easy kid-friendly quick

Quick & Easy Pizza With Ingredients from Trader Joe’s

If you’re short on time, you can still make a customized pizza with a few standard ingredients from Trader Joe’s. In this post, I review their crust and offer some topping suggestions.

Ratings, percentages, and more

rating: 6/8 slices

6 out of 8 pizza slices rating

hydration: ?

Flour to water icon

difficulty: easy

1 out of 5 — the lowest difficulty rating

I’m a fan of making your own pizza from scratch, but curiosity and a time crunch have made me want to experiment with making pizza using pre-made crusts. Since there’s a Trader Joe’s close to my work, I decided to start my store bought journey with what I could find there. Here’s what I bought:

  • Trader Joe’s Brand Pizza Crust. It looks more like a flatbread and has clearly already been fully cooked. (I saw something that looked remarkably similar at Giant a few days later, so I doubt this is a Trader Joe’s exclusive.)
  • Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce.
  • Trader Joe’s Ciliegine Whole Milk Fresh Mozzarella. There are lots of different sizes of fresh mozzarella balls. Ciliegine are roughly the size of a cherry. TJ’s only offers two sizes: ciliegine and the standard racquetball sized version.
  • Organic Garlic.
  • Citterio’s Uncured Pancetta.
Trader Joe's pizza with pepperoni and basil.

From these ingredients, plus a few others I had at home, I made two different pizzas. A pepperoni margherita with the marinara sauce, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil,* olive oil, and some leftover pepperoni I had in the fridge. For the second pizza, I used olive oil, two cloves of thinly sliced garlic, pancetta, cheddar cheese from my fridge, and dried oregano from my spice rack.

*I have a basil plant and that’s where I got the basil, but TJ’s also sells fresh basil.

I cooked both pizzas at 425 for about 9 minutes. (I checked several times, so I might just go with 8 minutes and not open the oven next time.) I put the first one (the pepperoni margherita) on the oven rack. The second pizza I cooked on a sheet pan.

The pizza cooked on rack was certainly crisper, as the instructions had promised it would be. However, it was a slightly cardboard like crisp, lacking tenderness but without real chew in its place. The one cooked on the sheet pan turned out better, with some crisp parts and more chewiness and, somehow, more flavor — or maybe the marinara drowned out the crust’s flavor on the first one?

Overall, this crust resembles white bread toast — especially if you cook it directly on the oven rack. In my opinion, it is not as good as a well done made from scratch dough. That said, I still really liked this pizza. That I enjoyed it proved to me once again pizza’s incredible fortitude and strength of character — despite lots of shortcuts, it still came out delicious. In fact, I’d say it turned out better than some of the worst pizzas I’ve made with homemade dough. And, if you’re looking at an effort-to-results ratio, this pizza ranks with the best, requiring very little effort, while still producing a delicious result.

Trader Joe's pizza with pancetta.
Pizza with pancetta, garlic, olive oil, and oregano. I cooked this one on a sheet pan and felt it came out with better texture than the one cooked directly on the oven rack.

Which topping combo worked the best? My pancetta, garlic, olive oil, and oregano pizza turned out surprisingly well. My pepperoni-loving wife preferred it to the pepperoni pizza, which says a lot. For that prize-winning pizza, I used the entire 4-ounce container of pancetta. At first this seemed excessive, but the pancetta shrunk a bit as it cooked and came out just right. I sliced the garlic thinly and put in on the pizza before the cheese. This kept the garlic from burning, allowing it to remain protected under the cheese and fry in the olive oil and rendered pancetta fat. I think it could take even more garlic, and I might double the amount to four cloves next time — one clove for every ounce of pancetta.

I wasn’t surprised that the pancetta tasted good — hard to screw up pork belly based products. However, the surprise from this set of ingredients was TJ’s Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce. So good! It has a nice sweetness that goes perfectly with salty pepperoni. It also has interesting flavors from the herbs and onion powder. Plus, critical for pizza making, it’s not too watery. I may use this the next time a make Detroit-style pizza.

The Lesson

In a rush? Don’t let your face grow flush — just stop by Trader Joe’s and buy a pizza crust!

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