I remember when if you wanted a gluten free pizza you had to buy a farm, grow the corn, rice, tapioca and potatoes, hope for rain and sun, pray that locusts would ravage elsewhere, harvest the crops, build a mill, mill the flour and only then you could make the pizza base.
Now we have the tyranny of choice. So many gluten free pizzas. Of the ready made fresh and frozen for the take home and devour later market which are most deserving of your desire? Which will your taste buds express greatest affection for? Serious questions requiring some serious investigation.
Four coeliac taste-testers from the London Gluten-Free Meetup club assembled to sample six pizza contenders, rank and rate, and ultimately, pick the best. We selected Margheritas so that we could focus on the base, crust, tomato sauce, cheese and seasoning. Each pizza was scored out of 5 by each of the four judges for a total score out of 20.
For this test we tested pizzas from Whole Creations, Amy’s, Schar, White Rabbit Pizza Co, The Lab Pizza and Dr Oetker. Supermarket own-brand pizzas will have to wait for another round of judging . . . .
Here they are, ordered from lowest to highest scores. The winner – unanimous and totally outclassing the others – was a real surprise to me!
Overall Score: 6 out of 20
Available from: Wholefoods, Waitrose & Morrisons
Price: £3.29 for 360g (£0.87 per 100g)
Nutrition: 0.8g salt, 2.3g fibre per 100g
This one only scraped to six points thanks to one of four judges liking it a lot and awarding four out of five. The remaining three scored it zero or one. One judge declined to finish an entire slice! However the judge that favored this one also eagerly took home the leftover slices so hey, maybe you would like it too.
Not for me though. My first bite delivered something slimy, soggy and limp. It got slightly better from there but the texture was unappealing and the taste was bland.
Overall Score: 7 out of 20
Available from: Too many places to name! Go here to see them
Price: £4 for 170g (£2.35 per 100g)
Nutrition: 0.47g salt, 4.4g fibre per 100g
At 170g this was the teeniest, tiniest pizza but and also the most expensive. Given the ingredient list it is hard to see what drives the hugely higher cost.
This one suffered burning of the crust whilst the interior was perhaps a little under cooked so we perhaps did not experience it at its best. I noted a bit of a nice crispy bite to the crust but otherwise the base, sauce and cheese were all fairly dull. Not terrible, but absolutely outclassed. This is also the pizza with the highest salt levels at 1.4g per 100g so the lack of flavor was surprising.
Overall Score: 9 out of 20
Available from: Morrisons, Ocado, Waitrose & probably many more
Price: £3.29 for 280g (£1.18 per 100g)
Nutrition: 1.3g salt, 2.3g fibre per 100g
If you like a really thin and crispy base (I do) this one could be pleasing. I personally would have scored it higher if the crust had not been so dry that it stuck to my lips as I bit into it. Judge consensus was that the cheese and sauce were lacking in flavour. If we had been blindfolded and unaware of what we were eating we might have struggled to identify cheese and tomato sauce at all!
Could be rescued by toppings and curiously, enjoys a far higher average rating on Ocado, averaging 4+ stars out of 5. Perhaps those scoring it so highly should try some of the pizzas below . . . read on.
Overall Score: 13 out of 20
Available from: Planet Organic, Abel & Cole
Price: £4.99 for 260g (£1.92 per 100g)
Nutrition: 1.6g salt, 2.7g fibre per 100g
This was the biggest surprise to me. It was merely good rather than terrific. White Rabbit earned rave reviews and were a Free From Food Awards Winner in 2016. When I see White Rabbit Pizza Company at Free From events such as the Allergy & Free From Show and Free From Festival I always head over to sample pizza and express appreciation. Along with The Lab they make the widest dedicated range of gluten-free pizzas and all from organic ingredients. Another big plus is that their ingredients list is simplicity itself. Take a look –
Mozzerella cheese (39%) (Milk), Flour Blend (rice, potato, maize, buckwheat), Water*, Tomatoes (23%) Olive oil, Psyllium Husk, Salt, Yeast
The base was the thinnest of the lot but held the sauce and cheese well and the crust had a lovely crispy bite. It was a light, airy, tasty pizza and failed to score better simply because the tomato sauce and cheese whilst nice were only . . . . nice. It lacked any character that could have propelled it to a higher score. Personally I still highly recommend this since to liven up the flavor would be simplicity itself. Sprinkle some pepper, garlic, basil, paprika or whatever spices you like on the top and bingo, a wonderfully light and crispy AND tasty pizza. In fact it might be better as it is so that you can add your own personal dash of magic. Since we were strictly keeping ourselves to the pizza as served though, it was just a little underwhelming.
The Lab Pizza Margherita – Runner-Up!
Overall Score: 15 out of 20
Available from: Direct from The Lab online, Selfridges, Planet Organic, Hubbub and As Nature Intended
Price: £4.99 for 320g (£1.56 per 100g)
Nutrition: 0.32g salt, 4.7g fibre per 100g
This one easily has the most interesting ingredients. It is the only one to feature millet and quinoa flour and extra virgin olive oil. It has a probiotic – Bacillus Coagulans GBI-30 – proven to survive at baking temperatures included in the dough. It it low salt and of all the pizzas tested, the highest fibre. Certified organic too. Is it a healthy pizza? It is quite possibly the healthiest. It is also available with a vegan cheese topping. Bravo Lab Pizza!
Of all the pizzas, this was the only one to feature a soft, chewy, doughy base. This was absolutely lovely and a real contrast not only to all the other bases but to gluten free bread products generally. This prompted pre-coeliac recollections of a typically springy, doughy base being kneaded and rolled and flipped with love and care in the kitchen. This is another that easily deserves the Free From Food Awards Highly Commended rating it earned in 2014.
So top score for uniqueness and a great base and some really differentiating ingredients. The base outshone the topping otherwise it may have taken the top spot. Again, like the White Rabbit pizza, it would have taken very little to spice it up and propel it into the upper echelons of pizza-stardom.
Dr Oekker Ristorante Mozzarella Pizza – Winner!
Overall Score: 19 of out 20
Available from: Tesco and Ocado and hopefully MORE places soon!
Price: £3.20 for 335g (£1.05 per 100g)
Nutrition: 0.94g salt, ??g fibre per 100g
Wow. Looked great, tasted even better. Every mouthful was a delight, bursting with flavor and a wonderful mouth feel. The mozzarella and edam cheese combination was an absolute hit and the tomato sauce enlivened by the added herbs. This was the only pizza that everybody immediately wanted seconds of. Just so good.
It would have received a perfect score except . . . well I deducted one point simply because the base itself was nondescript. Arguably this didn’t matter when the topping was so lovely but I had in mind a perfect combination of this topping along with the knock-out terrific base from The Lab Pizza.
If you start to read the ingredient list, sit somewhere comfy. It is a long long list with multiple gums and seemingly just about every type of emulsifier there is. How many do they need? If I was differentiating based on ingredients I could understand this would not be the winner but on pure flavour? No doubt, this one deserved the win.
It’s a Wrap!
Go on, tell us, what did we miss? What pizza has dazzled your taste buds and should have been on our table? One of the supermarket own-brands? Prompting me just a little and I will organize another round of judging. If you live in London and would like to join it, go ahead and join our Gluten Free Meetup Club to get notice of when it is offered.