Pizza: the achilles’ heel of the gluten-free world. Not only is it one of the hardest foods to replicate, but the amount of time and precautions needed to develop a workable gluten-free dough means that even the UK’s largest high street pizzerias often rely on shop-bought gluten-free bases. Thankfully, the quality and variety of these bases has drastically improved and eating pizza at home no longer has to be such a compromise. We’ve worked our way through the best (and worst!) gluten-free pizzas, pizza bases and pizza base mixes currently available, and were pleased to discover that there are gluten-free options which do actually taste as good – if not better – than the real thing. So read on, dig in and make sure you get a pizza the action.
Venice Bakery UK
(£5.99 for pack of three medium bases)
Free from gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, corn and egg, the pizza bases from Venice Bakery were not only the best gluten-free pizza bases we tasted, but the best pizza bases we’ve tasted altogether. The dough itself is imperceptibly gluten-free, prepared Roman-style with a thin and crisp edge and soft and chewy centre. Practically, Venice Bakery is also a sound option. The bases are vacuum packed to ensure a 60-day ambient shelf life, longer if chilled or frozen, and take just 8-12 minutes to cook from ambient. We found the Medium Pizza Base to be the best value (10 inches in diameter, £2 per base), with the company offering free delivery on orders over £30. Because buying online really is your only option (shop.venicebakery.co.uk), and while this does require a little extra forward-planning, trust us pizza this good is worth the wait.
The White Rabbit Pizza Co.
(£6.99 – £8.99 per 12″ pizza)
Winners of the 2015 Lunch! Innovation Award, The White Rabbit Pizza Co. not only boast the UK’s only 100% organic, gluten-free pizza, but the largest variety – six, to be exact. Each fully-topped pizza has been made by hand, with the company’s own ‘Italian maestro’ using an usual and distinctively non-white flour blend of rice, potato, maize and buckwheat flours to produce Italian-style bases as thin and crisp as filo pastry. Layered with a rich tomato sauce and lashings of mozzarella, the various combinations of fresh and full-flavoured toppings offer up a full menu of tried-and-tested favourites such as the Pizza Americana (chorizo and onions), Pizza Italiana (cherry tomatoes, goat’s cheese, ham and basil) and Pizza Capricciosa (ham, mushrooms, artichokes, capers and oregano). At 382g per 12″ pizza, the ample base goes a long way to help justify the higher price point: £6.99 for the Margherita up to £8.99 for the America and Capricciosa. Because such quality and convenience is inevitably going to come at a price, and these really are restaurant-quality pizzas at restaurant prices. Thankfully, they’re worth forking out for.
Orgran Pizza & Pastry Multimix
(£3 for 375g mix)
Orgran Pizza & Pastry Multimix might not produce the most attractive plate of food, but the bread-like base is so soft and pleasingly doughy it’s easy to forgive the pizza’s slightly anaemic looking appearance. Roll at the edges for a plumped-up crust, cooking for longer than the recommended 15 – 20 minutes to ensure the bottom of the base is cooked evenly. For a DIY flour mix, Orgran is also one of the easiest. No rising time and minimal kneading means the whole process (including cooking time) clocks in at around half an hour, with the mix comfortably making two large restaurant-sized pizzas.
(£3.50 per 280g pizza)
Taking just 15 minutes to cook from frozen, the pizzas from Georgia’s Choice are delightfully soft, chewy and easy to cut into child-friendly slices. The crusts are crunchy but wisely thin (it’s good but not that good) with plenty of cheap-and-cheerful tomato, grated cheese and pepperoni slices to top it off. It’s essentially just a good gluten-free version of your standard supermarket frozen pizza, with a simplicity that’s clearly aimed at kids – and parents willing to pay more for the convenience.
(£3.00 for 2 x 150g)
Stocked by the majority of high street supermarkets, DS not only offer one of the more affordable gluten-free pizza bases, but the most convenient: each pack of two well-sized pizza bases has been individually vacuum-packed to ensure a longer shelf-life with the base clearly divided into the appropriate sections (the ridged edge firmly ring-fencing the designated area for toppings and safeguarding the thick deep-pan-style crust). Such a pronounced crust is a little excessive (less thick and chewy than thick and crunchy), but the flavours, colouring and cooking-time are otherwise all on a par with your standard shop-bought pizza base.
Sukrin Sunflower & Pumpkin Seed Low Carb Free-From Bread Mix
(£4.25, yields 420g bread)
Sukrin are behind a whole range of all-natural cutting-edge health food products, their prize-winning product the Sunflower & Pumpkin Seed Low Carb Free-From Bread Mix. Free from gluten, egg, sugar, wheat, yeast, soya and xanthum gum, it’s impossible not to be dubious at how such a virtuous bird-feed of a bread mix could work as a pizza base, and even when the finished pizzas emerge from the oven, it’s difficult to feel too excited by the amount of seeds bursting through the base. However, if you can put aside your misgivings, the sunflower and pumpkin seeds do add a depth and texture that compliment your more traditional pizza toppings while the spongy bottom and charred crust offer a deliciously healthy and satisfyingly wholesome alternative to your typical white-flour pizza base.
(£ varies wildly)
Having worked with the coeliac community for over 20 years, there are few people that know and understand coeliac disease quite as well as the team at Juvela – a prescription-based food service specialising in high quality wheat- and gluten-free foods and recipes. Their pack of two pizza bases (2 x 180g) are not only quick to make (just add toppings and bake for 10-12 minutes), but pleasing in taste, the gratifying crunch of a lightly golden crust slicing into a soft and bready bottom. Unfortunately, Juvela’s range may be impressive but it’s also the lease accessible; for people who have not been medically diagnosed as coeliac and are therefore unable to order it with a prescription the alternative is not only laborious but potentially quite expensive – Juvela having no control over the price mark-up set by individual pharmacies.
Udi’s Italian-Style Pizza Base Mix
(£3 for 570g mix)
Udi’s Italian-Style Pizza Base Mix is thin, crispy and reliably gratifying – the 570g pizza base mix more than enough to feed the whole family. The combination of potato starch and brown rice flour is as good as any standard wheat-based pizza mix and while the forty-minute rising time is a bit of a drag, there’s no denying it’s worth the wait. In America, Udi’s is fast becoming the number one gluten-free brand and while this pizza base mix provides a reasonably priced, reliable pizza fix, let’s just hope the company will consider bringing over their readymade pizzas (currently only available in the US) so us Brits can also enjoy Udi’s crowd-pleasing pizza without having to roll up our sleeves.