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Dr. Gourmet's Food Reviews

Lean Cuisine Craveables

Four Cheese Pizza and Wood Fire-Style Garlic Chicken Pizza

Dr. Gourmet reviews Four Cheese Pizza from Lean Cuisine's Craveables collectionPizza. People love it. People keep making frozen pizzas, and we keep tasting them.

Truly hope springs eternal in the Dr. Gourmet Tasting Kitchen.

Lean Cuisine's track record is 2 to 1: 2 bad pizzas to one good, overall. But those good ones keep us coming back for more, just in case. Their Deep Dish Three Meat Pizza is great for those who really like a thick crust pizza, and their Wood Fire Style BBQ Recipe Chicken Pizza is nearly as good as California Pizza Kitchen's - with less than half the salt.

This week's duo of pizzas cooks in the same way as all Lean Cuisine's other pizzas: on the silver stand included in the box. These only cook for 2 and a half minutes or so - nearly instant gratification in the pizza world. The idea is that the silver surface on the stand will crisp the bottom of the pizza dough. We know from experience, however, that this works only about half the time - maybe.

Their Four Cheese Pizza is one of the times that it almost works. This is a fairly thick-crusted pizza - not quite deep dish, but certainly not thin and crispy. It does have a nearly-crisp bottom and a nicely yeasty flavor. Note that while the crust starts out just a little chewy, it does get more chewy as the pizza cools. There's a bright, sharp, and savory tomato sauce with notes of fennel and oregano, and a fair amount of cheese that melts evenly across the pizza. The dough-to-topping ratio might be a little higher than we'd like, but overall this is a pretty darn good frozen pizza. (380 calories, 600 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber)

Dr. Gourmet reviews Wood Fire-Style Garlic Chicken Pizza from Lean Cuisine's Craveables collectionWhile still in the microwave, the Wood Fire-Style Garlic Chicken Pizza impressed the panel with its aroma of roasted garlic and caramelized onion. We were looking forward to the flavors, but the first thing we noticed about the cooked pizza is that the toppings didn't even cover the face of the pizza: several spots toward the middle of the pizza were devoid of sauce, cheese, or toppings of any kind.

The toppings - what there are of them - are really good: the chunks of chicken are moist and juicy, the white sauce is nicely creamy (if laid on thinly), and there are chunks of roasted garlic and diced onions throughout. (If you do try this pizza, be warned: you'll have garlic breath!) The panel agreed that half again as much of the toppings would make the whole work a lot better, filling in the blank spots and yielding a better balance of flavors.

The down side, however, is the crust: the silver stand doesn't manage to crisp even the bottom of the crust, and this crust is even thicker than in the Four Cheese Pizza. Even right out of the oven it's tough and chewy and it only gets worse as it cools. Leave this one in the box and have something else for lunch. Then go home and make my French Onion Pizza for a really savory pie.

First posted: September 11, 2015