REVIEW: California Pizza Kitchen BBQ ‘Don’t Call Me Chicken’ Pizza

California Pizza Kitchen BBQ  Don t Call Me Chicken Pizza Full

What is the California Pizza Kitchen BBQ “Don’t Call Me Chicken” Pizza?

It’s CPK’s Original BBQ Chicken Pizza, but with a plant-based chicken substitute. So it has the same smoked Gouda, red onions, fresh cilantro, and BBQ sauce as the original, but the bawk bawk meat has been replaced with a 100 percent meatless vegetarian product that’s made from soy and wheat.

How is it?

California Pizza Kitchen BBQ  Don t Call Me Chicken Pizza Closeup

Well, it tastes like a California Pizza Kitchen Original BBQ Chicken Pizza. Although, not EXACTLY like one. The flavors of the cheese, onions, cilantro, and especially the BBQ sauce do an admirable job at masking the fact that the protein is not chicken. Even when biting into the plant-based meat with the other ingredients, it’s difficult to tell it’s something other than chicken.

But, with the pizza I ordered, I thought the barbecue sauce flavor wasn’t as bold as what I’ve tasted with the many regular Original BBQ Chicken Pizzas I’ve had. Of course, maybe it was just with my order, and you may have a different experience. But, overall, I did enjoy it, and most eaters won’t be able to tell it’s faux faux meat.

California Pizza Kitchen BBQ  Don t Call Me Chicken Pizza Soy

However, that changes when one tries to eat the plant-based meat on its own. It looks marinated, but it tastes like what I imagine a soy and wheat product would taste like. In other words, it’s a bit bland. So, Public Service Announcement alert, don’t eat the plant-based chicken by itself.

Anything else you need to know?

Plant-based meats haven’t been about being a healthier option for us. It’s been about being a healthier option for our planet. Holy cow! I mean, holy faux cow! Did I write that? That is deep. Sorry. It’s about using fewer resources to produce the plants to make the meat substitute than what it would take to raise animals for meat.

California Pizza Kitchen BBQ  Don t Call Me Chicken Pizza Slice

But if you’re curious, a slice of this has roughly the same nutrition numbers as a slice of The Original BBQ Chicken, except the one with real meat has ten more calories, ten more milligrams of cholesterol, ten fewer milligrams of sodium, and one more gram of protein per slice.

Also, at least at my local CPK, a $1 premium over the original version.


California Pizza Kitchen’s BBQ “Don’t Call Me Chicken” Pizza is a delicious vegetarian version of its classic menu item.

Purchased Price: $17.99*
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 slice) 180 calories, 5 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 490 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.

REVIEW: California Pizza Kitchen Pizza & Appetizer Crispy Thin Crust Four Cheese Pizza Spinach Artichoke Dip 10 Flatbread Wedges

California Pizza Kitchen Pizza & Appetizer Four Cheese Spinach Artichoke

Well, it was bound to happen. DiGiorno started it with their Pizza & Cookies and their Pizza & Wyngz. As we all know by now, once one company comes up with a batshit crazy idea, competitors must keep up with their level of insanity. And thus, California Pizza Kitchen Pizza & Appetizer Crispy Thin Crust Four Cheese Pizza Spinach Artichoke Dip 10 Flatbread Wedges was born.

CPK makes some of the highest-quality frozen pizzas out there. They have a wide variety of flavors that go well beyond your typical Pepperoni or Supreme, thus reflecting their products as gourmet, or as gourmet as you can get in the frozen food aisle. You might be wondering why they would kowtow to such ridiculousness. Just call me Sherlock fucking Holmes, because I did a little sleuthing and found some interesting information.

In early 2010, Kraft sold its North American frozen pizza empire to Nestle for $3.7 billion. This included brands like DiGiorno, Tombstone, and…you guessed it…California Pizza Kitchen. Given this information, it becomes clear that this is not a matter of competitive craziness. It’s more like two siblings sleeping together in the same bed. That bed is made with tomato sauce, cookie dough and spinach artichoke dip. That bed is messy in more than one way.

I feel like Nestle has tried to hoodwink all of us, but I’m not exactly sure how, and I can only pour so much of my outrage into frozen pizza conspiracies. You’d be surprised how thin my outrage is spread. Like CPK’s Bordelaise butter sauce on their Garlic Chicken pizza. Yep, just like that.

One reason I can’t get too mad at CPK is that I love spinach artichoke dip. It’s one of my favoritest foods ever. I’ve never had CPK’s version, but pick a chain restaurant and I’ve probably had theirs. I’m not an expert; I just know my dips is all I’m saying.

The store I found CPKP&ACTCFCPSAD10FW in only had Four Cheese as the pizza portion of the equation, but Marvo has seen it with Sicilian, so there are more flavors out there. CPK’s website is strangely mum about the subject, so you’ll just have to check for yourself.

California Pizza Kitchen Pizza & Appetizer Four Cheese Spinach Artichoke Box Back

Let’s tackle the cooking method of CPKP&ACTCFCPSAD10FW. When you’ve got three different items that need to be cooked, things can get tricky. Bear with me as I slog through this mire of directions. It’ll be a pretty dry portion of this review, but if you find yourself giving up halfway through reading this, you may not have the patience necessary to cook the real thing. Consider it a litmus test for your level of interest in making CPK’s Pizza & Appetizer.

Method 1: Appetizer First, As God Intended

Preheat oven to 400. Shove pizza and flatbread into oven, right on the rack. Cook 6 minutes. Meanwhile, microwave dip with plastic cover lifted to vent for 1 to 1:45, depending on your wattage. Stir, recover, microwave 1 more minute. Take flatbread out after the first 6 minutes; cook pizza another 6 minutes while you hurriedly shove dip into your mouth with flatbread wedges so you finish your appetizer before the pizza burns.

Method 2: Appetizer and Pizza at Same Time So You Aren’t Running Around Like Crazy

Same preheat. Cook pizza 6 minutes. Throw in flatbread; cook another 6 minutes. Microwave dip the same way. Eat everything together, turning your appetizer into a side dish. Consider dunking your pizza in the spinach artichoke dip.

California Pizza Kitchen Pizza & Appetizer Four Cheese Spinach Artichoke Wrapped

Unwrapping CPK Pizza & Appetizer was like pulling apart a Russian nesting doll in reverse. There’s plastic shrink-wrapped around the whole package; after you take that off, you free the upside-down cup of spinach artichoke dip. Underneath is more plastic; once you remove that, you have access to the flatbread, which has a grease-stained disc of white paper separating it from the pizza itself. Unearthing all the components was like conducting an archeological dig, except instead of bones or mummies, you’re digging out an improbable trio of junk food.

At first, I was going to choose Cooking Method 1, but then I realized that from the perspective of taking pictures while the food was fresh and not having to run around frantically, having them at the same time would work much better.

Even then, the whole cooking process felt a little like conducting an orchestra. When I made this comment to my husband, he replied with, “Yes, Kelley, that is exactly what baking, photographing, and reviewing pizza and dip is like. You’re goddamned Leopold.” No respect for the process, that man. Honestly though, without the picture-taking I feel the process would have been much less hectic,

California Pizza Kitchen Pizza & Appetizer Spinach Artichoke Frozen-Cooked

I’ll start with the appetizer, since it is, after all…the appetizer. I thought I might have pulled the flatbread out too early because the pizza looked like it was about to burn but the flatbread didn’t look like it had enough golden brown parts like the box said it should. When I was eating it, however, the bread was a perfect consistency – soft and chewy, with a touch of crispiness on the outside. The flatbread also broke apart easily along the perforations into ten wedges that were the perfect size for dipping.

As for the spinach artichoke dip, it wasn’t quite restaurant quality, but I would consider it above average for a frozen dip. I’ve had TGI Friday’s frozen spinach artichoke dip many times, and I think CPK beats Friday’s dip hands down. I would have liked to have seen larger artichoke pieces, but other than that, it was creamy, cheesy, garlicky, and frankly more than I expected out of a frozen dip.

Unfortunately, the container was rather small. I ate all the dip in one sitting, and while I do tend to pile it on when I’m dipping, in this instance I attempted to eat like a normal human being and still wound up finishing it off after only six and a quarter wedges. My leftover wedges sat on the plate, brokenhearted, with no purpose left in life. They wanted more dip, and so did my mouth.

California Pizza Kitchen Pizza & Appetizer Four Cheese Frozen-Cooked

CPK’s Four Cheese frozen pizza is not a new product, but I’ve never had it, so it was new to me. Again, I thought I’d burned it, but it came out perfectly cooked, with good browning on the cheese. CPK really did get the cooking times right.

They got the cheese right, too. I’m not an easy person to impress when it comes to cheese pizza; I’m usually all about the toppings and consider cheese pizza to be for boring people who sit in the corner at parties, abstaining from booze and complaining about there being too much smoke in the room.

CPK really impressed me with their Four Cheese, however. And we’re even talking about a frozen pizza. The addition of fontina and gouda really added depth to the flavor and gave the pizza different levels of cheesy goodness. There was just the right amount of tomato sauce to compliment the cheeses, too. I found myself pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the cheese and felt it really could stand on its own.

Is this whole “pizza plus appetizer/side/desert” premise propagated by Nestle silly? Sure. But I really enjoyed California Pizza Kitchen Pizza & Appetizer Crispy Thin Crust Four Cheese Pizza Spinach Artichoke Dip 10 Flatbread Wedges. The dip was delicious, the flatbread a perfect vessel for it, and the cheese pizza surprised me with its depth of flavor. I’ll probably never again cook pizza and cookies together, but I can see myself indulging in this bread, dip and pie trio again and again.

Speaking of DiGiorno, where’s the third player in Nestle’s frozen pizza empire in all this? I’m talking to you, Tombstone. You may be a little more for the budget-minded pizza buyers, but there’s no reason you can’t get in on this game. We’ve already covered, appetizers, sides and desserts, but what about beverages? My suggestion: dehydrated beer packets. Get on it!

(Nutrition Facts – Four Cheese Pizza – 1/3 pizza – 320 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 650 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, 16 grams of protein, 10% vitamin A, 0% vitamin C, 35% calcium and 10% iron. Spinach Artichoke Dip and Flatbread Wedges – 3 flatbread wedges + 2 tablespoons dip – 130 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 320 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, 5 grams of protein, 6% vitamin A, 2% vitamin C, 8% calcium and 4% iron.)

Item: California Pizza Kitchen Pizza & Appetizer Crispy Thin Crust Four Cheese Pizza Spinach Artichoke Dip 10 Flatbread Wedges
Price: $7.49
Size: 1 pizza; 3.9 ounces dip; 10 flatbread wedges
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Cooking times just right. Flatbread just the right texture. Composing a junk food orchestra. Spinach artichoke dip was creamy and delicious. Overdipping. Cheese pizza had good depth of cheesy flavor.
Cons: Not enough dip. Incestuous products from sneaky megacompanies. Not enough artichoke chunks in dip. Cooking takes a lot of planning. Heartbroken unused flatbread wedges.

REVIEW: California Pizza Kitchen Hawaiian Recipe Frozen Personal Pizza

California Pizza Kitchen Hawaiian Recipe Crispy Thin Crust

The Hawaiian pizza sounds like the result of a love story that happened in the 19th century between an Italian explorer and a Hawaiian princess who couldn’t be together due to her family’s disapproval, but before heading out to sea to return to his home country, the Italian explorer showed his love for her and how he would remember her forever by baking a pizza that combined Italian ingredients (cheese, sauce, and ham) with a local Hawaiian ingredient (pineapples) for their last meal together.

But, alas, that’s not how the Hawaiian pizza was invented. Instead, it was created in 1962 by a couple of canucks in Ontario.

It may be called the Hawaiian pizza, but, to be honest, most Hawaii residents don’t order it even though it’s offered by the major pizza chains and a few local restaurants. I guess we find the idea of having pineapples on pizza as disgusting as most of the country. I know it might be disappointing to hear that people from Hawaii don’t like the Hawaiian pizza, but you can just included that on your list of things you didn’t know about Hawaii…and here’s more.

No one lives in grass huts. The state motto is Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono, which means, “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.” The Victoria’s Secret store in Hawaii doesn’t sell coconut bras. It does snow in Hawaii. Hawaii residents don’t drink Mai Tais. The beach water in Waikiki is warm because of all the tourist kids who pee in it.

Okay, that last one isn’t true.

But, as for most Hawaii residents not eating Hawaiian pizzas, that’s true. Although, I did eat the California Pizza Kitchen Hawaiian Recipe personal pizza for this review. Also, there were a couple of times at a Pizza Hut buffet that I had to eat their Hawaiian pizza because they were all out of the others.

California Pizza Kitchen Hawaiian Recipe Crispy Thin Crust Before

The California Pizza Kitchen Hawaiian Recipe personal pizza is made up of a crispy thin crust, tomato sauce, reduced fat mozzarella cheese, hickory smoked ham, and, of course, pineapple.

The packaging looks like a mini version of their larger frozen pizzas, which is probably a cheerful upgrade from the old packinging for these personal CPK pizzas when they were called “California Pizza Kitchen Pizza For One.” The older boxes had emblazoned on the front, in a large font, “For One,” which I imagine was depressing for some single people, and for others, a way to let people know they were available.

California Pizza Kitchen Hawaiian Recipe Crispy Thin Crust After

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve had Hawaiian pizza in the past. However, I should mention that I don’t find them utterly disgusting. I just think they’re a little weird because of the use of pineapples, but overall they’re decent tasting. With that said, I thought the flavor of the California Pizza Kitchen Hawaiian Recipe personal pizza was disappointing for a Hawaiian pizza. While the pineapples are definitely noticeable, even though I didn’t have many chunks on the pizza I bought, the other ingredients fell flat. The sauce and cheese were bland, and the ham didn’t provide much flavor to compliment the pineapples. But the crust did end up crispy, thanks to the included cooking tray.

Yay! Cooking tray!

If for some strange reason you really like Hawaiian pizzas, I’d stay away from the California Pizza Kitchen Hawaiian Recipe Frozen Personal Pizza because you’ll probably be disappointed. But if you’re single, putting it in your shopping basket will let everyone know you’re available.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 pizza – 370 calories, 110 calories from fat, 13 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 720 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, 19 grams of protein, 10% vitamin A, 30% calcium, 8% vitamin C, and 8% iron.)

Item: California Pizza Kitchen Hawaiian Recipe Frozen Personal Pizza
Price: $3.99
Size: 6.2 ounces
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Noticeable pineapple flavor. Crust was crispy. Good source of calcium. Good way to let people know you’re available.
Cons: Trans fat. Bland cheese and sauce. Ham lacked any flavor. Not a lot of pineapple chunks. Ending up in a particularly warm section of water at a beach. Bad way to let people know you’re lonely. Hawaiian pizza not the result of forbidden love. Wearing a coconut bra.

REVIEW: California Pizza Kitchen Carne Asada Flatbread Melts

The term “flatbread” is one I just don’t quite understand, like “badonkadonk,” “ridonkulous” and 75 percent of the words that come out of the mouths of those darn kids who won’t get off of my lawn. I don’t get it because aren’t the slices of bread we buy in loaves from the store, whether they be whole grain, wheat, white or Wonder, also flat? But we don’t call them flatbread.

Believe me, I know flat when I see it, because I have a photo shrine in my closet dedicated to Keira Knightley.

I may not understand flatbread, but I do enjoy its softness and durability, so I was eager to try the California Pizza Kitchen Carne Asada Flatbread Melt. Although, I wasn’t too eager because I’m sort of skeptical of how good a frozen CPK meal that’s not a pizza; not offered in their restaurants; and not served to me by someone in a white long-sleeve shirt, black pants and a necktie would be.

Carne asada means “roasted beef” in Spanish and in Taco Bell speak it means “the meat option we offer that’s not chicken or ground beef.” Along with the flatbread and beef, the melt also contains reduced fat mozzarella cheese, green and red bell peppers and onions in a cilantro pesto sauce. Heating the Flatbread Melt is easy. Just pull it out of the its plastic wrap, place it on top of the included cooking tray, heat it in the microwave for 2.5-3 minutes and then fold one side over the other.

The melt was a decent size, coming in at 7.5 inches long and 3.5 inches tall. Before I folded it, I thought there wasn’t going to be enough filling in the melt, but as you can see above, there is a good amount of ingredients in between the flatbread. However, maybe there’s too much filling because ingredients kept falling out of the melt as I tried to eat it.

The melt’s flavor was mostly dominated by the flatbread, which came out of the microwave with crispy edges and everywhere else nice and soft. The next flavor I could taste was the cilantro pesto, which gave the melt a weird citrus flavor that I wasn’t too much of a fan of. There were a lot of pieces of tender meat and bell peppers, but I don’t think they added much in terms of flavor, especially the peppers.

The California Pizza Kitchen Carne Asada Flatbread Melt wasn’t very ridonkulous and I’m not sure if I would buy it again. How sure I am is the same level of sureness I have in my use of the term “ridonkulous” properly in the previous sentence.

In other words, not very much.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 melt – 370 calories, 15 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 780 milligrams of sodium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, 17 grams of protein, 10% vitamin A, 15% vitamin C, 15% calcium and 6% iron.)

Item: California Pizza Kitchen Carne Asada Flatbread Melts
Price: $4.00 (on sale)
Size: 5.9 ounces
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Flatbread had crispy edges and soft innards. Decent size. Tender meat. Good amount of filling ingredients. Quick to heat up. My Keira Knightley shrine.
Cons: Cilantro pesto gave it a weird citrus flavor. I could mostly taste the flatbread. The meat and veggie didn’t provide much flavor. High in sodium. My use of terms I don’t know the meanings of so that I can look cool.