrition Facts – 2 dipping strips – 360 calories, 140 calories from fat, 16 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat*, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 880 milligrams of sodium, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 15 grams of protein. Marinara Sauce – 2 Tbsp. – 20 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 125 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein. Garlic Sauce – 2 Tbsp. – 60 calories, 7 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 300 milligrams of sodium, 1 gram of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)
*uses partially hydrogenated oil
Item: DiGiorno Three Meat Pizza Pizza Dipping Strips Price: $6.99 Size: 34.2 ounces Purchased at: Safeway Rating: 6 out of 10 Pros: Pizza is good. Pizza in strip form is easier to eat than pizza slice form. Stealing pepperoni. THREE MEATS! Lots of dipping sauce. Pizza is easy to prepare. Cons: Garlic sauce isn’t very garlicy. Marinara sauce is bland. Would’ve liked more pepperoni. Having your pepperoni stolen. Getting caught double, triple, or quadruple dipping. Copying Pizza Hut.
DiGiorno has always done right by me. Their Supreme Ultimate Toppings could rival a lot of the major pizza delivery joints in texture and toppings. They’ve recently come out with some…interesting new products, putting pizza and a side in the same box. First off, there’s Pizza & Breadsticks. A logical pairing; lots of people like breadsticks dunked in marinara sauce to go with their pie.
Then there’s Pizza & Wyngz. Again, chicken wings are a popular side dish with the pizza crowd. Of course, we can’t ignore the elephant in the room, but I think I’ve pretty much said all I have to say about “Wyngz” in this news post.
And then there’s the third pairing: Pizza & Cookies.
I’m not even sure what to say about that. Pizza and cookies, together at last. It’s just so amazingly random, I can’t even imagine what that marketing meeting was like. The best I can come up with is a conference room filled with bong smoke so thick you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face.
Marketing Guy #1: “Oh, man. I am so fucking stoned right now. This is crazy.”
Marketing Guy #2: “Dude, I know. How long have we been in this room? What time is it? I feel like we’ve been in here for days.”
Marketing Guy #1: “Duuuuude, I know. I’m so fucking hungry. I could totally go for a pizza right now.”
Marketing Guy #2: “I would totally kill a dude for some cookies right now. I would hit the vending machine but I can’t get out of this chair. Have I always been stuck in this chair? Oh man I’m starting to freak out about this chair.”
Marketing Guy #3: “I could totally go for some pizza and cookies right now. That would be so awesome. I would take a bite of pizza, and a bite of cookie. Yeeeaaaah. Awesome. What was this meeting supposed to be about, again?”
Marketing Guy #1: “DUDE. That’s it! We were supposed to come up with some new pizza ideas! What if we put pizza and cookies IN THE SAME BOX?!”
Marketing Guy #3: “Oh my god you are a fucking GENIUS! That’s AWESOME! Dude let me feel your face.”
Marketing Guy #2: “Oh man we could do pizza and chicken wings too! Except instead of wings we’ll call them Wyngz. It’ll blow everyone’s minds.”
I guess everyone at DiGiorno is high all the time because this bizarre idea became a reality. You have your choice of three different pizzas: Cheese, Pepperoni and Supreme. All three come with Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookie dough. I chose Supreme, because I like lots of toppings, and Supreme has sausage, pepperoni, red peppers, green peppers and onions. All good things.
I was interested to see how the pizza and cookies would be packaged. I was not expecting what I saw when I opened the box. At first, I thought the package of cookie dough was laying directly on top of the pizza, raising questions about hygiene, but when I cut through the plastic I saw that the pizza was actually double-wrapped, so there was a layer of plastic between the pizza and the dough. Not exactly environmentally friendly, but at least more hygienic, although I don’t know why they just couldn’t have let the dough package roam free in the box. How much damage can you do to frozen cookie dough? The box weighs over two pounds, I doubt anyone is playing Frisbee golf with this thing. Although…stoners…better safe than sorry, I guess.
I was under the impression that DiGiorno had worked some magic and engineered it so that the pizza and the cookies would cook at the exact same time. I was mistaken. There are two ways to make Pizza & Cookies: the first is “To Enjoy Cookies After Pizza”, which entails preheating your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, putting the pizza directly on the center rack, and baking 19-22 minutes. You then break up the scored block of cookie dough on a baking sheet and bake them for 10-12 minutes on the center rack. This makes sense, since you can eat your pizza while you wait for your cookies to be done. After pizza, boom! Warm cookies for dessert. Just don’t be a slow pizza eater.
The second method, however, makes less sense, but I chose it because I felt it had the most potential for disaster. “To Enjoy Cookies With Pizza” – again, I would call this the “stoner method,” but the fact of the matter is this is the more complicated of the two methods and I’m pretty sure somebody stoned would just choose to microwave a Hot Pocket instead.
“To Enjoy Cookies With Pizza”: Same preheat, but this time you place the pizza on the lower of the two middle oven racks. Bake it for 9 minutes, then put the baking sheet of cooking on the upper of the two middle oven racks. You are then instructed to stagger the two so the pizza is not directly below the cookies. Bake both for an additional 10-12 minutes and enjoy your pizza and cookies together.
The pizza didn’t give off much of a smell as it cooked, but once the cookies were put in, my apartment was filled with the warm, inviting smell of chocolate chip cookies baking. It reminded me of my parents’ house around the holidays. I’m not a sweets fan, so I’ve never actually baked anything in my oven, but it was a delicious, nostalgic aroma.
Both the pizza and the cookies came out just right. The range of quality in frozen pizzas is pretty extreme; you can pick up a Totino’s Party Pizza for around a buck and it will taste like a cardboard disk with meat droppings on top, or you can get a California Pizza Kitchen frozen pizza, which is generally full of flavor, has a good texture, and costs around seven dollars. DiGiorno falls on the higher end of frozen pizzas, depending on which variety you get. My Supreme pizza was quite tasty, with plentiful toppings that offered up acceptable levels of flavor, and a surprisingly crispy crust. As a frozen pizza, it was completely satisfying.
The chocolate chip cookies came out golden brown and, of course, smelling delicious. Straight out of the oven, they were warm and tasty, with a delicious soft center that was unexpected and just the right crunch around the edges. They came out just like if you’d baked a batch of Nestle Toll House chocolate cookies by themselves.
One other thing I thought was amusing: the box says there’s five servings of pizza, but 12 servings of chocolate chip cookies. I don’t think this will be a problem, however; stoners aren’t exactly picky about suggested serving sizes.
(Nutrition Facts â€“ DiGiorno Supreme Pizza -1/5 pizza â€“ 360 calories, 150 calories from fat, 17 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 gram of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 840 milligrams of sodium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of sugars, 14 grams of protein, 6% vitamin A, 4% vitamin C, 20% calcium and 6% iron. Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies â€“ 1 cookie â€“ 90 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 12 grams of carbohydrates, <1 gram of dietary fiber, 7 grams of sugars, less than 1 gram of protein.)
Item: DiGiorno Pizza & Cookies Supreme Pizza and Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Price: $5.99 (on sale; regular price $7.49) Size: 1 pizza and 12 cookies (2 lb. 1.4 oz. Total weight) Purchased at: Safeway Rating: 7 out of 10 Pros: Pizza had crispy crust and generous toppings. DiGiorno’s marketing team tripping balls. Cookies were golden and soft inside. My apartment smelling like the holidays. Perfect baking times. Cons: Pizza and cookies in the same box what the hell. “Wyngz.” Execution of baking both was clunky. Frisbee golf. Pizza-to-cookies ratio was skewed.