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Oct 17, 2022

Review - Chef Boyardee's 'Pizza Maker' Pizza kit

I got to reminiscing the other night about my early pizza making days. Back then, I used 'Appian Way' boxed pizza kits. If I couldn't find Appian Way, I would buy 'Chef Boyaredee' pizza instead.

I remember being young and thinking how cool it was for me.. a kid, to be making pizza! Its been over 30 years since I've made pizza this way, so I decided it would be fun to do a review on one of these boxed pizza kits in 2022. 

As with other retro products I've reviewed, it's like I've been totally removed from the product, since I haven't eaten it in over three decades.

I couldn't track down Appian Way pizza, and am pretty sure they are now extinct. However, Chef Boyardee still stands proud on store shelves, so I bought two boxes at a cost of $4.99 each. 

I did notice cheese is no longer included in the boxes. Back in the day, a packet of parmesan cheese was included with the mix. This is how a lot of folks made pizza back in the olden days. Now the box simply tells you to add your own cheese. 

Staying true to the way I made these pizzas in the 70s and 80s, I topped the pies with parmesan cheese. I must say however, that I liberally covered the pizzas with parmesan, as I remember being frustrated at how thin I had to spread the included packet across two pies back in the day.

I really wanted to follow the recipe instructions to the letter like I used to, but diverted from the box recipe in a couple ways:

  • I didn't feel like chewing through a dense shoe leather crust, so I opted for a 30 minute rise on the dough instead of the 5 to 20 minutes recommended by the box. 

  • The recipe called for coating the formed dough ball in vegetable oil. I avoid vegetable oils when at all possible, so I used olive oil.

Other than using my KitchenAid mixer, I followed the rest of the instructions to the letter. 

In just a half hour.. 
the dough ball doubled in size

Rapid rising yeast was obviously mixed in with the flour, and while a bit subdued, the aroma coming off of the newly risen dough was pretty pleasant.

I popped the pies into the oven at 425 degrees for 12 minutes, and then rotated them from their top and bottom racks. I cooked them for another 12 minutes, for a total cook time of 24 minutes. 

The pizzas much to my surprise were a bit rustic looking. I wasn't hating the look of the end crust, and the sauce & parm combo made for a curious yet eye appealing look. It also smelled great as well.

The Crust
Thanks to the olive oil, the crust had a great color and crisped up very nicely. The end crust had some some good spring to it, with signs of alveolation that would have been even better with a longer rise. 

As I assumed, the crust didn't have much flavor, which probably could have been better with a longer fermentation time. 

The Sauce
I try not to be pessimistic, but I went into this foray almost wanting the Chef Boyardee sauce to be bad. I mean c'mon.. it's Chef Boyardee after all. 

That being said, I sampled a spoonful straight out of the can and I've got to say, I didn't hate it. 

It was a bit too sweet for my taste, and it seemed like they were trying a bit too hard with the spices. Nevertheless, I've tasted worse sauces from pizzerias in my time. 

When it comes to pizza sauce, simpler is better in my opinion. In the end, with no mozzarella and a less than flavorful crust, the sauce worked well for this particular pie.

The toppings
I used my own cheap parmesan on this pie. I must say, that a pizza with only parmesan and sauce, is a flavor combo I had largely forgotten about after 30+ years. 

It wasn't a bad combo, in fact.. I kind of missed it. It very much reminded me of simpler times when I was on the cusp of a lifelong journey, experimenting with crafting my own pizzas.

Pizza Geezer rating..
(As far as boxed pizza goes)

4 out of 5 Slices!

Please note that I grant this rating with two caveats..

1.) For me personally, it was very fun and nostalgic to make these pizzas. I'm a sucker for walks down memory lane, and this was a bit like time traveling for me.

2.) I am not reviewing these pizzas in comparison to pizzeria pizzas, or even frozen pizza's for that matter. This is a boxed pizza kit, meant to be a foolproof method of making pizza whether you are a novice, or just short on time.

I do believe Chef Boyardee pizzas have their place in the world of pizza. It's a great way to break into the hobby of pizza making for folks of any age. 

This kit made a decent tasting pizza that you craft with your own hands. To many, this is more fulfilling than simply ripping off the plastic from a frozen pie and tossing it in the oven. 

Making pizza this way for a novice can really give you a better sense of accomplishment, and open the door to learning how to craft pizza from scratch. 

Adding quality cheese and toppings would only help towards making a more respectable pizza

Would I eat this pizza again? Most definitely! Next time however, I will be experimenting and doctoring the recipe to see just how good of a pizza I can make, while still doing it on the cheap. 

Remember how I said I bought two boxes? I will be using that second box for this fun little project. Stay tuned!