What is the one thing I miss most of all since eliminating all dairy, egg, gluten, and meat from my diet? PIZZA. The crispy but chewy crust, the warm, melty cheese, and the endless possibilities for toppings… pizza was the hardest thing for me to bid adieu to, and my mind often wandered back to it’s deliciousness in times of weakness. I’m not alone in this love affair with pizza; Rob, my nutrition and fitness compadre and the only person crazy (and awesome) enough to eat like me, shares my love for pizza that is reminiscent of Barb Kelner, the pizza eater… Or my friend Hussein, who has a notorious and committed love affair with all things pizza.
The tricky dichotomy with pizza is its battle between good and evil. Good: so freaking delicious. Evil: every. allergen. present. Gluten? Yup. Eggs? Most likely. Dairy? Uh definitely, have you seen this cheese? But alas, I would not be discouraged. When I stopped eating all of these ingredients years ago, there was maybe one or two pizzas on the market in town (the Amy’s pizzas). However (and thankfully), the gluten-free vegan market has expanded rapidly, even in little ole’ Kentucky. Thus, this post is a comprehensive review of the 7 gluten-free vegan pizzas that I have been able to find, reviewed in detail and ranked from best to least favorite top to bottom. After consulting with Rob, we both agree on the ranking and review of these pizzas. Now that we’ve reached Barb Kelner status by eating every option out there (I’m such a soldier, the things I do for you all…), I want to share my thoughts with you so you too can enjoy pizza again!
Bold Organics Veggie Lovers Pizza
A crispy, flakey, and buttery thin crust first greets your mouth. This crust is probably the best gluten-free vegan crust on any frozen pizza, as it tastes the most similar to a wheat flour crust. There is a crisp crunch when you bite in, but it chews easily without being brittle or overly tough. This crust possesses a delicate balance between an enjoyable initial crunch and a palatable soft, doughy chew. The crust is easy to eat, but still sturdy enough to maintain it’s shape while handling, even under the pressure of added toppings. Your palate is then amused by a lovely marinara with a hint of pepper and just enough heat to tingle your tongue. The sauce reminds me of an Arrabbiata sauce- savory tomatoes, fire roasted red peppers, and mild heat from peppers. There is just enough “cheese” to balance the acidity of the tomato, but not enough to seem overdone or fake. I like the mildness of the cheese on this pizza, as some of the vegan cheeses can be overwhelming, oddly creamy in taste, or slightly off in texture. The cheese is present to balance the palate, but doesn’t take center stage and instead allows the crust, sauce, and veggies to do most of the talking. Lastly, the hearty vegetable toppings fill your mouth. Savory, meaty mushrooms add a hearty, earthy taste to complement the sauce and cheese while adding some protein. The vegetable toppings are a bit sparse, as with most of these pizzas, and it would be nice to see something other than peppers, which can get soft and soggy if over roasted. This pizza is, by far, my favorite. This pizza is also available in Cheese, but I prefer to have some veggies on my pizza, so I always purchase the Veggie Lovers.
Amy’s Roasted Vegetable with No Cheese Pizza
This Amy’s Rice Crust pizza is probably my second favorite in terms of taste. However, it is quite small and closer to a “single serve” size pizza or a snack/small meal for two people (as you can see above, I used my hand to give you an estimate of size). I like the crust on this pizza; it’s not as thin and crispy as some of its competitors. It has a crispy crunch on the edges, but a nice chewy, doughy center. The crust isn’t super thin and has some heft to it. The sauce on this pizza is like a sweet roasted vegetable sauce and is quite lovely. The sauce is topped with shitake mushrooms, red peppers, sweet onions, and artichoke hearts. These toppings, while sparse, are delicious. Honestly, I like this pizza because it skips the complications and often questionable taste of vegan fake “cheese.” This pizza tastes lovely without cheese, which gives it a nice, light summery flavor. This pizza is easy to eat- the crust maintains its shape but isn’t incredibly tough or crisp. I would love if Amy’s made this pizza in a larger size. They make a similar pizza in a larger size- but beware! Only the small version is vegan and gluten free, the larger version is just vegan.
Daiya Fire Roasted Vegetable Pizza
This pizza has a thin crust that is probably the crunchiest of the bunch. However, the crust can turn brittle and tough once it starts to cool. Thus, this pizza is one of the hardest to cut. The crust has no crunch or crisp under the toppings, but still has a chewy and tough texture. The crust at the edge is very crispy, almost too crispy. Once the pizza begins to cool, the edges often become too hard to eat when they cease to be chewy and must be “snapped” to break into pieces. The crust maintains its shape reasonably well while eating and can support some additional toppings if handled with care. The sauce is a rather bland tomato base with very little detectable seasoning and not many spices. The cheese is almost a little overbearing. Be sure you really like the Daiya cheese taste, because these pizzas are loaded with it. I like Daiya cheese, but this pizza tries to load on the cheese and neglects the other toppings, so the fake-ness of the cheese (both in taste and texture) is more noticeable. The toppings are sparse, but the taste of the vegetables is decent and you will occasionally get a bite of pesto. This is probably my third favorite pizza because the overdone cheese and temperamental crust leave something to be desired, but it’s a decent size and topped by a nice medley of vegetables.
Daiya Mushroom and Roasted Garlic Pizza
I don’t have a picture of the individual slices, but is very similar to the other Daiya pizza. The toppings are very sparse, hence why we usually dd our own! My review of the Mushroom and Garlic pizza is very similar to the Roasted Vegetable. This pizza is exactly the same as the vegetable Daiya pizza, but swaps mushrooms and garlic in the place of assorted roasted vegetables. The toppings are very sparse, but the savory mushrooms and fragrant garlic add a slightly better flavor and smell than the vegetable pizza. I think the earthiness of the mushrooms helps cut the overpowering flavor of the cheese a bit better than the plain vegetables on the other Daiya pizza.
Amy’s Cheese and Spinach Pizza
This pizza was my first foray into gluten free vegan pizzas. It’s a nice basic starter pizza, but I feel like the others have more to offer. The toppings are incredibly simple, and the spinach is barely detectable. The toppings seem too heavy and wet for the crust, which is a slightly mealier, crumblier rice crust. The fact that the crust lacks some rigidity and crispness makes the pizza often difficult to eat, especially if you add extra toppings, because the crust flops and folds under the weight of the toppings. Furthermore, this issue leads to the crust and toppings turning a bit soggy when removed from heat. This pizza is probably the easiest GF vegan pizza to find in the store, so it gets bonus points for that fact.
Amy’s Cheese Pizza
The crust on this pizza is similar to the Amy’s Roasted Vegetable pizza. While this pizza is similar to the above Cheese and Spinach (minus the spinach, obviously), the taste is quite different. I think the smaller circumference of the pizza allows for better browning and crisping, so it’s less soggy, weak, and crumbly as compared to the Spinach and Cheese. Due to the fact that it lacks the spinach, the toppings are also less wet and heavy, so the crust remains more rigid and easier to eat. However, this pizza, like the Roasted Vegetable, is tiny. We ate this as an appetizer. The cheese is rather sparse on this, so we added some Daiya Pepperjack Cheese on top. Otherwise, the Amy’s cheese would not have even covered the entire sauce area of the pizza. This is a nice, simple cheese pizza. Again, I wish this came in a larger size.
Tofurky Pesto Supreme Pizza
This pizza had so much potential- I was so excited by the prospect of a gluten-free vegan pizza with a protein topping. As I said, I usually add some protein to the top of my pizzas (usually turkey bacon) to feed my muscles and fill me up, but I liked the idea of a pizza that eliminated the need for additional toppings. However, this pizza fell flat and limp. Literally. The crust was rather weak under the weight of the Tofurky sausage and didn’t hold its form. This fact makes eating the pizza a bit of a balancing act to keep the crust taut to prevent toppings from rolling off. The taste of the Tofurky was good, but no better than anything you could add yourself. The cheese, however, was detectably vegan and had that overly creamy, slightly-off taste of some vegan cheese. The crust was chewy and the flavor (other than the cheese) was decent, but the limpidity of the crust and the off taste of the cheese made this pizza fall flat on my list. Overall, my impression was soggy and “meh.” Would I eat it? Yes. Would it be my top pick? No, it’s probably near the bottom of my list, but no words a “bad” pizza.
Overall, the Bold Organics pizza comes to closest to replicating the overall experience of pizza. However, as I have never been a fan of thin crust pizza, the gluten free options always leave little something to be desired. I think a thick crust gluten-free vegan pizza would be divine and a perfect niche area in the market (Hint hint, companies. Heed my hungry advice). Furthermore, these pizzas can be pretty pricey- the Bold Organics is close to $10. I understand the “extra cost” of gluten free and vegan cooking, but the pizzas also pale in size to your typical frozen pizza. Lastly, the toppings can be ridiculously sparse and lackluster. The Bold Organics pizza does the best job of evenly coating their toppings, but some of the Amy’s pizzas have huge patches that are completely void of any toppings. Furthermore, it would be nice to see more variety in toppings, different veggies, different cheese, maybe some olives, sun dried tomatoes, or other unique toppings. Also, protein please! I typically always add my own protein or veggie toppings, but it would be nice to see a vegan pepperoni or sausage topping. Tofurky could have cornered this market if they had spent more time on their crust. As a closing note, I had to (unfortunately) purchase all of these myself, so there is no bias. However, if any of you want to send some food my way to review, I would graciously oblige with open arms (and mouths).