Having a stash of cheese ravioli in the freezer is like having a culinary superpower. Kids love them, they boil up fast (about five minutes), and they can go with any kind of pasta sauce (even butter!) or get breaded and fried for impromptu appetizers or layered in a casserole to make shortcut lasagna.
Another great thing about frozen ravioli? They’re usually far cheaper than fresh — sometimes even half the price. Consider this: A bag of fresh Rana ravioli (which we love) is $8.69 for 20 ounces. Buitoni is $6.49. But most of the frozen ravioli we found cost $3.29 to $4.59 for 25 ounces.
But are the frozen guys any good? That’s the big question we set out to answer. We visited several stores to gather all the frozen cheese ravioli we could find. We aimed for brands that could be found in as many regions of the country as possible, but depending on where you live you might have a few more options from local producers. And Target fans, take note: When we shopped, the company’s Market Pantry ravioli were out of stock at all our area stores, and a store employee said they’ll likely come back as a new brand, Good & Gather, in the refrigerator section.
Of course, we still found plenty of brands to try, so we boiled them up and tasted them side-by-side. Here’s how they stacked up.
Best All-Around: Signature Select Five Cheese, $5 for 25 ounces
This store brand for the Albertsons Company stores (including Safeway and Vons) wowed us with its deeply flavorful cheese filling that really packed a Parmesan punch. In addition to creamy ricotta, it has asiago, Parmesan, Romano, and mozzarella. The pasta wrapper wasn’t too thick but wasn’t flabby either, and it even had fetching specks of parsley embedded in it.
Runner-Up: Kroger Cheese Ravioli, $3.50 for 25 ounces
If you don’t have a store that carries Signature Select in your area, but you do have a Kroger family store, you’re in luck because these were almost as good as our top pick. The filling tastes like straight-up ricotta, so you won’t get that bright and tangy five-cheese flavor, but this is a more classic (and perhaps more versatile) version. They’re filled with the perfect amount of pillowy-soft and creamy filling, whereas some other brands we tried were so meager with filling, they just tasted like pasta squares. We could see this being great for recipes like shortcut lasagnas. And it would be ideal for picky toddlers, too.
Best Fancy Frozen Ravioli: The Ravioli Store Five Cheese Jumbo Ravioli, $8.50 for 12 ounces
These looked and tasted like restaurant ravioli, but the price was a bit hard to swallow. Still, if you’re looking for something elegant to serve, these were pretty much perfect. The pasta was delicate but with a pleasant chew — like you expect from handmade pasta. The ricotta filling was plentiful and creamy with complex hints of sharper cheeses (Fontina, bel paese, pecorino Romano, and Parmigiano Reggiano). One package has 12 big ravioli, which would feed only two or three as a main dish, so think of this one for special occasions, date nights, or those times when you want to treat yourself.
Do you have a go-to brand for frozen cheese ravioli? Tell us about it in the comments below.
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